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  • Writer's pictureRob

The Hundred-Forty-Eighth (Jubilee)

What comes to mind when you hear or see the word Jubilee? For me, it's excitement, happiness, and being ecstatic. We don't often use this word these days though, so it would be understandable if you didn't even know what it meant. Perhaps what came to mind was the most recent anniversary festivities over in the United Kingdom, which they called the "Platinum Jubilee."

While the word Jubilee is not necessarily reserved solely for scriptural situations, the use of it to title anniversaries like the Queen taking the throne could be perceived as a sort of appropriation of its scriptural use. The reason being YHWH actually designated a whole year as a celebration year in the cycle of times and seasons He set forth. Based on the timing, every 50th year was a Jubilee where some very special things were commanded. But before we get into those, let's take a look at the word first.

We first see Jubilee (or, Jubile in the KJV) in Leviticus 25:9, but we're actually not going to look at the Hebrew word for that occurrence in this study. The reason for that is because it is not the word from which we get the English word Jubilee. My personal belief is this is a situation where translators tried to add context for understanding rather than a literal translation of the text. The word here is actually תרועה, or teruah, which means a shout or blast of war, alarm, or joy. The word preceding this means horn, so what the text is really saying is a blast of the horn.

We actually want to look at the next verse, Leviticus 25:10, to find the origin of Jubilee. Here, we see that the Hebrew word is יובל, or yobel, which sounds a lot more like Jubile (the KJV translation), doesn't it? But what do we find when we look at the definition of this Hebrew word?

Interestingly, we find that this word actually means "a ram's horn." We also find that it occurs one time before this verse, in Exodus 19:13. What is the context of its use here, you might ask? Because, we know first use of a word in scripture sometimes has significant meaning, so finding that out may lead us to something important.

The first use of יובל is when YHWH visits Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness. He tells Moses to have the people not approach the mountain until they hear a long blast of the ram's horn. The consequence if they disobey? Death.

The fact that it's used for YHWH's visit isn't the most interesting part, though. A few verses later we see the fulfillment of this commandment when the ram's horn sounded (Exodus 19:16). Only, this time it was called שופר, or shophar, meaning a horn of any type. Obviously, we know from context that it's a ram's horn, but I do think it's significant that Jubile was not used again until YHWH commands the year of Jubilee, and we'll see why later.

As a side note, did you notice who sounded the horn? Look closely. That's right, it doesn't say! All it says is the horn sounded, the people trembled, and Moses brought them out of the camp to meet YHWH. So clearly, Moses didn't do it, neither did any of the Israelites, and they were all alone in the wilderness! Makes you think twice about events in Revelation and whether or not we'll literally hear trumpets (or, may ram's horns), doesn't it?!

So, back to Leviticus, we see that the year of Jubilee is actually, literally, the year of the ram's horn. It started with a teruah on the Day of Atonement, which is the feast of YHWH where the high priest makes atonement for all of Israel for all the sins committed during the previous year.

The Day of Atonement is the tenth day of the seventh month, according to YHWH's calendar. The year of Jubilee did not occur on every Day of Atonement, however. YHWH ordered a sabbath year, or a rest year, every seventh year to allow the land to have a rest just like man's weekly day of rest. On the Day of Atonement of the seventh sabbath year, the Jubilee year started.

If you're tracking along, that equates to every 50th year being a year of Jubilee. During this year things were commanded, in addition to continuing in another year of rest by not sowing or reaping, which all can be summarized as it being a year of redemption. Land bought or sold in the previous 49 years were returned to its original owner, and people bought or sold into slavery returned to their tribe. And to be sure these commandments didn't result in people being taken advantage of, YHWH commanded that prices of land be adjusted based on proximity of the sell date to the year of Jubilee. In other words, the closer you got to the Jubilee the less the price of the land. (Leviticus 25:8-55)

In addition to land, other things were redeemed in the year of Jubilee. Houses, and even hired workers and servants, including their children, were released in this year of redemption. It became as though the previous 49 years didn't happen, in terms of land and people.

Why did YHWH do this? What was His purpose? Just looking at it on the micro-level, how hard would it be for any individual or family to become so wealthy that they can oppress or dominate another? Land, hired workers, and servants were what produced wealth in that time. Other than not having servants, it's not much different than today. How hard would it have been for a company like Procter and Gamble to become as large as it has today if every 50 years it had to give back the land its factories were on and send their workers home for a year (actually, two if you count the previous sabbath year)?

On the macro-level, YHWH did this as a glimpse of what His plan is for us and the heavens and earth. While we are redeemed spiritually by Yeshua's sacrifice right now, after His 1000 year reign the redemption of all things will be complete. We will have redeemed bodies and the heavens and earth will be destroyed and made new. The year of Jubilee gave Israel a way to see a shadow of our future and the ability to remember YHWH's promise to us by making it an integral part of their lives.

Now, are you ready for something almost as cool as a Jubilee year? Do you remember how a long time ago we looked at YHWH's 7000 year plan for man and this heaven and earth? How the first 6000 years is like our six days of the week and the last 1000 years is when Yeshua reigning and Satan is bound, when we will get a rest just like the seventh day of the week shabbat rest? Well, how many 50 year Jubilee periods are in 1000 years? That's right, 20. How many of those make up the 6, 1000 year "days" where man is on earth without Yeshua present and ruling? Yep, you got it, 120. What's significant about 120? Well, in Jewish society it takes 120 individuals to form a governing council (man-made ruling organization). They had this since before Yeshua, and even now you can see this in the Knesset, which is the governing body of Israel. Also, there were 120 priests when Solomon brought the ark of the covenant into the temple (2 Chronicles 5:12), and about 120 believers when Peter organized a decision on who would replace Judas as one of the twelve (Acts 1:15-26). And YHWH said in the days of Noah, when man's mind was on evil constantly, that His spirit will only strive with man 120 years (Genesis 6:1-3).

But what's cooler than all that? Something that has to be other than coincidence, that's what. Do you know what the 120th Hebrew word is in Strong's concordance? אדם, or adam, which means man, or mankind. Interesting? Perhaps a coincidence? How many Jubilees are in 7000? (As in the 7000 year plan of YHWH) 140. The 140th Hebrew word is אדניקם, or adoniqam, which means "my Lord has arisen." And staring in the 7th 1000 year period of man, our Lord Yeshua, who rose from the dead, will reign on earth! Not that time will have much meaning after the 7000 years, when we'll be living eternally, but if we continue this into the 8th 1000 year period, where the number of Jubilees would be 160, we find that the 160th Hebrew word is none other than אהבה, or ahabah, which means...love.

In that time, we will be living with our YHWH, our loving Abba (Father), who is love (1 John 4:8). Who loved us so much that He gave His only Son for our redemption (John 3:16), our Jubilee, and whose Son loved us so much He gave His life for us.

Look for His patterns and the promises He's hidden in types and shadows, just like the ones we found with His Jubilee. Look forward to the true Jubilee of being with Him, which is closer now more than ever before. And may YHWH bless and keep you as you do.

-Rob and Sara Gene

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