Leviticus Chapter 25

The book of Leviticus teaches us the law of Moses which was revealed by the Lord for the Israelite people. I’ve learned recently that it was typical in that day for a leader to give his people the laws covering all things from how to worship, celebrations and feasts they were to hold, to how to deal with one another on a daily basis. These laws have been sometimes the only things to have survived from the nations in that part of the world, because there was such value in them. This shows to me that it is a natural desire for people to have sets of laws to govern them. I don’t imagine that all the laws of other nations were the greatest laws, because I am sure there were many that were created by man and not inspired. It is awesome that we can have such simple access to the law of Moses. The blessing for us in having these recorded for us in the bible, is that we can know the laws of God to his righteous people. Life on the earth has changed over time, but the basic principals of the gospel remain the same. The laws in the book of Leviticus continue as follows:

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses in mount Sinai, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the Lord.
3 Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof;
4 But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the Lord: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.
5 That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land.
6 And the sabbath of the land shall be meat for you; for thee, and for thy servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servant, and for thy stranger that sojourneth with thee,
7 And for thy cattle, and for the beast that are in thy land, shall all the increase thereof be meat.

As the Israelites still remained encamped at Mount Sinai, the Lord continued to give instruction to them through his chosen prophet, Moses. The Israelites were commanded to keep a year of sabbath each seventh year after they arrived in the promised land. For six years, they were to plant, reap and harvest their fields, orchards and vineyards. The seventh year was to be a year for the land to rest, and no planting or harvesting of the plants was to be performed. The animals of the land were to have all that came of the land. The sabbath is any seventh period which the Lord sets aside as a time of rest, either for the people or the land. Every week was to have a sabbath on the seventh day. There was to be a sabbath year every seven years, and we know that a great sabbath of a thousand years will come at the time of seventh thousand year, according to the Lord’s time. In Doctrine and Covenants 77:12 we read, “Q. What are we to understand by the sounding of the trumpets, mentioned in the 8th chapter of Revelation?A. We are to understand that as God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it, and also formed man out of the dust of the earth, even so, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years will the Lord God sanctify the earth, and complete the salvation of man, and judge all things, and shall redeem all things, except that which he hath not put into his power, when he shall have sealed all things, unto the end of all things; and the sounding of the trumpets of the seven angels are the preparing and finishing of his work, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years—the preparing of the way before the time of his coming.” (emphasis added) I love the reminder here that it is needful for every hard work to be followed by a period of rest and reflection. Sabbaths are sacred and blessed for mankind, and if kept, will bring us closer to God.

8 And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years.
9 Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.
10 And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.
11 A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed.
12 For it is the jubilee; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field.
13 In the year of this jubilee ye shall return every man unto his possession.
14 And if thou sell ought unto thy neighbour, or buyest ought of thy neighbour’s hand, ye shall not oppress one another:
15 According to the number of years after the jubilee thou shalt buy of thy neighbour, and according unto the number of years of the fruits he shall sell unto thee:
16 According to the multitude of years thou shalt increase the price thereof, and according to the fewness of years thou shalt diminish the price of it: for according to the number of the years of the fruits doth he sell unto thee.
17 Ye shall not therefore oppress one another; but thou shalt fear thy God: for I am the Lord your God.

After the seventh sabbath year, the Israelites were to celebrate and sanctify the fiftieth year with a jubilee. They were to sound the trumpets or a ram’s horn. This celebration was to be in the day of atonement. Everyone was to be free and all things returned to their owners. Anyone removed from his family, was to be returned. The fiftieth year was to be a holy year of jubilation. They were not to work in the fields and vineyards, but eat of the surplus. With the food, and selling and buying of all goods, price was to be based on the years of the fruits. No one was to take advantage of others just because they were not producing more foods and the fruits were more valuable. There was to be no oppression. The Israelites were to love one another, showing the same kindness as the Lord extended to them.

18 Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety.
19 And the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety.
20 And if ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase:
21 Then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years.
22 And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat yet of old fruit until the ninth year; until her fruits come in ye shall eat of the old store.

If they were to keep these commandments, they would have safety in the land. This is a promise that we see several times throughout the scriptures. It is, I believe, and eternal promise to those who are righteous, covenant people of God. The Israelites were told here, that they would be blessed in abundance on the sixth year, with as much food as three years would provide. Then when the time to harvest came in the eighth year, they would have food for the following year. This reminds me a lot of the blessing of manna from heaven, when they were told not to gather on the sabbath day. Instead, they would be able to gather twice as much on the sixth day, and it would miraculously keep until after the sabbath when they could gather again. I cannot help but think that part of the reason for this sabbath year, was to remind them of how they had been preserved, fed, and guided by the Lord all those years in the wilderness.

The footnote to command in verse 21, referenced 1 Nephi 3:7, which reads, “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” This is an example of the Lord fulfilling this. He gave the Israelites a command to refrain from harvesting for a year. Then he told them he would given them a way to be able to keep this commandment. Likewise, we are commanded to keep the sabbath day holy. If we can be faithful, the Lord will give us a way to be able to keep this commandment.

23 The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.
24 And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land.

