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Topic: The History of the Jubilee

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The History of the Jubilee

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David Hill 30 Dec 2000 The History of the Jubilee Celebration

"The above patterns for both the Exodus and the crucifixion suggests that the years 1440 B.C. and 30 A.D. {March 22nd was a Friday, April 6th (Nisan 16th) was a Saturday} may have been a Hebrew intercalary year of 13 months. It is interesting to note that the gross aggregate separation of 1440 B.C. and 30 A.D. is 1470 years; which is 30 x 49, or thirty "jubilees"."

While I was reading through Rosh Kodesh's post, I stumbled across this paragraph, and for some reason it held my interest. When I was pondering the last half of this sentence, where it talked about the Jubilee year, I felt like researching it some more.

I had always assumed; because I had read it somewhere; that there was no proof in the Scriptures or History that Israel had ever celebrated the Jubilee Year. I just assumed that Joshuah passed away before the first one and that it was never celebrated.

However, in his post he lists several verses that are referring to the Jubilee, and so it can be safely assumed that at some point in their past they did indeed honor this festival. And even if Joshuah did die before the first Jubilee (though it says that he reigned a long time in Israel after they came up into the land and lived to be 110 years old), he certainly instituted the Sabbatical Cycle. This can be seen very clearly in the book, for in the fifth year of coming up into the land (Caleb was 40 at the exodus and 85 at this point) Joshuah stopped fighting and conquering and divided up the land by lots.

The reason is obvious. The people needed to get settled into their land and houses before the sixth year, so that they could reap down the crop from the fifth and sixth years, in order to let the land rest on the seventh year after coming into the land - without starving to death. So, there is absolutely no doubt that he started the Sabbatical/Jubilee cycle immediately, and if he was alive for the first Jubilee (certainly possible) then he would definitely have instituted it. Not only he, but the entire nation had the zeal in those early years to do so - see chapters 11,14 and 22.

So, while was I thinking about this, I decided to research the 70 year Babylonian captivity in reference to this. Those seventy years were specifically to let the Land enjoy its Sabbaths that it had missed when they hadn't celebrated either the Sabbatical Year (rest for the land every 7 years) of the Jubilee (another year of rest for the land once every 50 years).

It can safely be assumed that this 70 years is not 70 jubilee years that Israel didn't honor, for that would bring you back till before the flood - roughly 3500 years before the Babylonian captivity. So, this 70 years is the sum total of all the Sabbatical years of rest and Jubilee years of rest that they missed. Hence, if you figure it out you will see that there are 62 Sabbatical years that they missed and 8 Jubilee years for a total of 70 years of rest that they 'owed' the Land.

As well, since the Jubilee year is the last half of the 49th year and the first half of the 1st year of a new cycle, the total amount of years that they stopped celebrating the Sabbatical - Jubilee cycle is 62x7 for a total of 434 years, up until the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 583 - 582 BC. Hence then, by adding the total amount of years that they stopped the Cycle, till the Year of Jerusalem's destruction, brings you back to the year 1017 - 1016 BC as the last year that they celebrated the Sabbatical - Jubilee Cycle. This may be off a couple of years, and even up to six years total, but I think you will find that it meshes well and is probably correct - there are several different dates where specific years are mentioned that come into play as we will see.

Now, it gets more interesting! This year, 1017 - 1016 BC, was a Sabbatical year (possibly 1016 - 1015 BC), not specifically a Jubilee year. However, something very important happened, which further establishes this year as the end of the observation of these two festivals. You see, this was the year that the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant - The Glory Had Departed From Israel!

However, we can prove this another way with Rosh's findings. If indeed the Exodus was 1440 - 1399 BC, and since we know that they had to wait on entering the land for forty years, then the first Jubilee cycle countdown would have started in the years 1400 - 1399 BC.

The first actual Jubilee year would have been 1351 - 1350 BC and the second would have been 1302 - 1301 BC and the third 1253 - 1252 BC and the fourth 1204 - 1203 BC and the fifth 1155 - 1154 BC and the sixth 1106 - 1105 BC and the seventh and last Jubilee ever celebrated was 1057 - 1056 BC and the eighth one would have been 1008 - 1007 BC.

And, it just so happens that the seventh Jubilee year is the end of the time of the Judges and it seems that the most popular of the judges were those who were judging during a Jubilee year. And in fact they are probably responsible for keeping that festival going through those years. As well, this last jubilee celebration (1057 BC) is also the first actual year that Eli was in office at the Tabernacle (he reigned for 40 years and was ninety-eight when he died, thus he missed the next jubilee year by eight years).

Now, I think that you all can see the immediate short term conclusion to all this. It was the establishment of the Monarchy under Saul that directly led to the end of the Celebration of the Jubilee Cycle. Lets go ahead after the Seventh and last Jubilee Celebration to 1017 - 1016 BC and the loss of the Ark. This year has been targeted by figuring backwards from the destruction of Jerusalem (based on the 70 years captivity in which the land will enjoy its Sabbaths) and is assuredly where the count starts.

