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 jubilee: for the houses of the cities of the Levites are their possession among the children of Israel.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And if a man purchase of the Levites.—Better, And if one of the Levites redeem it, that is, even if a Levite redeemed the house which his brother Levite was obliged to sell through poverty, the general law of house property is not to obtain even among the Levites themselves. They are to treat each other according to the law of landed property.
Then the house that was sold, and the city of his possession, shall go out.—Better, then the house that was sold in the city of his possession shall go out, that is, in the year of jubile the house is to revert to the vendor just as if it were landed property. Thus, for instance, the house of the Levite A, which he, out of poverty, was obliged to sell to the non-Levite B, and which was redeemed from him by a Levite C, reverts in the jubile year from the Levite C to the original Levitical proprietor A. It is, however, more than probable that the negative particle has dropped out of the text, and that the passage as it originally stood was, “And if one of the Levites doth not redeem it.” That is, if he does not act the part of the nearest of kin, then the house reverts in the year of jubile to the original Levitical owner, just as landed property. The Vulg. has still the negative particle.
For the houses of the cities of the Levites are their possession.—As these houses were all which the Levites possessed, they were as important to them as the land was to the other tribes, hence they were to be treated legally in the same way as the soil.
For the application of the law of Jubilee to lands dedicated to the service of the sanctuary, see Leviticus 27:16-25.But he that shall redeem it shall be or must be of the Levites, i.e. no person of another tribe, though by marriage near akin to the selling Levite, shall redeem it, but Levites only, and any of them shall have the same power to redeem it, which in other tribes only the nearest kindred have; and, in case none of them redeem it, yet the house that was sold, and the city of his possession, i.e. his share or interest in the city of his possession, shall go out and return to the Levites without any redemption.
then the house that was sold, and the city of his possession, shall go out in the year of jubilee; to the original owner of it, as fields and houses in villages sold by the Israelites
for the houses of the cities of the Levites are their possession among the children of Israel; and their only possession, and therefore if those, when sold, were irredeemable, they would entirely be without any; and hence care is taken they should not; so Jarchi observes, that the Levites had no possession of fields and vineyards, only cities to dwell in, and their suburbs; wherefore cities were to them instead of fields, and their redemption was as that of fields, that so their inheritance might not be broken off from them.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 jubilee: for the houses of the cities of the Levites are their possession among the children of Israel.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)33. if one of the Levites redeem] The Heb. presents great difficulty as it stands. If we take the rendering in the text, it is unsuitable, because in the case there supposed, viz. that one Levite redeems the house of another, obviously the statement that the house shall ‘go out’ (i.e. return to its original owner) in the Jubile adds nothing to the law as to Levites, set forth in Leviticus 25:32. But if we take R.V. mg. (so LXX.), if a man redeem from the Levites, this purchase on the part of a non-Levite had no connexion with the Jubile law, as not being the purchasing back of a possession on the part of one of the family of the original owner. It seems best therefore to suppose that the ‘not’ which the Vulg. supplies (see R.V. mg.) has dropped out of the original text. The sense will then be, If one of the Levites does not redeem, then the house which he has sold will at any rate return into his possession at the Jubile.
and the city of his possession] The expression is a somewhat awkward one. The intention seems to be to provide that this rule shall operate only as regards houses within the cities set apart for the Levites (Numbers 35:2; Joshua 21:2-40), and not elsewhere.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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