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[XTalk] Re:Jubilee

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  • David C. Hindley
    Message 1 of 3 , Jul 1, 1999
      Liz Fried said:

      >>Scholars believe it did not occur in Israel because according to Leviticus
      these were to occur regularly, every 50 years. Scholars argue that if you
      would not lend money, or sell property if the anduarum approached. I think
      actually that was a real problem, but they probably handled it the same way
      the Babylonians did, made the sale permanent regardless of the approaching
      time of the deror.

      The tenth year of Zedekiah can be dated to 588-587. During this year there
      was a general manumission of (Hebrew) slaves (albeit rescinded). During this
      year Jeremiah redeemed his cousin's land. Fifty years later, exactly,
      Isaiah announces the return of Jews to their homeland in language of the
      deror. 100 years prior to Zedekiah's tenth year, 688-687, would also have
      been a Jubilee year, and the year before that a sabbatical year. Those who
      suggest a second campaign of Senacherib to Judah put it to 689-688, the
      sabbatical year preceding the Jubilee year. In Isaiah 37:30=2 Kings 19:29
      we read what Isaiah says to Hezekiah during a siege by Senacherib : "This
      shall be for you the sign: Eat this year the saPiaH, and in the second year
      the saHis, in the third year plant and harvest." The word saPiaH is used
      only one other time in the HB, in Lev. 25:5. It is what springs up by itself
      from kernels accidently spilled during harvest the year before. The word
      saHis does not occur elsewhere, but its meaning is obvious. It seems Isaiah
      iis telling Hezekiah to keep two falow years in a row.
      It all may be simply coincidences, but it is suggestive, it seems to me. It
      also makes sense that a siege by Sennacherib and a siege by Nebuchadnezzar
      would both be during the time when there would be two fallow years in a row,
      a sabbatical followed by a jubilee. Indeed, the extreme vulnerability of
      the people during this time is one reason to forego the jubilee year.<<

      Sorry, but I am having trouble following the order of some of your statements.

      I was under the impression that the Jubilee year is the 50th year (i.e., the
      year after the seventh sabbatical year), and hence occurs every 49 years. You
      are stating that it is every 50th. Wouldn't the Jubilee years begin to
      separate farther and farther from the seventh sabbatical year if it was true
      that they actually occur 50 years from one another? But you have assumed that
      the Jubilee year immediately follows the seventh sabbatical year. Then you
      said "[f]ifty years later, exactly, Isaiah announces the return of Jews to
      their homeland in language of the deror" as if that means 50 years after
      Zedekiah's time. Yet this appears to refer to Isa 37:30 (= 2 Kings 19:29), but
      this refers to Sennacherib's siege of Hezekiah sometime between 701 and 681
      BCE. Then you say "100 years prior to Zedekiah's tenth year, 688-687, would
      also have been a Jubilee year, and the year before that a sabbatical year" and
      relate that date to the prophesy of Isaiah (and I will even agree that 688 BCE
      may very well be the correct year for it). I am afraid that I am getting a
      case of vertigo!

      You also stated that during the 10th yr of Zedekiah (588 BCE), "there was a
      general manumission of (Hebrew) slaves (albeit rescinded)." I wonder if this
      has been compressed a bit. If, based on the datings from Josephus, a
      sabbatical year occurred in 591/590 BCE, a Jubilee could then have occurred in
      590/589 BCE. Then ...

      RSV Jeremiah 34:15 "You recently [i.e., in 590-589 BCE] repented and did what
      was right in my eyes by proclaiming liberty, each to his neighbor, and you
      made a covenant before me in the house which is called by my name; 16 but then
      you turned around and profaned my name when each of you took back his male and
      female slaves, whom you had set free according to their desire, and you
      brought them into subjection to be your slaves. 17 Therefore, thus says the
      LORD: You have not obeyed me by proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother
      and to his neighbor; behold, I proclaim to you liberty to the sword, to
      pestilence, and to famine, says the LORD. I will make you a horror to all the
      kingdoms of the earth."

