reported by BNP via Leviticus Today
The new Jubilee laws appear to be boon to the common man. In a world where the powerful elite claim ownership of land and persons at will, these Hebrew laws put strict limits on title deed transfers and contracts of indenture. In summary, a man cannot squander the family resources to the point of permanently loosing the land or even selling himself indefinitely into servitude (at least not until he has lived with the master for several years). Neither can the wealthy buy up all the land nor make a profit from someone’s need due to poverty. With this system, no government agency or individual can take a family’s property for force or coercion. If the land owner should sell, it is only temporary and reverts to the original family at the time of the 50 year Jubilee celebration.
While no one in the nation yet owns property, a few ideas have been circulating as people make plans for residing in a permanent location. One major faction is trying to convince everyone that communal property rights would be best. After living in Egypt, where the Pharaoh owned everything, the idea is that the all the people should own the land together. This way, everyone would have equal say and equal responsibility. Others are suggesting that someone would ultimately need to oversee how things are run, so it would end up with all the people being slaves to those in the higher positions. This second group would like to have everyone in charge of their own plot of land in order to have some place to live free from interference in their lives. The new laws seem to favor the perspective of private ownership, but with limits on individuals being able to sell family land. However, no central planners will have the clout to grab up land for the supposed public good.
Anyone who does find themselves floundering financially will have the option to sell themselves as indentured servants, but will be automatically released from this after a prescribed time. The master will be under obligation to treat such a servant like any other man he has hired. It seems like a good way to get a bed and regular meals in a nice household. There is the added bonus that if the servant or a close relative come up with enough money to buy out the indentured servants contract, he has to be released upon payment. It is not clear why there has been a distinction made between Hebrews and foreign residents in regards to such servant status other than that the Hebrews and their property are held on loan from God, so cannot belong to other people.
The seventh year rest for the land is another unique part of the new Jubilee system. Many men are expressing doubt at the wisdom of not harvesting one year. They disregard reminders that most of them have been brick makers for their whole lives and know very little about crops and farming. When questioned about whether or not they feel the constant supply of food in the desert has made it easier from them to trust God’s judgement in these matters, they refuse to commit. A few men point out that a seventh year like that sounds like a nice long vacation and are quite willing to give it a try.
(for further information see Leviticus 25)