The Lord revealed, that all the land of promise would be his land. They were strangers, whom the Lord was taken into His land. Redemption was to be granted for the land. I understand that many cities in those days, would have land owned by the gods or as part of the temple and many people would live on the land with their farms and such. It sounds like the people of Israel were to buy land with the knowledge that it belonged to God and was to be used for God.

25 If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold.
26 And if the man have none to redeem it, and himself be able to redeem it;
27 Then let him count the years of the sale thereof, and restore the overplus unto the man to whom he sold it; that he may return unto his possession.
28 But if he be not able to restore it to him, then that which is sold shall remain in the hand of him that hath bought it until the year of jubilee: and in the jubilee it shall go out, and he shall return unto his possession.
29 And if a man sell a dwelling house in a walled city, then he may redeem it within a whole year after it is sold; within a full year may he redeem it.
30 And if it be not redeemed within the space of a full year, then the house that is in the walled city shall be established for ever to him that bought it throughout his generations: it shall not go out in the jubilee.
31 But the houses of the villages which have no wall round about them shall be counted as the fields of the country: they may be redeemed, and they shall go out in the jubilee.
32 Notwithstanding the cities of the Levites, and the houses of the cities of their possession, may the Levites redeem at any time.
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 jubilee: for the houses of the cities of the Levites are their possession among the children of Israel.
34 But the field of the suburbs of their cities may not be sold; for it is their perpetual possession.

How they dealt with selling and returning of their belongings, was to follow the guidelines the Lord set forth. I don’t exactly understand how things were passed between one another, but I gather that this law was to be a reminder that their possessions were ultimately gifts from God. When the Lord expected them to be given to another, or returned in the year of jubilation, then that was to be done. It sounds like those things that had belonged to one and then were sold in order to get by, would be returned in the year of jubilee. I think there had to be some kind of payment made, but I am not sure. A home within the walls of a city could be returned in the first year of purchasing it, but after a year, it would belong to that person and would not be required to be returned in the jubilee. Homes that were not part of the city, would be returned in the year of jubilee. The Levites, who were the priests of the Lord, were able to redeem their possessions at any time, and their fields were not sold because they were to remain in their possession as their inheritance.

35 And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee.
36 Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee.
37 Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase.
38 I am the Lord your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.

Those who were poor and needy, were to be given help without holding it over them as a debt they owe. The Lord reminds them of their dependence on him when he brought them out of Egypt.

39 And if thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bondservant:
40 But as an hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubilee:
41 And then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return.
42 For they are my servants, which I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: they shall not be sold as bondmen.
43 Thou shalt not rule over him with rigour; but shalt fear thy God.
44 Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids.
45 Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession.
46 And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.

Any man sold to the Israelites, was to be a hired servant for them until the year of Jubilee. An Israelite was not to be sold into bondage. At that time, his family could leave with him, and return to their own families and lands. They were not to treat their servants too strictly, but treat them as God would have them treated. Any of a heathen nation, or gentiles of strangers in the land, could be purchased as bondmen and women. Any bondmen or bondmaids were their possession and were not required to be made free in the year of jubilee. The Israelites were not to practice usury with one another, that is they were not cause one another to be indebted greatly.

47 And if a sojourner or stranger wax rich by thee, and thy brother that dwelleth by him wax poor, and sell himself unto the stranger or sojourner by thee, or to the stock of the stranger’s family:
48 After that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him:
49 Either his uncle, or his uncle’s son, may redeem him, or any that is nigh of kin unto him of his family may redeem him; or if he be able, he may redeem himself.
50 And he shall reckon with him that bought him from the year that he was sold to him unto the year of jubilee: and the price of his sale shall be according unto the number of years, according to the time of an hired servant shall it be with him.
51 If there be yet many years behind, according unto them he shall give again the price of his redemption out of the money that he was bought for.
52 And if there remain but few years unto the year of jubilee, then he shall count with him, and according unto his years shall he give him again the price of his redemption.
53 And as a yearly hired servant shall he be with him: and the other shall not rule with rigour over him in thy sight.
54 And if he be not redeemed in these years, then he shall go out in the year of jubilee, both he, and his children with him.
55 For unto me the children of Israel are servants; they are my servants whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

Any Israelite could be redeemed by another of his kin, even if purchased by a stranger. If he is able, he may also pay off his own debts. He would pay according to the years he was a sold man. If he was not able to be redeemed beforehand, then during the year of jubilee, he was allowed to leave with his family. This is because all of the Israelites were indebted to the Lord, as His servants, since he had delivered them out of captivity.

Being a “servant” is often seen as a negative thing, but I think reading this chapter reminds me that we all should strive to be servants of the Lord. We are indebted to the Lord for all that we have, even our very lives. He has every right to expect us to be in His service always. In his mercy and kindness, he allows us to choose if we will be His servant or not. When we choose to serve Him, he promises us blessings greater than anything we can imagine. That is more than we probably deserve. He does this because he loves us. In turn, we should extend that same love and kindness to those who serve us. If we can live with hearts full of gratitude to the Lord, as well as those who strive to serve us, being a servant will not seem like a bad thing, but will become the pattern of our lives.

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About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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