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God, Justice, and SocietyAspects of Law and Legality in the Bible$
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Jonathan Burnside

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199759217

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199759217.001.0001

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People And Land

People And Land

(p.179) 6 People And Land
God, Justice, and Society

Jonathan Burnside

Oxford University Press

This chapter shows how a biblical ideology of divine ownership affects the practice of land tenure and land use. The close connections in biblical Israel between people, land, and narrative means that the biblical law of property is dynamic, not least in the area of inheritance. This raises questions about the different sources of law in the Bible, including customary law, divine revelation, and the relationship between them. There is a complex interaction between the narrative of Genesis and Exodus (including creation, the Joseph story and the Exodus) and the various sabbatical laws. These include the weekly Sabbath, sabbatical year, and jubilee years which together form a “spectrum of Sabbaths” of increasing intensity. Israel's use of the “Promised Land” repeatedly presents her with the choice of whether she will serve the ancestral god of the ancestral lands. The laws, too, present a basic choice between Pharaonic economics(amassing land) and family economics (restoring land).

Keywords:   customary law, inheritance, jubilee years, Promised Land, property law, Sabbath, Joseph story, Exodus

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