Leviticus 25

The Sabbath Year

1 The LORD said to Moses at Mount Sinai,
2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to the LORD.
3 For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops.
4 But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the LORD. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards.
5 Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest.
6 Whatever the land yields during the sabbath year will be food for you—for yourself, your male and female servants, and the hired worker and temporary resident who live among you,
7 as well as for your livestock and the wild animals in your land. Whatever the land produces may be eaten.

The Year of Jubilee

8 “ ‘Count off seven sabbath years—seven times seven years—so that the seven sabbath years amount to a period of forty-nine years.
9 Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land.
10 Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan.
11 The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines.
12 For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields.
13 “ ‘In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to their own property.
14 “ ‘If you sell land to any of your own people or buy land from them, do not take advantage of each other.
15 You are to buy from your own people on the basis of the number of years since the Jubilee. And they are to sell to you on the basis of the number of years left for harvesting crops.
16 When the years are many, you are to increase the price, and when the years are few, you are to decrease the price, because what is really being sold to you is the number of crops.
17 Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God. I am the LORD your God.
18 “ ‘Follow my decrees and be careful to obey my laws, and you will live safely in the land.
19 Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and live there in safety.
20 You may ask, “What will we eat in the seventh year if we do not plant or harvest our crops?”
21 I will send you such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough for three years.
22 While you plant during the eighth year, you will eat from the old crop and will continue to eat from it until the harvest of the ninth year comes in.
23 “ ‘The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers.
24 Throughout the land that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land.
25 “ ‘If one of your fellow Israelites becomes poor and sells some of their property, their nearest relative is to come and redeem what they have sold.
26 If, however, there is no one to redeem it for them but later on they prosper and acquire sufficient means to redeem it themselves,
27 they are to determine the value for the years since they sold it and refund the balance to the one to whom they sold it; they can then go back to their own property.
28 But if they do not acquire the means to repay, what was sold will remain in the possession of the buyer until the Year of Jubilee. It will be returned in the Jubilee, and they can then go back to their property.
29 “ ‘Anyone who sells a house in a walled city retains the right of redemption a full year after its sale. During that time the seller may redeem it.
30 If it is not redeemed before a full year has passed, the house in the walled city shall belong permanently to the buyer and the buyer’s descendants. It is not to be returned in the Jubilee.
31 But houses in villages without walls around them are to be considered as belonging to the open country. They can be redeemed, and they are to be returned in the Jubilee.
32 “ ‘The Levites always have the right to redeem their houses in the Levitical towns, which they possess.
33 So the property of the Levites is redeemable—that is, a house sold in any town they hold—and is to be returned in the Jubilee, because the houses in the towns of the Levites are their property among the Israelites.
34 But the pastureland belonging to their towns must not be sold; it is their permanent possession.
35 “ ‘If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you.
36 Do not take interest or any profit from them, but fear your God, so that they may continue to live among you.
37 You must not lend them money at interest or sell them food at a profit.
38 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.
39 “ ‘If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to you, do not make them work as slaves.
40 They are to be treated as hired workers or temporary residents among you; they are to work for you until the Year of Jubilee.
41 Then they and their children are to be released, and they will go back to their own clans and to the property of their ancestors.
42 Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves.
43 Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God.
44 “ ‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.
47 “ ‘If a foreigner residing among you becomes rich and any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to the foreigner or to a member of the foreigner’s clan,
48 they retain the right of redemption after they have sold themselves. One of their relatives may redeem them:
49 An uncle or a cousin or any blood relative in their clan may redeem them. Or if they prosper, they may redeem themselves.
50 They and their buyer are to count the time from the year they sold themselves up to the Year of Jubilee. The price for their release is to be based on the rate paid to a hired worker for that number of years.
51 If many years remain, they must pay for their redemption a larger share of the price paid for them.
52 If only a few years remain until the Year of Jubilee, they are to compute that and pay for their redemption accordingly.
53 They are to be treated as workers hired from year to year; you must see to it that those to whom they owe service do not rule over them ruthlessly.
54 “ ‘Even if someone is not redeemed in any of these ways, they and their children are to be released in the Year of Jubilee,
55 for the Israelites belong to me as servants. They are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 25 Commentary

Chapter 25

The sabbath of rest for the land in the seventh year. (1-7) The jubilee of the fiftieth year, Oppression forbidden. (8-22) Redemption of the land and houses. (23-34) Compassion towards the poor. (35-38) Laws respecting bondmen, Oppression forbidden. (39-55)

Verses 1-7 All labour was to cease in the seventh year, as much as daily labour on the seventh day. These statues tell us to beware of covetousness, for a man's life consists not in the abundance of his possessions. We are to exercise willing dependence on God's providence for our support; to consider ourselves the Lord's tenants or stewards, and to use our possessions accordingly. This year of rest typified the spiritual rest which all believers enter into through Christ. Through Him we are eased of the burden of wordly care and labour, both being sanctified and sweetened to us; and we are enabled and encouraged to live by faith.

