Today’s passage of Scripture is Leviticus 25:8-10 which reads: “And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years. Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.”
Today’s quote about the Bible is from Millar Burrows. He said: “What we really need, after all, is not to defend the Bible but to understand it.”
Our topic for today is titled “Making a Nation Out of a Mob (Part 3)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.
The Law as a Socioeconomic System
As a socioeconomic system, the Law served both to put restrictions on greed and to provide a safety net for the disadvantaged. Israel would be an agricultural society, and the land God was giving them would be the source of wealth. As such, the land could not be sold. Rather, it could be leased, with the lease lasting up to forty-nine years. At that point, the Jubilee year, the land reverted to the family that had originally received it from God after the conquest. In addition to retaining the source of wealth within the family, this practice served to remind the people from whom they had received the land in the first place.
Everyone was to depend on God. To encourage such dependence, every seventh year the people were to refrain from sowing crops, a custom that obliged the people to trust God to meet their needs. This seventh or Sabbath year was also a time when the poor (usually understood as the widow, orphan, or stranger) would be able to harvest from whatever grew “voluntarily,” whether in the field or in the orchard.
Ancient Israel was not a leveraged society like ours. Usually people borrowed money only in extremely adverse circumstances. As such, it was the poor who had to do so. Consequently, money was to be loaned to poor people generously and without interest.
Later these laws would be amplified to give further specifics. For example, farmers were told to allow for gleaners to go through their fields after the harvest to gather produce that had been missed. Also there was provision for destitute people to “sell” themselves into indentured servitude for a period of six years.