Leviticus 25


The law concerning the Sabbatical or seventh year repeated,


The law relative to the jubilee, or fiftieth year, and the

hallowing of the fiftieth, 8-12.

In the year of jubilee every one to return unto his

possessions, 13.

None to oppress another in buying and selling, 14.

Purchases to be rated from jubilee to jubilee, according to the

number of years unexpired, 15-17.

Promises to obedience, 18,19.

Promises relative to the Sabbatical year, 20-22.

No inheritance must be finally alienated, 23, 24.

No advantage to be taken of a man's poverty in buying his land,


Ordinances relative to the selling of a house in a walled city,

29, 30;

in a village, 31.

Houses of the Levites may be redeemed at any time, 32, 33.

The fields of the Levites in the suburbs must not be sold, 34.

No usury to be taken from a poor brother, 35-38.

If an Israelite be sold to an Israelite, he must not be obliged

to serve as a slave, 39,

but be as a hired servant or as a sojourner, till the year of

jubilee, 40,

when he and his family shall have liberty to depart, 41;

because God claims all Israelites as his servants, having

redeemed them from bondage in Egypt, 42, 43.

The Israelites are permitted to have bond-men and bond-women of

the heathens, who, being bought with their money, shall be

considered as their property, 44-46.

If an Israelite, grown poor, be sold to a sojourner who has

waxed rich, he may be redeemed by one of his relatives, an

uncle or uncle's son, 47-49.

In the interim between the jubilees, he may be redeemed; but if

not redeemed, he shall go free in the jubilee, 50-54.

Obedience enforced by God's right over them as his servants,



Verse 2. The land keep a Sabbath] See this ordinance

explained, See Clarke on Ex 23:11. It may be asked here: if

it required all the annual produce of the field to support the

inhabitants, how could the people be nourished the seventh year,

when no produce was received from the fields? To this it may be

answered, that God sent his blessing in an especial manner on

the sixth year, (see Le 25:21, 22,) and it brought forth fruit

for three years. How astonishing and convincing was this

miracle! Could there possibly be any deception here? NO! The

miracle speaks for itself, proves the Divine authenticity of the

law, and takes every prop and stay from the system that wishes

to convict the Mosaic ordinances of imposture. See Ex 23:11.

It is evident from this that the Mosaic law must have had a

Divine origin, as no man in his senses, without God's authority,

could have made such an ordinance as this; for the sixth year,

from its promulgation, would have amply refuted his pretensions

to a Divine mission.

Verse 8. Thou shalt number seven Sabbaths of years] This

seems to state that the jubilee was to be celebrated on the

forty-ninth year; but in Le 25:10, 11 it is said,

Ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and, A jubilee shall this

fiftieth year be. Probably in this verse Moses either includes

the preceding jubilee, and thus with the forty-ninth makes up the

number fifty; or he speaks of proclaiming the jubilee on the

forty-ninth, and celebrating it on the fiftieth year current.

Some think it was celebrated on the forty-ninth year, as is

stated in Le 25:8;

and this prevented the Sabbatical year, or seventh year of rest,

from being confounded with the jubilee, which it must otherwise

have been, had the celebration of this great solemnity taken place

on the fiftieth year; but it is most likely that the fiftieth was

the real jubilee.

Verse 11. A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be] The literal

meaning of the word jubilee, yobel in Hebrew, and

yobil in the Samaritan, has not been well ascertained.

Josephus and the rabbins have caused many to err; the former says

the word signifies liberty; ελευθεριανδεσημαινειτουνομα,

Antiq., l. 3, cap. 12, edit. Haverc., vol. 1., p. 184; but the

word liberty signifies rather the intention of the institution,

than the meaning of the Hebrew term. The rabbins say it signifies

a ram's horn, because the trumpets which were used in proclaiming

this solemnity were made out of ram's horns. This meaning is

adopted in a few places in our translation, but none of the

ancient versions acknowledge this sense of the term, the Chaldee

excepted. Some derive it from yabal, to bring, carry away,

because the Israelites at this time carried away the right of

repossessing their inheritances which had been forfeited or

alienated. The most natural derivation is from hobil, to

cause to bring back, or recall, because estates, &c., which had

been alienated, were then brought back to their primitive

owners. This was a wise and excellent institution, but appears

to have been little regarded by the Jews after the Babylonish

captivity. Indeed, it is not mentioned under the second temple,

and the observance must have ceased among the Jews when they

were brought under a foreign yoke.

The jubilee seems to have been typical, 1. Of the great time

of release, the Gospel dispensation, when all who believe in

Christ Jesus are redeemed from the bondage of sin-repossess the

favour and image of God, the only inheritance of the human soul,

having all debts cancelled, and the right of inheritance

restored. To this the prophet Isaiah seems to allude, Isa 26:13,

and particularly Isa 61:1-3. 2. Of the general resurrection.

