Notwithstanding the cities of the Levites, and the houses of the cities of their possession, may the Levites redeem at any time.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Notwithstanding the cities of the Levites, and the houses.—Better, And as to the cities of the Levites, the houses, that is, the houses which belong to the Levites, in the forty-eight cities given to them (see Numbers 35:1-8; Joshua 21:1-3), are to be exempt from this general law of house property.
May the Levites redeem at any time.—Having the same value to the Levites as landed property has to the other tribes, these houses are to be subject to the jubile laws for fields, and hence may be redeemed at any time.
For the application of the law of Jubilee to lands dedicated to the service of the sanctuary, see Leviticus 27:16-25.
and the houses of the cities of their possession; which were in cities possessed by them, and which was their possession, and given them as such:
may the Levites redeem at any time; they were not restrained to a year, as houses in walled towns, but they might redeem them as they pleased or could; and if they did not redeem them within the year, they might redeem them afterwards, even years after, and any time before the year of jubilee; so it is said in the Misnah (l) the priests and the Levites sell always, and they redeem always, as it is said, Leviticus 25:32; on which one of the commentators says (m) "they sell always", not as the Israelites, who cannot sell less than two years before the jubilee; but the Levites can sell near the jubilee: "and they redeem always"; if they sell houses in walled cities, they are not confirmed at the end of the year, as the houses of Israelites; and if they sell fields, it is not necessary they should remain in the hands of the buyer two years, but they may redeem them immediately if they will: this redemption was peculiar to the Levites; for if an Israelite has an inheritance from his father's mother, a Levite, he might not redeem according to the manner Levites did, but according to Israelites; and so a Levite that inherited from his father's mother, an Israelite, was obliged to redeem as an Israelite and not as a Levite (n); for this perpetual redemption respected only houses that were in the cities of the Levites.Notwithstanding the cities of the Levites, and the houses of the cities of their possession, may the Levites redeem at any time.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verses 32-34. - The houses of the Levites are, by an exception, subject to the law of jubilee. They constituted the share of the national property which was assigned to the tribe of Levi, and so far stood in the same relation to them as the land did to the other tribes. They therefore returned to the original possessor or his representative in the year of jubilee, and might at any earlier time be redeemed. The words, Notwithstanding the cities of the Levites, should rather be rendered, But in respect to the cities of the Levites. There is a difficulty also as to the translation of the clause, And if a man purchase of the Levites, for the word rendered purchase menus elsewhere redeem; but here the Authorized Version would seem to be correct. The sense that it gives is that if any one bought a house of the Levites, he had to render it back in the year of jubilee, just as though it had been land. On the other hand, the land belonging to the Levites, in the suburbs of the Levitical cities, which was used for the pasturage of the flocks of the Levites, could not be sold except to a Levite, and therefore no question between the Levites and members of the other tribes could arise regarding it. The phrase, the house that was sold, and the city of his possession, must be understood, by a hendiadys, to mean, the house that was sold in the city of his possession (see Gesenius, 'Lex.,' s.v. לְ i.b.). Leviticus 25:15, Leviticus 25:16), namely, that the land could not be alienated, is here clearly expressed; and at the same time the rule is laid down, showing how a man, who had been compelled by poverty to sell his patrimony, was to recover possession of it by redemption. In the first place, Leviticus 25:23 contains the general rule, "the land shall not be sold לצמיתת" (lit., to annihilation), i.e., so as to vanish away from, or be for ever lost to, the seller. For "the land belongs to Jehovah:" the Israelites, to whom He would give it (Leviticus 25:2), were not actual owners or full possessors, so that they could do what they pleased with it, but "strangers and sojourners with Jehovah" in His land. Consequently (Leviticus 25:24) throughout the whole of the land of their possession they were to grant גּאלּה release, redemption to the land. There were three ways in which this could be done. The first case (Leviticus 25:25) was this: if a brother became poor and sold his property, his nearest redeemer was to come and release what his brother had sold, i.e., buy it back from the purchaser and restore it to its former possessor. The nearest redeemer was the relative upon whom this obligation rested according to the series mentioned in Leviticus 25:48, Leviticus 25:49. - The second case (Leviticus 25:26, Leviticus 25:27) was this: if any one had no redeemer, either because there were no relatives upon whom the obligation rested, or because they were all too poor, and he had earned and acquired sufficient to redeem it, he was to calculate the years of purchase, and return the surplus to the man who had bought it, i.e., as much as he had paid for the years that still remained up to the next year of jubilee, that so he might come into possession of it again. As the purchaser had only paid the amount of the annual harvests till the next year of jubilee, all that he could demand back was as much as he had paid for the years that still remained.
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