Research Process

I recently thought about how much research it takes to write a 7-10 page paper. There are some topics that you can find so much information on that it is really difficult to condense that down into a short and concise paper. This is especially true when you may have a broad topic and 30 pages worth of research material that you have to go through. Then, having to take all of that information and make it into something that is short, concise, and readable all the while showing the audience the author has some level of understanding about the subject. 

One difficulty is taking the research, learning about the subject (there are many things that a general knowledge may be known, but not an in-depth knowledge to where you feel you are a expert or even novice on the subject), putting it all together and finally trying to even put your original thoughts into it. After writing a number of papers this past year and a half, I have found such a greater respect for all writers but especially those that pour out articles and documents every month. I can’t even imagine how many hours of research they invested. For a small paper like the Jubilee paper, I think I invested around 10-15 hours because not only is it about finding articles that touch on the subject, but then it is reading and re-reading. Some times it is trying to condense their thoughts into something smaller all the while still doing justice to the author’s intent.

Even after writing on a subject, you may think you have an intermediate amount of knowledge until one day you read something, watch something or hear something and that author or subject blows you out of the water spouting off things about that subject you never knew. Or you may have already forgotten even though you researched it only a week ago! This is one of the most amazing things about God and Christianity. He is infinite that no matter how much knowledge we ever gain in this world studying Him, or how much He blesses us with about Him; we can never fully and completely understand or know Him. It is mind-boggling and awe-inspiring to belong to a God (the only God) that loves us so much, has a plan for us, wants us to know Him and have a relationship with Him, yet is still a mystery. It is humbling. We could spend our whole lives on one characteristic or attribute of the Father and still never truly or fully grasp that concept.

Over the next few days, I would like to share with you some of the research I found on the year of Jubilee (just a couple of more post then, Jubilee will be over!). My hopes for this are to bring a little more enlightenement to what this special year meant. It has been a fascinating study for me and I hope these post help with either your own research or with a closeness to the Great Mystery, Our Heavenly Father.

