Chapter 2:

Errors in the 49 Year Jubilee Cycle

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In The Torah Calendar, we show how Yahweh wants us to keep a 50 year Jubilee cycle (rather than a 49 year cycle), as He says in Leviticus 25:10.

Vayiqra (Leviticus) 25:8-10
8 ‘And you shall count seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years; and the time of the seven sabbaths of years shall be to you forty-nine years.
9 Then you shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all your land.
10 And you shall set the fiftieth year apart, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family.’

Some people, however, advocate a 49 year count. This article will show that a 49 year count is in error. In order to see this point, first we need to look at the Shemittah cycle, which is the basic 7 year count.

Deuteronomy 15:1-4 tells us that every seven years, we are to release all debts with our Israelite brethren. In Hebrew, this ‘release’ is called a ‘Shemittah’ (שְּׁמִטָּה). This explains why the word ‘Shemittah’ has come to mean ‘a seven-year cycle.’

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 15:1-4
1 “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release (שְּׁמִטָּה).
2 And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called Yahweh’s release.
3 Of a foreigner you may require it; but you shall give up your claim to what is owed by your brother,
4 except when there may be no poor among you; for Yahweh will greatly bless you in the land which Yahweh your Elohim is giving you to possess as an inheritance….”

There is a parallel between the daily count-seven for the Sabbath, and the yearly count-seven for the Shemittah.

Exodus 16:22-30 tells us not to cook on the Sabbath. Instead, we prepare twice as much food on the sixth day of the week, so that we do not have to cook on the Sabbath (except perhaps to warm our food up).

Shemote (Exodus) 16:23
23 Then he said to them, “This is what Yahweh has said: ‘Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a set-apart Sabbath to Yahweh. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.'”

Similarly, in Leviticus 25:20, Yahweh promises to give us a double-sized harvest in the sixth year, so that there is no need to plant or reap until the eighth year. That means, just like we do not cook on the seventh day, we also do not plant or reap in the seventh year.

Vayiqra (Leviticus) 25:20-22
20 ‘And if you say, “What shall we eat in the seventh year, since we shall not sow nor gather in our produce?”
21 Then I will command My blessing on you in the sixth year, and it will bring forth produce enough for three years.
22 And you shall sow in the eighth year, and eat old produce until the ninth year; until its produce comes in, you shall eat of the old harvest.

Just as there is a parallel of sevens between the weekly Sabbath and the Shemittah, there is also a parallel of fifties between the (annual) Pentecost and the Jubilee. While the Passover can fall on any day of the Passover week, the Omer (Wave Sheaf) is always offered on the first day of the week following the Passover.

Pass. = Passover (Pesach)
Wave = The Wave Sheaf Offering
Om. = What day of the Omer Count
Shabt = Shabbat (Seventh-Day Sabbath)
Pent. = Pentecost (fiftieth day)

The Jubilee follows a similar count to 50. Leviticus 25:8-10 tells us to “count seven sabbaths of years, seven times seven years” (i.e., 49 years), and then to declare a Jubilee in the fiftieth year (on the Day of Atonement).

Vayiqra (Leviticus) 25:8-10
8 ‘And you shall count seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years; and the time of the seven sabbaths of years shall be to you forty-nine years.
9 Then you shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all your land.
10 And you shall set the fiftieth year apart, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family.’

If we put this in a table, it looks just like the Pentecost count would look, if the Pentecost count kept going. The Shemittah falls at the end of each 7 year period (where the Sabbath would be in the weekly count). The Jubilee (Yovel) is in the first column, where the Pentecost would be. The only difference is that since the count continues, the next Jubilee seems to “shift” a week, when viewed in a table. However, since there is no “table” in real life, this does not matter.


The reason we need to do things this way is that it gives us a true count of fifty from Jubilee to Jubilee.

Some, however, tell us that the Jubilee must always fall in the first column of the imaginary table. Therefore they tell us that the 50th year of the Jubilee cycle is also the 1st year of the new count.


This looks nice on paper, in that the Jubilee always falls in the first column of the table. However, since the “table” is imaginary, it is not necessary. Further, there is not a true count of 50 from Jubilee to Jubilee, and so it breaks Leviticus 25:8-10 (above), which tells us to count to fifty before proclaiming the Jubilee.

The 49 year count also violates Leviticus 25:3, which tells us to plant six years (verse 3).

Vayiqra (Leviticus) 25:2-4
2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a sabbath to Yahweh.
3 Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit;
4 but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to Yahweh. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard.”

One cannot obey Leviticus 25:2-4 on the 49-year count, because one cannot plant or reap during a Jubilee year. That leaves only five years of planting before the next land rest.


Basically, the 49 year count looks pretty in an imaginary table, but it violates Leviticus 25:3, and Leviticus 25:10.

In contrast, the 50 year count does not look quite as nice in an imaginary table, but it obeys Yahweh’s commands. And that is all the difference in the world.

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