🔼The name Jubilee: Summary
- Flow Maker, Liquidation
- From the verb יבל (yabal), to carry along in a flow.
🔼The name Jubilee in the Bible
Jubilee, or more complete, the Year of Jubilee (שנת היובל) or simply יבל ("Jabilee", as for instance in Leviticus 25) marked every fiftieth (or forty-ninth, depending how one counted) year on the calendar (Leviticus 25:13-54, 27:17-24, Numbers 36:4) The prophet Ezekiel speaks of a year of liberty, which is probably the same thing (Ezekiel 46:17).
Since every seventh year was a Sabbath year, every seventh Sabbath-year would be a super-Sabbath year, or: Jubilee. Not only were fields not supposed to be worked but left fallow, all leases would finalize and ownership would revert back to the original owner, which, in case of a slave, would be the person him- or herself.
The Jubilee principle had several functions. It assured that the commercial cycle could not overpower people (as it does today); all major transactions of lives and lands reverted every fifty years, and no one could build up a debt he could never get out of. Secondly, and probably similarly, fields left fallow would regain their fertility.
But thirdly, and, judging from the meaning of the name Jubilee, most importantly, people who were to refrain from working the field for a whole year were given the opportunity to enjoy life. Since quite a large part of humans are creative in some form or other, Sabbath years and years of Jubilee were most likely times of increased production of literature and other arts, and quite possibly also of technological and scientific innovations. Doubtlessly, extended periods of relaxation also strengthened family bonds and would logically also facilitate baby booms.
Note that when Jesus read from the book of Isaiah in the synagogue of Nazareth, he proclaimed the release of captives as stipulated to be done in the year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:10). Also note that much to our loss, neither the Sabbath year nor the year of Jubilee are observed in our modern world. However, the Jubilee principle has been reinvented, most notably by companies such as Google, where employees are encouraged to play ping-pong or horse around otherwise, because during those off times, they tend to come up with ideas that enrich the company more than when they would have been chained to their desks (as certain medievally inclined bosses still do today).
🔼Etymology of the name Jubilee
The word Jubilee comes from the verb יבל (yabal), meaning to carry along like a flow or current would:
The verb בלל (balal) means to mix something with oil, usually flour products, usually as ritualistic food preparation. The emphasis of this verb lies on saturation and overflowing: to fill something with oil until it can absorb no more and begins to reject an excess of oil. Noun בליל (belil) describes a very rich mix for animals to eat. Noun שבלול (shabbelul) describes a snail, or an animal that looks saturated with oil. Nouns תבל (tebel) describes sexually incompatible partners, and noun תבלל (teballul) tells of insoluble material that obstructs a person's eye.
The verb יבל (yabal) speaks mostly of a flowing along some course, which of course requires the bottom of the course to be saturated and reject any further absorption. Noun יבל (yabal) means water course or conduit, noun יובל (yubal) means stream and noun אובל ('ubal) means stream or river. Adjective יבל (yabbal) means suppurating (discharging pus from a wound). Noun יבול (yebul) denotes produce from the soil and noun בול (bul) means produce or outgrowth. Noun יובל (yobel) or יבל (yobel) describes "a carrier" or "a producer" or "something that drives a flow" (e.g. a trumpet, or the principle of Jubilee). Noun תבל (tebel) refers to the whole world-economy.
Verb אבל ('abel) is like the previous ones in that it describes a drive of liquid or semi-liquid elements along some collective course. It's often used to describe a collective mourning, which either happened in a procession or else contagious enough to drag others along. Nouns אבל ('ebel) and אבל ('abel) both mean mourning, but the latter is also the word for actual water stream or brook. In cognate languages this verb is used to describe the driving of camels. There is even a sporadically used adverb אבל ('abal), which in older texts expresses solemn affirmation (verily, truly, yes indeed I'm totally going along with you there) but later texts appear to put somewhat of a breaking force on the momentum ("yes!... but").
The Hebrew word where our term Jubilee comes from is the same as the Hebrew word for ram's horn, but that doesn't mean that the Year of Jubilee was known as the Year of the Ram's Horn (as declared "originally no doubt" by BDB Theological Dictionary). It merely means that a ram's horn was known as "flow-maker," for the obvious reason that a ram follows its horns and the herd follows the ram.
The name Year Of Jubilee means Year Of Making Flow, and marks the dissolution of a commercial grid-lock and an outburst of economic liquidity. Note that the year of Jubilee started on the tenth day of the seventh month, which is Yom Kippur, by sounding a ram's horn (Leviticus 25:9-10).