14 Facts You Might Not Know About The Sabbath Year

Most Christians know about the Sabbath day, but some have never heard of the sabbath year. That's right, a whole year of rest! When I came to the commandments regarding the sabbath year, I was filled with questions. There was so much that I, even as a life-long Christian, did not know! Read on to discover fourteen intriguing facts about the sabbath year!

1. Rest from toil is the heart of the Sabbath

What is a sabbath? The Hebrew word Shabbat means to rest from labor or a day of rest. It comes from a root word that means “to set apart as holy”. This wasn't just a day to kick back if you were tired out. It was, and is, an intentional day of rest and reconnection with God.

The history of the Sabbath goes back to the dawn of the world. In the creation story in Genesis, God created the earth in six days, and on the seventh day, He rested. One of the Ten Commandments is to keep the Sabbath, which included rest for servants and animals. (Exodus 20:8-11) Sabbath happens from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday.

In the era leading up to Jesus, rabbis and scribes created careful guides for what was considered work, even up to how far you could walk. The rules probably seemed odd and oppressive to those who didn't believe in the God of Israel.

So could you imagine, if the Sabbath day threw people off, how hard it was for Gentiles to wrap their head around a sabbath year? Even for believers, this was a challenging commandment from the Lord.

2. The sabbath year was an agricultural rest every seventh year for the land and its workers

The sabbath year, called Shemittah in Hebrew, happens every seventh year. Within the land of Israel, the agricultural cycle rested for a whole year.

“...but on the seventh year you shall let it [the land] rest and lie fallow, so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave the beast of the field may eat.” - Exodus 23:11

Farming is a livin'-on-faith job to begin with. I couldn't imagine the anxiety that would rise as you approached the seventh year in ancient Israel!

I can the people of ancient Israel whispering to each other and jabbing their thumb at Moses. “Is he serious? How will that work?”

3. During the sabbath year, farmers could not plant or harvest crops

According to the Bible, Jewish farmers were told not to plant or harvest for storage for an entire year, beginning on Rosh Hashanah, which falls in September.

“Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'When you come into the land which I shall give you, then the land shall have a sabbath to the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop, but during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard. Your harvest's aftergrowth you shall not reap, and your grapes of untrimmed vines you shall not gather; the land shall have a sabbatical year.

“All of you shall have the sabbath products of the land for food; yourself, and your male and female slaves, and your hired men and your foreign resident, those who live as aliens with you. Even your cattle and the animals that are in your land shall have all its crops to eat.” - Leviticus 25:2-7

4. God promised to provide enough food to carry them through—but they had to trust Him

If you're wondering about them running out of food, you're not alone! God anticipated their question, as we see here:

“But if you say, 'What are we going to eat the seventh year if we do not sow or gather in our crops?' then I will so order My blessing for you in the sixth year that it will bring forth the crop for three years. When you are sowing the eighth year, you can still eat old