Verses 8-22 The word "jubilee" signifies a peculiarly animated sound of the silver trumpets. This sound was to be made on the evening of the great day of atonement; for the proclamation of gospel liberty and salvation results from the sacrifice of the Redeemer. It was provided that the lands should not be sold away from their families. They could only be disposed of, as it were, by leases till the year of jubilee, and then returned to the owner or his heir. This tended to preserve their tribes and families distinct, till the coming of the Messiah. The liberty every man was born to, if sold or forfeited, should return at the year of jubilee. This was typical of redemption by Christ from the slavery of sin and Satan, and of being brought again to the liberty of the children of God. All bargains ought to be made by this rule, "Ye shall not oppress one another," not take advantage of one another's ignorance or necessity, "but thou shalt fear thy God." The fear of God reigning in the heart, would restrain from doing wrong to our neighbour in word or deed. Assurance was given that they should be great gainers, by observing these years of rest. If we are careful to do our duty, we may trust God with our comfort. This was a miracle for an encouragement to all neither sowed or reaped. This was a miracle for an encouragement to all God's people, in all ages, to trust him in the way of duty. There is nothing lost by faith and self-denial in obedience. Some asked, What shall we eat the seventh year? Thus many Christians anticipate evils, questioning what they shall do, and fearing to proceed in the way of duty. But we have no right to anticipate evils, so as to distress ourselves about them. To carnal minds we may appear to act absurdly, but the path of duty is ever the path of safety.

Verses 23-34 If the land were not redeemed before the year of jubilee, it then returned to him that sold or mortgaged it. This was a figure of the free grace of God in Christ; by which, and not by any price or merit of our own, we are restored to the favour of God. Houses in walled cities were more the fruits of their own industry than land in the country, which was the direct gift of God's bounty; therefore if a man sold a house in a city, he might redeem it only within a year after the sale. This encouraged strangers and proselytes to come and settle among them.

Verses 35-38 Poverty and decay are great grievances, and very common; the poor ye have always with you. 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 thine ability. Poor debtors must not be oppressed. Observe the arguments here used against extortion: "Fear thy God." Relieve the poor, "that they may live with thee;" for they may be serviceable to thee. The rich can as ill spare the poor, as the poor can the rich. It becomes those that have received mercy to show mercy.

Verses 39-55 A native Israelite, if sold for debt, or for a crime, was to serve but six years, and to go out the seventh. If he sold himself, through poverty, both his work and his usage must be such as were fitting for a son of Abraham. Masters are required to give to their servants that which is just and equal, Col. 4:1 . At the year of jubilee the servant should go out free, he and his children, and should return to his own family. This typified redemption from the service of sin and Satan, by the grace of God in Christ, whose truth makes us free, ( John 8:32 ) . We cannot ransom our fellow-sinners, but we may point out Christ to them; while by his grace our lives may adorn his gospel, express our love, show our gratitude, and glorify his holy name.

