« AnteriorContinuar »
phrase was employed, and the distinction, whatever it was, which the law intended, was made plain; or, if there was danger of making a distinction where none ought to be made, that was equally plain. For example (Lev. 16: 29), the fast and Sabbath of the day of atonement being appointed, its observance is made obligatory on the stranger as well as the native Hebrew, by the following words: D ?3ir:pjn lani rntxn, both the native born and the stranger that sojourneth among you. So in Lev. 18: 26: "Ye shall not commit any of these abominations, neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger, "Wirn^jJi . Again (Lev. 19: 34): As one born among you, shall the stranger be that dwelleth with you, ^jnasinwawnitxn; and it is added: Thou shalt love him as thyself, for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Again (Lev. 24: 16) : He that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, as well the stranger as he that is born in the land, niTXS *»». And, Lev. 24:22, Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger as for one of your own country, rnws isa.
So in regard to the passover (Num. 9:14): Ye shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger, and for him that was born in the land, y^xn rr'wji* . The same in regard to atonement for sins of ignorance, and punishment for sins of presumption (Num. 15: 29, 30), two instances of the same expression, employed where there was any danger of a misapplication or insufficient application of the law. In the first instance, the expression, him that is born among the children of Israel, ixiio"^ ^asa rntxn, is set over against the stranger that sojourneth among them. In the second instance, the comparison is more concise: whether the born in the land, or the stranger, "^vrya rnttjir^B. Josh. 8: 33 affords a striking example where, to prevent the expression all Israel from being restricted so as to exclude the stranger, it is added: as well the stranger as he that was born among them, rntxs isa. The expression all Israel not being necessarily so universal as the expression all the inhabitants of the land, its enlarged meaning is defined; and just so, if the expression all the inhabitants of the land had been used in any case where not all the inhabitants of the land, but only all the native Israelites were meant, the restrictive meaning must have been defined; otherwise, it would inevitably include both the native and the stranger, both the Phts* and the f.
This word rr.tx, used to designate the native Hebrew in distinction from the stranger or any foreigner, is a very striking one, from the verb rnj, to rise, to grow or sprout forth, as a tree growing out of its own soil. It is used in Psalm 37: 35, to signify a tree in full verdure and freshness; in the common version, a green bay-tree, rnm. It is thus a very idiomatic and beautiful word for particularizing the Israelite of home descent, the child of Abraham. There cannot be a doubt that this expression must have been used in framing the law of Jubilee, had it been intended to restrict its privileges as belonging not to the stranger, but to the home-born. Moreover, it is obvious that, if this comprehensive and admirable law meant that only Hebrew servants were to be set free, but that others might be retained in servitude at the pleasure of the masters, or in other words might be made slaves, the law would have acted as a direct premium upon slavery, offering a very strong inducement to have none but such servants as could be kept as long as any one chose, such as were absolutely and forever in the power of the master. So far from being a benevolent law, it would thus become a very cruel and oppressive law, the source of infinite mischief and misery. If the choice had been offered to the Hebrews, by law, between servants whom they could compel to remain with them as slaves, and servants whom they would have to dismiss, at whatever inconvenience, every sixth year, and also at the Jubilee, it would have been neither in Jewish, nor in human, nature, to have refused the bribe that would thus have been held out, in the law itself, for the establishment of slavery. Even in regard to Hebrew apprentices, it was so much more profitable to contract with them for the legal six years' service, than to hire by the day, or month, or year, that we are informed (Deut. 15: 18), that the "OS, the servant of six years' apprenticeship, was worth double the price of the ydO, the hired servant. This difference at length came to be felt so strongly, and operated with such intensity upon the growing greed of power and gain, that the Jewish masters attempted a radical revolution in the law. And what they would have done, had the law allowed, is proved by what they did attempt to do against the law, when they forced even Hebrew servants to remain with them as slaves; and because of this glaring iniquity and oppression, in defiance of the statute ordaining freedom forever, they were given over of God to the sword, the famine, and the pestilence. The intention and attempt to establish slavery in the land, constituted the crime for which, and the occasion on which, God's wrath became inexorable. There is no possibility of a mistake here. God's indictment was absolute, and we have already examined and compared the passages. The motive for this crime was profit and power; and now it is clearly demonstrable that, if the people of Judea had had a race of human beings at their disposal, whom, by their own law, they could possess and use as slaves, chattels, property; and