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Leviticus 24-25 Listen
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually.
3 Without the vail of the testimony, in the tabernacle of the congregation, shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the morning before the LORD continually: it shall be a statute for ever in your generations.
4 He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick before the LORD continually.
5 And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two tenth deals shall be in one cake.
6 And thou shalt set them in two rows, six on a row, upon the pure table before the LORD.
7 And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
8 Every sabbath he shall set it in order before the LORD continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant.
9 And it shall be Aaron’s and his sons’; and they shall eat it in the holy place: for it is most holy unto him of the offerings of the LORD made by fire by a perpetual statute.
There in the Holy Place were three sacred objects, the Altar of Incense, the Lamp and The Table of Shewbread. The priests had responsibilities to keep the Lamp burning by renewing the supply of olive oil. The specifications for the oil for the lampstand are first seen in Exodus 27:20–21 (see notes). The Table had to be restocked with bread once each week - twelve loaves. What do we do with the week-old bread? Answer: they eat it right there in the Holy Place before they leave. The bread goes in, but the bread doesn't come out. Good news for the priests though - the text doesn't strictly say that they had to wait until the week was over before they ate the bread. It may be that they ate it a little at a time after the sabbath was past. The Table of Shewbread was specified in Exodus 25:23-30 (see notes).
Incidentally, this is the table from which David and his men feasted in I Samuel 21 (see notes) with the permission of the High Priest, Ahimelech.
10 And the son of an Israelitish woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel: and this son of the Israelitish woman and a man of Israel strove together in the camp;
11 And the Israelitish woman’s son blasphemed the name of the LORD, and cursed. And they brought him unto Moses: (and his mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan:)
12 And they put him in ward, that the mind of the LORD might be shewed them.
13 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
14 Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him.
15 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin.
16 And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death.
17 And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.
18 And he that killeth a beast shall make it good; beast for beast.
19 And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbour; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him;
20 Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again.
21 And he that killeth a beast, he shall restore it: and he that killeth a man, he shall be put to death.
22 Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the LORD your God.
23 And Moses spake to the children of Israel, that they should bring forth him that had cursed out of the camp, and stone him with stones. And the children of Israel did as the LORD commanded Moses.
Here we see a man with a Hebrew mother and Egyptian father who "blasphemed the name of the LORD, and cursed." Okay, but that's just words, right? How severe can a punishment be for just uttering words? Well, they did what God told them to do in verse 14 - death by stoning. It's notable in this chapter that we are given a narrative (unusual for Leviticus) which includes names and circumstances. While the name of the offender is not given, his Jewish mother's name (Shelomith) is given along with her father's name (Dibri) and tribe affiliation (Dan).
Why so much detail when the names of these individuals have no context outside of this passage? Well...the detail gives the decree clout. We are not told that the man's Egyptian father was still living at the time. We are left with the impression that the half-Egyptian son may not have been proud to be among the Hebrews. However, the precedent was clearly set at this point in time: Whether you love Jehovah or not as a foreigner among the Jews, you MAY NOT blaspheme the name of the God of the Hebrews. Those four Hebrew letters for Jehovah (aka YHWH), commonly referred to by Jews as the Tetragrammaton, must not be spoken except with the utmost reverence. As a result, observant Jews through the ages and even today will not even utter the Tetragrammaton except in prayer. When speaking of Jehovah/YHWH, they commonly refer to him with the substitute Hebrew word, "adonai." In our English Bibles, "YHWH" is translated in all capitals (LORD), while "adonai" is translated "Lord" with only the "L" capitalized. In conversation, observant Jews substitute "adonai" for "YHWH." Because observant Jews for hundreds of years have refrained from speaking the name "YHWH," the exact pronunciation of God's name was lost. That is the reason some say "Jehovah" and some say "Yahweh." Since vowels were not part of Hebrew spelling, either pronunciation could have been the way it was spoken.
We aren't told exactly what the half Egyptian said, but in light of this death sentence, you can see how that from this point forward it just seemed best not to say the "name of the LORD" at all. Incidentally, you will notice that today in English writings, observant Jews refrain from writing the word "God" when referring to "YHWH," substituting it with "G-d" instead.
