Church of God - Chicago Church
Necessity of the Jewish/Hebrew calendar
By: Jim Josephsen
The Jewish calendar, also known as the Hebrew calendar, proclaims the dates on which God’s annual Holy Days (as revealed in Leviticus 23 and Numbers 28 & 29) occur. Those dates are correlated with the Gregorian calendar; consequently, we can know on which Gregorian calendar days each year, God’s Holy Days will occur.
With the one exception of the Day of Pentecost (a Holy Day which is obtained by way of counting 50 days, independent of a new moon or full moon recognition), the Intercontinental Church of God utilizes the Jewish calendar to determine the dates on which to observe God’s annual Holy Days, in order to announce those dates to its membership.
Often the question is asked, ‘why does the Intercontinental Church of God (ICG) utilize the Jewish calendar?’
In opposition to the Jewish calendar, individuals have expressed; the Jewish calendar is not faithful to the Scriptures. The Jewish calendar is far too complicated. Some argue the Jewish calendar does not comply with the written laws of God; rather it promotes arbitrary man-made rules. Among these rules are the utilization of the molad (a lunar conjunction), mathematical calculations, intercalations based on 19 year time cycles, and the Tishri 1 postponement rules. Perhaps the most passionate objection to the Jewish calendar centers on the postponement rules.
This paper will address these arguments while manifesting Jewish calendar history, related history and actual scriptures, explaining why the Jewish/Hebrew calendar is indeed faithful to the Scriptures and why the ICG is correct to utilize the Jewish/Hebrew calendar.
The Jewish calendar applies logical, reliable, practical rules, utilizing God-ordained, Scriptural laws and principles. All the Jewish calendar rules were established by, and are guided by, principles and laws of God which are evident and unmistakable. The Scriptures validate and authorize these rules, especially the postponement rules. This study paper will manifest the Scriptural reasons why the postponement rules are necessary and why the Jewish calendar accurately and properly declares the Biblical Holy Days, according to the Scriptures, according to the Laws of God. The Jewish/Hebrew calendar provides the correct dates on which to observe God’s Holy Days as proclaimed in the Bible.
Consistent among most of the Church of God groups in this 21st Century (those who observe the seventh-day Sabbath; who share a common history with the Radio and Worldwide Church of God) is the acceptance and utilization of the Jewish calendar. Most of these Church of God groups offer various writings, articles, and booklets, which explains their reasons for utilizing the Jewish calendar.
Some organizations provide in-depth, detailed and extensively researched study papers, even books, explaining why the Jewish calendar is correct to use and accurate in its Holy Day dating, while addressing and debunking the various calendar arguments.
Each Church of God organization presents its materials as is appropriate for its organization and its membership. The scope and size of the materials provided satisfies the need.
The perspective and scope of this study will address the following issues.
1) This study will demonstrate the Scriptures and the Laws of God, which support the logic behind and necessity of the various Jewish calendar “rules.”
2) This study will reveal the basic errors taught by those who reject the Jewish calendar, those who think (and erroneously so) the Bible alone provides all the necessary elements of a “sacred” calendar.
3) When addressing the postponements, this study will discuss the Scriptures, and Laws of God which validate the reasons why the postponements must be employed.
4) This study will provided complete and thorough scriptural reasons and historical facts, explaining why the Jewish calendar is necessary to acknowledge, allowing one to properly observe God’s Holy Days, on the right days, according to the Law of God, according to the sacred Scriptures.
Will the Scriptures reveal what a New Moon is?
With regard to the calendar utilized by Ancient Israel and Judah, history teaches us that their months were often declared as a result of observing a new moon crescent; often, but not every month. Often, observation played no part in the declaration of a new month.
In some months, only calculation was employed to declare a new moon/month. Ancient Israel and Judah knew in advance (they utilized mathematical calculations) when the new moon crescent would occur in any given month. Israel and Judah also knew when each month’s conjunction would occur.
The observation of a new moon crescent (which was calculated to occur “in its proper time”) aided in the declaration or sanctification of the new month. Witnesses would know in advance, when the new moon crescent would be viewable.
A new month would often be declared without observation of a new moon crescent ever taking place. Often the new moon crescent could not be seen, but the month was declared and another lunar cycle of 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, 3-1/2 seconds commenced and was maintained.
Regarding the proper keeping of the months and a calendar, just what was Israel and Judah taught, and what can we in this 21st Century learn from the Scriptures?
As is often argued by those who reject the Jewish calendar, the Scriptures only, must be our guide to regulate a calendar in order to properly keep God’s Holy Days.
If that statement is true, then what do the Scriptures teach us about the month, the moon, the seasons, the year and the actual days on which the Holy Days should fall? What do the Scriptures teach us regarding proper legislation of a calendar?
Do the Scriptures reveal what a New Moon is?
With that question, we begin this study to understand what the Scriptures teach as relating to a calendar.
Does the Bible define what a new moon is? Does the Bible tell us “a new moon is such and such?” Is a new moon the conjunction or the first visible crescent, a scimitar? How did Israel and Judah know what was a new moon?
We know the Bible provides definitions as necessary and gives clear meaning to the concepts and “phenomena” which mankind could not otherwise figure out for itself. For example, by reading 1 John 3:4 we understand, as God defines, sin is the transgression of the law (of God). The Bible defines what a prophetic year is. The Bible defines what righteousness is; what is the wages of sin; what death is; what happens to the dead. The Bible explains who and what is God.
When the Bible provides a definition, it is actually God declaring and giving us the definition. When we read the Bible, we understand that whatever we learn about a given subject, it is actually God teaching us about that subject. It is God who provides the meaning and gives the definition. And of certainty, His definition unequivocally stands. The Word of God cannot be broken, for God’s words are truth.
The Bible would “indisputably” define for us; it would tell us; the Scriptures would make it “absolutely clear” what a new moon is and has to be, if God felt it was necessary for us to know “absolutely, without any reservation,” “emphatically,” what a new moon is; what God defines a new moon to be.
We would know, absolutely, what is a new moon, if God wanted us to know what He defines a new moon to be.
However, there is not one verse in the entirety of the Bible informing us, what a new moon is. There is no chapter or verse that provides a clear, unequivocal explanation of what God defines a new moon to be.
You will not read a single verse, which states, “a new moon is such and such” – “(either) a conjunction or a visible crescent.” We would never know what a new moon is, if we only had the Bible from which to learn. Through the Scriptures, God did not define what He considers a new moon to be.
Mankind knows and you know about the monthly lunar cycle as a result of the studious, scientific observation the moon. Mankind is aware of the entire progression of the moon each month; from the conjunction through the successive early crescents, as it waxes to become a full moon, then diminishing, waning until another conjunction occurs. This monthly cycle (a cycle which God created) is sure and stands firm, unalterable and certain.
Additionally, by understanding the original Hebrew words (which we will examine) as relating to the moon, we will understand what the Children of Israel knew and what the Jews know today, regarding the moon and a new moon; the months, seasons, signs and years; and most importantly, how to declare God’s Holy Days.
Celestial Patterns – Ordained, Maintained, Sustained
God created two lights. The greater light (the sun) and the lesser light (the moon (Hebrew yareach (Strong’s 3394))) were created for the division of the day (Hebrew yom (Strong’s 3117)) and the night (Hebrew laylah (Strong’s 3995)) (cf. Genesis 1:14-18; Psalm 136:7-9; Jeremiah 31:35). He created the stars also.
