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Sabbatical Years

25 The Lord spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai, “Speak to the Israelites and say this to them.”

When you enter the land that I am giving to you, the land shall observe a sabbath rest for the Lord. For six years you may sow your field, and for six years you may prune your vineyard and gather its produce. But in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of complete rest for the land, a sabbath for the Lord. You shall not sow your field, and you shall not prune your vineyard. You shall not reap the produce that grows by itself from your harvest or gather the grapes from your unpruned vine. It shall be a year of complete rest for the land. The sabbath of the land will, however, provide food for you—for you, for your male slaves and for your female slaves, for your hired workers and for your servants who are living with you temporarily as aliens working for you, for your livestock and for the wild animals which are in your land. You may eat all its produce.[a]

The Jubilee

You shall count off seven weeks of years. Count off seven years seven times, so that the duration of the seven weeks of years is forty-nine years. Then you shall sound loud blasts on the ram’s horn. In the seventh month on the tenth day, on the Day of Atonement, you are to have a ram’s horn sounded throughout your land, 10 so that you may set aside the fiftieth year as holy and proclaim liberty throughout the land for all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you, so that each of you may return to his family property and each of you may return to his clan. 11 The fiftieth year shall be a Jubilee for you. You shall not sow the field, and you shall not reap the grain that grows by itself, and you shall not gather fruit from its unpruned vines. 12 Because it is a Jubilee, it shall be holy for you. You may eat its produce from the field. 13 In this year of Jubilee each of you shall return to his family property.

14 When you sell some land to your countryman, or when you buy land from your countryman, you must not cheat your brother Israelite. 15 When you buy from your countryman, set the price according to the number of years since the last Jubilee. When he sells it to you, he shall set the price according to the number of years of produce left till the next Jubilee. 16 When there are many years left, you shall increase the purchase price. When there are few years left, you shall decrease its purchase price, because what the owner is actually selling to you is the amount of produce. 17 So each of you must not cheat your countryman, but you shall fear your God, for I am the Lord your God.

18 You shall carry out my regulations, and you shall observe my ordinances. You shall carry them out, so that you may live on the land securely. 19 The land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and live securely on it. 20 If you ask, “What will we eat during the seventh year, since we may not sow and we may not gather our produce?” 21 I will command my blessing for you in the sixth year, so that the land will yield enough produce for three years. 22 When you sow in the eighth year, you will still be eating from the sixth year’s crop. You will eat the sixth year’s crop until the ninth year, when its produce comes in.

23 But the land must not be sold without a right to recover it, for the land really belongs to me. You are actually resident aliens under my authority. 24 Therefore, throughout all the land that you possess, you shall grant the right of redemption for the land. 25 When your brother Israelite becomes so impoverished that he has to sell some of the land that he holds, his closest relative shall come and redeem what his brother has sold. 26 When the man who has no close relative prospers and acquires enough for the price to redeem his land, 27 he may calculate the years since he sold it, refund the difference to the man to whom he sold it, and return to his family property. 28 But if he does not acquire a sufficient amount to recover the land for himself, what he has sold shall remain under the control of the one who bought it until the year of Jubilee. It shall become free in the Jubilee, so that the seller may return to his family property.

29 When a man sells a house where he lives in a walled town, his right of redemption shall last until a full year after its sale. The time to redeem it lasts for a year. 30 But if it is not redeemed before the completion of a full year, the house which is in a town which has a wall will belong to its buyer and his descendants. It cannot be reclaimed. It will not be released in the Jubilee. 31 But the houses in the villages that have no wall around them shall be classified as part of the farmland. They have the right of redemption and shall become free in the Jubilee.

32 All the towns of the Levites and the houses in the towns which are their property have a permanent right of redemption. 33 Whatever a Levite is permitted to redeem (such as a house which he sold that had been his property in a city) will become free in the Jubilee, because the houses in the towns of the Levites are their possession among the Israelites.[b] 34 But the pastures and fields around the Levites’ towns may not be sold, for that is their permanent possession.

35 When your fellow Israelite[c] becomes so impoverished that he cannot support himself,[d] help him as you would help a resident alien or a temporary resident. Let him retain his right to work for a livelihood among you.[e] 36 You shall not take advance interest or accrued interest from him, but you shall fear your God and let your brother retain his livelihood with you. 37 You shall not lend him your money for advance interest or your food for accrued interest. 38 I am the Lord your God, who freed you from the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.

39 When your fellow Israelite becomes so indebted to you that he is sold to you, you shall not make him serve as a slave. 40 He shall remain with you as a hired laborer or a temporary resident. He shall work for you until the year of Jubilee. 41 Then he and his children with him will become free from your authority. He shall return to his family home and to his ancestral landholding, 42 for the Israelites are my servants, whom I freed from the land of Egypt. They shall not be sold in a slave sale. 43 You shall not rule over them harshly, but you shall fear your God.

44 You may buy a male slave or a female slave for yourself from the nations around you. 45 You may also buy some of the children of those who reside as aliens among you and some of their extended families who are born in your land, so that they become your property. 46 You may leave them to your children as inherited property. You may make them work as slaves for life. But as for your brothers, the Israelites, each of you must not rule over your brother harshly.

47 If a resident alien living among you prospers, and if your brother Israelite becomes so indebted to him that he is sold to that alien living among you or to that alien’s family, 48 the Israelite who has been sold shall have the right to be redeemed. One of his brothers may redeem him, 49 or his uncle or his cousin may redeem him, or anyone from his immediate family[f] or extended family may redeem him, or if he prospers, he may redeem himself. 50 Together with his buyer, he shall calculate the elapsed time from the year that he was sold until the year of Jubilee, and the price to redeem him shall be based on that number of years. It shall be calculated as if he were a hired laborer. 51 If there are still many years left, he shall pay the price of redemption proportionally to the years that have passed. 52 If only a few years remain until the year of Jubilee, he shall calculate the redemption in this way: He shall pay the price of his redemption on the basis of his years of work, 53 as if he were a worker hired year by year. You shall see to it that the owner does not rule over him harshly. 54 If he has not been redeemed in any of these ways, he and his children with him shall become free in the year of Jubilee, 55 because the Israelites are servants who really belong to me. They are my servants whom I freed from the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

Footnotes

  1. Leviticus 25:7 Verses 4-7 seem to forbid harvesting, storing, or selling the natural produce of the land but to allow everyone to eat it freely.
  2. Leviticus 25:33 The Hebrew of the verse is difficult, so translations vary.
  3. Leviticus 25:35 Literally brother
  4. Leviticus 25:35 Literally and his hand slips with you
  5. Leviticus 25:35 The Hebrew of this sentence is difficult, so translations vary.
  6. Leviticus 25:49 Literally flesh

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