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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 25

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2514. B.C. 1490.

God in this chapter appoints,

( 1,) That every seventh year should be a year of rest, Leviticus 25:1-7 .

(2,) That every fiftieth year should be a year of jubilee, Leviticus 25:8-17 . A peculiar blessing annexed, Leviticus 25:18-22 . The land sold may be redeemed: if not, it shall revert at the year of jubilee, only with some exceptions, Leviticus 25:23-34 . Usury forbidden, Leviticus 25:35-38 . Jewish servants to be released at the jubilee, Leviticus 25:39 , but heathens might be retained, Leviticus 25:40-46 . Of an Israelite that sold himself to a stranger, Leviticus 25:47-55 .

Verse 1

Leviticus 25:1. In mount Sinai That is, in the wilderness of Sinai, or near mount Sinai, as the Hebrew particle beth frequently signifies. For they did not remove from this wilderness till the 20th day of the seventh month after their coming out of Egypt.

Verse 2

Leviticus 25:2. When ye come into the land So as to be settled in it: for the injunction neither could nor was intended to be observed during the time of the wars, nor till Joshua’s distribution of the land among them. The land shall keep a sabbath That is, enjoy rest from ploughing and tilling; unto the Lord In obedience and unto the honour of God. This was instituted, 1st, For the assertion of God’s sovereign right to the land, in which the Israelites were but tenants at God’s will. 2d, For the trial of their obedience. 3d, For the demonstration of his providence, as well in general toward men, as especially toward his own people. 4th, To wean them from the inordinate love and pursuit of worldly advantages, and to inure them to depend upon God alone, and upon God’s blessing for their subsistence. 5th, To put them in mind of that blessed and eternal rest provided for all good men.

Verses 4-5

Leviticus 25:4-5. 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. Proselytes and servants, rich and poor, had all an equal privilege: one man’s beast was to graze as freely as another’s; all were to live at rest and enjoy the comforts of this law, the merciful appointment of Heaven. It is a year of rest unto the land This seems to have been one purpose of the institution, that the land might lie fallow, in order to recruit its strength.

Verse 6

Leviticus 25:6. The sabbath of the land That is, the accidental crop that grew in the sabbatical year. Shall be meat for you For all promiscuously, to take food from thence as you need. It is true the land would produce little corn without being tilled and sown, but the vines and other fruit-trees which abounded in the country, even without pruning, would yield a considerable increase, so that the poorer sort might thus enjoy many comforts, together with rest, of which they were destitute on other years.

Verse 8

Leviticus 25:8. Thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee Besides the rest of the seventh year, God now appoints, as another perpetual ordinance, that every fiftieth year should be celebrated as an extraordinary year of rest, freedom, and rejoicing, of which public notice was to be given through the whole country, by sound of trumpet. On this year every ancient owner of lands and estates, that had been alienated by sale, was to be restored to his possession; and every Israelitish slave set at perfect liberty, to return to the family to which he belonged. So that how often soever an estate had been sold or alienated between one jubilee and another, or how many hands soever it had passed through, yet, in fifty years, or at the next jubilee, it must return to the heirs of the persons who were first possessed of it. All this was intended to shadow forth that true liberty from men’s spiritual debts and slaveries which was to be purchased by Christ, and to be published to the world by the sound of the gospel.

Verse 9

Leviticus 25:9. Cause the trumpet of jubilee to sound The name jubilee is taken either from the Hebrew word יובל 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. 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.

Verse 10

Leviticus 25:10. The fiftieth year The year of jubilee was not the forty and ninth year, as some learned men have erroneously thought, 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 times 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, which had been sold or otherwise alienated from them. 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, 1st, To put them in mind that God alone was the Lord and proprietor both of them and of their lands, and that they were only his tenants; a point which they were apt to forget. 2d, 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. 3d, 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.

Verse 12

Leviticus 25:12. 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.

Verse 14

Leviticus 25:14. 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.

Verse 15

Leviticus 25:15. According to the number of years thou shalt buy The purchase of all lands, houses, or estates, was to be at a price proportionable to the greater or less number of years that remained from the time of the purchase to the next jubilee. Years of fruits Years in which, having sowed, they reaped the fruits of the land, in opposition to those years in which they were neither allowed to sow nor reap.

Verses 16-17

Leviticus 25:16-17. The number of the years of fruits The meaning is, he selleth not the land, but only the fruits thereof, and that but for a certain time. Ye shall not oppress one another By seeking to turn each other out of the perpetual possession of his lands, as Ahab did Naboth; but thou shalt fear thy God The best proof men can give of fearing God is to abstain from evil, and to comply with his will.

Verse 21

Leviticus 25:21. For three years Not completely, but in great part; namely, for that part of the sixth year which was between the beginning of the harvest and the beginning of the seventh year, for the whole seventh year, and for that part of the eighth year which was before the harvest, which reached almost until the beginning of the ninth year. This is added to show the equity of this command. As God would hereby try their faith and obedience, so he gave them an evident proof of his own exact providence and tender care over them in making provisions suitable to their necessities.

Verse 23

Leviticus 25:23. 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 is reserved by me. Ye are sojourners 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 men’s 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.

Verses 24-25

Leviticus 25:24-25. 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.

Verses 27-28

Leviticus 25:27-28. 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 the time of this redemption to the jubilee. Go out That is, out of the buyer’s hand, without any redemption-money.

Verses 29-31

Leviticus 25:29-31. A dwelling-house in a walled city Here the law makes a great difference between houses in walled cities and houses in the country. The former, if sold, were either to be redeemed within a year, or else not at all, but were to be the property of the purchaser for ever; whereas, houses in the villages which had no walls round them were to be counted as the fields of the country That is, they were to fall under the same law with the lands to which they were an appendage, and for the management of which they were necessary: they might be redeemed at any time. The following seem to be the chief reasons of this distinction: 1st, There was no danger of confusion in tribes or families by the final alienation of houses in cities, as tribes and families were not distinguished by them as they were by those in the country that were annexed to their lands, and therefore to be considered as a part of their inheritance. 2d, The seller had a greater property in houses than in lands, as being commonly built at the owner’s cost, and therefore a fuller power is granted him to dispose of them. 3d, God would hereby encourage persons to buy and possess houses in cities, as the frequency and populousness of them was a great strength, honour, and advantage to the whole land.

Verses 34-35

Leviticus 25:34-35. The field of the suburbs (namely, of the cities of the Levites) may not be sold Not 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.

Verse 36

Leviticus 25:36. Take no usury 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 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 should share with the borrower in the profit.

Verse 39

Leviticus 25:39. To serve as a bond-servant Neither for the time, for ever, nor for the manner, with the hardest and vilest kinds of service, rigorously and severely exacted.

Verses 41-43

Leviticus 25:41-43. 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; Exodus 21:6. 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.

Verse 47

Leviticus 25:47. The stock of the strangers Hebrew , root, that is, one of the root or stock. So the word root is elsewhere used for the branch or progeny growing from it. He seems to denote one of a foreign race and country, transplanted into the land of Israel, and there having taken root among the people of God; yet even such a one, though he hath some privilege by it, shall not have power to keep a Hebrew servant from the benefit of redemption.

Verse 50

Leviticus 25:50. According to the time of a hired servant Allowance shall be made for the time wherein he hath served, proportionable to that which was given to a 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 were sold.

Verse 53

Leviticus 25:53. In thy sight Thou shalt not suffer this to be done, but whether thou art a magistrate or a private person, thou shalt take care according to thy capacity to get it remedied.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Leviticus 25". Benson's Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/leviticus-25.html. 1857.
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