10 Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan. 11 The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. 12 For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields. 13 “‘In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to their own property.
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When Israel entered the land of Canaan, the people were to observe a Sabbath year every seven years. They were not to farm the land or reap or gather the crops so the land could rest. After 49 years, 7 × 7, they observed the Year of Jubilee in the 50th year. At that time, they would “proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants,” Leviticus 25:10. Property was restored, servants were set free, and debts were canceled. The instructions for Jubilee are given in Leviticus 25:8-55 and 27:17-24, and there is another reference to it in Numbers 36:4. From the first Jubilee, the years of Jubilee were observed every 49 years. It came the year following the 49th year, which was the first year of the new Sabbath cycle. Contrary to what some scholars say, the cycle was never interrupted. Ezekiel 40:1, refers to a Jubilee, not by name but by a certain practice. Normally the year began on the 1st day of the month Tishri, but in Jubilee years it began on the 10th of Tishri, Leviticus 25:9. Notice the wording, “...at the beginning of the year, on the tenth day of the month.” Hebrew resources (the Sedar Olam and the Talmud) make this the 17th Jubilee from the entrance into Canaan, the 25th year of captivity, and the 14th year after Jerusalem was destroyed. Another allusion to Jubilees is in Luke 4:17-21. Jesus read from Isaiah 61:1, 2a, and then proclaimed that this was being fulfilled that day. In essence, He was announcing the Year of Jubilee. Notice a key word ‘liberty’ given twice. AD 27, a Sabbatical year, was the year Christ began His ministry. The Year of Jubilee started that fall, and the next spring of AD 28, He preached the message of Jubilee. The fact that many disciples were taking time off from work shows that this was a year of freedom. Actually, they could follow Jesus for at least two years – the Sabbatical year and the Jubilee year. The cycle of Sabbath and Jubilee years also meant that farmers could pursue other jobs such as the grand building projects in Sabbatical years as history attests. Apparently, this was a time of unharvested fields, Luke 6:1. When speaking of the four months until harvest in John 4:35, the Lord could be referring to the state of the fields until the year of Jubilee was over. Another consideration that this may have been a Jubilee year is that in John 6:66, 67, Jesus asked the twelve if they wanted to go away. From reading this it seems people were disillusioned. But perhaps they were leaving to get back to their harvesting with the year of Jubilee coming to an end. It is the only time these words are mentioned. To corroborate, John 7:2 says the “Feast of Tabernacles was at hand,” which indicates a new civil year beginning, thus ending the Jubilee. Jesus, the anointed One, is our Jubilee, setting us free from sin.
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