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A Time of Rest for the Land
1The Lord spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai. He said, 2“Tell the Israelites: When you enter the land that I am giving to you, you must let the land have a special time of rest. This will be a special time of rest to honor the Lord. 3You will plant seed in your field for six years. You will trim your vineyards for six years and bring in its fruits. 4But during the seventh year, you will let the land rest. This will be a special time of rest to honor the Lord. You must not plant seed in your field or trim your vineyards. 5You must not cut the crops that grow by themselves after your harvest. You must not gather the grapes from your vines that are not trimmed. The land will have a year of rest.
6“The land will have a year of rest, but you will still have enough food. There will be enough food for your men and women servants. There will be food for your hired workers and for the foreigners living in your country. 7And there will be enough food for your cattle and other animals to eat.
Jubilee—the Year of Release
8“You will also count seven groups of seven years. This will be 49 years. During that time there will be seven years of rest for the land. 9On the Day of Atonement, you must blow a ram’s horn. That will be on the tenth day of the seventh month. You must blow the ram’s horn through the whole country. 10You will make the 50th year a special year. You will announce freedom for everyone living in your country. This time will be called ‘Jubilee.’ Each of you will go back to your own property.#25:10 own property In Israel, the land belonged to the family or tribe. A person might sell his land, but at Jubilee that land again belonged to the family and tribe that it was originally given to. And each of you will go back to your own family. 11The 50th year will be a special celebration#25:11 special celebration Literally, “Jubilee.” See “Jubilee” in the Word List. for you. Don’t plant seeds, don’t harvest the crops that grow by themselves, and don’t gather grapes from the vines that are not trimmed. 12That year is Jubilee. It will be a holy time for you. You will eat the crops that come from the field. 13In the year of Jubilee, you will go back to your own property.
14“Don’t cheat your neighbors when you sell your land to them. Don’t cheat one another when you buy or sell land. 15If you want to buy your neighbor’s land, count the number of years since the last Jubilee, and use that number to decide the right price. You are only buying the rights for harvesting crops until the next Jubilee. 16If there are many years before the next Jubilee, the price will be high. If the years are few, the price will be lower. So your neighbor is really only selling a number of crops to you. At the next Jubilee, the land will again belong to that family. 17You must not cheat each other. You must honor your God. I am the Lord your God.
18“Remember my laws and rules. Obey them and you will live safely in your country. 19And the land will produce good crops for you. Then you will have plenty of food, and you will live safely on the land.
20“But maybe you will say, ‘If we don’t plant seeds or gather our crops, we will not have anything to eat during the seventh year.’ 21I will order my blessing to come to you during the sixth year. The land will continue growing crops for three years. 22When you plant in the eighth year, you will still be eating from the old crop. You will eat the old crop until the ninth year, when the crop you planted in the eighth year comes in.
Property Laws
23“The land really belongs to me, so you cannot sell it permanently. You are only foreigners and travelers living on my land with me. 24People might sell their land, but the family will always get their land back. 25If someone in your country becomes very poor and must sell their property, a close relative must come and buy it back. 26If there is not a close relative to buy back the land, the person might get enough money to buy it back. 27Then the years must be counted since the land was sold. That number must be used to decide how much to pay for the land. The person must then buy back the land, and it will be their property again. 28But if this first owner cannot find enough money to buy the land back, it will stay in the hands of the one who bought it until the year of Jubilee. Then during that special celebration, the land will go back to the first owner’s family. So the property will again belong to the right family.
29“Anyone who sells a home in a walled city still has the right to get it back until a full year after it was sold. Their right to get the house back will continue one year. 30But if the owner does not buy back the house before a full year is finished, the house that is in the walled city will belong to the one who bought it and to their descendants. The house will not go back to the first owner at the time of Jubilee. 31Towns without walls around them will be treated like open fields. So houses built in these small towns will go back to the first owners at the time of Jubilee.
32“But about the cities of the Levites: The Levites can buy back at any time their houses in the cities that belong to them. 33If someone buys a house from a Levite, that house in the Levites’ city will again belong to the Levites at the time of Jubilee. This is because houses in Levite cities belong to those from the tribe of Levi. The Israelites gave these cities to the Levites. 34Also, the fields and pastures around the Levite cities cannot be sold. They belong to the Levites forever.
Rules for Slave Owners
35“If anyone from your own country becomes too poor to support themselves, you must let them live with you like a visitor. 36Don’t charge them any interest on money you might loan to them. Respect your God and let those from your own country live with you. 37Don’t charge them interest on any money you lend them. And don’t try to make a profit from the food you sell them. 38I am the Lord your God. I brought you out of the land of Egypt to give the land of Canaan to you and to become your God.
39“If anyone from your own country becomes so poor that they must sell themselves to you, don’t make them work like slaves. 40They will be like hired workers and visitors with you until the year of Jubilee. 41Then they can leave you, take their children, and go back to their family. They can go back to the property of their ancestors, 42because they are my servants. I brought them out of slavery in Egypt. They must not become slaves again. 43You must not be a cruel master to them. You must respect your God.
44“About your men and women slaves: You may get men and women slaves from the other nations around you. 45Also, you may get children as slaves if they come from the families of the foreigners living in your land. These child slaves will belong to you. 46You may even pass these foreign slaves on to your children after you die so that they will belong to them. They will be your slaves forever. You may make slaves of these foreigners. But you must not be a cruel master over your own brothers, the Israelites.
47“Maybe a foreigner or visitor among you becomes rich. Or maybe someone from your own country becomes so poor that they sell themselves as slaves to a foreigner living among you or to a member of a foreigner’s family. 48These people have the right to be bought back and become free. Someone from their own country can buy them back. 49Or their uncle, their cousin, or one of their close relatives from their family can buy him back. Or if they get enough money, they can pay the money themselves and become free again.
50“You must count the years from the time they sold themselves to the foreigner up to the next year of Jubilee. Use that number to decide the price, because really the person only ‘hired’ them for a few years. 51If there are still many years before the year of Jubilee, the one sold must give back a large part of the price. It all depends on the number of years. 52If only a few years are left until the year of Jubilee, the one who was sold must pay a small part of the original price. 53But that person will live like a hired worker with the foreigner every year. Don’t let the foreigner be a cruel master over that person.
54“Those who sold themselves will become free, even if no one buys them back. At the year of Jubilee, they and their children will become free. 55This is because the Israelites are my servants. They are the servants who I brought out of slavery in Egypt. I am the Lord your God!
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