Deuteronomy Chapter 15-17 : Easy-to-Read Version  | SearchSearch | Next Version | Previous Page | Next Page |

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The Special Year of Canceling Debts

15 “At the end of every seven years, you must cancel debts. 2This is the way you must do this: Every person that has lent money to another Israelite must cancel that debt. He should not ask a brother (an Israelite) to pay back that debt. Why? Because the Lord said to cancel debts during that year. 3You may require a foreigner to pay you back. But you must cancel any debt another Israelite owes you. 4There should not be any poor people in your country. Why? Because the Lord is giving you this land. And the Lord will greatly bless you. 5But this will happen only if you obey the Lord your God. You must be careful to obey every command that I have told you today. 6Then the Lord your God will bless you, like he promised. And you will have enough money to make loans to many nations. But you will not need to borrow from anyone. You will rule over many nations. But none of those nations will rule over you. 7“When you are living in the land the Lord your God is giving you, there might be a poor person among your people. You must not be selfish. You must not refuse to give help to that poor person. 8You must be willing to share with him. You must lend that person whatever he needs. 9“Don’t ever refuse to help someone simply because the seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near. Don’t let an evil thought like that enter your mind. You must never have bad thoughts about a person that needs help. You must not refuse to help him. If you don’t help that poor person, then he will complain to the Lord against you. And the Lord will find you guilty of sin. 10“Give the poor person all that you can. Don’t feel bad about giving to him. Why? Because the Lord your God will bless you for doing this good thing. He will bless you in all your work and in everything you do. 11There will always be poor people in the land. That is why I command you to be ready to help your brother. Give to the poor people in your land that need help.

Letting Slaves Go Free

12“You might buy a Hebrew man or woman to serve you as a slave. You may keep that person as a slave for six years. But in the seventh year, you must let that person go free. 13But when you let your slave go free, don’t send him away with nothing. 14You must give that person some of your animals, grain, and wine. The Lord your God blessed you and gave you plenty of good things. In the same way, you must give plenty of good things to your slave.15Remember, you were slaves in Egypt. And the Lord your God set you free. So that is why I am giving you this command today. 16“But one of your slaves might say to you, ‘I will not leave you.’ He might say this because he loves you and your family and because he has a good life with you. 17Make this servant put his ear against your door, and use a sharp tool to make a hole in his ear. This will show that he is your slave forever. You must do this even to the women slaves that want to stay with you. 18“Don’t feel bad about letting your slave go free. Remember, he served you six years at only half the money you would have paid a hired person. The Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.

Rules About Firstborn Animals

19“All the first male animals born in your herd and flock are special. You must give them to the Lord. Don’t use any of those animals for your work. And don’t cut wool from any of those sheep. 20Every year you must take those animals to the place the Lord your God will choose. There with the Lord, you and your family will eat those animals. 21“But if an animal has something wrong with it—if it is crippled or blind or has something else wrong with it—then you must not sacrifice that animal to the Lord your God. 22But you may eat the meat from that animal at home. Any person may eat it—people who are clean* and people who are unclean.* The rules for eating this meat is the same as the rules for eating gazelles and deer. 23But you must not eat the blood from the animal. You must pour the blood out on the ground like water.

clean Pure or acceptable to God for worship. unclean Not pure or not acceptable to God for worship.


16 “Remember the month of Abib.* At that time, you must celebrate Passover* to honor the Lord your God. Why? Because in that month the Lord your God brought you out from Egypt by night. 2You must go to the place the Lord will choose to be his special house. There you must offer the Passover sacrifice to honor the Lord. You must offer the cows and goats. 3Don’t eat bread that has yeast in it with this sacrifice. You must eat unleavened bread* for seven days. This bread is called ‘Bread of Trouble.’ It will help you remember the troubles you had in Egypt. Remember how quickly you had to leave that country! You must remember that day as long as you live. 4There must be no yeast in anyone’s house anywhere in the country for seven days. Also, all the meat you sacrifice on the evening of the first day must be eaten before morning. 5“You must not sacrifice the Passover animal in any of the towns that the Lord your God gives you. 6You must sacrifice the Passover animal only at the place that the Lord your God will choose to be his special house. There you must sacrifice the Passover animal in the evening when the sun goes down. This is the holiday when you remember that God brought you out of Egypt. 7You must cook the Passover meat and eat it at the place the Lord your God will choose. Then, in the morning, you may go back home. 8You must eat unleavened bread* six days. On the seventh day you must not do any work. On this day, the people will come together for a special meeting to honor the Lord your God.

Festival of Weeks (Pentecost)

9“You must count seven weeks from the time you began to harvest the grain. 10Then celebrate the Festival of Weeks for the Lord your God. Do this by bringing him some special gift you want to bring. Decide how much to give by thinking about how much the Lord your God has blessed you. 11Go to the place the Lord will choose to be his special house. You and your people should enjoy yourselves together there with the Lord your God. Take all your people with you—your sons, your daughters, and all your servants. Also, take the Levites,* foreigners, orphans,* and widows* living in your towns. 12Remember, you were slaves in Egypt. So be sure to obey these laws.

