The First Year in the Land
THE FIRST MONTH OF THE YEAR
Day 1, year 2494. And after the death of Mosheh YHVH spoke to Yehoshua to pass over the Yarden River and take the land from the wilderness and Lebanon as far as the River Euphrates and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun (Jos_1:1-4); within three days Israel was to pass the river to go to possess the land (Jos_1:11).
Insert: The story of the destruction Sodom and Gomorrah in the Valley of Siddim does not mention that the valley became a sea. We are told that the Valley of Sidim was one of the most fertile land and sulphur and brimstone fell from heaven to destroy the five wicked cities, but not a word is mentioned of an appearance of a sea. However, when the Israelites arrived in the area 447 years later, they found a salt sea there. It seems that the Dead Sea had appeared either with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah or sometime after. The Biblical account of Gen_13:10-11 indicates that the Yarden River existed before the formation of the Dead Sea. Gen_14:3 mentions the Dead Sea, but only as an annotation to the Valley of Siddim (according to the Book of Jubilee, the story from the creation to the arrival of Israel at Mount Sinai was a narrative of a messenger). Therefore, the Dead Sea, according to the Genesis account, was not yet in existence in the days of Avraham and in its place there was a fertile plain, known as the Valley of Siddim. Apparently, the Dead Sea came into existence as a result of a great mountain movement, with collapse and eruption. The rift formed is still the deepest depression on the earth. So, what caused the formation of this deep depression we are not told. It could have occured after the destruction of the Sodom and Gomorrah or as an aftermath of the thunders and earthquakes when the waters of Yam Suph were divided (Psa_77:16-18, Antiquities 2:15:3) which thunders and earthquakes were heard even in Kana’an and all the inhabitants of the land trembled (Exo_15:14-15). From the context of the Biblical record up to this moment in Gen_14:3 the Valley of Siddim has been described like the garden of YHVH, Gen_13:10. But here it is called the Salt Sea. This can only mean one thing: the Salt Sea had not been in existance in the time of Avraham, but came to be sometime after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorah and definitely before the arrival of Mosheh and Israel at Mount Sinai where Mosheh received the revelation.
Day 4 to day 6. Yehoshua sent two scouts to Yericho to scout the city for three days (Jos_2:22).
Day 7 to day 9. And after three days of scouting the scouts returned and the people prepared themselves for another three days for the invasion (Jos_3:1-3).
Day 10. Again YHVH parted the waters this time of the Yarden River and Israel passed over on dry ground (Jos_3:11-17) on the tenth day of the first month of the first year in the land, lacking only five days of being forty years after their departure from Rameses (Exo_12:1-37; Num_14:29-35; Deu_1:3; Deu_2:14; Jos_4:19). And YHVH made Yehoshua great before the eyes of all Israel. And they feared him, as they had feared Mosheh, all the days of his life.
On that very day, the Lord commanded them to circumcise all of their males who had been born in the wilderness. Thus, the sons of Israel were circumcised a second time (Jos_5:2-7).
Is there any reference in the post-Exodus scripture about the Yarden River changing the direction of its flow? Psa_114:1-8 speaks of a reversal of the flow of the river:
When Israel went out of Egypt … The sea saw it and fled; The Yarden turned back. The mountains skipped like rams, the little hills like lambs. Why was it, O sea, that you fled? O Yarden that you turned back? … Tremble, O earth, from the face of the Master … Who turned the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a fountain of water.
Day 11 to day 13. And when they had completed circumcising all the nation, they stayed in their places in the camp until they were healed (Jos_5:8).
Day 14. On the fourteenth day of the first month in the land, under the leadership of Yehoshua, the Israelites performed the third Passover since they left Egypt which was also the first Passover in the Land (Jos_5:10) at evening on the desert plains of Yericho. This occurred exactly forty years after the Passover in Egypt.
Day 15 to day 21. And they ate of the grain of the land, unleavened bread, on the morrow after the Passover. And the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the grain of the land. And the children of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Kenaʽan that year (Jos_5:11-12).
Per Josephus, the siege of Yericho began on the first day of Unleavened Bread and the city fell on the seventh day of the feast.
