« AnteriorContinuar »
of the seventh month, on account of the murder of Gedaliah (2 Kings xxv. 25.) and the fast of the tenth month, when the Babylonian army commenced the siege of Jerusalem. (Jer. lii. 4.) All these fasts are enumerated together in Zech. viii. 19.; and to them we may perhaps add the xylophoria, or feast of wood-offering, when the people brought and offered large quantities of wood for the use of the altar it is supposed to have been celebrated in the time of Nehemiah (x. 34.), in whose praises, on this occasion, the Jews largely expatiated, and related several wonderful tales concerning him and the fire lighted upon the altar. (2 Macc. i. 18-22.)
The preceding are the chief annual festivals noticed in the sacred writings, that are particularly deserving of attention: the Jews have various others of more modern institution which are here designedly omitted. We therefore proceed to notice those extraordinary festivals which were only celebrated after the recurrence of a certain number of years. The first of these was,
XII. THE SABBATICAL YEAR. For, as the seventh day of the week was consecrated as a day of rest to man and beast, so this gave rest to the land; which, during its continuance, was to lie fallow, and the "sabbath of the land," or its spontaneous produce, was dedicated to charitable uses, to be enjoyed by the servants of the family, by the way-faring stranger, and by the cattle. (Levit. XXV. 1-7. Exod. xxiii. 11.) This was also the year of release from personal slavery (Exod. xxi. 2.), as well as of the remission of debts. (Deut. xv. 1, 2.) Beausobre is of opinion that the frequent mention made in the New Testament, of the remission of sins, is to be understood as an allusion to the sabbatical year. In order to guard against famine on this and the ensuing year, God was graciously pleased to promise a triple produce of the lands upon the sixth year, sufficient to supply the inhabitants till the fruits or harvest sown in the eighth year were ripe. (Levit. xxv. 2-20.) This was a singular institution, peculiar to a theocracy. And the breach of it was among the national sins that occasioned the captivity, that the land might enjoy her sabbaths, of which she had been defrauded by the rebellion of the inhabitants. (Levit. xxvi. 34. 2 Chron. xxxvi. 21.)
XIII. The JUBILEE was a more solemn sabbatical year, held every seventh sabbatical year, that is, at the end of every forty-nine years, or the fiftieth current year. (Levit. xxv. 8-10.) Concerning the etymology of the Hebrew word jobel (whence our jubilee is derived) learned men are by no means agreed; the most probable of these conflicting opinions is that of Calmet, who deduces it from the Hebrew verb jabal, to recal, or bring back; because estates, &c. that had been alienated were then brought back to their original owners. Such appears to have been the meaning of the word, as understood by the Septuagint translators, who render the Hebrew
1 Schulzii Archæol. Hebr. pp. 337-339. Michaelis's Commentaries, vol. i. p387. et seq. Leusden, Philol. Hebr. Mixt. p. 307. Reland's Antiq. Hebr. p. 524 Dr. Hales's Analysis, vol. ii. book i. p. 279.
word jobel by apsos, remission, and by Josephus, who says that it signified liberty.
This festival commenced on the tenth day of the month Tisri, in the evening of the day of atonement (Levit. xxv. 9.): a time, Bishop Patrick remarks, peculiarly well chosen, as the Jews would be better disposed to forgive their brethren their debts when they had been imploring pardon of God for their own transgressions. It was proclaimed by the sound of trumpet throughout the whole land, on the great day of atonement. All debts were to be cancelled; all slaves or captives were to be released. Even those who had voluntarily relinquished their freedom at the end of their six years' service, and whose ears had been bored in token of their perpetual servitude, were to be liberated at the jubilee for then they were to proclaim liberty throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof. (Levit. xxv. 10.) Further, in this year all estates that had been sold, reverted to their original proprietors, or to the families to which they had originally belonged; thus provision was made, that no family should be totally ruined, and doomed to perpetual poverty for the family estate could not be alienated for a longer period than fifty years. The value and purchase-money of estates therefore diminished in proportion to the near approach of the jubilee. (Levit. xxv. 15.) From this privilege, however, houses in walled towns were excepted: these were to be redeemed within a year, otherwise they belonged to the purchaser, notwithstanding the jubilee. (v. 30.) During this year, as well as in the sabbatical year, the ground also had its rest, and was not cultivated.2
The law concerning the sabbatical year, and especially the year of jubilee, affords a decisive proof of the divine legation of Moses. No legislator, unless he were conscious that he was divinely inspired, would have committed himself by enacting such a law: nor can any thing like it be found among the systems of jurisprudence of any other nations, whether antient or modern. "How incredible is it, that any legislator would have ventured to propose such a law as this, except in consequence of the fullest conviction on both sides, that a peculiar providence would constantly facilitate its execution. When this law, therefore, was proposed and received, such a conviction must have existed in both the Jewish legislator and the Jewish people. Since then, nothing could have produced this conviction, but the experience or the belief of some such miraculous interposition as the history of the Pentateuch details, the very existence of this law is a standing monument that, when it was given, the Mosaic miracles were fully believed. Now this law was coeval with the witnesses themselves. If then the facts were so plain and public, that those who witnessed them could not be mistaken as to their
1 Ant. Jud. lib. iii. c. xii. § 3.
2 Schulzii Archæol. Hebr. pp. 341–344. Relandi Antiq. Hebr. p. 529. Jennings's Jewish Antiq. book iii. ch. x. pp. 397–400. Leusden, Philol. Hebræo-Mixt. p. 309. Michaelis's Commentaries, vol. i. pp. 376-386.