And with Rosh's chronology of the Exodus, this same year is 7-8 years before the next Jubilee year and from Eli's age, we know that he missed the next Jubilee by exactly this amount, because he died when the Ark was taken - making this a sabbatical year - so these two chronologies are meshing pretty well so far, and it only gets better.

So, they went to battle with the Philistines and lost so they said, 'lets go get the Ark', and they got the Ark and it was captured and they still lost, so the question is; why did God allow the Ark to be captured?

Because they were not honoring the Sabbatical year. They sowed their seeds in the Fall of this year which they weren't supposed to, and reaped it the next year - during the sabbatical year itself, which is specifically stated in context - when they were harvesting the wheat. So, this is the first year that they missed and God allowed the Ark to be taken to warn them.

Now, why would they have celebrated the sabbatical and jubilee year for so long and then stop now? The answer can be found in how Eli's sons were treating the people and their sacrifices (and thus first fruits) that the people brought. They were oppressing the people, so the people stopped honoring the priests with their tithes and offerings (1Sam2:17). It can be shown that Eli was ultimately responsible for the cessation of the Sabbatical year celebration - because he could not, or would not, control and discipline his sons. And so God raised up a faithful priest instead - Samuel. And then He 'removed' Eli and his sons from office, so that Samuel could reinstate the Sabbatical cycle before the next Jubilee Year. But, the Jubilee year cessation is another story altogether.

After the death of Eli and his sons at the capture of the Ark, Samuel re-establishes the sabbatical year via the third year offerings (chapter 7 - though not in time for the actual sabbatical year previous) and the Lord delivers them from the enemy supernaturally, which leads to the Philistines, "Not coming into the coasts of Israel anymore" and this is important and we will see it again - after this Israel was not at war with Philistia. And then the people ask him for a King.

Now, Samuel told them what the King was going to do to support his monarchy (taxes, confiscation of land and people etc - chapter 8), and if you consider this closely you will see that this is implying that the King was going to suspend the Jubilee and Sabbatical cycles and take that wealth to himself to finance his Monarchy! When they anointed a King he was not supposed to act thus (see Lev 24:18, Deut. 17 and 1Sam 13:14), but God was telling them that this was in fact, going to occur - without specifically mentioning the Jubilee year.

So, he anoints Saul as King, assuredly in the year 1011-1010BC, and if you look, you will see that this would be the exact midpoint of the last seven years (i.e. the fourth year) before the upcoming Jubilee year - just like the ascension of the Antichrist at the midpoint of the seven year tribulation, who Saul is a type of!

Now, some of the people didn't want Saul as king, so the Lord allows the Ammonites to attack, and Saul - filled with the Spirit - cuts up a Ox and ships it throughout Israel and thus 'motivates' the people to help attack this army, which they do and they win, and then everyone wants Saul to be king. So, they go up to Gilgal to reconfirm his ordination - probably in the year 1010-1009BC the sixth year. Then, in 1009-1008BC which is the Sabbatical Year - Samuel asks the people if he had ever oppressed them and they said no. Samuel was doing this to show that he had restored the Sabbatical year that had lapsed under Eli, and that the years that he was in authority he was blameless and now, in this Sabbatical/Jubilee year, Saul is responsible and the rest is up to Saul - the new King, for now the Sabbatical/Jubilee year is at hand.

This is his big test. Will he continue the observation of the Sabbatical and Jubilee year - even though it will put a dent in the revenue for the new Monarchy? If in fact, the Jubilee year was celebrated by Israel for 400 years previous to this, then as Rosh has shown in his post (see also, "Jubilee on Wall Street" forget the author) Israel would have been a very wealthy country with virtually no poor people in it (i.e. imagine taking out a $20,000 house loan with no interest).

The very fact that within one generation from this, Solomon became the wealthiest King in History, goes a long way to prove that indeed the nation of Israel did in fact celebrate the Jubilee cycle for 400 years and everyone was very well off and these riches would have been a very tempting source of revenue for the Monarchy - especially if the king already had a 2-3 year 'taste' - absolute power corrupts absolutely. However, with the Sabbatical and Jubilee year coming up back-to-back, this could have put the Monarchy in financial 'difficulty' - at least some might think this.

The pressure is on, and what does Saul do? In the Year before our Lord, of 1008-1007, the very first thing that Saul does, is give some troops to his son Jonathan, and told him to go attack a Philistine outpost in the Judean Hill country.

Now, remember, because of the Lord's previous deliverance of Israel under Samuel, Israel was not currently at war with Philistia. Saul picked a fight with them for a specific reason. And that reason is shown immediately in context, because the second thing that Saul does is blow the trumpets throughout all the land and here you have a specific reference to a Jubilee Year in the Word of God because nowhere in the Word are you ever commanded to blow a trumpet throughout the land except in the Jubilee year.

