Revisiting the “Shemitah” …
Deuteronomy 15:1-2 says: “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. 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 the Lord’s release [the “sabbath year” or “shemitah”].
The word shemitah is translated “the release” or “the remission.” In English, remission is defined as “the cancellation or reduction of a debt or penalty.” The entire seventh year is known as the Year of the Shemitah and ends on Elul 29 — the Day of Remission — the day when all debt is released and wiped away. A time appointed by God for refreshing revival. The Shemitah was intended to be a blessing for the nation of Israel.
Breaking the Shemitah
However, when God’s chosen nation collectively ignored this particular command, the Lord sent messengers, called prophets, to remind them. But the people scoffed at the prophets and despised their words. Breaking the covenant with God was equivalent to rejection of God’s sovereignty, and that action set in motion far-reaching consequences. Their God sent them away from His presence into Babylon for 70 years to stress the fact that the land belongs to Him, and He WILL enforce His laws pertaining to it.
When God’s sovereignty goes unrecognized, the people and their land become cut off from the Creator. The Creator assigns purpose, and without Him people can do whatever they want. The people of Israel began sacrificing their children to foreign gods. That sin brought about the nation’s destruction. What the people refused to do would be brought on them by force. So in 586 B.C., the southern nation of Judah (the northern kingdom had already been captured by the Assyrians) was exiled, the Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed, and the prophetic words spoken by God’s messengers were fulfilled. The land rested for 70 years — the number of Shemitah years the nation had refused to observe.
At the end of 70 years, many of the “Jews” chose to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their temple, which would be destroyed again in 70 A.D., after which the Jews would be dispersed throughout the world. However, God foretold through his prophet Ezekiel that He would bring His chosen people back into their land. That prophecy was fulfilled in 1948, when Israel was once again declared a nation.
Financial and Economic Falls
The word shemitah is linked to the Hebrew verbs for “to shake,” “to let fall,” and “to collapse.” It’s interesting to note some significant economic crashes that have happened in conjunction with the Shemitah Years:
- The Crash of 1901-1903 (“the depression’) was brought on by the struggles of E.H. Harriman, Jacob Schiff, and J.P. Morgan over financial control of Northern Pacific Railroad. A Shemitah occurred over 1902 and 1903. By its end, 46% of the market was wiped out.
- The “Crisis of 1916-1917” took place during World War I. One Shemitah happened over the course of the war — between 1916 and 1917. The stock market lost 40% of its value.
- The Crash of 1930-1932 (The Great Depression) constituted the worst economic and financial crisis in modern history involving the collapse of global trade. The Shemitah took place between 1930 and 1931. In April of 1931, the stock market began a long-term crash that would bring Wall Street to its lowest levels of the twentieth century. By the end of July 1932, 86% of the market had been wiped out.
- The Crash of 1937-1938 (“the Recession of the Great Depression”) came just as the American stock market and economy were coming back from the depths of the Great Depression. The Shemitah began on September 6, 1937. The next day Wall Street collapsed, and by June of 1937, four million workers had lost their jobs.
THE CRASH OF 2001
Jonathan Cahn writes in The Mystery of the Shemitah …
“The stock market collapse began with the “Dot-Com Crash” of 2000-2001. Then came 9/11, which would first paralyze Wall Street and then cause further deterioration. The collapse would continue into 2002. By the time it ended, more than 37% of the market had been wiped out….
“The Shemitah comes once every seven years. It just so happens that the first Shemitah of the new millennium fell in the period of 200-2001, the years of the Dot-Com Crash, a deepening recession, the attack of 9/11, and one of the greatest stock market day crashes in history.…
“The events of September 11, 2001, took place in the last climactic week of the Shemitah….
“On 9/11 Wall Street was shut down. It reopened on September 17, the Shemitah’s last climactic day [Elul 29 on the Hebrew calendar]. Thus it was the first day that Wall Street bore the financial impact of 9/11. The greatest stock market crash in history was the reflection of 9/11 in the financial realm.…
“What had stood on the pavement at Ground Zero were not only towers but colossal symbols of economic and financial power. The Twin Towers were explicitly or implicitly, the most glaring icons of America’s financial and economic prosperity, preeminence, and sovereignty. They epitomized the American-led global economic order that had prevailed since the end of the Second World War. On 9/11 that symbol came crashing down….
“The towers had boasted of the nation’s blessings and glory. But the warning reminded the nation that all its blessings and glory came from God…. the message warned that if America ever turned away from its foundation, its glory would not endure and the blessings of heaven would be removed from the land….
“The greatest financial collapse in American history up to that day took place on the very day given in the Bible to wipe away the financial accounts of the nation.”
THE CRASH OF 2008
Jonathan Cahn writes in The Harbinger Companion …
“The law of the Shemitah was given to Israel. America was never under obligation to observe a Sabbath year. But the Shemitah remains a biblical sign of judgment on a nation that has driven God out of its life and replaced Him with idols and the ceaseless pursuit of gain. Thus, it is the Shemitah as a biblical sign of national judgment in the context of America that now concerns us….
“Behind the crash of Wall Street and the collapse of the American economy lies the mystery of the Shemitah…. In 2008 the collapse of Lehman Brothers and America’s economy took place over the course of a week, the anniversary week of 9/11.… Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac collapsed on September 7 of that year. Two days later Lehman Brothers began to fall, and on September 11, 2008, the stock market took a precipitous plunge.…
“The 2008 global economic collapse was one colossal Shemitah, made up of countless smaller ones….
“The Shemitah revolves around the number seven. So the number seven arises over and over again concerning the economic collapse of 2008. The great collapse happened on the crowning day of the seventh year. It was triggered on Capital Hill when Congress rejected a $700 billion bailout plan. Seven percent of the market was wiped out. And the number of points wiped away was 777 (Alexandra Twin, “Stocks Crushed,” CNNMoney.com, September 29, 2008). In order to trigger all of these “sevens,” all of Wall Street, the American and world economies, every economic and financial transaction, had to be in an exact position for it all to happen as it did, at the exact time and to that exact number. No human hand could have orchestrated it.”
THE SHEMITAH OF 2014-15 …
A lot happened during the Hebrew year of 5774 — 2014-2015 — but there was not another notable stock market crash, as in 2001 and 2008. You can search the web for articles and blogs that itemize events that seemed important to various individuals. The most notable, perhaps, was the blood moons that occurred on Jewish feast days — seen by many as omens of judgment.
I’m not going to belabor all of that. However, I do feel it’s important to go into detail concerning the biblical 70th Jubilee year, which began on September 13, 2015 and will end tomorrow — October 2, 2016.
Next: The 70th Jubilee year comes to a close!