The law of this chapter concerns the lands and estates of the
Israelites in Canaan, the occupying and transferring of which were to
be under the divine direction, as well as the management of religious
worship; for, as the tabernacle was a holy house, so Canaan was a holy
land; and upon that account, as much as any thing, it was the glory of
all lands. In token of a peculiar title which God had to this land, and
a right to dispose of it, he appointed,
I. That every seventh year should be a year of rest from occupying the
land, a sabbatical year,
In this God expected from them extraordinary instances of faith and
obedience, and they might expect from God extraordinary instances of
power and goodness in providing for them,
II. That every fiftieth year should be a year of jubilee, that is,
1. A year of release of debts and mortgages, and return to the
possession of their alienated lands,
Particular directions are given,
(1.) Concerning the sale and redemption of lands,
(2.) Of houses in cities and villages, with a proviso for Levite-cities,
2. A year of release of servants and bond-slaves.
(1.) Here is inserted a law for the kind usage of poor debtors,
(2.) Then comes the law for the discharge of all Israelites
that were sold for servants, in the year of jubilee, if they were not
[1.] If they were sold to Israelites,
[2.] If sold to proselytes,
All these appointments have something moral and of perpetual obligation
in them, though in the letter of them they were not only peculiar to
the Jews, but to them only while they were in Canaan.
|The Sabbatical Year.
||B. C. 1490.|
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses in mount Sinai, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye
come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a
sabbath unto the LORD.
3 Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt
prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof;
4 But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the
land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field,
nor prune thy vineyard.
5 That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou
shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed:
for it is a year of rest unto the land.
6 And the sabbath of the land shall be meat for you; for thee,
and for thy servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servant,
and for thy stranger that sojourneth with thee,
7 And for thy cattle, and for the beast that are in thy land,
shall all the increase thereof be meat.
The law of Moses laid a great deal of stress upon the sabbath, the
sanctification of which was the earliest and most ancient of all divine
institutions, designed for the keeping up of the knowledge and worship
of the Creator among men; that law not only revived the observance of
the weekly sabbath, but, for the further advancement of the honour of
them, added the institution of a sabbatical year: In the seventh
year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land,
And hence the Jews collect that vulgar tradition that after the world
has stood six thousand years (a thousand years being to God as one day)
it shall cease, and the eternal sabbath shall succeed--a weak
foundation on which to build the fixing of that day and hour which it
is God's prerogative to know. This sabbatical year began in September,
at the end of harvest, the seventh month of their ecclesiastical year:
and the law was,
1. That at the seed-time, which immediately followed the end of their
in-gathering, they should sow no corn in their land, and that they
should not in the spring dress their vineyards, and consequently that
they should not expect either harvest or vintage the next year.
2. That what their ground did produce of itself they should not claim
any property or use in, otherwise than from hand to mouth, but leave it
for the poor, servants, strangers, and cattle,
It must be a sabbath of rest to the land; they must neither do any work
about it, nor expect any fruit from it; all annual labours must be
intermitted in the seventh year, as much as daily labours on the
seventh day. The Jews say they "began not to reckon for the sabbatical
year till they had completed the conquest of Canaan, which was in the
eighth year of Joshua; the seventh year after that was the first
sabbatical year, and so the fiftieth year was the jubilee." This year
there was to be a general release of debts
and a public reading of the law in the feast
to make it the more solemn. Now,
(1.) God would hereby show them that he was their landlord, and that
they were tenants at will under him. Landlords are wont to stipulate
with their tenants when they shall break up their ground, how long they
shall till it, and when they shall let it rest: God would thus give,
grant, and convey, that good land to them, under such provisos and
limitations as should let them know that they were not proprietors, but
dependents on their Lord.
(2.) It was a kindness to their land to let it rest sometimes, and
would keep it in heart (as our husbandmen express it) for
posterity, whose satisfaction God would have them to consult, and not
to use the ground as if it were designed only for one age.
(3.) When they were thus for a whole year taken off from all country
business, they would have the more leisure to attend the exercises of
religion, and to get the knowledge of God and his law.
(4.) They were hereby taught to be charitable and generous, and not to
engross all to themselves, but to be willing that others should share
with them in the gifts of God's bounty, which the earth brought forth
(5.) They were brought to live in a constant dependence upon the divine
providence, finding that, as man lives not by bread alone, so he has
bread, not by his own industry alone, but, if God pleases, by the word
of blessing from the mouth of God, without any care or pains of man,
(6.) They were reminded of the easy life man lived in paradise, when he
ate of every good thing, not, as since, in the sweat of his face.
