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Leviticus Chapter 25
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The Sabbatical Year
25:1 God spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai, telling him to
25:2 speak to the Israelites and say to them:

When you come to the land that I am giving you, the land must be given a rest period, a sabbath to God.

25:3 For six years you may plant your fields, prune your vineyards, and harvest your crops,
25:4 but the seventh year is a sabbath of sabbaths for the land. It is God's sabbath during which you may not plant your fields, nor prune your vineyards.
25:5 Do not harvest crops that grow on their own and do not gather the grapes on your unpruned vines, since it is a year of rest for the land.
25:6 [What grows while] the land is resting may be eaten by you, by your male and female slaves, and by the employees and resident hands who live with you.
25:7 All the crops shall [also] be eaten by the domestic and wild animals that are in your land.

The Jubilee
25:8 You shall count seven sabbatical years, that is, seven times seven years. The period of the seven sabbatical cycles shall thus be 49 years.
25:9 Then, on the 10th day of the seventh month, you shall make a proclamation with the ram's horn. This proclamation with the ram's horn is thus to be made on Yom Kippur.
25:10 You shall sanctify the fiftieth year, declaring emancipation [of slaves] all over the world. This is your jubilee year, when each man shall return to his hereditary property and to his family.
25:11 The fiftieth year shall [also] be a jubilee to you insofar as you may not sow, harvest crops growing of their own accord, nor gather grapes from unpruned vines during that [year].
25:12 The jubilee shall thus be holy to you. You shall eat the crops from the field that [year].
25:13 In the jubilee year, every man shall return to his hereditary property.
25:14 Thus, when you buy or sell [land] to your neighbor, do not cheat one another.
25:15 You are buying [only] according to the number of years after the jubilee; [therefore], he is selling it to you for the number of years that [the land] will produce crops [until the next jubilee].
25:16 Since he is selling it to you for the number of crops, you must increase the price if it will be for many years, and decrease it if there are few.
25:17 You will then not be cheating one another. You shall fear your God, since it is I who am God your Lord.
25:18 Keep My decrees and safeguard My laws. If you keep them, you will live in the land securely.
25:19 The land will produce its fruit, and you will eat your fill, thus living securely in [the land].
25:20 In the seventh year, you might ask, 'What will we eat [in the jubilee year]? We have not planted nor have we harvested crops.'
25:21 I will direct My blessing to you in the sixth year, and [the land] will produce enough crops for three years.
25:22 You will therefore be eating your old crops when you plant [after] the eighth year. You will still be eating your old crops until the crops of the ninth year are ripe.
25:23 Since the land is Mine, no land shall be sold permanently. You are foreigners and resident aliens as far as I am concerned,
25:24 and therefore, there shall be time of redemption for all your hereditary lands.

Redemption of Land
25:25 If your brother becomes impoverished and sells some of his hereditary land, a close relative can come and redeem what his kinsman has sold.
25:26 [The same is true] if a man does not have anyone to redeem it, but gains enough wealth to be able to redeem it himself.
25:27 He shall then calculate the number of years for which [the land] has been sold, and return the balance to the buyer. He can then return to his hereditary land.
25:28 If he does not have the means to retrieve [the land], then that which he has sold shall remain with the buyer until the jubilee year. It is then released by the jubilee, so that [the original owner] can return to his hereditary land.

Houses in Walled Cities
25:29 When a man sells a residential house in a walled city he shall be able to redeem it until the end of one year after he has sold it. He has one full year to the day to redeem it.
25:30 However, if it is not redeemed by the end of this year, then the house in the walled city shall become the permanent property of the buyer [to be passed down] to his descendants. It shall not be released by the jubilee.
25:31 [On the other hand], houses in villages that do not have walls around them shall be considered the same as open land. They shall thus be redeemable, and shall be released by the jubilee.
25:32 As far as the Levites' cities are concerned, the Levites shall always have the power to redeem the houses in their hereditary cities.
25:33 Thus, if one buys a house or city from the Levites, it must be released by the jubilee. [This is because] houses in the Levites' cities are their hereditary property among the Israelites.
25:34 Similarly, the open areas surrounding their cities shall not be sold [permanently], because it is their hereditary property forever.

