The economy and The Year of Jubilee

As we’re examining the latest financial crisis to hit the West, I’m always drawn back to Bible studies and the Hebrew “Year of Jubilee.” I once considered writing a novel about it, trying to answer the question “What would happen today, if this ancient law was obeyed?” It’s both fascinating and frightening to ponder.

In Old Testament law, the Year of Jubilee was known as the “year of release,” when slaves became free and everybody reverted back to the property (land) they possessed at the time of the previous Year of Jubilee. According to the law, it was the day of ultimate atonement, and it was to occur every 50 years (some say 49th). Debts would be forgiven; people would be restored to their families, and the relationship between God and man would be restored.

It strikes a hard blow at the ravages of capitalism as manifested in what’s happening in our financial community today. Here’s what the website notes about the premise of the year:

The importance of this institution will be apparent if it is considered what moral and social advantages would accrue to the community from the sacred observance of it.

  • It would prevent the accumulation of land on the part of a few to the detriment of the community at large.
  • It would render it impossible for any one to be born to absolute poverty, since every one had his hereditary land.
  • It would preclude those inequalities which are produced by extremes of riches and poverty, and which make one man domineer over another.
  • It would utterly do away with slavery.
  • 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.
  • It would periodically rectify the disorders which creep into the state in the course of time, preclude the division of the people into nobles and plebeians, and preserve the theocracy inviolate.

I find this kind of stuff utterly fascinating, especially when I study human nature and watch it playing out in our everyday lives. If we ever — as a culture — can get to the place where we live life on Life’s terms, things would be so much better.


  1. The Jubilee Year should not be terrifying at all. It will be a huge relief to everyone. A true period of mercy and rest, the best thing that could happen to us. Please help spread the good news about the Jubilee, which we can, and must, make happen today!

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