King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Leviticus 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)

Leviticus 25 Audio:

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The sabbath of rest for the land in the seventh year

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 jubilee of the fiftieth year, Oppression forbidden

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 jubile 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 jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.

11 A jubile 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 jubile; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field.

13 In the year of this jubile ye shall return every man unto his possession.

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 jubile 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.

Redemption of the land and houses

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 jubile: and in the jubile 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 jubile.

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 jubile.

32 Notwithstanding the cities of the Levites, and the houses of the cities of their possession, may the Levites redeem at any time.

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 jubile: 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.

Compassion towards the poor

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 God.

Laws respecting bondmen, Oppression forbidden

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 bondservant:

40 But as an hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubile.

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 God.

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 possession.

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 stranger’s family:

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 jubile: 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 jubile, 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 jubile, 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.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 2. The rest (sabbathises sabbatum). The land was to enjoy the benefit of rest every seventh year, to remind God’s people that he had created the world, and that he still retained dominion over it, (S. Aug. q. 91. 92,) requiring the spontaneous fruits of that year as a tribute, part of which he gave to the poor. In the mean time, all creatures rested from their labours, and the people were taught to have an entire confidence in Providence. C. — This law was given in the desert of Sinai, in the month of Nisan, the second year after the exit: but it did not begin to be in force till the Hebrews entered into the land of Chanaan. H.

Ver. 5. Reap entirely, but only take a part, v. 6. — First-fruits. None shall be this year presented to the Lord. Heb. has the word Nezireka, “Nazareat,” alluding to the custom of those who, out of devotion, let their hair grow; as here only the spontaneous fruits of the unpruned vine were to be eaten; they were separated, as the word also means, or “sanctified,” (Sept.) being abandoned indifferently for the use of any one that pleased to eat of them, and no longer fenced in by the proprietor, (C.) though he might take the first, or choicest fruits for his own use, (M.) or at least he might take his share like the rest. T.

Ver. 6. They. Heb. and Sept. “The sabbath of the earth shall be meat for you” in common.

Ver. 7. Cattle. This last term in Heb. Sept. &c. means “wild beasts,” which must also live. At this period of the seventh year debts were to be remitted, the law read, &c. Ex. xxi. 2. Deut. xv. 2. and xxxi. 10. But in the jubilee year, even those Hebrew slaves whose ears had been pierced, and those who had sold their land, regained their liberty and possessions. C. — Their children and wives, according to Josephus, went out with them, v. 41. Houses and suburbs for gardens, &c. might be sold for ever, if they were not redeemed the first year, excepting those of the Levites, v. 34. T.

Ver. 8. Years. It is dubious whether the 49th or the 50th year was appointed for the jubilee. The former year is fixed upon by many able chronologers, who remark, that if two years of rest had occurred together, it would have been a serious inconvenience; and Moses might have said the 50th year for a round number, or comprise therein the year of the former jubilee, as we give five years to the olympiad, and eight days to the week, though the former consists only of four years, and the latter of seven days. (Rader; Scaliger; &c.) But others decide for the fiftieth year, v. 10. Philo, Joseph. iii. 10. S. Aug. q. 92. Salien, &c. C. — On the feast of expiation of the 49th year, they promulgated the following to be the year of jubilee. M. — Usher places the first A.M. 2609, 49 years after the partition of the land by Josue in 2560: Salien dates 50 years from the entrance (v. 2,) of the Hebrews into Chanaan, A.M. 2583, six years sooner; and places the first jubilee 2633, immediately after the sabbatic year, which fell in the 32nd year of Othoniel. He supposes that both were proclaimed at the same time, on the 1st of Tisri, Ros Hassana, “the head of the year;” though the heralds went about the country only on the 10th. The writers both of the Synagogue and of the Church generally adopt the 50th for the year of jubilee; and the pretended inconvenience of two years’ rest is nugatory, since God promised a three years’ crop, v. 21. H.

