The nation of Israel was formally established at Sinai by God with God as king. At that time, God instructed his people as to righteous behavior. The books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy contain many laws addressing how the people were to relate to God and how the people were to relate to each other. The image of a God who blessed his faithful people with peace and prosperity would show the world God’s intention for all humanity. In other words, shades of Eden
Despite scores of passages about economic related issues, there is no economic model presented in the Old Testament. The primary economic model appears to be “Do what God says.” Probably the most instructive passage relating to economic behavior is the Leviticus 25 instructions concerning sabbath and jubilee.
1 The LORD spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying: 2 Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: When you enter the land that I am giving you, the land shall observe a sabbath for the LORD. 3 Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in their yield; 4 but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of complete rest for the land, a sabbath for the LORD: you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. 5 You shall not reap the aftergrowth of your harvest or gather the grapes of your unpruned vine: it shall be a year of complete rest for the land. 6 You may eat what the land yields during its sabbath -- you, your male and female slaves, your hired and your bound laborers who live with you; 7 for your livestock also, and for the wild animals in your land all its yield shall be for food.
To my knowledge, Sabbath observance began here. There are some who make a case for Sabbath observance back to Adam, but the consensus seems to be that it was originated at Sinai. It is hard to imagine a more dramatic display of trust in God than to see an entire society cease labor for an entire year every seven years. Such a practice would free the Israelites from anxious striving and draw their focus to God. Neighboring people could not help but take notice.
8 You shall count off seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the period of seven weeks of years gives forty-nine years. 9 Then you shall have the trumpet sounded loud; on the tenth day of the seventh month -- on the day of atonement -- you shall have the trumpet sounded throughout all your land. 10 And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: you shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family. 11 That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you: you shall not sow, or reap the aftergrowth, or harvest the unpruned vines. 12 For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you: you shall eat only what the field itself produces.
The Jubilee was to occur on every seventh Sabbath year, or once every 49 years. The wording of the passage makes it confusing and some have said it was to be every 50 years. However, most Jewish scholars by the time of the New Testament era believed that the first year was the period between year 0 and 1, the second between year 1 and 2, and so on. Thus, the fiftieth year was between years 49 and 50. This is similar to living in the 2000s but calling it the Twenty-First Century.
The key economic principle hinted at here is that there was a type of private ownership. Each person was told to return to their own land. However, that ownership was granted by God and could not be permanently transferred to anyone else. In short, the land was ultimately God’s land and the Israelite was a steward of it. There land was to be a reminder of God's faithfulness.