The Mystery of the Shemitah by Rabbi Jonathon Cahn, an overview
I think the majority of people are aware of the Jewish Sabbath. Just as God worked on creation for six days and rested on the seventh, so He commanded that His nation of Israel should work six days and keep a Sabbath day of rest on the seventh.
Less familiar to non-Jews would be the Sabbath year, the Shemitah. From Leviticus chapter 25:
“When you come to the Land which I give you, then the land will keep a Sabbath to the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years shall you prune your vineyard, and gather its fruits; but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the Lord.”
During that seventh, Sabbath year, no work was done on the land. Anyone who was hungry was allowed to forage in any field. Everyone owned everything. They relied on God and not their own labors. Indeed, whatever grew on its own was called “hefker,” meaning “without an owner.”
Also, at the end of seven years, all debts were erased. Everyone got a fresh start. From Deuteronomy 15:1-2:
“At the end of seven years you shall grant a release of debts. And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called the Lord’s release.”
That date on the Hebrew calendar is Elul 29. That is the last day of the Hebrew calendar year. The Hebrew day instituted by God at creation begins at sunset. Our modern way of reckoning days observes the passage from one day to the next comes at midnight. Jews, however, see that cusp as the time of sunset.
That release mentioned above is called “Shemitah.” It is most often translated as “the release” or “the remission.” So Shemitah became the name of the last day of the last year in the seven year cycle. Rabbi Cahn writes that “…everything about the Shemitah year builds up to that final day, when everything is released, remitted, and wiped away in one day – or more specifically, to the eve of that day, to the final sunset.”
So the Shemitah year levels everything. It also calls for absolute dependence on God, since no farming was done. It clears away material attachments and is an act of submission to God. The Shemitah addresses both the financial and economic realms. With all debt cancelled, you can see where it bears some resemblance to a financial and economic collapse. No production is done and no loans are collected; they are cancelled. The ledger sheets are wiped clean.
Next: the ruins and bondage of ancient Israel.