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Leviticus 25:25-55

Context

25:25 “‘If your brother becomes impoverished and sells some of his property, his near redeemer is to come to you and redeem what his brother sold. 1  25:26 If a man has no redeemer, but he prospers 2  and gains enough for its redemption, 3  25:27 he is to calculate the value of the years it was sold, 4  refund the balance 5  to the man to whom he had sold it, and return to his property. 25:28 If he has not prospered enough to refund 6  a balance to him, then what he sold 7  will belong to 8  the one who bought it until the jubilee year, but it must revert 9  in the jubilee and the original owner 10  may return to his property.

Release of Houses

25:29 “‘If a man sells a residential house in a walled city, 11  its right of redemption must extend 12  until one full year from its sale; 13  its right of redemption must extend to a full calendar year. 14  25:30 If it is not redeemed before the full calendar year is ended, 15  the house in the walled city 16  will belong without reclaim 17  to the one who bought it throughout his generations; it will not revert in the jubilee. 25:31 The houses of villages, however, 18  which have no wall surrounding them 19  must be considered as the field 20  of the land; they will have the right of redemption and must revert in the jubilee. 25:32 As for 21  the cities of the Levites, the houses in the cities which they possess, 22  the Levites must have a perpetual right of redemption. 25:33 Whatever someone among the Levites might redeem – the sale of a house which is his property in a city – must revert in the jubilee, 23  because the houses of the cities of the Levites are their property in the midst of the Israelites. 25:34 Moreover, 24  the open field areas of their cities 25  must not be sold, because that is their perpetual possession.

Debt and Slave Regulations

25:35 “‘If your brother 26  becomes impoverished and is indebted to you, 27  you must support 28  him; he must live 29  with you like a foreign resident. 30  25:36 Do not take interest or profit from him, 31  but you must fear your God and your brother must live 32  with you. 25:37 You must not lend him your money at interest and you must not sell him food for profit. 33  25:38 I am the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan – to be your God. 34 

25:39 “‘If your brother becomes impoverished with regard to you so that he sells himself to you, you must not subject him to slave service. 35  25:40 He must be with you as a hired worker, as a resident foreigner; 36  he must serve with you until the year of jubilee, 25:41 but then 37  he may go free, 38  he and his children with him, and may return to his family and to the property of his ancestors. 39  25:42 Since they are my servants whom I brought out from the land of Egypt, they must not be sold in a slave sale. 40  25:43 You must not rule over him harshly, 41  but you must fear your God.

25:44 “‘As for your male and female slaves 42  who may belong to you – you may buy male and female slaves from the nations all around you. 43  25:45 Also you may buy slaves 44  from the children of the foreigners who reside with you, and from their families that are 45  with you, whom they have fathered in your land, they may become your property. 25:46 You may give them as inheritance to your children after you to possess as property. You may enslave them perpetually. However, as for your brothers the Israelites, no man may rule over his brother harshly. 46 

25:47 “‘If a resident foreigner who is with you prospers 47  and your brother becomes impoverished with regard to him so that 48  he sells himself to a resident foreigner who is with you or to a member 49  of a foreigner’s family, 25:48 after he has sold himself he retains a right of redemption. 50  One of his brothers may redeem him, 25:49 or his uncle or his cousin 51  may redeem him, or anyone of the rest of his blood relatives – his family 52  – may redeem him, or if 53  he prospers he may redeem himself. 25:50 He must calculate with the one who bought him the number of years 54  from the year he sold himself to him until the jubilee year, and the cost of his sale must correspond to the number of years, according to the rate of wages a hired worker would have earned while with him. 55  25:51 If there are still many years, in keeping with them 56  he must refund most of the cost of his purchase for his redemption, 25:52 but if only a few years remain 57  until the jubilee, he must calculate for himself in keeping with the remaining years and refund it for his redemption. 25:53 He must be with the one who bought him 58  like a yearly hired worker. 59  The one who bought him 60  must not rule over him harshly in your sight. 25:54 If, however, 61  he is not redeemed in these ways, he must go free 62  in the jubilee year, he and his children with him, 25:55 because the Israelites are my own servants; 63  they are my servants whom I brought out from the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

1 tn Heb “the sale of his brother.”

2 tn Heb “and his hand reaches.”

3 tn Heb “and he finds as sufficiency of its redemption.”

4 tn Heb “and he shall calculate its years of sale.”

5 tn Heb “and return the excess.”

6 tn Heb “And if his hand has not found sufficiency of returning.” Although some versions take this to mean that he has not made enough to regain the land (e.g., NASB, NRSV; see also B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 176), the combination of terms in Hebrew corresponds to the portion of v. 27 that refers specifically to refunding the money (cf. v. 27; see NIV and G. J. Wenham, Leviticus [NICOT], 315).

7 tn Heb “his sale.”

8 tn Heb “will be in the hand of.” This refers to the temporary control of the one who purchased its produce until the next year of jubilee, at which time it would revert to the original owner.

9 tn Heb “it shall go out” (so KJV, ASV; see B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 176).

10 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the original owner of the land) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

11 tn Heb “a house of a residence of a walled city.”

12 tn Heb “shall be.”

13 tn Heb “of its sale.”

14 tn Heb “days its right of redemption shall be” (see B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 176).

15 tn Heb “until fulfilling to it a complete year.’

16 tn Heb “the house which [is] in the city which to it [is] a wall.” The Kethib has לֹא (lo’, “no, not”) rather than לוֹ (lo, “to it”) which is the Qere.

17 tn See the note on v. 23 above.

18 tn Heb “And the houses of the villages.”