God also said: Let there be lights (plural) in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night and let them be for signs (Hebrew owth (Strong’s 226)) and for seasons (Hebrew mowed (Strong’s 4150)) and for days and years (Hebrew shanah (Strong’s 8141)) (Genesis 1:14).
The moon (one of the two lights Genesis 1:14-16) has been appointed (created and ordained) for seasons or appointed times (mowed) (Psalm 104:19), as well as for a light to rule the night, as well as for signs and years.
Both lights, the sun and moon, are set in heaven (outer space) for signs, seasons, days and years.
For clarification; the English word moon in Psalm 104:19 is translated from the Hebrew word yareach (Strong’s 3394). Yareach is translated as moon in all 26 times of use in the Old Testament. Yareach refers specifically to the moon, the physical orb in the sky and makes no reference to the type of moon, or shape or size. Yareach gives no indication of a new moon (in shape). Yareach does not refer to a scimitar; it does not refer to a new moon visible crescent. In this verse, the word moon is not translated from the Hebrew word chodesh. (We will learn more about chodesh as we continue in this study.)
In Psalm 104:19 we are told God appointed (ordained and sustained) the moon, the physical orb, for various seasons or set aside times. It is the moon as a whole and not any type of moon, the Palmist is writing of.
To search out the Hebrew words above; to learn of their meanings, does confirm for us that there are established celestial patterns, (a fixed pattern, appointed, ordained, for the sun, moon and stars), which are observable, consistent, predictable, and calculable (or in other words, an astronomic science).
These patterns were created, established, and ordained by God for signs and seasons, days and years. Psalm 8:3: When I consider thy heavens, the works of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou has ordained.
The Eternal by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens (Proverbs 3:19).
The omniscience of God produced ordained patterns that have meaning and provide a purpose for man. The fixed order and patterns of the earth, sun and moon were created for a reason.
There is order and organization to the patterns God created and sustains. Consider as an example, Ecclesiastes 1:5: The sun rises and the sun sets and hurries back to the place where it rises. Verse 6 The wind blows to the south and turns to the north: round and round it goes, ever returning on its course.
Verse 6 reveals that the winds (the northern and southern flow and the jet streams) are maintained in an orderly and predictable pattern. The circuits of the wind, to the north and the south are driven by laws God ordained. Man puts names to these laws. The earth’s tilt, its rotation, along with a created phenomenon we call the Coriolis Effect all combine to produce wind patterns that drive storms and the weather.
The seasonal changes produced by the earth’s elliptical orbit around the sun likewise affect the winds. All these are dependable, having been created by God. So too are the celestial patterns dependable, as they have been created by God.
Science constantly confirms a creator and sustainer God. God created and sustains all the patterns on earth and in the heavens, the sun and the moon.
When observed over time, it becomes obvious that lunar and solar patterns, the moon and sun’s movement in space, occur consistently and predictably. Patterns are established. We see the movement of the sun, record its travel every 365.25 days, and call that length of time a year. We watch its travel to the north and south and understand the seasons.
We observe the movement of the moon and record its patterns and a thereby define lunar activity. After an observable measurement is ascertained, we know it takes 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3-1/2 seconds (this figure is the “means” or average duration of one complete lunar cycle) for the moon to complete one lunar cycle around the earth. This fact, this ordained and sustained (as established by God) time element is a reality, which every astronomer knows.
The US Navel Observatory, NASA and other astronomical observatories have recorded this lunar time element and with such knowledge, these institutions are able to predict future lunar activity and new moon occurrences. Israel was able to; the Jews did and still are able to, predict future occurrences just as accurately as USNO, NASA or any other astronomical observatory is able to do.
When it comes to the steady and consistent lunar cycles, truly there is nothing new under the sun. God’s works are sure, observable, and predictable! Israel and Judah were given this understanding, this truth!
These patterns, once known, and established, can be mathematically calculated in order to predict the regularity of activity for years into the future.
Men, be they the children of Israel, Chaldeans, Babylonians, Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, Italians, Poles, Polynesians, Chinese, British, Germans or Americans, are endowed (from the Creator) with intelligence, capable of exercising logic and reason. Daily, monthly, metonic, stellar, lunar and solar cycles have been observed, patterns have been recorded, and future occurrences have been calculated and accurately predicted.
Man has been successful in mathematically calculating the patterns, which God ordained, maintains, and sustains.
With regard to the moon’s monthly cycles throughout the course of a solar year, it is not difficult to understand these cycles as they are associated with seasonal planting and harvesting activities. Israel/Judah understood this from the time of Moses.
God gave Israel and Judah His Feast Days (His mowedim) which they are to observe each year. God informed them when the year began (Exodus 12:2), and told them they were to maintain and proclaim the beginnings of your months (Numbers 10:10) and to keep and proclaim the Feasts in their seasons (Leviticus 23:4). God entrusted His people, in a covenant relationship, to maintain the responsibility of proclaiming His Holy Days in their appointed seasons, at their proper times.
What is a new moon?
Is the first visible crescent, seen in the western sky immediately after the sun has set below the western horizon, a new moon? Is the conjunction a new moon? Can both be considered a new moon?
Once again, after reading the Bible, we will never learn which one of these two possibilities is a new moon. We will never know which one God declares or defines as being, a new moon. The answer is not found in the Scriptures.
Through the science of astronomy (God’s ordained, maintained and sustained celestial patterns), we know there is a phenomenon which is called a conjunction new moon. This new moon occurs when the moon is on the same ecliptic longitude as the sun; when the moon is not visible from the earth (with the naked eye).
The conjunction is a bonafide fact of astronomical reality. A conjunction occurs once a month, every month. A conjunction begins a new lunar cycle. The duration between one conjunction to the next is measurable and known. (It takes 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3-1/2 seconds for the moon to complete one lunar cycle around the earth.)
In keeping with that time element, once the time of a conjunction is established or known, the times of all future conjunctions can then be known. Likewise, the times of previous conjunctions can be calculated back. This celestial reality is an established pattern, set firm by celestial laws, which were ordained and are sustained by God.
By understanding the lunar realities God ordained, we can know, in advance of the actual occurrence, when every conjunction will occur. Future conjunctions are known in advance of their actual occurrence.
Interestingly enough, a lunar conjunction can, on occasion, be seen or witnessed from the earth. (A lunar conjunction is the short period of time when the moon is completely dark and cannot be seen from the earth; when the sun’s light reflecting off the moon’s surface (which illuminates the moon) is not seen, is not observable from the earth.)
Still, evidence of a conjunction can be seen or can be witnessed.
How is that possible?
A solar eclipse makes this possible. A solar eclipse is a phenomenon that can be observed from the earth. A solar eclipse (when it occurs) will only occur at the time of the conjunction, validating or giving witness to the fact that the known (in advance – calculated) time of the conjunction actually occurs/occurred when it was calculated and scheduled to occur.
Consequently, the conjunction serves mankind as a reference point, as a celestial checkpoint, as a verification of lunar consistency and measurable lunar calendar accuracy.
Both a solar eclipse (which will only occur at the time of a lunar conjunction new moon) and a lunar eclipse (which will only occur at the full moon – the 14/15th day of the lunar month) are celestial checkpoints; both are signs created, ordained and sustained by God.
