on Exodus 23 :11
The seventh year thou shalt let it rest - As, every seventh day was a Sabbath day, so every seventh year was to be a Sabbath year. The reasons for this ordinance Calmet gives thus: -
"1. To maintain as far as possible an equality of condition among the people, in setting the slaves at liberty, and in permitting all, as children of one family, to have the free and indiscriminate use of whatever the earth produced.
"2. To inspire the people with sentiments of humanity, by making it their duty to give rest, and proper and sufficient nourishment, to the poor, the slave, and the stranger, and even to the cattle.
"3. To accustom the people to submit to and depend on the Divine providence, and expect their support from that in the seventh year, by an extraordinary provision on the sixth.
"4. To detach their affections from earthly and perishable things, and to make them disinterested and heavenly-minded.
"5. To show them God's dominion over the country, and that He, not they, was lord of the soil and that they held it merely from his bounty." See this ordinance at length, Leviticus 25 (note).
That God intended to teach them the doctrine of providence by this ordinance, there can be no doubt; and this is marked very distinctly, Leviticus 25:20, Leviticus 25:21 : "And if ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase: then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years." That is, There shall be, not three crops in one year, but one crop equal in its abundance to three, because it must supply the wants of three years.
1. For the sixth year, supplying fruit for its own consumption;
2. For the seventh year, in which they were neither to sow nor reap; and
3. For the eighth year, for though they ploughed, sowed, etc., that year, yet a whole course of its seasons was requisite to bring all these fruits to perfection, so that they could not have the fruits of the eighth year till the ninth, (see Leviticus 25:22), till which time God promised that they should eat of the old store.
What an astonishing proof did this give of the being, power, providence, mercy, and goodness of God! Could there be an infidel in such a land, or a sinner against God and his own soul, with such proofs before his eyes of God and his attributes as one sabbatical year afforded?
It is very remarkable that the observance of this ordinance is nowhere expressly mentioned in the sacred writings; though some suppose, but without sufficient reason, that there is a reference to it in Jeremiah 34:8, Jeremiah 34:9. Perhaps the major part of the people could not trust God, and therefore continued to sow and reap on the seventh year, as on the preceding. This greatly displeased the Lord, and therefore he sent them into captivity; so that the land enjoyed those Sabbaths, through lack of inhabitants, of which their ungodliness had deprived it. See Leviticus 18:24, Leviticus 18:25, Leviticus 18:28; Leviticus 26:34, Leviticus 26:35, Leviticus 26:43; 2 Chronicles 36:20, 2 Chronicles 36:21. Commentators have been much puzzled to ascertain the time in which the sabbatical year began; because, if it began in Abib or March, they must have lost two harvests; for they could neither reap nor plant that year, and of course they could have no crop the year following; but if it began with what was called the civil year, or in Tisri or Marcheshvan, which answers to the beginning of our autumn, they would then have had that year's produce reaped and gathered in.
on Exodus 23 :11
on Exodus 23 :11