|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
A joyful shout or clangour of trumpets, the name of the great semi-centennial festival of the Hebrews. It lasted for a year. During this year the land was to be fallow, and the Israelites were only permitted to gather the spontaneous produce of the fields (Leviticus 25:11, 12). All landed property during that year reverted to its original owner (13-34; 27:16-24), and all who were slaves were set free (25:39-54), and all debts were remitted.
The return of the jubilee year was proclaimed by a blast of trumpets which sounded throughout the land. There is no record in Scripture of the actual observance of this festival, but there are numerous allusions (Isaiah 5:7, 8, 9, 10; 61:1, 2; Ezek. 7:12, 13; Nehemiah 5:1-19; 2 Chronicles 36:21) which place it beyond a doubt that it was observed.
The advantages of this institution were manifold. "1. It would prevent the accumulation of land on the part of a few to the detriment of the community at large. 2. It would render it impossible for any one to be born to absolute poverty, since every one had his hereditary land. 3. It would preclude those inequalities which are produced by extremes of riches and poverty, and which make one man domineer over another. 4. It would utterly do away with slavery. 5. It would afford a fresh opportunity to those who were reduced by adverse circumstances to begin again their career of industry in the patrimony which they had temporarily forfeited. 6. It would periodically rectify the disorders which crept into the state in the course of time, preclude the division of the people into nobles and plebeians, and preserve the theocracy inviolate."
Noah Webster's Dictionary
1. (n.) Every fiftieth year, being the year following the completion of each seventh Sabbath of years, at which time all the slaves of Hebrew blood were liberated, and all lands which had been alienated during the whole period reverted to their former owners.
2. (n.) The joyful commemoration held on the fiftieth anniversary of any event; as, the jubilee of Queen Victoria's reign; the jubilee of the American Board of Missions.
3. (n.) A church solemnity or ceremony celebrated at Rome, at stated intervals, originally of one hundred years, but latterly of twenty-five; a plenary and extraordinary indulgence grated by the sovereign pontiff to the universal church. One invariable condition of granting this indulgence is the confession of sins and receiving of the Eucharist.
4. (n.) A season of general joy.
5. (n.) A state of joy or exultation.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
(shenath ha-yobhel; etos tes apheseos; annus jubilaeus, "year of jubilee" (Leviticus 25:13), or simply ha-yobhel, "the jubilee" (Leviticus 25:28; compare Numbers 36:4), the King James Version and the English Revised Version Jubile): The Hebrew word yobhel stands for qeren ha-yobhel, meaning the horn of a ram. Now, such a horn can be made into a trumpet, and thus the word yobhel came to be used as a synonym of trumpet. According to Leviticus 25:9 a loud trumpet should proclaim liberty throughout the country on the 10th day of the 7th month (the Day of Atonement), after the lapse of 7 sabbaths of years = 49 years. In this manner, every 50th year was to be announced as a jubilee year. All real property should automatically revert to its original owner (Leviticus 25:10; compare 25:13), and those who, compelled by poverty, had sold themselves as slaves to their brothers, should regain their liberty (Leviticus 25:10; compare 25:39).
In addition to this, the Jubilee Year was to be observed after the manner of the sabbatic year, i.e. there should be neither sowing nor reaping nor pruning of vines, and everybody was expected to live on what the fields and the vineyards produced "of themselves," and no attempt should be made at storing up the products of the land (Leviticus 25:11 f). Thus there are three distinct factors constituting the essential features of the Jubilee Year: personal liberty, restitution of property, and what we might call the simple life.
1. Personal Liberty:
The 50th year was to be a time in which liberty should be proclaimed to all the inhabitants of the country. We should, indeed, diminish the import of this institution if we should apply it only to those who were to be freed from the bonds of physical servitude. Undoubtedly, they must have been the foremost in realizing its beneficial effects. But the law was intended to benefit all, the masters as well as the servants. They should never lose sight of their being brothers and citizens of theocratic kingdom. They owed their life to God and were subject to His sovereign will. Only through loyalty to Him were they free and could ever hope to be free and independent of all other masters.
