An excerpt from Shemitta: For the Land Is Mine by Mark Edward Vande Pol

Welcome to an amazing story! Shemitta[1] explores a recurring theme in the Bible, an integrated plan for productive land, a thriving economy, and a unified culture. Its brilliant design was to make Israel a light of liberty to the people of despotic nations everywhere, a truly revolutionary society.

Our story begins in Genesis with its focus upon life in the soil, cursed by the broken bond between brothers: farmer and shepherd, settler and nomad. The remedy emerges on Mount Sinai in the Sabbath for the Land, a military, socio-economic, and environmental plan later detailed in Leviticus 25 with its grab-bag of seemingly unrelated instructions. It culminates in Lev. 26, with its stark promises of prosperity and peace, versus famine, defeat, and exile into slavery. Both sets of outcomes hinge directly, almost mechanically, upon an amazing act of national faith: Abide in the wild with the Lord of Creation one out of every seven years, or fall into ruin without Him, a nation of slaves.

More importantly, the principles underlying these Laws of Moses are as crucial to national survival, social comity, and individual liberty here and now as they were to a migrant horde of former slaves 3,500 years ago. Though the mechanics operate very slowly, they are inevitable, and as reliable as gravity.

The key is the Sabbath for the Land, its original plan lost to history since Israel crossed the Jordan so very long ago.[2]

Now to some if not most readers, this must seem outrageous; for from the time of St. Augustine, to Rashi, to this day, brilliant scholars have studied the Bible in massive detail all their lives, poring over every word and (in the case of the Torah) every letter of every word and every number of every letter! So who the heck am I to claim that I have unearthed a crucial theme in the Bible lost for 3,500 years? Well, as was so often the case in that story itself, the answer is, “Nobody in particular.” I’m not a trained religious scholar, I don’t read Hebrew like a native, and yet, by the time you get through this amazing story, the conclusion that this was missed is almost undeniable. [3]

Shemitta is written for a broad audience. Whether your interest is purely anthropology, philosophy, political science, economics, or biology, its analysis is as fascinating as it is from its Biblical orientation. The scriptural discussion is no more complex than the Bible; so you will not find words like “hermeneutics” or “exegesis” in it anywhere. It also touches upon a wide range of technical disciplines of interest to those who care for wildlands: agronomy, archaeology, botany, forestry, paleontology, and range and animal management sciences. The ecological aspects of the discussion seriously challenge latter-day popular wisdom; but are thoroughly supported with numerous citations to over 120 technical source references. Over 140 footnotes are provided with over 350 Biblical citations for clarification, and perspective. Technical notes are annotated as parenthetical references.

This book/CD integrates two parallel narratives, one textual and the other graphical. The text details the scriptural case and imparts technical knowledge by which to appreciate the environmental attributes of the Biblical system. The graphical narrative consisting of nearly 700 images goes far beyond confirming the environmental and political principles in the text. These 14 “picture books” impart an understanding of the importance of active human land management, from which all its creatures, both domestic and wild, benefit directly. They were written from my twenty years of experience doing detailed native plant habitat restoration, illustrated both with my photos and those of several rangeland and wildlife scientists (photo credits are the end of the text). Even if you have no interest in the Biblical story, these picture books provide a thought-provoking alternative to the social archetypes held by most environmental groups. They also demonstrate how destructive these activists have been to habitat, virtually halting responsible stewardship while they place both life and property at risk.

As to the text, authors hate it when readers’ eyes roll back into their heads, so instead of a repetitive set of citations to successive arguments, Shemitta will work through the Biblical text more or less in order, interspersing various types of arguments (in bold) with citations and data as follows:

  1. Structural analysis: There are organized patterns of words and verses that readily identify related passages and their core principles.
  2. The hypothesis is consistent with identified themes , starting in Genesis Chapter 1 and extending throughout the entire Bible:
    1. Active human stewardship is beneficial to the planet,
    2. Brotherly love, whether among nomad and settler or rich and poor, is integral to the productivity of the land and key to national survival.
    3. Obedience to Torah is what matters to G_d. A child could follow this teaching, but it is so concise as to be hard to understand why we should obey. Instead, one learns how it works by observing outcomes of doing it (or not).
  3. Textual analysis of Hebrew roots reveals simple and comprehensive principles that logically determine blessings versus curses. The way these simple instructions unfold from but a few conceptual roots to manage complex systems is amazingly elegant.
  4. These cause and effect relationships are observable throughout history as in accordance with this book’s hypothesis, whether environmental, military, social, or economic.

