Levitikus 25

Achenbach, Reinhard, The ʾamānāh of Nehemiah 10 between Deuteronomy and Holiness Code, in: Lackowski, Mark; Bautch, Richard J. (Hg.), On Dating Biblical Texts to the Persian Period. Discerning Criteria and Establishing Epochs (Forschungen zum Alten Testament 2. Reihe, 101), Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2019, 79–91.  Show MoreAbstract from OTA: A.’s essay focuses on the literary core of Nehemiah 10, which comprises a series of legal measures involving endogamy, merchandise sold on the Sabbath and holy days, seven-year rules (fallow ground and cancellation of debts), obligatory contributions to the maintenance of the temple cult, i.e., the wood offering, and those of the firstfruits, and the firstborn, the tithe for the Levites, along with a general commitment never to neglect the temple of God. Because each of these topics appears also in the pentateuchal traditions, A. compares the laws of the Bible’s first five books with what is found in Nehemiah 10. In each A. differentiates the legal approach in Nehemiah 10 from that evidenced in the pentateuchal sources, be these those of the Deuteronomic and Deuteronomistic writers (e.g., on the issue of endogamy), the Covenant Code (e.g., on the question of seven-year rules), the Priestly writer (on matters of temple sacrifice and the preeminence of the Aaronides vis-a-vis the Zadokites), or the writers of the Holiness Code (e.g., on Sabbath regulations and the seven-year rules). Via this comparison, A. shows that the legal precepts of Nehemiah 10 consistently stand apart from and often predate the corresponding pentateuchal regulations, especially those of the Holiness Code. On this basis, he concludes that H was not established sacral law at the time of Nehemiah, such that H should not be dated earlier than the 2nd half of the 5th cent. B.C.E., the date of the original core of the Book of Nehemiah according to A. A. further underscores the value of Nehemiah 10 for dating texts within the Persian period: in the middle of the 5th cent., Judean legal discourse was much more fluid than we might imagine. For A., Nehemiah 10 thus provides a valuable Achaemenid window on the development of the Torah and the formation of the Pentateuch. [Adapted from published abstract—C.T.B.]

Achenbach, Reinhard, „Von den Völkern rings um euch her sollt ihr einen Sklaven oder eine Sklavin nehmen!“ (Lev 25,44). Zur rechtlichen Stellung von Sklavinnen und Sklaven in Israel und seiner Umwelt, in: Fischer, Irmtraud; Feichtinger, Daniela (Hg.), Sexualität und Sklaverei (AOAT 456), Münster: Ugarit-Verlag, 2018, 141–171.

Artus, Olivier, Sabbath Year and Jubilee in Lev 25, in: Indian Theological Studies 50, 2013, 233–252.    Show MoreAbstract from OTA 40, 2017, #1655: A.’s article features a wide-ranging overview of the many questions posed by Leviticus 25. Topics addressed by him include: the diachronic relationship of the “Holiness Code” (Leviticus 17-26, HC) to the other major compositional complexes in the Pentateuch (D and P in particular); the placement of Leviticus 25 within the HC; the structure of Leviticus 25; the laws of Leviticus 25 vis-a-vis those of Exod 21:2-11 and Deut 15:12-18 as well as Old Babylonian and Nee-Babylonian royal edicts concerning release of slaves and remission of debts; and the conception of the jubilee in Leviticus 25. This last topic is discussed by A. under the general heading “jubilee and logic of the gift,” that is itself further specified with the subheadings: “Vocabulary of gift in Lev 25: Can we talk of Social Ethics in Lev 25?” and “The Jubilee: A Utopia? Norm and Metanorm.“ Here, A. points out that while it remains unclear whether the jubilee legislation of Leviticus 25, with its insistence that no Israelite is to be the “slave” of another Israelite and that Yahweh’s gift of the land to his people calls them to respond by “redeeming” the land at the jubilee, was ever put into effect during the Second Temple period, the text’s vision did get picked up in subsequent messianic and eschatological discourse (see Isa 61:1-2 and Luke 4:18-19).

