God’s Renewing Word of Peace and Justice
Leviticus 25:39-55: The Israelites are reminded that it is God who freed them from slavery in Egypt and that they are now the “LORD’s slaves,” called to serve God and obey his commands.
Release of Slaves
39 If any Israelites living near you become so poor that they sell themselves to you as a slave, you shall not make them do the work of a slave. 40 They shall stay with you as hired workers and serve you until the next Year of Restoration. 41 At that time they and their children shall leave you and return to their family and to the property of their ancestors. 42 The people of Israel are the Lord’s slaves, and he brought them out of Egypt; they must not be sold into slavery. 43 Do not treat them harshly, but obey your God. 44 If you need slaves, you may buy them from the nations around you. 45 You may also buy the children of the foreigners who are living among you. Such children born in your land may become your property, 46 and you may leave them as an inheritance to your children, whom they must serve as long as they live. But you must not treat any Israelites harshly.
47 Suppose a foreigner living with you becomes rich, while some Israelites become poor and sell themselves as slaves to that foreigner or to a member of that foreigner’s family. 48 After they are sold, they still have the right to be bought back. A brother 49 or an uncle or a cousin or another close relative may buy them back; or if they themselves earn enough, they may buy their own freedom. 50 They must consult the one who bought them, and they must count the years from the time they sold themselves until the next Year of Restoration and must set the price for their release on the basis of the wages paid hired workers. 51-52 They must refund a part of the purchase price according to the number of years left, 53 as if they had been hired on an annual basis. Their master must not treat them harshly. 54 If they are not set free in any of these ways, they and their children must be set free in the next Year of Restoration. 55 Israelites cannot be permanent slaves, because the people of Israel are the Lord’s slaves. He brought them out of Egypt; he is the Lord their God.
Today’s Key Verse: Leviticus 25:55
Israelites cannot be permanent slaves, because the people of Israel are the LORD’s slaves. He brought them out of Egypt; he is the LORD their God.
How were the people of God instructed to treat fellow Israelites who sold themselves as slaves? Today’s reading refers to the Israelites as “the LORD’s slaves.” What does the concept of being a slave of the LORD mean to you?
Holy God, I seek to obey your commands. Teach me your ways so that all I do and say this day is in accord with your will. I trust in your steadfast love and care. Amen.
Leviticus 27:1-15: Laws concerning gifts to the LORD are outlined.