The Jews were punished with 70 years of exile for the 70 Shmita years (sabbatical years) they did not keep. (Chronicles II 36:21).

Does this mean they never kept Shmita even during the time of the Beit Hamikdahs (The Temple)? Or is this perhaps not meant to be taken literally?

  • 1
    70 Shmittas is 490 years. They lived in Israel for over 800 from Joshua to Zedekiah.
    – Double AA
    May 26, 2015 at 19:00
  • @DoubleAA thanks. it refers to post 1st temple then.
    – ray
    May 26, 2015 at 19:30
  • I don't follow your last comment.
    – Double AA
    May 26, 2015 at 19:42
  • @DoubleAA Yovel counts as year one of shemita? (Which also begs the question: are yovels coutned amongst the 70?) I assume we pasken like the chachamim (Rosh Hashana 9a;?). Mishne Torah, Hilchot Shemitah VeYovel 10:7; mesora.org/rabbifox/BeharBeChukotai66.htm
    – Loewian
    May 26, 2015 at 20:08
  • related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/32082/…
    – Menachem
    May 26, 2015 at 20:52

2 Answers 2


See Ezekiel 4 and Leviticus 26 and Rashi there for other references to the 430 years when Israel violated the Sabbatical and Jubilee years. Each Jubilee period, or 50 years contains seven Sabbaticals and one Jubilee for a total of eight years. In 400 years that would be 8 x 8 = 64 years violated. Another 28 years provides four Sabbatical for a total of 69. The 70th seven year cycle was counted against Israel even though it was not completed.

Now, the first Shmitta was observed 14 years after entry into the Land of Israel. Given that Israel was exiled after 850 years in the Land, less than half the Sabbatical and Jubilees were observed.


Erchin 13a-b goes through the calculations and seems to conclude that, indeed, they did not observe a single Shmittah during those 852 years.

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