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Land trade, an exposition of Leviticus 25

Land as a factor of production is a commodity that can be traded. These are the instructions that God gave to His people and the lessons we can draw from them.

Greed Vs Ambition

14 “‘If you sell land to any of your own people or buy land from them, do not take advantage of each other. 17 Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God. I am the Lord your God. Greed is discouraged in land trade. The other day one presidential candidate said, “it’s not that they need all this land, it’s that they are greedy”

Which land can be traded?

15 You are to buy from your own people on the basis of the number of years since the Jubilee. There is land that should not be sold, same case with Kenya. Government land and community land is not sold.


15b  And they are to sell to you on the basis of the number of years left for harvesting crops. 16 When the years are many, you are to increase the price, and when the years are few, you are to decrease the price, because what is really being sold to you is the number of crops. When you buy land that is leasehold, what you buy is the unexpired term. If it’s a leasehold of 99 years from 1950, and you want to buy that land today, what you are actually buying is “land use for 99 years less the unexpired term (2013-1950) which is equal to 99-63 = 36 years. If the unexpired term was longer say 60 years, then the price should be higher than if the unexpired term is 36 years. In fact, in valuation, we discount (reduce the value) depending on the unexpired term. This however doesn’t affect land held under freehold interest (land with a title deed).

25 “‘If one of your fellow Israelites becomes poor and sells some of their property, their nearest relative is to come and redeem what they have sold. 26 If, however, there is no one to redeem it for them but later on they prosper and acquire sufficient means to redeem it themselves, 27 they are to determine the value for the years since they sold it and refund the balance to the one to whom they sold it; they can then go back to their own property. This is also encouraging equity / fairness.

28 But if they do not acquire the means to repay, what was sold will remain in the possession of the buyer until the Year of Jubilee. It will be returned in the Jubilee, and they can then go back to their property. This is reversionary interest. The property reverts back to the seller after the expiry of the term. In Kenya, it’s the same case especially for shorter leases. 99 year leases revert to the Government but the original owner can reapply for renewal. However, the Government is under no obligation to give it to the original owner, it can pass it to another person for the sake of equity.

31 But houses in villages without walls around them are to be considered as belonging to the open country. They can be redeemed, and they are to be returned in the Jubilee. Rural properties were to be given leases. This is the direct opposite of what we have in Kenya which is freehold titles for rural properties and leasehold titles for urban properties.


Internal Security

18 “‘Follow my decrees and be careful to obey my laws, and you will live safely in the land. Equality brings security.

Freehold Debate

23 “‘The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers. 24 Throughout the land that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land. God was against freehold interest except for special cases. Freehold is where you hold the land in perpetuity (time with no end). God allowed freehold in urban properties,  29 “‘Anyone who sells a house in a walled city retains the right of redemption a full year after its sale. During that time the seller may redeem it. 30 If it is not redeemed before a full year has passed, the house in the walled city shall belong permanently to the buyer and the buyer’s descendants. It is not to be returned in the Jubilee.


In conclusion, God expects us to trade carefully in land, to observe equity and fairness in its distribution and to work it to produce wealth.


Kariuki Waweru

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