“Then, on the tenth day of the seventh month, on Yom-Kippur, you are to sound a blast on the shofar; you are to sound the shofar all through your land; and you are to consecrate the fiftieth year, proclaiming freedom throughout the land to all its inhabitants.”-Leviticus 25:9-10
Verse 10 of Leviticus 25 contains an extremely important phrase that can just fly right by us if we’re not careful.
That phrase is “proclaim freedom throughout the land”.
Some Bible translations will say “proclaim liberty throughout the land” or “proclaim release throughout the land”.
The key word we want to look at is the original Hebrew term for the words “freedom”, “liberty”, or “release”.
And that Hebrew term is DEROR.
This word is so very important because it expresses the entire purpose of the Jubilee!
This one word declares to us precisely what Jubilee is all about.
Up until now, there has been general agreement between both Jewish and Christian scholars that the words “freedom” and “liberty” were perfectly fine translations for DEROR.
However, things have changed and we now have a much more accurate understanding of this word.
We now possess a much sharper understanding of the Hebrew cognates (root words) found in the Akkadian language and as a result have a much clearer and precise understanding of DEROR.
For those of you who didn’t know this, Akkadian is considered to be the precursor language to ancient Hebrew.
In other words, Biblical Hebrew originated from the Akkadian language.
Recent scholarship has now given us access to a large amount of ancient Akkadian records that greatly help us to translate ancient Hebrew into modern day languages.
Understand that Biblical Hebrew is not quite exactly the same as modern Hebrew.
There are many Hebrew terms in the Bible that aren’t used at all in modern day Israel.
On top of that, there are some Hebrew words whose appearances in the Bible are so infrequent that the meaning of those words is really quite fuzzy making it very difficult to translate.
DEROR just so happens to be one of those words.
However, within the last few years, according to the most cutting edge scholarship, we have now arrived at a much more precise meaning of this term.
The best rendering is probably “release”.
Let’s take a look at the original cognate or root word.
The Hebrew word DEROR comes from the Akkadian term ANDURARU.
This was legal term that was usually used when a new king assumed power and then declared forgiveness of debts and the release of slaves from their masters.
There is also another form of this word that meant “to be able to move about without restrictions“.
Can you see how the English words “freedom” and “liberty” kind of miss the point?
DEROR carries the idea of being RELEASED, specifically being released from bondage to debt, which can in many ways be the most stressful kind of bondage.