- In token of his peculiar right to the land of Canaan, God in this chapter appoints, 1. That every seventh year should be a year of rest, verse 1-7.
- 2. That every fiftieth year should be a year of jubilee, verse 8-17.
- A peculiar blessing annext, verse 18-22.
- The land sold may be redeemed: if not, it shall revert at the year of jubilee, only with some exceptions, verse 23-34.
- Usury forbidden, verse 35-38.
- Jewish servants to be released at the jubilee, verse 39.
- but heathens might be retained, verse 40-46.
- Of an Israelite that sold himself to a stranger, verse 47-55.
In mount Sinai - That is, near mount Sinai. So the Hebrew particle beth is sometimes used. So there is no need to disturb the history in this place.
When ye come into the land - So as to be settled in it; for the time of the wars was not to be accounted, nor the time before Joshua's distribution of the land among them. Keep a sabbath - That is, enjoy rest and freedom from plowing, and tilling. Unto the Lord - In obedience and unto the honour of God. This was instituted, 1. For the assertion of God's sovereign right to the land, in which the Israelites were but tenants at God's will. 2. For the trial of their obedience. 3. For the demonstration of his providence as well in general towards men, as especially towards his own people. 4. To wean them from inordinate love, and pursuit of worldly advantages, and to inure them to depend upon God alone, and upon God's blessing for their subsistence. 5. To put them in mind of that blessed and eternal rest provided for all good men.
A sabbath of rest to the land - They were neither to do any work about it, nor expect any harvest from it. All yearly labours were to be intermitted in the seventh year, as much as daily labours on the seventh day.
Of its own accord - From the grains that fell out of the ears the last reaping time. Thou shalt not reap - That is, as thy own peculiarly, but only so as others may reap it with thee, for present food. Undressed - Not cut off by thee, but suffered to grow for the use of the poor.
The sabbath of the land - That is, the growth of the sabbath, or that fruit which groweth in the sabbatical year. For thy servant - For all promiscuously, to take food from thence as they need it.
The jubilee - Signified the true liberty from our spiritual debts and slaveries to be purchased by Christ, and to be published to the world by the sound of the gospel. The seventh month - Which was the first month of the year for civil affairs; the jubilee therefore began in that month; and, as it seems, upon this very tenth day, when the trumpet sounded, as other feasts generally began when the trumpet sounded. In the day of atonement - A very fit time, that when they fasted and prayed for God's mercy to them in the pardon of their sins, then they might exercise their charity to men in forgiving their debts; and to teach us, that the foundation of all solid comfort must be laid in repentance and atonement for our sins through Christ.
The fiftieth year - The year of jubilee was not the forty and ninth year, as some learned men think, but precisely the fiftieth. The old weekly sabbath is called the seventh day, because it truly was so, being next after the six days of the week and distinct from them all: and the year of release is called the seventh year, Leviticus 25:4, as immediately following the six years, Leviticus 25:3, and distinct from them all. And in like manner the jubilee is called the fiftieth year, because it comes next after seven tines seven or forty-nine years, Leviticus 25:8, and is distinct from them all. Unto all the inhabitants - Understand such as were Israelites; principally to all servants, even to such as would not and did not go out at the seventh year, and to the poor, who now were acquitted from all their debts, and restored to their possessions. Jubilee - So called either from the Hebrew word Jobel which signifies first a ram, and then a ram's horn, by the sound whereof it was proclaimed; or from Jubal the inventor of musical instruments, Genesis 4:21, because it was celebrated with music and all expressions of joy. Unto his possession - Which had been sold or otherwise alienated from him. This law was not at all unjust, because all buyers and sellers had an eye to this condition in their bargains; but it was expedient in many regards, as 1. To mind them that God alone was the Lord and proprietor both of them and of their lands, and they only his tenants; a point which they were very apt to forget. 2. That hereby inheritances, families, and tribes, might be kept entire and clear until the coming of the Messiah, who was to be known as by other things, so by the tribe and family out of which he was to come. And this accordingly was done by the singular providence of God until the Lord Jesus did come. Since which time those characters are miserably confounded: which is no small argument that the Messiah is come. 3. To set bounds both to the insatiable avarice of some, and the foolish prodigality of others, that the former might not wholly and finally swallow up the inheritances of their brethren, and the latter might not be able to undo themselves and their posterity for ever, which was a singular privilege of this law and people. His family - From whom he was gone, being sold to some other family either by himself or by his father.
It shall be holy - So it was, because it was sequestered in great part from worldly employments and dedicated to God, and to the exercise of holy joy and thankfulness; and because it was a type of that holy and happy jubilee which they were to expect and enjoy under the Messiah. The increase thereof - Such things as it produced of itself. Out of the field - Whence they in common with others might take it as they needed it; but must not put it into barns, See Leviticus 25:5, and Exodus 23:11.
