Leviticus 25:10-22, 35-38 Sunday School Notes

These are some of my notes for Sunday, May 30, 2010 in the Lifeway Explore the Bible series.

Books referenced in these notes are:

1. IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament by Walton, Matthews, and Chavalas

2. The Stone Chumash, edited by Nosson Scherman

3. NIVAC: Leviticus, Numbers by Roy Gane

Lev 25:10 Consecrate the fiftieth year: Not only is the fiftieth year set aside, but the reckoning of the Jubilee Year starts on the Day of Atonement, on the tenth day of the seventh month. Being considered a holy time, the Jubilee would best start right after Atonement Day. (Gane)

Proclaim freedom: All Jewish slaves were to be freed, even if they had not worked their full six years or had even chosen to remain in slavery (Ex 21:5-6), according to Jewish scholar Rashi. One can see this as another divine reminder that the Jews too had once been slaves. (Stone Chumash)

Each of you is to return to his property and…his clan: Ancestral land sold between Jubilees are to revert back to the original owners come the next Jubilee. Thus, in a sense, land sales are more rentals than genuine ownership. (stone Chumash)

There were similar debt cancellations and general emancipation of slaves in ANE kingdoms like the Hittites and Mesopotamia at random times, not regulated as in Israel. Instead such relief was usually granted by ancient kings at the start of their reigns in order to show their concern for social justice and the poorer parts of society.(Gane)

Lev. 25:11 Not sow, reap, or harvest: Ex 23:11 gives the social reasoning behind all these periods of fallow land, which include the seven year sabbaticals as well as the Jubilee year: that the poor and even the wild animals might eat from any land. The agricultural reason for sabbaticals from farming is to reduce the level of sodium in the soil caused by irrigation. Other ANE nations practiced farming rests for this reason, too.(Gane, BBCOT)

Lev 25:14 To your neighbor: The general principal here plainly is to be ethical in your business practice, but Jewish tradition sees this as an emphasis on helping one’s fellow Jew by doing business with Jews in particular, so that they will not be reduced to living on charity. (Stone Chumash)

Lev 25:15-16 based on…harvest years: Since in reality all land belonged to the families that original owned them, and at Jubilees would revert back to the family, one was actually not buying the land itself so much as the crops it could produce between purchase and Jubilee. Thus the Law specifies one base lands’ selling price based on the amount of crops that could be harvest before the next Jubilee.(Stone Chumash)

Lev 25:18-19 Jews anciently distinguish between Law that is arbitrary or not obviously rational, and Law that can be seen as having a chain of reasoning behind it. Here God says again that if the Israelites obey the logical and the arbitrary Law, they will not have famine nor be exiled out of the land God gives them. (Stone Chumash)

Lev 25:20-22 Crop sufficient for three years: This promise reminds one immediately of the Sabbath provision of manna, where heavenly food usually spoiled after a day remains fresh two days instead. Lev 25:35-38 Israelites were told to consider the misfortune of their fellows and not attempt to profit from them, especially by charging interest.(Ex 22:25) This made Israel unique in the ANE, for we have the example of Hammurabi’s Code outlining legal interest rates of between twenty and thirty-three percent. The Israelites were told to loan to their poorer brethren and not count the loss (Deu 15:7-10). Indeed, here in verse 37 it is commanded to sell food the the poor at cost.(BBCOT)

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