Antiquities 5:1:5. Now while the Israelites did this, and the Kana’anites did not attack them, but kept themselves quiet within their own walls, Yehoshua resolved to besiege them; so on the first day of the feast [of the passover], the priests carried the ark round about, with some part of the armed men to be a guard to it. These priests went forward, blowing with their seven trumpets; and exhorted the army to be of good courage, and went round about the city, with the senate following them; and when the priests had only blown with the trumpets, for they did nothing more at all, they returned to the camp. And when they had done this for six days, on the seventh [Jos_6:3-5] Yehoshua gathered the armed men and all the people together, and told them these good tidings, that the city should now be taken, since God would on that day give it them, by the falling down of the walls, and this of their own accord, and without their labor [Lev_23:6-8]. … He commanded them also to bring together all the silver and gold, that it might be set apart as first-fruits unto God [Lev_23:10] out of this glorious exploit, as having gotten them from the city they first took; only that they should save Rahab and her kindred alive, because of the oath which the spies had sworn to her.
The account in Jos_5:11 is reporting that the first Omer Offering in the land of Israel was brought on the “morrow after the Passover” after which the children of Israel were permitted to eat of the produce of the land. As we recall, Israel was forbidden to eat of the new crops until the day of the Omer Offering (Lev_23:14). Clearly Jos_5:11 (which describes the eating of “Matzot and parched (barley)… on this very day”) is a reference to the command in Lev_23:14, “And bread and parched (barley)… you will not eat until this very day.” The term mimoharat, literally on the morrow, means on the following morning. The “morrow after the Passover [sacrifice]” must be the morning immediately following the Passover sacrifice. Remembering that the Passover sacrifice was brought on the end of the 14th of the Aviv at twilight (Exo_12:18, Deu_16:4), the following morning is the morning of the 15th. Apparently in that year, the year Israel entered the land, Passover, the 14th day of the first month fell on Sabbath and the 15th day (the First Day of the Unleavened Breath) fell out on the first day of the week since the Wave Sheaf offering is always brought on the first day. The children of Israel kept the Passover in obedience to the command given to their fathers. As already established, this occurred exactly forty years after the first Passover in Egypt (Exo_12:1-51; Exo_16:35; Deu_1:3; Jos_5:10). On the day following, the manna ceased, and the people lived upon the products of the land that year on (Jos_5:11-12).
There is an opinion among some scholars that the year of the entry in the land of Kana’an was a jubilee. This view is based on the arguments that in a Sabbatical year, Torah was read on the first day and on the second day (Neh_8:13) to the last day of Sukkot (Neh_8:18) of the seventh month before all Israel (see also Antiquities of the Jews 4:8:12). This is based on the Torah where Mosheh commands all Israel to appear in the year of release, at the Festival of Booths to hear the whole Torah (Deu 31:10-11):
At the end of seven years, at the appointed time, the year of release, at the Festival of Booths, when all Israel comes to appear before Yehovah your Elohim in the place which He chooses, read this Torah before all Israel in their hearing.
Notice in Deu_31:12 that in a Sabbatical year all Israel is to come to appear … the men and the women and the little ones, and sojourner, not only the males as commanded in Exo_23:17 in the non-Sabbatical years. And the conclusion the commentators have made is that particular year of entry in the land should have been sabbatical. It is very probable that the Israelites were to begin year one of the Jubilee cycle in the year that followed their entry into the Promised Land and this can only mean that the preceding year – the year in which they entered – was a Jubilee year (Jos_1:11; Jos_5:10-12). In support of this is the commentary in Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge on Jos 6:4:
And let seven priests bear seven rams’ horns before the ark, and on the seventh day go around the city seven times while the priests blow the horns.
The commentary says, The words shopheroth hyyovelim, should rather be rendered jubilee trumpets, i.e., such as were used on the jubilee, which were probably made of horn or silver. For the entry of the Israelites into Kana’an was indeed a jubilee to them. Instead of the dreadful trumpet of war, they were ordered to sound the trumpet of joy, as already conquerors.
In addition to this, it was during a Jubilee year that the land was to be returned back to the original owner (Deu_15:1-9), the descendants of Avraham, to whom the land was promised, which was precisely the process that took place as soon as the Israelites crossed over Yarden in fulfillment of Lev_25:10,
And you shall set the fiftieth year apart, and proclaim release throughout all the land to all its inhabitants, it is a Jubilee for you. And each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you return to his clan.