The conjunction new moon is called, in Hebrew, the molad.
The molad is a necessary element of the Jewish/Hebrew calendar, utilized to keep the months in their proper order, in accord to the actual celestial activity. The molad acts as a check point, as ordained by God.
And just as important to the Jewish/Hebrew calendar is the visible new moon crescent.
The visible new moon crescent was necessary to utilize for the monthly declaration of the month. Both the conjunction and the new moon crescent have been created, ordained, and sustained by God. Both are necessary elements of a lunar cycle and both are relevant to the Jewish/Hebrew calendar. Neither is an offense to God, if utilized to regulate His “sacred” calendar.
Utilizing a conjunction to commence a month would in no way break a single law of God or go against any Scripture. What Scripture would be broken? Search as hard as you may, you will read no such Scripture.
Both the conjunction and the first visible crescent are considered, and rightly so, a new moon.
Was Israel commanded to observe
a visible New Moon crescent?
According to the Scriptures, when exactly does a month begin?
If, as some believe, the Scriptures inform us to observe a visible new moon, then what type of new moon do we look for? What does it look like; when does it appear - according to the Scriptures?
Is there a Scripture verse which directly and specifically informs us to “observe a visible new moon?”
Was Israel commanded to observe a visible new moon crescent in order to declare the new month?
Do the Scriptures teach us that the conjunction is the new moon, or is the first visible crescent sighting after sunset the new moon?
Do the Scriptures teach us that in order to declare a new month; we must only use the method of observing the new moon?
Do the Scriptures teach us that we should use the method of calculating the time of the first appearing of the new moon?
Could the conjunction be used as a new moon, to commence a month, according to the Scriptures?
Must we today (are we commanded by God to), observe a visible new moon crescent in order to declare a new month? This again is a fundamental question.
Can we read the phrase: "observe a visible new moon crescent" anywhere from Genesis to Revelation?
Are the phrases, observe a visible new moon or observation of the new moon, ever found in the Scriptures?
Let us start with a simple word study. The following Hebrew words (as used in the Scriptures) …
raah (Strong’s 7200) ragal (Strong’s 7270) mareh (Strong’s 4758) nachash (Strong’s 5172)
nabat (Strong’s 5027) neged Strong’s 5048) chazah (Strong’s 2372) natsar (Strong’s 5341)
shuwr (Strong’s 7789 tsaphah (Strong’s 6822) shahmar (Strong’s 8104) shaqaph (Strong’s 8259)
anan (Strong’s 6049) asah (Strong’s 6213) panah (Strong’s 6437)
… are translated into one or more of the following English words:
“sight,” “visible,” “view,” “see,” “look,” “to view,” “to observe (as with the eyes),” “to see (as with the eyes),” “to look at,” “to look upon,” “to behold,” “to gaze upon,” “to consider,” “to have vision of,” “observe times,” “take notice of,” “regard.”
After thoroughly reviewing these Hebrew words, as used in the Scriptures, as translated into the English, we learn that none of these words are ever connected with, or are ever used in combination with any of the following phrases:
“new moon,” “visible new moon;” “the new moon,” “the visible new moon,” “a new moon,” “a visible new moon,” “the visible new moon crescent,” “a visible new moon crescent.”
None of the 15 Hebrew words above are connected with or associated with the Hebrew word chodesh (when translated - new moon).
When reading the Scriptures (from Genesis to Revelation), we realize the phrase to view, to observe, to see, to spot, or (be it said any other way) to look at (with the eyes) a visible new moon crescent (in order to declare a new month implied) is not found in the Scriptures.
The Scriptures nowhere command – view or observe a new moon crescent. Try as hard as you may, you will never read the command to observe a visible new moon.
The words moon and month
In the Old Testament, four Hebrew words are translated into either of the English words, moon(s) or month(s). The Hebrew word most often used is chodesh (hodesh) (Strong’s 2320). Chodesh is translated some 260 times as month(s) and only 20 times as new moon(s).
Chodesh is used for both month(s) and new moon(s). Its etymology shows the influence of lunar activity, with an emphasis on renewing or rebuilding, the causing to be new, of the lunar cycle.
Both the conjunction and visible crescent were and are considered new, renewing and both were (and still are) used by Israel and Judah for the purposes of commencing a new month. Both are considered the beginning or newness of a lunar cycle.
Chodesh – new moon (whether the conjunction or the visible crescent) is a new month. Chodesh (month) lasts, in total, either 29 or 30 days, before the next chodesh (new moon or new month) occurs.
Yet an awareness of the visible newness was recognized by Israel and Judah. The visible newness aided in the process of declaring a new month.
Actually, both the conjunction and the visible crescent were used to aid in the declaration of the new month.
In the Scriptures, Chodesh overwhelmingly (over 260 times) refers to, and is translated as, the word month(s). In the Scripture, chodesh is either given a number or name (e.g. the twelfth day of the fifth month) or (the month of Abib).
Moons and months are inter-dependent, since the moon is associated with the month. Each month begins at a new moon, either the conjunction or visible crescent. The chodesh (month) is known because of the moon. We would not know what a month is if there was no such thing as the moon and a lunar cycle.
Notice the following from The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Vol. 1, Page 303: “Hodesh, ‘new moon’ meaning ‘new,’ ‘fresh.’ As the Hebrews reckoned their months from the actual first appearance of the young crescent, hodesh is frequently translated ‘month.’ … Hodesh, therefore when translated ‘new moon’ is not a designation of the actual heavenly body, but denotes the first day of the month. It is directly or indirectly connected with the calendar.”
Notice a few examples of the more than 260 times the word chodesh, being properly translated as month(s) is found in the Scriptures: Exodus 23:15, 34:18; Numbers 18:16, 28:14; Deuteronomy 16:1; Joshua 4:19; Judges 11:37,38,39; 2 Kings 15:13; Esther 8:9; Ezekiel 30:20, 39:14; Hosea 5:7. To translate chodesh as month(s) in these verses and all verses, which use the word month(s), is correct, as the context reveals that the word month(s) is appropriate, necessary and correct.
Next, notice these 20 Old Testament Scriptures, in which the Hebrew chodesh is translated into the English phrase new moon(s). 1 Samuel 20:5,18,24; 2 Kings 4:23; 1 Chronicles 23:31; 2 Chronicles 2:4; 8:13; 31:3; Ezra 3:5; Nehemiah 10:33; Psalm 81:3; Isaiah 1:13,14; 66:23; Ezekiel 45:17; 46:1,3,6; Hosea 2:11; Amos 8:5.
To translate chodesh as new moon(s) in these verses is correct as the context reveals new moon(s) is the appropriate phrase. When new moon (chodesh) is used in the Scriptures, it refers to the new moon day, the first day of the month and never to the appearance of the physical orb; never to the appearance of a crescent.
Interestingly, the Hebrew word chodesh when translated new moon(s) is never used in the first five books of the Bible. In the first five books of the Bible (the books of Moses, in which the laws are revealed) chodesh is only translated as month(s).
The second Hebrew word is yareach (Strong’s 3394). Yareach is translated as moon in all 26 times of use in the Old Testament.
