A TORAH COMMENTARY FROM THE ANCIENT JEWISH SECT of HaNATSARIM

Torah:                          b’Har (on the Mountain)

                                             Va’Yikra (Lev.) 25:1 – 26:2

Haftarah:                           Yirmeyahu (Jer.) 32:6 – 27

Ketuvim Natsarim:         Romans 6:22


 

Vayikra 25:1-2

1  וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה בְּהַר סִינַי לֵאמֹֽר׃

2 דַּבֵּר אֶל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם כִּי תָבֹאוּ אֶל־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי נֹתֵן לָכֶם וְשָׁבְתָה הָאָרֶץ שַׁבָּת לַיהוָֽה׃

25:1) va’yedaber YHWH el-Mosheh be’han Sinai lemor (2) daber el-benei Yisra’el ve’amarta alehem Ki tavo’u el-ha’arets asher ani noten lachem ve’shavetah ha’arets Shabbat la’YHWH         

25:1) And YHWH spoke to Mosheh on Mount Sinai, saying, (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 observe a Sabbath to YHWH


 

A SHABBAT REST FOR THE LAND

The Shemittah Year (year of release or sabbatical year):

Traveling our path in Torah thus far we have seen the holiness and sanctity of the seventh day Shabbat, the High Holy Days of the seventh month; and now we will look at the laws of the seventh year, the ‘Shemittah,’ the year of release. Shemittah celebrates Elohim’s ownership of the land, which belongs to Him alone (25:3). The land is not to be worked during the Shemittah but allowed to go fallow. Orchards and vineyards were left un-harvested, un-pruned, and un-worked, but the produce that came forth on its own was available to any and all, stranger or native born, man and beast alike. Crops of the six year produced a triple harvest (25:21), and a guarantee of safety, as part of YHVHs’ blessing upon those observing this Chukim. “Such a guarantee flies in the face of human logic! For this reason, Torah classifies agricultural requirements as Chukim (Statutes), not as Mitzvot (commands) or Mishpatim (ordinances) which are based on rationality or logic. Clearly, dwelling securely in the Land demands radical faith![1]

Debtors went free in the Shemittah. All loans were forgiven, and no money lender could demand repayment from a debtor (Dt. 15:1-4). Torah requires next of kin buy back (redeem) property once belonging to an impoverished relative (Lv. 25:25). If a kinsman redeemer did not come forward, the property would revert to its original clan on the Yovel (see below).

Remembering the guarantee of safety that accompanied observance of the laws of Shemittah? It was the lack of obedience to them, that lead to the 70-year captivity in Babylon, one year of for every 7th year that B’ney Yisra’el neglected the Shemittah, or, for the 490 years prior (2 Ch. 36:20-21).

How to determine the Shemittah year:

To determine the Shemittah year, divide the current Jewish year by seven. If there is no remainder, it is a year of Shemittah. If there is a remainder, it will tell you how long since the last Shemittah. For example, this year on the Rabbinical calendar is 5777, divided by seven = 825.3, not a Shemittah year since there is a remainder in our calculation. However, the amount left tells us that the last Shemittah occurred in 5774, three years ago this last Abib. And of course, Abib is determined by the conjunction of the ripened (abib) ear of barley in the land, and the first sighting of a new moon; which was as observed before the Babylonian captivity and prior to the Rabbinical Calendar. Praise be to YHVH that today we see a return to His astronomical and agriculturally corrected Biblical Calendar while departing from names of days and months brought out of pagan Babylon.

Yovel (Jubilee, home bringing):

After the Shemittah of the forty-ninth year, the Yovel was declared on Yom Kippur of the fiftieth year by the blast of the shofar, a ram’s horn (called a ‘Yovel’ in Hebrew) from one of the Biblically Clean animals of Vayikra 11. Liberty for all inhabitants was proclaimed (Lev. 25:10), and all Hebrew slaves were set free; clans received back their original territories. Property that had been sold during the Shemittah year, if not bought back by a kinsman, would be returned to its original owners or their clan.

Shemittah and Torah: a product of divine inspiration or man’s invention?

In light of continuing attacks on the Divine authorship of Scripture, I offer the following short article from Rabbi Boruch Leff of ‘Aish.com’ for your consideration and use:

The Sabbatical year and the Divine authorship of the Torah.