  • Introduction
    • The basic principle of Sabbath years is found in verses 3–4: every seventh year, the people of Israel were to refrain from cultivating the land as a “Sabbath to YHWH” (v. 2). Following this explanation, the rest of the chapter presents a general principle for the practice of the Jubilee year, followed by a series of specific instructions.
      • Every fiftieth year, on the Day of Atonement (see note below), Israel was to sound the trumpet and declare a year of Jubilee. The Jubilee command, at its simplest, is found in verse 10. Israel must consecrate the fiftieth year in order to “proclaim liberty throughout the land.”
        • The “year” of Jubilee actually begins in the seventh month of the year. Therefore, it seems likely that the year began in the seventh month of either the 49th or 50th year and extended until the seventh month of the 50th or 51st year. Allen P. Ross summarizes three major options for the chronology of the Jubilee: (1) the Jubilee took place at the end of the seventh Sabbath year, so that the land was not worked for two consecutive years; (2) the Jubilee and the seventh Sabbath year were simultaneous, and “fifty” is a general way of speaking about the 49th year; (3) the Jubilee began in the first month in the civic calendar but the seventh in the cultic, so that whether one considered it the 49th or 50th year depended on which calendar was being used (Holiness to the Lord: A Guide to the Exposition of the Book of Leviticus [Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002] 459)
      • Description of the year:
        • The singular institution of the Jubilee year had more than one purpose. As a social and economical arrangement it tended to prevent the extremes of wealth and poverty. Every fiftieth year the land was to revert to its original owners, the lineal descendants of those who had ‘come in with the conqueror,’ Joshua. Debts were to be remitted, slaves emancipated, and so the mountains of wealth and the valleys of poverty were to be somewhat leveled, and the nation carried back to its original framework of a simple agricultural community of small owners[1]
        • This was the most illustrious Sabbath, since the state of the people, both as to their persons and their houses and property, was renewed; and although in this way God had regard to the public good, gave relief to the poor, so that their liberty should not be destroyed, and preserved also the order laid down by Himself; still there is no question but that He thus added an additional stimulus to incite the Jews to honour the Sabbath. For it was a kind of imposing memorial of the sacred rest, to see slaves emancipated and become suddenly free; houses and lands returning to their former possessors who had sold them; and in fine all things assuming a new face. They called this year Jobel, from the sound of the ram’s horn, whereby liberty and the restitution of property were proclaimed; …its main feature was the solemnity which shewed them to be separated from other nations to be a peculiar and holy nation to God; nay, the renewal of all things had reference to this, that being redeemed anew in the great Sabbath, they might entirely devote themselves to God their Deliverer. [2]
        • a joyful shout or clangour of trumpets, the name of the great semi-centennial festival of the Hebrews. It lasted for a year. During this year the land was to be fallow, and the Israelites were only permitted to gather the spontaneous produce of the fields (Lev. 25:11, 12). All landed property during that year reverted to its original owner (13–34; 27:16–24), and all who were slaves were set free (25:39–54), and all debts were remitted. [3]
        • the fiftieth year occurring at the end of seven sabbatical cycles of seven years each, in which all land was returned to its ancestral owners and all Israelite slaves were freed. The jubilee is described in Lev. 25:8–17, 23–55; 27:16–25; and Num. 36:4. It was proclaimed with the blowing of the shofar (a trumpet made from a ram’s horn) on the Day of Atonement. The land was also left fallow in the jubilee year. The jubilee was observed in the seventh sabbatical in Second Temple times, so that there was a forty-nine-year cycle.[4]
        • Freedom or liberty is a central notion in the Jubilee year, and God’s liberation of Israel from slavery in Egypt is the critical theological background (Lev 25:38, 42, 55).[5]
        • The counting for the year was “seven sabbaths of years.” Most probably the year after the seventh sabbatical year was the Jubilee year, though some scholars have argued that the Jubilee year coincided with the seventh sabbatical year counting the years inclusively (e.g., Chirichigno). However, the provisions for the Jubilee year do not totally coincide with those of the sabbatical year. Certainly Josephus, Philo and rabbinical scholars were unanimous in regarding the Jubilee as the fiftieth year. Also, Leviticus 25:21 seems to say that one year’s harvest would suffice for three years, implying that the Jubilee year was successive to a sabbatical year.[6]
          • Others suggest that the Jubilee may have been a short year, perhaps of forty-nine days, functioning not unlike modern leap days.
        • The 50th year after seven cycles of seven years (Lev. 25:10) in which Israel’s land and people gained freedom. It was begun with a blast from a ram’s horn on the Day of Atonement[7]
        • this was also called the year of liberty (Ezek. 46:17).[8]
        • “The Jubilee legislation found in Leviticus 25 presents a vision of social and economic reform unsurpassed in the ancient Near East.”[9]
        • The word “jubilee” probably comes from the Hebrew yabal, meaning “to bring [forth],” as in the bringing forth of produce. The year of jubilee did for the land what the Day of Atonement did for the people. This year removed the disturbance or confusion of God’s will for the land that resulted from the activity of sinners eventually. During this year God brought the land back into the condition that He intended for it. The fact that the priests announced the year of jubilee on the Day of Atonement (v. 9) confirms this correspondence. [10]

[1] Alexander Maclaren, “Leviticus 25,” Expositions of Holy Scripture, Internet, available from http://biblehub.com/commentaries/maclaren/leviticus/25.htm, accessed 22 November 2014.

[2] Calvin, J., & Bingham, C. W. (2010). Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Form of a Harmony (Vol. 2, p. 451). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[3] Easton, M. G. (1893). “Jubilee,” In Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.

[4] Schiffman, L. H. (2011). jubilee. In (M. A. Powell, Ed.)The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Revised and Updated). New York: HarperCollins.

[5] Barker, P. A. (2003). Sabbath, Sabbatical Year, Jubilee. In Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. 702

[6] Barker, P. A. (2003). Sabbath, Sabbatical Year, Jubilee. In Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. 702

[7] Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., & Butler, T. C. (Eds.). (2003). Year of Jubilee. In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers. 1694

[8] Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., & Butler, T. C. (Eds.). (2003). Festivals. In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[9] Robert Gnuse, “Jubilee Legislation in Leviticus: Israel’s Vision of Social Reform,” Biblical Theology Bulletin 15:2 (April 1985):43.

[10] Thomas Constable, “Notes on Leviticus,” Internet, available from http://soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/leviticus.pdf, accessed 22 November 2014.

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