There is a passage in the Book of Jubilee (from The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament by R.H. Charles, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913), Chapter 50, where a messenger of YHVH speaks to Mosheh,
1. And after this Torah I made known to thee the days of the Shabbaths in the desert of Sin[ai], which is between Elim and Sinai. 2. And I told thee of the Shabbaths of the land on Mount Sinai, and I told thee of the jubilee years in the Shabbaths of years: but the year thereof have I not told thee till ye enter the land which ye are to possess. 3. And the land also shall keep its Shabbaths while they dwell upon it, and they shall know the jubilee year. 4. Wherefore I have ordained for thee the year-weeks and the years and the jubilees: there are forty-nine jubilees from the days of Adam until this day, and one week and two years: and there are yet forty years to come (lit. ‘distant’) for learning the commandments of YHVH, until they pass over into the land of Kana’an, crossing the Yarden to the west. 5. And the jubilees shall pass by, until Israel is cleansed from all guilt of fornication, and uncleanness, and pollution, and sin, and error, and dwells with confidence in all the land, and there shall be no more a Satan or any evil one, and the land shall be clean from that time for evermore.
Notice that at the time of speaking (giving of the Covenant) Mosheh knew nothing of the Jubilees (the year thereof have I not told thee till ye enter the land); the laws of the sabbatical and jubilee years (Leviticus 25) were not given yet. When Israel would dwell in the land then the Sabbaths would be kept and they shall know the jubilee year. It was the 49th Jubilee and nine years of the 50th Jubilee and yet 40 more years until Israel will enter the land, or in other words, the reckoning of time will be 49 years of the 50th Jubilee when Israel is ready the conquer the land. Also,
E. Jehuda (Nedarim 61a—quoted by Beer) set down the jubilee at forty-nine years; and in the Samaritan Chronicle (Jourtial Asiatiqice, 1869, torn, xiv. No. 55, pp. 421-467) a system closely analogous to that of Book of Jubilees. Here the jubilee is reckoned at forty-nine and a fraction, which varies unintelligibly in extent, if the text is correct. Thus five jubilees =246 years, forty jubilees = 1968 years, but sixty jubilees = 2951 years. It is noteworthy our also that, while the Book of Jubilees applies the jubilee reckoning from the creation to the date of Israel’s entering into Palestine, the Talmudic treatise Erachin 12-1 3a and the Samaritan Chronicle make the jubilee to begin with the settlement of Israel in Palestine, and while the former carries it down to the destruction of the first temple, the latter carries it down to many centuries after the Christian era. In the Assumption of Moses the jubilee is also used in the chronological system of its author. Thus (i. 2) he reckons 2500 years to have elapsed from the creation of the world to the death of Moses, that is, fifty jubilees of fifty years each. Again, in x. 12 it is stated that from the death of Moses to the Messianic kingdom there will be 250 times (i.e. year-weeks) that is thirty-five jubilees of fifty years each. Thus from the creation to the Messianic kingdom there would be eighty-five jubilees. Cf. Sanh. 97b. The Book of Jubilees, Introduction, p.lxvii, R. H. Charles, D.D., 1902
And The Samaritan Chronicle, chapter XV:
And the children of Israil did as the king commanded them. And the cloud was lifted up, on the first (day) of the first month, of the first year, of the first period of seven years of the Jubil (Jubilee) even from the beginning of the entering in of the children of Israil within the boundaries of the assigned lands.
From this we learn that the Samaritans hold the view that the law in relation to the Jubilee years, became obligatory from the very first entry of the Israelites into the Promised Land, thus literally interpreting Lev_25:2.
However, this notion, that 2,500 years elapsed from the creation to Israel’s entry into the land, could not be supported by the chronology from the birth of Adam to the Exodus (see Jubilees Table). We have already determined that the Exodus occurred 2,454 years after the Creation and if we add forty years in the wilderness to them, this will lead to the year 2493 when Mosheh died and the next year, 2494, will be the year of the crossing of the Yarden River.
