Bible study 115 – Leviticus 25

Every seventh year is a “sabbath of complete rest for the land”, and everyone has to live on the previous year’s harvest until the next year.

Then, for every fiftieth year, there is a tradition I’ve never heard of: the jubilee. The jubilee basically resets Israelite society: Everyone returns to their ancestral lands, all land returns to their original owners, and all Israelite servants are freed from their contracts (as opposed to every seventh year, which was actually ordered in Exodus 21). In effect, you can only lease land (or slaves) for maximum 50 years. I thought this was a really nifty innovation. It should be a stabilizing and equalizing force in society and though it probably has lots of pitfalls, I would love to see how it turned out in practice. Unfortunately, the Oxford Bible notes inform me that there is no historical evidence of the jubilee actually having been practiced.

Everyone are also strongly encouraged not to sell (or in effect, rent out) land except in desperate circumstances, and to take it back at the first possible opportunity without waiting for the jubilee; and to help any relatives with the same.

Unfortunately, foreign slaves are not part of this jubilee tradition.

Leviticus 25:46
You may keep them as a possession for your children after you, for them to inherit as property. These you may treat as slaves, but as for your fellow Israelites, no one shall rule over the other with harshness.

Full text.


2 Comments on “Bible study 115 – Leviticus 25”

  1. […] (The lands of each tribe are supposed to belong to that tribe for eternity. Remember, during the jubilee even lands sold to other tribes are to be returned to the tribe who originally owned […]

  2. […] Exodus 21, the Israelites were commanded to free male Hebrew slaves after seven years; and in Leviticus 25, to nullify all dept every fiftieth year (the jubilee). Now, both male and female Hebrew slaves are […]

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