The third Hebrew word is yerach (Strong’s 3391). The word yerach specifically refers to a lunation or a moon. Yerach is used 11 times as month and twice as the word moon.
The fourth Hebrew word is lebanah (Strong’s 3842). Lebanah is used only three times in the Old Testament and in all occurrences; it refers to the whiteness or brightness of the moon, the strength of light of the moon.
What about the word Observe
Consider the English word observe. The English word observe is used 55 times in the King James Bible. The following is a list of those 55 references:
Exodus 12:17(2), 24; 31:16; 34:11,22; Leviticus 19:26,37; Numbers 28:2; Deuteronomy 5:32; 6:3,25; 8:1; 11:32; 12:1,28,32; 15:5; 16:1,12,13; 17:10; 24:8(2); 28:1,13,15,58; 31:12; 32:46; Joshua 1:7,8; Judges 13:14; 1 Kings 20:33; 2 Kings 17:37; 21:8; 2 Chronicles 7:17; Nehemiah 1:5; 10:29; Psalm 105:45; 107:43; 119:34; Proverbs 23:26; Jeremiah 8:7; Ezekiel 20:18; 37:24; Hosea 13:7; Jonah 2:8; Matthew 23:3(2); 28:20; Acts 16:21; 21:25; Galatians 4:10; 1 Timothy 5:21
Having read these verses, we once again realize that the English word observe is never used with any of the following phrases:
“new moon,” “visible new moon;” “the new moon,” “the visible new moon,” “a new moon,” “a visible new moon,” “the visible new moon crescent,” “a visible new moon crescent.”
The English word observe (from its Hebrew or Greek equivalents) is never used in combination with the word new moon or moon (and its Hebrew or Greek equivalents – especially chodesh).
Reread the 20 verses (as listed above) in which the phrase chodesh new moon(s) is found.
It is obvious and clear, not one of those 20 verses (or any verse for that matter) has the phrase observe the new moon. There is not one verse in the entire Bible that commands, observe the new moon.
Additionally, the word observe is used only twice in reference to the word month (once in the New Testament and once in the Old Testament). The two verses in which the word observe is used with the word month are as follows:
1) Ye observe days and months and times and years. (Galatians 4:10).
By reading this verse in context, we understand that Paul was not explaining to the Church in Galatia that they had to observe (look at with the eyes) a new moon. Rather Paul was chiding some in the Church of God for going back to their pagan celebrations.
All pagan cultures observed days, months, seasonal, and annual celebrations. Many of the celebrations back then made their way into the false Christian church’s holiday packages known today. Many pagan practices (observations) have made their way into modern-day Christianity. For example, the observation of the winter solstice (worshipping the sun god) is today packaged into the observance of Christmas.
2) "Observe the month of Abib, and keep the Passover unto the Lord thy God: for in the month of Abib the Lord thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night (Deuteronomy 16:1).
Misunderstood by those who reject the Jewish calendar
Many quote Deuteronomy 16:1 believing this verse proves you must observe (see with the eyes) a visible new moon crescent in order to declare a month.
A standard comment expressed by those who reject the Jewish calendar, as found in their various articles and booklets states, ‘Here in Deuteronomy 16:1, God (Yahweh) told Israel to observe the visible new moon crescent of Abib.’
Is that statement true?
Does this Scripture tell us that Israel had to observe (see with their eyes) the visible new moon crescent of Abib? Do we (as God’s Called Out Ones – His Church, Apostolic Believers) then today, have to see a visible new moon crescent every month?
Is that what Israel was taught? Is that what God told Moses? Is this what God tell us?
What does it mean – observe the month of Abib?
Should we somehow interpret Deuteronomy 16:1 to mean we have to observe, which is to say, we have to look at with our eyes or to somehow give credible recognition to a visible new moon crescent in order to declare the new month? Is this what this verse is really telling us?
The English word observe as used in Deuteronomy 16:1 is appropriate, translated from the Hebrew word Shahmar (Strong’s 8104).
The Hebrew word shahmar means: to hedge about (as with thorns), to guard, to protect, attend to, to heed, to take heed, to guard over, to beware of, to mark, to watch over, to look narrowly (focus upon or concentrate on), to observe (as to regulate or do), to keep, to keep safe, to safeguard.
Did shahmar inform Israel to “look at” or “see (with the eyes),” a visible new moon crescent before they could declare the month of Abib or was Israel commanded to observe the month of Abib in order to keep the Passover?
As explained in the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament Volume II, Page 939 – “Shamar is used 420 in the Qal, 37 times in the Niphal, 4 times in Piel and Hithpael. The Akkadian cognate shamaru means “wait upon,” “attend to”; the Phoenician, “watch, guard”; the Arabic samara “watch.” … The basic idea of the root is “to exercise great care over.” … Secondly, it expresses careful attention to be paid to the obligations of the covenant, to laws and statues, etc. … A third ramification is “take care of,” “guard” … Frequently the verb is used to speak of personal discipline, the need to take heed in respect to one’s life and action. … A fourth category is the meaning “regard” “give heed to” … The last category has to do with “preserving” “storing up.””
Although eyesight can be used to fulfill shahmar requirements, technically, the Hebrew word shahmar does not connote, denote or communicate the idea of strict viewing (with the eyes), observing (by using your eyes), or looking at (with the eyes).
Notice Genesis 3:24 (KJV) and the phrase to keep. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep (shahmar) the way of the tree of life.
The phrase to keep as used in this verse is translated from the Hebrew shahmar. It very definitely does not mean to observe with the eyes. Rather, it means to keep protected, to secure, to guard, or to preserve, to set a watch over, to observe, to hedge.
The tree of life was protected, was secured; it was guarded. It was not narrowly looked at, or stared at.
Notice the following Scriptures, which are just a few of many Scriptures in which the Hebrew word shahmar is used in the original text: Job 14:16 (watch over); Leviticus 19:3 (keep); Job 33:11 (mark); Deuteronomy 24:8 (be on guard or take heed); Deuteronomy 28:1 (observe, to honor so as to do); Proverbs 14:3 (preserve).
These parenthetical words, read in the Scriptures (KJV), are translated from the Hebrew word shahmar.
Notice Leviticus 19:37 (KJV). Therefore shall ye observe all my statutes and all my judgments and do them: I am the Eternal.
This Scripture verse tells us we are to observe (shahmar) the law, all my statutes and all my judgments and do them.
Obviously, we do not watch or look at (with our eyes – to follow the thought) the law. Rather, we observe it; we (observe to) do it; we make sure we obey it and make certain the law is a part of our life; we keep (shahmar) it.
Accordingly, we are commanded to shahmar the Sabbath(s) In Exodus 31:13-14, 16 the KJV English word keep is translated from the Hebrew word shahmar.
As God commands us to observe (shahmar) the Sabbath, He does not expect us to look at it.
Rather He expects that we are to guard it, we are to preserve it, and we are to set it apart as special by keeping it holy.
To observe the Sabbath is to keep the Sabbath. We keep the Sabbath, we guard it, protect it, preserve it, safeguard it, focus on the Sabbath, to set it apart.
The Hebrew word shahmar, as used in Deuteronomy 16:1 does not mean observe, as in, to look at with the eyes or to view (with the eyes).
Shahmar connotes and communicates an understanding of, to preserve, focus upon, pay attention to, to keep, keep safe, protect, to guard, observe, to honor.
