Leviticus 25: Sabbath and Jubilee
The Sabbath Year
The Year of Jubilee
The Sabbath Year
Lord said to Moses at Mount Sinai,
Give the Promised Land a year of rest
to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I
am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to
six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards
and gather their crops.
in the seventh year the land is to have
a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord.
How that is to work
not sow your fields or prune your vineyards.
not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended
vines. The land is to have a year of rest.
the land yields during the sabbath year will be food for you—for
yourself, your male and female servants, and the hired worker
and temporary resident who live among you,
well as for your livestock and the wild animals in your land.
Whatever the land produces may be eaten.
Whether these laws were actually applied almost certainly
depended on whether there was a godly ruler. Farmers acknowledge
that every now and then, land needs resting [perhaps ignored under
modern conditions where farmers regularly feed the soil with fertilizers].
God's wisdom, conveyed through Moses, required the land to be
rested every seven years. For six years they could sow and harvest
but on the seventh year they should not sow and simply take whatever
the land naturally produced.]
The Year of Jubilee
When and how Jubilee starts
off seven sabbath years—seven times seven years—so that the seven
sabbath years amount to a period of forty-nine years.
have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the
tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement
sound the trumpet throughout your land.
Return & Rest
the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to
all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you
is to return to your family property and to
your own clan.
fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and
do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended
it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken
directly from the fields.
Taking account of Jubilee when buying or selling land
this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to their own
you sell land to any of your own people or buy land from them,
do not take advantage of each other.
are to buy from your own people on the basis of the number of
years since the Jubilee. And they are to sell to you on the basis
of the number of years left for harvesting crops.
the years are many, you are to increase the price, and when the
years are few, you are to decrease the price, because what is
really being sold to you is the number of crops.
not take advantage of each other, but fear your God. I am the
Lord your God.
Two Conditions & Two Blessings
my decrees and be careful to obey my laws ,
and you will live safely in the land.
the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat
your fill and live there in safety.
God's Provision over Jubilee
may ask, “What will we eat in the seventh year if we do not plant
or harvest our crops?”
will send you such a blessing in the sixth year that the land
will yield enough for three years.
you plant during the eighth year, you will eat from the old crop
and will continue to eat from it until the harvest of the ninth
year comes in.
Holding the land as temporary stewards
land must not be sold permanently , because the
land is mine and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers.
the land that you hold as a possession , you
must provide for the redemption of the land.
Rights of Redemption
one of your fellow Israelites becomes poor and sells some of their
property, their nearest relative is to come and redeem what they
however, there is no one to redeem it for them but later on they
prosper and acquire sufficient means to redeem it themselves,
are to determine the value for the years since they sold it and
refund the balance to the one to whom they sold it; they can then
go back to their own property.
if they do not acquire the means to repay, what was sold will
remain in the possession of the buyer until the Year of Jubilee.
It will be returned in the Jubilee, and they can then go back
to their property.
Redemption in Cities
who sells a house in a walled city retains the right of redemption
a full year after its sale. During that time the seller may redeem
it is not redeemed before a full year has passed, the house in
the walled city shall belong permanently to the buyer and the
buyer's descendants. It is not to be returned in the Jubilee.
Redemption in Villages
houses in villages without walls around them are to be considered
as belonging to the open country. They can be redeemed, and they
are to be returned in the Jubilee.
Redemption for Levites
Levites always have the right to redeem their houses in the Levitical
towns, which they possess.
the property of the Levites is redeemable—that is, a house sold
in any town they hold—and is to be returned in the Jubilee, because
the houses in the towns of the Levites are their property among
the pastureland belonging to their towns must not be sold; it
is their permanent possession.
Supporting the Poor
any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support
themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger,
so they can continue to live among you.
not take interest or any profit from them, but fear your God,
so that they may continue to live among you.
must not lend them money at interest or sell them food at a profit.
am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt to give you
the land of Canaan and to be your God.
Indentured Servants not Slaves
any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves
to you, do not make them work as slaves.
are to be treated as hired workers or temporary residents
among you; they are to work for you until the Year of
they and their children are to be released,
and they will go back to their own clans and to the property of
the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they
must not be sold as slaves.
not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God.
male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you;
from them you may buy slaves.
may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you
and members of their clans born in your country, and they will
become your property.
can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can
make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow
Redemption Rights & Foreigners
a foreigner residing among you becomes rich and any of your fellow
Israelites become poor and sell themselves to the foreigner or
to a member of the foreigner's clan,
retain the right of redemption after they have sold themselves.
One of their relatives may redeem them:
uncle or a cousin or any blood relative in their clan may redeem
them. Or if they prosper, they may redeem themselves.
and their buyer are to count the time from the year they sold
themselves up to the Year of Jubilee. The price for their release
is to be based on the rate paid to a hired worker for that number
many years remain, they must pay for their redemption a larger
share of the price paid for them.
only a few years remain until the Year of Jubilee, they are to
compute that and pay for their redemption accordingly.
are to be treated as workers hired from year to year; you must
see to it that those to whom they owe service do not rule over
General Release at Jubilee
if someone is not redeemed in any of these ways, they and their
children are to be released in the Year of Jubilee,
the Israelites belong to me as servants. They are my servants,
whom I brought out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
Again, whether these laws were actually applied almost
certainly depended on whether there was a godly ruler. Jubilee
– the fiftieth year – was like resetting the clock, with land
being returned to original owners and servants being released.
Note clearly that no Israelite was to be viewed as a slave, only
as hired workers and treated accordingly. These commands were
radical in that if you bought land belonging to another (going
back presumably to the original occupation in tribal areas) you
did it with the recognition that, we might say today, you are
a temporary ‘leaseholder'. In Israel God was the ultimate owner
of all the land [v.23] and every ‘owner should honour and respect
that by obeying Jubilee.]