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23The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants.

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23. The land shall not be sold for ever. Since the reason for this law was peculiar to the children of Abraham, its provisions can hardly be applied to other nations; for so equal a partition of the land was made under Joshua, that the inheritance was distributed amongst the several tribes and families; nay, in order that each man’s possession should be more sacred, the land had been divided by lot, as if God by His own hand located them in their separate stations. In fact, that allotment was, as it were, an inviolable decree of God Himself, whereby the memory of the covenant should be maintained, by which the inheritance of the land had been promised to Abraham and his posterity; and thus the land of Canaan was an earnest, or symbol, or mirror, of the adoption on which their salvation was founded. Wherefore it is not to be wondered at that God was unwilling that this inestimable benefit should ever be lost; and, lest this should be the case, like a provident father of a family, He laid a restraint on His children, to prevent them from being too prodigal; for, when a man has any suspicions of his heir, he forbids him to alienate the patrimony he leaves him. Such, therefore, was the condition of the ancient people; yet it cannot be indiscriminately transferred to other nations who have had no common inheritance given them. Some vestige of it appears in the right of redemption; 156156     “Redemptio in Law, a faculty or right of re-entering upon lands, etc., that have been sold and assigned, upon reimbursing the purchase-money with legal costs. Bargains wherein the faculty, or, as some call it, the equity of redemption is reserved, are only a kind of pignorative contracts. A certain time is limited, within which the faculty, of redemption shall be exercised; and beyond which it shall not extend. — Chambers’s Encyclopaedia. but, because that depends on the consent of the parties, and is also a special mode of contract, it has nothing to do with the law of Moses, which entirely restored both men and lands, (in the year of jubilee, 157157     Added from Fr. ) That God should call the land of Canaan His, is, as it were, to assert His direct Lordship 158158     “La seigneurie directe (qu’on appelle,) ou fonsiere.” — Fr. (dominium,) as they call it, over it; as He immediately afterwards more clearly expresses His meaning, where He says that the children of Israel sojourn in it as His guests. 159159     Addition in Fr., “Ou fermiers, ou grangiers.” For although their condition was the best in which just and perpetual owners can be placed, still, as respected God, they were but His tenants (coloni,) only living there at His will. In fine, God claims the freehold (fundum) for Himself, lest the recollection of tits having granted it to them should ever escape them.




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