And the LORD spoke to Moses in mount Sinai, saying,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1) And the Lord spake unto Moses.—This chapter should properly have followed Leviticus 23, since the institutions of the sabbatical year, and the jubile which it discusses, are closely connected with the regulations about the festivals laid down in that chapter. The isolation of these ordinances from the rest of the festivals cannot be satisfactorily explained on any other principle than that which the authorities during the second Temple laid down, viz., that many of the sections are transposed, and that “there is no strict sequence in the Law.”
In Mount Sinai.—That is, in the mountainous regions of Sinai. The expression “mountain” is often used to denote a mountainous tract of country (Numbers 12:9; Deuteronomy 1:2; Joshua 14:12, &c.). Accordingly, this divine communication was made to Moses when the Israelites were encamped in the neighbourhood of Sinai, where they remained in the wilderness for twelve months after their exodus from Egypt (Numbers 10:11-12).Leviticus 25:1. In mount Sinai — That is, in the wilderness of Sinai, or near mount Sinai, as the Hebrew particle beth frequently signifies. For they did not remove from this wilderness till the 20th day of the seventh month after their coming out of Egypt.
Le 25:1-7. Sabbath of the Seventh Year.The land not to be tilled, but rest the seventh year; and that which grew of itself in the field or vineyard to be meat for them and their cattle, Leviticus 25:1-7. The jubilee on the day of atonement; a year of liberty and restoration; a year of rest to the land; of the peculiar blessing of God on it, Leviticus 25:8-22. Sold inheritances to be redeemed at any time; but now to be restored; a dwelling-house in a walled city only excepted, Leviticus 25:23-34. Kindness to the poor; usury forbidden; an Israelite must not be a bond-man or maid, but a hired servant till the year of jubilee; bond-men or maids to be taken from the heathen; an inheritance for ever, Leviticus 25:35-46 Of an Israelite that should sell himself to a stranger, Leviticus 25:47-55.
saying; as follows.And the LORD spake unto Moses in mount Sinai, saying,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)1–7. The rest year was a transference to the land of the sabbatical idea emphasized each week for living creatures, the year being now taken as the unit instead of the day. See App. I, pp. 172 f. for the difference in standpoint between this and the parallel ordinances elsewhere in the Hexateucb, as indicating modifications of the same law in successive periods.
The seventh year is to bear the same relation to the six preceding years as the sabbath to the six preceding days of the week. The parallel between the land and the bondman was close. The divinely appointed seventh day of rest is to be kept holy by abstaining from work, so the land shall keep every seventh year holy to the Lord by resting from all work. It cannot be wholly inactive, but nothing is to be done which will cause the land to put forth its full strength. By a curtailment of the full powers bestowed upon man and land by their Creator both were to keep holy a season to the Lord. In Exodus 23:10-11 the fallow year is regarded as a provision for the poor and part of the animal creation, while the religious idea underlies the injunctions of the passage in Leviticus.
In pre-exilic times the law seems to have been, at any rate to a large extent, disregarded (see ch.Leviticus 26:35; Leviticus 26:43; 2 Chronicles 36:21).
It is true that the custom of letting land lie fallow prevails in so many countries and can be traced back so far that it is certain that the Hebrews must have observed something of the kind from the time of their being settled. If the fallow time were different for different fields there would be nothing to call for special note, and it is not surprising that no reference is found to the practice in the historical Books. But a fixed fallow year for all the land would cause an interruption of social life of which some traces would be found in the history.
Later on, in Nehemiah’s time (Nehemiah 10:31), the people bound themselves to carry out the Law. According to Josephus (Ant. xi. 8. 6) both Jews and Samaritans observed it in the time of Alexander the Great, and so later in the days of the Hasmonean dynasty (1Ma 6:49; 1Ma 6:53; Ant. xiii. 8. 1) and the Herods (ib. xiv. 16. 2). Tacitus (Hist. Leviticus 25:4), however, attributes the Jews’ observance of it to laziness.
The sabbatical year concluded with the Feast of Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 31:10), and the old reckoning, by which the year began in autumn, not in spring (see on Leviticus 23:23-25), was necessarily applied in this case. The year’s circle of agricultural operations naturally would begin as soon as harvest and vine-gathering were finished. Had it begun in the first month (after the sowing of spring time) the harvests of both sixth and seventh years would have been lost.Verse 1. - And the Lord spake unto Moses in mount Sinai. The purpose of the words, in Mount Sinai, is not to distinguish the place in which the sabbatical law and the law of the jubilee were given from that in which the preceding laws were delivered. The words mean only, "in the Sinai district;" and they are employed because these laws form the conclusion of the series of laws given while the people were en-camped under Mount Sinai. The law on vows is, it is true, added to them, but it is by way of appendix. Exodus 21:12.), and to proclaim their validity in the case of the foreigner also (Leviticus 24:17, Leviticus 24:21, Leviticus 24:22). To these there are appended the kindred commandments concerning the killing of cattle (Leviticus 24:18, Leviticus 24:21, Leviticus 24:22), which had not been given, it is true, expressis verbis, but were contained implicite in the rights of Israel (Exodus 21:33.), and are also extended to foreigners. אדם נפשׁ הכּה, to smite the soul of a man, i.e., to put him to death; - the expression "soul of a beast," in Leviticus 24:18, is to be understood in the same sense.
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