The following relates the earliest known practice of debt forgiveness, also known as “Jubliee,” and compares/contrasts with later interpretations. This will also bring us forward to present day practices where certain financial “harvesting processes” were adjusted and refined with the idea of “Jubilee” seemingly having been forgotten.
But, was it really forgotten for everyone?
“What most history books fail to mention is that, like other governors of the City-State of Mesopotamia, Hammurabi proclaimed the official cancellation of citizens’ debts owed to the government, high-ranking officials, and dignitaries. The so-called Hammurabi Code is thought to date back to 1762 BC. Its epilogue proclaims that ‘the powerful may not oppress the weak; the law must protect widows and orphans (…) in order to bring justice to the oppressed’. The many ancient documents deciphered from cuneiform script have enabled historians to establish beyond any doubt that four general cancellations took place during Hammurabi’s reign, in 1792, 1780, 1771, and 1762 BC.” (emphasis added) (http://www.cadtm.org/The-Long-Tradition-of-Debt)
However, what one finds biblically appears to make a distinction between people where none seemed to exist earlier. Believed to have been written around 350 years later (1406 BC), one finds within Deuteronomy:
“At the end of every seven-year period you shall have a relaxation of debts, 2 which shall be observed as follows. Every creditor shall relax his claim on what he has loaned his neighbor; he must not press his neighbor, his kinsman, because a relaxation in honor of the LORD has been proclaimed. 3 You may press a foreigner, but you shall relax the claim on your kinsman for what is yours. 4 Nay, more! since the LORD, your God, will bless you abundantly in the land he will give you to occupy as your heritage, there should be no one of you in need. 5 If you but heed the voice of the LORD, your God, and carefully observe all these commandments which I enjoin on you today, 6 you will lend to many nations, and borrow from none; you will rule over many nations, and none will rule over you, since the LORD, your God, will bless you as he promised.” Deuteronomy 15: 1-6 (emphasis added) (https://www.ewtn.com/jubilee/history/OT1.htm)
What this seems to detail is Moses’ apparent invention of a difference between “Jew” (neighbor) and “Gentile” (foreigner).
With this in mind, can one easily see the corruption of Jubilee’s “original intent” and the true nature of our present banking and governmental systems laid bare? Questions remain though:
- By what device and for what purposes was that apparent “distinction” between “Neighbor” and “Foreigner” invented?
- Does this present day model of debt-forgiveness still exist in certain circles?
- Is foreign policy ultimately affected by such history?