Ver. 10. Remission; that is, a general release and discharge from debts and bondage, and a reinstating of every man in his former possessions. Ch. — Jubilee: Heb. jubol means “liberty” (Joseph.); “re-establishment” (Philo); (C.) — “deliverance” (Abenezra). The Rabbins falsely assert, that a ram’s horn was used on this occasion: but Buchart shews that it is solid and unfit for the purpose. B. ii. 42. They also maintain, that from the 1st of this sacred month, as it is called by Philo, till the 10th, the slaves spent their time in continual rejoicings in their master’s house, and on the latter day they were set free. Cunæus (Rep. i. 6,) observes, that the jubilee was discontinued after the captivity, though the sabbatic year was still kept. C. — Indeed the Jews were often very negligent in these respects, and God complained and punished them for it. C. xxvii. 32. &c. The avarice of the great ones chiefly caused these wise regulations to be despised, though, from time to time, God enforced their observance, that it might be clearly known from what family the Messias spring. After his birth they were abrogated, as no longer necessary. H. — Something similar was instituted by Solon, and styled “the shaking off burdens,” for the redemption both of men and good. Laertius. M. — The Locrians could not alienate their patrimony. Aristotle polit. ii. 7. and vi. 4. The Rabbins deviate from the spirit of their lawgiver, when they assert, that persons might sell their inheritance for a greater number of years than 50, if they specified how many, &c. Seld. Succes. iii. 24. In the Christian dispensation, the jubilee denotes a time of indulgence, in consequence of the power left by Jesus Christ. Matt. xvi. 19. 2 Cor. ii. 10. The first was given by Boniface VIII. in 1300; and others were granted every century, till Clement VI. reduced the space to 50 years, 1542. Gregory XI. would have them dispensed to the faithful every 33 years, and Paul XI. every 25th, that more might partake of so great a benefit. This has been done since his time, and the Popes often grant them when the Church is in great danger, and also in the year when they are consecrated. C. — They are designed to promote the fervour of piety, and the remission of punishment due to sin. H. — Family. Slaves shall obtain their liberty. This law set a restraint upon the rich, that they might not get possession of too much land, or oppress the poor. Lycurgus, with the same view, established an equality of lands among the Spartans, and Solon acknowledged the propriety of the regulation, which he probably saw practised in Egypt. Diod. i. C. — The Agrarian laws at Rome, were often proposed; but they caused nothing but confusion and riot. H.

Ver. 12. Eat them. No wine was to be made of the grapes, nor the corn heaped up, to the detriment of the poor. All is claimed by God, as his own property.

Ver. 14. Grieve. Heb. “deceive not.” S. Chrysostom observes, that to engage another to sell us any thing for what we know is beneath its value, is theft. Grot. Jur. ii. 12. The Rabbins also decide that, if an Israelite be defrauded a sixth part, restitution must be made, v. 17. Seld. Jur. vi. 6.

Ver. 21. Three years. After the harvest of the sixth year was gotten in, the land rested from September to September, the beginning of the 8th year, when it was tilled again. Nothing would be ripe till about March; yet the harvest of the 6th year would suffice to furnish food till that time, or even for a year longer, as it would be requisite, when the year of jubilee succeeded that of rest, v. 8. H.

Ver. 23. For ever. Sam. version, “absolutely.” The only exception to this law is, when a person makes a vow to give some land to the Lord, and will not redeem it. C. xxvii. 20. In that case, God re-enters upon his property, and it belongs to his priests. C.

Ver. 27. Fruits. An estimation shall be made of what the buyer would probably have gotten for the fruits of the land, till the year of jubilee, and that sum shall be given to him; (C.) or what benefit he has already derived from the land shall be computed; so that, if he purchased it for 100 sicles, and had received the value of 80, he should be content with the addition of 20 more, v. 53. H.

Ver. 29. City. These houses are of greater consequence, and therefore God dissuades his people from selling them; though if they think proper to do so, he holds out an encouragement to those who buy, that they may afford a better price, on the prospect of keeping possession for ever. M.

Ver. 33. Owners. The Levites had no other possessions, but these cities and 2000 cubits of land around them. The priests might buy of one another. Jer. xxxi. 7.

Ver. 35. And thou. Heb. “thou shalt receive him: and of the stranger…(36) take no usury.” There are two precepts; to relieve those in distress, and not to injury any one. C.

Ver. 40. Hireling, who has engaged to work for a term of years, either of six, or at most 49. After the year of the jubilee, he might enter into fresh engagements with his late master. H. — The Hebrews have always hated slavery. We have never been slaves to any. Jo. viii. 33. They were not allowed to part with their liberty, except from absolute distress; (Maimonides) and then they do not submit to what they call intrinsical slavery. — Children. His wife and children were not made slaves of him. But if his master gave him a second wife, her children belonged to their common master. Seld. Jur. vi. 1.

Ver. 43. Might. Heb. “rigour or haughtiness.” Sept. “Do not make him strain himself with work.”

Ver. 45. Servants, or slaves, whom you may treat with greater severity than the Hebrews, and keep for ever, even though they may have embraced the true faith. But still you must remember that they are your brethren.

Ver. 47. Stranger, or Gentile, who engages at least to keep the precepts given to Noe. H.

Ver. 49. Himself. He might have saved up something by greater industry. The Athenians allowed their slaves the same privilege. C.

Ver. 53. Wages. Heb. “as a yearly hired servant shall he be with him.” What was customarily given to a hired servant for a certain number of years, might be a rule to judge how much was to be paid for redemption. H. — Thus if a man had engaged to serve 20 years for 100 sicles, and at the expiration of 10 years wished to redeem himself, he might do it for half that sum. Some think, that those Hebrews who had sold themselves to a Gentile, sojourning among them, could not take the benefit of the sabbatic year, (Ex. xxi. 6,) because Moses is silent on this head. But this argument is not satisfactory. C.