existence or miraculous nature, the reality of the Mosaic miracles is clear and undeniable."1
The reason and design of the law of the jubilee was partly political and partly typical. It was political, to prevent the too great oppression of the poor as well as their liability to perpetual slavery. By this means the rich were prevented from accumulating lands upon lands, and a kind of equality was preserved through all the families of Israel. Never was there any people so effectually secure of their liberty and property, as the Israelites were: God not only engaging so to protect those invaluable blessings by his providence, that they should not be taken away from them by others; but providing, in a particular manner by this law, that they should not be thrown away through their own folly; since the property, which every man or family had in their dividend of the land of Canaan, could not be sold or any way alienated for above half a century. By this means also the distinction of tribes was preserved, in respect both to their families and possessions; for this law rendered it necessary for them to keep genealogies of their families, that they might be able when there was occasion, on the jubilee year, to prove their right to the inheritance of their ancestors. By this means it was certainly known from what tribe and family the Messiah sprung. Upon which Dr. Allix observes, that God did not suffer them to *continue in captivity out of their own land for the space of two jubilees, lest by that means their genealogies should be lost or confounded.
A further civil use of the jubilee might be for the easier computation of time. For, as the Greeks computed by olympiads, the Romans by lustra, and we by centuries, the Jews probably reckoned by jubilees; and it might be one design of this institution to mark out these large portions of time for the readier computation of successive ages.
There was also a typical design and use of the jubilee, which is pointed out by the prophet Isaiah, when he says in reference to the Messiah, "the spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, 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." (Isa. Ixi. 1, 2.) Where "the acceptable year of the Lord," when "liberty was proclaimed to the captives," and "the opening of the prison to them that were bound," evidently refers to the jubilee; but, in the prophetic sense, means the Gospel state and dispensation, which proclaims spiritual liberty from the bondage of sin and Satan, and the liberty of returning to our own possession, even the heavenly inheritance, to which, having incurred a forfeiture by sin, we had lost all right and claim.
That our Lord began his public ministry on a jubilee, Dr. Hales
1 Dr. Graves's Lectures on the Pentateuch, vol. i. p. 171.
thinks, is evident from his declaration "The LORD hath anointed me (as THE CHRIST) to preach the Gospel to the poor: he hath sent me (as SHILOH, THE APOSTLE') to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim deliverance to the captives, and restoration of sight to the blind; to set at liberty the bruised; to proclaim the acceptable year of THE LORD." (Luke iv. 18, 19.)
1 Dr. Hales's Analysis, vol, ii. book i. p. 279. Lightfoot's Works, vol. ii. p. 619. The best practical illustration we have seen, of the analogy between the Mosaic jubilee and the Gospel, is to be found in the reverend and learned Dr. Claudius Buchanan's "Three Sermons on the Jubilee," celebrated on the 25th October, 1809, on the occasion of our late venerable Sovereign's entering on the fiftieth year of his reign.
SACRED OBLIGATIONS AND DUTIES.
OF OATHS AND VOWS.
I. Of Oaths.-II. Nature of Vows-how far acceptable to God.III. Requisites essential to the validity of a Vow.-IV. Different sorts of Vows.-1. The Cherem or irremissible Vow.-2. Other Vows that might be redeemed.-Of the Nazareate.
I. THE person, who confirmed his assertion by a voluntary Oath, pronounced the same with his right hand elevated. Sometimes the swearer omitted the imprecation, as if he were afraid, and shuddered to utter it, although it was, from other sources, sufficiently well understood. (Gen. xiv. 22, 23. Ezek. xvii. 18.) Sometimes the imprecation was, as follows; "This and more than this may God do to me." (2 Sam. iii. 9. 35. Ruth i. 17. 1 Kings ii. 23. 2 Kings vi. 31.) Sometimes the swearer merely said; "Let God be a witness ;" and sometimes affirmed saying; "As surely as God liveth.” (Jer. xlii. 5. Ruth iii. 13. 1 Sam. xiv. 45. xx. 3. 21.)
The remarks which have now been made, apply to the person, who uttered the oath himself of his own accord. When an oath was exacted, whether by a judge or another, the person who exacted it put the oath in form; and the person to whom it was put, responded by saying, N., so let it be: or gave his response in other expressions of like 'import, such as du Tas. (Numb. v. 19--22. 1 Kings xxii. 16. Deut. xxvii. 15-26.) Sometimes the exacter of the oath merely used the following adjuration, viz. I adjure you by the living God to answer, whether this thing be so or not. And the person sworn accordingly made answer to the point inquired of. (Numb. v. 22. Matt. xxvi. 63.) It should be remarked here, though the formulary of assent on the part of the respondent to an oath was frequently AMEN, AMEN, that this formulary did not always imply an oath, but, in some instances, was merely a protestation. As the oath was an appeal to God (Lev. xix. 12. Deut. vi. 13.), the taking of a false oath was deemed a heinous crime, and perjury, accordingly, was forbidden in those words, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, that is, shalt not call God to witness in pretended confirmation of a falsehood. (Exod. xx. 6.)
It was a common thing in Egypt in the time of Joseph, to swear by the life of the king (Gen. xlii. 15.): and this practice prevailed