Deuteronomy 16:1 did not command Israel to look at a narrow thin crescent new moon.
Deuteronomy 16:1 commanded Israel to keep safe, to protect, to observe, to guard, to safeguard and to assure that the month of Abib occurred and occurs in its proper season, and on time, in order to keep the Passover.
Israel was to observe the month so that the month of Abib would occur in its proper season (cf. Exodus 13:10) - the season of spring - the Passover/Unleavened Bread season. The appointed time (Strong’s 4150 mowed) of Abib, in the springtime, was when Israel came out of Egypt. (Cf. Exodus 23:15 & Exodus 34:18.)
Abib (Strong’s 24) means green ears, young ears of corn and the time of green ears was in the spring, after the winter rains. Israel was to observe that the month of Abib occurred in its proper season, the spring.
As we continue in this study, learning about the rule of Intercalation, we will explore Exodus 13:4-10 and Deuteronomy 16:1 in detail with regard to observing the month of Abib. We will learn what instructions and truth God taught His people (not man’s interpretation) in Deuteronomy 16:1.
We cannot read in the Scriptures, that Israel was commanded to, or that we are to, view, to watch for, to observe (with the eyes), to look at (with the eyes), or to make sure we see, the visible new moon crescent in order to declare a new month. God never spoke that command.
However, are we to conclude that Israel did not watch for, or recognize a visible new moon?
Certainly, observing the visible new moon crescent was necessary for Israel to do and something they did.
The truth is; it is from history and not the Scriptures we learn of this fact.
Once again, try as hard as you may, you will not read anywhere from Genesis to Revelation, Scripture verses that commanded Israel to, or commands us to, observe a visible new moon crescent in order to declare a new month.
Colossians 2:16 – Does this verse inform us that we are to observe a new moon?
Colossians 2:16; “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon or of the Sabbath”
Does this verse explain or command that we have to “view” a new moon crescent?
Does this verse set a precedent for the Church of God today, requiring that we have to observe a new moon and consequently acknowledge a new moon celebration?
The phrase new moon as used in this verse is translated from the Greek noumenia (Strong’s 3561), which is a compound word from neos (3501) meaning new, youthful, fresh, young and men (3376) meaning month. Noumenia literally means new month.
Noumenia is used only once in the New Testament; only in Colossians 2:16.
The Greek word men is translated into the English language as the word month and is found 18 times in the New Testament. The Greek word for moon is selene (Strong’s 4582) and is only found 9 times in the New Testament.
Clearly, in Colossians 2:16, Paul did not use the term neos selene or new moon (referring to the orb (crescent) in the sky). Paul used noumenia which is properly translated new month.
Historically and culturally, noumenia referred to the Jewish Festival of new moons (new months). Implicit in the monthly new moon festival is the historical fact that it was not mandatory to observe a visible new moon crescent in order to declare the new month.
We will shortly learn just exactly how Ancient Israel and the Jews declared a new month (specifically during the 1st Century, the time of the New Testament writings and the time of Christ).
The context of Colossians 2:16 is not a mandate requiring that a person (in the church) go out and look in the sky for a new moon crescent. The church was not required to do so; it was not their responsibility. The Sanhedrin, and specifically, the Court of the Calendar, took care of the responsibility for declaring a new month. Once the Court of the Calendar declared a new month, the Levitical Priests would perform their sacrificial duties and then a new moon Festival (the noumenia) was acknowledged. The Festival (a celebration meal) was to commence for the people.
Members of the Colossian church (who were predominantly Gentiles) were taught by Paul and the Church leadership to acknowledge the Holy Days, Sabbath Day and new month celebrations.
Just as important the Church leadership taught the Colossian Gentile converts to eat proper (clean) meats and to avoid excessive amounts of alcohol. They were taught to be cognizant of foods offered unto idols and to avoid things strangled and from blood.
They were to no longer eat unclean meats as their unconverted Gentile friends and family would do.
Additionally, the Colossian firstfruits of God were to no longer indulge in alcohol to the point of drunkenness as their unconverted Gentile friends would naturally do.
Likewise the Gentiles converts in Colosse were to keep the Holy Days with the Jews as that was scripturally the correct thing to do. Paul taught them, saying, let no man judge you for doing so, for doing the things that are scriptural, according to the law, correct and righteous to do.
To fully understand Colossians 2:16, we realize that the Holy Days, new moons and Sabbath Day which the Colossians kept were the same that Paul kept and the same that the Jews kept. After all, the Jews regulated the Holy Days, new moons and Sabbaths that Paul and the Church kept. Jesus Christ kept the same Holy Days, new moons and Sabbaths as did the Jews of His day. The Holy Days, the new moons and the Sabbath which the Jews of Christ’s Day kept were all legislated by command of God.
Had the Jews of Christ’s day been wrong, Jesus Christ would have called them on it. Had Jesus Christ, the one who gave the Laws of the Holy Days and the Sabbath to Israel and Judah, understood the “Jewish Holy Days” of His day to be wrong, Jesus Christ would have spoken up and taught His disciples of the error. There would be clear evidence of a difference. The disciples in turn would have written and taught the Church of the error. The Holy Days are just too important for God not to have instructed us of any error. Yet no Holy Day error was ever revealed in the New Testament.
Today we would know of the error, if any error existed, by simply reading the Bible. But no such error was ever spoken of by Jesus Christ; no such error was expressed, no error ever existed.
Had Jesus Christ not kept the Holy Days with the Jews, His people, He would have been accused and the Sanhedrin would have made an issue of this at His “kangaroo court” hearing. Certainly, that would have been an accusation leveled against Him at His trial.
The new moon declaration activity as declared by the Sanhedrin and the Holy Days as declared by the Sanhedrin were honored and kept by Jesus Christ and were observed by the Church of God, including the church of Colosse.
Before we read of the history of 1st Century/Sanhedrin calendar practices, let us continue to see what else we can learn from the Scriptures regarding the new moon.
“Tomorrow is the New Moon”
Calculations Were Understood
Notice 1 Samuel 20:5, 18. The phrase tomorrow is the new moon is found in both verses.
These verses provide us with an understanding, a background, relating to Israel's calendar practices.
First, these verses do not tell us what kind of new moon was to occur “tomorrow.” What is simply stated is tomorrow is the new moon.
Next, letting these verses speak, we can logically understand that some form of calendar, or at minimum, a lunation calculation or predictive device, which could determine future lunar events, was utilized in David's day.
These verses indicate that before the new moon/month (chodesh) was declared, it was already known (in advance), when that new moon would take place and consequently, when the new month would begin.
How did they know “tomorrow is the new moon?”
Long prior to the time of Hillel II (358 AD), Israel knew how to declare, in advance, they knew how to calculate in advance, the beginnings of the months. Israel and Judah knew in advance when the new moon would occur.
Contrary to the belief of those who reject the Jewish calendar, Ancient Israel did not use observation of “new moon crescent” as the only method to declare their new months. Israel used calculations of, utilizing predictive, scientific formulas to know in advance, when the new moons would occur. Often time Ancient Israel would declare the new month without ever seeing the new moon crescent. We find no precedent set in the Scriptures which requires that today we must only use “visible sighting” in order to declare a new month.
