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When is the next Jubilee year?

When is the next Jubilee year?

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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

FOOTNOTES
1.

Leviticus 25:10.

2.

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.

3.

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.

4.

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

Rabbi Baruch S. Davidson is a member of the Chabad.org Ask the Rabbi team.
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 (120)
September 28, 2014
Biblical years vs. Gregorian add to the calculation?
June Green
Lynnville
September 23, 2014
Very interesting, thank you!. You make me keep on searching...
Silvia Covarrubias
Mexico
September 23, 2014
5776 Jubilee
The land is not referring to a little piece of real estate, but the earth. The country of Israel did not exist when the scriptures were written . The nation of Israel existed in the land of Canaan and is now scattered throughout the world. We are in the 7th cycle of a Jubilee period and next year is Jubilee. We go home and begin the Millennial Reign. This sabbatical year gives us time to get spiritually ready!!!
Mikah
US
September 16, 2014
Year of Jubilee
God is keeping track go the Jubilee years, no where in the Bible does it say they were suspended. What man does, does not affect God except to disappoint him.
Silverback
Florida
September 8, 2014
The pattern for counting Sabbatical and Jubilee years is 7 Sabbatical years x 7 = 49 years, then +1, the Jubilee year is the 50th year. The 50th year is also the 1st year of the next 7 years, thereby maintain the pattern of 7's. This is the pattern establish in counting the Omer toward Shavuot. In this way you can count backward and forward to establish all the Sabbatical and Jubilee years, past and present. Counting in this way, you will see that the next Jubilee, the 120th Jubilee from Creation is in 2046.
Charles Reed
Graham, WA
September 7, 2014
If 700 BC was a Jubilee year, then would the next Sabbatical year after it have been 649 BC, and the next Jubilee year have been 650 BC? Going onward eventually wouldn't year 1 AD have been a Sabbatical year and year 1 AD have been a Jubilee year? If so, then would the next one be in 2051 AD? Or are Jewish years calculated so differently that it wouldn't match with the western calendar of 50 year time spans?
Anonymous
September 7, 2014
Yes! to Anonymous
You have got it right Anonymous. 701 BC was a Sabbatical year, and 700 BC was a Jubilee Year, as described in II Kings 19:29.
Charles Reed
Graham, WA
September 7, 2014
Jubilee
I have been reading up about the jubilee/smitah years. So much out there in books with speculation about how it affects our economies etc. today by our not keeping them.
In Isaiah 37:30 and in the similar passage in II Kings, Isaiah spoke to King Hezekiah about the invasion of Sennacharib...that God would act against Sennacharib if Hezekiah would observe the Sabbath year AND a following year...resuming planting on the third. So a Sabbath year followed by a jubilee year??? If so then 700 BCE wd have been a Jubilee year.
Anonymous
Prescott, AR
August 12, 2014
Re: Cyrus' comment
You are correct again Cyrus. We may be approaching that judgment in the very near future. World events today seem to indicate this as a very real possibility. The correct dates for the Sabbatical and Jubilee years are very important.

Dear editor, if you would please pass on my personal email address to Cyrus. I would like to contact him and discuss this further. Thank you for all the work you do to maintain this blog.
Charles Reed
Graham, WA
August 10, 2014
Hello Anonymous,
It is actually worse than you think. & x 70 =490 years but if you add the (subtract for positive numbers) you'll find that 490 years brings you back to the time of David. We know this to be true because we have a proof in the Scriptures. If you look to Nehemiah 8:17-18 you see that the Israelites were not keeping the feasts (as they should) all the way back to the time of Joshua. So, if we "logically infer" that David and maybe even Solomon kept the feasts as they should have then the other kings did not. But the very same judgement that befell Israel will befall America, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand and any other nation that once considered itself a "godly" or "Christian" nation.
Cyrus
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