The taking of Bethzur and siege of Jerusalem (1 Macc 6:48-6:54)

“The soldiers of the king’s army went up to Jerusalem against them. The king encamped in Judea and at Mount Zion. He made peace with the men of Beth-zur. They evacuated the town because they had no provisions there to withstand a siege, since it was a sabbatical year for the land. So the king took Beth-zur. He stationed a guard there to hold it. Then he encamped before the sanctuary for many days. He set up siege towers, engines of war to throw fire and stones, machines to shoot arrows, and catapults. The Jews also made engines of war to match theirs. They fought for many days. But they had no food in storage, because it was the seventh year. Those who found safety in Judea from the gentiles had consumed the last of the stores. Only a few men were left in the sanctuary. The rest of the men had scattered to their own homes. The famine proved too much for them.”

The king’s soldiers moved on to Jerusalem. They camped near Mount Zion. They had already made peace with the people of Beth-zur because they had no provisions due to the fact that it was a sabbatical year. No one worked the fields. The king set up a guard there. Then he camped near the sanctuary in Jerusalem. Then the king’s men set up towers to create engines of war. These engines of war were like battering rams or catapults to shot fire, stones, and arrows. The Jews tried to match these engines of war as the war dragged on. However, the men in Jerusalem, like the people in Beth-zur had little supplies since this was sabbatical jubilee year when no work was done. Eventually, a lot of the Jews left for their own homes as the famine continued.

Sabbatical year (Deut 15:1-15:11)

“Every seventh year you shall grant a remission of debts. This is the manner of the remission. Every creditor shall remit the claim that is held against a neighbor. He is not to exact it of a neighbor who is a member of the community, because Yahweh’s remission or release has been proclaimed. Of a foreigner you may exact it. But you must remit your claim on whatever any member of your community owes you. There will, however, be no one in need or poor among you, because Yahweh is sure to bless you in the land that Yahweh your God is giving to you as a possession to occupy. If only you will obey Yahweh your God, by diligently observing the entire commandment that I command you today. When Yahweh your God has blessed you, as he promised you, you will lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. You will rule over many nations, but they will not rule over you.”

The sabbatical 7th year can be found in Leviticus, chapter 25. In this 7th year you forgive your fellow Israelite neighbor brothers, but not the foreigners. Never be a borrower from foreigners, but you are encouraged to lend to them. If you follow Yahweh’s commandments, you will rule many nations.

“If there is among you a poor man, anyone in need, a member of your community in any of your towns within the land that Yahweh your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted toward your needy neighbor. You should rather open your hand, willingly lending enough to meet the need, whatever it may be. Be careful that you do not entertain a mean thought, thinking, ‘The seventh year, the year of remission is near,’ and therefore view your needy neighbor with hostility and give nothing. Your neighbor might cry to Yahweh against you. You would incur guilt. Give liberally and be ungrudging when you do so. On this account Yahweh your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, ‘Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.’”

Treat the poor and needy with respect. Give willingly. Do not be hard-hearted or tight fisted, but rather open your hand to the needy. Do not use the Sabbath year as an excuse for not giving to those in need. You can incur guilt by not giving to the needy. Yahweh will bless you in your work if you are generous. There will always be poor people, so open your hand to your poor and needy neighbors.

Sabbatical year (Lev 25:1-25:7)

“Yahweh spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai.  Speak to the people of Israel, ‘when you enter into the land that I am giving you, the land shall observe a Sabbath for Yahweh.  Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in their yield.  But in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of complete rest for the land, a Sabbath for Yahweh.  You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard.  You shall not reap the after-growth of your harvest or gather the grapes of your un-pruned vine.  It shall be a year of complete rest for the land.  You may eat what the land yields during its Sabbath.  You, your male and female slaves, your hired and bound laborers who live with you.  For your livestock also, and for the wild animals in your land all its yield shall be for food.”

This time Yahweh spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai.  After you get to the Promised Land, you must remember that the land belongs to Yahweh.  Therefore you have to give it a rest every seven years as was mentioned in Exodus, chapter 23.  You can sow your field and prune your vines for six years, but in the seventh year there shall be a complete rest for the land, a Sabbath for Yahweh.  You can live off the land and your livestock.  This applies to all in your household, your family, your slaves, and your laborers. For six years you work hard in the field and on the seven year, you let it grow wild.