Helping Others
25:35 When your brother becomes impoverished and loses the ability to support himself in the community, you must come to his aid. Help him survive, whether he is a proselyte or a native [Israelite].
25:36 Do not take advance [interest] or accrued interest from him. Fear your God, and let your brother live alongside you.
25:37 Do not make him pay advance interest for your money, and do not give him food for which he will have to pay accrued interest.
25:38 I am God your Lord who brought you out of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan, [and] to be a God for you.

Slaves
25:39 If your brother becomes impoverished and is sold to you, do not work him like a slave.
25:40 He shall be with you just like an employee or a resident hand. He shall serve you only until the jubilee year,
25:41 and then he and his children shall be free to leave you and to return to their family. He shall thus return to the hereditary land of his ancestors.
25:42 This is because I brought [the Israelites] out of Egypt, and they are My slaves. They shall not be sold [in the market] as slaves.
25:43 Do not dominate [such a slave] to break his spirit, since you must fear your God.
25:44 You can [also] have [other] male or female slaves. These are the male and female slaves that you buy from the nations around you.
25:45 You can also buy [such slaves] from the resident aliens who live among you, and from their families that are born in your land.

[All these] shall become hereditary property.

25:46 They are hereditary property that you shall pass down to your children, and you shall thus have them serve you forever.

However, where your fellow Israelites are concerned, you must not dominate one another to break one's spirit.


Slaves of Gentiles
25:47 [This is the law] if a foreigner or resident alien gains the upper hand, while your brother loses his means of support and is sold to a foreigner, a resident alien, or to [an idolatrous cult which must] be rooted out from a foreigner's family.
25:48 After he is sold, he must be redeemed, [and] one of his close relatives must redeem him [first].
25:49 His uncle or cousin shall thus redeem him, or the closest [other] relative from his family shall redeem him. If he obtains the means, he can also be redeemed [on his own].
25:50 [In all such cases,] he shall make a reckoning with the one who bought him according to the number of years from the time he was sold until the jubilee. His purchase price shall then be counted for that number of years, as if he were hired [for that amount].
25:51 Thus, if there are still many years [until the jubilee], the redemption money that he returns [to his buyer] shall be in proportion to the money for which he was sold.
25:52 If only a few years remain until the jubilee year, he shall make a [similar] reckoning. [In either case], he shall return a sum of redemption money according to [the number of] years that he has [already worked].
25:53 [Such a slave] shall thus be the same as an employee hired on a yearly basis. If you are aware of it, [you may not let his master] dominate him so as to break his spirit
25:54 If [the slave] is not redeemed through any [of the above means], he and his children shall be freed in the jubilee year.
25:55 [All this] is because the Israelites are [actually] My slaves. They are My slaves because I brought them out of Egypt. I am God your Lord.



Commentary:

at Mount Sinai
  At this time, the Israelites were still at the foot of Mount Sinai (cf. Numbers 10:11,12; see Josephus, Antiquities 3:12:3; Baaley Tosafoth). Or, 'on Mount Sinai' (Sifra; Rashi). According to this, the section from here until the end of the book (see Leviticus 27:34) was given before the tabernacle was erected (Rashbam). Some say that it was given during Moses' first 40 days on the mountain, and was the 'book of covenant' ( Exodus 24:7) that Moses read to the Israelites (Ibn Ezra; Chizzkuni). According to others, it was given during the last 40 day period, while Moses was obtaining the second Tablets, and thus, it constituted a new covenant (Ramban; Abarbanel). Some say that Moses declared it to the Israelites at that time (Ibid.).

but the seventh year...
  See Exodus 23:10,11.

