Fallow Year

Fallow year Among the Hebrews every seventh year was a sabbath of rest to the land. The commencement of this year was on the first day of the seventh month, Tisri=October. There was neither sowing nor reaping; the vines and the olives were not pruned; there was no gathering of fruits; for all spontaneous productions were left to the poor, the traveler, and the wild beast (Le 25:1-7; De 15:1-10). The sabbatical year was instituted in order that the land might be improved, and that the Hebrews might be taught economy and foresight, and also invited to exercise a large degree of trust in the providence of Jehovah their king. During this year they could fish, hunt, take care of their bees and flocks, repair their buildings, manufacture furniture and cloths, and carry on commerce. Debts, on account of there being no income from the soil, were not collected (De 15:9; De 31:10-13). Nor were servants manumitted on this year, but at the end of the sixth year of their service (Ex 21:2; De 15:12; Jer 34:14). The Hebrews remained longer in the tabernacle or temple this year, during which the whole Mosaic law was read, in order to be instructed in religious and moral duties, the history of their nation, and the wonderful works and blessings of God (De 31:10-13). When Jehovah gave the Hebrews this remarkable institute, in order to guard them against the apprehension of famine, he promised, on. the condition of their obedience, so great plenty in every sixth harvest that it alone would suffice for three years (Le 25:20-22). However, through the avarice of the Hebrews, this seventh year's rest, as Moses had appi ehended (Le 26:34-35), was for a long time utterly neglected (2Ch 36:21); for in all the historv of the Hebrew kings there is no mention of the sabbatical year, nor of the year of jubilee. The period when this wise and advantageous law fell into disuse may probably be understood from the prediction of Moses in Le 26:33-34,43; comp. with 2Ch 36:21; Jer 25:11. Thus was it foretold that the Hebrews, for the violation of this law, should go into captivity: "To fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had paid off her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfill threescore and ten years." Here it is taken for granted that seventy sabbatical years, including the jubilee years which succeeded every seventh sabbatical year, had been neglected by the unfaithful people. The Hebrews were frequently weary of the law; and at different periods during the commonwealth they appear to have utterly neglected the fallow or sabbatical years. Hence it appears that the captivity of the Hebrews and the desolation of their country was an act of retributive Providence, brought upon them for this very reason, that the land might pay off those sabbatical years of rest, of which the Hebrews had deprived it, in neglecting the statute of Jehovah their king (Le 26:43). After the exile the fallow or sabbatical year appears to have been more scrupulously observed, as we learn from Josephus (Ant. 11:11, 8). SEE JUBILEE.

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