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.
7 And for thy cattle, and for the beast that are in thy land, shall all the increase thereof be meat.
We're continuing with God's commandments, supposedly told to Moses on Mt. Sinai, and yeah, there's a lot of them. Here, he demands a 'sabbath' for the land.
Note that this isn't just a command that cropland be left fallow for one year out of seven, but that all land shall be left fallow in the same year. Later in this chapter, God promises that he'll greatly increase yields in the sixth year, so that there will be plenty of food to tide them over the sabbath year. (Note that this would be very easy to test - evidence for God that all could see.)
Otherwise, it appears that they can still butcher and eat their livestock. (And certainly, God won't do without his blood sacrifices and burnt offerings for a whole year! God doesn't like fruits and vegetables much, so those are OK.)
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.
After seven cycles of this - 49 years - the following year shall be the jubilee. Note that, just like the 49th year, the land is to remain fallow in the 50th year, too. (I hope the yields are really big that 48th year! Again, this is something which could be demonstrated, if that were true.)
But in addition, every man gets his possessions returned, and every man is returned to his family. What does that mean? God explains further:
13 In the year of this jubile ye shall return every man unto his possession.
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.
23 The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.
This is God's land, so it can't be sold, but only leased - sublet, actually. The year of the jubilee, everything - or nearly everything - goes back to the original owner. (Well, not the original owner, because that would be the Canaanite they stole the land from in the first place.) Obviously, the price can vary, depending on how many years remain until the next jubilee, but God owns all the land, so no one can actually sell it.
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.
So you don't own the land, but you do possess it. If you sell away some of your possession, you or your family can always redeem it, once you come up with the money. But in any case, it will return to your family during the year of the jubilee.
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.
There's an exception to this - and an exception to the exception. A house in a walled city, if not redeemed in one year, is the buyer's forever. It doesn't return to the original owner during the jubilee,... unless that original owner is a Levite (one of the 12 tribes of Israel), in which case it does return to him.
And if the city isn't walled - if it's just a small village, in other words - then the houses are just like any other possession and will be returned to the original owner during the jubilee.
9 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.
Note that this contradicts what God commanded in Exodus (Chapter 21), at least in part. You can buy a Hebrew slave (and later in this chapter it's clear a Hebrew can sell himself, at least), but they must go free after seven years.
However, if he has a wife and children, they don't go free. So he must choose to either abandon his family or stay with them as a slave forever, with him and his family passed down as property from generation to generation.
Confused? Never mind, God has the obvious solution:
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.
You see, all these pesky rules only apply to Hebrew slaves. If you buy foreign slaves, you don't have to worry about any of that. If they're not Hebrews, you can own them forever, beat them all you like, and pass them down to your heirs just like any other possession.
Well, no, actually. Every other possession must be returned at the jubilee. But not slaves, not unless they're of the Hebrew people. Because God doesn't give a crap about any of them. He's the tribal god of the Jews and only the Jews. What you do with other people is none of his concern.
Hmm,... I wonder when he changed his mind about all that, don't you?
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.
OK, this explains it, don't you think? The 'children of Israel' are already slaves - they're God's slaves. Just like you can't buy God's land, you can't buy his slaves, either. You can rent them for awhile, they can be your possessions, but it's God who actually owns them.
And God values his property, at least to some extent. After all, he expects to get some value from them. Who else is going to keep supplying him with blood and burnt offerings? Certainly not the worshipers of the other gods.
You can kill your own livestock, if you wish, but your neighbor will be unhappy if you kill his. This is the same thing. God owns the Hebrews. He has no problem killing them whenever he wants, for even the most petty of reasons (like burning the wrong incense when worshiping him), but he doesn't want anyone else to kill them. They're his property, after all.
Other people? He doesn't give a crap about anyone else. Do whatever you like to them. If they're not his property, why should he care?
3 If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;
4 Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
5 And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.
6 And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.
7 And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword.
Notice anything missing here? Yeah, there's no promise of an afterlife, is there? In fact, so far, there's not been one hint of an afterlife in the Bible (not one hint of Satan, either, but that's another matter).
God is talking entirely about this life. You'll still die, but if you do exactly what God wants, he'll make it a good life, with plenty of food, safety for your family, and death for your enemies.
And if you don't?
4 But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments;
15 And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant:
16 I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.
17 And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you.
18 And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.
If you don't, then God will make you suffer. But only in this life. Again, there's not one hint of an afterlife here. There's no Hell. Hell hasn't been invented yet. God just threatens his people with a short, difficult life, if they disobey him. Well, what would you do to your slaves if they didn't obey?
