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From: Readers' feedback issue – Footsteps 31

What is at the heart of participatory development and empowerment?

The Principle of Jubilee
by Isabel Carter.

Read Leviticus 25:8-31

Leviticus is the third book of the Old Testament and it provides guidelines for our relationship with God and our neighbours. Chapter 25 talks of two major festivals – the Sabbath year when land was left fallow to rest every seventh year, and the Jubilee year, every fiftieth year.

The Jubilee was God’s answer to long-term poverty. People become poor for all kinds of reasons; they struggle to improve their situation. However, the Jubilee allowed for a new beginning in every generation. For people caught in the poverty trap, it gave hope and new opportunities as land was restored to its original owners, debts were cancelled and slaves set free. Land, slaves and loans were all to be valued-based on their nearness to the Jubilee year.

No-one is sure if the radical principle of the Jubilee year was ever carried out. Today many people want the new millennium, the year 2000, to be celebrated as a Jubilee year (see article ' A fresh start for a new millennium').

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