16-18 Don’t feel you’ve been cheated when you set your slave free. It would have cost you twice as much to hire someone to do the same work over those six years, and He will bless you in everything you do because of your generosity. But perhaps your slave will say to you at the end of the six years, “I don’t want to be set free! I love you and your whole family. It’s really good for me to be here with you.” You can accept a slave like this into lifetime service. Perform a special ceremony to mark his new status. Have the slave stand right next to the door of your house, take an awl, and drive it through the slave’s ear lobe into the door. Then pull it out. This will make marks in the ear lobe and in the door that will symbolize the slave. Either a male or a female slave can enter lifetime service this way with this physical mark.
19 If the firstborn of any animal in your herd or flock is a male, set it apart or consecrate it for the Eternal your God. Don’t put the firstborn of any ox to work, and don’t shear your firstborn sheep. These animals already belong to the Eternal One, so their labor and products belong to Him too.20 Bring them every year to the place the Eternal will choose, and make them part of the feast you and your household eat in the presence of the Eternal your God.
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