The Shemitah – What Does This Word Mean?

Welcome! I am glad you’re here. We are going to dive into a topic that has interested me for some time but is not well known in Christian church circles. That may be because it’s a Jewish word related to the Hebrew calendar. The word is ‘Shemitah.’ This word is highly significant and worth studying.

I have a dear friend who has taken deep dives into studying the Jewish people, their feasts, festivals, and the Hebrew calendar. She has a website called Please check out her site if you would like to read more about her studies on the Jewish people and Israel’s relations with the United States. It truly is fascinating stuff, and she is a fabulous writer.

To better understand the word ‘Shemitah”, I have pulled some information from her website to help us understand the significance of this word and how it plays into God’s plan.

Let’s dive in!

“I want to introduce a word associated with the Sabbath that you may or may not know. It’s called the Shemitah! You are probably thinking, “What is that?” I’m right there with you. When I first heard about it, I just thought it was a weird word. Now, I know it is a PROPHETIC concept that ties in directly with the Sabbath, and the return of the Lord.

Let’s go to the Bible to see some of what it has to say about the Shemitah:

“At the end of every seven years, you must cancel debts. This is how it is to be done:  Every creditor shall cancel any loan they have made to a fellow Israelite. They shall not require payment from anyone among their own people, because the Lord’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed.………….. However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the Lord you God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today. For the Lord your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you.” Deuteronomy 15

Shemitah actually means “sabbatical year.” It is known as the “seventh year,” or “year of rest.” Just as the Sabbath is the 7th day of the week, so the Shemitah is the 7th year.

See below in Leviticus 25:

The Lord said to Moses at Mount Sinai, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to the Lord. For six years sow your field, and for six years prune your vineyards, and gather its fruit: but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the Lord.”

sevenEvery seventh year on the biblical calendar was considered a time of release. It was a time to let go. The Israelites were essentially released from their work of the land. The land was released from being worked on. There was no sowing, no reaping, no plowing, no pruning, and no harvesting.   The animals who worked the land rested as well.

“What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine, for it is a year of rest for the land.” Leviticus 25:5

The nation of Israel no longer observes the Shemitah since the Jewish people have been scattered to other nations since the Romans destroyed the Second Temple. This was observed when all the people of Israel remained in the land, with its people gathered there.

But in the past, even when the Temple stood, it was not always observed properly. For example- the nation of Israel went into captivity to the pagan nation of Babylon for a total of 70 years. This punishment was given because they were in rebellion against God. One example of their disobedience is that they failed to observe the Shemitah properly. How many years did they fail to observe it? 70 – the same number of years they would be in captivity!! While they were in captivity for 70 years in Babylon, the land of Israel would rest because they were not there to work the land.

Sadly, the Shemitah was supposed to be a blessing to the people of Israel, but when not observed, it became a curse.

The Shemitah year was meant to be a time to rely on God alone to provide and sustain.   It was a time to set aside “things of the world” and materialism. The fact that debts were to be forgiven proves that God was reminding the people that money was not their security. Only God could provide that. Forgiving debts and not working the land would certainly put some in a financial quandary. Fields would lay fallow, and “credit” would be nullified. What if someone owed you lots of money? That debt was forgiven in the Shemitah year. You could have a serious hole in your bank account!

Even though it seems like doing these things would put farmers and businessmen into bankruptcy, that’s not what happened- if it was followed properly. If the Shemitah was followed, God promised to bless and provide abundantly in the years after the Shemitah. An overflow of crops and harvest would be the final result. Those who had forgiven debt would be blessed in their future endeavors. But, one had to trust God and know that during the Shemitah year, God would be their strength and provider. Even if the land were not worked, God would still provide all that was needed.

That same concept is true today.

Let’s go to a recent example of how security can be taken away in the blink of an eye.  

Go back to 9/11 – September 11, 2001. On this date, a terrorist attack occurred on our soil like no other. Two planes crashed into the World Trade Center Towers, one into the Pentagon, and another crashed into a field (meant for the White House).   Security went out the window quickly and without warning. Thousands died that day. Were they all secure in their relationship with Christ when their lives were suddenly taken? Only Jesus knows. Lives were shattered in seconds. Our only sure and confident hope is Christ. All other things are not secure.

Interestingly enough, 9/11 happened in a Shemitah year – the seventh year on the biblical calendar.   In the same month, on September 17,  2001, Wall Street suffered its greatest single-day stock market crash in Wall Street history up to that date. This was the last day of the Shemitah, also known as Elul 29. The next day would be the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah). This feast of the Lord is celebrated with the blowing of the trumpet. The trumpet is used in the Bible to sound an alarm or as a wake-up call.

The alarm had sounded. America realized their security had been breached – they could not even trust in money. Debt had been canceled, and credit had been severely damaged as the stock market took a plunge.   In times like this, we must realize that God is our only rest- he is our Shemitah, our Sabbath Rest.