Consider the following commentary; just one of the much available commentaries:
“It has sometimes been assumed that there was no system among the ancient Hebrews for determining the commencement and duration of each month, and that it was merely a question of observation, the month practically beginning when the new moon first became visible - that is about 2 days after the real new moon, and that without any calculation of the number of days since the previous new moon. There are two very strong, if not absolutely fatal, objections to this view. 1) The Feast of the New Moon was evidently of very early and general obligation (see 1 Sam 20:5, 18, 2 Kings 4:23, Amos 8:5, Is. 1:13-14). It was practically necessary that it should be known beforehand when it would occur. That this was in fact the case we know from 1 Sam 20:5, 18, where Jonathan and David act on knowledge that the next day would be the new moon feast. 2) The fact, even in early times, the months were definitely distinguished, and had there several names, points obviously in the same direction.”
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION & ETHICS
by: JAMES HASTINGS
Israel knew in advance when the new moon would first be visible for any given month. Israel knew in advance, when and where the witnesses should look in the sky, for the new moon crescent. We will read of these historical facts as we continue in this study.
Israel and Judah knew of God’s ordained and sustained celestial patterns.
A logical mind would consider; the Egyptians, during the time of Israel’s captivity and bondage, knew of the celestial patterns, the cycles of the sun and moon, the relation of the sun’s travel to locations on the earth. How hard then would it have been for Israel under Moses and then Joshua to have understood and sustained that understanding as they went into the Promised Land?
Moses knew what a new moon was, as did the Egyptian scholars and astronomers. This was not a problem for someone of his stature and status among the Egyptians. Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians … (Acts 7:22).
Knowing such, God then simply revealed to Moses that “this month shall be the beginning of your months of years.” God instructed Moses to pay attention to this month (which began with a new moon) in order to establish a pattern of calendar months that would be unique to Israel from that time forward.
Moses used already known lunar patterns to know when the month would commence.
Back to David’s day; in the real world of David, a meal was served at King Saul's banquet as part of the New Moon celebration. The meal would be planned for and preparations made, in advance.
Ancient Israel had a calculated table (formulas which were preserved and eventually released by Hillel II when the demands of the times required this to happen), which helped them keep the months in their proper order, according to the actual lunar activity.
They would know in advance when and where in the sky the new moon crescent would be spotted. History reveals these facts.
Ancient Israel used God’s ordained and sustained patterns in order to know in advance when a new moon would be first visible. Knowing that fact, they knew when each month’s conjunction would occur.
If the new moon (day) was known in advance (which it was, as we shall prove), why did a new moon crescent need to be seen? We shall learn why.
Make no mistake, a visible new moon was used; a visible new moon was observed throughout the history of Israel. Observation was used as an aid; however it was not the only source or reference used for declaring a new month.
Numbers 10:10 and 28:11 – the beginnings of your months
The Hebrew word chodesh is translated 20 times into the English as new moon(s) and refers to the new moon day and not the physical shape of the orb (e.g. crescent). A moon is new, by virtue of the fact that it begins another (new) chodesh (month). Most frequently and correctly, chodesh is properly translated month. At the start of every new month, every new lunar cycle, is a new moon, either a conjunction (new moon) or a visible crescent (new moon).
A new moon can be either a visible crescent or a conjunction, since neither one is preferred over the other in the Scriptures.
There is another phrase, which Israel was aware of, which Moses wrote of, that is different from the word (chodesh) new moon or month. That Hebrew phrase is rosh chodesh.
Numbers 10:10 Also in the days of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpet, over your burnt offerings....
Numbers 28:11 And in the beginnings of your months ye shall offer a burnt offering unto the Eternal; two young bullocks, and one ram, seven lambs of the first year without spot.
In these two Scriptures, as part of the Law of God, we are introduced to the phrase the beginnings of your months.
This phrase is translated from the Hebrew words rosh (Strong’s 7218) and chodesh (Strong’s 2320).
The Hebrew word rosh means “head of,” “the head,” “chief,” “to shake (the head) as in most easily shaken,” “beginning,” “beginning of,” “highest,” “top,” “first (in ranking order),” “sum,” “captain,” “forefront.”
We find some examples of the word rosh in the following Scripture verses: Exodus 12:2; 1 Chronicles 7:2, 9:9; Isaiah 41:26; Deuteronomy 32:42; Judges 7:19; Proverbs 8:23; Ecclesiastes 3:11.
Consider Ezekiel 40:1; In the five and twentieth year of our captivity, in the beginning of our year in the tenth day of the month….
The phrase Rosh Hashanah (literally meaning the beginning or head of the year) was written in the original Hebrew. Perhaps you recognize Rosh Hashanah as the name of the celebrated Jewish New Year, which occurs on Tishri 1 or the 1st day of the seventh (agricultural or Holy Day sequence) month.
Interestingly, if this Rosh Hashanah is the seventh month or the month of Tishri, then Ezekiel is referring to the Day of Atonement in this verse. Ezekiel writes about the tenth day of the month in the beginning of our year.
If Ezekiel is referring to the Day of Atonement, then we can understand the prophetic implications – as he writes about the Millennial new Temple, into which the God of Israel, Jesus Christ will come. On the Day of Atonement, reconciliation between God and Israel takes place, as envisioned by Ezekiel.
As we learned of earlier in this study, the Hebrew word chodesh (hodesh) means new moon or month.
Put together, the Hebrew phrase Rosh Chodesh specifically means, “head of” or “beginning of” (rosh), “the month" (chodesh) - beginnings of your months.
Rosh chodesh can only be properly translated as beginning of your month.
To translate rosh chodesh as beginning(s) of your new moon(s) would be incorrect and discordant to the Hebrew tongue.
A new moon is a beginning. Whether we understand a conjunction new moon or a first visible crescent new moon, the new moon is a once a month, one time event. Once the new moon (day) is over, the moon is no longer new. It begins its cycle progression, as it then waxes toward a full moon.
Since the new moon is a beginning, the beginning is already established. There then is no logic to say the beginning of the beginning. If God were to pinpoint a specific day as being the beginning, why would He not have simply told Moses on your new moon day of the month? But the Scriptures never make that statement.
To understand the meaning of the beginning of your month let us realize that theoretically, the beginning of something does not have to be strictly confined to the first of something. We understand that the beginning of a road trip can easily be the first couple hours into the trip.
The beginning of the month could easily be the first couple, two or three days of the month and not precisely, only the first day of the month. (We will learn this is exactly what Israel understood.)
We understand this logic when we talk about the beginning of the week meaning Sunday, Monday and perhaps Tuesday. Then mid-week is perhaps Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Then the later part (or we may say, toward the end of the week) is understood as Friday and Saturday.
The first day of the week is Sunday. This concept is different from the concept of the beginning of the week. We can also say there is a difference between someone who is first in line verses someone who is at or in the beginning of the line.
So the logic applies that the beginning of the month could easily refer to the first couple days of the month. Israel and Judah’s history will teach us exactly what was meant by the term Rosh chodesh.
It is redundant to say the beginning of your beginning. Consequently, Moses wrote the phrase, beginning of your month. Israel was instructed, ‘in the beginning of your month, blow the trumpet.’ The month is either 29 or 30 days in length, so it is understandable to have a beginning of a month.
Rosh chodesh refers to the beginning(s) of your month(s) and there is a necessary reason it does.