Cross References 69

  • 1. Exodus 19:11
  • 2. Exodus 23:10
  • 3. ver 5,6,20; Leviticus 26:35; 2 Chronicles 36:21
  • 4. Isaiah 36:16; Isaiah 37:30
  • 5. 2 Kings 19:29
  • 6. Genesis 40:10; Numbers 6:3; Numbers 13:20; Deuteronomy 23:24; Nehemiah 13:15; Isaiah 5:2
  • 7. ver 4,11
  • 8. S ver 4; ver 20
  • 9. Exodus 23:11
  • 10. Leviticus 23:24; Numbers 10:8; Joshua 6:4; Judges 3:27; Judges 7:16; 1 Samuel 13:3; Isaiah 27:13; Zechariah 9:14
  • 11. S Leviticus 16:29
  • 12. S Exodus 30:10
  • 13. Isaiah 61:1; Jer 34:8,15,17; S Luke 4:19
  • 14. ver 11,28,50; Leviticus 27:17,21; Numbers 36:4; Ezekiel 46:17
  • 15. ver 27
  • 16. S ver 10
  • 17. S ver 5
  • 18. ver 10
  • 19. S Leviticus 19:13; 1 Samuel 12:3,4; 1 Corinthians 6:8
  • 20. ver 27; Leviticus 27:18,23
  • 21. ver 27,51,52
  • 22. S Leviticus 19:13; Job 31:16; Proverbs 22:22; Jeremiah 7:5,6; Jeremiah 21:12; Jeremiah 22:3,15; Zechariah 7:9-10; 1 Thessalonians 4:6
  • 23. S Leviticus 19:14
  • 24. S Leviticus 19:32
  • 25. S Genesis 26:5
  • 26. ver 19; Leviticus 26:4,5; Deuteronomy 12:10; Deuteronomy 33:28; Job 5:22; Psalms 4:8; Jeremiah 23:6; Jeremiah 30:10; Jeremiah 32:37; Jeremiah 33:16; Ezekiel 28:26; Ezekiel 34:25; Ezekiel 38:14
  • 27. Leviticus 26:4; Deuteronomy 11:14; Deuteronomy 28:12; Isaiah 55:10
  • 28. S ver 18
  • 29. S ver 4
  • 30. Deuteronomy 28:8,12; Psalms 133:3; Psalms 134:3; Psalms 147:13; Ezekiel 44:30; Haggai 2:19; Malachi 3:10
  • 31. S Exodus 16:5
  • 32. Leviticus 26:10
  • 33. Numbers 36:7; 1 Kings 21:3; Ezekiel 46:18
  • 34. Exodus 19:5
  • 35. S Genesis 23:4; 1 Chronicles 29:15; Psalms 39:12; S Hebrews 11:13; 1 Peter 2:11
  • 36. ver 29,48; Ruth 4:7
  • 37. ver 48; Ruth 2:20; Jeremiah 32:7
  • 38. Lev 27:13,19,31; Ruth 4:4
  • 39. ver 49
  • 40. S ver 15
  • 41. ver 10
  • 42. Leviticus 27:24
  • 43. S ver 10
  • 44. Numbers 35:1-8; Joshua 21:2
  • 45. Numbers 35:2-5; Ezekiel 48:14
  • 46. Deuteronomy 24:14,15
  • 47. Deuteronomy 15:8; Psalms 37:21,26; Proverbs 21:26; Luke 6:35
  • 48. S Exodus 22:25; Deuteronomy 23:19-20; Jeremiah 15:10
  • 49. S Leviticus 19:32
  • 50. S Exodus 22:25
  • 51. S Genesis 10:19
  • 52. S Genesis 17:7; Leviticus 11:45
  • 53. 1 Kings 5:13; 1 Kings 9:22; Jeremiah 34:14; Exodus 21:2; Deuteronomy 15:12; 1Ki 1 Kings 9:22
  • 54. ver 53
  • 55. ver 28
  • 56. Jeremiah 34:8
  • 57. ver 38
  • 58. S Exodus 1:13; Ezekiel 34:4; Colossians 4:1
  • 59. S Genesis 42:18
  • 60. Nehemiah 5:5; Job 24:9
  • 61. S ver 24
  • 62. S ver 25; Nehemiah 5:5
  • 63. ver 26
  • 64. S ver 10
  • 65. Job 7:1; Job 14:6; Isaiah 16:14; Isaiah 21:16
  • 66. S ver 16
  • 67. Colossians 4:1
  • 68. S Leviticus 11:45
  • 69. Leviticus 11:44

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO LEVITICUS 25

In this chapter the Israelites are directed, when come into the land of Canaan, to observe every seventh year as a sabbatical year, in which there was to be no tillage of the land, and yet there would be a sufficiency for man and beast, Le 25:1-7; and every fiftieth year as a year of jubilee, in which also there was to be no tillage of the land, and every man was to return to his possession or estate, which had been sold to another any time before this, Le 25:8-17; and a promise of safety and plenty in the seventh year is made to encourage the observance of it, Le 25:18-22; and several laws and rules are delivered out concerning the sale of lands, the redemption of them, and their return to their original owner in the year of jubilee, Le 25:23-28; and the sale of houses, and the redemption of them, and the difference between those in walled cities and those in villages, with respect thereunto, Le 25:29-31; and also concerning the houses of the cities of the Levites, and the fields of the suburbs of them, Le 25:32-34; to which are added some instructions about relieving decayed, persons, and lending and giving to them, without taking usury of them, Le 25:34-38; and other laws concerning the release of such Israelites as had sold themselves for servants to the Israelites, in the year of jubilee, since none but Heathens were to be bondmen and bondmaids for ever, Le 25:39-46; and of such who were sold to proselytes, Le 25:47-55.

Leviticus 25 Commentaries