"It is," says Mr. Parkhurst, "a lively prefiguration of the grand

consummation of time, which will be introduced in like manner by

the trump of God, 1Co 15:52, when the children and heirs of

God shall be delivered from all their forfeitures, and restored

to the eternal inheritance allotted to them by their Father; and

thenceforth rest from their labours, and be supported in life and

happiness by what the field of God shall supply."

It is worthy of remark that the jubilee was not proclaimed

till the tenth day of the seventh month, on the very day when

the great annual atonement was made for the sins of the people;

and does not this prove that the great liberty or redemption

from thraldom, published under the Gospel, could not take place

till the great Atonement, the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, had

been offered up? See Le 25:9.

Verse 14. Ye shall not oppress one another] Ye shall take no

advantage of each other's ignorance either in buying or selling;

for he that buys an article at less than it is worth, or sells

one for more than it is worth, taking advantage in both cases of

the ignorance of the vender or buyer, is no better than a

thief, as he actually robs his neighbour of as much property as he

has bought the article at below or sold it above its current


Verse 15. According to the number of years] The purchases

that were to be made of lands were to be regulated by the number

of years unelapsed of the current jubilee. This was something

like buying the unexpired term of a lease among us; the purchase

is always regulated by the number of years between the time of

purchase and the expiration of the term.

Verse 20. What shall we eat the seventh year?] A very

natural question, which could only be laid at rest by the

sovereign promise in the next verse: I will COMMAND my BLESSING

upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for

THREE YEARS. See Clarke on Le 25:2.

Verse 23. The land shall not be sold for ever-the land is

mine] As God in a miraculous manner gave them possession of

this land, they were therefore to consider themselves merely as

tenants to him; and on this ground he, as the great landholder

or lord of the soil, prescribes to them all the conditions on

which they shall hold it. This one circumstance was peculiarly

favourable to their advancement in religion, in righteousness,

and true holiness; for feeling that they had nothing which they

could call their own upon earth, they must frequently, by this,

be put in mind of the necessity of having a permanent dwelling

in the heavenly inheritance, and of that preparation without

which it could not be possessed.

Verse 25. Any of his kin come to redeem it] The land that

was sold might be redeemed, in the interim between jubilee and

jubilee, by the former owner or by one of his kinsmen or

relatives. This kinsman is called in the text goel or

redeemer; and was not this a lively emblem of the redemption of

man by Christ Jesus? That he might have a right to redeem man,

he took upon him human nature, and thus became a kinsman of the

great family of the human race, and thereby possessed the right of

redeeming that fallen nature of which he took part, and of buying

back to man that inheritance which had been forfeited by


Verse 29. Sell a dwelling house in a walled city] A very

proper difference is put between houses in a city and houses in

the country. If a man sold his house in the city, he might

redeem it any time in the course of a year; but if it were not

redeemed within that time, it could no more be redeemed, nor did

it go out even in the jubilee. It was not so with a house in

the country; such a house might be redeemed during any part of

the interim; and if not redeemed, must go out at the jubilee.

The reason in both cases is sufficiently evident; the house in

the city might be built for purposes of trade or traffic merely,

the house in the country was built on or attached to the

inheritance which God had divided to the respective families,

and it was therefore absolutely necessary that the same law

should apply to the house as to the inheritance. But the same

necessity did not hold good with respect to the house in the

city: and as we may presume the house in the city was merely for

the purpose of trade, when a man bought such a house, and got

his business established there, it would have been very

inconvenient for him to have removed; but as it was possible

that the former owner might have sold the house rashly, or

through the pressure of some very urgent necessity, a year was

allowed him, that during that time he might have leisure to

reconsider his rash act, or so to get through his pressing

necessity as to be able to get back his dwelling. This time was

sufficiently long in either of the above cases; and as such

occurrences might have been the cause of his selling his house,

it was necessary that he might have the opportunity of redeeming

his pledge. Again, as the purchaser, having bought the house

merely for the purpose of trade, manufacture, &c., must have

been at great pains and expense to fit the place for his work,

and establish his business, in which himself, his children, and

his children's children, were to labour and get their bread;

hence it was necessary that he should have some certainty of

permanent possession, without which, we may naturally

conjecture, no such purchases ever would be made. This seems to

be the simple reason of the law in both cases.

Verse 32. The cities of the Levites] The law in this and the

following verses was also a very wise one. A Levite could not

ultimately sell his house: if sold he could redeem it at any

time tn the interim between the two jubilees; but if not

redeemed, it must go out at the following jubilee. And why?

"Because Moses framed his laws so much in favour of the

priesthood, that they had peculiar privileges?" &c. Just the

reverse: they were so far from being peculiarly favoured that

they had no inheritance in Israel, only their cities, to dwell

in: and because their houses in these cities were the whole that

they could call their own, therefore these houses could not be

ultimately alienated. All that they had to live on besides was

from that most precarious source of support, the

freewill-offerings of the people, which depended on the

prevalence of pure religion in the land.

