A Hebrew festival, celebrated in every fiftieth year, which of course occurred after seven weeks of years, or seven times seven years, Leviticus 25:10. Its name Jubilee, sounding or flowing, was significant of the joyful trumpet-peals that announced its arrival. During this year no one sowed or reaped; but all were satisfied with what the earth and the trees produced spontaneously. Each resumed possession of his inheritance, whether it were sold, mortgaged, or otherwise alienated; and Hebrew servants of every description were set free, with their wives an children, Leviticus 25:1-55. The first nine days were spent in festivities, during which no one worked, and every one wore a crown on his head. On the tenth day, which was the day of solemn expiation, the Sanhedrin ordered the trumpets to sound, and instantly the slaves were declared free, and the lands returned to their hereditary owners. This law was mercifully designed to prevent the rich from oppressing the poor, and getting possession of all the lands by purchase, mortgage, or usurpation; to cause that debts should not be multiplied too much, and that slaves should not continue, with their wives and children, in perpetual bondage. It served to maintain a degree of equality among the Hebrew families; to perpetuate the division of lands and households according to the original tribes, and secure a careful registry of the genealogy of every family. They were also thus reminded that Jehovah was the great Proprietor and Disposer of all things, and they but his tenants. "The land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me," Leviticus 25:23. And this memento met them constantly and pointedly; for every transfer of land was valuable in proportion to the number of years remaining before the jubilee. Isaiah clearly refers to this peculiar and important festival, as foreshadowing the glorious dispensation of gospel grace, Isaiah 61:1,2 Luke 4:17-21.
See also the notice of a similar institution under SABBATICAL YEAR.