Festival of Shelters

13“Seven days after you have gathered your harvest in from your threshing floor* and from your winepress,* you should celebrate the Festival of Shelters. 14Enjoy yourselves at this festival—you, your sons, your daughters, all your servants, and the Levites,* foreigners, orphans,* and widows* living in your towns. 15Celebrate this festival for seven days at the special place the Lord will choose. Do this to honor the Lord your God. The Lord your God blessed your harvest and all the work you did. So be very happy! 16“Three times a year all your men must come to meet with the Lord your God at the special place he will choose. They must come for the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks, and the Festival of Shelters. Every person that comes to meet with the Lord must bring a gift. 17Each man should give as much as he can. He should decide how much to give by thinking about how much the Lord has given him.

Judges and Officers for the People

18“Choose men to be judges and officers in every town that the Lord your God gives you. Every family group must do this. And these men must be fair in judging the people. 19You must always be fair. You must not favor some people over other people. You must not take money to change your mind in judgment. Money blinds the eyes of wise people and changes what a good person will say. 20Goodness and Fairness! You must try very hard to be good and fair all the time! Then you will live and keep the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

God Hates Idols

21“When you set up an altar* for the Lord your God, you must not place beside the altar any of the wooden poles that honor the goddess Asherah.* 22And you must not set up special stones for worshiping false gods. The Lord your God hates those things.

Abib This name means “young heads of grain.” This is the first month of the Jewish calendar, also called Nisan. It was about the same time as March and April. Passover Important Jewish holy day. They ate a special meal on this day every spring to remember that God freed them from slavery in Egypt. unleavened bread Bread made without yeast. Levites People from the tribe of Levi. They helped the priests in the temple and worked for the civil government. orphans Children whose parents have died. widows Women whose husbands have died. Often these women had no one to care for them. threshing floor A place where grain is beaten or walked on to remove the hulls from the grain. winepress A place where people pressed grapes to make wine. This was often a shallow hole carved in rock. altar(s) A table or raised area used for offering sacrifices.  Asherah A goddess that the Assyrians and Canaanites worshiped. They thought she could help them have children.

Use Only Good Animals for Sacrifices

17 “You must not sacrifice to the Lord your God a cow or sheep if there is anything wrong with it. Why? Because the Lord your God hates it!

Punishment for Worshiping Idols

2“You might hear about an evil thing that happens in one of the cities that the Lord your God is giving you. You might hear that a man or woman in your group has sinned against the Lord. You might hear that they have broken the Agreement of the Lord—3that they have worshiped other gods. Or maybe that they have worshiped the sun, the moon or the stars. That is against the Lord’s command that I gave you. 4If you hear bad news like this, then you must check it carefully. You must learn if it is true that this terrible thing has really happened in Israel. If you prove that it is true, 5then you must punish the person that did that evil thing. You must take that man or woman out to a public place near the city gates and kill them with stones. 6But a person should not be punished with death if only one witness says that person did the evil thing. But if two or three witnesses say it is true, then the person must be killed. 7The witnesses must throw the first stones to kill that person. Then the other people should throw stones to finish killing him. In this way, you will remove that evil from your group.

Difficult Court Decisions

8“There might be some problems that are too hard for your courts to judge. It might be a murder case or an argument between two people. Or it might be a fight in which someone was hurt. When these cases are argued in your towns, your judges there might not be able to decide what is right. Then you must go to the special place that the Lord your God will choose. 9The priests are from the Levi family group. You must go to those priests and to the judge on duty at that time. Those men will decide what to do about that problem. 10There at the Lord’s special place they will tell you their decision. You must do whatever they say. Be sure to do all the things they tell you to do. 11You must accept their decision and follow their instructions exactly. You must do exactly what they tell you to do—don’t change anything! 12“You must punish any person that refuses to obey the judge or the priest that is there at that time serving the Lord your God. That person must die. You must remove that evil person from Israel. 13All the people will hear about this punishment and be afraid. And they will not be stubborn any more.

How to Choose a King

14“You will enter the land that the Lord your God is giving you. You will take that land and live in it. Then you will say, ‘We will put a king over us, like all the nations around us.’ 15When that happens, then you must be sure to choose the king that the Lord chooses. The king over you must be one of your own people. You must not make a foreigner your king. 16The king must not get more and more horses for himself. And he must not send people to Egypt to get more horses. Why? Because the Lord has told you, ‘You must never go back that way.’ 17Also, the king must not have too many wives. Why? Because that will make him turn away from the Lord. And the king must not make himself rich with silver and gold. 18“And when the king begins to rule, he must write a copy of the law for himself in a book. He must make that copy from the books that the priests and Levites* keep. 19The king must keep that book with him. He must read from that book all his life. Why? Because the king must learn to respect the Lord his God. And the king must learn to completely obey everything the law commands. 20Then the king will not think that he is better than any of his own people. And he will not turn away from the law, but he will follow it exactly. Then that king and his descendants* will rule the kingdom of Israel a long time.

Levites People from the tribe of Levi. They helped the priests in the temple and worked for the civil government. descendants A person’s children and their future families.

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