Labour and toil came in with sin.
(7.) They were taught to consider how the poor lived, that did neither
sow nor reap, even by the blessing of God upon a little.
(8.) This year of rest typified the spiritual rest which all believers
enter into through Christ, our true Noah, who giveth us comfort and
rest concerning our work, and the toil of our hands, because of the
ground which the Lord hath cursed,
Through him we are eased of the burden of worldly care and labour, both
being sanctified and sweetened to us, and we are enabled and encouraged
to live by faith. And, as the fruits of this sabbath of the land were
enjoyed in common, so the salvation wrought out by Christ is a common
salvation; and this sabbatical year seems to have been revived in the
Christian church, when the believers had all things common,
|Institution of the Jubilee; the Year of the Jubilee.
||B. C. 1490.|
8 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.
9 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.
10 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.
11 A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not
sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather
the grapes in it of thy vine undressed.
12 For it is the jubilee; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall
eat the increase thereof out of the field.
13 In the year of this jubilee ye shall return every man unto
14 And if thou sell ought unto thy neighbour, or buyest ought
of thy neighbour's hand, ye shall not oppress one another:
15 According to the number of years after the jubilee thou shalt
buy of thy neighbour, and according unto the number of years of
the fruits he shall sell unto thee:
16 According to the multitude of years thou shalt increase the
price thereof, and according to the fewness of years thou shalt
diminish the price of it: for according to the number of the
years of the fruits doth he sell unto thee.
17 Ye shall not therefore oppress one another; but thou shalt
fear thy God: for I am the LORD your God.
18 Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments,
and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety.
19 And the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat your
fill, and dwell therein in safety.
20 And if ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year?
behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase:
21 Then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year,
and it shall bring forth fruit for three years.
22 And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat yet of old fruit
until the ninth year; until her fruits come in ye shall eat of
the old store.
I. The general institution of the jubilee,
1. When it was to be observed: after seven sabbaths of years
whether the forty-ninth or fiftieth is a great question among learned
men: that it should be the seventh sabbatical year, that is, the
forty-ninth (which by a very common form of speech is called the
fiftieth), seems to me most probable, and is, I think, made pretty
clear and the objections removed by that learned chronologer Calvisius;
but this is not a place for arguing the question. Seven sabbaths of
weeks were reckoned from the passover to the feast of pentecost (or
fiftieth day, for so pentecost signifies), and so seven sabbaths of
years from one jubilee to another, and the seventh is called the
fiftieth; and all this honour is put upon the sevenths for the sake of
God's resting the seventh day from the work of creation.
2. How it was to be proclaimed, with sound of trumpet in all parts of
both to give notice to all persons of it, and to express their joy and
triumph in it; and the word jobel, or jubilee, is
supposed to signify some particular sound of the trumpet
distinguishable from any other; for the trumpet that gives an uncertain
sound is of little service,
1 Corinthians 14:8.
The trumpet was sounded in the close of the day of atonement; thence
the jubilee commenced, and very fitly; when they had been humbling and
afflicting their souls for sin, then they were made to hear this voice
of joy and gladness,
When their peace was made with God, then liberty was proclaimed; for
the removal of guilt is necessary to make way for the entrance of all
In allusion to this solemn proclamation of the jubilee, it was foretold
concerning our Lord Jesus that he should preach the acceptable year
of the Lord,
He sent his apostles to proclaim it with the trumpet of the everlasting
gospel, which they were to preach to every creature. And it stands
still foretold that at the last day the trumpet shall sound, which
shall release the dead out of the bondage of the grave, and restore us
to our possessions.
3. What was to be done in that year extraordinary; besides the common
rest of the land, which was observed every sabbatical year
and the release of personal debts
there was to be the legal restoration of every Israelite to all the
property, and all the liberty, which had been alienated from him since
the last jubilee; so that never was any people so secured in their
liberty and property (those glories of a people) as Israel was.
Effectual care was taken that while they kept close to God these should
not only not be taken from them by the violence of others, but not
thrown away by their own folly.