Let us rewind the events starting from the first Passover in the Promised Land (see the chart below): since the besiege of Yericho began on the first day (the fifteenth of the month) of the Unleavened Breath, which in that year coincided with the First Fruits, and the city fell on the last day of the Unleavened Breath (the twenty-first of the month), the first Passover after the 38-year exile in the desert fell on the fourteenth of the first month of the year, which happened to be a weekly Sabbath. And if that Passover fell on Sabbath, the destruction of Yericho seven days later was also on Sabbath. Therefore, when YHVH said to Yehoshua that the city would fall on the seventh day (Jos_6:3-5), He meant the seventh weekly day, the Sabbath.
And if Israel crossed the Yarden River on the tenth (Jos_4:19) and Israel came in the plains of Mo’av in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month (Deu_1:3), Mosheh must have died on the first day of the twelfth month because people wept for him thirty days (Deu_34:8). Therefore, Israel entered the land on the first day of the first month of the following year. Thus, Mosheh died on his 120th birthday (Deu_31:2, Deu_34:7) because he said, “I am one hundred and twenty years old today. I am no longer able to go out and come in.” But, what was the day of the week when he died?
Rashi in his commentary on Deu_34:6, says this: His burial site was ready there [at Beth Pe’or], since the six days of Creation, to atone for the [sinful] act of Pe’or. — [see Num 25:1-8; Sotah 14a] This [Moses’s burial site] was one of the things created at twilight, on the eve of [the first] Sabbath. — [Avoth 5:6]
So, according to the tradition of the elders, Mosheh’s burial site (which no one would know) was prepared on the sixth day, the day Adam was created, just before the first Sabbath of the Creation. Is this just an allegory in the tradition or we can know with certainty the day this great man died on? If these events are interpolated in the calendar, it will look like as follows,
And indeed, as seen in the chart above, Mosheh died on the sixth day of the week, the first day of the month, on his 120th birthday, 2,493 years from the Creation. This cannot be accidental.
So far, we came to the point when Israel entered the land. But, what would be considered entry in the land, when the last Israelite crossed the Yarden River (Jos_4:11); when the land was taken in the first conquest (Jos_11:23, Jos_13:1-6); or when the land was divided between the families and inherited (Jos_14:5, Jos_19:51)? And why would that be important for this study? The answer is because, after all, YHVH told Mosheh in Lev_25:2 to begin to count the Sabbath and Jubilee years when they would enter the Promised Land and if we manage to correctly determine when this counting began, then we will be able to pinpoint with certainty the first year and all sequential years of the Creator’s reckoning of time,
When you come into the land which I give you, the land shall rest a Sabbath to Yehovah.
Taken on its own, this verse seems to imply that a Sabbath of the land is to be observed immediately upon entering the land. But could that be possibly kept? In practice, when Israel entered the land they first had to conquer it, divided it between the tribes and families, work the land for six years, and only then they could have brought the first fruits of the land and observed the seventh year as the shemittah (sabbatical year) as, indeed, this is what the Torah clearly instructs in the following verses of Leviticus 25. In terms of personal land ownership, that particular aspect of the law pertaining to the Jubilee Year could not have possibly been observed during that first year in the Promised Land when Israel crossed the Yarden River. This, then, is a suitable explanation as to why that command for the land to “keep a Sabbath unto YHVH” was not implemented at their crossing of the Yarden River; not until the land was secured in the hands of the Israelites. The best Jewish authorities hold the view that the law became obligatory fourteen years after the first entry into the Promised Land, the conquest of which took seven years and the distribution of the land seven more, then they cultivated it six years, and on the seventh year (i.e. the twenty-first after entering the land), the first Sabbatical year was celebrated.
And indeed, this is exactly what Mosheh instructed the Hebrews before they came into the land: to take of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which they were to bring before the Lord and declare that they had come to the land promised to the forefathers:
And it shall be, when you come into the land which Yehovah your Elohim is giving you as an inheritance, and you possess it and dwell in it, that you shall take some of the first of all the fruits of the soil which you bring from your land that Yehovah your Elohim is giving you, and shall put it in a basket and go to the place where Yehovah your Elohim chooses to make His Name dwell there. And you shall come to the one who is priest in those days, and say to him, ‘I shall declare today to Yehovah your Elohim that I have come to the land which Yehovah swore to our fathers to give us.’ (Deu 26:1-3)
Notice the sequence of the steps: (1) when they came into the land, (2) when they possessed and dwelled in it, (3) they were to bring the first fruits, and then observe the seventh year. That took place on Yom Bikkurim, year 2514, in the twenty-first year after they came into the land, i.e. when they crossed the Yarden River.
