Jubilee (and Sabbatical) Years

Cycles of time are central to Jewish life. Just as Shabbat punctuates the week, so too the holidays punctuate the year. In the Shmita year, the "year of release," which is more widely known as the sabbatical year, debts are to be forgiven, agricultural lands to lie fallow, private land holdings to become open to the commons, and staples such as food storage and perennial harvests to be freely redistributed and accessible to all. Sabbatical years are adhered to by devoted Jews everywhere. The past year 2021-2022 AD has been a Shmita year.

Click here for the details.

And now for some background.

After 38 years in Kadesh-Barnea, we read in Numbers 20:24-29 of how Moses went up into Mount Hor, an unmarked mountain on the western border of Edom (Mount Seir). Click here to see a map of Israel's wanderings from Bible History Online. Click here to see a modern Google map showing Mount Hor's presumed location today, just west of Petra. There according to Numbers 33:38 Aaron died in the first day of the fifth month of the 40th year (i.e. July/August 1466 BC) see timeline. From Mount Hor Israel came south, travelling around Edom and Moab via the Red Sea, and in Numbers 21:21-24 started taking possession of the land on the eastern side of the Jordan River. Six/seven months later Joshua crossed the Jordan River taking Jericho in March/April 1465 BC.

1466/1465 BC was "technically" the year Israel took possession, or year zero, 3486 years prior to the Sabbatical in 2021/2022 AD — there is no year "zero". The first year of planting was then 1465/1464 BC. In the sixth year according to Joshua 14:10, i.e. 1460/1459 BC, Joshua divvies up the land. Click here for a map. The land now has rest from war, the people work hard, and according to God's blessing in Leviticus 25:21 harvest three years of crops. The first Sabbatical when all debts were cancelled and the land lay fallow thus came in 1459/1458 BC. This was a good system for legal contracts with everyone acknowledging "year numbers". Also requiring forgiveness i.e. favour mercy and help from God, with the Lord monitoring each person's heart. But with the same rules applying to everyone. The seventh Sabbatical came 42 years later in 1417/1416 BC. It was followed by the first Jubilee year.

So, Jubilee years when families returned to their family's land, which may or may not include a walled, fortified area (e.g. Jerusalem) then commenced in Sept/Oct of the following years:

  1. 1416 BC
  2. 1367 BC
  3. 1318 BC
  4. 1269 BC
  5. 1220 BC
  6. 1171 BC
  7. 1122 BC
  8. 1073 BC
  9. 1024 BC
  10. 975-974 BC the start of David's reign in Hebron, that follows 70 Sabbath year cycles. See Acts 13:18-22
  11. 926-925 BC the seventh year of Solomon's building of the temple that he completed in October-November 925 BC, Solomon's 11th year of reign. See 1 Kings 6:38. It followed 539 years or 77 Sabbath year cycles. Starting the following year, Solomon spends 13 years working on his palace. Then Sept/Oct of 912 BC, after 553 years or 79 Sabbath year cycles, the first year of the 80th Sabbath year cycle marked the temple dedication, when the glory of the Lord so filled the house, the priests could not stand to minister. See 1 Kings 8:11
  12. 877 BC
  13. 828 BC
  14. 779 BC
  15. 730 BC
  16. 681 BC
  17. 632 BC
  18. 583 BC
  19. 534 BC
  20. 485 BC
  21. 436 BC It was the 70th year from the destruction of Solomon's temple in 506 BC, which had come in the 1000th year after the Exodus in 1505BC. In the second year of his reign Darius brings the command to promote its rebuilding. See Haggai 1:1, Zechariah 1:12, Ezra 5:1-2
  22. 387 BC
  23. 338 BC
  24. 289 BC
  25. 240 BC
  26. 191 BC
  27. 142 BC is thought to be the first year of freedom from Syrian taxes followed with the Jews capture of the Syrian Acra fortress next to the temple. According to 1 Maccabees it brought the declaration by the priests and the elders and the people that Simon Maccabee should be their prince and high priest forever, until there should arise a faithful prophet
  28. 93 BC
  29. 44 BC
  30. 6 AD This 30th Jubilee year in 6-7AD is known for being the second census of Quirinius, and of Judas of Galilee (the Zealot)'s rebellion — mentioned in Acts 5:37. It followed the first census in 2BC according to Luke 2:1-4 when Jesus was born.
  31. 55 AD



  1. 1770-1771 AD In October 1770, a badly damaged Endeavour limped into port in Batavia in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) her crew sworn to secrecy about the lands they had discovered (i.e. the east coast of Australia). They resumed their journey on 26 December, rounded the Cape of Good Hope on 13 March 1771, and reached the English port of Dover on 12 July, 1771. See Wikipedia's First voyage of James Cook. Cook's journals were published upon his return, and he became something of a hero among the scientific community with the east coast of Australia becoming a new British convict settlement
  2. .
  3. .
  4. 1917-1918 AD and then, 147 years after Cook's return (i.e. 3 Jubilees later), 800 Aussies in the Battle of Beersheba, the freeing of Beersheba (and Jerusalem) from the Ottoman Empire October-December 1917. This Battle of Beersheba, 31st October 1917, was part of a chain of events that changed the course of history. It was conducted on the same day as the British War Cabinet formulated the Balfour Declaration, the formal statement of its intention at the end of World War I to establish a Jewish homeland. The declaration was incorporated into the peace treaty with Turkey and the British mandate in Palestine and led to the establishment of the state of Israel in 1947-1948, 30 years later
  5. 1966-1967 AD and most recently, the freeing of the old city of Jerusalem during the six day war — June 67.


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