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Wordsmith.org Forums General Topics Q&A about words Jubilation
OP Here in the UK (with a few worldwide spin-offs) we recently celebrated the Queen's 50th Jubilee - half a century on the throne, and still able to stand . We had a 4 day holiday!
Now, our parish magazine had an article by our local vicar in which he wrote about the original meaning of "jubilee" as an ancient Jewish term for a time when slaves were set free and land returned to its former owners. This really piqued my curiosity, but I reserved judgement on the (supposed) derivation and didn't get a chance to check on it until just now. But he appears to be absolutely right, according to Merriam-Webster:
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French & Late Latin; Middle French jubilé, from Late Latin jubilaeus, modification of Late Greek iObElaios, from Hebrew yObhEl ram's horn, jubilee
Date: 14th century
1 often capitalized : a year of emancipation and restoration provided by ancient Hebrew law to be kept every 50 years by the emancipation of Hebrew slaves, restoration of alienated lands to their former owners, and omission of all cultivation of the land
2 a : a special anniversary; especially : a 50th anniversary b : a celebration of such an anniversary
3 a : a period of time proclaimed by the Roman Catholic pope ordinarily every 25 years as a time of special solemnity b : a special plenary indulgence granted during a year of jubilee to Roman Catholics who perform certain specified works of repentance and piety
What a wonderful tradition, and what a good reason for celebration! And I suppose that "clearing the decks" every 50 years would give the next generation a real chance to start afresh. Methinks we could all learn some valuable lessons from the past here. Of course, it could well be that the real reasons for the tradition are rather more cynical and self-serving (as was the Magna Carta in intention) but let's take matters at face value for now.
M-W had a couple of further meanings:
4 a : JUBILATION b : a season of celebration
5 : an Afro-American religious song usually referring to a time of future happiness
Meaning 4 appears to imply that all words beginning in jubil- relate to jubilee (drinking from ram's horns), which is definitely news to me. I'd thought jubilant or jubilation came first, and a jubilee was just a jubilant event.
Meaning 5 is perhaps quite poignant if it had its origins among slaves, looking forward to a dream of freedom.
If anybody knows more definitive facts to replace my many conjectures above, they would be gratefully (if not jubilantly ) received.
a time when slaves were set free and land returned to its former owners.
Leviticus 25:10 (King James version): And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.
[note: emphasis added; spelling as in original]
Keiva: You are unwelcome in AWADtalk.
In Jewish law, the Jubilee year follows a series of 7 sabbatical years. I can't remember all the ways these differ from the jubilee, but they are somewhat less gigantic. Since it follows a cycle of seven sevens (49 years divided into seven) it is presumably related to the messianic number eight. A guess: that property reverts to its original owner is, in that sense, connects with the notion that everything is God's. Also, Jewish civil law discusses the effect of the Jubilee cycle on the value of property with relation to contracts.
OP Since it follows a cycle of seven sevens (49 years divided into seven) it is presumably related to the messianic number eight
I'm dimly aware of the importance of numbers/numerology within the Jewish tradition - would this relate to the Qaballah? And how is eight messianic?
There's a point. What happens after the year is over? Do the big landowners reclaim their land and slaves? Or do they genuinely have to start again? I suppose the latter would be a tad over-idealistic
A guess: that property reverts to its original owner is, in that sense, connects with the notion that everything is God's
That appears to make a lot of sense. Very difficult principle to live by, albeit very sound indeed.
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