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25 The Eternal One addressed Moses on Mount Sinai.

Eternal One: Go, talk with the Israelites and tell them that when you arrive in the land I have promised to give to you, you are to make sure the land observes a Sabbath rest before Me. Plant your fields, take care of your vineyards, and harvest your crops for six years; but when the seventh year arrives, I want the entire land to have a Sabbath rest to Me. Do not plant your fields or prune your vineyards during this seventh year. Do not harvest whatever grows on its own from earlier plantings, and do not pick grapes from the unpruned vines. The entire year is to be a year of Sabbath rest for the land. 6-7 You, your slaves, your hired workers, the outsiders living among you, your domesticated and the wild animals may eat whatever the land produces naturally during the Sabbath year.

You are to count off seven Sabbath years (that’s seven times seven years), which gives you 49 years. After the 49th year is over, sound a ram’s horn across the land in the 50th year on the tenth day of the seventh month. Sound the ram’s horn throughout the land on the Day of Atonement. 10 When the 50th year arrives, sanctify it and declare liberty throughout the land for all who live there—dramatic, radical liberty for all. It is to be your jubilee year. Each of you is allowed to go back to the land that belonged to your ancestors; and each of you may return to your own family. 11-12 The 50th year is to be your jubilee year. Do not plant. Do not harvest anything that grows on its own or pick grapes from the unpruned vines. You may eat what the land produces naturally. For it is a jubilee, a special, sacred time for you.

The year of jubilee is a far-reaching idea in the ancient world. In the 50th year, land that has been sold to pay debts during the preceding 49 years returns to its original owners. Israelites who had to sell themselves into slavery to pay debts are set free. All debts are declared “paid in full.” The jubilee is a regular reminder to God’s covenant people that every acre of ground, every soul belongs to God, not to those rich enough to buy them. Actually land cannot be sold; it can only be leased in 50-year increments, from jubilee to jubilee. So God’s law protects the welfare of future generations by preventing the permanent transfer of land and wealth outside the control of the family.

Eternal One: 13 Everyone will return to his ancestral property during the year of jubilee. 14 If you sell something to a friend or buy something from your neighbor, do it honestly. 15 When you lease property from a friend, you should pay only for the time you get to use it. He will base the price on the number of harvest years remaining until the jubilee returns. 16 You will raise the price if the jubilee year is far away. You will lower the price if the year is near, for what you are really buying is the number of harvests you can get in before the next jubilee. 17 Do not cheat each other. Instead, fear the God who has power over you; for I am the Eternal One, your God.

18 So follow My directives and live by My rules; as you do, you and your people will most certainly be secure in the land I will give you. 19 The land will produce an abundance of food, and you will have all you need to eat and live safely in the land. 20 You might ask, “What will we eat in the seventh year if we don’t plant and harvest crops?” 21 Don’t worry. I will direct My blessing to come to you during the sixth year so that the land will produce three years’ worth of crops in that one year: 22 Even while you are planting during the eighth year, you will eat your fill of the previous crops harvested in the sixth year. You will eat those crops right up until the time when you harvest the new crops in the ninth year.

23 You are not allowed to sell the land in perpetuity because it isn’t actually yours. The land belongs to Me. You will always be strangers and outsiders living in My land. 24 So every plot of ground you possess carries a “right of redemption.”

25 If your fellow citizen becomes so impoverished that he has no choice but to sell off a portion of his land, then his nearest family relation is to buy back the portion sold for him. 26 If a man doesn’t have any relatives but finds a way to earn the money to redeem his land himself, 27 then he will buy it back from the man who bought the land from him, less the profit the buyer would have made in the years since he leased it; then the original owner can go back to live on his land. 28 But if a man does not earn or find the money he needs to buy back his land, then the man who leased the land will keep it until the year of jubilee. When the year of jubilee arrives, the land will return to the possession of its original owner.

29 By the same token, anyone who sells a house that is located within the city walls has one year to buy the house back after it is sold. The right of redemption lasts only one year. 30 If the seller does not buy back his house within a year of the date it was sold, then the house located within the city walls belongs to the new owner for all his generations. It will not go back to the original owner in the year of jubilee.

The houses located within the city walls are not protected from permanent sale probably because city dwellers do not live off the land.

31 The houses in towns that have no walls are classified as fields. They are subject to the rights of redemption and return to their original owner in the year of jubilee, just like any other field. 32 In the Levites’ cities, the houses permanently carry the right of redemption: 33 The Levites are able to redeem any and all property, and any house that is sold goes back to its original owner when the year of jubilee arrives because all the houses are the Levites’ inheritance from the other tribes of Israel. 34 The open country around the cities and villages is not allowed to be sold because this land belongs to them for all time.

Levites do not share the land inheritance with the other tribes, so their homes are their inheritance and will come back to them at the jubilee.

35 If your fellow citizen becomes poor and cannot take care of his needs, then you must support him with what you have. Look after him, as you would a stranger or outsider, so he may keep living in your community. 36 Let him borrow, but charge no interest and do not look for ways to profit from his need. Instead, fear God, and allow your fellow citizen to live alongside you. 37 Do not ask for interest when you lend him money. Do not try to profit by selling him your food. 38 I am the Eternal One, your God, the One who led you out of Egypt so that I could give you the land of Canaan and be your God.

39 If your fellow citizen becomes so poor that he must sell himself to you as a slave, do not treat him as a slave. 40 Have him work for you as a hired hand, as an outsider might, until the year of jubilee. 41 Then he and his children will be released from your service, and he will return to his family and to the property that belonged to his ancestors. 42 After all, they are My servants; I led them out of Egypt so they must never be sold as slaves. 43 You are not allowed to treat them badly. Instead fear your God. 44 On the other hand, you may acquire slaves, both men and women, from the nations surrounding you 45 and from the outsiders who live among you. You can acquire their family members who have been born in the land. You can keep them as property 46 and pass them down to your children as part of their inheritance for all time. You may continue to own them, even after jubilee. Remember if your slave is a fellow Israelite, then you must not deal with him harshly.

47 If a foreigner or outsider living among you becomes rich enough to buy a slave, and one of your fellow citizens has become poor enough he has to sell himself as a slave to him or to his extended family, 48-49 then your fellow citizen has the right to be redeemed. One of his brothers, his uncle, his cousin, or any more distant relative may buy him back. If he makes enough money, he can purchase his own freedom. 50 As for the man who bought him, he and the buyer will determine the price based on how many years are between the year he sold himself and the year of jubilee. The time with his owner must be valued as if he were a hired hand. 51-52 Whether there are many years left before the jubilee or just a few, the cost of his redemption is determined by those remaining years. 53 He must be treated as a laborer hired year to year, and you need to make sure the owner does not treat him harshly. 54 If he is not able to gain his freedom this way, he and his children will be freed in the year of jubilee. 55 For the Israelites are truly My servants; I brought them out of the land of Egypt. I am the Eternal One, your God.

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