The phrase beginning(s) of your month(s) defines a requirement God handed down to Israel and Judah, through Moses; a requirement established by law, they are to maintain.
We will learn what that requirement is and how they maintained that requirement.
There is yet one more Hebrew phrase, which speaks to us with regard to the beginning of the month or the new moon day, whether the new moon day be the day of the conjunction or the day on which the new moon crescent was first visible (at night).
The Hebrew phrase, “echad yom chodesh”
meaning “the first (echad) day (yom)
of the month (chodesh).”
We have just read the phrase in the beginning(s) of your month(s).
Now we can read another phrase: the first day of the month. Both phrases are found in the Scriptures.
What is the difference between these two phrases? How did Israel and how do the Jews understand this difference?
Could it be that "the first day of the month" is different from "the beginnings of your months?"
Are they the same day? What light does the Bible shed on this idea?
What do the Scriptures teach us about
the phrase, first day of the month?
The phrase first day of the month is used in 16 verses throughout the Old Testament. More importantly, this phrase is used to specify the Holy Day called the Feast of Trumpets.
Numbers 29:1: And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have a holy convocation... it is a day of blowing of trumpets unto you...
Leviticus 23:24: In the seventh month, in the first day of the month...
Nehemiah 8:2: ... upon the first day of the seventh month …
Ezra 3:6: From the first day of the seventh month....
In each of these four verses, we read phrases, which clearly indicate the first day of the seventh month.
Notice, however, we did not read any of the following phrases when we read these four verses, as they pertain to the Law of God, referring to the Feast of Trumpets:
“in the seventh month, on the new moon (day) of the month”
“in the seventh month, in the beginning of this month”
“in the beginning of your seventh month”
We do not read “on the rosh chodesh of your seventh month.”
We do not read “on the rosh of your seventh month.”
We do not read “on the seventh new moon (chodesh).”
Rather, we read, as these Scripture verses clearly indicate, and as is easy to comprehend: on the first day (echad yom) of the seventh month. On this specific day, this first day, is one of God's Holy Days, one of God’s appointed times - the Feast of Trumpets.
We will learn why Moses wrote, as God commanded, the Scriptures this way as we continue.
Exploring the Hebrew language will help us to understand that a numeric value of one is being placed on the day of the month. The first or number one day of the seventh month is implied and stated directly.
This phrase is noticeably different from the phrase, in the beginning of the month.
The Hebrew word echad (Strong's 259) means “united,” “unity,” “one (as an ordinal),” “first (as a number).”
When researching the Hebrew, all the verses, which speak of the first day of the month, refer specifically, to the number one day or the first day of the month, and never the rosh or beginning of the month.
Is there a difference between the echad yom chodesh “first day of the month,” and the rosh chodesh “beginning of the month?”
God commanded Israel to observe the FIRST DAY OF THE SEVENTH MONTH. God did not command Israel to observe the BEGINNING OF YOUR SEVENTH MONTH. There is a reason God required it this way.
Understanding the reason why it was commanded (as a Law) this way will allow us to understand the issues that get us to the heart of the alleged Jewish calendar problem - the postponement principles.
How was the first day of the seventh month determined by Israel?
How was the beginnings of your months honored by Israel and how is it still honored by the Jewish calendar, today?
How did Israel and Judah obey the command, in the beginnings of your months?
Let us understand from history
The beginnings of your months
and the new moon day
As we are aware, the Scriptures are silent when it comes to telling us just what is a new moon (whether a conjunction or visible crescent). The Scriptures are silent when it comes to telling us whether or not we are to observe a visible new moon crescent.
In the Scriptures, we can read the term new moon but never do we read the term visible new moon (crescent – implied).
In the Scriptures, we are not told what God considered a new moon to be. The Scriptures are silent.
What then did Israel consider a new moon to be? How then did Israel declare a new month?
How then did Israel know to declare the beginnings of their months in order to properly perform the required sacrifices?
The Jewish calendar today still maintains the same patterns, practices, calculations and rules that Israel employed throughout their history, the same rules that Judah maintained from the time of their re-settling under Ezra and Nehemiah until the time of Hillel II. The Jewish calendar utilizes the same science of astronomy (God’s created, ordained, and sustained celestial patterns) that all mankind has access to. In doing so is no sin or dishonor to God, Almighty.
The Jewish calendar confirms for us today, that the conjunction (molad) is a monthly checkpoint. The conjunction ends the old lunar cycle while at the same time begins a new lunar cycle of (approximately) 29.5 (earth) days (29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3 ½ seconds to be exact).
The Jewish calendar acknowledges that a visible new moon crescent will appear within some 36 hours after the conjunction and will by rule, aid in declaring a new month.
Ancient Israel and Judah practiced more than just observing the new moon crescent to declare their months.
Consequently, if the Jewish calendar today utilizes more than just observing a new moon crescent to declare a month, the Jewish calendar is in good company, faithful to the forefathers.
“For practical purposes, however, the months are reckoned by full days and set in, with the beginning of night. They contain either 29 or 30 days; in the first case the month is "haser" (deficient) by half a day; in the second "male" (overfull) by half a day.”
THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA
CALENDAR, HISTORY OF
VOLUME III, 1902
Each lunar cycle (from one conjunction to the next) consists of a little over 29.5 days (once again 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3 ½ seconds to be exact).
Two lunar cycles equal 59 days (plus 1 hour 28 minutes and 7 seconds).
Consequently, in every two months, one month will have 29 days and the other month will have 30 days, equaling 59 days. (The extra time is accounted for over the course of years and adjustments have to be made over time, and are made. All mathematical elements of God’s ordained patterns are taken into account.)
Since every lunar cycle is some 11 hours and 15 minutes and 56.5 seconds short of a full 30 days, each lunar cycle (month) does not consist of a whole or complete number of days (i.e. 30 full days). As a result, some months have one day more than the other months and other months have one day less than the other months. That is why some months are consider deficient by half a day and other months are considered overfull by half a day.
Unlike the Gregorian calendar in which the months alternate (except for July and August) between 30 and 31 complete or whole days (and except for February, which will have either 28 or 29 days), the months of the Jewish calendar alternate (generally speaking) throughout the year, between having 29 or 30 complete or whole days.
“If the moon appeared on the night of the 30th day, so that the old month consisted of 29 days, this month was called a defective month; if, however, the moon did not appear on the night of the 30th day, so that the old month consisted of 30 days, it was called an embolistic (or intercalated) month, or a full month. If the moon appeared on the night of the 30th day, it was said that the moon had appeared in its proper time; if however, it appeared on the night of the 31st day, and not on the night of the 30th, it was said that the moon had appeared on the night of the embolismic day.”
SANCTIFICATION OF THE NEW MOON
As the Bible explains, each day ends with the evening’s sunset. Each day begins with the commencement of the night.
(For further details see our Passover Study and the Sunset-to-Sunset Study (both posted on the ICG Church Website or the ICG Chicago Website)).
Each (new) day begins with the night. Each day begins after the evening sun of the previous (old) day has set, giving way to night of that (new) day.
Consequently, the night of the 30th day is at the beginning of the 30th day, occurring just after the evening or the end of the 29th day.
Likewise the night of the 31st day is at the beginning of the 31st day, which commences after the evening of the 30th day.