Verse 36. Take thou no usury of him] Usury, at present,

signifies unlawful interest for money. Properly, it means the

reward or compensation given for the use of a thing, but is

principally spoken of money. For the definition of the original

term, See Clarke on Ex 22:25.

Verse 42. For they are my servants] As God redeemed every

Israelite out of Egyptian bondage, they were therefore to

consider themselves as his property, and that consequently they

should not alienate themselves from him. It was in being his

servants, and devoted to his work, that both their religious and

political service consisted. And although their political

liberty might be lost, they knew that their spiritual liberty

never could be forfeited except by an utter alienation from God.

God therefore claims the same right to their persons which he

does to their lands; See Clarke on Le 25:23.

Verse 43. Thou shalt not rule over him with rigour] What is

rigorous service? "Service which is not determined, and service

whereof there is no need." This is the definition given by the

Jews; but much more is implied in this command than is expressed

here. Labour beyond the person's strength, or labour too long

continued, or in unhealthy or uncomfortable places and

circumstances, or without sufficient food, &c., is labour

exacted with rigour, and consequently inhuman; and this law is

made, not for the Mosaic dispensation and the Jewish people, but

for every dispensation and for every people under heaven.

Verse 50. The price of his sale shall be, &c.] This was a

very equitable law, both for the sojourner to whom the man was

sold, and to the Israelite who had been thus sold. The

Israelite might redeem himself, or one of his kindred might

redeem him; but this must not be done to the prejudice of his

master, the sojourner. They were therefore to reckon the years

he must have served from that time till the jubilee; and then,

taking the current wages of a servant per year at that time,

multiply the remaining years by that sum, and the aggregate was

the sum to be given to his master for his redemption. The Jews

hold that the kindred of such a person were bound, if in their

power, to redeem him, lest he should be swallowed up among the

heathen; and we find, from Ne 5:8, that this was done by the

Jews on their return from the Babylonish captivity: We, after our

ability, have redeemed our brethren the Jews, who were sold unto

the heathen.

Verse 55. For unto me the children of Israel are servants]

The reason of this law we have already seen,

(See Clarke on Le 25:42,)

but we must look farther to see the great end of it. The

Israelites were a typical people; they represented those under

the Gospel dispensation who are children of God by faith in

Christ Jesus. But these last have a peculiarity of blessing:

they are not merely servants, but they are SONS; though they

also serve God, yet it is in the newness of the spirit, and not

in the oldness of the letter. And to this difference of state

the apostle seems evidently to allude, Ga 4:6, &c.:

And because ye are SONS, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son

into your hearts, crying Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more

a SERVANT, but a SON; and if a SON, then an HEIR of God

through Christ; genuine believers in Christ not being heirs of an

earthly inheritance, nor merely of a heavenly one, for they are

heirs of God. God himself therefore is their portion, without

whom even heaven itself would not be a state of consummate

blessedness to an immortal spirit.

THE jubilee was a wonderful institution, and was of very great

service to the religion, freedom, and independence of the Jewish

people. "The motive of this law," says Calmet, "was to prevent

the rich from oppressing the poor, and reducing them to perpetual

slavery; and that they should not get possession of all the lands

by way of purchase, mortgage, or, lastly, usurpation. That debts

should not be multiplied too much, lest thereby the poor should be

entirely ruined; and that slaves should not continue always, they,

their wives and children, in servitude. Besides, Moses intended

to preserve, as much as possible, personal liberty, an equality of

property, and the regular order of families, among the Hebrews.

Lastly, he designed that the people should be strongly attached to

their country, lands, and inheritances; that they should have an

affection for them, and consider them as estates which descended

to them from their ancestors which they were to leave to their

posterity, without any fear of their going ultimately out of their


But this institution especially pointed out the redemption of

man by Christ Jesus: 1. Through him, he who was in debt to God's

justice had his debt discharged, and his sin forgiven. 2. He

who sold himself for naught, who was a bondslave of sin and

Satan, regains his liberty and becomes a son of God through

faith in his blood. 3. He who by transgression had forfeited

all right and title to the kingdom of God, becomes an heir of

God, and a joint heir with Christ. Heaven, his forfeited

inheritance, is restored, for the kingdom of heaven is open to

all believers; and thus, redeemed from his debt, restored to his

liberty, united to the heavenly family, and re-entitled to his

inheritance, he goes on his way rejoicing, till he enters the

paradise of his Maker, and is for ever with the Lord. Reader,

hast thou applied for this redemption? Does not the trumpet of

the jubilee, the glad tidings of salvation by Christ Jesus, sound

in the land? Surely it does. Why then continue a bond-slave of

sin, a child of wrath, and an heir of hell, when such a salvation

is offered unto thee without money and without price? O suffer

not this provision to be made ultimately in vain for thee! For

what art thou advantaged if thou gain the whole world and lose thy


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