Life of Moses: The Year of Jubilee

Peter Barnes: Leviticus 25

(1 September 2019)

C. R. North says that the fiftieth year is the forty-ninth year, while Gordon Wenham says the fiftieth year was a short one of 49 days, but all that seems to evade the straightforward view that every fifty years in Israel property and people were to be released. There was to be a sabbath for the land and redemption of property (25:2-34) and kindness to the poor and redemption for slaves (25:35-55). There is no record that it was ever kept – 2 Chron.36:21.

1. The land is rested and redeemed.

– 25:1-7. There was to be no organised farming, and Israelites were simply to eat what grew by itself. Leaving land fallow for a year would have benefits for the soil but it seems to be more to encourage the Israelites to rest in God’s redemption – 25:17, 18-22. The land is God’s, not Israel’s – 25:23-24.

– 25:9-10. It is also called the year of the ram’s horn. Land could be redeemed before the Year of Jubilee but the kinsman-redeemer (cf. Ruth 4:1-4; Job 19:25) had to pay a proportion of its price. In the Year of Jubilee it is simply released. Urban houses were exempted (25:29-31) and the 48 Levitical cities (25:32-34).

2. Slaves are redeemed.

– 25:35-38. If he sells himself into debt slavery, he is to be treated as an indentured servant – 25:39-43. Foreign slaves were allowed (25:44-46). Redemption was possible before the Year of Jubilee but it certainly occurred with the Year of Jubilee – 25:52-55 (cf. Ex.21:2; Deut.15:12).

3. Christ is the true jubilee.

– Isa.61:1-3. The servant will usher in an expanded Year of Jubilee!

– Luke 4:16-21.