      The latter prediction, it seems to me, was meant to explain the famine in
      Jerusalem in 588 BCE as punishment for the people reversing their promise to
      release their slaves, made the year before. However, while the term "liberty"
      is properly that of a jubilee, it only relates to *land*, not slaves! Nothing
      about "liberty" or "release" is associated with Hebrew slaves (although I
      suppose it is possible to consider these slaves to have been reduced to that
      state due to debts, although neither Exodus or Leviticus specifically link the
      two).

      But even so, it is still not clear that all possible interpretations of the
      practice of sabbatical and jubilee years has been worked out here! With regard
      to sabbatical years Exo 21:2-7 and Deu 15:12-18 say simply that a Hebrew slave
      is set free at the end of the seventh year of service. The closest thing to
      "liberty" is Deu 15:1-6 where *debts* are forgiven because "Yahweh's release
      has been proclaimed." Alternatively, Lev 25:8-17 is what says that the jubilee
      year is to be marked by a proclamation of "liberty" for the *land*, which
      means it can be reverted back to the former owner by means of redemption. Lev
      25:40-42 specifies that Hebrew slaves are to be set free.

      As a result, Jer 34 may only refer to a sabbatical year, making the year of
      release 591/590 BCE, or two years before the siege of 588 BCE. However, Isa
      37=2 Kgs 19 does indeed seem to refer to a period consisting of a sabbatical
      and a jubilee year, but why not 703-701 BCE just prior to Sennacherib's
      "first" invasion? If so, then 33-35 is a sabbatical-jubilee year combination
      relatively close to the usual period for placing Jesus' public activity. This
      is, incidentally, an alternative date (34-35) for the death of John the
      Baptist.

      Regards,

      Dave Hindley
      Cleveland, Ohio, USA


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    • Liz Fried
      dhindley@csi.com wrote: I was under the impression that the Jubilee year is the 50th year (i.e., the year after the seventh sabbatical year), and
      Message 2 of 3 , Jul 2, 1999
        dhindley@... wrote:

        >
        > I was under the impression that the Jubilee year is the 50th year
        > (i.e., the
        > year after the seventh sabbatical year), and hence occurs every
        > 49 years.
        I don't understand this statement. It is the 50th year. The counting begins
        the year after the Jubilee year. That is year one. Seven periods of seven
        make 49 years after the last Jubilee year. The next year is the 50th year
        after the last Jubilee year. The 50th year is not counted in the cycle.
        There are 49 years between every jubilee year.

        You
        > are stating that it is every 50th. Wouldn't the Jubilee years begin to
        > separate farther and farther from the seventh sabbatical year if
        > it was true
        > that they actually occur 50 years from one another? But you have
        > assumed that
        > the Jubilee year immediately follows the seventh sabbatical year.
        > Then you
        > said "[f]ifty years later, exactly, Isaiah announces the return of Jews to
        > their homeland in language of the deror" as if that means 50 years after
        > Zedekiah's time. Yet this appears to refer to Isa 37:30 (= 2
        > Kings 19:29), but
        > this refers to Sennacherib's siege of Hezekiah sometime between
        > 701 and 681
        > BCE. Then you say "100 years prior to Zedekiah's tenth year,
        > 688-687, would
        > also have been a Jubilee year, and the year before that a
        > sabbatical year" and
        > relate that date to the prophesy of Isaiah (and I will even agree
        > that 688 BCE
        > may very well be the correct year for it). I am afraid that I am getting a
        > case of vertigo!

        If you think this is bad, try counting into Jesus' time! Then you have to
        remember there was no year zero, and to figure out whether you add or
        subtract to account for the missing zero. That's what gave me vertigo!

        >
        > You also stated that during the 10th yr of Zedekiah (588 BCE),
        > "there was a
        > general manumission of (Hebrew) slaves (albeit rescinded)." I
        > wonder if this
        > has been compressed a bit. If, based on the datings from Josephus, a
        > sabbatical year occurred in 591/590 BCE, a Jubilee could then
        > have occurred in
        > 590/589 BCE. Then ...
        Hmmm. What is the reference please?