(1.) The property which every man had in his dividend of the land of
Canaan could not be alienated any longer than till the year of jubilee,
and then he or his should return to it, and have a title to it as
undisputed, and the possession of it as undisturbed, as ever
"You shall return every man to his possession; so that if a man
had sold or mortgaged his estate, or any part of it, it should then
return to him or his heirs, free of all charge and encumbrance. Now
this was no wrong to the purchaser, because the year of jubilee was
fixed, and every man knew when it would come, and made his bargain
accordingly. By our law indeed, if lands be granted to a man and his
heirs, upon condition that he should never sell or alienate them, the
grant is good, but the condition is void and repugnant: Iniquum est
ingenuis hominibus (say the lawyers) non esse liberam rerum
suarum alienationem--It is unjust to prevent free men from alienating
their own possessions. Yet it is agreed in the books that if the
king grant lands to a man in fee upon condition he shall not alienate,
the condition is good. Now God would show his people Israel that their
land was his, and they were his tenants; and therefore he ties them up
that they shall not have power to sell, but only to make leases for any
term of years, not going beyond the next jubilee. By this means it was
[1.] That their genealogies should be carefully preserved, which would
be of use for clearing our Saviour's pedigree.
[2.] That the distinction of tribes should be kept up; for, though a
man might purchase lands in another tribe, yet he could not retain them
longer than till the year of jubilee, and then they would revert of
[3.] That none should grow exorbitantly rich, by laying house to
house, and field to field
but should rather apply themselves to the cultivating of what they had
than the enlarging of their possessions. The wisdom of the Roman
commonwealth sometimes provided that no man should be master of above
[4.] That no family should be sunk and ruined, and condemned to
perpetual poverty. This particular care God took for the support of
the honour of that people, and the preserving, not only of that good
land to the nation in general, but of every man's share to his family
in particular, for a perpetual inheritance, that it might the better
typify that good part which shall never be taken away from those
that have it.
(2.) The liberty which every man was born to, if it were sold or
forfeited, should likewise return at the year of jubilee: You shall
return every man to his family,
Those that were sold into other families thereby became strangers to
their own; but in this year of redemption they were to return. This was
typical of our redemption by Christ from the slavery of sin and Satan,
and our restoration to the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Some compute that the very year in which Christ died was a year of
jubilee, and the last that ever was kept. But, however that be, we are
sure it is the Son that makes us free, and then we are free
II. A law upon this occasion against oppression in buying and selling
of land; neither the buyer nor the seller must overreach,
In short, the buyer must not give less, nor the seller take more, than
the just value of the thing, considered as necessarily returning at the
year of jubilee. It must be settled what the clear yearly value of the
land was, and then how many years' purchase it was worth till the year
of jubilee. But they must reckon only the years of the fruits
and therefore must discount for the sabbatical years. It is easy to
observe that the nearer the jubilee was the less must the value of the
land be. According to the fewness of the years thou shalt diminish
the price. But we do not find it so easy practically to infer
thence that the nearer the world comes to its period the less value we
should put upon the things of it: because the time is short, and
the fashion of the world passeth away, let those that buy be
as though they possessed not. One would put little value on an old
house, that is ready to drop down. All bargains ought to be made by
this rule, You shall not oppress one another, nor take advantage
of one another's ignorance or necessity, but thou shalt fear thy
God. Note, The fear of God reigning in the heart would effectually
restrain us from doing any wrong to our neighbour in word or deed; for,
though man be not, God is the avenger of those that go beyond
or defraud their brethren,
1 Thessalonians 4:6.
Perhaps Nehemiah refers to this very law
where he tells us that he did not oppress those he had under his power,
because of the fear of God.
III. Assurance given them that they should be no losers, but great
gainers, by observing these years of rest. It is promised,
1. That they should be safe: You shall dwell in the land in
The word signifies both outward safety and inward security and
confidence of spirit, that they should be quiet both from evil and from
the fear of evil.
2. That they should be rich: You shall eat your fill. Note, If
we be careful to do our duty, we may cheerfully trust God with our
3. That they should not want food convenient that year in which they
did neither sow nor reap: I will command my blessing in the sixth
year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years,
(1.) A standing miracle, that, whereas at other times one year did but
serve to bring in another, the productions of the sixth year should
serve to bring in the ninth. Note, The blessing of God upon our
provision will make a little go a great way, and satisfy even
the poor with bread,
(2.) A lasting memorial of the manna which was given double on the
sixth day for two days.
(3.) It was intended for an encouragement to all God's people, in all
ages, to trust him in the way of duty, and to cast their care upon him.
There is nothing lost by faith and self-denial in our obedience.
23 The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine;
for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.
24 And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a
redemption for the land.
25 If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of
his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then
shall he redeem that which his brother sold.
