|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
Hebrews shanah, meaning "repetition" or "revolution" (Genesis 1:14; 5:3). Among the ancient Egyptians the year consisted of twelve months of thirty days each, with five days added to make it a complete revolution of the earth round the sun. The Jews reckoned the year in two ways, (1) according to a sacred calendar, in which the year began about the time of the vernal equinox, with the month Abib; and (2) according to a civil calendar, in which the year began about the time of the autumnal equinox, with the month Nisan. The month Tisri is now the beginning of the Jewish year.
Noah Webster's Dictionary
1. (n.) The time of the apparent revolution of the sun trough the ecliptic; the period occupied by the earth in making its revolution around the sun, called the astronomical year; also, a period more or less nearly agreeing with this, adopted by various nations as a measure of time, and called the civil year; as, the common lunar year of 354 days, still in use among the Mohammedans; the year of 360 days, etc. In common usage, the year consists of 365 days, and every fourth year (called bissextile, or leap year) of 366 days, a day being added to February on that year, on account of the excess above 365 days (see Bissextile).
2. (n.) The time in which any planet completes a revolution about the sun; as, the year of Jupiter or of Saturn.
3. (n.) Age, or old age; as, a man in years.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
(shenath ha-yobhel; etos tes apheseos; annus jubilaeus, "year of jubilee" (Leviticus 25:13), or simply ha-yobhel, "the jubilee" (Leviticus 25:28; compare Numbers 36:4), the King James Version and the English Revised Version Jubile): The Hebrew word yobhel stands for qeren ha-yobhel, meaning the horn of a ram. Now, such a horn can be made into a trumpet, and thus the word yobhel came to be used as a synonym of trumpet. According to Leviticus 25:9 a loud trumpet should proclaim liberty throughout the country on the 10th day of the 7th month (the Day of Atonement), after the lapse of 7 sabbaths of years = 49 years. In this manner, every 50th year was to be announced as a jubilee year. All real property should automatically revert to its original owner (Leviticus 25:10; compare 25:13), and those who, compelled by poverty, had sold themselves as slaves to their brothers, should regain their liberty (Leviticus 25:10; compare 25:39).
In addition to this, the Jubilee Year was to be observed after the manner of the sabbatic year, i.e. there should be neither sowing nor reaping nor pruning of vines, and everybody was expected to live on what the fields and the vineyards produced "of themselves," and no attempt should be made at storing up the products of the land (Leviticus 25:11 f). Thus there are three distinct factors constituting the essential features of the Jubilee Year: personal liberty, restitution of property, and what we might call the simple life.
1. Personal Liberty:
The 50th year was to be a time in which liberty should be proclaimed to all the inhabitants of the country. We should, indeed, diminish the import of this institution if we should apply it only to those who were to be freed from the bonds of physical servitude. Undoubtedly, they must have been the foremost in realizing its beneficial effects. But the law was intended to benefit all, the masters as well as the servants. They should never lose sight of their being brothers and citizens of theocratic kingdom. They owed their life to God and were subject to His sovereign will. Only through loyalty to Him were they free and could ever hope to be free and independent of all other masters.
2. Restitution of Property:
The institution of the Jubilee Year should become the means of fixing the price of real property (Leviticus 25:15; compare 25:25-28); moreover, it should exclude the possibility of selling any piece of land permanently (Leviticus 25:23), the next verse furnishing the motive: "The land is mine: for ye are strangers and sojourners with me." The same rule was to be applied to dwelling-houses outside of the walled cities (Leviticus 25:31), and also to the houses owned by Levites, although they were built within walled cities (Leviticus 25:32).
In the same manner the price of Hebrew slaves was to vary according to the proximity of the Jubilee Year (Leviticus 25:47-54). This passage deals with the enslaving of a Hebrew by a foreigner living among the Jews; it goes without saying that the same rule would hold good in the case of a Hebrew selling himself to one of his own people. In Leviticus 27:17-25 we find a similar arrangement respecting such lands that were "sanctified unto Yahweh." In all these cases the original owner was at liberty to redeem his property at any time, or have it redeemed by some of his nearest relatives (25:25-27, 29, 48;; 27:19).
The crowning feature, though, was the full restitution of all real property in the Jubilee Year. The primary object of this regulation was, of course, the reversion of all hereditary property to the family which originally possessed it, and the reestablishment of the original arrangement regarding the division of the land. But that was not all; for this legal disposition and regulation of external matters was closely connected with the high calling of the Jewish people. It was a part of the Divine plan looking forward to the salvation of mankind. "The deepest meaning of it (the Jubilee Year) is to be found in the apokatastasis tes basileias tou theou, i.e. in the restoring of all that which in the course of time was perverted by man's sin, in the removing of all slavery of sin, in the establishing of the true liberty of the children of God, and in the delivering of the creation from the bondage of corruption to which it was subjected on account of man's depravity" (Romans 8:19) (compare Keil, Manual of Biblical Archaeology). In the Year of Jubilee a great future era of Yahweh's favor is foreshadowed, that period which, according to Isaiah 61:1-3, shall be ushered in to all those that labor and are heavy laden, by Him who was anointed by the spirit of the Lord Yahweh.