2. Restitution of Property:
The institution of the Jubilee Year should become the means of fixing the price of real property (Leviticus 25:15; compare 25:25-28); moreover, it should exclude the possibility of selling any piece of land permanently (Leviticus 25:23), the next verse furnishing the motive: "The land is mine: for ye are strangers and sojourners with me." The same rule was to be applied to dwelling-houses outside of the walled cities (Leviticus 25:31), and also to the houses owned by Levites, although they were built within walled cities (Leviticus 25:32).
In the same manner the price of Hebrew slaves was to vary according to the proximity of the Jubilee Year (Leviticus 25:47-54). This passage deals with the enslaving of a Hebrew by a foreigner living among the Jews; it goes without saying that the same rule would hold good in the case of a Hebrew selling himself to one of his own people. In Leviticus 27:17-25 we find a similar arrangement respecting such lands that were "sanctified unto Yahweh." In all these cases the original owner was at liberty to redeem his property at any time, or have it redeemed by some of his nearest relatives (25:25-27, 29, 48;; 27:19).
The crowning feature, though, was the full restitution of all real property in the Jubilee Year. The primary object of this regulation was, of course, the reversion of all hereditary property to the family which originally possessed it, and the reestablishment of the original arrangement regarding the division of the land. But that was not all; for this legal disposition and regulation of external matters was closely connected with the high calling of the Jewish people. It was a part of the Divine plan looking forward to the salvation of mankind. "The deepest meaning of it (the Jubilee Year) is to be found in the apokatastasis tes basileias tou theou, i.e. in the restoring of all that which in the course of time was perverted by man's sin, in the removing of all slavery of sin, in the establishing of the true liberty of the children of God, and in the delivering of the creation from the bondage of corruption to which it was subjected on account of man's depravity" (Romans 8:19) (compare Keil, Manual of Biblical Archaeology). In the Year of Jubilee a great future era of Yahweh's favor is foreshadowed, that period which, according to Isaiah 61:1-3, shall be ushered in to all those that labor and are heavy laden, by Him who was anointed by the spirit of the Lord Yahweh.
3. The Simple Life:
The Jubilee Year, being the crowning point of all sabbatical institutions, gave the finishing touch as it were to the whole cycle of sabbatic days, months and years. It is, therefore, quite appropriate that it should be a year of rest for the land like the preceding sabbatic year (Leviticus 25:11 f). It follows, of course, that in this instance there were two years, one after the other, in which there should be no sowing or systematic ingathering. This seems to be clear from Leviticus 25:18-22: "And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat of the fruits, the old store; until the ninth year, until its fruits come in, ye shall eat the old store." Thus in the 7th and 8th years the people were to live on what the fields had produced in the 6th year and whatever grew spontaneously. This shows the reason why we may say that one of the factors constituting the Jubilee Year was the "simple life." They could not help but live simply for two consecutive years. Nobody can deny that this afforded ample opportunity to develop the habit of living within very limited means. And again we see that this external part of the matter did not fully come up to the intention of the Lawgiver. It was not the simple life as such that He had in view, but rather the laying down of its moral and religious foundations. In this connection we must again refer to Leviticus 25:18-22, "What shall we eat the seventh year?" The answer is very simple and yet of surpassing grandeur: "Then I will command my blessing upon you," etc. Nothing was expected of the people but faith in Yahweh and confidence in His power, which was not to be shaken by any doubtful reflection. And right here we have found the root of the simple life: no life without the true God, and no simplicity of life without true faith in Him. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4; compare Deuteronomy 8:3).
We may well ask: Did the Jewish people ever observe the Jubilee Year? There is no reason why they should not have observed it in pre-exilic times (compare Lotz in The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, X, under the word "Sabbatical Year" and "Year of Jubilee"). Perhaps they signally failed in it, and if so, we should not be surprised at all. Not that the institution in itself was cumbered with any obstacles that could not have been overcome; but what is more common than unbelief and unwillingness to trust absolutely in Yahweh? Or, was it observed in post-exilic times? Here, too, we are in the dark. There is, indeed, a tradition according to which the Jubilee Year has never been observed-neither in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah nor at any later period. The truth of this seems to be corroborated by the silence of Josephus, who, while referring quite frequently to the sabbatic year, never once mentions the Year of Jubilee.
