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How to Spot a Sabbath Year

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  • Ged
    The Sabbath Years enable us to date events in the book of Judges

    An important distinctive of the Jubilee is that it began with the sound of the trumpet on the seventh month of the 49th year. (Lev. 25:8-10) All other years began on the 1st of Abib. (Exodus 12:2) In other words, the 50th year was superimposed over the last half of the 49th year and the first half-year of the next jubilee cycle.

    Diagram of Jubilee Cycle

    Are there any examples of such an occasion in the history of the Judges? Yes! When the rule of judges, the times of oppression, and the continuous count of seven is laid down together, a Jubilee year is produced in 1298 BC in the year that Israel was set free from the Moabite oppression.

    Please have another look at post #3 showing how to spot a Sabbath and notice these things:
    1. Ehud's daring act happened late summer, because Israel's 'tribute' would have come from the harvest. (Jdg. 3:15-20)
    2. Ehud blew the shofar - the Jubilee trumpet - at which the Israelites rallied and defeated their foes.
    3. The trumpet was blown from “the hill country of Ephraim” to where the people gathered. This location is Mts Gerizim and Ebal.
    4. The eastern tribes enjoyed a long peace of 80 years indicating repentance and the Lord's favour.

    Together with the sabbatical count, these factors confirm a 49/50 year and enable us to reliably date events that happened during the book of Judges. I.O.W. Ehud's rule began in September 1298 BC.

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  • Ged
    Date of Joshua's death is known after all!

    At the end of every seven years, at the set time in the year of release, at the Feast of Booths, when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord. (Deut. 31:10-12)
    The sabbatical years provide Bible history with an unexpected bonus at the beginning of the Promised Land. The length of Joshua's rule, and his date of death is not given, and this has made it difficult to construct a chronology of the Judges because he was the first Judge.

    What is known is his final age of 110 and a brief comment concerning his 'youth' when he began serving Moses. (Numbers 11:28) Also, he spied out the land with contemporaries, all of whom died before the land was divided, except Caleb, who was 85 by then. So, Joshua was probably the youngest spy, but by how many years is not said.

    However, when we study the background of Joshua's final year, it becomes apparent that he died on a Sabbatical. Moses had left instructions to assemble the people every 7th year (see verse above), and just prior to Joshua's parting we see such an event taking place at Shechem. (Josh. 24) This was his last public exhortation to all Israel to keep God's law, so the event is clearly defined.

    Joshua's age of 110 suggests the general ‘heptad’ but now a precise year of his death can be deduced from a careful count of seven from the day God instituted the calendar at the Exodus. (Exodus 12:1) It brings us to the Sabbath year of 1368 BC.

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  • Ged
    First recorded Sabbath?

    Let’s see if we can find some Sabbath years? Have a look at the first case to fit the description and see what we think? Moses had told them that after entering Canaan, they were to gather between Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal, find some suitable large rocks, and write the law on them as a permanent marker. (Deut. 27:1-12)

    Moses then read out all that was to be written – the blessings and cursings as recorded in chapter 28 to 30. Then Moses added to his instruction the time of the year it should be done. He said, such gatherings should occur on the 7th year and be read to all Israel every subsequent Sabbath year as well! (Deut. 31:10-12)

    Now step forward in time to Joshua. All Israel is assembled at Mts. Gerizim and Ebal, and the law is read to them in accordance to Moses earlier instructions.
    Then Joshua built on Mount Ebal an altar to the LORD, the God of Israel, as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded the Israelites. He built it according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses … There, in the presence of the Israelites, Joshua wrote on stones a copy of the law of Moses … Half of the people stood in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the LORD had formerly commanded when he gave instructions to bless the people of Israel. Afterward, Joshua read all the words of the law—the blessings and the curses—just as it is written in the Book of the Law.
    So what do you reckon? I say Joshua 8 is the first recorded example of a Sabbath year being kept. Yes?


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  • Just Some Dude
    Am watching this topic.

    Leave a comment:

  • Ged
    A Sabbath year is indicated when ...

    When we read Moses on this subject, we get the impression that there was to be a continuous observance of these special years. They were supposed to be like clockwork. However, when we go looking for examples in the Bible very few seem to be mentioned – on the surface anyway.

    I think that there were more kept than we think but they weren’t explicitly mentioned, that’s all. We can recognise them by indicators. Admittedly, these clues don’t guarantee that we have a Sabbath year, but the probability is very strong if several indicators are present at the same time:

    A Sabbath year is indicated when one of the following things happen:
    • if all Israel is gathered together that year to one place.
    • if the location is Shechem, Gerizim, Ebal. (Judges era)
    • if a blowing of the shofar was heard from that location.
    • if the season is late summer when Israel is assembled.
    • if it is the 7th month of Tishri (Sept) when Israel is assembled.
    • if a public reading of the law is made to all the people.
    • if the season did not have the usual summer harvest.
    • if the ‘day of fasting’ is at the time Israel is assembled.
    • if the release of debts/slaves takes place in that year.
    • if a notable religious revival followed the public reading.
    • if the year is linked to other Sabbaths by multiples of 7.

    One scripture that has helped me a lot is Deut. 31:10-12. Whenever I see an occasion when all Israel is gathered together in one place, I say to myself, “Hello! I wonder if this event happened on a Sabbath year?” Then I scratch around to see if the date is the same as on the chart.

    At the end of every seven years, at the set time in the year of release, at the Feast of Booths, when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord. (Deut. 31:10-12)
    (to continue)

    Leave a comment:

  • Ged
    The Sabbath years were not only to do with agriculture.

    Also, I would just like to assure any who may be wondering: No, Im not trying to talk us into modern day Sabbath keeping. However, the Sabbath and Jubilee systems are well worth studying insofar as they pointed to Christ.

    Will try to get back to this soon.


    Leave a comment:

  • Ged
    started a topic How to Spot a Sabbath Year

    How to Spot a Sabbath Year

    One of the least researched topics in the Bible is the subject of Sabbatical years. It is generally thought that, prior to Judah’s desolation, Sabbath years were spasmodic and the Chronicles are quoted to make the point.
    He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword … to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years. (2 Chron. 36:20-21)

    The claim is then made that Sabbatical years recorded in later eras cannot be connected to pre-captivity times because there aren’t enough early examples to identify. However, we shouldn’t forget that the ‘70-year catch up’, as bad as it was, accounted for about half of the appointed Sabbaths, so there must have been others that were kept. And, although it is true that they were not explicitly mentioned, the Bible does record some notable Sabbath years. Yes, they can be identified. Yes, they can be dated!

    The purpose of this topic is to uncover certain features of the seventh year which identify it as a Sabbatical. These unique features are often included in apparently unrelated stories but they are actually vital time-markers in a chain of ‘sevens’ spanning the history of Israel.

    I’ll try to do this one bite at a time. Later on, I hope to share 10 biblical examples of Sabbatical years which I believe have been overlooked. Then maybe we can pin a date on them. But, on my next post lets continue with … a Sabbath year is indicated when one of the following things happen:

    (to continue)

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