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When is the next Jubilee year?

When is the next Jubilee year?


In short, the answer to your question is that the Jubilee year is currently not observed or commemorated. The reasons for this are complex and involve many different opinions on the matter. In the following lines I will attempt to briefly relay the relevant issues.

According to biblical law, the Jubilee is only observed when all twelve tribes of the Jewish nation are living in Israel, as is derived from the verse,1 “And you shall sanctify the fiftieth year, and proclaim freedom throughout the land for all who live on it,” which implies that the Jubilee is only sanctified when “all who live on it”—meaning, all who are meant to be living there—are in the Land of Israel. Furthermore, the Jubilee is only observed when every tribe is living in the specific part of the land which was it was allotted when the Land of Israel was divided. However, some are of the opinion that the Jubilee is observed as long as there is a partial representation of each tribe, even if most of the tribe is not in Israel.

In the 6th century BCE, the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel and sent the majority of its population into exile. Those who were deported are historically known as the Ten Lost Tribes.

We are certain that before that point in time the Jubilee was regularly observed. We also know that, with the destruction of the Second Temple and the disbandment of the Sanhedrin (supreme rabbinical court), we ceased to mark the Jubilee year in any form. The periods about which there is a question are the remaining years between the exile of the Ten Tribes and the destruction of the First Temple, and the Second Temple Era.

According to the opinion that partial representation of each tribe is sufficient to fulfill the scriptural requirement, biblically mandated Jubilees were fully observed throughout the periods in question, because there remained a small representation of each tribe in Israel.

However, according to the first opinion mentioned above, with the exile of the Northern Kingdom the required condition for the Jubilee to be sanctified was lost. Thus, the last time there was a biblical requirement to observe the Jubilee was about 150 years before the destruction of the First Temple.

The question remains, however, whether according to this opinion Jubilee years were designated or observed during this time by rabbinic injunction. This is the subject of debate amongst the sages.2

As mentioned above, though, today the Jubilee year is neither designated nor observed.3

And now for the answer to your question: “When is the next Jubilee year?”

We eagerly await the day when G‑d will bring our entire nation back to our homeland—including the ten “lost” tribes—and we will again resume observing the Jubilee year, as well as so many other mitzvot which we are incapable of performing until that awaited day.4

Rabbi Baruch S. Davidson


The reasons behind this debate: Although there was no biblical requirement to observe the Jubilee year after the Ten Tribes were exiled, the observance of the shemittah (Sabbatical year) remained a biblical obligation. The integrity of the seven-year Sabbatical cycle depended on the larger fifty-year cycle—after completing seven seven-year cycles, a one-year hiatus was taken before the new cycle began (on the 51st year). It was thus necessary to designate a (non-observed) fiftieth “Jubilee” year. Others explain that the sages also instituted the (partial) observance of the laws of Jubilee to commemorate the biblical mitzvah.
However, there is also an opinion in the Talmud that the Jubilee is not an “in-between-cycles year,” but rather that it is the first of the next 49-year cycle, and thus not designating it would not impact the calculation of the Sabbatical cycles. This opinion also maintains that the Sages never instituted the Jubilee year as a commemoration.


Although the laws of shemittah are observed in Israel to this very day, the Jubilee year is not designated or observed. There are many reasons for this. Some of them: a) The Jubilee only affected the shemittah cycle when the shemittah was established and declared by the Sanhedrin, as opposed to today when it is automatically programmed into the perpetual Jewish calendar. b) The observance of shemittah today is only a rabbinic decree, and therefore the Jubilee year does not affect its cycle. c) No commemoration is in order when there is no Sanhedrin, whose participation in the declaration of the Jubilee year was integral. In fact, it was the Sanhedrin’s blast of the shofar (ram's horn) on Yom Kippur which signaled the entry of the Jubilee year.


The information in this response is taken from Encyclopedia Talmudit, vol. XXII, s.v. “Yovel.”