We also find in this chapter some laws concerning payback. These laws are restated here as a principle that all of those who abide with the Hebrews, Jewish or not, are bound by Mosaic Law. Abide with the Jews - keep their laws...including the following:
Verse 22 says that the Hebrew and stranger will be treated alike, based upon the same laws unless otherwise specified (see Leviticus 25:1-7, below, for such an exception). This chapter concludes in verse 23 with the execution of the half-Egyptian blasphemer.
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.
Every seventh year the land of Israel had to remain uncultivated (also Exodus 23:10-12, see notes). We see in Leviticus 26:34-35 (see notes) that God regarded this rest of the land to be quite important. Whatever grew of itself during that year was not for the owner of the land, but for the poor, the stranger and the roaming animals. And then some great news for Hebrew debtors: All debts, except those of foreigners, were to be forgiven (see also Deuteronomy 15:1-11). However, there does not seem to be the regular observance of this year in Biblical history. It appears to have been much neglected. As a matter of fact, in II Chronicles 36:20-21 (see notes) we see the judgment of God in the Babylonian exile linked to this neglect. Those verses tie the neglect of the sabbatical year to the first Babylonian exile in 605 B.C.; that's the one that included Daniel. Jeremiah prophesies 70 years of exile to make up for the missed sabbatical years (7 x 70 = 490 years), first in Jeremiah 25:11-12 (see notes) and confirmed again in Jeremiah 29:10 (see notes). Therefore, it would appear that Israel was being held accountable for missing 490 years of not observing the sabbatical year after they arrived in Canaan. However, based upon the math in Jeremiah's prophecy, one might deduct that they did keep the sabbath years for 300 or so years somewhere between the time they moved into Canaan (1400 B.C. or so) and their first deportation in 605 B.C.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This was the name of the great semi-centennial festival of the Hebrews. It lasted for an entire year like the Sabbatical year with the same observance with regard to cultivating the land. But there was one more wrinkle to be noted for this Jubilee year; all land property during that year reverted to its original owner (verses 13-34; Leviticus 27:16-24, see notes). Moreover, all who were slaves were set free (25:39-54), and all debts were forgiven. Money lending was not a very lucrative occupation in Israel. According to verse 37, you could not even charge interest on money loaned to fellow Hebrews. Add to that the forgiveness of debt, and what's the point?
An interesting implication of the Jubilee year is the value of property leading up to those years. The closer you got, the less it was worth. Why? It reverted back to the original owners of the Canaan occupation. So, in reality, in God's economy you never really bought the property itself - just the use of that property until the 50th year...a lease of the property in reality. We see in verse 30 that this provision did not apply to property within a walled city. That property in the Year of Jubilee remained with the purchaser after the first year of purchase (verse 29). We also see an exemption from the exemption for city property owned by the Levites. The Levites were given property within certain cities in Canaan in Joshua 21 (see notes). Regardless of whether or not it was a walled city, the Levite families got their property returned to them in the Jubilee Year.
The return of the Jubilee year was to be proclaimed by a blast of trumpets which sounded throughout the land. There is no record in Scripture of the actual observance of this Jubilee, but the command here is clear. Since the fiftieth year always follows year 49, a sabbatical year, a two–year cessation of agricultural activity is intended, as seen in verses 20-21. As a matter of fact, those verses tell us that the seed sown in the sixth year will give them a yield for three years.
Consider the results of this Jubilee year:
Non Hebrews did not get their freedom back (as slaves) in the Year of Jubilee (verses 45-46). However, Hebrews sold into the servitude of non Hebrews could be redeemed at any time and did automatically get their freedom at the Year of Jubilee. We see in these verses that the Year of Jubilee was to be considered in the purchase of a slave, being fully aware that Hebrew slaves would be released in the Year of Jubilee. Laws regarding slaves are found in Exodus 21:2-11 (see notes). Incidentally, there you will find that only non-Hebrew slaves could ever become bond slaves (aka bondservants). Moreover, note the stipulation in verse 44 that these non-Hebrew slaves were comprised of non Canaanites when it says "shall be of the heathen that are round about you." God's intentions were that the Canaanites would be driven from the land, not enslaved.
One more point of interest regarding these Levitical laws. Prior to the Year of Jubilee, a near kinsman could buy back property that had been sold by a poor Hebrew according to verses 25-28. This is the law which underlies the whole story of Ruth and Boaz. As it turns out, Boaz was the near kinsman of Naomi, Ruth's mother-in-law. Click here to see the summary on Ruth.