And indeed, this is exactly what YHVH commanded Mosheh to say the children of Israel:
When you have passed over the Yarden into the land of Kena’an then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and shall destroy all their engraved stones, and shall destroy all their molded images, and lay waste all their high places, and you shall possess the land and dwell in it, for I have given you the land to possess. (Num 33:51-53)
Again, the sequence of what the Israelites had to do is as follows: (1) to pass over the river, (2) to drive out the Kena’anites and cleanse the land from the idolatry, (3) to take possession of the land and dwell in it.
Moreover, Psalm 122:6 reads literally, Seek the completeness of Yerushalayim, and let those who protect you be complete. When will Yerushalayim be complete? Unfortunately, peace is not the only thing Yerushalayim has been lacking of. The set-apart city needs its people re-gathered in the land again. The ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom, the majority of the Southern kingdom Yehudah, and the grafted-in are still dispersed all over the world. The land, the chosen people occupies today, is only a small portion of the land promised to Avraham. And even worse, even this tiny sliver of land is under the threat to be divided by the enemies of Israel. Unfortunately, Torah, the perfect Word of YHVH, is not the constitution of the land today. When the third Temple will be built and the Levitical priesthood resumes the Temple services, then Yerushalayim will add another pearl to its diadem. But yet, Yerushalayim will still be missing something or … someone. Yes, Yerushalayim is missing her (1) Messiah, Yeshua. When He comes He will (2) put the enemies under His feet and bring peace, (3) gather all His people, native and non-native to be one people, (4) give the Promised Land to His people, from the river of Egypt to the great river, Euphrates, (5) restore Torah to the fullest extent, (6) build His Temple with its sacrificial services as prophesied by the prophet. Then, and only then, Yerushalayim will be in peace and completeness. This will be in Year 6000, the Restoration of all matters, the Last 120th Jubilee as it is written in Act_3:21,
whom heaven needs to receive until the times of restoration of all matters, of which Elohim spoke through the mouth of all His set-apart prophets since of old.
So, to answer the question “What would be considered entry in the land?” the logical conclusion would be: all of the above—when the Land, the people, and the Torah became one and Elohim gave them rest (Jos_21:43-45), as it is written:
Thus Yehovah gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it, and dwelt in it. And Yehovah gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them, YHVH gave all their enemies into their hand.
In other words: the Sabbaths of the land can only be observed when (1) Israel was cleansed from sin and disobedience in the wilderness, (2) the Promised Land was purged from the pollution of idolatry of the pagans, and (3) when the land was inhabited by its rightful owners. Only when all these conditions had been met, then the Sabbaths and Jubilees could have been possibly counted. This seems to be supported in the Book of Jubilee 50:5:
And the jubilees shall pass by, until Israel is cleansed from all guilt of fornication, and uncleanness, and pollution, and sin, and error, and dwells with confidence in all the land, and there shall be no more a satan or any evil one, and the land shall be clean from that time for evermore.
In short, it took seven years for the first conquest, and another seven for the division of the land; then the first tithes were paid seven years later and the first Sabbatical year fell in the twenty-first year of the possession of the Land (Sifra, Behar Sinai, i.3). The Lubavitcher Rebbe adds:
The spiritual harvest of a Shabbat or shemittah can be only achieved after a “work-week” of dealing with the material world and developing its resources. But it must be preceded and predicated upon “a Sabbath unto G-d” that occupies the fore of our consciousness and pervades our every deed.
In his commentary on Num_32:24, Rashi supported the tradition and had this to say:
For the sake of the Most High [God], for you have undertaken to cross over for battle until [the completion of] conquest and the apportionment [of the Land]. Moses had asked of them only “and… will be conquered before the Lord, afterwards you may return,” (verse 22), but they undertook,“until… has taken possession” (verse 18). Thus, they added that they would remain seven years while it was divided, and indeed they did so (see Josh. 22).