Bergland, Kenneth, Jeremiah 34 Originally Composed as a Legal Blend of Leviticus 25 and Deuteronomy 15, in: Armgardt, Matthias; Kilchör, Benjamin; Zehnder, Markus (eds.), Paradigm Change in Pentateuchal Research (BZAR 22), Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2019, 189–205.  Show MoreAbstract from OTA: The above evidence leads to the conclusion that the reuse of both Leviticus 25 and Deuteronomy 15 was part of the original composition of Jer 34:8-22 and cannot be removed without collapsing the latter passage itself. … Thus the thrust of Jeremiah 34 is better explained as an original reuse of Leviticus 25 on the part of the author of the former passage, pace S. Chavel (1997). As argued above, the differences between the justifications for the manumission of the Hebrew slaves in Jer 34:9b and 14 are best understood as evidencing different strategies of reuse by the same author. While 34:8-11 shows an alternating and much tighter-knit reuse of Leviticus 25 and Deuteronomy 15, 34:12-22 largely deploys Deuteronomy 15 in connection with the release prescription in Jer 34:13-14, with 34:15-22 reusing Leviticus 25 more in connection with the divine indictment against the peoples taking back their recently freed slaves. Given the above discussion, it therefore seems reasonable to conclude that the reuse of both Leviticus 25 and Deuteronomy 15 is original in Jer 34:8-22. As a conflation of both Pentateuchal texts, Jer 34:8-22 would be the youngest of the three passages. [Adapted from author’s summary, p. 203]—C.T.B.

Bergsma, John Sietze, Biblical Manumission Laws. Has the Literary Dependence of H on D Been Demonstrated?, in: Mason, Eric F. (ed.), A Teacher For All Generations. Essays in honor of James C. VanderKam (JSJ.S 153,1), Leiden: Brill, 2012, 65–91.  Show MoreAbstract from OTA: The crux of this study is B.’s detailed comparison of the syntax and vocabulary in the laws governing the manumission of slaves in Deut 15:1-18 and Leviticus 25. He begins by noting his interest in detecting the existence and direction of any literary—as distinct from conceptual—dependence between D and H. Evidence for literary dependence would consist in a shared repertoire of words or phrases that are rarely used elsewhere in the MT. He identifies cases of such occurrences, which, e.g., confirm the dependence of the Chronicler on the Deuteronomistic History, Ezekiel on the Holiness Code, the Holiness Code on the Covenant Code, and the Deuteronomic Code on the Covenant Code as well. By contrast, B.’s careful analysis yields no such evidence of rarely used syntax or lexemes that would confirm a literary dependence in either direction between Deut 15:1-18 and Leviticus 25. These conclusions have implications for discussions about putative relationships between the Holiness and Deuteronomic Codes and about possible connections among Deut 15:1-18; Jer 34:8-22; and Leviticus 25. An appendix lists vocabulary common to Deut 15:1-12 and Lev 25:1-55.—M.W.D.

Démarre-Lafont, Sophie, Unjust Law. Royal Rhetoric or Social Reality?, in: Graef, Katrien de; Goddeeris, Anne (Hg.), Law and (Dis)Order in the Ancient Near East. Proceedings of the 59th Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale Held at Ghent, Belgium, 14-19 July 2013, University Park, Pennsylvania: Eisenbrauns, 2021, 48–60.  Show MoreAbstract: Remaining in the late third and early second millennia, S. Démare-Lafont’s treatment of “unjust laws” (ch. 5) within legal codes raises some important questions regarding economic imbalances caused by periodic mīšarum and andurārum edicts to cancel debts, usually thought to reflect progressive tools for achieving social equality. The harm caused to debtors and what measures were taken to counteract it is well documented in the article, but it also raises questions regarding how biblical Sabbatical and Jubilee Year debt forgiveness could have functioned in practice, if it ever did.