Seven years after 9/11, during another Shemitah year, yet another shock wave hit America. The 2008 financial collapse hit our nation with ferocity. The fall of Lehman Brothers occurred on September 15, 2008. Next, mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had to be bailed out. By the time all was said and done, the taxpayer had to foot a hefty sum of 700 billion to bail out mortgage companies and help stabilize the economy.

Was the stock market affected? Of course! When did the biggest point crash happen in the stock market? On the last day of Elul, or the last day of the Shemitah! The lead-up to the crash actually began back in 2007 on the first day of the Shemitah year, with the fall of Northern Rock, a British mortgage company. (This caused a ripple effect in the American economy)   So, the financial woes began on the first day of the Shemitah and culminated on the last day of the Shemitah year!

In 2014-2015 Shemitah year, we saw another financial crisis in the United States. On the web, I found an article that said the following,

“U.S. stock markets collapsed shortly after the open on Aug. 24, 2015, with the Dow plunging more than 1,000 points. The main indexes recovered some of the losses but still finished the day down 3% to 4%. The blame fell on Wall Street’s biggest exchange-traded funds, one of which saw heavy losses of as much as 43% intraday.

Junk bonds made really scary headlines when Third Avenue Focused Credit closed down its fund amid flood of redemptions. The iShares iBoxx High Yield Corporate Bond fund quickly nose-dived, and was down 12% year to date.

The news spooked investors who pulled more money out of bond funds. The week ended last Wednesday saw the biggest outflow from bond funds since June 2013, to the tune of $13.1 billion, most of them from junk bonds, said Bank of America Merrill Lynch in a weekly report.

Another flash crash occurred on March 18, 2015, but it didn’t get as much attention as the August 24 flash crash.

So, when is the next Shemitah year?

We are in it, folks!

Let’s read on and see what my friend Angela has to say.

The next one began on September 7, 2021, and will last until September 25, 2022. Keep in mind the Shemitah lasts for a full year. The Shemitah begins when The Feast of Trumpets begins. Then it ends as the Feast of Trumpets begins the following year. So, the Feast of Trumpets begins on September 7, 2021 and this ushers in the Shemitah year. This Shemitah year will continue until sundown on September 25, 2022. (Keep in mind the Hebrew calendar “days” begin and end when the sun goes down).

In this way, we see the Shemitah begins and ends with the Feast of Trumpets! I think that is cool because we know Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega- the beginning and the end! If you don’t know this already, the Feast of Trumpets is a feast that foreshadows the return of Christ at the rapture.

Thoughts about the current Shemitah year we’re in

Can we safely say that we are experiencing financial woes, the kind we have not seen since the days of Jimmy Carter? Dare I say these days are worse than Jimmy Carter? Consumer confidence is way down. Supplies chains are a mess. Fuel prices are ridiculous. Electricity costs and food prices are way up, along with mortgage prices, home costs, lumber prices, insurance increases, and Lord knows whatever else is all in a quandary. It looks like there’s more to come with no relief in sight.

What are we to do as a nation? As individuals?


We as a nation have sinned against God and even though many of us reading this blog are not Jewish, we serve a holy God who is the creator of heaven and earth and has not changed in 6000 years. As a nation, we have done everything we can to reject God and his plan for our lives. God has been removed from schools, the public square, government, and homes. In some instances, God is not preached in churches anymore.

Let’s not be so naive to think the God of the Bible is not real, irrelevant, or not in charge. Let’s not be so prideful and believe God doesn’t see what is happening in this country and worldwide daily. The Lord sees, and if the above information on these events from 2001, 2008, 2015, and 2022 doesn’t grab your attention, I’m not sure what will. Google them and read for yourself.

Where we are in the world today:

  • The financial crisis is in full swing.
  • Russia is at war with Ukraine.
  • Israel and Gaza are at it once again.
  • China is doing active military drills near Taiwan.
  • Covid is still on the move.
  • Monkeypox is on the move.
  • Lawlessness abounds.
  • Everyone is fighting over abortion.
  • Children are suffering.
  • People everywhere are hurting.
  • Evil abounds.
  • Natural disasters are intensifying.

Do you still think everything is going well? When I look at the small list above, I see chaos as I have never seen before. Do you think this will all go away when the Shemitah year ends? I don’t think so.

But God!

Many things are happening, and we must be careful not to fall asleep at the wheel. Now is not the time to check out from God but to check back in and stay connected. Now is the time to get your affairs in order. Seek the Lord while he may be found. Confess your sins to him and get right with God.

These days feel like the days of Noah.

Luke 17:26-27, “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.

We live in unprecedented times, and one cannot afford to keep their head in the sand. God is moving, and we are coming up on the end of this Shemitah year. Remember what Angela wrote? This Shemitah year ends September 25, 2022.

What will the next few months bring? Only God knows. Stay alert, stay awake, and be watching.


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JD Farag

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