ואשר יגאל מן הלוים הנראה בפשוטו של פסוק זה כי אמר (ויקרא כ״ה:ל״ב) גאלת עולם תהיה ללוים לגאול מיד ולגאול לעולם ולא פירש בהם אם יגאלו הקרובים ולא אם ינהג בהם יובל לפיכך חזר ואמר ואשר יגאל מן הלוים יהיה הגואל שיגאל הוא מעצמו או הלוי הקרוב אליו ויצא ממכר בית ועיר אחוזתו ביובל מיד הקונה על דעת כן יגאל שיחשוב שני ממכרו והשיב את העודף לומר שהיובל נוהג בהם ותהיה גאולת הלוים כאשר אמר בישראל (ויקרא כ״ה:כ״ז) וחשב את שני ממכרו וגו' ורבותינו אמרו (ערכין לג) שהכתוב מדבר בלוי שקנה מלוי ולפי דבריהם נראה לי בפירוש הפסוק כי היה לפנים בישראל כשצריך אדם למכור שדהו שיבא הקודם בירושתו ויקנה אותה והוא הנקרא גאולה שנאמר (ירמיהו לב ז) קנה לך את שדי אשר בענתות כי לך משפט הגאולה לקנות וכן מפורש שם בענין בועז (רות ד) ונראה בעיני שהיו דנים לו דין קדימה כאשר הנהיגו לנו רבותינו בדינא דבר מצרא והיו קונים מן הגואל הראשון בקנין סודר כמו שעשה בועז (שם שם ח) והנה יאמר הכתוב בכאן כי כאשר יגאל הלוי נחלת הלוי קרובו כלומר שיקנה אותה ממנו כדין הגאולה יצא הממכר ההוא ביובל לימד שיהא יובל נוהג בהם בגאולה כמכירה אחרת ולא היה צריך להזכיר הדין במכירה לבדה כי הם בכלל ישראל אלא שיפה כחם בגאולת עולם והדין הזה של גאולה גם בישראל הוא נוהג אבל הזכירו הכתוב בלוים שלא תאמר לא נתנו הערים אלא לשבט הלוי כולו ולכן יצאו מישראל אבל לא מלוי וכל שכן מגואל קרוב שאנחנו חייבנוהו לקנות ולכך אמר שאף הגאולה תצא ביובל ומן הלוי נלמד בישראל ואפשר גם כן שאין הלוים רשאין למכור בעריהם לישראל בשום מכר ולכן תקרא כל קנייתם גאולה: AND IF ONE OF THE LEVITES REDEEM. The plain meaning of this verse appears to be as follows: He had stated [in the previous verse], the Levites have a perpetual right of redemption, to redeem immediately [even before the period of two years after the sale of the fields, which an Israelite must wait before he is allowed to redeem], and to redeem at any time [a house in a walled city, even after the expiration of a year since the sale, after which time an Israelite cannot redeem]. But He did not explain with reference to them [the Levites] whether their relatives [also] have the right of redemption, nor whether the Jubilee applies to them. Therefore He stated again, And if one of the Levites redeem, be the redeemer the seller himself or his relative a Levite, then the house that was sold, and the city of his possession, shall go out in the Jubilee from the hand of the purchaser. He should redeem it on this understanding, that he shall reckon the years of the sale thereof and restore the overplus,197Verse 27. He calculates how many years remain until the Jubilee, and divides the total purchase-price by the number of years of crops that the purchaser will have until the Jubilee. This gives the value of each crop bought. If the purchaser or his relative redeems the field before the Jubilee, he deducts from the purchase-money paid the value of the crops eaten by the purchaser during the years that the field was in his possession, and gives him the balance. meaning to say that the Jubilee does apply to them [the Levites], and the manner of their redemption shall be as He said of the Israelites, and he shall reckon the years of the sale thereof etc.197Verse 27. He calculates how many years remain until the Jubilee, and divides the total purchase-price by the number of years of crops that the purchaser will have until the Jubilee. This gives the value of each crop bought. If the purchaser or his relative redeems the field before the Jubilee, he deducts from the purchase-money paid the value of the crops eaten by the purchaser during the years that the field was in his possession, and gives him the balance.
And our Rabbis have said198Arakhin 33 a. that the verse speaks of a Levite who buys from a Levite. According to their word, the interpretation of the verse appears to me to be as follows: It was the custom in former times in Israel that when a man had to sell his field, the person who had precedence in his inheritance [i.e., who was the nearest relative who could inherit] would come and buy it, and it was this that was called “redemption,” as it is said, Buy thee my field that is in Anathoth, for the right of redemption is thine to buy it,199Jeremiah 32:7. and so also is it explained there in the matter of Boaz.200Ruth 4:4. And it appears to me that they administered a law of precedence for him, just as our Rabbis enacted for us the law of [the prerogative of] the neighbor,201Baba Metzia 108 a. If a man wishes to sell his field, his neighbor has the special right of pre-emption — the right of purchasing before or in preference to others. and [if other people wanted to buy it], they would acquire [the right of possession] from the “first redeemer” by the [symbolic act of] acquisition of a scarf, as did Boaz.202Ruth 4:8: So the near kinsman said unto Boaz: ‘Buy it for thyself.’ And he drew off his shoe. See Ramban on Exodus 28:41. Thus Scripture is stating here that when a Levite redeems the inheritance of a Levite, that is to say, when he buys it from him as is the law of redemption, then that [land] acquired shall go out in the Jubilee. It thus teaches that the Jubilee applies to them [the Levites] in the case of “redemption” just as in the case of any other sale [among Israelites]. Scripture did not have to mention this law in the case of a plain sale [i.e., to say that if a Levite sold his field to a non-Levite, who is not his near relative, that it goes back to its original owner, the Levite, in the Jubilee], for they [Levites] are part of all Israel [and it is self-understood that the same laws apply to them]; except that He strengthened their legal right [by giving them, as explained above], a perpetual [privilege of] redemption. This law of “redemption” applies also to Israelites [i.e., that if they bought from Levites, the Levites have an unrestricted right of redemption forever]. Scripture, however, mentioned it with reference to the Levites, in order that one should not say that the [forty-eight] cities203Numbers 35:6-7. were only given to the whole tribe of Levi [and not to any particular person], and that therefore [fields which a Levite had sold] go back from an Israelite [in the Jubilee, i.e., if the purchaser was an Israelite he must give them back], but they do not go back from a Levite [i.e., if the purchaser was a Levite he does not have to give them back, since they remain anyway in the hands of the Levitical tribe], and certainly [we might think that] from a near kinsman [i.e., a Levite] whom we have made liable to buy [the field of his poor brother-Levite, those fields surely do not go back in the Jubilee]; therefore He said that this redemption too goes back in the Jubilee, and from the [law stated in connection with the] Levite we deduce [that the same law applies] to the Israelites. It is possible also that the Levites are not permitted to sell of their cities in any transaction [i.e., whether a field or house] to an Israelite, and therefore all their purchases are termed redemption [because only other Levites, who are their kinsmen, can buy from them].