Revisit “Shemitah” and “Jubilee” according to the Hebrew and Greek Bible

Shemitah and Jubilee are two important concepts that are similar and related but also different in many ways. Simply speaking, Shemitah comes once every 7 years and Jubilee once every 50 years. Shemitah focuses on “Entering Rest” and Jubilee on “Entering Restoration back to the Original”.

Shemitah in its full term, is in fact composed of two Hebrew words according to Leviticus chapter 25. The Strong number for the first word is H7676, which occurs 107 times in the Bible and literally means “Sabbath” (its English equivalent word is “cease”). The second word is simple the word “shanah” (its Strong number is H8141 and English equivalence is “repeat”), which shows up 825 times and 524 of which is translated as “year”. As a whole (when both words occur the same time), the combination of the two can only be found 3 times, 2 in Leviticus chapter 25 and 1 in chapter 26

Jubilee is just one word in Hebrew which sounds like “yowbel” or “yovel”. Its Strong number is H3104 and its English equivalence is “fetch”. This word occurs 27 times, for 21 times it is translated as “jubilee” (19 in Leviticus, 1 in Numbers and 1 in Luke), 5 times “ram’s horn” and 1 “blast of a horn”.

Besides the above two terms, there is another term in OT which sounds like “ratsown” which means “accept”. Combined with the word “year”, this term is translated as “year of favor” in Isaiah 61:2. The Strong number for this third term, “ratsown”, is H7522 and it shows up in the Bible for 56 times where it means “favor, will, delight”, coming from a root word which means “to be pleased with”. When Jesus is recorded in Luke 4:19 to quote from Isaiah 61:2 before his speech in his hometown, the combination of “ratsown” and “shanah” is translated to another combination of two Greek word “dektos” and “eniauotos”. The Strong number for “dektos” is G1184 and its word shows up in NT for times and it literally means “receivable”. The second word “eniauotos” (G1763) comes from the root “enos” which means “year” but this word form only occurs 14 times which is literally different from another common word for “year”, “etos” (G2094 shows up 49 times).

Lastly, beside all the word meanings above, the fact speaks louder when Jesus quoted only the first half of Isaiah 61:2 “To proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor…” and then He stopped and sit down. What is the second half of verse? “… And the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn.” By doing this, Jesus clearly indicated that He manifests twice in human history: the first time He offered Himself as a sacrificial lamb for all humanity to herald in the year of the Lord’s grace and mercy for all; the second time He will come to reward those who believe (either to be resurrected to be with Him or to enter a Millennial Kingdom alive) and punish those who don’t. He will turn this world upside down to exercise His justice and rule the coming “Millennial Jubilee” for a thousand years.

Reflect on these two simple questions:

(1) From the rules concerning “Shemitah” (Sabbath Year) and “Jubilee”, are there any similar and different aspects between the two?

(2) If we ponder upon the meaning of the “Millennial Kingdom” based on the rules of of “Jubilee” in the Old Testament, what kind of comfort and encouragement we can get out of it?

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