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25
The Sabbatical Year.
1The Lord said to Moses on Mount Sinai: 2#As every seventh day is to be a day of rest (cf. 23:3), so every seventh year is a year of rest (cf. 26:34–35, 43). The rest consists in not doing agricultural work. The people are to live off what grows naturally in the fields (vv. 6–7). Verses 19–22 add insurance by saying that God will make the sixth-year crop abundant such that its excess will stretch over the seventh sabbatical year as well as the eighth year when new crops are not yet harvested (cf. 26:10). Cf. Ex 23:10–11. Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When you enter the land that I am giving you, let the land, too, keep a sabbath for the Lord. 3For six years you may sow your field, and for six years prune your vineyard, gathering in their produce.#a. [25:3] Ex 23:10–11. 4But during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath of complete rest, a sabbath for the Lord,#b. [25:4] Lv 26:34; 1 Mc 6:49, 53. when you may neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard. 5The aftergrowth of your harvest you shall not reap, nor shall you pick the grapes of your untrimmed vines. It shall be a year of rest for the land. 6While the land has its sabbath, all its produce will be food to eat for you yourself and for your male and female slave, for your laborer and the tenant who live with you, 7and likewise for your livestock and for the wild animals on your land.
The Jubilee Year.
8#The fiftieth year is the jubilee, determined by counting off “seven weeks of years.” It is sacred, like the sabbath day. Specifically, in it indentured Israelites return to their own households and land that has been sold returns to its original owner. Different laws are found in Ex 21:1–6; Dt 15:1–3, 12–18 (cf. Jer 34:8–22). You shall count seven weeks of years—seven times seven years—such that the seven weeks of years amount to forty-nine years. 9Then, on the tenth day of the seventh month#Seventh month: the priestly laws reflect the use of two calendars, one starting in the spring (cf. chap. 23) and one in the fall. The jubilee is calculated on the basis of the latter. Ram’s horn: Hebrew shophar. The name for the year, jubilee (Heb. yobel), also means “ram’s horn” and comes from the horn blown to announce the occasion. let the ram’s horn resound; on this, the Day of Atonement,#c. [25:9] Lv 16:29. the ram’s horn blast shall resound throughout your land. 10You shall treat this fiftieth year as sacred. You shall proclaim liberty in the land for all its inhabitants.#d. [25:10] Nm 36:4; Is 61:2; Jer 34:8–22; Ez 46:17; Lk 4:19. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to your own property, each of you to your own family. 11This fiftieth year is your year of jubilee; you shall not sow, nor shall you reap the aftergrowth or pick the untrimmed vines, 12since this is the jubilee. It shall be sacred for you. You may only eat what the field yields of itself.
13In this year of jubilee, then, each of you shall return to your own property. 14Therefore, when you sell any land to your neighbor or buy any from your neighbor, do not deal unfairly with one another. 15On the basis of the number of years since the last jubilee you shall purchase the land from your neighbor;#e. [25:15] Lv 27:18, 23. and so also, on the basis of the number of years of harvest, that person shall sell it to you. 16When the years are many, the price shall be so much the more; when the years are few, the price shall be so much the less. For it is really the number of harvests that the person sells you. 17Do not deal unfairly with one another, then; but stand in fear of your God. I, the Lord, am your God.
18Observe my statutes and be careful to keep my ordinances, so that you will dwell securely in the land. 19The land will yield its fruit and you will eat your fill, and live there securely.#f. [25:19] Lv 26:5–6. 20And if you say, “What shall we eat in the seventh year, if we do not sow or reap our crop?”#g. [25:20] Mt 6:25, 31–34; Lk 12:22, 29. 21I will command such a blessing for you in the sixth year that there will be crop enough for three years, 22and when you sow in the eighth year, you will still be eating from the old crop; even into the ninth year, until the crop comes in, you will still be eating from the old crop.#h. [25:22] Lv 26:10.
Redemption of Property.
#This is a series of laws dealing mainly with situations of poverty in which one has to sell land, obtain a loan, or become indentured. Many of the laws are connected with the release of debts in the jubilee year. 23The land shall not be sold irrevocably; for the land is mine, and you are but resident aliens and under my authority. 24Therefore, in every part of the country that you occupy, you must permit the land to be redeemed. 25When one of your kindred is reduced to poverty and has to sell some property, that person’s closest relative,#A close family member is responsible for redemption. Some of these are specified in v. 49. who has the duty to redeem it, shall come and redeem what the relative has sold.#i. [25:25] Ru 2:20; 4:4, 6; Jer 32:7–8. 26If, however, the person has no relative to redeem it, but later on acquires sufficient means to redeem it, 27the person shall calculate the years since the sale, return the balance to the one to whom it was sold, and thus regain the property.#j. [25:27] Lv 27:18, 23. 28But if the person does not acquire sufficient means to buy back the land, what was sold shall remain in the possession of the purchaser until the year of the jubilee, when it must be released and returned to the original owner.#k. [25:28] Lv 27:24.
