Leviticus 25:13-17 NRSV
13 In this year of jubilee you shall return, every one of you, to your property. 14 When you make a sale to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor, you shall not cheat one another. 15 When you buy from your neighbor, you shall pay only for the number of years since the jubilee; the seller shall charge you only for the remaining crop years. 16 If the years are more, you shall increase the price, and if the years are fewer, you shall diminish the price; for it is a certain number of harvests that are being sold to you. 17 You shall not cheat one another, but you shall fear your God; for I am the LORD your God.
The land was treated as a means of production. It technically was not sold. It was leased. The maximum lease price was based on the number of crops before the next Jubilee. Sabbath years were subtracted from this total and the debtor was not required to make payments in Sabbath years (Deuteronomy 15:1-3). There was no debt forgiveness here because the lease expired at the beginning of the year of Jubilee. The Jubilee established an effective check against reckless lending or borrowing.
Leviticus 25:18-28 NRSV
18 You shall observe my statutes and faithfully keep my ordinances, so that you may live on the land securely. 19 The land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and live on it securely. 20 Should you ask, "What shall we eat in the seventh year, if we may not sow or gather in our crop" 21 I will order my blessing for you in the sixth year, so that it will yield a crop for three years. 22 When you sow in the eighth year, you will be eating from the old crop; until the ninth year, when its produce comes in, you shall eat the old. 23 The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants. 24 Throughout the land that you hold, you shall provide for the redemption of the land.
25 If anyone of your kin falls into difficulty and sells a piece of property, then the next of kin shall come and redeem what the relative has sold. 26 If the person has no one to redeem it, but then prospers and finds sufficient means to do so, 27 the years since its sale shall be computed and the difference shall be refunded to the person to whom it was sold, and the property shall be returned. 28 But if there are not sufficient means to recover it, what was sold shall remain with the purchaser until the year of jubilee; in the jubilee it shall be released, and the property shall be returned.
This passage shows that Jubilee was more than just an economic directive. It was an opportunity to experience God’s direct provision. It also shows that God was a big believer in an “ownership society,” or at least a “stewardship society.” Each person and family was to have an inalienable right to land and labor, the means of production.
Leviticus 25:29-34 NRSV
29 If anyone sells a dwelling house in a walled city, it may be redeemed until a year has elapsed since its sale; the right of redemption shall be one year. 30 If it is not redeemed before a full year has elapsed, a house that is in a walled city shall pass in perpetuity to the purchaser, throughout the generations; it shall not be released in the jubilee. 31 But houses in villages that have no walls around them shall be classed as open country; they may be redeemed, and they shall be released in the jubilee. 32 As for the cities of the Levites, the Levites shall forever have the right of redemption of the houses in the cities belonging to them. 33 Such property as may be redeemed from the Levites -- houses sold in a city belonging to them -- shall be released in the jubilee; because the houses in the cities of the Levites are their possession among the people of Israel. 34 But the open land around their cities may not be sold; for that is their possession for all time.
It is reasonable to assume that land buyers benefited by the crops and livestock they produced while holding land they had leased. Whatever increase they experienced beyond the price they paid was not redistributed. Real estate purchased inside walled cities was not redistributed either. It was productive land and labor that was inalienable. It is interesting to note that verse 33 says the Levites’ houses were inalienable because it was “…their possession among the people of Israel.” It seems God felt it imperative that everyone have a material interest in the stewardship of creation.