The context of Numbers 32 on which Rashi made his commentary is this: the children of Gad and the children of Reuven came to Mosheh and to Elʽazar and asked for permission to stay in the land east of the Yarden River. Mosheh told them to promise that they would go to war together with their brothers and help them conquer the land until the land was subdued (Num_32:22). However, the children of Gad and the children of Reuven had promised even more than Mosheh commanded them that they would stay with their brothers until the land was divided and inherited (Num_32:18). Mosheh might have feared that in time, the tribes of Reuven and Gad would have been estranged from the rest of their brethren and possibly even from YHVH. Therefore, he commanded half of the tribe of Manasseh, which was not included in the original suggestion of Reuven and Gad, to live in the east of the Yarden to serve as a guarantee or a bridge to those living east of the Yarden and to those living west of the Yarden. As already stated, it took seven years for the conquest and seven years for the division of the land, therefore, the tribes of Gad and Reuven returned to their homes after fourteen years, as they did (Jos_22:1-8).
We learned that according to the tradition, it took seven years for the conquest of the land. But the question we may ask is this: is this a mere tradition or understanding of the sages based on the Scripture? In Joshua 14 we read that after the land was conquered, Kalev came to Yehoshua to ask him for Hebron as a place of his settlement. Yehoshua blessed him and gave him Hebron for an inheritance (Jos_14:12-14). From this we understand that the land had already been conquered but not yet divided. In his arguments to take possession of Hebron, Kalev said that he was forty years old when Mosheh sent him to spy out the land along with Yehoshua and the other ten spies (Jos_14:7) and at the time of his appeal he was eighty-five (Jos_14:10). In other words, from the time they were sent to spy out the land to the time of division of the land there were forty-five years.
We know that Israel had been in the wilderness for thirty-eight years as a punishment for the disbelief of the ten spies and at the end of the thirty-eight years the conquest of the land began. If we deduct these thirty-eight years from forty-five, we will receive seven years of the actual conquest. The story of giving Hebron to Kalev concludes with the statement that the land had rest from war which can only mean that the seven years of conquest had come to an end (Jos_14:15). With the giving of Hebron to Kalev the leader of the tribe of Yehudah began the division of the already conquered land: first the land for the children of Yehudah was partitioned (chapter 15), then the land for the children of Yoseph (chapters 16 and 17). So, the teaching of the sages is correct and it did take seven years for the first conquest of the land.
One may ask the question why they did not drive them out from the land in one year but it took seven years for the first conquest. Just for a comparison, in the 1967 war Israel conquered Yehuda, Shomron, the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights and Azza in six days. Israel also liberated the Old City and the Temple Mount. In other words, Israel conquered more land in six days than what Yehoshua had conquered in seven years and yet Israel in 1967 as it was then did not took all the land promised to Avraham. The reason for this is that because there is one principle of conquering the land which was valid during the first conquest and it will be valid for the final one when Israel will inherit the entire land from Nile to Euphrates River: Elohim states that little by little He shall drive them out from before Israel, until they have increased in number and will be able to take the Promised Land.
I shall send My fear before you, and cause confusion among all the people to whom you come, and make all your enemies turn their backs to you. And I shall send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Ḥiwwite, the Kenaʽanite, and the Ḥittite from before you. I shall not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become a waste and the beast of the field outnumber you. Little by little I shall drive them out from before you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land. (Exo 23:27-30)
And indeed, the land can possibly observe its Sabbaths and Jubilees only when it is conquered and divided among the people. Only then the land can be cultivated and can observe its due rest, hence the counting of the Jubilee years can commence, as it took place in year 2508 from the Creation. Without the conquest and the division of the land, Israel’s entry would be nothing more than crossing a river. Or, we can use the Creation week to even better understand that the counting of the jubilee cycles could have only commenced after the land had yielded the first crops. In other words, as the weekly Sabbath can only be observed after a work-week, so can the harvest of a Sabbath year only be achieved after a work-week of six years.
