Exodus 23:11

Hebrew Bible

9 “You must not oppress a resident foreigner, since you know the life of a foreigner, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt. 10 “For six years you are to sow your land and gather in its produce. 11 But in the seventh year you must let it lie fallow and leave it alone so that the poor of your people may eat, and what they leave any animal in the field may eat; you must do likewise with your vineyard and your olive grove. 12 For six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you must cease, in order that your ox and your donkey may rest and that your female servant’s son and the resident foreigner may refresh themselves. 13 “Pay attention to do everything I have told you, and do not even mention the names of other gods—do not let them be heard on your lips.

Leviticus 25:4

Hebrew Bible

2 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them, ‘When you enter the land that I am giving you, the land must observe a Sabbath to the Lord. 3 Six years you may sow your field, and six years you may prune your vineyard and gather the produce, 4 but in the seventh year the land must have a Sabbath of complete rest—a Sabbath to the Lord. You must not sow your field or prune your vineyard. 5 You must not gather in the aftergrowth of your harvest, and you must not pick the grapes of your unpruned vines; the land must have a year of complete rest. 6 You may have the Sabbath produce of the land to eat—you, your male servant, your female servant, your hired worker, the resident foreigner who stays with you,

 Notes and References

"... However beneficial this provision of gleaning might be, it is possible that the book of Exodus has a more generous idea in mind. Lowery proposes an alternative reading. He notes that while the first half of the law is clear: 'Six years you will plant your land and you will gather its produce,' the correct interpretation of the second half (verse 11) is less certain. The ambiguity centers on the precise meaning of the two verbs 'release' and 'leave alone,' and the noun to which their pronouns ('it') refer. When most readers interpret these verses they are deriving the meaning from the later Jubilee legislation (Leviticus 25:2-7) which clearly envisions a year of rest for the land, but the purposes of the laws in Leviticus and Exodus are quite different. While Exodus urges release 'so the poor of your people may eat,' (Exodus 23: 11) Leviticus makes no mention of the needy, (Leviticus 25:4-5) here a true Sabbath is in mind, a fallow year, a year of complete rest for the land. The different intentions of Leviticus and Exodus may have required different practices. So it is possible that what Exodus 23 envisions is not a year of rest for the land, but an ancient 'set-aside' year, where produce is relinquished for the poor in the land. If this program was practiced on a rotating basis then 'Relinquishing crops from 'set-aside' fields and vineyards every year on a seven-year rotation would provide ongoing relief for the poor without leading to periodic starvation among the non-poor.' ..."

Hurkmans, Robert William Sabbath, Jubilee, and the Repair of the World (pp. 131-132) McMaster Divinity College, 2012

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