JUBILEE, CYCLE OF THE
See Luni-solar cycle, under ASTRONOMY, sec. I, 5.
Jubilee (25 Occurrences)
Exodus 19:13 a hand cometh not against him, for he is certainly stoned or shot through, whether beast or man it liveth not; in the drawing out of the jubilee cornet they go up into the mount.' (YLT)
Leviticus 25:9 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. (KJV WBS)
Leviticus 25:10 You shall make the fiftieth year holy, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee to you; and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Leviticus 25:11 That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee to you. In it you shall not sow, neither reap that which grows of itself, nor gather from the undressed vines. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Leviticus 25:12 For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you. You shall eat of its increase out of the field. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Leviticus 25:13 "'In this Year of Jubilee each of you shall return to his property. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Leviticus 25:15 According to the number of years after the Jubilee you shall buy from your neighbor. According to the number of years of the crops he shall sell to you. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Leviticus 25:28 But if he isn't able to get it back for himself, then what he has sold shall remain in the hand of him who has bought it until the Year of Jubilee: and in the Jubilee it shall be released, and he shall return to his property. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Leviticus 25:30 If it isn't redeemed within the space of a full year, then the house that is in the walled city shall be made sure in perpetuity to him who bought it, throughout his generations. It shall not be released in the Jubilee. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Leviticus 25:31 But the houses of the villages which have no wall around them shall be reckoned with the fields of the country: they may be redeemed, and they shall be released in the Jubilee. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Leviticus 25:33 The Levites may redeem the house that was sold, and the city of his possession, and it shall be released in the Jubilee; for the houses of the cities of the Levites are their possession among the children of Israel. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Leviticus 25:40 As a hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with you; he shall serve with you until the Year of Jubilee: (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Leviticus 25:50 He shall reckon with him who bought him from the year that he sold himself to him to the Year of Jubilee: and the price of his sale shall be according to the number of years; according to the time of a hired servant shall he be with him. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Leviticus 25:52 If there remain but a few years to the year of jubilee, then he shall reckon with him; according to his years of service he shall give back the price of his redemption. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Leviticus 25:54 If he isn't redeemed by these means, then he shall be released in the Year of Jubilee, he, and his children with him. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Leviticus 27:17 If he dedicates his field from the Year of Jubilee, according to your valuation it shall stand. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Leviticus 27:18 But if he dedicates his field after the Jubilee, then the priest shall reckon to him the money according to the years that remain to the Year of Jubilee; and an abatement shall be made from your valuation. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Leviticus 27:21 but the field, when it goes out in the Jubilee, shall be holy to Yahweh, as a field devoted; it shall be owned by the priests. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Leviticus 27:23 then the priest shall reckon to him the worth of your valuation up to the Year of Jubilee; and he shall give your valuation on that day, as a holy thing to Yahweh. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Leviticus 27:24 In the Year of Jubilee the field shall return to him from whom it was bought, even to him to whom the possession of the land belongs. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Numbers 36:4 When the jubilee of the children of Israel shall be, then will their inheritance be added to the inheritance of the tribe whereunto they shall belong: so will their inheritance be taken away from the inheritance of the tribe of our fathers." (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Joshua 6:4 and seven priests do bear seven trumpets of the jubilee before the ark, and on the seventh day ye compass the city seven times, and the priests blow with the trumpets, (YLT)
Joshua 6:5 and it hath been, in the prolongation of the horn of the jubilee, in your hearing the voice of the trumpet, all the people shout -- a great shout, and the wall of the city hath fallen under it, and the people have gone up, each over-against him.' (YLT)
Joshua 6:8 And it cometh to pass, when Joshua speaketh unto the people, that the seven priests bearing seven trumpets of the jubilee before Jehovah have passed over and blown with the trumpets, and the ark of the covenant of Jehovah is going after them; (YLT)
Joshua 6:13 and seven priests bearing seven trumpets of the jubilee before the ark of Jehovah are walking, going on, and they have blown with the trumpets -- and he who is armed is going before them, and he who is gathering up is going behind the ark of Jehovah -- going on and blowing with the trumpets. (YLT)