Remember, just previous to this, Saul cut up an ox and shipped it throughout Israel - while he was filled with the Spirit - to motivate the people. If he was trying to get everyone's attention, he doubtless would have done the same. But now, he blows the trumpets throughout the land and links these Jubilee Trumpets with a War against the Philistines (which war he had just induced) - to justify continual taxation of the people during the Sabbatical Jubilee years.

Thus ended the glorious institution of the Jubilee year.

He then goes up to Gilgal (where the monarchy was established and which is the area that he conveniently decided to start the war in) and waits for Samuel, who postpones his visit past the appointed time. Why?

Because Saul was expecting Samuel to support his actions at killing the Jubilee celebration, and that is something that Samuel could not, and would not do. And when he does show up, Samuel specifically tells Saul that he had not, "Kept the Word of the Lord" and if he had of that God would have established the Monarchy under his name. Thus, the Word of the Lord concerning the Jubilee Celebration, was the test for Saul, and if he had of honored it, it would be the Saulstic Throne and not the Davidic Throne.

[Notice how well this also ties into the 'breaking of the covenant' that we know the Antichrist accomplishes.]

This is further emphasized by his next actions - which may have been in this same year. He is supposed to kill Agag and destroy all his goods, but instead Saul gives the spoil to the Israelites. He was 'buying them off' so to speak. Because he was planning on continuing to tax them during the Sabbatical and Jubilee years, (forcing them to sow and reap during the same) he wanted to do something to monetarily compensate the Israelites.

Thus, by giving them the spoil, he eased his own conscience and made them feel a lot better as well - he bribed them into giving up the Jubilee Year Liberty - and they went along with it. And, once again, this is supported by Saul's return to Gilgal in order to finalize this bargain tying this action into the Monarchy, at the place where it was commissioned - thus again justifying his actions up to this point.

It is very possible that it was during this Jubilee year, that Samuel anointed David as King. The next major event on the chronology seems to be the ascension of David to the throne. He was thirty years old at the time, and he ruled in Judah for seven years and then over all Israel for 33 years for a total of 40. It seems that after those first 7 years, when he began ruling over all Israel, that in the same year he brought the Ark up from Kirjeth where it had resided, we are told, for 20 years. Thus 20 years from 1017 places the Ark in Jerusalem in 997-996 BC, which would be David's seventh year thus his first was 1003 BC.

This is also important as we will see, for he reigned for 40 years, which means he passed away in 963-962 BC. The reason that this is important, is that this means that David missed the chance to reinstitute the Jubilee cycle, which then falls to Solomon. Unfortunately, apparently David didn't reinstitute the Sabbatical cycle either - or there wouldn't have been 70 years of captivity.

Now, Solomon starts rebuilding the Temple in his fourth year which, according to this chronology, would be 959-958 BC by just subtracting the four years from the above year of David's death. However, we can also verify this with Rosh's chronology because it says that it was the 480th year after the Exodus that Solomon started the temple and if you add these 480 years to 959 BC you arrive at 1439 BC as the Exodus, or in other words, 1440 - 1439BC - in perfect agreement.

However, if you haven't already, you will also notice that the year that Solomon started to build the Temple (959+49=1008 BC) was a Jubilee Year. Now, this is actually kind of an appropriate place to start this particular project, but what this amounts to is that they didn't reinstitute the Jubilee cycle at this time. And, because of this one omission, God eventually takes the ten northern tribes away from Solomon and civil war occurs in Israel.

This, by the way, probably explains why David wanted to start building the Temple when he did. He wanted to have it done before the Jubilee year, indicating that he may have had plans of reinstituting it and probably would then have reinstituted the sabbatical as well - with the temple completed.

After this, no one else tries to restore the Sabbatical/Jubilee cycle except Zedekiah - to avoid the Babylonian captivity - which is very telling. This tells us that the Monarchy had a guilty conscience about suspending this celebration. Then finally, Nehemiah makes an attempt to restore this as well, but unfortunately, he never made it. He probably passed off the scene before he had a chance.

Now, however, there is one other attempt to restore the Jubilee cycle. You see, the First Political Statement that Y'shua ever made was, "I have come to set the captives free!" Y'shua was stating, loud and clear, that he planned on restoring the Sabbatical Jubilee Celebration.

And this one statement is really what led to his death. For now he was messing with the wallets of the people who 'ruled' the country (i.e. oppressed the people) and they would not allow any King to do such a thing - not even the Messiah - "The Love of Money is the root of all evil."

The ruling elite (the Sadducees - who controlled the Sanhedrin - and the Herodians) didn't condemn Y'shua because he claimed to be the Son of God (some of the Pharisees who sat on the Sanhedrin did because they really thought He was blaspheming - but many in Israel expected the Messiah to be God's Son), they just used that as an excuse. They condemned him because the restoration of the Jubilee cycle would have taken money out of their coffers, and basically put them out of a job and out of their positions of power and authority that they had over the nation. Y'shua planned on restoring the Monarchy in Honor and He was killed for it.

Thus is the History of the Jubilee Celebrations.

However, He isn't finished yet...



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