3. The Simple Life:
The Jubilee Year, being the crowning point of all sabbatical institutions, gave the finishing touch as it were to the whole cycle of sabbatic days, months and years. It is, therefore, quite appropriate that it should be a year of rest for the land like the preceding sabbatic year (Leviticus 25:11 f). It follows, of course, that in this instance there were two years, one after the other, in which there should be no sowing or systematic ingathering. This seems to be clear from Leviticus 25:18-22: "And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat of the fruits, the old store; until the ninth year, until its fruits come in, ye shall eat the old store." Thus in the 7th and 8th years the people were to live on what the fields had produced in the 6th year and whatever grew spontaneously. This shows the reason why we may say that one of the factors constituting the Jubilee Year was the "simple life." They could not help but live simply for two consecutive years. Nobody can deny that this afforded ample opportunity to develop the habit of living within very limited means. And again we see that this external part of the matter did not fully come up to the intention of the Lawgiver. It was not the simple life as such that He had in view, but rather the laying down of its moral and religious foundations. In this connection we must again refer to Leviticus 25:18-22, "What shall we eat the seventh year?" The answer is very simple and yet of surpassing grandeur: "Then I will command my blessing upon you," etc. Nothing was expected of the people but faith in Yahweh and confidence in His power, which was not to be shaken by any doubtful reflection. And right here we have found the root of the simple life: no life without the true God, and no simplicity of life without true faith in Him. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4; compare Deuteronomy 8:3).
We may well ask: Did the Jewish people ever observe the Jubilee Year? There is no reason why they should not have observed it in pre-exilic times (compare Lotz in The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, X, under the word "Sabbatical Year" and "Year of Jubilee"). Perhaps they signally failed in it, and if so, we should not be surprised at all. Not that the institution in itself was cumbered with any obstacles that could not have been overcome; but what is more common than unbelief and unwillingness to trust absolutely in Yahweh? Or, was it observed in post-exilic times? Here, too, we are in the dark. There is, indeed, a tradition according to which the Jubilee Year has never been observed-neither in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah nor at any later period. The truth of this seems to be corroborated by the silence of Josephus, who, while referring quite frequently to the sabbatic year, never once mentions the Year of Jubilee.
sa-bat'-ik-al, shenath shabbathon; eniautos anapauseos, "a year of solemn rest"; or shabbath shabbathon; sabbata anapausis, "a sabbath of solemn rest" (Leviticus 25:4); or shehath ha-shemittah; etos tes apheseos, "the year of release" (Deuteronomy 15:9; Deuteronomy 31:10)):
1. Primary Intention:
We find the first rudiments of this institution in the so-called Covenant Book (Exodus 21-23). Its connection with the day of rest (Sabbath) is obvious, although it strikes us as somewhat remarkable that in Exodus 23:10-12 the regulation regarding the 7th year should precede the statute respecting the 7th day. Still it seems natural that after the allusion in verse 9, "Ye were sojourners in the land of Egypt," the Covenant Book should put in a good word for the poor in Israel (verse 11: "Let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of thy people may eat"). Even the beasts of the field are remembered (compare Jonah 4:11).
We must, therefore, conclude that in this early period of the history of Israel the regulation regarding the 7th year was primarily intended for the relief of the poor and for the awakening of a sense of responsibility in the hearts of those better provided with the means of subsistence. It would be wrong, however, to deny its Sabbatic character, for the text says expressly, "But in the 7th year thou shalt let it rest" (literally, "thou shalt release it"), implying that the land was entitled to a rest because it needed it; it must be released for a time in order to gain fresh strength and insure its future fertility. Two motives, then, present themselves most clearly, one of a social, the other of an economic character, and both are rooted in God's dealings with Israel (compare Exodus 21:1).
2. Mosaic Legislation Humane:
Another evidence of the humane spirit pervading the Mosaic Law may be found in Exodus 21:2-6 where, in the case of a Hebrew slave, the length of his servitude is limited to six years. The connection with the idea of the Sabbath is evident, but we fail to detect here any reference to the Sabbatical year. It is clear that the 7th year in which a slave might be set free need not necessarily coincide with the Sabbatical year, though it might, of course, The same is true of Deuteronomy 15:12-18; it has nothing to do with the Sabbatical year. On the other hand it is reasonable to assume that the "release" mentioned in Deuteronomy 15:1-3 took place in the Sabbatical year; in other words, its scope had been enlarged in later years so as to include the release from pecuniary obligation, i.e. the remission of debts or, at least, their temporary suspension. This means that the children of Israel were now developing from a purely agricultural people to a commercial nation. Still the same spirit of compassion for the poor and those struggling for a living asserts itself as in the earlier period, and it goes without saying that the old regulation concerning the release of the land in the 7th year was still in force (compare 15:2: "because Yahweh's release hath been proclaimed").
