Leviticus 25:33
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 jubile: for the houses of the cities of the Levites are their possession among the children of Israel.
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(33) 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.

25:23-34 If the land were not redeemed before the year of jubilee, it then returned to him that sold or mortgaged it. This was a figure of the free grace of God in Christ; by which, and not by any price or merit of our own, we are restored to the favour of God. Houses in walled cities were more the fruits of their own industry than land in the country, which was the direct gift of God's bounty; therefore if a man sold a house in a city, he might redeem it only within a year after the sale. This encouraged strangers and proselytes to come and settle among them.Rather, And concerning the cities of the Levites, the houses in the cities of their possession, etc. If one of the Levites redeems a house in the city, etc. The meaning appears to be, if a Levite redeemed a house which had been sold to a person of a different tribe by another Levite, it was to revert in the Jubilee to the latter Levite as its original possessor. The purchaser of a Levite's house was in fact only in the condition of a tenant at will, while the fields attached to the Levitical cities could never be alienated, even for a time.

For the application of the law of Jubilee to lands dedicated to the service of the sanctuary, see Leviticus 27:16-25.

32-34. Notwithstanding the cities of the Levites, &c.—The Levites, having no possessions but their towns and their houses, the law conferred on them the same privileges that were granted to the lands of the other Israelites. A certain portion of the lands surrounding the Levitical cities was appropriated to them for the pasturage of their cattle and flocks (Nu 35:4, 5). This was a permanent endowment for the support of the ministry and could not be alienated for any time. The Levites, however, were at liberty to make exchanges among themselves; and a priest might sell his house, garden, and right of pasture to another priest, but not to an Israelite of another tribe (Jer 41:7-9). Or thus, 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.

And if a man purchase of the Levites,.... An house or city, as Jarchi, and which the following clause confirms, that is, if a common Israelite made such a purchase, then it was redeemable, but if a Levite purchased of a Levite, then, as the same writer observes, it was absolutely irredeemable:

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.
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 25:33"And whoever (if any one) redeems, i.e., buys, of the Levites, the house that is sold and (indeed in) the town of his possession is to go out free in the year of jubilee; for the houses of the Levitical towns are their (the Levites') possession among the children of Israel." The meaning is this: If any one bought a Levite's house in one of the Levitical towns, the house he had bought was to revert to the Levite without compensation in the year of jubilee. The difficulty connected with the first clause is removed, if we understand the word גּאל (to redeem, i.e., to buy back), as the Rabbins do, in the sense of קנה to buy, acquire. The use of גּאל for קנה may be explained from the fact, that when the land was divided, the Levites did not receive either an inheritance in the land, or even the towns appointed for them to dwell in as their own property. The Levitical towns were allotted to the different tribes in which they were situated, with the simple obligation to set apart a certain number of dwelling-houses for the Levites, together with pasture-ground for their cattle in the precincts of the towns (cf. Numbers 35:1. and my Commentary on Joshua, p. 453 translation). If a non-Levite, therefore, bought a Levite's house, it was in reality a repurchase of property belonging to his tribe, or the redemption of what the tribe had relinquished to the Levites as their dwelling and for their necessities.

(Note: This is the way in which it is correctly explained by Hiskuni: Utitur scriptura verbo redimendi non emendi, quia quidquid Levitae vendunt ex Israelitarum haereditate est, non ex ipsorum haerediatate. Nam ecce non habent partes in terra, unde omnis qui accipit aut emit ab illis est acsi redimeret, quoniam ecce initio ipsius possessio fuit. On the other hand, the proposal made by Ewald, Knobel, etc., after the example of the Vulgate, to supply לא before גּאל is not only an unnecessary conjecture, but is utterly unsuitable, inasmuch as the words "if one of the Levites does not redeem it" would restrict the right to the Levites without any perceptible reason; just as if a blood-relation on the female side, belonging to any other tribe, might not have done this.)

The words אח ועיר are an explanatory apposition - "and that in the town of his possession," - and do not mean "whatever he had sold of his house-property or anything else in his town," for the Levites had no other property in the town besides the houses, but "the house which he had sold, namely, in the town of his possession." This implies that the right of reversion was only to apply to the houses ceded to the Levites in their own towns, and not to houses which they had acquired in other towns either by purchase or inheritance. The singular היא is used after a subject in the plural, because the copula agrees with the object (see Ewald, 319c). As the Levites were to have no hereditary property in the land except the houses in the towns appointed for them, it was necessary that the possession of their houses should be secured to them for all time, if they were not to fall behind the other tribes.

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