Planning for the Sabbatical year

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This is our first article in a series about how we are going about preparing for the Sabbatical year. This coming sabbatical year will be our first and we plan to share our journey with you in order for you to glean from what we learn.

We have copied all our subscribers over to this list too, so all who are subscribed to our weekly article will also receive this series. However, if it is not for you, you can unsubscribe from this list while still retaining your regular Setapartpeople subscription. You will thus continue to receive the normal weekly article.

In this series, we will look at ways to preserve food, perennial vegetables and herbs and many interesting subjects. Even if you do not share our understanding regarding the Sabbatical year, you will enjoy the content.

This article is about planning. Success starts with planning, setting goals and then working towards it.

We have a year to prepare and we need to plan carefully because we want to make sure we do our very best. Before we look into this, we need to understand what is required of us. It is always best to go to the source of wisdom to find out. We find our first reference in Exodus 23:10.

Exodus 23:10-11
10 You shall sow your land for six years and gather in its yield, 11 but on the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave the beast of the field may eat. You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.

From this we learn that we are to let the land rest, and lie fallow and not harvest the vineyard or olive grove. It also implies that we are not to sow our land or harvest its yield in the seventh year.

Leviticus 25:3
3 Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop, 4 but during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to YHVH; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard. 5 Your harvest aftergrowth you shall not reap, and your grapes of untrimmed vines you shall not gather; the land shall have a sabbatical year. 6 All of you shall have the sabbath products of the land for food; yourself, and your male and female slaves, and your hired man and your foreign resident, those who live as aliens with you. 7 Even your cattle and the animals that are in your land shall have all its crops to eat.

Here we learn that we are not to sow our field, nor prune our vineyard. We are neither to reap the aftergrowth and not gather the grapes of our untrimmed vines. We have written detailed articles about this before. You can find it on the site under the category Appointed times/Sabbatical year. I will also list it under related articles underneath.

It is written here that we shall have the “sabbath products of the land” for food. What does this mean?

 volunteer produce, i.e., harvestable crops of all kinds that are grown as a result of natural processes and not intentional agricultural practices (Lev 25:6+)2

The question is asked “what are we going to eat on the seventh year if we do not sow or gather our crops?” Here is YHVH’s answer.

Leviticus 25:20–22
20 But if you say, What are we going to eat on the seventh year if we do not sow or gather in our crops? 21 then I will so order My blessing for you in the sixth year that it will bring forth the crop for three years. 22 When you are sowing the eighth year, you can still eat old things from the crop, eating the old until the ninth year when its crop comes in.

Most of us are not farmers, we don’t have fields or vines, however, when we just go out and buy what was sown and harvested in the Sabbatical year, we participate with people in not keeping the Sabbatical year. We have for this reason decided to store food for the Sabbatical year and seeing that we are in the sixth year, this is the year to do it. We are planning to store enough for 18 months. In this way, we will be more accurate in not consuming produce that was harvested during the Sabbatical year. UPDATE – 2022 – we have changed our view on this: just as we cannot control or know if products we buy, are made, transported or packed on the weekly sabbath, so we cannot control or always know which products have been harvested in the sabbatical year. If we were to maintain the previous view, we should also not purchase anything from a store. Doing it would make us hypocrites. Thus in 2022- the preparation year for the next sabbatical year, we will not be stocking up on food. We will harvest from our garden what we have and preserve as much as we can and let our land rest, but we will purchase what we otherwise need as we need it. 

Planning your garden

YHVH said that He will provide enough for us in the sixth year, so if you have a veggie garden, or fruit trees, you can plan on how to best preserve or store it.

Plan your vegetable garden according to your usage. Plant what you can store and will use.

Start now

Make a decision to start today. Don’t put it off. We are already into the sixth year. At least, start with you list of what you use. Get a book and put it in the kitchen. Whenever you prepare food, write down the non-meat, non dairy ingredients on your list.

Rotate what you store

Find a cool and dry area to store your food and make sure once you have started, to rotate. Store what you eat and eat what you store.


We hope this has given you some ideas on where to start. This is a great challenge, do your best. We will learn a lot along the way. If you have ideas, please share it with us.


  1. All quoted passages are from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995. We have substituted YHVH for LORD and Y’shua for Jesus.
  2. Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

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6 responses to “Planning for the Sabbatical year”

  1. can we eat bananas or coconuts during the sabbatical year since these plants don’t need pruning or cultivating?

    Thank you

    1. Good question! I was thinking Ellen, they will need to be harvested and that may pose a problem. If you are able to pick what you need, you may, but if the fruit is harvested en masse, we wouldn’t.

      Hope this helps,


  2. Michelle

    Greetings to you both. Phenomenal web site. Thanks for sharing your faith and ministry. I do not have my own property and just started learning about growing my own food this summer. I rent an apartment, but I do not know how someone in my position should prepare for the Sabbatical year. For now, I live in New England where the growing season is very limited. What would you prayerfully suggest? Can I grow what I can indoors until Aviv? Or am I missing the essence of the commandment entirely? Is it okay to buy from others who farm, or volunteer help to farmers?

    1. Shalom Michelle,

      The Sabbatical year is about letting the land rest. It is to be left to lie fallow, no sowing, no pruning and no harvesting. You may already know this, but it forms the basis of my answer. We have decided to store food (everything that comes off the land – fruit, grains and vegetables) in order not to buy produce that was sown, pruned or harvested as we do not want to partake in the sin of others. This is how we are going to do it, it is not commanded to be done this way, so we are not putting it on anybody.

      We have written a few articles on the Sabbatical year that goes in much more detail. You can find it under appointed times/ Sabbatical and Jubilee

      Hope this helps,

      Elsa and Schalk

  3. Vivian Macias

    Shalom Elsa..Should container perenial edibles in our gardens (like oregano, chives, peanuts, basil) be treated in the same way as if they were growing directly from the ground? Many thanks.

    1. Shalom Vivian,

      Yes, we have some perennial vegetables and herbs which we will use during the sabbatical year. This sabbatical year is a great experience. It is so lovely to see the volunteer plants coming up. love to all,


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