Hebrew Vision News Exclusive
by Miykael Qorbanyahu aka The End Time Scribe
Torah: Leviticus 25.1-27.34 Haftarah: Jeremiah 32.6-27 Witness: Luke 13:1-33, John 10:22-42, Luke 14:1-15:32
On a deeper level, Shmitta is a time for us to return to ourselves. On one hand, it reminds us of our inherent smallness and ineptitude, challenging our sense of ownership of the world. On the other, it underscores our greatness by providing a bridge that, when we contemplate the inner meaning of the year, connects us back to the awesome moments of creation and provides us with the an opportunity for intimacy with our Creator.
Shmitta: The Secret of the Seven. Rabbi Doniel Baron
And the Land is not to be sold beyond reclaim, for the land is Mine, for you are sojourners and settlers with Me. And provide for a redemption for the Land, in all the land of your possession.
In a previous article that was written and published on Hebrew Vision news it was established that there is a crucial relationship between land and liberation. For this present moment, however, we will be examining the relevance and significance of the redemption of the land of Israel in relation to the redemption of both the people of Israel and humanity as a whole as a matter that requires serious consideration. The intrinsic reality of this corresponding redemption exists because it is land that was once designated for Adam to tend and keep, as a sojourner and settler in the Garden of Eden, for the purpose of maintaining a balanced and harmonious ecosystem for the further development and evolution of humankind to its optimal state of being, which is to become the reflection of the image of Elohim. Given this dynamic, it is the children of Adam’s responsibility of land stewardship, predicated on specific terms designated in this week’s double parshiot BeHar/Bechukotai, that serves a major part of Israel’s role in manifesting the reality of the Kingdom of יּהּוּהּ on Earth.
Translated, respectively, On the Mountain and In My Statutes, the focus of BeHar/Bechukotai’s reading revolves around the importance of Israel’s observance of the land’s Sabbatical days and years, inclusive of the Jubilee, in light of every generation’s fulfillment of it from the point that it was set in place to our present. From that time forward our ancestors, who with even our current generation, have been made duly aware of both the rewards and punishments for the observance or negligence of heeding the legal terms of compliance that יּהּוּהּ has eternally set for the tenets who were chosen to occupy the land of Israel. What we will ultimately discover is that for the upon these terms and conditions rests the contractual rights to the land. Therefore, with this writing it is our intent to demonstrate the Scriptural formula for the lawful reclamation of the rights to the land of Israel by the righteous, redeemed people of Israel, which we will show is also a matter of our national recovery of consciousness.
With that matter now in sight, let us turn to a theme in the form of a parable that runs throughout Scripture in regards to the land of Israel and its inhabitants being compared to that of a vineyard or a garden. This comparison is quite interesting considering how the progenitor of Israel, Adam ben Elohim, was taken from the Bantu-Natufian people of the Levant to be relocated further East in what is called Gan Eden in Mesopotamia, only to return to the Levant after being evicted for transgressing the property rights agreement between he and יּהּוּהּ. Following this eviction, it was in the land of Israel that Adam and his family was again took domicile which eventually became the locale where he was buried in a cave called Machpelah, later purchased by his descendant Abraham who transacted the first acquisition of real estate in the Promised Land by the Hebrew people. But as relates to this metaphorical allusion of a garden, we find the first mentioning of this idea was used with the prophet Isaiah who prophesies the following,
Let me sing of my beloved, a song of my beloved, about His vineyard. My beloved had a vineyard in a very fertile hill. He dug it out and cleared its stones, planted it with a choice vine, built a tower in the midst of it, and even cut out a winepress. He expected it to yield good grapes, but it yielded worthless grapes. So now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, please judge between me and my vineyard. What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done? Why then, when I expected it to yield good grapes, did it yield worthless grapes? So now, I will make known to you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge, and it will be eaten up. I will break down the fence, and it will be trodden down. I will lay it waste: it will not be pruned or hoed, but briers and thorns will come up. I will also command the clouds not to rain on it. For the vineyard of יּהּוּהּ Tzayva’ot is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah the planting of His delight. He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed, for righteousness, but behold, a cry!
We find a similar parable spoken centuries later by Yahoshua ben Yoseph addressing parallel circumstances present in Yisrael during his time which he prophetically addressed stating
“Listen to another parable. There was a master of a household who planted a vineyard. He put a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it, and built a tower. Then He leased it to some tenant farmers and went on a journey. Now when fruit season drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. But grabbing his servants, the tenants beat up one, killed another, and stoned still another. Again the master sent other servants, even more than the first, and they did the same thing to them. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ “But when the tenants saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir! Come on, let’s kill him and get his inheritance!’ So grabbing him, they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore when the master of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants? He will bring those miserable men to a miserable end,” they said to Him, “and will lease the vineyard to other farmers who will give to him the fruits in their seasons.”
