“If you sell anything to your neighbor or buy anything from him, neither of you is to exploit the other. Rather, you are to take into account the number of years after the yovel when you buy land from your neighbor, and he is to sell to you according to the number of years crops will be raised. If the number of years remaining is large, you will raise the price; if few years remain, you will lower it; because what he is really selling you is the number of crops to be produced. Thus you are not to take advantage of each other, but you are to fear your God; for I am Adonai your God.”-Leviticus 25:14-17
We are in the midst of studying about the Jubilee Year and how it affected the buying and purchasing of land.
Just to be clear, how the Jubilee system worked was that every 50 years, all property was RETURNED to their original owners.
However, within the 50 year-span, most likely a lot of vigorous buying and selling of land did occur but all of this activity was guided by the fact that at the appointed time, the property would be returned to its owner.
Here’s what I mean.
Under the Jubilee system, the PRICE of a certain piece of land was based on two factors.
-How many years the buyer would be able to hold the land until he had to give it up when the Jubilee Year arrived
-the monetary value of the crops he would be able to grow on the land before he had to give the land up
Let’s run a super easy-to-understand simulation.
Let’s say an agreement has been made for a person to purchase a piece of land on the first year of Jubilee.
So we know that he will be able to hold the land for a total of 49 years.
Now taking the Sabbatical years into account, how many years total will he be able to grow crops on this land?
The answer is 42 years because there will be 7 Sabbatical years when he will not be allowed to do any planting or harvesting.
So let’s say the value of one year’s worth of crops comes to $100 a year.
In that case, the price of the land would be 42 years x $100=$4200.
Pretty simple, eh?
However, let’s say a person purchased a piece of land when there were only 14 years left before the next Jubilee came around.
In a 14-year period, there would definitely be 2 Sabbatical years, so the total price of the land would come to $1200.
The reason is because the land holder would be giving up the land much sooner and therefore gain less use of the land.
Obviously when the Jubilee year came around, the poor and those in debt rejoiced greatly.
Imagine in one fell swoop all of your debts, your house mortgage, your school loans etcetera, everything was canceled out at Jubilee year.
On the other hand, I can imagine that the rich weren’t too happy when the Jubilee year arrived because they knew they would be losing a tremendous amount of the wealth they had acquired over the years.
This actually strikes me as being a bit communistic, what do you think?
However, one thing BOTH the rich and poor did share in common during the 2-year consecutive Sabbatical years was the difficulty in getting fresh produce.
The quality of the produce eaten was usually of lower quality because it was from the older 2nd and 3rd cuttings of the last harvest BEFORE the 2 consecutive Sabbath years began.
But even in this situation, the wealthy folks had the upper hand because with their money they could purchase fresh produce from foreign merchants who had grown their food OUTSIDE of the land of Israel.
Eating this food would not have been breaking any commandment.