by Frits Dalby

AUGUST 11, 2012-I have come across your article on “The Land Sabbath in Modern Israel. 1 I read the article with keen interest, because I was a farmer here in Norway and I learned of the land Sabbath. And I should like to give you my experience in keeping the land Sabbath.


The church I attended taught that a farmer should keep the Sabbath of the land as well as keeping the weekly Sabbath. However, it taught also that the farmer could choose to keep the land Sabbath all in the same year or spread the land Sabbath out over the entire seven years, with each year having a plot of land at rest.


I had the farm 14 years. The first seven years I failed to keep a true land Sabbath. Then I had an idea how I could keep a true land Sabbath. So I began in the fall of 1979 and ended it in the fall of 1986. This is what I did: In the spring of 1979 I seeded a plot of land with barley, and as an undercover I seeded this same plot with grass, also in the springtime. At harvest I would combine the barley, and there under the barley the grass was growing. When I removed the straw, I had a field of grass, all finished and done with before the Day of Atonement.


In the spring of 1980 I bought calves, which I left grazing the field all summer long. In the fall I took them in. And so I did every year. Every year I had a new plot of land which rested. And all my land had a rest during the seven years. I sold my farm in the spring of 1987, not because I was broke, but because my wife felt it was too much work.


We moved into a small town, where we live now. I still keep the land Sabbath in my vegetable garden, but now I do the entire vegetable garden at once. It still gives me the spiritual contentment of keeping the land Sabbath.


I noticed that those farmers you reported on keep the land Sabbath from Rosh Hashanah or the Feast of Trumpets. Since the year of Jubilee is a land Sabbath and begins on the Day of Atonement (Lev 25:8-15), I have begun the land Sabbath on the Day of Atonement.


The land Sabbath is a sabbatical rest of the land; that is, the land (the dirt) shall not be turned over or tilled or plowed. It shall lie fallow, and all the microbes do their wonderful work. They restore the land. Vines may not be pruned during the land Sabbath, because then the plants start out anew and therefore get no rest.


All the crop can be harvested, but because God had already blessed the farmer and given him a harvest which will last him until the eighth year (look in the history of the Jubilee), God gives what grows by itself to the entire community. The farmer can share in the harvest, but it does not entirely belong to him although he owns the land. This is God's way to serve all the people of Israel, as Israel was an agrarian society.


I truly enjoyed reading your report, although I wonder about those farmers' understanding of God, and what God could actually do for them if they sincerely kept the land Sabbath as intended. If you want to comment on anything I have said, feel welcome to do so.


Note:  Frits Dalby can be contacted by email at


1Grace & Knowledge, Issue 19, 2005.

Issue 28


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On 18 Jul 2013, 10:53.