Jubilee and the Clearances

We held the second of our ‘Sandwich Sessions’ after church yesterday – people getting together for lunch and discussion.  So we tackled ‘Jubilee’ – which, curiously, stimulated very very few memories.  I was not living in Scotland for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, but I was here for the Golden one in 2002, but can’t remember anything about it either.

Looking at Biblical ‘Jubilee’, we realised that only 50 years really counts, of course.  It’s the year after 7 x 7 of sabbaticals, when freedom is proclaimed for all those who have sold their land or themselves to pay off debt, and all reverts to the families to whom God apportioned the land in the first place. (Leviticus 25:8-10)   This is the concept that lay beind the Millenium Debt campaign just before that Golden Jubilee.

We talked a bit about sabbaticals, and how they foreshadow the rest of eternity (and I was quite properly corrected for saying I rather like working by someone pointing out that I wasn’t slaving over a hot pyramid in Egypt or a baking pasture in Palestine).  When Israel failed to observe the yearly sabbaths over 490 years, God sent them into exile in Babylon for 70 years to make up for it, leaving the land desolate. (Jeremiah 25:11-12; 2 Chronicles 36:21). When I overwork and get ill, I often feel that I am being forced to take off the time I should have done in the weekly rhythm of life!

Then we talked about debt remission and land holding.  Another good point was made:  the C18-19th Clearances must have been shattering to clan society in Scotland, because it had been the system for time immemorial that land was held by the family as a sort of corporate affair.  Now, it was all about individual possession and profit.

And there was no kinsman-Redeemer (Leviticus 25:47-8) to save them.


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