Lev. 25, Sabbath and Jubilee Years

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Helen, Dec 19, 2002.

  1. Helen

    Helen
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    The Sabbath and Jubilee years are on the chart for the study on Leviticus 23, nevertheless, there are some details given in this chapter about these two special types of Sabbath rests that are quite interesting.

    Just as the people were told to work six days and take a Sabbath rest on the seventh, the land also was to be worked for six years and then have a rest on the seventh. On the Sabbath year the land was not to be worked or planted. Nor were the owners of the land to reap the harvests. Instead, the food which grew naturally was there for everyone, rich and poor, owner and slave. Each could take what he needed. This explains the seeming contradiction, which is confusing at best (NIV and other modern translations) and almost unintelligible at worst (KJV).

    But when we go back to the meanings of the words and phrases, the meaning becomes a little more clear. The reaping and harvesting which is forbidden in verse 5 is reference to the official affair controlled by the owner of the land. The commercial venture, in short, was forbidden. Instead, as per verse 6, whatever the land produced was to be food for all the people equally as well as the livestock and wild animals.

    There is a lovely symbolism here, for Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, and when He rules, there is enough for everyone and everything, with no concern for profit or ownership or any of the ways of man.

    Leviticus 25 then goes on to talk about a Jubilee Year. This followed seven Sabbath years, or 49 years. The 50th year was the Jubilee year, or a second year of Sabbath. It was also the year when any land which had been sold would be returned to its original family of ownership. All slaves were to be freed.

    In addition, each person was to return to his family property and his own clan. For the second year in a row, since the Jubilee year followed a regular Sabbath year, the land was to be allowed to lie fallow. The Lord then promises more than enough food for both years and into the third (when they are again planting crops) to sustain everyone if they obey Him.

    God warns the Israelites not to sell any of their land permanently because they are not the owners, only the tenants; God is the owner. It is interesting that Jesus referred to these terms in the parable He told in Matthew 21:33-40 about the landowner who left his vineyard in the care of the tenants, and what happened later. The Israelites knew the Law, which we consider the first five books of the Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), and they knew very well who the tenants were: themselves.

    The last half of Leviticua 25 is a series of detailed instructions regarding the fact that because in the Jubilee year all was returned to the original owners and therefore when land was sold, it was not not the land itself which was being sold, but the number of harvests until the Jubilee time to return the land which was being sold. In the same way, if a man sold himself into slavery to pay debts, he could only sell himself for the amount of years until the Jubilee, when he would become free again. So God says, simply and clearly, "do not take advantage of each other." The Israelites are not to treat other Israelites ruthlessly for, God says, "The Israelites belong to me as servants. They are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God."

    Rules regarding kinsman redeemers (which will figure prominently in the book of Ruth), the Levites and their property, houses in towns, alien slaves and alien freemen, and Israelites who become poor are all laid out in the second part of this chapter.

    It is a very sad thing that the Bible provides no record at all of the Israelites EVER obeying the law regarding either the Sabbath Year or the Jubilee year. Thus it may well be that the slaves which should have gone free never did and the land which should have had a rest never did, and that they did take advantage of each other.
     
  2. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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