Arakhin 24a-b - Redeeming consecrated fields - I

February 06, 2012


The seventh perek (=chapter) of Masekhet Arakhin begins on today's daf (=page), and its focus is on someone who consecrates his ancestral field to the Temple and desires to redeem it. The Torah teaches that someone who consecrates a field that he inherited from his ancestors must redeem it by paying 50 silver shekel for an area that is planted with a homer of barley.
That is true, however, only when the person consecrates the field at the beginning of the 50-year yovel (=Jubilee year) period and redeems it immediately. If, however, he leaves the field in the hands of the Temple treasury and comes to redeem it only in the middle of the yovel period, then the amount of money that he pays will be based on that sum minus the appropriate percentage of that value per year. Since the full payment is 50 shekel for 49 years (given that the 50th year is the Jubilee year), the amount that is subtracted for each year is one shekel and one pondion (a pondion is one-forty-eighth of a shekel).
Thus, if someone would redeem a field which he had consecrated to the Temple immediately after the year of Jubilee, then he must redeem it by paying fifty shekel for every piece of a field sufficient for the sowing of a homer of barley, for every year of the next forty-nine years. If he fails to redeem it by then, the priests will come to possess it. Every year this sum is diminished by one forty-ninth of the fifty shekel, exactly one shekel and one pondion, the remaining pondions being considered the exchange fee as the pondions are changed into shekels. The sum of redemption, then, consists of as many shekels and pondions as the number of years up to the next year of yovel.

The Mishnah teaches that there must be at least two years before the next year of yovel, because the Torah teaches "according to the years which remain unto the year of Jubilee," and the minimum of ‘years’ is two. Hence, if there are not at least two years before that of yovel, the sum whereby the field is redeemed cannot be deducted from at all, and the owner must then pay the complete fifty shekels for every piece of field sufficient for the sowing of a homer of barley, whose sum is much more than the field's crop, until the year of yovel, will be worth.


This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the Hebrew version of the Steinsaltz Edition of the Talmud, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger. To learn more about the Steinsaltz Daf Yomi initiative, click here.
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