The Sabbatical Year of Herod Agrippa I

Written by Claire Pfann

April 19, 2008

Herod Agrippa I (37–44 CE) Sabbatical Year: 41/42 CE

Herod Agrippa I minted coins during several years during the years of his reign at the Paneas mint (year 2), the Tiberias mint (year 5) and at Caesarea (year 7 and year eight) all of which were minted with non-Jewish symbols (including human images of himself and the emperor; pagan images of gods and temples) and not during the sabbatical year. However during the 6th year of his reign, a sabbatical year, he minted myriads of bronze prutot with the parasol and ears of grain, non-offensive symbols to Jews, at the Jerusalem mint.


Herod Agrippa’s non-Jewish ancestry and his Shining Religious Moment during the Sabbatical Year, 41/42 CE

Mishna Sota 7:8 A. The pericope of the king [M. 7:2a5]-how so?

At the end of the first festival day of the Festival [of Sukkot], on the Eighth Year, [that is] at the end of the Seventh Year, they make him a platform of wood, set in the courtyard.

And he sits on it, as it is said, At the end of every seven years in the set time (Dt. 31:10).

The minister of the assembly takes a scroll of the Torah and hands it to the head of the assembly, and the head of the assembly hands it to the prefect, and the prefect hands it to the high priest, and the high priest hands it to the king, and the king stands and receives it.

But he reads sitting down.

Agrippa the King stood up and received it and read it standing up, and sages praised him on that account. And when he came to the verse, You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother (Dt. 17:15), his tears ran down from his eyes. They said to him, “Do not be afraid, Agrippa, you are our brother, you are our brother, you are our brother!”

He reads from the beginning of “These are the words” (Dt. 1:1) to “Hear O Israel” (Dt. 6:4), “Hear O Israel” (Dt. 6:4), “And it will come to pass, if You hearken” (Dt. 11:13), and “You shall surely tithe” (Dt. 14:22), and “When you have made an end of tithing” (Dt. 26:12-15), and the pericope of the king [Dt. 17:14-20], and the blessings and the curses [Dt. 27:15-26], and he completes the whole pericope. With the same blessings with which the high priest blesses them [M. 7:7f], the king blesses them. But he says the blessing for the festivals instead of the blessing for the forgiveness of sin.

(Mishnah, Neusner English translation)

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