Bible Review 13:2, April 1997

Jubilee: A Rallying Cry for Today’s Oppressed

The laws of the Jubilee year offer a blueprint for bridging the gap between the have and have-not nations.

By Jacob Milgrom

Bible Review

Last spring I witnessed the unfurling of the flag of the Jubilee. The flag was a vivid symbolic reminder of the biblical year of redemption, and its unfurling took place during the Jewish-Christian Symposium on the Jubilee sponsored by the World Council of Churches, in Bossey, Switzerland. Present were 32 representatives from 15 countries, including India, Uganda, Brazil, the Philippines and Indonesia. I single out the Third World nations because, first, I was enabled to feel, even vicariously, their people’s pain and suffering and, second, because I witnessed a vivid demonstration that their hopes for remedial action are expressed by the biblical Jubilee.

The basic postulate of the Jubilee is Leviticus 25 verses 23–24:

Furthermore, the land must not be sold beyond reclaim, for the land is mine; you are but resident aliens under my authority. Therefore, throughout the land you hold, you must provide redemption for the land.

“Land” here is Canaan, the promised land; and “you” refers to the Israelites.

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