(Changes made to the Sacred Name and titles of Elohim are made by me.)

“The laws of Shemitta seem to be irrational and are indicative of their Divine origin. Would any human being write laws that seem impossible to accept and observe? The laws of Shemitta command the Jewish people to desist from all agricultural work every seventh year (see Va’Yikra 25: 1-24) every 50th year, there is an additional year called Yovel, Jubilee, in which they cannot engage in working the land either. This means that both the 49th and 50th years are off limits to any and all farming.”

“Why would a human being write such a ridiculous law? It is akin to commanding the people to starve to death every 7th year.”

“Yet, the author of the Torah goes further. The people will be bothered and worried when they hear of these laws. They will ask, ‘How will we survive in the 7th year?’ (See 25:20). The author, consequently, makes a guarantee. He promises that every 6th year they will receive a special blessing of a double crop (25:21) which would suffice for both the 6th and 7th years”

“Could a human being guarantee such an occurrence? The very first time the 6th year comes without yielding a double crop, the people will see that it was a lie! They will see that El could not have written the Torah and it was made up by a human being. If a human being did invent the Torah, why would he devise a law that risks destroying his concocted religion? Is there a law such as this in any other religion that exposes itself to falsehood and absurdity? Only El could have authored the laws of Shemitta.”

Rabbi Leff goes on to write about the three pilgrimage festivals as additional evidence of divine inspiration behind the writing of the Torah, citing the fact that all males in Yisra’el were required to come up to Y’rushalyim three times a year for the commanded feasts. With the Ammonites, Philistines, and Amalekites looking for their chance to invade, this would have been a perfect time. However, the author of the Torah tells the people not to worry, while they are in Y’rushalyim, nothing will happen to their homes, their crops, their animals and all their possessions (Shemot 34:24), and as long as this mitzvah (commandment) was observed, they were kept safe.

How can we apply the laws of Shemittah today?

Ask any farmer, or gardener if there is life in the soil, and they will all tell you that if there isn’t, you’re not going to grow anything. For those of us who live in a desert environment, we know this all too well.

To support life the soil must be alive, having a certain chemical and organic balance that will allow a seed to germinate and grow. If the soil is required to produce the same crop continuously year after year, or even different crops in rotation, it must eventually be rested and fed to renew this organic chemical balance.

Once the natural order of Sabbatical rest has been interrupted, the land must receive some type of artificial stimulation so that it will continue to produce. We (man), have taken this to the extreme where agri-business must generate the highest volume possible per acre, at the lowest cost, for the highest possible profit. This demand upon the land has spun-off into the agricultural chemical industry, and an absolute necessity to meet the requirements of today’s market.

Many believers having enough suitable ground to produce a sustainable food source for their families have done so while including a return to Elohim’s plan for rest and rejuvenation of the land every Shemittah. If you live in the city, a small garden may be possible. No matter how small it may be, follow the law of the Shemittah, letting your garden plot rest every seventh year of observance, and YHWH’s blessing will be yours.

In the Shemittah there is a Shabbat rest for the earth, from which comes all life. In observance of Shemittah Yisra’el was blessed with an overabundance of produce and livestock, and on the Yovel, freedom was proclaimed to all. Even though the accuracy of the Rabbinical calendar remains in question, (possibly by at least 100 but no more than 200 years), we now have reestablished the corrected astronomical and agriculturally based Biblical Calendar. With this knowledge, coupled with a prophetic understanding of the Feasts of YHWH and the picture they paint for us concerning the times and seasons, we could be expecting the sounding of the ram’s horn of the last Yovel on the 10th day of the 7th biblical month very soon! The exact year of the Anointed Time is and will be unknown to us until …it shall be said in that day, “See, this is our Elohim. We have waited for Him, and He saves us. This is YHVH, we have waited for Him, let us be glad and rejoice in His deliverance.” HalleluYAH! Amen and Amen!

Sha’ul

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HAFTAROT

Yirmeyahu 32:6-27

THE KINSMAN REDEEMER

Our portion from the Prophets unfolds before us in the tumult and destruction of Y’rushalyim by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar, where we find assurance and a promise of a kinsman redeemer to come.

