Sunday, February 3, 2008

Rambam on the Year Count

(For more on the subject of Yovel, click here to return to the Table of Contents.)

There are a few halachot from Rambam Hilchot Shmitah v'Yovel chapter 10 that are relevant to the chronology.

(Translation and division of halachot is according to this page)

2. We see from this that in the year 2503 from the Rosh Hashanah after the birth of Adam HaRishon, which is the 2nd year of creation, they began to count. And they did the year 2510 from creation, which is the 21st year from the time they entered Eretz Yisrael, Shmitah. And they counted 7 Shmitah years and sanctified the 50th year, which was the 64th year from the time they entered Eretz Yisrael.

3. Am Yisrael counted 17 Yovels, from the time they entered Eretz Yisrael to the time they left, and the year they left, in which the 1st Beit HaMikdash was destroyed, was the year after Shmitah, and year 36 of the Yovel, for the 1st Beit HaMikdash stood 410 years.

4. And due to the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, this count ceased, for the land was nullified. And the land remained destroyed, 70 years; and the 2nd Beit HaMikdash was built, and stood 420 years. And in the 7th year from its construction, Ezra came up to Eretz Yisrael, and that is the Bi'ah Shniyah, and from this year a new count began. And they made the 13th year of the 2nd Beit HaMikdash Shmitah, and they counted 7 Shmitah years and sanctified the 50th year, even though there was no Yovel during the time of the 2nd Beit HaMikdash, they would count it in order to sanctify the Shmitah years.

5. We see from this that the year that the 2nd Beit HaMikdash was destroyed, whose start is from Tishrei after the destruction by 2 months, for it is from Tishrei that we count Shmitah and Yovel, that year was the year after Shmitah, and year 15 of the 9th Yovel.

6. And according to this calculation, this year, which is 1107 of the Destruction, which is 1487 to the count of Shtarot, which is 4936 to Creation, is a Shmitah year, and it is year 21 from the Yovel.

7. However, all of the Geonim said that it is a tradition in their hands, from one generation to the next, that they only counted Shmitah during the 70 years between the Destruction of the 1st Beit HaMikdash and the Building of the 2nd Beit HaMikdash, without Yovel, and thus it is since it was destroyed this last time, we don't count the 50th year, but rather just every 7 years alone, from the the beginning of the year of the Destruction. And thus is the conclusion from the Talmud Avodah Zarah, according to this calculation, which is a tradition.

8. And the year of Shmitah is well known by the Geonim and the people of Eretz Yisrael, and all of them counted only from the years of the Destruction, and removing the remainders of 7. And according to this calculation, this year which is 1107 to the Destruction, is the year after Shmitah. And this is what we rely on, and according to this calculation we teach for the matter of Maaser, and Shmitah, and Shmitat Kesafim, for the tradition and the deed are great pillars for instruction, and upon them it is proper to depend.


  1. It would seem that the Rambam holds that the Churban was in Shmitta year 3829, and that he holds that both before and after that time we do not have Shmita every 7 years, but we count Shmita years per Yovel, which are every fifty years. That is Shmita years are all years 3829 + n*50 + k*7, where k<=7.

  2. But the next halachah that I didn't quote says it's a kabbalah from the Geonim to not count Yovel.

    I'm working on the 3829. The 3829 is obvious from the last one, but it is not obvious why the count starts in 3416 and not 3415. I still have a few more things to check.

  3. The Geonim seem to have 3828 + n*7 in the years of Seder Olam. We do as the Geonim but with the assumption that 3829 was Shmita, as the Rambam has it. It seems that we do so because the Rambam seems to have Hakamat Bayit Sheni in 3409 and because he has the Churban in 3429, and so his count would be one more than Seder Olam, and we assume that our count is according to what the Rambam had.

  4. Stumbled on this blog. Don't have time for lengthy comment. However if you take aboard the following many problems are solved.

    The calender we use today making it 5768 starts from the Rosh hashono of the year before Adam's creation & counts that as Year 1.

    Some chronologies count from Rosh Hashono of Adam's creation, making that year 1; and the current year 5767

    Seder Olam counts from Rosh Hashono
    of Adam's creation making that Year 0. If we follow Seder Olam's Chronology we are now in year 5766.

  5. 2nd Anonymous,

    What we use today is a mixture. Example: Why Birkat HaChamah is 1 + 28x. You would have to explain that the sun was created 6 months before Adam HaRishon, not 2 days prior. Birkat HaChamah is based on Nissan of Year 1, but Shmitah is based on Tishrei of Year 2.

  6. There were at least 5 days of a year before Adam's creation. Tridition has it that in the first year the clock was ticking but only G-D could hear it.