Leviticus 25:34
But the field of the suburbs of their cities may not be sold; for it is their perpetual possession.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(34) But the field of the suburbs of their cities may not be sold.—The Levitical cities had both suburbs or commons for their cattle, &c, and fields which they cultivated (Numbers 35:4-5). These outlying fields, which were beyond the suburbs, they are here forbidden to sell. According to the authorities during the second Temple the expression “to sell” here used is to be taken in a wider sense as including diverting any part of it from its original purpose. Hence they say it forbids the Levites not only to sell the field, but to convert it into a suburb, and vice versâ. What is field must always remain field, what is suburb must remain suburb, and what is city must continue to be city.

For it is their perpetual possession.—The estates belong to the whole tribe to all futurity, and the present occupiers have to transmit them intact to their successors. Hence no present owner, or all of them combined, have a right to dispose of any portion of the estates, or materially to alter it. They must hand these estates down to their successors as they receive them from their predecessors.

Leviticus 25:34-35. The field of the suburbs (namely, of the cities of the Levites) may not be sold — Not at all; partly, because it was of absolute necessity for them for the keeping of their cattle, and partly because these were no enclosures, but common fields, in which all the Levites that lived in such a city had an interest, and therefore no particular Levite could dispose of his part in it. A sojourner — Understand it of proselytes only, for of other strangers they were permitted to take usury, Deuteronomy 23:20.25:23-34 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). Of

the suburbs of the cities, See Poole "Numbers 35:4".

May not be sold; not sold at all, partly because it was of absolute necessity for them for the keeping of their cattle, and partly because these were no enclosures, but common fields, in which all the Levites that lived in such a city had an interest, and therefore no particular Levite could dispose of his part in it. Some conceive that this law was altered in ensuing ages, which they gather from Jeremiah 32:7,8 Ac 4:36,37. But those examples do not prove it. That sale of Jeremiah’s was made by a particular dispensation and command of God, and that in a time when the Levites, as well as the people, were to be destroyed or dispersed, and carried into captivity, and therefore could receive no considerable injury by it; and besides, this sale was only made formally and for signification, as it is explained, Leviticus 25:14,15. And for the land sold by Barnabas a Levite, Ac 4, as it was at a time when the Jewish church was dissolved, and their state upon the brink of utter ruin, so it is not evident that it was such suburb land, which would have yielded but a small price, but it might be other land, either such as he might have in right of his wife, or such as he might have purchased. For though the Levites in general had no other share of land beside this allotted them by God, yet it is conceived that particular Levites might purchase lands to themselves. But the field of the suburbs of their cities may not be sold,.... The suburbs to the cities of the Levites reached two thousand cubits on every side of their cities, Numbers 35:5; in which they had fields to keep their cattle in, and these belonged to them in common; every Levite had not a particular field to himself as his own property, and which is the reason why it might not be sold, nor might they agree together to sell it, for then they would have nothing to keep their cattle in: the Jewish writers generally understand this of changing their fields, suburbs, and cities: hence they say, in the Misnah, they do not make a field a suburb, nor a suburb a field, nor a suburb a city, nor a city a suburb; upon which Maimonides (o) says, all agree that the Levites may not change a city, or suburb, or field which are theirs, because of what is said, Leviticus 25:34; and the wise men, of blessed memory, say, the meaning of it is, it shall not be changed, for they do not change anything from what it was before:

for it is their perpetual possession: and therefore never to be alienated from them, or be sold to another, or changed and put to another use; such care was taken of the ministers of the sanctuary, and of their maintenance and support, under the former dispensation; and suggests that they should continue in their stations without any alteration, as ministers of the Gospel should, who ought to give up themselves to the ministry of the word, and prayer, and not entangle themselves with the affairs of life.

(o) In Misn. Eracin, c. 9. sect. 8.

But the field of the {q} suburbs of their cities may not be sold; for it is their perpetual possession.

(q) Where the Levites kept their cattle.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
34. The law concerning houses in Levitical cities is not to apply to land outside the walls.

suburbs] rather, as R.V. mg., pasture lands, probably referring to common land belonging to the inhabitants of the adjacent city. The original word seems from its derivation to mean lit. land on to which cattle were driven.The third case was this: if a man had not earned as much as was required to make compensation for the recovery of the land, what he had sold was to remain in the possession of the buyer till the year of jubilee, and then it was to "go out," i.e., to become free again, so that the impoverished seller could enter into possession without compensation. The buyer lost nothing by this, for he had fully recovered all that he paid for the annual harvests up to the year of jubilee, from the amount which those harvests yielded. Through these legal regulations every purchase of land became simply a lease for a term of years.
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