The Sabbath year under Mosaic law was celebrated Tishri to Tishri every 7th year, starting with Tishri 1467 to Tishri 1466. The last Sabbath year before Jerusalem's first fall was Tishri 610 to Tishri 609 (InsightII p833, Leviticus 25:1-3).
The Jubilee was to be celebrated every 50th year after entering into the promised land. Since they entered first in 1473, the first Jubilee was 1424Tishri to 1423Tishri:
And you must count for yourself 7 Sabbaths of years, 7 times 7 years, and the days of the 7 Sabbaths of years must amount to 49 years for you. And you must cause the horn of loud tone to sound in the 7th month on the 10th of the month. On the day of atonement you people should cause the horn to sound in all your land. And you must sanctify the 50th year and proclaim liberty in the land to all its inhabitants. It will become a Jubilee for you, and you must return each one to his possession and each one to his family. A Jubilee is what the 50th year will become for you. You must not sow seed nor reap the lands growth from spilled kernels not gather the grapes of its unpruned vines (Lev 25:8-11).
Since the Jubilee had all the features of a Sabbath year, it was also a Sabbath, in fact a greater one.
Having established the details of the Sabbath year in Leviticus 25, let's look at the details of the covenant between Jehovah and his people in Leviticus 26. In verse 2, Jehovah says:
You should keep my Sabbaths and stand in awe of my sanctuary (Lev 26:2).
In verses 3-13, Jehovah lists some of his obligations under the law covenant having mainly do to with the land and its produce. Then in verses 14-33 Jehovah lists all the penalties that the Jews will suffer if they breach the covenant.
If though despite these things you will not listen to me, I shall then have to chastise you 7 times as much for your sins (Leviticus 26:18).
If though, despite these things, you will not listen to me, I shall then have to inflict 7 times more blows upon you according to your sins (Leviticus 26:21).
From this it is evident that whatever the quantity of sin is that his people commit, Jehovah will repay them sevenfold. At this point, have a look at verse 19:
I shall have to break the pride of your strength and make your heavens like iron and your earth like copper (Leviticus 26:19).
This has a bit of similarity to Daniel 4 does it not? Now verse 34 is very interesting, because it is actually a prophecy and not a clause in the Mosaic covenant as the preceding verses were. It reads:
At that time the land will pay off its Sabbaths, all the days of its lying desolated, while you are in the land of your enemies. At that time the land will keep Sabbath, as it must repay its Sabbaths (Leviticus 26:34).
All the days of its lying desolated, it will keep Sabbath, for the reason that it did not keep Sabbath during your Sabbaths when you were dwelling upon it (Leviticus 26:35).
This prophecy is stating that the Jews will breach and that when they do the land will be devastated whilst it pays off the exact number of Sabbaths missed. It is also apparent that 'Sabbath' is state of being as well as a year (i.e. keep Sabbath). So in summary, the nations sins are to be repaid 7 times, and the missed Sabbaths are to be repaid exactly and immediately and consecutively at some future date when the land will be devastated. The question is how big in quantity was the nation's sin?
The answer is in Ezekiel 4:4-6, where Ezekiel laid on his left side for 390 days, representing 390 years sin for Israel, and he then laid on his right side for 40 days representing 40 years of sin for Judah. For reasons stated in Watchtower 1972 p310, the 390 year period ran from 997 to 607BCE, and the 40 year period ran from 647 to 607BCE.
Now the big question is, what is the total error? Is it the sum of 390 and 40, or is it the average or is it just 390 years because we know that the two time periods ran concurrently. We do know that in Ezekiel's sleepy sign, the two periods were not concurrent, but were in fact consecutive, because even Ezekiel could not lie down on both sides at once! Well to answer this question we look at all the land Sabbaths in both of the periods. We bear in mind that time was divided into 50 year periods, each with 7 Sabbaths and then a jubilee (InsightII p122).
