August 27, 2022 -Durt Fibo

To the fuddled, the famished, and the invidious: The sweeping away of debts is both an old Judaeo-Christian custom and a regular practice in many civilizations, proof of which goes back at least 4,000 years in Asia and the Mideast. The custom is called a jubilee

Both Babylonia and Sumeria have clear histories of debt jubilees. It is recorded that the Sumerian king Enmetena declared a full debt forgiveness, and included the freeing of indentured slaves. The Hittites and the Hurrians also have left records of these occasions, notably in The Song of Debt Release. The city-state of Athens In the 6th century BC likewise purged personal debts; Solon, the lawmaker, codified the seisachtheia, which canceled all debts and released debt slaves and serfs.

In the old Biblical Leviticus and Deuteronomy, every 50 years is described as a special sabbath jubilee during which debts were to be canceled and any slave emancipated. In the new Testament’s Gospel of Luke, Jesus is described as announcing that he had come to proclaim the Year of the Lord, meaning the Jubilee Year. The word itself comes from the Hebrew “jobel” (ram’s horn), which was trumpeted to announce such doings.

The Qur’an instructs the erasing of debt for those who are unable to pay as an act of charity and remission of sins for the creditor, saying: “If the debtor is in difficulty, grant him time till it is easy for him to repay. But, if ye remit it by way of charity, that is best for you if ye only knew.”

A debt jubilee was the de facto result of the 1948 creation of the modern Deutsche Mark, which the Allied powers established to replace the Reichsmark; the rebirth of Germany, through its fabled Wirtschaftswunder (Economic Miracle), was only able to come about because this monetary reinvention deleted 90% of both government and private debt.

And as recently as the start of this century, the gestating Advocacy International convinced the governments and monetary institutions of the wealthiest nations to write off over $100 billion of underdeveloped nations’ debts. The act and the date was named Jubilee 2000. According to Advocacy’s own history, the year-long effort –which relieved 42 countries of their unsustainable debt– was successful “thanks to pressure from a small group of evangelical Christians at the very early stages of the campaign.”