        >
        > RSV Jeremiah 34:15 "You recently [i.e., in 590-589 BCE] repented
        > and did what
        > was right in my eyes by proclaiming liberty, each to his neighbor, and you
        > made a covenant before me in the house which is called by my
        > name; 16 but then
        > you turned around and profaned my name when each of you took back
        > his male and
        > female slaves, whom you had set free according to their desire, and you
        > brought them into subjection to be your slaves. 17 Therefore,
        > thus says the
        > LORD: You have not obeyed me by proclaiming liberty, every one to
        > his brother
        > and to his neighbor; behold, I proclaim to you liberty to the sword, to
        > pestilence, and to famine, says the LORD. I will make you a
        > horror to all the
        > kingdoms of the earth."

        According to my calculations, the manumission was in the tenth year of
        Zedekiah, and this year I determined from the dates of Nebuchadnezzar's
        reign.

        >
        > The latter prediction, it seems to me, was meant to explain the famine in
        > Jerusalem in 588 BCE as punishment for the people reversing their
        > promise to
        > release their slaves, made the year before.
        I think the famine resulted from it being a fallow year.

        However, while the
        > term "liberty"
        > is properly that of a jubilee, it only relates to *land*, not
        > slaves! Nothing
        > about "liberty" or "release" is associated with Hebrew slaves (although I
        > suppose it is possible to consider these slaves to have been
        > reduced to that
        > state due to debts, although neither Exodus or Leviticus
        > specifically link the
        > two).

        Slaves are released during the jubilee year, not the sabbatical year.
        Lev. 25:10 states that everyone shall return to his own inherited property
        and to his family. Slaves are not released during the sabbatical year.
        In Lev. 25: 6 it says "you may eat what the land yields during its
        sabbath -- you, your male and female slaves, your hired and bound laborers
        who live with you." Thus the writer assumes there will be slaves during the
        sabbatical years. It is only during the jubilee that these are released to
        their own land. Deut. 15:1 states that every 7th year there shall be
        release from debts. Scholars have assumed that most slaves are enslaved
        because of debt, and that therefore a release of debt means a release of the
        slave. I don't agree that this is the assumption of the writer of Lev.
        25:6.
        Further, more confusing, is Deut. 15:12. There it states that a Hebrew slave
        shall only work for you for 6 years, in the 7th year he shall go out free.
        This does not prescribe a general manumission of slaves. This means that
        after 6 compelte years of working for you, you have to let him go. Slaves
        will be released at different times, depending upon when they went into
        slavery.

        >
        <snip>

        > As a result, Jer 34 may only refer to a sabbatical year,
        No, I don't think so. Jer. 34 refers to a general manumission.
        This is only prescribed, according to the biblical texts, for a Jubilee
        year.

        making
        > the year of
        > release 591/590 BCE, or two years before the siege of 588 BCE.
        According to my reasoning and calculations, no. But I haven't seen the
        Josephus text you refer to.

        > However, Isa
        > 37=2 Kgs 19 does indeed seem to refer to a period consisting of a
        > sabbatical
        > and a jubilee year,
        I'm glad you think so! that's exciting!


        but why not 703-701 BCE just prior to Sennacherib's
        > "first" invasion?
        Perhaps, but I'm hoping it was exactly 100 years prior to Zedekiah's ninth
        and tenth regnal years.

        If so, then 33-35 is a sabbatical-jubilee year

        We don't need to count Sabbatical years in Jesus' time from the jubilees of
        the monarchal period. We have the sabbatical years of Maccabees. We need to
        count from then.

        > combination
        > relatively close to the usual period for placing Jesus' public
        > activity. This
        > is, incidentally, an alternative date (34-35) for the death of John the
        > Baptist.
        How is this date arrived at? It seems awfully late to me.

        It's nice having people interested in this topic. Where were you all when I
        was writing the paper???

        Best,

        Liz

        Lisbeth S. Fried
        Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies
        New York University
        51 Washington Sq. S.
        New York, NY 10012
        lqf9256@...
        lizfried@...


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