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Was the Jubilee Year an Ancient Calendar Formula?

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There has been debate among biblical scholars concerning the Jubilee year inaugurated after Israel’s release from Egypt. It appears to be the last year in a cycle of fifty, hence our popular anniversary events which are celebrated every fifty years. However, a significant minority of authorities disagree with the said length of time. They point out that Jubilee was part of a broader sabbatical system, necessarily divisible by seven. Judah the Prince, a second century rabbi and chief editor of the Mishnah, believed that the Jubilee year was identical with the 49th year. The para-biblical book of Jubilees agrees, always counting in multiples of seven and forty-nine, as did the ancient Samaritan calendar. Moreover, a larger group of 490 years is mentioned in scripture, indicating ten Jubilees periods.

At first sight, our primary reference creates the confusion. Forty-nine years is emphasized; but a fiftieth is then added. Leviticus 25:8-10 reads:

“You shall count seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall give you forty-nine years. Then you shall sound the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month. On the Day of Atonement (the 10th) you shall sound the trumpet throughout all your land. And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you.”
It immediately raises questions. Apart from our inability to divide seven into fifty, why would a year begin on the seventh month of the previous year? Commentators have made excuses for this, the most common being that the Jewish calendar has more than one New Year. However, that was not always so. Yes, the modern Rosh Hashanah (New Year) begins on the 1st of Tishri, but it was originally the 1st of Abib, now called Nisan. Exodus 12:2 says,

“This month (Abib) shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you.” (Exodus 12:2)
So, we are left with a curious 'fiftieth year' that does not synchronise with the Sabbath years, and starts and finishes at the wrong end of the calendar. I believe there is an explanation, but it requires an examination of calendar astronomy, and a fresh look at certain unusual numbers that appear in the Bible. In short, I believe there was an old Hebrew calendar, different, but perhaps more accurate than our modern ones. The Jubilee year seems to have been part of that ancient soli-lunar calendar system.

Please take 6 minutes to listen to my video presentation concerning this possibility, in new biblical research.

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Updated Jan 2nd 2017 at 05:04 PM by Cyberseeker

Special Interest , Theology , Teaching