26 And if the man have none to redeem it, and himself be able
to redeem it;
27 Then let him count the years of the sale thereof, and
restore the overplus unto the man to whom he sold it; that he may
return unto his possession.
28 But if he be not able to restore it to him, then that
which is sold shall remain in the hand of him that hath bought it
until the year of jubilee: and in the jubilee it shall go out, and
he shall return unto his possession.
29 And if a man sell a dwelling house in a walled city, then he
may redeem it within a whole year after it is sold; within a
full year may he redeem it.
30 And if it be not redeemed within the space of a full year,
then the house that is in the walled city shall be established
for ever to him that bought it throughout his generations: it
shall not go out in the jubilee.
31 But the houses of the villages which have no wall round
about them shall be counted as the fields of the country: they
may be redeemed, and they shall go out in the jubilee.
32 Notwithstanding the cities of the Levites, and the houses
of the cities of their possession, may the Levites redeem at any
33 And if a man purchase of the Levites, then the house that
was sold, and the city of his possession, shall go out in the
year of jubilee: for the houses of the cities of the Levites
are their possession among the children of Israel.
34 But the field of the suburbs of their cities may not be
sold; for it is their perpetual possession.
35 And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with
thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a
stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee.
36 Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God;
that thy brother may live with thee.
37 Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him
thy victuals for increase.
38 I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the
land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your
I. A law concerning the real estates of the Israelites in the land of
Canaan, and the transferring of them.
1. No land should be sold for ever from the family to whose lot it fell
in the division of the land. And the reason given is, The land is
mine, and you are strangers and sojourners with me,
(1.) God having a particular propriety in this land, he would by this
restraint keep them sensible of it. The possessions of good people,
who, having given up themselves to God, have therewith given up all
they have to him, are in a particular manner at his disposal, and his
disposal of them must be submitted to.
(2.) They being strangers and sojourners with him in that land,
and having his tabernacle among them, to alienate their part of that
land would be in effect to cut themselves off from their fellowship and
communion with God, of which that was a token and symbol, for which
reason Naboth would rather incur the wrath of a king than part with the
inheritance of his fathers,
1 Kings 21:3.
2. If a man was constrained through poverty to sell his land for the
subsistence of his family, yet, if afterwards he was able, he might
redeem it before the year of jubilee
and the price must be settled according to the number of years since
the sale and before the jubilee.
3. If the person himself was not able to redeem it, his next kinsman
The redeemer thereof, he that is near unto him, shall come and shall
redeem, so it might be read. The kinsman is called Goel, the
to whom belonged the right of redeeming the land. And this typified
Christ, who assumed our nature, that he might be our kinsman,
bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, and, being the only kinsman we
have that is able to do it, to him belonged the right of redemption. As
for all our other kinsmen, their shoe must be plucked off
they cannot redeem. But Christ can and hath redeemed the inheritance
which we by sin had forfeited and alienated, and made a new settlement
of it upon all that by faith become allied to him. We know that this
And some make this duty of the kinsman to signify the brotherly love
that should be among Christians, inclining them to recover those that
are fallen, and to restore them with the spirit of meekness.
4. If the land was not redeemed before the year of jubilee, then it
should return of course to him that had sold or mortgaged it: In the
jubilee it shall go out,
This was a figure of the free grace of God towards us in Christ, by
which, and not by any price or merit of our own, we are restored to the
favour of God, and become entitled to paradise, from which our first
parents, and we in them, were expelled for disobedience.
5. A difference was made between houses in walled cities, and lands in
the country, or houses in country villages. Houses in walled cities
were more the fruits of their own industry than land in the country,
which was the immediate gift of God's bounty; and therefore, if a man
sold a house in a city, he might redeem it any time within a year after
the sale, but otherwise it was confirmed to the purchaser for ever, and
should not return, no, not at the year of the jubilee,
This provision was made to encourage strangers and proselytes to come
and settle among them. Though they could not purchase land in Canaan
to them and their heirs, yet they might purchase houses in walled
cities, which would be most convenient for those who were supposed to
live by trade. But country houses could be disposed of no otherwise
than as lands might.
6. A clause is added in favour of the Levites, by way of exception from
(1.) Dwelling houses in the cities of the Levites might be redeemed at
any time, and, if not redeemed, should revert in the year of jubilee
because the Levites had no other possessions than cities and their
suburbs, and God would show that the Levites were his peculiar care;
and it was for the interest of the public that they should not be
impoverished, or wormed out of their inheritances.