Ye shall not oppress - Neither the seller by requiring more, nor the buyer by taking the advantage from his brother's necessities to give him less than the worth of it.
Years of fruits - Or, fruitful years; for there were some unfruitful years; those wherein they were not allowed to sow or reap.
Years of fruits - Or, For the number of the fruits. The meaning is, he selleth not the land, but only the fruits thereof, and that for a certain time.
For three years - Not compleatly, but in great part, namely, for that part of the 6th year which was between the beginning of harvest and the beginning of the 7th year, for the whole 7th year, and for that part of the 8th year which was before the harvest, which reached almost until the beginning of the ninth year. This is added to shew the equity of this command. As God would hereby try their faith and obedience, so he gave them an eminent proof of his own exact providence and tender care over them in making provisions suitable to their necessities.
Old fruit - Of the sixth year principally, if not solely.
For ever - So as to be for ever alienated from the family of him that sells it. Or, absolutely and properly, so as to become the property of the buyer: Or, to the extermination or utter cutting off, namely, of the seller, from all hopes and possibility of redemption. The land is mine - Procured for you by my power, given to you by my grace and bounty, and the right of propriety reserved by me. With me - That is, in my land or houses: thus he is said to sojourn with another that dwells in his house. Howsoever in your own or other mens opinions you pass for lords and proprietors, yet in truth, ye are but strangers and sojourners, not to possess the land for ever, but only for a season, and to leave it to such as I have appointed for it.
A redemption - A right of redemption in the time and manner following.
If any of his kin come - Or, If the redeemer come, being near akin to him, who in this was an eminent type of Christ, who was made near akin to us by taking our flesh, that he might perform the work of redemption for us.
The years of the sale - That is, from the time of the sale to the jubilee. See above, Leviticus 25:15,16. The overplus - That is, a convenient price for the years from this redemption to the jubilee.
Go out - That is, out of the buyer's hand, without any redemption money.
It shall not go out - The reasons before alledged for lands do not hold in such houses; there was no danger of confusion in tribes or families by the alienation of houses. The seller also had a greater propriety in houses than in lands, as being commonly built by the owner's cost and diligence, and therefore had a fuller power to dispose of them. Besides, God would hereby encourage persons to buy and possess houses in such places, as frequency and fulness of inhabitants in cities, was a great strength, honour and advantage to the whole land.
In the villages - Because they belonged to and were necessary for the management of the lands.
May not be sold - Not sold at all, partly, because it was of absolute necessity for them for the keeping of their cattle, and partly because these were no enclosures, but common fields, in which all the Levites that lived in such a city had an interest, and therefore no particular Levite could dispose of his part in it.
A sojourner - Understand it of proselytes only, for of other strangers they were permitted to take usury, Deuteronomy 23:20.
Of him - That is, of thy brother, whether he be Israelite, or proselyte. Or increase - All kinds of usury are in this case forbidden, whether of money, or of victuals, or of any thing that is commonly lent by one man to another upon usury, or upon condition of receiving the thing lent with advantage and overplus. If one borrow in his necessity, there can be no doubt but this law is binding still. But it cannot be thought to bind, 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.
As a bond-man - Neither for the time, for ever, nor for the manner, with the hardest and vilest kinds of service, rigorously and severely exacted.
Then shall he depart - Thou shalt not suffer him or his to abide longer in thy service, as thou mightest do in the year of release, Exodus 21:2,6.
They are my servants - They, no less than you, are members of my church and people; such as I have chosen out of all the world to serve me here, and to enjoy me hereafter, and therefore are not to be oppressed, neither are you absolute lords over them to deal with them as you please.
Fear thy God - Though thou dost not fear them who are in thy power, and unable to right themselves, yet fear that God who hath commanded thee to use them kindly, and who can and will avenge their cause, if thou oppress them.
The flock - Heb. root, that is, one of the root or flock. So the word root is elsewhere used for the branch or progeny growing from it. He seems to note one of a foreign race and country, transplanted into the land of Israel, and there having taken root amongst the people of God, yet even such an one, though he hath some privilege by it, shall not have power to keep an Hebrew servant from the benefit of redemption.
According to the time of an hired servant - Allowance shall be made for the time wherein he hath served, proportionable to that which is given to an hired servant for so long service, because his condition is in this like theirs; it is not properly his person, but his work and labour that was sold.
In thy sight - Thou shalt not suffer this to be done, but whethe thou art a magistrate, or a private person, thou shalt take care according to thy capacity to get it remedied.