There is no mystery here. These arguments will correlate cause and effect, the plain meaning of the text with the logical consequences of the subsequent alternative choices. In one important instance, it will develop a stunning Scriptural analogy based upon obviously logical acts of everyday obedience to plain meaning, but that is as deep as it gets. This analysis adheres to a common understanding of identifiable choices according to its principles.

Along with the mass of logic and data supporting this new interpretation, we must also compare it to the objective validity of the existing paradigm. Accordingly, I will supply a well-supported rationale for why the Sabbath for the Land has never been performed as originally intended. There was nothing wrong in letting the land rest every seven years, but it was insufficient to induce the promised blessings, for both political and historical reasons. I will also explain why it has remained misunderstood for so long.

Unfortunately, evidence alone is not enough to persuade people to act upon a new idea radically at variance from long accepted beliefs and traditions. Yet having learned of this system, it is my responsibility to provide you with a personal reason to get through what might otherwise be a challenging series of arguments. Accordingly, the preponderance of evidence gathered here is organized in such a way as to present you a conscious personal choice:

  1. Retain the existing Biblical interpretation (assigning the national collapse of ancient Israel to idolatry alone) and accept what comes while rejecting what this book teaches on how to preclude it, OR
  2. Adopt this unrecognized, but more literal reading of Scriptures and act now to restore your freedom and possibly save your life.

The Bible makes clear that the stakes are that high, while the preventative actions it commands are really very simple. Some may think they don’t apply any more, but this book will show that hard reality begs to differ. The Biblical instructions can easily seem daunting to a modern society accustomed to its comforts, yet they are also deeply rewarding, both in practice and results. So, given the stakes (and to guard against the soon-to-be-obvious risk that the existing paradigm might be wrong), I invite you to put this model to the test.

Finally, for me to raise concerns about impending political and ecological threats, without articulating how to apply these principles to counter those threats, would fail to meet the test of their effectiveness, thus casting doubt upon the Scriptural interpretation. So, instead of simply threatening impending doom, you will be told in tangible terms:

  1. How the current political and legal strategies threatening nation are being implemented and by whom (I call such political and legal gambits “resource racketeering” or “highly-organized crime”),
  2. What simple actions you can take to preempt the resulting hazards. Taking positive action to prevent a problem is how the Scriptures teach us to act anyway.

In addition to the regular text, there are a number of Appendices. Appendix I provides more detailed evidence supporting the Scriptural integrity of the hypothesis. Appendix II is a historical look at the events that led to the current dominant theory. Appendix III & the Author’s Biography relate how I arrived at this discovery. Appendix IV explains why the global corporate communo-fascist plan to control your life inherently cannot deliver upon its promises.

In particularly crucial cases, Shemitta delves into word-by-word analysis of the original Hebrew text. This precludes straining at distinctions in English that make understanding the passages more difficult. It also helps demonstrate the integrity of this interpretation, particularly for the benefit of our Israeli brethren who indisputably need this Law as a matter of national survival. There is no reason to be daunted by the Hebrew as every word of it will be explained in detail. This “interlinear” approach is designed for the reader to gain insight and develop confidence that this interpretation is the most likely representation of the original intent of the passage.

There are a few places where I use photographs of a Torah scroll to show how its formatting supports the interpretation presented here. Those images are HERE. Some are referenced in the page entitled, It's a Droll Scroll, while others are more pertinent to discussions in the book not presented on the web site.


Mark Edward Vande Pol<p>

[1] The spelling of Shemitta (she•mee•tah) varies from Sh’mitah, Shmitta, Shemitta… This book will use that of the Schottenstein Jerusalem Talmud, Tractate Sheviis.

[2] Elements of the Sabbath for the Land were enforced during the Second Temple Period but omitted key provisions under duress, as is discussed in this book.

[3] Shemitta has been reviewed by a native Israeli expert in Biblical Hebrew.


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