Dykesteen Nilsen, Tina, Ecology and Economy of SHMITTA (Exod 23,10-11; Leviticus 25,1-7; Deuteronomy 15,1-6). Biblical Texts and Contemporary Judaism, in: Zehnder, Markus; Hagelia, Hallvard (Hg.), The Bible and Money. Economy and Socioeconomic Ethics in the Bible (The Bible in the Modern World 76), Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2020, 314–336.  Show More Abstract from OTA: The UN’s sustainable development goals acknowledge the connections between ecology and social justice. However, such realizations are not new. My article focuses on the relationship between, on the one hand, ecological issues pertaining to agriculture and, on the other hand, economic issues of social justice. My article traces the understanding of such a relationship from biblical times until our own day in the laws of the šěmiṭṭâ (also known as the year of release, the seventh year, or the sabbatical year). The article’s first part focuses on the relevant biblical texts, using literary analysis in particular to discern the nuanced stances taken regarding the šěmiṭṭâ in Exod 23:10-11; Lev 25:1-7; and Deut 15:1-6. The second part of the article shows how early and mediaeval Jewish writings received these biblical texts, particularly in terms of agricultural and economic legislation, separating ecology from the economy in so doing. The final part of the article discusses the reception of the biblical texts in question in Jewish green movements of our own time, analyzing how some of the main actors in these movements have revived šěmiṭṭâ and by doing so have revived the interconnections between ecology and the economy as well. [Adapted from published abstract–C.T.B.]

García Fernández, Marta, Leviticus 25—Towards a Common Home and an Integral Ecology, in: Religions 2023, 14(12), 1501; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14121501. Show MorePublished abstract: This article aims to show the great potential of the biblical text of the Jubilee (Lev 25:8–22) from a socio-environmental interpretation. To do so, it uses two hermeneutical keys taken from the encyclical Laudato Si’: the common home and integral ecology. As a preamble, this essay dedicates the first section to reinforcing the importance and the wisdom of the metaphor of the home—an image of creation that goes back to antiquity. In the next two sections, it reads the text from the perspective of these two great concepts. With regard to the common home, it starts from the premise that for creation to be a common home, it is necessary for each human being to enjoy a space. From there, it studies how the text of Lev 25 manages the necessary relationship between private property and the universal destination of goods. The second section addresses the need to legislate not only for behavior but for effective and comprehensive conversion. And it shows the mechanisms that the text of Lev 25 uses to achieve this.

Gesundheit, Shimon, Soziales Recht versus theozentrisches Gesetz in Bundesbuch und Priesterschrift, in: JBTh 37 (2022), 131–154 (erschienen im November 2023). Show MorePublished abstract: This essay discusses the reinterpretation of the orientations of biblical laws between the Covenant Code and the Holiness Code. It explores three examples in particular – slave laws, the practice of letting the land lie fallow, and stipulations concerning the Sabbath – arguing that there are theological grounds for the variations between the details and explanations of the laws in these two codes. The essay shows that when updating respective laws that maybe literarily related and share their orientation in time, there is a consistent shift in the understanding of practices expressed through law that transforms laws that were essentially social in nature into expressions of the relationship between God and Israel. This attests to the interest of P in being applicable to a Judaism without its land or temple, thus transcendentalizing the earlier orientation of these biblical laws.

Houston, Walter J., What’s Just about the Jubilee? Ideological and Ethical Reflections on Leviticus 25, in: Houston, Walter J., Justice for the Poor? Social Justice in the Old Testament in Concept and Practice, Eugene: Cascade Books, 2020, 58–72.  Show MoreAbstract from OTA: Who benefits from the Jubilee described in Leviticus 25? The group that would cleans benefit from the implementation of the measure, if it were ever to be implemented, would be the peasantry, the landholding families of Israelite villages. It would not benefit those without any recognized title to land: those identified in the text as “the aliens residing with you” (v. 45). We have no means of knowing what proportion of the population these were, but it was clearly not negligible, in view of the frequency with which the gēr is mentioned in biblical literature. It would also not benefit, but positively disadvantage, the ruling groups or merely more wealthy farmers mentioned so frequently as exploiting the peasants and seeking to gain control of their land and their persons. This is the straightforward interpretation of the text’s implications. The attraction of the biblical Jubilee campaign is its promise of a new start unencumbered by debts, in full possession of one’s land and person, just as severely indebted countries today dream of a new start free of debt. The most crying need is for the humble acknowledgment that human beings have no right to absolute possession of the earth or any part of it to do with as they wish: it is intended for a higher purpose —F.W.G.

Joseph, Simon J., “The Land is Mine” (Leviticus 25:23). Reimagining the Jubilee in the Context of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, in: Biblical Theology Bulletin 50, 2020, 180–190.  Show More Abstract from OTA: The Jubilee tradition commemorates the release of slaves, the remission of debt, and the repatriation of property, a “day” of physical and spiritual restoration. The Jubilee tradition, which originated in a constitutional vision of ancient Israel periodically restoring its ancestral sovereignty as custodian of the land, became a master symbol of biblical theology, a powerful ideological resource as well as a promise of a divinely realized future during the Second Temple period, when the Qumran community envisioned an eschatological Jubilee and the early Jesus tradition remembered Jesus’s non-violence in Jubilee terms. Jubilee themes can be identified in ideals inscribed in the founding of America, the abolitionist movement, the women’s liberation movement, the civil rights movement, and liberation theology. This study seeks to extend the exploration of Jubilee themes by adopting a comparative methodological approach, re-examining Jubilee themes in the context of the contemporary Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Where the dream of peace in the Middle East continues to play out in predominantly politicized contexts. [Adapted from published abstract–C.T.B.]

Kaplan, Jonathan, The Credibility of Liberty. The Plausibility of the Jubilee Legislation of Leviticus 25 in Ancient Israel and Judah, in: The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 81, 2019, 183–203.    Show MoreAbstract from OTA: Although we may not have positive evidence for the observance of the Levitical jubilee in ancient Israel, we do have indications that it was an institution that would have been theoretically conceivable in ancient Israelite and Judean society. This assessment is supported by descriptions of analogous though distinct practices in the ANE as well as by the agrarian society that the jubilee presumes and in which it could have functioned as a plausible institution. Despite the difficulties in locating the jubilee in any given period in the history of early Israel and Judah, it might have served as a plausible legal framework in any number of periods in Israel’s history. The perception of the jubilee legislation in Leviticus 25 as plausible is ultimately what contributed to its emergence and endurance as a force in shaping ancient Jewish thought. A wide range of biblical and postbiblical texts assume the plausibility of the jubilee legislation decreed in Leviticus 25 as a utopian ideal. Indeed, the credibility of the practice led later Jews and Christians to appropriate the jubilee as a powerful inspiration for their utopian visions of a restored Israel and of a just society in the world. [Adapted from published conclusion-W.J.U.]

Kaplan, Jonathan, יובל, A New Proposal, in: Biblica 99, 2018, 109–116.  Show More Abstract from OTA: The legislation for the Israelite practice of the jubilee in Leviticus 25 employs the Hebrew term of K.’s title to designate that practice. In this contribution, K. argues that the term in question functions as a polyseme that evokes the meaning of the root ybl (‘to bring, conduct’) as well as other derived forms of that root such ybwl (‘agricultural product’) and ywbl (‘ram’s horn’). In Leviticus 25 the term takes on the technical meaning of ‘a period of argricultural release inaugurated by the blast of a ram’s horn.’ [Adapted from published abstract- C.T.B.]

Kessler, Rainer, Utopie und Grenzen. Schabbatjahr und Jobeljahr in Lev 25: BiKi 69, 2014, 86–91.    Show MoreAbstract: K. reads Leviticus 25 as a visionary concept to overcome debt overload and impoverishment. The basic rhythm is marked by the sequence of six years plus one. The sabbatical year (every seventh year) is a “Sabbath for Yahweh,” i.e., rest for the land (a fallow year) and rest for God. While the sabbatical year was practiced at certain times in the history of Israel and Judah, the Jubilee year (the year after seven times seven years) is a literary construct providing liberation for people fallen in debt slavery and for property sold to pay debts off. After 49 years all property (real estate) which was sold shall return to its original owner. People who had to sell their workforce and fell into debt slavery shall be released and return to their own family. While the Jubilee was never set into practice, its theological idea was influential even for Christianity.

Mayshar, Joram, Who Was the Toshav?: JBL 133, 2014, 225–246.    Show MorePublished abstract: The term תושב (tôšāb; toshav) appears in the Bible fourteen times, mostly in passages associated with the Holiness Code (H). It is typically interpreted as referring to an alien who resides in a foreign country on a long-term basis. I propose, instead, that it had an economic meaning, referring to “a rent-paying (farming) tenant,” that is, someone who cultivates land that he does not own and pays rent to the landlord. In the course of supporting this interpretation, I offer a framework for understanding the social structure envisioned by H and for appreciating H’s innovative social aspirations.

Meyer, Esias E., Returning to an Empty Land: Revisiting my Old Argument about the Jubilee: OTE 27, 2014, 502–519.   Show MorePublished abstract: In this article, M. engages with his 2003 monograph on the biblical Jubilee, with a focus on Leviticus 25 and 26. In 2003, M. argued that Leviticus is a text concerning the Judean elite who are about to return from exile and who wanted their land back, an argument in support of which he adduced the “myth of the empty land” as featured in Leviticus 26, where the land is represented as lying empty during exile and waiting for the exiles to repopulate it. On historical-critical grounds, M. now rejects the first part of his earlier claim about Leviticus 25. At the same time, he adduces additional support for the “myth of the empty land” part of his earlier argument by reference to current historical-critical debates about the portrayal of the land in the P materials and the Holiness Code.

Meyer, Esias E., People and Land in the Holiness Code. Who is Yhwh’s Favourite?: OTE 28, 2015, 433–450.   Show MoreAdapted from published abstract: M.’s article focuses on how the land (ʾereṣ) is personified in the Holiness Code. It starts by describing the various “countries” portrayed in the Code and then discusses all It instances in the Code where land functions as the subject of a verb (Lev 18:25, 27, 28; 19:29; 20:22; 25:2, 19; 26:4, 20, 34, 38, 40). The land at times seems close to being a human character in its “becoming defiled,” “vomiting,” “acting like a prostitute,” “observing the Sabbath,” “giving,” and “enjoying”—all verbs which are usually associated with human actions. In light of these texts, M. then attempts to describe the relationship among the land, Yhwh, and the Code’s addressees. In his analysis, it becomes clear that in the Code there is a closer relationship between Yhwh and the land than there is between Yhwh and the addressees. Finally, M. seeks to engage with N. Habel’s ecojustice principles, showing that the authors of the Code may have been familiar with certain of these.

Mtshiselwa, Ndikho, Mind the Working-Class People! An African Reading of Leviticus 25:8-55 with Latino/a Critical Tools: OTE 29, 2016, 133–150.    Show MoreAdapted from published abstract: It is generally accepted by Latino/a biblical scholars, namely, Fernando F. Segovia and Alejandro F. Botta, among others, that both the historical-critical methods and the contextual approaches are equally important in the reading of the HB. First, this paper argues that Lev 25:8-55 contains verses (cf. Lev 25:10, 39-40 and 54-55) which are ascribed to the Deuteronomistic writers (D) but which were re-used by the authors of the Holiness Code (H). Second, because the absolute noun, śākīr (“hired labourer”) and the qal verb, ʿbd (“to work”) in Lev 25:40 refer to the working-class people, the context(s) from which the text of Lev 25:8-55 emerged will be investigated in relation to the working-class people. Third, the paper probes the relevance of Lev 25:8-55 to Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s discourse of the experiences of the working-class people and Segovia’s reading of the HB in the light of such experiences. It is argued in this paper that H’s concern for social justice for the workingclass people can throw light on the reading of the ancient texts, particularly from the perspective of the Latino/a biblical criticism, and more importantly, that such a reading could also have implications for the working-class people of South Africa.

Mtshiselwa, Ndikho, Poor and Landless Women. An African Reading of Leviticus 25 and Ruth 4 with Latino/a Critical Tools, in: Brenner-Idan, Athalya; Yee, Gale A.; Lee, Archie C.C. (Hg.), The Five Scrolls (Texts@Contexts, 6), London [etc.]: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2018, 71–85.

Mthiselwa, Ndikho, The Sabbath Year and Socio-Economic Issues in Lev 25:2-7, in: Old Testament Essays 36, 2023, 384–411.             Show MorePublished abstract: Leviticus 25:2–7 has its closest parallel in the Pentateuchal and other post-exilic texts, namely Exod 23:10–11; Deut 11:8–17; 15:7–18 and Neh 5; 9:32–37 and 13. The texts are about the Sabbath year, YHWH, the land and socio-economic issues. A convincing consensus on the directionality of influence and dependence between Lev 25:2–7 and these texts is hardly reached. In addition, there is room for further research on the function and significance of Lev 25:2–7. The article argues that inner-biblical exegesis shows that Lev 25:2–7 depended on some Pentateuchal texts and served to legitimize the Sabbath tradition and to address socio-economic issues in the Persian period. In addition, the text influenced the production of some texts in the book of Nehemiah. First, the essay considers the grammatical features, style and content of Lev 25:2–7. Second, the article discusses the dating of the Pentateuchal scribal activity with specific focus on the Covenant Code (CC), versions of Deuteronomy and the Holiness Code (H). Third, the reception of Exod 23:10–11 and Deut 11:8–17; 15:7–18 in Lev 25:2–7 is examined. Lastly, the study probes the reception of Lev 25:2–7 in Neh 5; 9:32–37; and 13 and submits that Lev 25:2–7 depended on earlier Pentateuchal texts and subsequently influenced post-exilic texts on the subject of the Sabbath year in order to address the socio-economic issues of the time.

Nicolaides, Angelo; Onumah, Joseph Mensah, Restitution and Land Issues in South Africa: Biblical and Ethical considerations based on the Jubilee year in Leviticus 25, in: Pharos Journal of Theology 104, 2023, 1–17 (https://doi.org/10.46222/pharosjot.1042). Show MorePublished abstract: The question of land is indeed a vexing one in contemporary South Africa. White control of land and the unequal distribution thereof was one of the pillars of the apartheid system. During colonial rule and under apartheid, numerous communities were simply expelled from their land. The Land Act of 1913 had a diabolical effect in dislocating communities and separated people from their traditional inheritance and from each other. Dispossession of land by its original inhabitants in waves of incessant forced removals proved to be highly distressing and ultimately led to enduring poverty for the masses. It is important in our predominantly Christian society to atone for past ills and to redress some of the ills relating to land which were in fact human rights abuses, by considering inter alia, Leviticus 25 as a starting point. Thus, a Christian stance is considered to be important from both a biblical and ethical perspective as land dispossession due to inhuman laws is addressed. We are stressing the fact that only in a liberating relationship with God can we consider and apply human rights and that in African thought social issues are viewed from a communitarian perspective in which the common good takes precedence.

Olanisebe, Samson O., Sabbatical and Jubilee Regulations as a Means of Economic Recovery, in: Jewish Bible Quarterly 46/3, 2018, 196–202.   Show MoreAbstract from OTA: Leviticus 25 describes a Sabbath year, one in every seven (Lev 25:1-7), and a Jubilee year, one in every fifty (Lev 25:8-17). In the Sabbath year, the fields lie fallow, lest the ground be exhausted. In the year of Jubilee, leased or mortgaged lands were to be returned to their original owners, and all slaves and laborers were to go free (Lev 25:10). The Jubilee was thus a way for poor people to be released from crushing debt and to make it possible for them to participate in shaping the common good.-F.W.G.

Ridenour, Randy, Abandoning Jubilee. The Structural Causes of Poverty, in: Review & Expositor 116, 2019, 6–15.    Show MoreAbstract from OTA: The jubilee law of Leviticus 25 is a radical economic plan that requires a leveling of real assets every fifty years, thus providing an economic structure that regularly dissolves large economic inequalities. Following the letter of the jubilee law in a modern, non-agrarian economy is not possible, but this fact should not free us from the responsibility of adhering to the spirit of the law. A survey of social structures in the contemporary United States reveals an economy that is contrary to the spirit of jubilee—one that not only makes inequalities possible but also makes escaping from poverty nearly impossible. [Adapted from published abstract-C.T.B.]

Wafawanaka, Robert, “The Land Is Mine!”: Biblical and Postcolonial Reflections on Land with Particular Reference to the Land Issue in Zimbabwe, in: Dube, Musa W.; Mbuvi, Andrew M.; Mbuwayesango, Dora R. (eds.), Postcolonial Perspectives in African Biblical Interpretations (Society of Biblical Literature Global Perspectives on Biblical Scholarship 13), Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2012, 221–234.

Watts, James W., The Historical Role of Leviticus 25 in Naturalizing Anti-Black Racism, in: Religions 12, 2021, 570, https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080570 Show MorePublished abstract: Leviticus 25:39–46 describes a two-tier model of slavery that distinguishes Israelites from foreign slaves. It requires that Israelites be indentured only temporarily while foreigners can be enslaved as chattel (permanent property). This model resembles the distinction between White indentured slaves and Black chattel slaves in the American colonies. However, the biblical influence on these early modern practices has been obscured by the rarity of citations of Lev. 25:39–46 in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century sources about slavery. This article reviews the history of slavery from ancient Middle Eastern antiquity through the seventeenth century to show the unique degree to which early modern institutions resembled the biblical model. It then exposes widespread knowledge of Leviticus 25 in early modern political and economic debates. Demonstrating this awareness shows with high probability that colonial cultures presupposed the two-tier model of slavery in Leviticus 25:39–46 to naturalize and justify their different treatment of White indentured slaves and Black chattel slaves.

Watts, James W., Leviticus 25’s History of Inspiring Freedom as a Moral Challenge to Literary-Historical Interpretation, in: Biblical Interpretation 30, 2022, 1-27.  Show MorePublished abstract: Though Leviticus 25’s description of the Jubilee sounds unrealistically utopian to many biblical scholars, the Jubilee ideal has stimulated many movements for freedom and economic reform in the last 500 years. It most famously motivated enslaved people to resist and abolitionists to challenge the institution of slavery. Today it continues to inspire reform movements for land redistribution and fair housing, for sovereign debt relief, and for developing environmentally sustainable economies. The contrast between scholarly assessments of the chapter’s meaning in its literary and ancient historical contexts and its proven power to inspire movements for freedom that were unimaginable to its writers poses a moral challenge to the conventional methods of biblical scholarship. This article describes the Jubilee’s ideological context in four historical settings: in Israel’s ancient Middle Eastern political economy, in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century movement to abolish slavery, in contemporary movements for economic reform, and in modern biblical studies to explore how biblical scholars can credibly account for the chapter’s historical and contemporary power to inspire mass freedom movements in their descriptions of the meaning of Leviticus 25.

HThKAT – fortgeführt …