Economic Lessons from Ancient Israel

Leviticus chapter 25 describes the Jubilee Year celebration of ancient Israel.  This important event occurred only once, every fiftieth year. During the Jubilee year all private debts were forgiven. Additionally, land that had previously been sold was returned to the original owners!


Imagine the tremendous relief of those citizens of ancient Israel who were released from the burden and weight of their debt! Beyond its impact on individuals, the fiftieth year celebration also reflected God’s understanding of the broader economic stresses that are cyclical in nature. The Jubilee was God’s way of helping to restore economic stability and balance to the nation as a whole.


History isn’t clear about the extent to which Israel kept the Jubilee. However, we know from the Bible that Israel often rebelled against God. Today, economies are far more diverse and interconnected than in ancient times. And because of the way society is structured, we have nothing comparable to the Jubilee year to protect us from major economic turmoil. Recent dramatic fluctuations in the stock market should make us even more aware of the fragile state of the economy and of our limited ability to deal with powerful economic forces…


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