Leviticus 26:3 – 27:34: Haftarah: Jeremiah 16:19 – 17:14
We have reached the end of Leviticus – a book of holiness that is beyond time and space, a book which is so unique in that is reveals to us the mysteries of eternal life, of the true Sabbath, of the reality of the Eighth day and of true Sanctity. We now study the Sabbath year and focus on the Jubilee year – the release of all debts – as the year Christ. We see how, in Jewish culture in Jesus’ time as well as to this day, the expectation of the Messiah is intimately tied to the Jubilee year with all its significance and we study some of the reflections of this in the New Testament – in the light of the Ascension.
16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
(Lev 25:2) Book of Jubilees 50.2–5
And I also related to you the sabbaths of the land on Mount Sinai. And the years of jubilee in the sabbaths of years I related to you. But its year I have not related to you until you enter into the land which you will possess. 3* And the land will keep its sabbaths when they dwell upon it. And they will know the year of jubilee.
4 On account of this I ordained for you the weeks of years, and the years, and the jubilees (as) forty-nine jubilees from the days of Adam until this day and one week and two years. And they are still forty further years to learn the commands of the Lord until they cross over the shore of the land of Canaan, crossing over the Jordan to its western side. 5 And jubilees will pass until Israel is purified from all the sin of fornication, and defilement, and uncleanness, and sin and error. And they will dwell in confidence in all the land. And then it will not have any Satan or any evil (one). And the land will be purified from that time and forever.
(Lev 25:10) Bede – Homilies on the Gospels 2.17.9
In the law the fiftieth year was ordered to be called [the year] of jubilee, that is, “forgiving” or “changed.” During it the people were to remain at rest from all work, the debts of all were to be canceled, slaves were to go free [and] the year itself was to be more notable than other years because of its greater solemnities and divine praises. Therefore by this number is rightly indicated that tranquility of greatest peace when, as the apostle says, at the sound of the last trumpet “the dead will rise and we shall be changed” into glory. Then, when the labours and hardships of this age come to an end and our debts, [that is] all our faults, have been forgiven, the entire people of the elect will rejoice eternally in the sole contemplation of the divine vision. And that most longed-for command of our Lord and Savior will be fulfilled: “Be still, and see that I am God.”(Lev 26:3) Origen – Homilies on Leviticus 1–16
But let us see what is the first blessing for these who should fulfill what is commanded. It says, “I shall give you rain in its time.” Therefore, let us first ask the Jews and those who think these things must be understood simply or physically: If this “rain” is given as a reward for labors to those who “keep the commandments,” how is this one and the same “rain” given in their times to those who do not keep the commandments and the whole world profits by the common rains given by God? For “it rains upon the just and the unjust.”(Matt 5:45) But if “rain” is given “to the just and the unjust,” there will not be an uncommon reward for these who will have kept the commandments. See, therefore, that although the Jews do not give assent to the words of our Lord Jesus, nevertheless, you who are judged by his name and are called Christian ought to believe him when he says that his heavenly Father “rains” this common rain “on the just and the unjust,” and you ought not think that he would separate “for the just” this choice portion which he also made common with “the unjust.”
(3) Therefore, let us seek in the Scriptures what is “the rain” which is given only to the saints and concerning which “it is commanded to the clouds that they do not pour their rain” (Isa 5:6) upon the unjust. Therefore, Moses and the Lawgiver himself teaches us what this rain is. For he himself says in Deuteronomy, “Consider, O heaven, and I will speak and let the earth hear the words from my mouth; let my speech be awaited like rain.” (Deut 32:1–2) Are these my words? Do we pervert violently the meaning of divine law by arguments of rhetoric? Is it not Moses who says that it is “rain” of which he speaks? He says, “Let my speech be awaited like rain and my words descend as dew, as a storm upon the grass and as snow upon the hay.” (Deut 32:2) Listen diligently, hearer, lest you think we do violence to the divine Scripture when, teaching the Church, we say that either water or rainstorms or other things which seem to be said physically are to be understood spiritually. Hear how Moses now calls the word of the Law “rain,” now “dew,” now “snow.” And just as Moses uses varied and diverse [expressions] in speaking by the grace of the manifold wisdom of God, so also Isaiah when he says, “Hear, O heaven, and perceive with ears, O earth, because the Lord has spoken.” (Isa 1:2) But also each one of the Prophets when he could open his mouth brings a rain storm “upon the face of the earth,”23 that is, upon the ears and hearts of the hearers.(Lev 26:12) Philo of Alexandria – On Dreams 2.249
But in another sense he applies this title to the soul of the wise man, in which God is said also to walk, as if in a city, “For,” says God, “I will walk in you, and I will be your God in you.”113 (2.249) And who can pour over the happy soul which proffers its own reason as the most sacred cup, the holy goblets of true joy, except the cup-bearer of God, the master of the feast, the word? not differing from the draught itself, but being itself in an unmixed state, the pure delight and sweetness, and pouring forth, and joy, and ambrosial medicine of pleasure and happiness; if we too may, for a moment, employ the language of the poets.