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and in the third year fow and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruits *."
From the 13th verse of the 18th chapter it is evident, that, in the 14th of Hezekiah, Sennacherib came op against all the cities of Judah, and, no doubt, laid the country under exorbitant contributions, for the support of his numerous army. It is not here enquired, whether that was actually observed as a sabbatical year, for the reverse is certain ; but whether it was fuch in rotation? The years of Hezekiah began with Abil those of rest from tillage with Tizri. Computation must, therefore, proceed from the 13th of that reign, A. M. 3382. Hence subtract that year, which is the fource of computation, 2568; the surplus, 814, which, divided by seven, quotes 116 years of rest for the land, and leaves two for the fractional part of a 117th cycle. That
year, consequently, was not sabbatical by rotation. But God gave, for a signal to support the faith of Hezekiah, and his people, a gracious promise of an extraordinary supply, from the spontaneous fruits of the earth.
2 Kings, xix, 29. * Without entering into a minute explication, how the pro. duce of one year should suffice for three, be it remembered, that the Hebrew year had a double commencement, the civil from the autumnal equinox, the sacred from the opposite cardinal point. Both commencements are here specified, and either interval reckoned for a full year. The Israelites had the promise of immutable veracity, that the increase of every fixth year should be adequate to the consumption of 18 months,
2. In the eighth year of Zedekiah, A. M. 3418, when the sovereign had made a covenant with all the people, that every man should proclaim liberty to his male and female servants; and, even after an actual dismission, the princes recalled them into servitude, in the prospect of aid from the king of Egypt against Nebuchadnezzar, a prophet was sent to denounce the unavoidable captivity of Zedekiah, and the desolation of the city *. It is enquired, was that year sabbatical ? Answer, It was the third after the past, and the fourth before the next septenary release. Though neither of the specified years concluded a cycle, the operations fhew the times of the circulating repetitions.
3. In the fourth of Joiakim began the 70 years captivity of Judah : “ To fulfil the word of the Lord, by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths ; for as long as she lay desolate, she kept fabbath, to fulfil three score and ten years +."
Hence it is certain, that 70 returns of years, facred to rest and release, with the remiffion of debts, and the recovery of estates, prior to the fourth of Joiakim, had been successively neglected. The years of fowing and reaping, corresponding to 70 fabbaths of years, are 420 : and 420 + 70 = 490. From the second of that reign, A. M. 3401, which was fabbatical, dedu&t 490, the difference, 2911, fixes the first continual omission of those pious solemnities to the first of Saul.
Ir remains to be shewn, that all the fabbatical years, of which mention occurs in history, pofterior to their restoration by Nehemiah, were computed by the new series.
Jer, xxxiv. 8-22.
+ 2 Chron. xxxvi. 21.
It is not certain, whether the lands enjoyed a pause from cultivation, during the 21st of Artaxerxes. Every probability lies on the other side. The people (not liaving that article of reform in contemplation, before the reading of the law, on the several days while they were folemnizing the feast of tabernacles, in that very year and month, when that covenant of reformation was ratified) might not be provided with the means of returning the money due upon mortgaged inheritances. This circumstance, alone, might induce the princes of tribes to defer the fabbatical solemnity, till fix seasons of sowing and reaping should elapse. This permission was granted, after the partition of the land, and after the re-establishment of all these ordinances, the like indulgence might be expedient and necessary. But this concession, though admitted, does not affect the argument. For if the 28th of Artaxerxes were the firft actual year of rest, release, and redemption of hereditary property, yet still the 21st is the true source of computation.
ANOTHER preliminary remark, it is proper to suggest. The septenary cycles were never, perhaps, more regularly observed in the days of the Judges, than in the times subsequent to the adminiftration of Nehemiah. Ordinances so inseparably connected with humanity, justice, religion, and secular intereft, would, on this last account alone, though all the other motives had a less powerful influence, be most punctually observed.
That people was no sooner subject to a foreign yoke than put under tribute. In a state of unavoidable dependence, exemption from the taxes of the seventh year, the Jews always implored, and, for any thing now known, it was ever granted, as an equitable indulgence. A few instances, in the chronological order, are subjoined.
A.M. Sabbatical cycles restored, 21st Artaxerxes 3565 First rest for the land, and release of servants 7 3572 Alexander remitted the tribute of the fe-7
105 3677 venth year, Josephus, Ant. xi. 8. 5. Bethsura surrendered for want of store in
the seventh year, 1 Maccab. vi. 49. >168 3845
Ant. xii. 95
of rest, Ant. xiii. 8. 1. War. i. 1. 14. 3 In a famine of the seventh year Herod took
98 3971 Jerusalem, Ant. xiv. 16. 2. & xv. 1. 2. A famine in the seventh year, because the seed of the foregoing season perished in
14 3985 the soil, Ant. xv. 16. 1. Year of the crucifixion
THESE computations, constructed on true chronological principles, give to the postulates, above assumed, all the certainty of infallible self evident axioms. As such they are here repeated.
1. ARCHBISHOP Usher unhappily antedated the septenary cycles, in either series, the one by seven, the other by nine years, which entirely defeats the subferviency of both to historical arrangement. 7
2. By a rash, unjustifiable abbreviation of one reign, and the proportional enlargement of another, historical order is violated in favour of a hypothesis, visionary, fallacious, and repugnant to the evidence of every authentic record. This artful and arbitrary transpolition of numbers brings the beginning of the famous 70 weeks nine years lower than their true epoch; and this sum protracts the currency of these weeks as much beyond that point in historical time, where, by every
fair mode of reckoning, they ought to end. If four years taken from the date of the creation be restored, the metachronism will amount to 17 years.
The refult disjoins the natural connection which subfifts between the oracles of prophecy and the report of history. From different terms may this memorable prophetical period be computed, in the descending series. But with the crucifixion it must end. Allow 21 years for the reign of Xerxes, and 41 for that of his son, Longimanus, the artificial confusion in the Annals, for this period, disappears, and every obstruction to a just arrangement in the ascending series is removed. Easy and certain is the operation. From 4041 deduct 490, the remainder, 3551, denotes the seventh of Artaxerxes, as before.
3. Sir Isaac Newton and others, taking it for granted that the sabbatical years of Nehemiah were a continuation of the series begun by Joshua, have inadvertently combined two eminent chronological characters, which if kept distinct, (as every historical criterion of those times requires), would have been sufficient