19 tn Heb “which there is not to them a wall.”

20 tn Heb “on the field.”

21 tn Heb “And.”

22 tn Heb “the houses of the cities of their property.”

23 tn Heb “And which he shall redeem from the Levites shall go out, sale of house and city, his property in the jubilee.” Although the end of this verse is clear, the first part is notoriously difficult. There are five main views. (1) The first clause of the verse actually attaches to the previous verse, and refers to the fact that their houses retain a perpetual right of redemption (v. 32b), “which any of the Levites may exercise” (v. 33a; J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 418, 421). (2) It refers to property that one Levite sells to another Levite, which is then redeemed by still another Levite (v. 33a). In such cases, the property reverts to the original Levite owner in the jubilee year (v. 33b; G. J. Wenham, Leviticus [NICOT], 321). (3) It refers to houses in a city that had come to be declared as a Levitical city but had original non-Levitical owners. Once the city was declared to belong to the Levites, however, an owner could only sell his house to a Levite, and he could only redeem it back from a Levite up until the time of the first jubilee after the city was declared to be a Levitical city. In this case the first part of the verse would be translated, “Such property as may be redeemed from the Levites” (NRSV, NJPS). At the first jubilee, however, all such houses became the property of the Levites (v. 33b; P. J. Budd, Leviticus [NCBC], 353). (4) It refers to property “which is appropriated from the Levites” (not “redeemed from the Levites,” v. 33a) by those who have bought it or taken it as security for debts owed to them by Levites who had fallen on bad times. Again, such property reverts back to the original Levite owners at the jubilee (B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 177). (5) It simply refers to the fact that a Levite has the option of redeeming his house (i.e., the prefix form of the verb is taken to be subjunctive, “may or might redeem”), which he had to sell because he had fallen into debt or perhaps even become destitute. Even if he never gained the resources to do so, however, it would still revert to him in the jubilee year. The present translation is intended to reflect this latter view.

24 tn Heb “And.”

25 sn This refers to the region of fields just outside and surrounding the city where cattle were kept and garden crops were grown (B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 177).

26 tn It is not clear to whom this refers. It is probably broader than “sibling” (cf. NRSV “any of your kin”; NLT “any of your Israelite relatives”) but some English versions take it to mean “fellow Israelite” (so TEV; cf. NAB, NIV “countrymen”) and others are ambiguous (cf. CEV “any of your people”).

27 tn Heb “and his hand slips with you.”

28 tn Heb “strengthen”; NASB “sustain.”

29 tn The form וָחַי (vakhay, “and shall live”) looks like the adjective “living,” but the MT form is simply the same verb written as a double ayin verb (see HALOT 309 s.v. חיה qal, and GKC 218 §76.i; cf. Lev 18:5).

30 tn Heb “a foreigner and resident,” which is probably to be combined (see B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 170-71).

31 tn The meaning of the terms rendered “interest” and “profit” is much debated (see the summaries in P. J. Budd, Leviticus [NCBC], 354-55 and B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 178). Verse 37, however, suggests that the first refers to a percentage of money and the second percentage of produce (see J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 421).

32 tn In form the Hebrew term וְחֵי (vÿkhey, “shall live”) is the construct plural noun (i.e., “the life of”), but here it is used as the finite verb (cf. v. 35 and GKC 218 §76.i).

33 tn Heb “your money” and “your food.” With regard to “interest” and “profit” see the note on v. 36 above.

34 tn Heb “to be to you for a God.”

35 tn Heb “you shall not serve against him service of a slave.” A distinction is being made here between the status of slave and indentured servant.

36 tn See the note on Lev 25:6 above.

37 tn Heb “and.” The Hebrew conjunction ו (vav, “and”) can be considered to have adversative force here.

38 tn Heb “may go out from you.”

39 tn Heb “fathers.”

40 tn Or perhaps reflexive Niphal rather than passive, “they shall not sell themselves [as in] a slave sale.”

41 tn Heb “You shall not rule in him in violence”; cf. NASB “with severity”; NIV “ruthlessly.”

42 tn Heb “And your male slave and your female slave.” Smr has these as plural terms, “slaves,” not singular.

43 tn Heb “ from the nations which surround you, from them you shall buy male slave and female slave.”

44 tn The word “slaves” is not in the Hebrew text, but is implied here.

45 tn Heb “family which is” (i.e., singular rather than plural).

46 tn Heb “and your brothers, the sons of Israel, a man in his brother you shall not rule in him in violence.”

47 tn Heb “And if the hand of a foreigner and resident with you reaches” (cf. v. 26 for this idiom).

48 tn Heb “and.” The Hebrew conjunction ו (vav, “and”) can be considered to have resultative force here.

49 tn Heb “offshoot, descendant.”

50 tn Heb “right of redemption shall be to him.”

51 tn Heb “the son of his uncle.”

52 tn Heb “or from the remainder of his flesh from his family.”

53 tc The LXX, followed by the Syriac, actually has “if,” which is not in the MT.

54 tn Heb “the years.”

55 tn Heb “as days of a hired worker he shall be with him.” For this and the following verses see the explanation in P. J. Budd, Leviticus (NCBC), 358-59.

56 tn Heb “to the mouth of them.”

57 tn Heb “but if a little remains in the years.”

58 tn Heb “be with him”; the referent (the one who bought him) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

59 tn Heb “As a hired worker year in year.”

60 tn Heb “He”; the referent (the one who bought him) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

61 tn Heb “And if.”

62 tn Heb “go out.”

63 tn Heb “because to me the sons of Israel are servants.”



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