In the 40 year period, from 647Tishri to 607Tishri, the Jubilee was 624-623. Jerusalem fell from Jewish headship at the assassination of Gedaliah in 607Tishri (2 Kings 25:25). Also the exile ended in the 7th month, which is Tishri (Ezra 3:1). All these Tishris should be no surprise by now! So after the Jubilee the Sabbaths started in 617 and 610, and before the Jubilee they started in 625,632,639 and 646. This is one Jubilee and 6 Sabbaths, making a total of 7 Sabbath years:
Judah: Sabbath error
In the 390 year period, from 997Tishri to 607Tishri, the Jubilees were:
Israel: Jubilee errors
We know this because the promised land was entered in 1473Nisan, and so the 1st sacred year ran from 1473Tishri to 1472Tishri, so the 50th sacred year ran from 1424Tishri to 1423Tishri. Therefore Jubilees, were xx24Tishri to xx23Tishri, and xx74Tishri to xx73Tishri.
So we have 7 fifty year periods plus the two periods from 997Tishri to 974Tishri, and from 634Tishri to 607Tishri. These latter two periods had Sabbath years as follows:
In total we have 49 Sabbath years in the 7 fifty year periods (excluding the Jubilees), we have 8 Jubilees and we have the 6 Sabbaths above. This makes a total of 49+8+6=63 Sabbath years.
If we add the 63 Sabbath error year of Israel to the 7 Sabbath error years of Judah we get 70 Sabbath error years. This is good isn't it? We know that the exile in Babylon was exactly 70 years, in fact it was 70 enforced Sabbaths from 607Tishri until 537Tishri. We now know why! They owed Jehovah 70 Sabbaths, and he had said that he would extract payment a year for a year.
We now know that since the two Sabbath error figures for the two nations were added to get the correct result, namely 70 years, then the total error must also be added, as this is evidently how Jehovah is treating this error. So the Jews owed Jehovah 430 years (a figure we have seen before in Egypt). Now 70 of these years were Sabbath error, and we have seen how these were paid back. So this leaves 430-70 or 360 years are unpaid for error, [in fact false worship error - Ed.]
Now the penalty for breaches other than Sabbath breaches we have already seen from Leviticus 26:18,21, it is that Jehovah will repay sevenfold. So the penalty for these 360 error years is 7 x 360 = 2520 years. Pow! we have the 2520 years of the Gentile times, and 1914Tishri is confirmed, without reference to Daniel chapter 4!. [Charles Russell thought it ended on Tishri10 because of the definition of the land Sabbath probably - way to go Charlie - it actually ended on 1914Tishri15, because of Booths - Ed].
Now we know why the Gentile times was 2520 years long, it was because the net sin unaccounted for in the joint houses of Israel and Judah under the law covenant, excluding the land Sabbath years was 360 years of false worship breach, and so Jehovah abandoned his obligations for 7 times as long, as he had warned and stipulated, covenanted and prophesied in the beginning - Divine Justice.
It is very comforting to have another scripture showing that David's throne was re-established in 1914 (although strictly unnecessary). Just imagine what would have happened if Rehoboam had listened to the elder men, rather than the younger! (2 Chron 10:13). Incidentally InsightII p834 under 'Sabbath' was very helpful in this although it may have to be altered a bit now if this stuff is true [Wow! - look how respectful and humble I used to be - Ed]. The clue that Leviticus might contain Messianic prophecy, for me, was Leviticus 26:19.
Please shoot this down if it is wrong. If true then it actually provides further evidence that 607Tishri is the correct date for the fall of Jewish headship of Jerusalem, because with the secular alternative of 587, this Sabbath calculation would fail.
[The above was the basis of the letter given to an elder in my congregation on one day between January 20 and January 22, 1992. He never showed this letter to any other elder and I believe he threw it in the bin, although he has never told me what he did with this letter, whereas he made me promise before he would agree that I could be baptised in water, that I would not send any more letters direct to the society, rather I would send them first to the elders. He made me promise this without telling me what he had done with my first letter. A letter which was no less significant than the understanding of Daniel 4 given to Russell upon which the Watchtower Society was formed. Providentially another elder let me out of this promise. This man who got my first letter has a lot to answer for and the presiding overseer has more to answer for. As regards FDS3, they have even more to answer for, and all of their answers will be forthcoming soon - Ed.]