Epistles of Thomas

February 24, 2009

Leviticus 25-27

Filed under: Old Testament — Thomas @ 23:05
Tags: ,

Leviticus 25 institutes the Jubilee year system which was the foundation stone of the Israelite’s relationship with the land. It’s not clear that they ever actually implemented this policy but it is given in detail. The people are to let the land lay fallow every seventh year. Every fiftieth year would be a year of Jubilee during which the land would rest and the people would each return to the land of their personal ancestors. Land would not be sold the way it is today. Instead it was to be leased for an amount which would vary depending on the number of years until the next Jubilee: “When 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” (25:16). The Lord promised to send enough food in the sixth year to feed them for three years and plant the next crop. This system was based on the fact that God owns the land. “The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers” (25:23). I think this is something that Jews and others today should keep in mind given the strife in the Middle East over whose land it is. Even though the Jews were granted the land under the Law and are God’s chosen people the land does not belong to them. Property inside walled cities could be sold and was non redeemable after one year, although for Levites this is not the case.

Chapter 26 speaks of the material rewards that will follow for the people if they follow God’s commands. Their crops will be bountiful and an idyllic picture is painted: “Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land” (26:5). However, if the people do not follow the Lord’s commands he will correct them and punish them seven times over for their recalcitrance. Their sin will lead to these consequences but whatever happens, God promises, “I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them. I am the Lord their God. But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors” (26:44-45). The book of Leviticus concludes in chapter 27 by detailing how people and things dedicated to the Lord may be redeemed. For people set amounts were stipulated in the law, for material possessions it was one fifth more than their value as determined by the priest.

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