Jubilee

JUBILEE (Heb. yôvēl, ram’s horn, trumpet). According to Lev.25.1-Lev.25.55, every fiftieth year in Israel was to be announced as a jubilee year. Three essential features characterized this year. First, liberty was proclaimed to all Israelites who were in bondage to any of their countrymen. The law provided that the price of slaves was to vary according to the proximity of the Jubilee Year. Second, there was to be a return of ancestral possessions to those who had been compelled to sell them because of poverty. This, of course, excluded the possibility of selling a piece of land permanently. This law applied to lands and houses outside of the walled cities and also to the houses owned by Levites, whether in walled cities or not. As in the case of the price of slaves, the law made provision that the price of real property was to vary according to the proximity of the Jubilee Year. The third feature of this year was that it was to be a year of rest for the land. The land was to remain fallow, even though it had been so in the previous sabbatical year. The people were to live simply, on what the fields had produced in the sixth year and whatever grew spontaneously. It is impossible to say whether the Jewish people ever really observed the Jubilee Year.——SB