Rabbi Baruch S. Davidson is a writer who lives with his family in Brooklyn, N.Y.
All names of persons and locations or other identifying features referenced in these questions have been omitted or changed to preserve the anonymity of the questioners.
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Discussion (142)
November 1, 2016
There are numerous commandments that can only be performed when the Holy Temple is standing, and for all of those, we need to wait until Moshiach comes before we can fulfill them.
Malkie Janowski for
October 19, 2016
"so many other mitzvot which we are incapable of performing until that awaited day."

What other mitzvot are you incapable of performing at present, and why?
June 15, 2016
Correction With Respect...
You stated: "In the 6th century BCE, the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel and sent the majority of its population into exile. Those who were deported are historically known as the Ten Lost Tribes.

We are certain that before that point in time the Jubilee was regularly observed." 

2 kings 18:10-12 At the end of three years they captured it; in the sixth year of Hezekiah, which was the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was captured. Then the king of Assyria carried Israel away into exile to Assyria, and put them in Halah and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes, because they did not obey the voice of the L ord their God, but transgressed His covenant, even all that Moses the servant of the L ord commanded; they would neither listen nor do it.
Deborah Rigler
March 3, 2016
This was very helpful as I research the Jubilee year. Might it be that this observance is a foreshadowing of the Messiah???
Betty Wade
Michigan. U.S.A.
September 8, 2015
Shalom John from Houston, my birthplace,
Hi John,
What Pamela is saying is essentially correct. If you will look at 2 Kings 19:29 you will see in Scripture the picture of a Sabbatical and Jubilee year, back to back. I do not agree with the years of the Hillel II calendar but I do agree that they are back to back. You find this also mentioned in Lev: 25:1-17. Go back to Lev. 23:15-22 and read about Shavuot. This is why I call this the Shavuot system of counting. 7x7=49 + 1= 50 which is the first day of the new week, or in the case of the Jubilee, is the first year of the new cycle. Hope this helps.
Country Codger
September 8, 2015
two years of rest
John, indeed there are two years of no reaping, pruning and sowing. The 49th Sabbatical year, there is no reaping, pruning, sowing and harvesting. Then again, during the 50th year, Yovel (the year of Jubilee) there is no reaping, pruning, sowing and harvesting. In addition there is a release of debts and the land returns to its original owner. Vayikra (Leviticus) Chapter 25 describes this.
Graham, WA
September 6, 2015
Pamela....there is a conflict in your suggestion....if the Jubilee starts at the end of the The Shemitah, this would require two years of refraining from sowing/reaping.

Houston Texas
August 21, 2015
Rabbi Judah ben Samuel of Regensburg
Judah ben Samuel of Regensburg (born 1150 in Speyer, Germany - Feb. 22, 1217 in Regensburg), also called HeHasid or 'the Pious' in Hebrew, was a leader of the Chassidei Ashkenaz, a movement of Jewish mysticism in Germany considered different from Kabbalistic mysticism because it emphasizes specific prayer and moral conduct. Judah settled in Regensburg in 1195. He wrote Sefer Hasidim (Book of the Pious),
Rabbi ben Samuel wrote a prophecy which would signify the beginning of the Messianic end time, in the prophecy he talk about 8 Yovels that would have to happen before the Messiah appears. Can you tell me about this prophecy.
August 8, 2015
I am puzzled by the logic of footnote 2 in comparison to Leviticus chapter 25 verses 8 thru clearly states your 49 and your 50 I fail to see how year 50 starts the cycle but rather completes the cycles
mark prillwitz
June 30, 2015
Pamela you make an excellent point. The Almighty is the one who has established His Jubelee and He certaintly is not dependant on man to carry it.

"The Sanhedrin did not set up the Shemitah nor the Jubilee. These were instituted by God Almighty concerning the Israelites for ALL time. You can read all about it in the book of Leviticus. "