The sefer Sifsei Cohen (not to be confused with the commentary on the Shulchan Aruch) on VaYetzeh, Beraishis 28:13 writes the following:

ואמר הארץ אשר אתה שוכב עליה לך אתננה...עוד אתננה אתן נה פי׳ אחר נ״ה שמיטות אחר יציאת מצרים נבנה בית המקדש

He writes that the First Temple was built 55 shmittas after the Exodus. How does this work out?

Now, according to מלכים א, ו:א, the First Temple was began 480 years after the Exodus. It was completed seven years later.

Now 55 x 7 = 385, which is much less than 480. Perhaps he doesn't mean to count all the seven year periods, but only the actual Shmitta years observed. Now, the Shmitta cycle only began 14 years after Israel's entry into the Land. That was 54 years after the Exodus. 480 - 54 = 426 years of Shmitta observance before the First Temple. That number is still much larger than 385. Even if we were to add the seven יובל years in 55 shmittas, would only bring us to 392 which is still far less than 426.

Can anyone figure out what the ש"ך is talking about?

  • Kind of a guess - it counts until the time that Dovid aquired the land for the Beis Hamikdosh (the time the place was chosen). I have to check if the timeline works out, which I don't have time to do now.
    – Yishai
    Commented Nov 4, 2013 at 22:50
  • @Yishai I don't think that would work. David bought the farm towards the end of his reign. and we would still need 34 years.
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 5, 2013 at 5:23
  • Thanks, Yishai- I was thinking along those lines too, but as AA comments, that was too late. However, what about the year that Dovid attempted to build the בית המקדש? (Shmuel II, 7) What year was that?
    – Ephraim
    Commented Nov 5, 2013 at 7:09
  • Thinking about this, I think the only reasonable way to understand it is that it means a minimum of 55 shmitos. More would still count. It could be there is a reason that adds up some delay, or some reason not to count them, but it just seems likely that it means after 55 or more shmitos. But absent a medrash or something more well known that excludes the other years from the shmittah count, I think that is the reasonable approach.
    – Yishai
    Commented Nov 5, 2013 at 17:39

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure if my math or logic is correct, plus this isn't really a complete answer, but here it is:

The Rambam, Hilchot Beis Habechirah 1:2 says:

The Mishkan moved to Shiloh when the Shmitah calculations started (14 years after they entered the land.

The Mishkan was in Shiloh for 369 years. It then moved to Nov, and then on to Givon, where it spent 57 years combined (According to Seder Hadorot it was 44 years in Nov, and 14 years in Givon), before arriving in Yerushalaim. [Note that the Rambam holds that a stone structure was built for the Ark in Nov and Givon]

If we take just the 369 years the Mishkan was in Shiloh and divide it by 50 (to figure out how many Yovels there were in that time period), we get 7.38, or 7 Yovels. remove those years from 369 and divide the remainder (362) by 7 gives us 51.71, or 51 Shmitah cycles. This is just 4 Shmitahs short of our goal.

If we add the 44 years in Nov to the years in Shiloh, we get 413. dividing by 50 then multiplying by 7 gives us 58 Shmitah cycles when the sanctuary at Givon was built. (According to here Givon was on the outskirts of Yerushalaim, although I'm not exactly sure where they get that from)

Adding the 40 years in the desert and the 14 years of conquest into the mix gives us 7 extra Shmitas (I'm not factoring in Yovel, which didn't start until the Jews divided the land - a little hypocritical, since Shmitah didn't either), which also gives us 58 Shmitahs, not too far from our goal.

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