29#Not being able to redeem a house in a walled city after one year is probably due to the demographic and economic situation of large towns as opposed to small villages and open agricultural areas. The agricultural lands associated with the latter were the foundation for the economic viability of the Israelite family, and as such, God—who is the ultimate owner of the land (25:23)—has assigned them to the Israelites as permanent holdings. When someone sells a dwelling in a walled town, it can be redeemed up to a full year after its sale—the redemption period is one year. 30But if such a house in a walled town has not been redeemed at the end of a full year, it shall belong irrevocably to the purchaser throughout the generations; it shall not be released in the jubilee. 31However, houses in villages that are not encircled by walls shall be reckoned as part of the surrounding farm land; they may be redeemed, and in the jubilee they must be released.
32#An exception to the rule in vv. 29–31 is made for levitical cities (Nm 35:1–8), since the Levites have no broad land holdings. Their houses can be redeemed and are to be released in the jubilee year. In levitical cities#l. [25:32] Nm 35:1–8. the Levites shall always have the right to redeem the houses in the cities that are in their possession. 33As for levitical property that goes unredeemed—houses sold in cities of their possession shall be released in the jubilee; for the houses in levitical cities are their possession in the midst of the Israelites. 34Moreover, the pasture land#m. [25:34] Nm 35:3. belonging to their cities shall not be sold at all; it must always remain their possession.
35When one of your kindred is reduced to poverty and becomes indebted to you, you shall support that person like a resident alien; let your kindred live with you. 36Do not exact interest in advance or accrued interest,#Interest in advance or accrued interest: two types of interest are mentioned here. The former may refer to interest subtracted from the loaned amount in advance, and the latter, to interest or a payment in addition to the loaned amount. but out of fear of God let your kindred live with you. 37#n. [25:37] Ex 22:24; Dt 23:20. Do not give your money at interest or your food at a profit. 38I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.
39#Here the individual Israelite has no assets and must become indentured to another Israelite for economic survival. No provision is given for redemption before the jubilee year, though such is probably allowed. When your kindred with you, having been so reduced to poverty, sell themselves to you, do not make them work as slaves.#o. [25:39] Ex 21:2–11; Dt 15:12–18; 1 Kgs 9:22; Jer 34:8–22. 40Rather, let them be like laborers or like your tenants, working with you until the jubilee year, 41when, together with any children, they shall be released from your service and return to their family and to their ancestral property. 42Since they are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt, they shall not sell themselves as slaves are sold. 43Do not lord it over them harshly, but stand in fear of your God.
44#While Israelites may not be held as permanent slaves (vv. 39–43, 47–55), foreigners may be. They are not released in the jubilee, but may be bequeathed to one’s children. They may be treated as “slaves,” i.e., harshly (cf. Ex 21:20–21). The male and female slaves that you possess—these you shall acquire from the nations round about you.#p. [25:44] Dt 21:10–14. 45You may also acquire them from among the resident aliens who reside with you, and from their families who are with you, those whom they bore in your land. These you may possess, 46and bequeath to your children as their hereditary possession forever. You may treat them as slaves. But none of you shall lord it harshly over any of your fellow Israelites.#q. [25:46] Is 14:1–2.
47When your kindred, having been so reduced to poverty, sell themselves to a resident alien who has become wealthy or to descendants of a resident alien’s family, 48even after having sold themselves, they still may be redeemed by one of their kindred, 49by an uncle or cousin, or by some other relative from their family; or, having acquired the means, they may pay the redemption price themselves. 50With the purchaser they shall compute the years from the sale to the jubilee, distributing the sale price over these years as though they had been hired as laborers. 51The more years there are, the more of the sale price they shall pay back as the redemption price; 52the fewer years there are before the jubilee year, the more they have as credit; in proportion to the years of service they shall pay the redemption price. 53The tenant alien shall treat those who sold themselves as laborers hired on an annual basis, and the alien shall not lord it over them harshly before your very eyes. 54And if they are not redeemed by these means, they shall nevertheless be released, together with any children, in the jubilee year. 55For the Israelites belong to me as servants; they are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt, I, the Lord, your God.
25
The Seventh Year
(Deuteronomy 15.1-11)
1 # Ex 23.10,11 The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai and commanded him 2to give the following regulations to the people of Israel. When you enter the land that the Lord is giving you, you shall honor the Lord by not cultivating the land every seventh year. 3You shall plant your fields, prune your vineyards, and gather your crops for six years. 4But the seventh year is to be a year of complete rest for the land, a year dedicated to the Lord. Do not plant your fields or prune your vineyards. 5Do not even harvest the grain that grows by itself without being planted, and do not gather the grapes from your unpruned vines; it is a year of complete rest for the land. 6Although the land has not been cultivated during that year, it will provide food for you, your slaves, your hired men, the foreigners living with you, 7your domestic animals, and the wild animals in your fields. Everything that it produces may be eaten.
