THE JUBILEE YEAR
Brian smiled at his son and tousled his hair. Caleb was twelve years old and full of questions. “What is the Sabbath day Dad?” he shooted, fondly looking at his dad.
Brian moved closer to his son as he began explaining, “The Lord God gave His people Israel many instructions when they came over to the Promised Land, Canaan from Egypt. I think you will remember that they all made a major journey under Prophet Moses from Egypt. One of the commandments He gave them was to keep the seventh day of the week holy, as a day of rest. This day was called the Sabbath day.”
“But what is a Sabbath year Dad?” persisted Caleb. Brian continued his explanation, “The seventh year was to be considered as a Sabbath year. The Lord instructed the Israelites to leave the vineyards and the fields alone on that year. The land should have a year of rest.”
Caleb piped up immediately, “But what did they manage to eat then?” “Good question son”, said Brian as he continued, “The Lord provided them an abundant crop in the sixth year. This was enough for that year and the next two years too.”
“I also read about a Jubilee year Dad. Is it a year of celebration?” asked the insatiable Caleb.
“Well Caleb,” began his dad, “A jubilee year is the 50th year for the Israelites. It follows seven Sabbath years. The Lord instituted it as a special year for them. All of them were to return to their own lands and properties in that year.”
“What does that mean?” asked Caleb, a perplexed frown on his face. Brian continued, “Whenever the Israelites bought or sold their own land in Canaan, they did not actually sell it. They only sort of leased it till the next Jubilee year. Because in the year of the Jubilee, all land reverted back to the original owners. The Lord instituted this so that all people will have their own inherited property intact, at least once in half a century.”
“What about slaves Dad?” queried Caleb, “I read that they had slaves then.”
His patient dad explained slowly. “Yes son, they had slaves in those days. All Israelite slaves would look forward eagerly to the year of the Jubilee because they would be released in that year!”
Both father and son were silent for a while, sipping their cups of tea. The boy thoughtfully broke a biscuit and ate. He asked, “Dad, what is the point for us now? Is this discussion about the Jubilee relevant for us, Christians? We don’t own any slaves. Neither are we in the land of Canaan now. Why is this still in the Bible?”
“Again, an excellent question from you son” said his Dad, “The concept of the Jubilee year teaches us to value all human beings equally. We need to be kind to the poor and empathize with them. Especially in this day and age where materialism is so rampant, most of us tend to love things and use men. This lovely old concept teaches us to have a proper and Godly perspective. We should love and care for the others our brothers who are poor and underprivileged.”
“If all of us practiced all this, Dad, I think we will have a tiny heaven here on earth. Don’t you agree?”
“With all my heart I agree Caleb” replied his beaming Dad.
Both of them finished their tea and were preparing to leave. The waitress came with their bill. Caleb looked intently at her. “Daddy,” he whispered, “Is she a poor woman?”
“Perhaps Caleb” replied Brian. “Shouldn’t we give her a good tip then?” queried the persistent Caleb. His Dad replied with a twinkle in his eye. “Surely we will boy. Can I take the extra amount from your weekly allowance for next week?”
Caleb was silent for a moment. Slowly he said, “Surely Dad” as the beginnings of a smile hovered on his lips.
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