According to Deuteronomy 15:1, this proclamation occurred at the end of every 7 years, or, rather, during the 7th year; for we must be careful not to strain the expression "at the end" (compare 15:9, where the 7th year is called "the year of release"; it is quite natural to identify this 7th year with the Sabbatical year).
Moreover, we are now almost compelled to assert the Sabbatical year by this time had become an institution observed simultaneously all over the country. From the wording of the regulation regarding the 7th year in the Covenant Book we are not certain about this in those early times. But now it is different. "Yahweh's release hath been proclaimed."
3. General Observance:
It was a solemn and general proclamation, the date of which was very likely the day of atonement in the 7th month (the Sabbatical month). The celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles (booths) began five days later and it lasted from the 15th day to the 21st of the 7th month (Tisri). In the Sabbatical year, at that time, the Law was read "before all Israel in their hearing," a fact which tends to prove that the Sabbatical year had become a matter of general and simultaneous observance (compare Deuteronomy 31:10-13). Another lesson may be deduced from this passage: it gives us a hint respecting the use to which the people may have put their leisure time during the 12 months of Sabbatical rest; it may have been a period of religious and probably other instruction.
In Leviticus 25:1-7 the central idea of the Sabbatical year is unfolded. Although it has been said we should be careful not to look for too much of the ideal and dogmatic in the institutions of the children of Israel, yet we must never lose sight of the religious and educational character even of their ancient legislation.
4. Central Idea:
One central thought is brought home to them, namely, God is the owner of the soil, and through His grace only the chosen people have come into its possession. Their time, i.e. they themselves, belong to Him: this is the deepest meaning of the day of rest; their land, i.e. their means of subsistence, belong to Him: this reveals to us the innermost significance of the year of rest. It was Yahweh's pleasure to call the children of Israel into life, and if they live and work and prosper, they are indebted to His unmerited loving-kindness. They should, therefore, put their absolute trust in Him, never doubt His word or His power, always obey Him and so always receive His unbounded blessings.
If we thus put all the emphasis on the religious character of the Sabbatical year, we are in keeping with the idea permeating the Old Testament, namely that the children of Israel are the chosen people of Yahweh. All their agricultural, social, commercial and political relations were to be built upon their divine calling and shaped according to God's sovereign will.
But did they live up to it? Or, to limit the question to our subject: Did they really observe the Sabbatical year? There are those who hold that the law regarding the Sabbatical year was not observed before the captivity. In order to prove this assertion they point to Leviticus 26:34, 43; also to 2 Chronicles 36:21. But all we can gather from these passages is the palpable conclusion that the law regarding the Sabbatical year had not been strictly obeyed, a deficiency which may mar the effect of any law.
The possibility of observing the precept respecting the Sabbatical year is demonstrated by the post-exilic history of the Jewish people. Nehemiah registers the solemn fact that the reestablished nation entered into a covenant to keep the law and to maintain the temple worship (Nehemiah 9:38; Nehemiah 10:32). In 10:31 of the last-named chapter he alludes to the 7th year, "that we would forego the 7th year, and the exaction of every debt." We are not sure of the exact meaning of this short allusion; it may refer to the Sabbatical rest of the land and the suspension of debts.
For a certainty we know that the Sabbatical year was observed by the Jews at the time of Alexander the Great. When he was petitioned by the Samaritans "that he would remit the tribute of the 7th year to them, because they did not sow therein, he asked who they were that made such a petition"; he was told they were Hebrews, etc. (Josephus, Ant, XI, viii, 6).
During Maccabean and Asmonean times the law regarding the Sabbatical year was strictly observed, although it frequently weakened the cause of the Jews (1 Maccabees 6:49, 53; Josephus, Ant, XIII, viii, 1; compare Josephus, Jewish Wars, I, ii, 4; Ant, XIV, x, 6; XV, i, 2). Again we may find references to the Sabbatical year in Josephus, Ant, XIV, xvi, 2, etc.; Tac. Hist. v.4, etc., all of which testifies to the observance of the Sabbatical year in the Herodian era. The words of Tacitus show the proud Roman's estimate of the Jewish character and customs: "For the 7th day they are said to have prescribed rest because this day ended their labors; then, in addition, being allured by their lack of energy, they also spend the 7th year in laziness."
See also ASTRONOMY, sec. I, 5, (3), (4); JUBILEE YEAR.
yer (shanah, Aramaic shenah, "a return" (of the sun), like the Greek eniautos; yamim, "days," is also used for "year," and the Greek hemerai, corresponds to it (Joshua 13:1 Luke 17, 18); etos, is also employed frequently in the New Testament; for the difference between etos and eniautos, see Grimm-Thayer, under the word): The Hebrew year was solar, although the month was lunar, the adjustment being made in intercalation.
See ASTRONOMY; TIME.
See TIME; YEAR.
Year (4027 Occurrences)
Year is found 4027 times in 12 translations.
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