Parashat Bahar (On the Mountain)
Vayikra (Leviticus) 25:1–26:2
Haftarah: Jeremiah 32:6–27
In our Parashah this week, we find instructions regarding the year of Jubilee (Yovel in Hebrew):
So you shall consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim a release throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family. You shall have the fiftieth year as a jubilee; you shall not sow, nor harvest its aftergrowth, nor gather grapes from its untrimmed vines. For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you. You shall eat its produce from the field.
Inherent to Jubilee are laws regarding the redemption of land or properties. Within these laws, we find a command that I really love, because it shows God’s great understanding of the human heart, and how we easily fear not having enough, which can cause us to wrong one another. In Leviticus 25:17, it is written:
So you shall not wrong one another, but you shall fear your God; for I am the LORD your God.
The commands regarding the Sabbatical years (Shemitah & Jubilee) are not only about trusting that God will provide for all our needs, but also about a future redemption, which would ultimately come through Messiah Yeshua. The specific instructions we read in the following verses directly connect to the Haftarah portion found in Jeremiah:
On this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his own property. Furthermore, if you make a sale to your friend, or buy from your friend’s hand, you shall not wrong one another.
and then continuing from verse 23:
The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, because the land is Mine; for you are only strangers and residents with Me. So for every piece of your property, you are to provide for the redemption of the land. If a fellow countryman of yours becomes so poor that he sells part of his property, then his closest redeemer is to come and buy back what his relative has sold. Or in case someone has no redeemer, but recovers to find sufficient means for its redemption, then he shall calculate the years since its sale and refund the balance to the man to whom he sold it, and so return to his property. But if he has not found sufficient means to get it back for himself, then what he has sold shall remain in the hands of its purchaser until the year of jubilee; but at the jubilee it shall revert, so that he may return to his property.
It is important to understand that the “closest redeemer”, which is referred to here, is a blood relative, and with that in mind we may understand the instruction that Jeremiah received when we read:
And Jeremiah said, “The word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle is coming to you, saying, ‘Buy for yourself my field which is at Anathoth, for you have the right of redemption to buy it.”’ Then my uncle’s son Hanamel came to me in the courtyard of the guard in accordance with the word of the LORD and said to me, ‘Buy my field, please, that is at Anathoth, which is in the land of Benjamin; for you have the right of possession and the redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD.”
God’s instruction to Jeremiah was very specific; he was to buy his uncle’s field. Yet, in some ways, it did not make much sense since, during that time, the land was under Babylonian control, so why should Jeremiah buy what many might consider a “lost land”?
I believe that it was a prophetic step that Jeremiah was to take in buying his uncle’s land, since the purchase would symbolize God’s future redemption of the land when back in the hands of the children of Israel, the Jewish people.
Jeremiah’s prayer to God is a moving acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty, and of what God had allowed to happen to the children of Israel:
After giving the deed of purchase to Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed to the LORD, saying, ‘Oh, Lord GOD! Behold, You Yourself have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You, who shows mercy to thousands, but repays the wrongdoing of fathers into the laps of their children after them, great and mighty God. The Lord of armies is His name; great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of mankind, giving to everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds; who has accomplished signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, and even to this day both in Israel and among mankind; and You have made a name for Yourself, as at this day. You brought Your people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs and with wonders, and with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, and with great terror; and You gave them this land, which You swore to their forefathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey. They came in and inherit it, but they did not obey Your voice or walk in Your Law; they did not do anything that You commanded them to do; therefore You have made all this disaster happen to them. Behold, the assault ramps have reached the city to take it; and the city has been handed over to the Chaldeans who fight against it, because of the sword, the famine, and the plague; and what You have spoken has come to pass; and behold, You see it. Yet You have said to me, Lord GOD, “Buy for yourself the field with money and call in witnesses” — although the city has been handed over to the Chaldeans.”’
God’s response to Jeremiah ought to give us amazing hope! It should encourage us to trust Him, even when He instructs us to do something that may not make sense from a human perspective. He is in control!
Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?”
Since May of 1948, the people of Israel have been brought back to the Land that He promised us. Just like in the time of Jeremiah, so it is in the modern State of Israel, much of which was purchased from those who settled in the land before 1948. It is amazing to see God’s Word come to fruition!
You can trust Him to fulfill His promises.
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