Thou shalt number seven Sabbaths of years - This seems to state that the jubilee was to be celebrated on the forty-ninth year; but in Leviticus 25:10; and Leviticus 25:11; it is said, Ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and, A jubilee shall this fiftieth year be. Probably in this verse Moses either includes the preceding jubilee, and thus with the forty-ninth makes up the number fifty; or he speaks of proclaiming the jubilee on the forty-ninth, and celebrating it on the fiftieth year current. Some think it was celebrated on the forty-ninth year, as is stated in Leviticus 25:8; and this prevented the Sabbatical year, or seventh year of rest, from being confounded with the jubilee, which it must otherwise have been, had the celebration of this great solemnity taken place on the fiftieth year; but it is most likely that the fiftieth was the real jubilee.
The land was to be divided by lot among the families of the Israelites when the possession of it was obtained. Numbers 26:52-56; Numbers 33:54, etc. At the end of every seventh sabbatical cycle of years, in the year of Jubilee, each field or estate that might have been alienated was to be restored to the family to which it had been originally allotted.
Seven sabbaths of years - seven weeks of years.
Cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound - Rather, cause the sound of the cornet to go through (the land). The word jubile does not occur in this verse in the Hebrew. The trumpet is the shofar שׁפר shôphār i. e. the cornet (rendered “shawm” in the Prayer-Book version of Psalm 98:7), either the horn of some animal or a tube of metal shaped like one. As the sound of the cornet (see Leviticus 25:10 note) was the signal of the descent of Yahweh when He came down upon Sinai to take Israel into covenant with Himself Exodus 19:13, Exodus 19:16, Exodus 19:19; Exodus 20:18, so the same sound announced, at the close of the great day of atonement, after the Evening sacrifice, the year which restored each Israelite to the freedom and the blessings of the covenant.
The fiftieth year - The Jubilee probably coincided with each seventh sabbatical year, and was called the fiftieth, as being the last of a series of which the first was the preceding Jubilee.
A jubile - Commonly spelled jubilee. The original word first occurs in Exodus 19:13, where it is rendered “trumpet,” margin “cornet.” It most probably denotes the sound of the cornet, not the cornet itself, and is derived from a root, signifying to flow abundantly, which by a familiar metaphor might be applied to sound.
None need fear that their liberality would bring them to want. Obedience to God's commandments would surely result in prosperity. “Thou shalt lend unto many nations,” He said, “but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee.” Deuteronomy 15:6. PP 533.1
After “seven sabbaths of years,” “seven times seven years,” came that great year of release—the jubilee. “Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound ... throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.” Leviticus 25:9, 10. PP 533.2
“On the tenth day of the seventh month, in the Day of Atonement,” the trumpet of the jubilee was sounded. Throughout the land, wherever the Jewish people dwelt, the sound was heard, calling upon all the children of Jacob to welcome the year of release. On the great Day of Atonement satisfaction was made for the sins of Israel, and with gladness of heart the people would welcome the jubilee. PP 533.3
As in the sabbatical year, the land was not to be sown or reaped, and all that it produced was to be regarded as the rightful property of the poor. Certain classes of Hebrew slaves—all who did not receive their liberty in the sabbatical year—were now set free. But that which especially distinguished the year of jubilee was the reversion of all landed property to the family of the original possessor. By the special direction of God the land had been divided by lot. After the division was made no one was at liberty to trade his estate. Neither was he to sell his land unless poverty compelled him to do so, and then, whenever he or any of his kindred might desire to redeem it, the purchaser must not refuse to sell it; and if unredeemed, it would revert to its first possessor or his heirs in the year of jubilee. PP 533.4Read in context »
By the devout in Israel, fully a month of every year was occupied in this way. It was a period free from care and labor, and almost wholly devoted, in the truest sense, to purposes of education. Ed 43.1
In apportioning the inheritance of His people, it was God's purpose to teach them, and through them the people of after generations, correct principles concerning the ownership of the land. The land of Canaan was divided among the whole people, the Levites only, as ministers of the sanctuary, being excepted. Though one might for a season dispose of his possession, he could not barter away the inheritance of his children. When able to do so, he was at liberty at any time to redeem it; debts were remitted every seventh year, and in the fiftieth, or year of jubilee, all landed property reverted to the original owner. Thus every family was secured in its possession, and a safeguard was afforded against the extremes either of wealth or of poverty. Ed 43.2
By the distribution of the land among the people, God provided for them, as for the dwellers in Eden, the occupation most favorable to development—the care of plants and animals. A further provision for education was the suspension of agricultural labor every seventh year, the land lying fallow, and its spontaneous products being left to the poor. Thus was given opportunity for more extended study, for social intercourse and worship, and for the exercise of benevolence, so often crowded out by life's cares and labors. Ed 43.3Read in context »