Note that God spends 25 verses telling the Hebrews what he'll do to them if they disobey (including "And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat"), but only 9 verses explaining what he'll do for them if they follow his commandments. Funny, huh?
But don't worry, he still needs slaves:
40 If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me;
41 And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity:
42 Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.
If the Hebrews disobey, God will humble them until they come crawling back. They just have to remember who's boss. Everyone else? God doesn't care about them - not yet, at least.
Note how, conveniently, the priests have an explanation for everything. If things go well for the Hebrews, it's all because of God's help. If things go badly, it's all because God is punishing them - not necessarily for what they did, but because of what some other Hebrews did. (For some reason, God doesn't seem capable of punishing only the guilty. Odd, huh?)
But I really have to wonder what Christians think when they read this stuff. It's supposed to be their god, too, these days, isn't it? Of course, most of them don't read the Bible - not the whole thing, certainly. And they're faith-based, so they can probably rationalize away anything they don't want to believe, huh?
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When a man shall make a singular vow, the persons shall be for the LORD by thy estimation.
3 And thy estimation shall be of the male from twenty years old even unto sixty years old, even thy estimation shall be fifty shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary.
4 And if it be a female, then thy estimation shall be thirty shekels.
5 And if it be from five years old even unto twenty years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male twenty shekels, and for the female ten shekels.
6 And if it be from a month old even unto five years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male five shekels of silver, and for the female thy estimation shall be three shekels of silver.
7 And if it be from sixty years old and above; if it be a male, then thy estimation shall be fifteen shekels, and for the female ten shekels.
8 But if he be poorer than thy estimation, then he shall present himself before the priest, and the priest shall value him; according to his ability that vowed shall the priest value him.
I'm not sure what to make of this, but I think it's how you can get out of temple service ('singular vow'?). If you're pledged to the temple - perhaps even as a baby - or you've made a pledge yourself, this is how much it will cost to get out of it again. (Note that women are valued far less than men at every age. Well, what did you expect? This is the Bible.)
That's just a guess, though, and this might be about taxes, instead, I don't know. The chapter continues with instructions on how to estimate the value of animals, land, and other property, which can also be redeemed (again, from the temple?):
9 And if it be a beast, whereof men bring an offering unto the LORD, all that any man giveth of such unto the LORD shall be holy.
10 He shall not alter it, nor change it, a good for a bad, or a bad for a good: and if he shall at all change beast for beast, then it and the exchange thereof shall be holy.
14 And when a man shall sanctify his house to be holy unto the LORD, then the priest shall estimate it, whether it be good or bad: as the priest shall estimate it, so shall it stand.
15 And if he that sanctified it will redeem his house, then he shall add the fifth part of the money of thy estimation unto it, and it shall be his.
16 And if a man shall sanctify unto the LORD some part of a field of his possession, then thy estimation shall be according to the seed thereof: an homer of barley seed shall be valued at fifty shekels of silver.
17 If he sanctify his field from the year of jubile, according to thy estimation it shall stand.
18 But if he sanctify his field after the jubile, then the priest shall reckon unto him the money according to the years that remain, even unto the year of the jubile, and it shall be abated from thy estimation.
I just don't know what this chapter is all about. Maybe it is about taxes, rather than getting out of temple service, because note the following:
28 Notwithstanding no devoted thing, that a man shall devote unto the LORD of all that he hath, both of man and beast, and of the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed: every devoted thing is most holy unto the LORD.
29 None devoted, which shall be devoted of men, shall be redeemed; but shall surely be put to death.
Yeah, no devoted thing, "both of man and beast," may be redeemed, but must be put to death, instead. That's human sacrifice, isn't it?
There are still clues in the Bible that God used to command human sacrifice, and this seems to be one of them. As religious beliefs changed, the ancient Hebrews were able to substitute lambs for their first-born male children, and eventually, human sacrifice seems to have been written out of the old stories.
But not entirely. They seem to have missed a few spots. In this case, is it just about animals and slaves 'devoted' to God as a sacrifice? Or does it also include anyone pledged to temple service? I don't know, but I suspect that the former explanation is correct. Hebrews pledged to temple service could buy their way out, but if you were a slave given as a sacrifice, you were dead meat.
At any rate, one thing I am sure about is that I'm very happy to be done with Leviticus,... finally! This chapter hasn't been much fun at all. I'm hoping that things will pick up in Numbers, though. I guess we'll see.
Note: You can find links to this entire series here.