Time to Stop Bankrolling War and the Wealthy
By Rev Dr Liz Theoharis
July 21, 2020
The poetry of a movement to change this country.
The word jubilee comes from the Hebrew “yovel,” meaning a “trumpet blast of liberty.” It was said that, on the day of liberation, the sound of a ram’s horn would ring through the land. These days, I hear the sound of that horn while walking with my kids through the streets of New York City, while protests continue here, even amid a pandemic, as they have since soon after May 25th when a police officer put his knee to George Floyd’s neck and robbed him of his life. I hear it when I speak with homeless leaders defending their encampments amid the nightmare of Covid-19. I hear it when I meet people who are tired, angry, and yet, miraculously enough, finding their political voices for the first time. I hear it when I read escaped slave and abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass’s speech on the eve of the Emancipation Proclamation.
I’m a minister and teach in a theological seminary, so I couldn’t be more aware that “jubilee” appears throughout the Bible, including in the law codes of Deuteronomy, the most cited Old Testament book. Those codes established a covenant with God in which there was to be an unbroken cycle of jubilee years when debts were cancelled, slaves manumitted, wages finally paid, the poor and hungry given provisions, and farm land allowed to lie fallow (an early form of ecological conservation). Together, those codes served as sacred law and the people were told that, if they were followed, “there need be no poor people among you.”