And now we come to the Jubilee year. To understand it, we first have to understand that the people of Israel did not own the Promised Land–it belonged to the Lord. The cattle on a thousand hills were His as we are told. He allowed the people of Israel to live there and provided each of the tribes with their homes. But as they lived their lives, people would sell land or even sell themselves as slaves if they were in debt. They would borrow money and sometimes be unable to repay it, becoming paupers as a results. Land might pass from the control of one tribe to another. The original equitable division would, over time become unequitable. And so there was to be a Jubilee after every 49 year period. When 7 times 7 years had past, the trumpets would be blown throughout Israel on the Day of Atonement. The land which had been traded from on tribe or clan to another would be returned. All debts would be forgiven. All slaves would be freed. The land would once again be allowed to rest and recover its fertility. In the year of Jubilee all people would be free of the things that oppressed them.
Unfortunately, we have no evidence that the people of Israel ever observed a Jubilee year. Most of the evidence indicates that they ignored this divine command because it would have been too disruptive to the lives of those who had prospered during the previous 49 years. Thus, all of Israel sinned against the Lord and they never enjoyed the freedom that had been offered by a gracious God.
To be continued …..
For part 1 of this series see: