The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Leviticus
And there, on mount Sinai, the Lord spoke to Moses,
bidding him give these commands to the sons of Israel. When you reach the land I mean to make yours, there will be times of repose to be kept in the Lord’s honour.
For six years thou mayest sow thy land, for six years thou mayest prune thy vineyard, and gather in its fruit;
in the seventh year the land must have rest, lie fallow in the Lord’s honour; no field must be sown, no vineyard pruned.
Thou shalt not make a harvest of the land’s aftergrowth, or hoard up, at vintage time, the dedicated grapes, in this year when all is repose;✻
thou shalt leave them to be sustenance, as need arises, for thyself, thy slaves and slave-women, thy hired labourers, and the aliens in thy household;
for thy beasts of burden, too, and for thy cattle, the aftergrowth shall provide food enough.
Of these cycles of seven years thou shalt count seven, forty-nine years in all,
and then, on the tenth day of the seventh month, the day of atonement, there shall be sounding of trumpets all through the land.
The fiftieth year thou shalt set apart, by proclaiming release to all that dwell in thy country; it is the year of jubilee, in which every man comes into his own lands again, and is restored to his old home.
In this fiftieth year, the year of jubilee, thou shalt neither sow crops nor make a harvest of the aftergrowth, nor gather in the dedicated grapes;
that would profane the jubilee; all must be eaten as it comes to hand.
In the year of jubilee, everyone will come into his own lands again.
If, then, thou art selling land to one of thy fellow-countrymen, or buying it from him, do not drive a hard bargain with him. If thou art buying, take into account the number of years since the jubilee,
and pay him according to what value there is in the remaining harvests.
If many years are still to run before the next jubilee, the price will be higher; if few, the price must be brought down. It is but the succession of so many harvests that he is selling thee.
Do not take advantage of your own fellow-countrymen; each of you has a divine vengeance to reckon with; the vengeance of the Lord, your God.
Do my bidding, remember the decrees I make, and carry them out; so you shall remain secure in your possession of the land;
such crops it will bear as shall give you food to your hearts’ content, shall deliver you, come what enemy may, from fear of famine.
Would you ask, how you are to live in the seventh year, since you have neither sowed nor gathered in crops?
Be assured that in the sixth year my blessing shall be upon the land, and it will yield food for three years to come;
you will still be enjoying the old harvest, when you sow in the eighth year, still be enjoying the old harvest, when the ninth year comes and you can reap the new.
The land must not be sold in perpetuity; it is mine, and you come into it as strangers whom I have settled there.
Nothing that is yours must be sold but on the condition that it can be redeemed.
If thy brother-Israelite falls on evil days, and must sell thee his little plot of ground, his next of kin, if he will, may redeem what was sold.
Or, if he has no near kinsman, but is able to find the money himself,
let him pay the sale price, less the value of the crops since the time of the sale, and so recover possession.
If he cannot find the money, then the buyer will remain in possession till the year of jubilee comes; that year, all which has been sold comes back to its true master, who held it in earlier days.
The man who sells a house within the walls of a city, is free to effect its redemption till a year has passed;
if it remains unredeemed at the end of the year, it passes into the possession of the man who bought it, and of his heirs in perpetuity; there is no redeeming it now, even in the year of jubilee.
But if the house stands in some unwalled village, there is the same right of redemption as if it were land; it will return to its true master in the year of jubilee, if he has not redeemed it first.
The houses which the Levites own in their cities can always be redeemed,
and if they are not redeemed they return to their masters in the jubilee year; that is because the Levites have been granted their cities in lieu of lands such as their brethren enjoy.
The land round their cities must never be sold; it is their inalienable property.
If thy brother-Israelite falls on evil days, or his strength fails him, and thou givest him lodging as if he were some alien guest of thine,
thou shalt not claim interest over and above what thou hast spent on him. Thou hast the vengeance of thy God to fear; see to it that thy brother has freedom to lodge with thee.
It is not for thee to receive interest on what thou spendest, and entertain him to thy own profit.
Bethink you how I, the Lord your God, rescued you from Egypt and gave you a home in Chanaan, to make you mine.
And if thy brother-Israelite is brought by poverty to sell his own liberty to thee, do not submit him to bondage with thy slaves;
let him work in thy household as if he were a hired servant or a free alien, till the year of jubilee comes.
Then, with his children, he must be restored to his kindred and to his ancestral lands.
The Israelites know no master but me, their rescuer from Egypt; they must not be bought and sold like slaves;
do not use thy power over him, then, to treat him ill, as thou fearest God’s vengeance.
Your men-slaves and women-slaves must come from the nations round about you;
or they must be aliens who have come to dwell among you, or children of theirs born on your soil; these you may hold as chattels,
passing them on to your children by right of inheritance, as belonging to you in perpetuity; but you must not lord it over your brother-Israelites.
If an alien comes to dwell among you and grows rich, and one of thy brother-Israelites sells his liberty to this man, or to some descendant of his,
there is still opportunity for him to be redeemed after the sale. He may be redeemed by any of his clan,
uncle or cousin or kinsman by blood or kinsman by affinity. Nay, if he can lay hands on the money, he may redeem himself.
In doing so, he will reckon up the number of years from the time of his sale to the next jubilee, and divide the price he was sold for by the number of years, as if he was a hireling paid yearly wages.
If there are many years to run before the jubilee, he must pay the full price for them;
if there are few, he will settle his account by paying his master the value of those few years’ work.
Full allowance must be made for the years he has served already; thou shalt not stand by and see him treated unjustly.
And if, even so, he cannot find the price of his redemption, in the year of jubilee he and his children shall go free.
They are no one’s servants but mine, these sons of Israel whom I rescued from the land of Egypt.
The Holy Bible