Biblical Principle #227: Israel to Keep Year of Jubilee

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Under the Law of Moses, Israel was to celebrate every 50th year as a Year of Jubilee.


GOD told Moses to have Israel celebrate a year-long Jubilee every 50th year. It was to be a holy year where the land was to be left unworked, just like the Sabbath year (every 7th year).

This Jubilee carried the concept of remission or forgiveness, a reset throughout the land. All land within Israel’s territory was redistributed to the tribe and family to whom it was originally divided upon conquest.

Israelites who had become poor and sold themselves into servitude were set free at Jubilee.

Instructions regarding the Year of Jubilee are given in Leviticus 25, which is inserted below. Note that the Septuagint which I am using, the Orthodox Study Bible, uses the phrase “Year of Redemption” instead of “Year of Jubilee” here. This version does use the term Jubilee in Leviticus 27:18, however.

8 ‘You shall also count seven years of rest for yourself, seven times seven years; and the time of the seven weeks of years shall be to you forty-nine years. 9 Then you shall sound the trumpet throughout your land on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all your land. 10 Then you shall sanctify the fiftieth year, and proclaim remission throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall signal the Year of Remission for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his homeland. 11 That fiftieth year shall be the Signal of Remission for you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows by itself, nor gather its sanctified things. 12 For it is the Signal of Remission; it shall be holy to you; you shall eat its produce from the field.

13 ‘In this Year of Remission, each shall return to his possession. 14 Also, if you should make a sale of land to your neighbor or buy it from him, let a man not oppress his neighbor. 15 According to the number of years after the Signal, you shall buy land tenure from your neighbor, and he shall sell tenure to you according to the number of years of crops. 16 According to the increase in years, his acquisition price for tenure should be increased, and according to the fewer number of years his price should be diminished; for he sells to you according to the number of the crops. 17 Therefore, let not a man oppress his neighbor, but you shall fear the Lord your God; for I am the Lord your God.

18 ‘So you shall do all My ordinances and keep My judgments, and do them; then you will dwell in the land in confidence. 19 Then the land will yield its produce, and you will eat your fill, and dwell there in confidence. 20 But if you should say, “What shall we eat in this seventh year, since we shall not sow nor gather in our produce?” 21 Then I will command My blessing on you in the sixth year, and it will bring forth produce enough for three years. 22 And you shall sow in the eighth year, and eat from the old produce until the ninth year; until its produce comes in, you shall eat of the old harvest.

23 ‘The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is Mine; for in my sight you are resident aliens and sojourners. 24 According to all the land of your possession, you shall grant a ransom of the land. 25 If your brother with you becomes poor and has sold some of his possession, and his closest relative comes, then he may redeem what his brother sold. 26 Or if the poor man has no close relative to redeem it, but he himself becomes prosperous enough to redeem it, 27 then let him compute the years since its sale and return the remainder to the man to whom he sold it, that he may return to his possession. 28 But if he does not become prosperous enough to return to it himself, then what was sold shall remain in the hand of him who bought it until the Year of Remission; and in the Remission it shall be released, and he shall return to his possession.

29 ‘If a man sells a house in a walled city, then he may redeem it within a whole year after it is sold; within a full year he may redeem it. 30 But if it is not redeemed within the space of a full year, then the house in the walled city shall belong legally to him who bought it, throughout his generations. It shall not be released in the Remission. 31 However, the houses of unwalled villages shall be counted as belonging to the open country. They may be redeemed and released at any time during the Remission. 32 Nevertheless, the cities of the Levites, and the houses in the cities of their possession, the Levites may redeem at any time. 33 Even whoever purchases a house from the Levites, the house that was sold in the city of their possession shall be released in the Remission; for the houses in the cities of the Levites are their possession among the children of Israel. 34 But the fields set apart for their cities may not be sold, for this is their perpetual possession.

35 ‘If your brother becomes poor and weak in strength among you, then you shall help him, like a resident alien or a sojourner, that he may live with you. 36 Take no usury or interest from him; but fear your God—I am the Lord—that your brother may live with you. 37 You shall not lend him your money for usury, nor lend him your food at a profit. 38 I am the Lord your God, who brings you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan, so as to be your God.

39 ‘Now if your brother with you becomes poor and sells himself to you, you shall not compel him to serve as a slave. 40 But as a hired servant or a sojourner he shall be with you, and shall work for you until the Year of Remission. 41 Then in the Remission he shall depart from you—he and his children with him—and shall return to his own family. He shall return to the possession of his fathers. 42 For they are My personal servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold with the sale of a household servant. 43 You shall not overwork him with labor, but you shall fear the Lord your God. 44 As for the male and female servants you may have from the Gentiles around you, from them you may buy male and female servants. 45 Moreover you may buy some of the children of sojourners dwelling among you, and some of their families with you, which they beget in your land; and they shall become your possession. 46 You may also distribute them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them as a permanent possession. But regarding your brethren, the children of Israel, you shall not overwork him with labor.

47 ‘Now if a resident alien or sojourner with you prospers, and your brother becomes poor and sells himself to the resident alien or sojourner with you, or to a member of the resident alien’s family, 48 after he is sold he may be redeemed again. One of his brothers may redeem him; 49 or his uncle or his uncle’s son may redeem him; or anyone near of kin to him in his family may redeem him; or if he is able he may redeem himself. 50 Thus he shall compute the years with him who bought him: The price of his release shall be according to the number of years from the year that he was sold to him until the Year of Remission; it shall be according to the time he was a hired servant for him. 51 If there are still more years remaining to someone, he shall pay his ransom from the money of his sale. 52 Now if there remain but a few years until the Year of Remission, then he shall compute with him, and according to his years, he shall repay his ransom. 53 He shall be with him as a hired servant year by year, and you shall not allow someone to overwork him with labor in your sight. 54 But if he is not redeemed in these years he shall be released in the Year of Remission—he and his children with him. 55 For the children of Israel are personal servants to Me; they are My servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

Leviticus 25:8-55 OSB

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One response to “Biblical Principle #227: Israel to Keep Year of Jubilee”

  1. Matt Avatar

    From this story of Jubilee, we get another snapshot of the character of the Lord, who cares for both rich and poor…..

    His statutes promote a fairness, and evening of the scores between people after a set total of years…….50 in the case of Jubilee…..

    For HE cares for you……our Heavenly Father ❤️

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