These two parables capture an all important principle that is contained within this week’s parashat; this principle is known as mutualistic symbiosis which is demonstrated by its relationship between two different organisms naturally benefiting from their interaction with one another in the process of both organisms functioning at their optimal capacities in accordance with the fulfillment of their nature. When this reality is in operation, ecosystem or biological homeostasis is struck. In regards to the maintenance of the land, this reality is accomplished when the land is given a time to lay fallow and regenerate from its production of vegetation with the Sabbaths and the shmitta which takes place during the Jubilee. Therefore, according to the Torah we are told
When you come into the land which I give you, then the land is to keep a Shabbat to יּהּוּהּ. For six years you may sow your field and for six years you may prune your vineyard and gather in its fruits. But in the seventh year there is to be a Shabbat rest for the land—a Shabbat to יּהּוּהּ. You are not to sow your field or prune your vineyard. You are not to reap what grows by itself during your harvest nor gather the grapes of your untended vine. It is to be a year of Shabbat rest for the land. Whatever the Shabbat of the land produces will be food for yourself, for your servant, for your maidservant, for your hired worker and for the outsider dwelling among you. Even for your livestock and for the animals that are in your land—all its increase will be enough food.
Besides being obedient to the Torah of יּהּוּהּ, the purpose for the Shabbat observance of the land is to restore the fertility of the soil through the process of crop rotation which limits the surplus of produce which would then potentially overwork the land which further prevents the earth from yielding its best possible crops. To provide us with more insight into the benefits of this process, Timothy Baron in his article What is Fallow Ground? shares this most significant insight with us:
Agriculture can deplete the soil, especially when the same crop is planted year after year. Each plant species leeches something from the soil while giving something else back. For instance, soybeans…leave nitrates in the soil while corn…absorbs nitrates. To replenish the chemical composition of soil after annual crops such as these, some farmers and gardeners let their land go fallow — or unplanted — so that the soil’s natural nutrient balance can be restored.
The core philosophy behind crop rotation is to never allow crops to completely deplete the soil of any one nutrient. Alternating different plants helps keep that balance intact. Letting a field lie fallow, free from any cultivated crop, is often part of a good crop rotation program. By remaining unsown, the ground rests and fertility can be restored. Crop rotation is all the more important in fields where the soil is prone to depletion or where demanding crops have been grown. The same philosophy used by farmers applies to home gardens as well.
The profundity of this system is reflective not only of its beneficial effects on the land, but also its ability to assure Israelite society freedom from systematic abuses such as exploitation, oppression and power grabs by elite circles who, by hook or crook, had come to acquire more resources than the next person. Providing society with an equitable framework from which every member of Israel’s Commonwealth would be able to secure a living for themselves within the construct of an egalitarian society, the Torah’s precepts regarding the management of land set the parameters and established the principles of social justice and order for the nation.
The most powerful element of this socio-economic dynamic was expressed in the practice of the Jubilee year, or what is known in Hebrew as Yobel (יוֹבֵל). When translated this word carries with it the meaning of a ram’s horn, but is further understood as the measuring of our vessel as displayed and manifested with mastery to attain equilibrium of form and function. As such, the yobel is a supernatural force that is able to strike a most necessary socio-economic balance in the society where its principles are applied. Restoring the land to its rightful, ancestral owners; annulling all monetary debts; releasing souls from their terms of indentured servitude; the Jubilee year ultimately points to the full return of the people Israel from exile to the land of our ineritance where we will be able to fulfill our purpose of living as the kingdom of priests and set-apart nation that we were called to be. In fact, Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David in his article Yovel (Jubilee) Years tells us
In the laws discussing Mashiach, the Rambam tells us that Mashiach will bring back the laws of shmita and yovel just as they were before. But before that, the laws of shmita and yovel do not fully apply. This is because the posuk says that we need kol yoshveha — all the Bnei Yisrael– living in Eretz Yisrael. Mashiach will lead all the Bnei Yisrael out of galut and back to Eretz Yisrael. Then we will be able to keep all the mitzvot of the Torah fully. After seven shmita cycles of seven years each, the fiftieth year is declared yovel. Yovel also hints to the geulah (redemption). In the fiftieth year, the shofar is blown and all slaves are set free. In the same way, the Bnei Yisrael will be set free from our slavery in galut (exile). There is a second way that yovel hints to the geulah. The word yovel is just like the word yovilu. The word yovilu is written in Tehillim (76:12): all the nations “yovilu shai” — will bring gifts to HaShem when the geulah comes.
This leads to the second important principle upon which the entire system rests which is nothing less than the responsibility of the Commonwealth of Israel to secure the land through the observance of Torah’s prescriptions for the Shmitta year and all of its Shabbatot; both weekly and seven year cycles. This accomplishment then extends the mutualistic symbiosis established between humanity and Earth with that of the Heavens, which is exhibited the Shekinah’s presence dwelling within Israel. This reality that is expressed in the parashat when it states
If you walk in My statutes, keep My mitzvot and carry them out, then I will give you rains in their season, the land will yield its crops, and the trees of the field will yield their fruit. Your threshing will last until grape gathering, the grape gathering will last until the sowing time, you will eat your bread to the full, and live securely in your land. I will bring shalom in the land, and you will lie down, with no one making you afraid. I will remove dangerous beasts from the land and no sword will pass through your land. You will chase your enemies and they will fall before you by the sword. Five of you will chase 100 and 100 of you will chase 10,000, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you. I will turn toward you, make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will confirm My covenant with you. You will eat the old harvest and clear out the old because of the new. I will set My Tabernacle among you, and My soul will not abhor you. I will walk among you and will be your [Elohim], and you will be My people.