(2.) The fields adjoining to their cities
might not be sold at any time, for they belonged, not to particular
Levites, but to the city of the Levites, as a corporation, who could
not alienate without a wrong to their tribe; therefore, if any of those
fields were sold, the bargain was void,
Even the Egyptians took care to preserve the land of the
And there is no less reason for the taking of the maintenance of the
gospel ministry under the special protection of Christian
II. A law for the relief of the poor, and the tender usage of poor
debtors, and these are of more general and perpetual obligation than
1. The poor must be relieved,
(1.) Our brother's poverty and distress supposed: If thy brother be
waxen poor; not only thy brother by nation as a Jew, but thy
brother by nature as a man, for it follows, though he be a stranger
or a sojourner. All men are to be looked upon and treated as
brethren, for we have all one Father,
Though he is poor, yet still he is thy brother, and is to be loved and
owned as a brother. Poverty does not destroy the relation. Though a son
of Abraham, yet he may wax poor and fall into decay. Note, Poverty and
decay are great grievances, and very common: The poor you have
always with you.
(2.) Our duty enjoined: Thou shalt relieve him. By sympathy,
pitying the poor; by service, doing for them; and by supply, giving to
them according to their necessity and thy ability.
2. Poor debtors must not be oppressed: If thy brother be waxen
poor, and have occasion to borrow money of thee for the necessary
support of his family, take thou no usury of him, either for
money or victuals,
And thus far this law binds still, but could never be thought binding
where money is borrowed for purchase of lands, trade, or other
improvements; for there it is reasonable that the lender share with the
borrower in the profit. The law here is plainly intended for the relief
of the poor, to whom it is sometimes as great a charity to lend freely
as to give. Observe the arguments here used against extortion.
(1.) God patronizes the poor: "Fear thy God, who will reckon
with thee for all injuries done to the poor: thou fearest not them, but
(2.) Relieve the poor, that they may live with thee, and some
way or other they may be serviceable to thee. The rich can as ill spare
the hands of the poor as the poor can the purses of the rich.
(3.) The same argument is used to enforce this precept that prefaces
all the ten commandments: I am the Lord your God which brought you
out of Egypt,
Note, It becomes those that have received mercy to show mercy. If God
has been gracious to us, we ought not to be rigorous with our
|Oppression of Brethren Forbidden.
||B. C. 1490.|
39 And if thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor,
and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a
40 But as an hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be
with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubilee:
41 And then shall he depart from thee, both he and his
children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto
the possession of his fathers shall he return.
42 For they are my servants, which I brought forth out of the
land of Egypt: they shall not be sold as bondmen.
43 Thou shalt not rule over him with rigour; but shalt fear thy
44 Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have,
shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall
ye buy bondmen and bondmaids.
45 Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn
among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are
with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your
46 And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children
after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your
bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel,
ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.
47 And if a sojourner or stranger wax rich by thee, and thy
brother that dwelleth by him wax poor, and sell himself unto
the stranger or sojourner by thee, or to the stock of the
48 After that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his
brethren may redeem him:
49 Either his uncle, or his uncle's son, may redeem him, or
any that is nigh of kin unto him of his family may redeem him;
or if he be able, he may redeem himself.
50 And he shall reckon with him that bought him from the year
that he was sold to him unto the year of jubilee: and the price of
his sale shall be according unto the number of years, according
to the time of an hired servant shall it be with him.
51 If there be yet many years behind, according unto them
he shall give again the price of his redemption out of the money
that he was bought for.
52 And if there remain but few years unto the year of jubilee,
then he shall count with him, and according unto his years
shall he give him again the price of his redemption.
53 And as a yearly hired servant shall he be with him: and
the other shall not rule with rigour over him in thy sight.
54 And if he be not redeemed in these years, then he shall go
out in the year of jubilee, both he, and his children with him.
55 For unto me the children of Israel are servants; they
are my servants whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt:
I am the LORD your God.