Another way to look at the matter of when a Sabbath of the land commenced is to consider the story of the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle (Mishkan) traveled with the Israelites for forty years in the desert. When the people entered the Land of Israel, the Mishkan came with them. The Mishkan stood in Gilgal while the Israelites conquered and divided the land. Then the Tabernacle was set up at Shiloh (Jos_18:1) according to the command (Deu_12:4-15). The rising of the Tabernacle in Shiloh may come to indicate the end of the conquest of the land and the beginning of its division, because Jos_18:1 says explicitly that the Tabernacle rested in Shiloh and the land was subdued. Rashi in commentaries on Judges 17:1 says that the Tabernacle was erected in Shiloh fourteen years after Israel’s crossing the Yarden and remained there for three hundred sixty-nine years. And indeed, the Tabernacle, the set-apart place of YHVH among His people, could have only be erected when Israel had conquered the land and the land had rested from wars. Therefore, for fourteen years, the Mishkan stood in Gilgal while the Israelites conquered and finally divided the land in 2507. If Rashi is right, then according to Jubilees Table, the duration of the Tabernacle at Shiloh had been from year 2508 when the land had already been conquered and inherited and the laws of the Sabbath and Jubilee were in force until year 2876, the thirteenth year of Shimshon’s judgeship (see Jubilees Table).
Per Lev_25:9-11, in the 50th year, in year of jubilee, the land is to be returned to rightful owner, the rightful tenant rather: Israel. Later on in this study, we will see that year 2508 was indeed a jubilee when Israel inherited the land and a new jubilee cycle began. However, we will also see that when Israel did not keep the Sabbaths of the land since Yehoshua and that generation died, Israel went in exile and the land was returned to its rightful owner: the Creator, in order to have its lawful rest. The Torah instructs that a jubilee year is to be “proclaimed throughout the land and to all inhabitants thereof” by sounding of a ram’s horn. The Talmud interprets this as a condition that the laws of the fiftieth year are enacted only when the land of Israel is fully populated meaning, as already explained: conquered, divided, and inherited. The only period in Israel’s history when that was the case was from year 2507 (2503 from creation per Talmud) when Israel under Yehoshua completed their conquest and settlement of the land until they were driven out from it by Babylon with the destruction of the First Temple. Israel did not keep the Sabbatical years (Jdg_2:8-13) with the exception of that first generation that entered and conquered the land (Jos_24:31). The backsliding began when that generation was gone and the next one began to live as they knew (Jdg_2:10) and applied Torah as it fit appropriate to them (Deu_12:8, Jdg_17:6, Jdg_21:25).
Many scholars have argued that because a Jubilee year is proclaimed with the sound of a ram’s horn, it begins in the seventh month of the year and Yom Teruah (the first day of the seventh month) should be considered New Year. However, the Torah does not say that. Lev 25:9 is simply saying that a shofar should be used to announce the arrival of the Jubilee year, the 50th year in the Jubilee cycle. It does not say that the Jubilee begins on the Day of Atonement only that the impending arrival of the Jubilee year is announced on the Day of Atonement. Indeed the shofar (ram’s horn) may be passed through the land on Yom Kippur of the 49th year, six months before the beginning of the coming Jubilee year. This interpretation is supported by the immediate context in Leviticus 25. Verse 8 says to count forty nine years, verse 9 says to pass the shofar throughout the land, and verse 10 says to proclaim the 50th year as the Jubilee. This shows that the shofar announcing the coming Jubilee in verse 9 is passed through the land before the Jubilee is actually proclaimed in verse 10. Why is the sounding of the shofar needed six months earlier in order to proclaim the coming Jubilee year? The answer lies in the legal requirements pertaining to the release of the bond servants and returning the land to the original owners “until the Year of Jubilee” (Lev_25:28) meaning until, but not including the Jubilee year (Torath Kohanim 25:50; Mizrachi), and hence the purchaser must not at all enter the Jubilee year while in possession of the field, because the Jubilee year releases [the field from his possession] at its very onset. — [Arachin 28b]. That is why the Torah gives a six month notice of the Jubilee year for the legal arrangement of returning the land.
Also, according to Exo_23:16, the Feast of Tabernacles does not fall at the beginning, but at the outgoing, that is when the year passes the sixth month and starts going towards its end with the beginning of the seventh month. Nor does Lev_25:9 say, that the year of Jubilee is to be proclaimed with a blast of trumpets on the Day of Atonement in the seventh month, in the sabbatical year. Proclamation of festivals is generally made some time before they commence. The commencement of the year with the first of the seventh month known in the rabbinical tradition as Tishri is a law introduced after the Babylonian captivity, which the Jews have probably adopted during the exile.