Yirmeyahu, who lies imprisoned during the conquest of the capital, receives a message from El that instructs him to redeem the property of his next of kinsman, Chanam’el (Favor of El).  What’s left of Yisra’el (The House of Yahuda) is about to go into captivity for seventy years (Jer. 29:10; 2 Chr. 36:21) for failure to obey YHWH concerning the Shemittah. To most, it would seem strange to be conducting such a business transaction in light of current and future events.

But there is a hidden promise in this seemingly fruitless purchase, and it lies in the understanding of the Shemittah/Yovel and the kinsman redeemer. The promise has already been made in 29:10 that the captivity would be for seventy years and that “I will deliver you and perform my good word toward you in bringing you back to this country.” The promise made through Yirmeyahu’s transaction with Chanam’el, is that the sons of Yisra’el will be redeemed to return, to resume their lives in the land, at the completion of ten Shemittot in Yirmeyahu’s time.  But as we read on through to vs. 14, we see the hidden promise partially revealed in a prophecy of redemption and restoration from the Diaspora in our time. When the House of Yahudah is gathered from all the lands where they had been scattered “…and I will bring you back to the place from which I have caused you to be carried away from.”

We as believers in Y’shua Mashiyach can look forward to the time when this promise is fully revealed, come the tenth day of the seventh month of a Yovel when the shofar will sound, and freedom is proclaimed to the captives! Baruch HaShem!

As a side note, if we were to calculate the number of Shemittot to reach the 7th millennium, the result would be 1,000. The number of Yovelim required to arrive at the 7th Millennium would be 140, a multiple of 7, 10, and 70. Interesting how these figures play out, each one being very significant in Hebraic thought and understanding. Is there a hidden message for us laying behind these numbers?

Sha’ul

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KETUVIM NETSARIM (K.N./Writings of the Netsarim)

Romans 6 (TS2009)

16) Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves servants for obedience, you are servants of the one whom you obey, whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness? 17) But thanks to Elohim that you were servants of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18) And having been set free from sin, you became servants of righteousness.

Would you think of yourself as a servant? Certainly not some would say, but I have a few on my staff! Chaverim, there are servants, and then there are Servants! El declares out of our Torah Portion that “For they are my servants whom I brought forth out of the land of Mitsrayim; they shall not be sold as bondmen” (Lev. 25:42).

Servants of Elohim were not to be held as bondsmen in perpetuity but were to be released from bondage on the year of the Yovel so that they could return to the life of freedom intended for them. That freedom was to be a servant to the El of our salvation. It was El who ransomed them and as their Kinsman Redeemer brought them out of bondage in Mitzrayim into His marvelous light, where they could serve Him as a nation of Kings and Priests.

He has done this for us again, through His manifestation as Y’shua Ben Yoseph. Y’shua, as our Kinsman Redeemer, has brought us out of our personal Egypt (sin); and through the precious Blood of The Lamb, He has paid the ransom price so that we may be Free! While we are learning how to serve Him through the Teachings of HaTorah, our price has been paid and the Covenant renewed. The Kingdom of YHVH begins with the acceptance of His Free Gift. That Gift covers us as we learn obedience to Him, as we walk up to Y’rushalyim, up to the House of YHVH!

 Rabbi Shaul rejoices with us in the freedom we have gained as “servants of righteousness” after our “emancipation from sin.”[2] It is now, in the year of our release, in the “Yovel” that our Kinsman Redeemer has paid our ransom. We read in Luke Ch. 4 (TS2009):

(16) And he came to Natsareth where He had been brought up. And according to His practice, He went into the congregation on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17) And the scroll of the prophet Yeshayahu was handed to Him. And having unrolled the scroll, He found the place where it was written: 18) ”The Spirit of YHVH is upon me, because He has anointed Me to bring the Good News to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send away crushed one with a release, 19) to proclaim the acceptable year of YHVH.”

Praise Him for His unending love and faithfulness! Rejoice in your emancipation for “This Scripture in your ears is fulfilled today”!

Shaul


[1] “Walk Leviticus!” Jeffrey Enoch Feinberg, Ph.D. Messianic Jewish Publishers ISBN 1-880226-92-8

[2] Notice that the emancipation is from sin, not the Torah (law). It is HaTorah that identifies sin, as the transgression of it!