Deuteronomy 15 continues the exposition of the fourth commandment (remember the Sabbath day) that was begun in Deut. 14:22. The chapter can be divided into two main parts. The first contains three provisions to help and protect needy fellow Israelites who fall into severe economic hardships such as inability to pay off debts, inability to get loans, and obligation to work as servants for many years (vv. 1-18). In each of these cases, provisions are made to ensure there is no systemic poverty among the community of Israel. The second part of the chapter deals with the consecration of the firstborn male livestock (cattle, sheep, and goats). The Israelites are commanded to offer unblemished firstborn animals to the Suzerain (Ruler) God at the central sanctuary (vv. 19-23).
Deuteronomy 15 can be outlined as follows:
• The Cancellation of Debts (Deut. 15:1 – 11)
◦ The Law of Cancellation Declared (Deut. 15:1)
◦ The Law of Cancellation Explained (Deut. 15:2 – 6)
◦ The Law of Cancellation Obeyed (Deut. 15:7 – 11)
• The Freeing of Servants (Deut. 15:12 – 18)
• The Law of the Firstborn (Deut. 15:19 – 23)
Moses commands the Israelite creditors to grant a remission of debts to fellow Israelites in the Sabbath year.
Moses urged the Israelite creditors not to be reluctant to lend money to their needy brothers when the year of remission is near, because the Suzerain (Ruler) God will greatly bless those who give freely and generously.
Moses asks every Hebrew master to release his Hebrew servant after six years, unless the servant decides to remain with him.
Moses commands the Israelites to set apart all the firstborn males of their domesticated animals to the Suzerain (Ruler) God.