As YHVH commanded Mosheh to divide the inheritance among the tribes by lot, according to their population (Num_26:52-56), so Yehoshua described and set the boundaries of the possessions of the different tribes (Jos_14:1-15; Jos_15:1-63, Jos_16:1-10; Jos_17:1-18). At that time there were seven tribes that had not received their inheritance, and three men from each tribe were sent out to survey the land (Jos_18:1-6). The land had already been conquered by that time, but these seven tribes had not yet received their portions.
When the land was already conquered in year 2500, the Levites came also to Yehoshua and reminded him of the promise of the Lord to them through Mosheh, and the children of Israel gave to them the cities according to the commandment (Jos_21:1-3). The cities distributed to the Levites were,
1. the sons of Aaron, thirteen cities (Jos_21:4);
2. the Kohathites received ten cities (Jos_21:5);
3. the Gershonites received thirteen cities (Jos_21:6);
4. and the Merarites received twelve cities (Jos_21:7).
The Levites also received suburbs for their cattle which were to extend two thousand cubits in every direction from the city (Num_35:1-5 Jos_21:8). The number of cities given to the rest of the tribes was,
1. Simeon and Judah, nine (Jos_21:9-16); Kalev took Hebron;
2. Benjamin, four (Jos_21:17-18);
3. Ephraim, four (Jos_21:20-22);
4. Dan, four (Jos_21:23-24);
5. Manasseh, four (Jos_21:25-27);
6. Issachar, four (Jos_21:28-29);
7. Asher, four (Jos_21:30-31);
8. Naphtali, three (Jos_21:32);
9. Zebulun, four (Jos_21:34-35);
10. Reuben, four (Jos_21:36-37);
11. and Gad, four (Jos_21:38-39).
The conquest of the land was substantially completed in the jubilee year 2500. Yehoshua called the Reubenites, Gadites and the children of Manasseh, gave them his blessing, commended to guard the Torah, and exhorted them to divide the spoil of their enemies with their brethren (Jos_22:1-8). He then dismissed them, and they departed for their possessions east of the river. The main object of the Torah with regard to the land was to keep intact each tribe’s inheritance, therefore, the Sabbatical and Jubilee years were not inaugurated before the land had been conquered and apportioned among the tribes and the clans.
And the last but not the least: where was the Tabernacle stored after the building of the Temple by Shlomo? When the land was finally divided, they moved the Tabernacle to Shiloh. In Shiloh they created a house of stone and spread the curtains of the Tabernacle over it and it stood for three hundred sixty-nine years. At the end of that period, Shiloh was destroyed in the days of the High Priest Eli, and the Tabernacle came to Nov. Nov was destroyed in the days of King Shaul, and it came to Givon (Maimonides, Hilchot Beit Habechirah 1:2). When Shlomo built the Temple in Yerushalayim, the relics of the Tabernacle were stored deep in the earth below it. According to tradition, since the Set-apart Tabernacle was built with pure intent, it was never destroyed. It is ready for YHVH to once again come to rest there (Tana D’bay Eliyahu Rabbah 25). However, as we learn in the Tosefta of the tractate Sota (13:1), Shlomo stored the Tabernacle away as soon as the Temple was built, in the upper story which was above the Temple and the Sanctuary.
So far in this study, we recovered the period of time from the Creation of the world to Israel’s entry in the land. Israel entered the Promised Land forty years lacking five days after they left Egypt, the land of slavery. Ironically, we should notice that it took seven days for Elohim to take Israel out of Egypt but forty years to take Egypt out of Israel in order to let them enter the Promised Land. All because a people with a mentality of slaves could not inherit it.
Therefore, the reckoning of time from the Creation to the conquest of the land is this:
1. It was 1,948 years from Adam to Avraham.
2. It was 75 years from Avraham’s birth to the Covenant.
3. It was 430 years from the Covenant to the Exodus.
4. It was 40 years from the Exodus to the crossing of the Yarden River.
5. It was 7 years for the conquest of the land.
6. It was 7 years for the division of the land.
Total: 2,507 years.