Do not harvest...
  (see Yad, Shemitah 4:1,2).

unpruned vines
  (Ramban). Nazir in Hebrew. Or, 'vines kept from others' (Rashi), 'best vines' (Saadia), 'vines with which you have not worked' (Radak, Sherashim), or 'vines you have left alone' (Ibn Janach).

What grows...
  (Saadia; Ibn Ezra).

seventh month
  Tishrei. See Leviticus 23:27.

slaves
  Hebrew slaves; see Leviticus 25:46 (Rosh HaShanah 9b). See Exodus 21:6.

all over the world
  (Rosh HaShanah 9b). Literally, 'for the land and all who live on it.' Jubilee was only in force as long as the majority of tribes owned their hereditary lands; thus, it ceased to be in force after the ten tribes were exiled (Arukhin 32b; Yad, Shemitah 10:8). The laws of Hebrew slaves and houses in walled cities were also in force only as long as the jubilee (Arukhin 29a; Yad, Shemitah 10:9).

In the seventh year
  (Ramban). Or, 'You might ask, 'What will we eat in the seventh year?' ' (Rashi).

after
  (According to Ramban, loc. cit.). Because it is forbidden to plant in the jubilee year. According to Rashi, 'in,' since the eighth year is a regular year.

a close relative...
  (cf. Kiddushin 21b; Yad, Shemitah 11:18). This is true even against the buyer's will (Rashi). However, it can only be redeemed after two years have elapsed from the time of sale (Yad, Shemitah 11:9).

the number of years...
  From the time of sale until the jubilee year.

walled city
  If it was already walled when Joshua first conquered the land (Sifra; Arkhin 33b; Yad, Shemitah 12:15).

full year to the day
  (Arkhin 31a; Rashi).

Levites' cities
  See Numbers 35:6,7.

buys
  (Saadia; Rashi). Literally, 'redeems.'

open areas...
  Migrash in Hebrew. This is an area of 3000 cubits (Numbers 35:4,5) or 0.85 mile around the city (Sotah 37b; Yad, Shemitah 13:2).

permanently
  (Saadia). Or, 'for other than their original purpose' (Arkhin 33b; Yad, Shemitah 13:5; Ralbag).

loses the ability...
  Literally, 'and slips down among you.'

Help him survive
  Literally, 'he shall live with you.' (cf. Rashi).

native Israelite
  (Ibn Ezra; cf. Bava Metzia 71a,b; Yad, Malveh 5:1.)

advance [interest]
  (Bava Metzia 60b). Neshekh in Hebrew.

accrued interest
  Tarbith (or ribith) in Hebrew. (Ibid.).

and is sold to you
  See Exodus 21:2.

in the market
  (Sifra; Rashi). Similarly, he may not be sold at auction or in any other public manner (Sefer HaMitzvoth, Negative 258).

to break his spirit
  Perekh in Hebrew. See Exodus 1:13.

an idolatrous cult
  (Bava Metzia 7a; Rashi; Yad, Avadim 1:3).

which must be rooted out...
  (Ramban; Ralbag). Eker in Hebrew. Or, 'the root of a foreigner's family' (Saadia; Ibn Janach); 'the dedicated shrine of a foreigner's family (Radak, Sherashim); or, 'the support of a foreigner's family' (Hirsch).

Or, '[an idolator] who must be rooted out of a foreigner's family (Targum according to Ramban); 'a foreigner's family that is still rooted [in idolatry]' (Abarbanel); 'an apostate foreign family' (Ibn Ezra; cf. Septuagint); or, 'a distant foreign family' (Rashbam; Chizzkuni).

first
  (See Yad, Avadim 2:7).

shall redeem him
  The courts can force the relative to do so (Ibid.).

If he obtains the means...
  Even if he can borrow money (Ibid.).

If you are aware...
  (see Yad, Avadim 1:6; Sefer HaMitzvoth, Negative 260). Literally, 'before your eyes.'





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