Year of the Sabbath.[a] 1 The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel saying to them: When you come into the land that I am giving you, the land is to keep a Sabbath to the Lord. 3 You shall sow the fields for six years and you shall prune the vineyard and harvest its fruit for six years, 4 but the seventh year will be a Sabbath of rest to the Lord. It is a Sabbath to the Lord. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard. 5 You shall not harvest whatever grows on its own, nor shall you gather the grapes of your undressed vines. It is a year of rest for the land. 6 During this Sabbath the land will provide food for you, for you and your servant, and your maid, and your hired hand, and your alien who dwells with you, 7 and for your cattle and your animals in the land. All of your produce will be for food.
The Year of Jubilee.[b] 8 “You shall count seven Sabbaths of years for yourselves, seven times seven years, and your span of seven times seven years will be forty-nine years. 9 You shall blow the trumpet of the Jubilee on the tenth day of the seventh month, on the Day of Atonement you shall blow the trumpet throughout the land. 10 You shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the whole land to all of its inhabitants. It will be a Jubilee for you. Each of you shall return to his own property, and each shall return to his own clan. 11 The fiftieth year shall be a Jubilee for you. You shall not sow nor reap. You shall not reap what grows on its own, and you shall not gather grapes from the undressed vines. 12 It is a Jubilee and it is to be holy for you. You shall eat only what comes directly from the fields.
13 “In the Jubilee Year you shall return each man to his property. 14 If you sell some merchandise to your neighbor, or you buy something from your neighbor, you shall not take advantage of one another. 15 You shall buy from your neighbor based on the number of years since the Jubilee. He is to sell to you based on the number of years left for harvesting crops. 16 If the number of years left is greater, you shall increase the price paid, but if the number of years is smaller, then you shall decrease the price paid, for it is the number of harvests that he is selling you. 17 You shall not wrong one another, for you shall fear your God. I am the Lord, your God.
18 “You shall observe my statutes and keep my ordinances and obey them in order to live securely in the land. 19 The land shall yield its fruit, and you shall eat your fill, and dwell in the land securely. 20 If you should say, ‘What will we eat the seventh year, for we are not sowing nor are we gathering our increase,’ 21 then I will send my blessing upon you in the sixth year so that the crops are abundant enough for three years. 22 You shall sow in the eighth year, but you shall still be eating old fruit until the ninth year. You shall be eating old fruit until its fruit comes in.
23 Redemption of the Land.[c]“The land will not be permanently sold, for the land belongs to me and you are my aliens and tenants. 24 In all the land that you possess, you shall provide a redemption for the land. 25 If your brother becomes impoverished and sells part of his property, then his next of kin shall come and redeem it. He shall redeem what his brother has sold.[d] 26 If there is no one else to redeem it and the man himself can redeem it, 27 then let him calculate the number of years since the sale, and let him pay for the remaining years to the man to whom he sold it, so that he can return to his property. 28 But if he is not able to get it back, then what he sold shall remain in the possession of the one who bought it until the Jubilee Year. It shall revert to him in the Jubilee, so that he can return to his property.
29 “If a man sells his home in a walled city, then he can redeem it any time within one year. He can redeem it for a year from the time he sold it. 30 But if he has not redeemed it within the period of one year, then the house within the walled city shall belong to the person who bought it forever, from one generation to the next. It shall not revert during the Jubilee Year. 31 Houses in villages that have no walls around them shall be treated just like fields in the countryside. They can be redeemed, and they shall revert in the Jubilee Year. 32 This does not apply to the cities of the Levites, for the Levites can redeem their possessions, their houses in the cities, at any time. 33 Whenever a person buys a house in the city from the Levites, what was sold will revert in the Jubilee Year, for the houses in the cities of the Levites are their possession among the children of Israel. 34 But the fields at the edge of the city cannot be sold, for that is their perpetual possession.
35 “If a brother becomes poor and is unable to support himself, then you shall help him, letting him live with you as though he were a guest or a lodger. 36 Do not practice usury or ask for interest, but fear God, letting your brother live with you. 37 You shall not charge interest if you lend him money, nor offer him food for profit. 38 I am the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan, to be your God.
39 “If your brother becomes poor and sells himself to you, you shall not make him serve you as a slave. 40 Treat him as a hired servant or a guest. He is to serve you only until the Jubilee Year.[e] 41 He shall then leave you, he and his children, and he shall return to his own family and return to the property owned by his fathers. 42 For you are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt. You are not to be sold as slaves 43 or treated harshly. Fear your God.
44 “You can have pagan male and female slaves from the nations around you. You can buy them, male and female slaves. 45 Furthermore, you can buy the children of the aliens living in your land, even those who were born in your land. They shall be your property. 46 Your children shall inherit them after you die, for your slaves are property to be inherited forever. But you shall not treat your brethren, the children of Israel, with this type of harshness.
47 “If an alien or foreigner has grown rich and one of your brethren becomes poor and sells himself to the alien or foreigner living in your midst or to a member of that foreigner’s family, 48 that person can be redeemed. One of his relatives can redeem him. 49 His uncle or his cousin or any of his relatives can redeem him, or if he is able, he can redeem himself. 50 He should reckon the time from when he bought him until the Jubilee Year with the buyer. The price of redemption will be based upon the number of years and the amount a hired servant would be paid. 51 If there are still a number of years, then he will pay a larger share of the price for which he was bought. 52 If only a few years remain until the Jubilee Year, he will calculate the redemption that he will give him according to that number of years. 53 He is to be treated like a hired servant that one would employ a year at a time. You are not to treat him harshly. 54 Even if he is not redeemed in any of these ways, he will be freed during the Jubilee Year, he and his children with him. 55 The children of Israel are my servants.[f] They are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt. I am the Lord, your God.
- Leviticus 25:1 Every seven years the soil was to be allowed to rest (see Ex 23:10-13); this was a way of reminding the people that the earth belongs to the Lord. When Israel had become an agricultural society, it was tempted to think of itself as self-sufficient.
- Leviticus 25:8 The Jubilee of the fiftieth year began with the sounding of trumpets or yobel, hence its name. This institution was closely connected with the sabbatical year and had for its purpose to ensure the vigorous maintenance of the structures on which Jewish society was based: the clan and the family estate. The text was composed during the Exile and reflects an abiding ideal rather than an actual practice.
- Leviticus 25:23 The earth belongs to God alone. Given this principle, regulations follow that complete and make the norms of the Jubilee Year more specific; their purpose is to protect the poor.
- Leviticus 25:25 A relative is needed to buy back land for the family. This rule prevailed when Boaz rescued Ruth and Naomi (Ru 4:1-4). He was also willing to marry Ruth and support them (Ru 4:9-10).
- Leviticus 25:40 This verse represents progress as compared with the Code of the Covenant (Ex 21:2).
- Leviticus 25:55 Servants: rather than a demeaning title, servant reflected the covenantal relationship established between Israel’s God and his people.