The sabbatical year is mentioned three times in the Torah. The first is in Exodus 23:10–11: “Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield; but in the seventh you shall let it rest and lie fallow. Let the needy among your people eat of it.” The emphasis in this passage is on letting the land lie fallow and the social benefits for the poor and impoverished.
This raises the question of cultic or religious activities among the exiles in Babylonia. From a hoard of papyri known as the Elephantine papyri, we know that a Jewish temple existed in Egypt at Elephantine (Yeb) during the fifth century BCE From Josephus we know that in the Hellenistic period another Jewish temple was built in Egypt at Leontopolis. We also learn from Josephus of a Samaritan temple on Mt. Gerizim.
The rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had deserted to the king of Babylon, together with the rest of the multitude, were carried into exile by Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard. But the captain of the guard left some of the poorest of the land to be vine dressers and plowmen. (2 Kings 25:11–12)