Leviticus Chapter 25 The Sabbath Year, the Year of Jubilee and Redemption of the Land and the Poor

Nov 6, 2014  |  Leviticus, Old Testament  |  No Comments

The Sabbath Year:

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  • When the Israelites entered the land God gave them, they were to observe a sabbath year for the land.  For six years, they would sow their fields and prune their vineyards and gather their crops.  In the seventh year, they were not to sow their fields of prune their vineyards.  Anything produced in the fields and vineyards during this year were to be eaten as food.

The Year of Jubilee

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  • Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.  Everyone is to return to your family property and your own clan.
  • During the jubilee year:
    • do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines
    • eat only what is taken directly from the fields
    • everyone is to return to their own property
    • land that is purchased is to be prorated based on the number of years until the year of the jubilee
    • any Israelite who has become a servant must be released
  • Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God.
  • God promises a blessing on the sixth year, to enable the seventh year of rest for the land.

Redemption of the Land

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  • The land is not to be sold permanently for the land belongs to God.
  • A provision must be made to allow the land to be redeemed when it is sold.  So if someone sells their land, and they or a relative are able to buy it back based on the price and how long remains before the year of jubilee.
  • The land is to be returned to the original owner in the year of jubilee.
  • A house in a walled city retains the right of redemption for one year only.  After a year, the buyer owns the house permanently and it is not returned in the year of jubilee.
  • A house in a village is considered as part of the open country and the original rule applies.
  • The Levites may always hold the right of redemption in the Levitical towns, so they may sell their houses and they will be redeemed in the year of Jubilee.  The pastureland around the Levitical towns may not be sold.

Obligations to the Poor

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  • If one of the Israelites becomes poor, help them so they may continue to live among you.  Do not lend them money with interest or sell them food at a profit.  I am the Lord your God.
  • If any of your fellow Israelites sells themselves to you as a slave, treat them as temporary workers.  Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God.  They are to be released in the year of jubilee.
  • You may buy slaves from the nations around you and they will be your permanent property.
  • If a foreigner living among you becomes rich and any of your fellow Israelites becomes poor and sells themselves to the foreigner, they retain the right of redemption.  Either they or a relative may redeem them.  You are to see that they are not ruled over ruthlessly.  They and their children are to be released in the year of jubilee

Principles from This Chapter:

There are principles here that we should take to heart.

  • When God commands something hard, like the Sabbath Year, trust Him to provide to make it possible – here he promises a bountiful harvest in the sixth year to allow the Sabbath Year
  • Help the poor and don’t make a profit doing so.
  • Don’t take advantage of others.
  • Don’t rule over others ruthlessly

Questions and Challenges of These Commands:

Both the sabbath year rest of the land and the Year of Jubilee really shake things up.  I don’t know if either of these were ever observed, but it’s hard to imagine how disruptive and equalizing it would be.

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