The Year of Restoration
8Count seven times seven years, a total of forty-nine years. 9Then, on the tenth day of the seventh month, the Day of Atonement, send someone to blow a trumpet throughout the whole land. 10In this way you shall set the fiftieth year apart and proclaim freedom to all the inhabitants of the land. During this year all property that has been sold shall be restored to the original owner or the descendants, and any who have been sold as slaves shall return to their families. 11You shall not plant your fields or harvest the grain that grows by itself or gather the grapes in your unpruned vineyards. 12The whole year shall be sacred for you; you shall eat only what the fields produce of themselves.
13In this year all property that has been sold shall be restored to its original owner. 14So when you sell land to an Israelite or buy land, do not deal unfairly. 15The price is to be set according to the number of years the land can produce crops before the next Year of Restoration. 16If there are many years, the price shall be higher, but if there are only a few years, the price shall be lower, because what is being sold is the number of crops the land can produce. 17Do not cheat an Israelite, but obey the Lord your God.
The Problem of the Seventh Year
18Obey all the Lord's laws and commands, so that you may live in safety in the land. 19The land will produce its crops, and you will have all you want to eat and will live in safety.
20But someone may ask what there will be to eat during the seventh year, when no fields are planted and no crops gathered. 21The Lord will bless the land in the sixth year so that it will produce enough food for two years. 22When you plant your fields in the eighth year, you will still be eating what you harvested during the sixth year, and you will have enough to eat until the crops you plant that year are harvested.
Restoration of Property
23Your land must not be sold on a permanent basis, because you do not own it; it belongs to God, and you are like foreigners who are allowed to make use of it.
24When land is sold, the right of the original owner to buy it back must be recognized. 25If any of you Israelites become poor and are forced to sell your land, your closest relative is to buy it back. 26If you have no relative to buy it back, you may later become prosperous and have enough to buy it back yourself. 27In that case you must pay to the one who bought it a sum that will make up for the years remaining until the next Year of Restoration, when you would in any event recover your land. 28But if you do not have enough money to buy the land back, it remains under the control of the one who bought it until the next Year of Restoration. In that year it will be returned to its original owner.
29If you sell a house in a walled city, you have the right to buy it back during the first full year from the date of sale. 30But if you do not buy it back within the year, you lose the right of repurchase, and the house becomes the permanent property of the purchasers and their descendants; it will not be returned in the Year of Restoration. 31But houses in unwalled villages are to be treated like fields; the original owner has the right to buy them back, and they are to be returned in the Year of Restoration. 32However, Levites have the right to buy back at any time their property in the cities assigned to them. 33If a house in one of these cities is sold by a Levite and is not bought back, it must be returned in the Year of Restoration,#25.33: Probable text If a house … Restoration; Hebrew unclear. because the houses which the Levites own in their cities are their permanent property among the people of Israel. 34But the pasture land around the Levite cities shall never be sold; it is their property forever.
Loans to the Poor
35 # Dt 15.7,8 If any Israelites living near you become poor and cannot support themselves, you must provide for them as you would for a hired worker, so that they can continue to live near you. 36Do not charge Israelites any interest, but obey God and let them live near you. 37#Ex 22.25; Dt 23.19,20 Do not make them pay interest on the money you lend them, and do not make a profit on the food you sell them. 38This is the command of the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt in order to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.
Release of Slaves
39 # Ex 21.2-6; Dt 15.12-18 If any Israelites living near you become so poor that they sell themselves to you as a slave, you shall not make them do the work of a slave. 40They shall stay with you as hired workers and serve you until the next Year of Restoration. 41At that time they and their children shall leave you and return to their family and to the property of their ancestors. 42The people of Israel are the Lord's slaves, and he brought them out of Egypt; they must not be sold into slavery. 43Do not treat them harshly, but obey your God. 44If you need slaves, you may buy them from the nations around you. 45You may also buy the children of the foreigners who are living among you. Such children born in your land may become your property, 46and you may leave them as an inheritance to your children, whom they must serve as long as they live. But you must not treat any Israelites harshly.
47Suppose a foreigner living with you becomes rich, while some Israelites become poor and sell themselves as slaves to that foreigner or to a member of that foreigner's family. 48After they are sold, they still have the right to be bought back. A brother 49or an uncle or a cousin or another close relative may buy them back; or if they themselves earn enough, they may buy their own freedom. 50They must consult the one who bought them, and they must count the years from the time they sold themselves until the next Year of Restoration and must set the price for their release on the basis of the wages paid hired workers. 51-52They must refund a part of the purchase price according to the number of years left, 53as if they had been hired on an annual basis. Their master must not treat them harshly. 54If they are not set free in any of these ways, they and their children must be set free in the next Year of Restoration. 55Israelites cannot be permanent slaves, because the people of Israel are the Lord's slaves. He brought them out of Egypt; he is the Lord their God.