if the law had marked off such a race for that purpose, and established such an element of superiority and of despotism in the native Hebrew nation, over such a race, consecrated for their profit to such slavery,—it is demonstrable that the Hebrews would not have degraded any of their own to such a state. It would have been quite a needless wickedness to set up slavery as a crime, if they had it already legalized as a necessary virtue. Their attempt to make slaves of the Hebrews, is a demonstration that they were not permitted, by law, to make slaves of the heathen. The analogy of other statutes is in favor of this interpretation, nay, requires it. This statute is a statute of liberty going seven-fold beyond any other; intended to be as extraordinary in its jubilee of privileges, as a half century is extraordinary above a period of seven years. But already, by the force of other statutes, a septennial jubilee was assured to the Hebrews; the law would never permit a Hebrew to be held as an apprenticed servant more than six years; in the seventh he should go free. Every seventh year was already a year of release to most of the inhabitants of the land, so that the fiftieth year, if that jubilee was restricted to the Hebrews, would have been little more to them than the ordinary recurrence of the septennial jubilee. What need or reason for signalizing it, if it brought no greater joy, no greater gift of freedom, than every seventh year of release must necessarily bring? But it was a jubilee of seven-fold greater comprehensiveness and blessing than all the rest; and whereas the others were not designated nor bestowed for all the inhabitants of the land, this was; and in this circumstance lay its emphasis and largeness of importance and of joy. This constituted its especial fitness as a prefiguration of the comprehensiveness and unconditional fulness of our deliverance and redemption by the gift of God's grace in Christ Jesus. It was a jubilee, not for those favored classes only, who already had seven such jubilees secured to them by law during every fifty years, but for those also, who, otherwise, had no such gift bestowed upon them, and could look forward to no such termination of their servitude. It was a jubilee of personal deliverance to all the inhabitants of the land, Hebrews or strangers, whatever might have been the tenure of their service. The servants, apprenticed or hired, were all free to seek new masters, or to make new engagements, or none at all, according to their pleasure. The Hebrew land-owners were to return to the possessions of their fathers, "every man unto his possession, every man unto his family" (Lev. 25: 10). But no man could carry his apprenticed servants, his B"Has, with him, or his hired servants, except on a new voluntary contract; for all the inhabitants of the land were free. The clause preceding this statute is an enactment concerning every seventh year, to be observed as a Sabbath of rest for the land, but not necessarily of release for the servants; consequently, provision is made in the promise of sustenance through that year, " for thee, and for thy servant, ipiasii, and for thy maid, *|mm£"!, and for thy hired servant, SfTOtoh"!," all of each class, being supposed still with the family. But when the enactment of the fiftieth year as a year of rest is announced, it being announced as a year of liberty for all the inhabitants of the land, nothing is again said of the servants of the family; neither in regulations as to buying and selling, with reference to the proximity of the Jubilee, is there any exception made in regard to servants, as though they were not included in the freedom of the Jubilee. But in regard to some things there are such exceptions stated, as in Lev. 15: 30, of a house in a walled city, and verse 34, of the field of the Levites; showing that, if any exception had been intended in regard to servants, it must have been named. We come, next, to consider the phrase Th* anxifM, proclaim liberty, announce deliverance. The strongest corresponding passage is Isa. 61:1, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. In this passage, it is called Tisi-ninj, the year of acceptance, or of benefits, or, as it might be rendered, of discharge. In Ezek. 46:17, it is called by the word with which the law is framed in Leviticus, Thin rati, the year of liberty. And the passage in Ezekiel is emphatic in more respects than one. (1) It is a recognition of the year of Jubilee at a late period in the history of the Hebrews; it is also a notice of a prince giving an inheritance to one of his servants, 'P'jaOT; iri^i, who might be, not a Hebrew; but in the year of liberty, the servants were free, and the inheritance returned to the original owner, or to one of his sons. (2) It is an incidental argument against the existence of slavery, when we find the servants made coheirs with the sons. It cannot be slaves who would be so treated. (3) Ezekiel's designation of the year of liberty corresponds with that of Isaiah, at a period more than a hundred years earlier. The allusion, in both prophets, to the Jubilee, is unquestionable; and, in both, the grand designation of the year is that of a period of universal freedom. In Isaiah it is deliverance to captives and prisoners, ffnwaxVi Thn tpiatft. Those that are bound, includes those under any servile apprenticeship ; but if any one should contend that it means slaves, then it is very clear that the Jubilee was a year of deliverance to such, and therefore certainly Vol. XIIL No. 50. 33