Israelites counted their years in groups of seven. Every seventh year was called the sabbatical year (or rest year), because in that year all farmland was rested from normal agricultural activity (see SABBATICAL YEAR). After seven lots of seven years there was an additional sabbath year called the Jubilee, or Year of Restoration (GNB). In that year all land that had changed ownership during the previous forty-nine years returned to its original owner. This ensured the preservation of the just and fair distribution of land that had been made after Joshua’s conquest.

People who became poor could not lose their property for ever, and the rich could not gain control of the country through buying most of the land (Lev 25:8-12). Since all land returned to the original owners in the fiftieth year, the sale price of land had to be reduced from its original value so that it was proportionate to the number of years that remained to the fiftieth year (Lev 25:13-17). If people needed money they could sell their land, but as soon as possible either they or their close relatives had to buy it back (Lev 25:25-28). Laws for the return of land in the year of Jubilee applied only to farming and pastoral land, not to land in walled cities. This was because city land was not used for cultivation and therefore had nothing to do with the agricultural ‘rest’ years (Lev 25:29-34).

Privacy Policy