We have here the laws concerning servitude, designed to preserve the
honour of the Jewish nation as a free people, and rescued by a divine
power out of the house of bondage, into the glorious liberty of God's
sons, his first-born. Now the law is,
I. That a native Israelite should never be made a bondman for
perpetuity. If he was sold for debt, or for a crime, by the house of
judgment, he was to serve but six years, and to go out the seventh;
this was appointed,
But if he sold himself through extreme poverty, having nothing at all
left him to preserve his life, and if it was to one of his own nation
that he sold himself, in such a case it is here provided,
1. That he should not serve as a bond-servant
nor be sold with the sale of a bondman
that is, "it must not be looked upon that his master that bought him
had as absolute a property in him as in a captive taken in war, that
might be used, sold, and bequeathed, at pleasure, as much as a man's
cattle; no, he shall serve thee as a hired servant, whom the
master has the use of only, but not a despotic power over." And the
reason is, They are my servants,
God does not make his servants slaves, and therefore their brethren
must not. God had redeemed them out of Egypt, and therefore they must
never be exposed to sale as bondmen. The apostle applies this
(1 Corinthians 7:23),
You are bought with a price, be not the servants of men, that
is, "of the lusts of men, no, nor of your own lusts;" for, having
become the servants of God, we must not let sin reign in our
2. That while he did serve he should not be ruled with rigour, as the
Israelites were in Egypt,
Both his work and his usage must be such as were fitting for a son of
Abraham. Masters are still required to give to their servants that
which is just and equal,
They may be used, but must not be abused. Those masters that are always
hectoring and domineering over their servants, taunting them and
trampling upon them, that are unreasonable in exacting work and giving
rebukes, and that rule them with a high hand, forget that their Master
is in heaven; and what will they do when he rises up? as holy Job
reasons with himself,
3. That at the year of jubilee he should go out free, he and
his children, and should return to his own family,
This typified our redemption from the service of sin and Satan by the
grace of God in Christ, whose truth makes us free,
The Jewish writers say that, for ten days before the jubilee-trumpet
sounded, the servants that were to be discharged by it did express
their great joy by feasting, and wearing garlands on their heads: it is
therefore called the joyful sound,
And we are thus to rejoice in the liberty we have by Christ.
II. That they might purchase bondmen of the heathen nations that were
round about them, or of those strangers that sojourned among them
(except of those seven nations that were to be destroyed); and might
claim a dominion over them, and entail them upon their families as an
inheritance, for the year of jubilee should give no discharge to them,
Thus in our English plantations the negroes only are used as
slaves; how much to the credit of Christianity I shall not say. Now,
1. This authority which they had over the bondmen whom they purchased
from the neighbouring nations was in pursuance of the blessing of
Let people serve thee.
2. It prefigured the bringing in of the Gentiles to the service of
Christ and his church. Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen
for thy inheritance,
And it is promised
Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the
alien shall be your vine-dressers; see
The upright shall have the dominion in the morning,
3. It intimates that none shall have the benefit of the gospel jubilee
but those only that are Israelites indeed, and the children of Abraham
by faith: as for those that continue heathenish, they continue bondmen.
See this turned upon the unbelieving Jews themselves,
where Jerusalem, when she had rejected Christ, is said to be in
bondage with her children. Let me only add here that, though they
are not forbidden to rule their bondmen with rigour, yet the Jewish
doctors say, "It is the property of mercy, and way of wisdom, that a
man should be compassionate, and not make his yoke heavy upon any
servant that he has."
III. That if an Israelite sold himself for a servant to a wealthy
proselyte that sojourned among them care should be taken that he should
have the same advantages as if he had sold himself to an Israelite, and
in some respects greater.
1. That he should not serve as a bondman, but as a hired servant, and
not to be ruled with rigour
in thy sight, which intimated that the Jewish magistrates should
particularly have an eye to him, and, if he were abused, should take
cognizance of it, and redress his grievances, though the injured
servant did not himself complain. Also he was to go free at the year of
Though the sons of strangers might serve them for ever, yet the sons of
Israel might not serve strangers for ever; yet the servant here, having
made himself a slave by his own act and deed, should not go out in the
seventh year of release, but in the jubilee only.
2. That he should have this further advantage that he might be redeemed
again before the year of jubilee,
He that had sold himself to an Israelite might, if ever he was able,
redeem himself, but his relations had no right to redeem him. "But if a
man sold himself to a stranger," the Jews say, "his relations were
urged to redeem him; if they did not, it was fit that he should be
redeemed at the public charge," which we find done,
The price of his ransom was to be computed according to the prospect of
the year of jubilee
as in the redemption of land,
The learned bishop Patrick quotes one of the Jewish rabbin for an
evangelical exposition of that appointment
One of his brethren shall redeem him. "This Redeemer," says the
rabbi, "is the Messiah, the Son of David." They expected this
Messiah to be their Redeemer out of their captivity, and to restore
them to their own land again; but we welcome him as the Redeemer who
shall come to Zion, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob,
for he shall save his people from their sins; and under this
notion there were those that looked for redemption in