The Jubilee from Leviticus to Qumran: A History of Interpretation

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The observation of the Jubilee Year 2000 by many Christian groups worldwide generated renewed interest in the theological, historical, and socio-economic aspects of the biblical jubilee. This book begins with an analysis of the historical origins of the jubilee institution in ancient Israel, and then traces the reinterpretation of the jubilee and the text of Leviticus 25 through the Old Testament, the Second Temple literature, and the Qumran documents. It demonstrates that, with the passage of time, the socio-economic implementation of the jubilee is increasingly de-emphasized in favor of an eschatological interpretation, in which the jubilee itself functions as a type of the final age, and cycles of jubilee years are employed to calculate when this age will arrive.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9789004152991
  • Publisher: Brill Academic Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/14/2006
  • Series: Vetus Testamentum, Supplements Series , #115
  • Pages: 356
  • Sales rank: 390,653
  • Product dimensions: 6.76 (w) x 9.68 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

John S. Bergsma, Ph.D. (2004) in Theology, University of Notre Dame (Indiana) is Assistant Professor of Theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville (Ohio). His scholarship has appeared in Vetus Testamentum, Biblica, JBL, Dead Sea Discoveries, and other journals.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements     xiii
Abbreviations     xv
The Jubilee and its History of Interpretation     1
Introduction     1
Overview of Scholarship     4
Antecedents of the Jubilee Legislation     8
Leviticus 25     9
The Jubilee in the Prophets     12
The Jubilee in the Writings     13
The Jubilee in Second Temple and Qumran Literature     14
Method     16
Structure     18
Antecedents of the Jubilee Legislation     19
Introduction     19
The Ancient Near Eastern Antecedents of the Jubilee     19
Freedom Proclamations: Andurarum and Misharum     20
Cities and their Environs Dedicated to a God     27
Festivals of the Seventh Month     30
Fallow Laws     32
Inalienability of Land and Redemption of Land and Persons     33
Pentecontad Calendars     35
Summary of the Ancient Near Eastern Antecedents of the Jubilee     36
Biblical Antecedents: The Covenant Code     37
The Dating of the Covenant Code     40
Exodus 21:1-11     41
Exodus 23:10-11     48
Summary     50
The Life-Setting (Sitz-im-Leben) of the Jubilee     53
Overview of Scholarship     54
The Pre-Exilic, Tribal Sitz-im-Leben of the Jubilee     56
The Book of Ezekiel and the Late Pre-Exilic Period as Terminus ad Quem     56
Similarities with Ancient Near Eastern Law and Practice     60
Ancient Diction     61
Congruence with Contemporary Reconstructions of Early Tribal Israel     62
Collateral Evidence from the Holiness Code     69
Widespread Recognition of the Tribal Roots of the Jubilee     71
A Ploy by Post-Exilic Priests?     75
Summary: An Early Tribal Sitz-im-Leben     77
The Jubilee as Text: Setting, Structure, Exegesis of Leviticus 25     81
Literary Setting (Sitz-im-Buch)     81
Summary     83
Structure     83
Exegesis     85
The Sabbatical Year (vv. 1-7)     85
The Jubilee Year (vv. 8-22)     87
Implications of the Jubilee for the Redemption of Property (vv. 23-55)     95
Summary     104
The Jubilee in Other Pentateuchal Texts     107
Leviticus 27     107
Sitz-im-Leben     107
Sitz-im-Buch     109
Explanation of Lev 27:14-24     110
Conclusion     113
Numbers 27 and 36     114
Sitz-im-Leben     115
Sitz-im-Buch     118
Explanation of Numbers 27 & 36     119
Conclusion     124
Deuteronomy 15     125
Sitz-im-Leben     125
Sitz-im-Buch     129
Explanation of Deut 15     131
The Relationship of Deut 15 to Lev 25     136
The Relevance for Understanding the Jubilee     146
Conclusions     146
Pertinent Texts in Kings and Jeremiah     149
1 Kings 6-9: The Temple Dedication in the 500th Year after the Exodus?     149
1 Kings 21:1-18: Naboth's Vineyard     152
2 Kings 19:29: Isaiah Proclaims a Two-Year Fallow     154
Jer 32:1-15: The Redemption of Hanamel's Field     157
Jer 34:8-22: The Release of Slaves under Zedekiah     160
Jeremiah's "Seventy Years"     170
Jer 25:11: Seventy Years of "Serving Among the Nations"     171
Jer 29:10: Seventy Years "for Babylon"     173
General Comments on the "Seventy Years"     174
Summary     176
The Jubilee in the Latter Prophets     177
The Jubilee in Ezekiel      177
Introductory Comments on Ezekiel     177
Incidental References     181
The Vision of Restoration at the Mid-Point of the Jubilee: Ezek 40:1     187
The Jubilee in the Book of Isaiah     190
Introductory comments on Second and Third Isaiah     190
The Prominence of the "Redeemer" in Isaiah 40-66     191
The Jubilee Background of Isaiah 58     194
The Jubilee Background of Isaiah 61:1-3     198
Conclusion     203
The Jubilee in the Writings     205
The Jubilee in Ezra-Nehemiah     205
The Jubilee in Chronicles     207
2 Chron 36:20-23: Sitz-im-Leben     207
Sitz-im-Buch     208
Exposition     208
Summary     211
The Jubilee in Daniel (Dan 9)     212
Sitz-im-Leben     212
Sitz-im-Buch     213
Exposition     214
The Use of the Jubilee in Daniel 9     225
Summary     231
Conclusion     231
The Jubilee in Second Temple Literature     233
The Jubilee in Jubilees     233
Summary     237
The Jubilee in 1 Enoch     238
The Apocalypse of Weeks     238
Summary     241
The Testament of Levi     242
Date and Provenance of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs     242
The Place of the Testament of Levi in the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs     244
Exposition     245
Summary     249
Conclusion     249
The Jubilee at Qumran     251
Historiographic Uses of the Jubilee at Qumran     251
Cultic-calendrical Uses of the Jubilee at Qumran     255
The Jubilee in Qumran Eschatology     262
Brief Texts     262
The Unnamed Prophetic Document 4Q383-391     265
11QMelchizedek     277
Overview of Jubilary Chronologies in Second Temple Literature     291
Conclusion     293
Conclusions     295
The Significance of the Original Jubilee Legislation     295
Legal Interpretations or References to the Jubilee     297
Ethical Interpretations of the Jubilee     297
Eschatological and Messianic Interpretations of the Jubilee     298
Chronological Uses of the Jubilee     302
Cultic-calendrical Uses of the Jubilee     303
General Observations     303
Bibliography      305
Scripture Citations Index     327
Dead Sea Scrolls Citations Index     340
Pseudephigrapha Citations Index     341
Modern Author Index     342
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