From this point, we are able gain a contextual insight into a most mysterious passage found in the Messianic codicil book of Revelation which reads
And I saw in the right hand of the One seated upon the throne a scroll, written on both the front and the back, sealed with seven seals.
וארא בימין הישב על הכסא ספר כתוב פנים ואחור וחתום בשבעה חתמות
The speculation over the content of this sealed document has been long debated in the Western world of Christendom. Many times, however, the cultural, historical and linguistic context of this passage is either intentionally disregarded or obliviously unknown to the supercessionist exegete who usually over-spiritualizes the connotation of the passage. In this instance what often happens is the overlooking of the scroll in sight of the Lamb and the Lion that are also mentioned in this chapter. Though the Lamb and Lion are the focus and reason for this revelation, the role that the scroll plays is also significant in the matter of Jubilee and justice. This is because its contents, though presuppositions are made of what it contains, are for the most part not understood. Therefore, the fullness of this apocalyptic prophecy is many times lost in translation.
Without minimizing the significance of the Lamb and the Lion within this context, which we will briefly address below, we must consider the totality of the experience of life on Earth through the agency of Israel historically; from its first appearance to eventually the establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. To begin, we must consider that it was through Adam’s initial disobedience in the garden that caused him to be evicted, or exiled, from Eden, a land that was set-aside for him to cultivate and develop into a utopian milieu. Interestingly, it was at that point that Adam, the representative of יּהּוּהּ on Earth, lost possession of the title deed of the Earth, which was given to him by the Creator and Possessor of existence, as he forfeited and turned over to ha Satan (Isaiah 14.3-21, Matthew 4.8-9). While Israel, at times, has found itself situated at the heights of the Earth with the sun rising on its Kingdom, it has also often been relegated to the depths of Sheol where no light is able to penetrate the darkness of exile as a result of national disobedience.
It is from this experience, however, that we see that this continues to happen whenever Israel found itself out of alignment with the contractual agreement, the Torah, that was in place between the people and יּהּוּהּ. It is this fundamental principle of disobedience leading to eviction and exile that has brought us to this very moment of time when many indigenous Israelites now find themselves in the exile outside of the Promised Land. Bechukotai confirms this reality, stating
Yet if in spite of this you will not listen to Me but walk contrary to Me, then I will walk contrary to you in wrath. So I will chastise you seven times for your sins. You will eat the flesh of your sons and you will eat the flesh of your daughters. I will destroy your high places and cut down your altars of incense, cast your dead bodies upon the bodies of your idols, and My soul will abhor you. I will lay waste your cities and devastate your sanctuaries. I will not smell your soothing aromas. I will make the land desolate and your enemies settling there will be astonished at it. I will scatter you among the nations and I will draw out the sword after you. So your land will become a desolation and your cities will become a waste. Then the land will enjoy its Shabbatot all the days of its desolation, while you are in the land of your enemies. Then the land will rest and enjoy its Shabbatot. As long as it lies desolate it will have rest, that rest which it did not have from your Shabbatot, when you lived on it.
As we have mentioned, the parabolic expression of the correlation between obedience and blessing, disobedience and curse are continuous themes that are found throughout the Scripture. That the ultimate redemption of both the people and land is through to the Messianic work of atonement of the nation through the offering of the blood of the Lamb of Elohim resonates with this week’s parashat in that it is Yahoshua who initiated the beginning process of proclaiming the acceptable year of Elohim, fulling what is prophesied by the prophet Isaiah. As the Kinsman Redeemer of the entire nation of Israel, his tribal connection to both Lewi and Judah provides him with a unique position to reacquire the inheritance of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In fact, Revelation explains how it is through the obedience unto death of the Messiah that the title deed to the Earth is once and for all returned to the rightful husbandmen and husbandwomen of the planet as it is only the Lamb of Elohim who is worthy to open the sealed scroll which contain the terms, clauses and conditions of the deed and what must take place in order to restore the land to its original and lawful tenets. The land, however, is reserved only for those who are redeemed from among humanity and have set their hearts on being faithful to the covenant of life with יּהּוּהּ, which are conditions that are in place for those who are to inhabit the land. For it is in Jerusalem that the righteous shall reign with the Lamb and Elohim for all time. This we find expressed in the words of the Revelator when he prophesies
I also saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to break its seals?” No one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. Then one of the elders tells me, “Stop weeping! Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed—He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.” And in the midst of the throne and the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as having been slain—having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of [Elohim] sent out into all the earth. He came and took the scroll from the right hand of the One seated on the throne. When He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense—which are the prayers of the kedoshim. And they are singing a new song, saying, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals. For You were slain, and by Your blood You redeemed for [Eloah] those from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them for our [Elohim] a kingdom and kohanim, and they shall reign upon the earth.”