“If the witnesses said, "In the morning of the 29th day we saw the (old) moon in the east before sunrise, and in the evening, on the night of the 30th day, we saw the (new) moon in the west," they were considered trustworthy and the court could sanctify the new moon on the basis of this observation, since they did see the new phase "in its proper time.”
SANCTIFICATION OF THE NEW MOON
When considering the movement of the earth and the moon (these sustained patterns of celestial motion which God ordained) and when considering the duration of time from one conjunction to the next, it is logical to understand why in certain months one will see the thin new moon crescent appear shortly after the conjunction (on the 29th day), in its proper time (the night of the 30th day); and in other months the new moon crescent will be seen on the next night after, in its proper time (the night of the 31st day).
It is logical to understand why some months are 29 days in length and other months are 30 days in length. Israel understood the lunar cycles. The Jews are well educated in understanding these patterns.
A conjunction will always occur 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3-1/2 seconds after the previous one. As a result, the actual time of the conjunction will float or drift (vacillate), such that it will occur at a different time, on the clock, on each conjunction day.
A conjunction will always occur on the 29th day (of the lunar cycle), but at a different time, on the clock, from the previous month’s or the following month’s conjunction day.
You will notice the time of a conjunction (new moon) in the almanac, or on a NASA time table, is never at the same time of day in each month throughout the year.
In some months, the conjunction will occur early on the 29th day (e.g. 7:58 am) and other months the conjunction will occur late on the 29th day (e.g. 10:52 pm). On some months the conjunction will occur at night, during the AM hours (e.g. 3:07 am).
As a result of the drifting time of each month’s conjunction, some months will find the thin new moon crescent appearing in its proper time (on the night/beginning of the 30th day of the old month) and in other months the new moon crescent will appear some 24 (plus) hours later, after the conjunction. When the new moon crescent occurs some 24 (plus) hours after a conjunction, that new moon occurs on the next night after, in its proper time (on the night/beginning of the 31st day of the old month).
As we continue, we will read that Israel knew to calculate and predict future occurrences and understood with precision the alternations of visible sightings.
There was and is a mathematical, calculated science to the actual lunar activity, and Israel and Judah knew this science. They knew in advance when the new moon crescent would appear and the visible sighting would confirm the calculations. This principle is exactly what the Jewish calendar practices today.
When a new moon (thin sliver crescent) is first viewed after the sunset (in the evening twilight, at the ending) of the 29th day of the old month, as the night of the 30th day commences, that new moon (thin sliver crescent) is viewed in what is called, in its proper time.
When a new moon (thin sliver crescent) is first viewed after the sunset (in the evening twilight, at the ending) of the 30th day of the old month, as the 31st day of the old month is beginning to commence with the night, that new moon is viewed in what is called, one night later or the next night after in its proper time.
Viewing the new moon shortly after the conjunction (which always occurs at a different time on the clock on the 29th day) is considered viewing the new moon in its proper time because the tiny thin crescent is "close to the conjunction (molad)" and it is truly new in time and in appearance.
If the visible new moon crescent occurred in its proper time each and every month throughout the year, that would be the best possible scenario. If that scenario were a reality, the new moon’s sighting would be consistent every month. Consequently, we would never have an issue pertaining to a drifting of the first visible new moon crescent throughout the months of the year.
However, because of the ordained and sustained duration of each lunar cycle and the drift, which occurs from one conjunction to the next, this best possible scenario will never happen.
The night of the new moon crescent generally alternates each month throughout the year. Some months, it appears on the night of the 30th day, other months it appears on the night of the 31st day.
“In accepting the evidence concerning the new moon, the procedure of the court was as follows: All those qualified to testify regarding the observation of the new moon would come to the courthouse (temple)...
…Thereupon, after the evidence had been accepted as valid, the chief justice of the court would pronounce the formula Mekuddas (‘the new moon has been sanctified’), and after him the whole community would respond, ‘Mekuddas, Mekuddas.’ Neither the calculation nor the sanctification of the new moon could be carried out but by a court of three. Nor was the formal sanctification of the new moon pronounced except when the new moon had been observed in its proper time, nor the pronouncement made other than during the daytime. And if it was made during the nighttime, the sanctification was not valid.
Even if the court itself and the whole community of Israel had observed the new moon, as long as the court had not pronounced the Mekuddas formula before the arrival of darkness on the night of the 31st - if only because the examination of witnesses had dragged on for so long that the court had no occasion to pronounce Mekuddas before the arrival of darkness on the 31st - this new moon could no longer be sanctified and the old month was declared embolismic (full). In that case, New Moon Day was declared to fall on the 31st day, notwithstanding that the new crescent had been observed on the night of the 30th day. For it was not the observation of the new moon but the official pronouncement of the Mekuddas formula by the court which legally initiated the new month.”
THE TORAH ANTHOLOGY
(Compiled and written in the early 16th Century)
by: RABBI YAAKOV CULI
What we have just read (and we will read more – of the history which is obvious, clear and easily accessible) is important to understand, for it confirms that God allowed the power of decision up to those whom He chose, the children of Judah, and specifically, those who functioned within the Sanhedrin (specifically the Court of Three or as called the Court of the Calendar).
Both calculation and observation of the new moon were simultaneously employed during the time of the Sanhedrin, during the time Jesus Christ walked the earth in the flesh.
This method of observation and intercalation was used throughout the period of the second Temple (516 BCE. - 70 CE.) and about three centuries after its destruction, as long as there was an independent Sanhedrin.
THE COMPREHENSIVE HEBREW CALENDAR
by: ARTHUR SPIER
There is clear unequivocal evidence in history and in the Scriptures showing us that the Sanhedrin was active during the time of Christ’s walk on earth. We can read of its existence when reading New Testament Scriptures, as follows: Matthew 5:22, 10:17, 26:59; Mark 14:55, 15:1; Luke 22:66; Acts 4:15, 5:21, 6:12, 22:30, 24:20. In each verse (KJV), the English word council is translated from the Greek word sunedrion, which means a joint session, a tribunal, a council, the Jewish Sanhedrin.
The Sanhedrin was considered the Supreme Court and legislative body in Judea, during the Post-exilic period through the time of Hillel II, predominately during the Roman period. Sanhedrin is the name given in the Mishna to the body of seventy-one sages. The make-up of the seventy-one sages included a president, vice president, and sixty-nine general members who all sat in the form of a semi-circle when in session.
“The Sanhedrin was the supreme court and legislative body of Israel. It consisted of seventy elders (Numbers 11:16), specially ordained in an unbroken chain from Moses. Months could only be designated by the Sanhedrin itself, or by a special Beth din (Court of the Calendar) duly ordained for this purpose by the Sanhedrin.”
THE TORAH ANTHOLOGY
(Compiled and written in the early 16th Century)
by: RABBI YAAKOV CULI
The Sanhedrin was composed of 71 members, elders, judges, Pharisees, Sadducees, priests. Very easily we can see a comparison to the United States Congress which is composed of Democrats, Republicans and Independents. The Sanhedrin was not just composed of Pharisees.
“… it follows from all that we have just been saying that Sadducees and Pharisees alike had seats in the Sanhedrin (especially during the Romano-Herodian period …”
A HISTORY OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE IN THE TIME OF JESUS CHRIST
The number seventy has been obtained from the Law (Numbers 11:16-17, 24-25), where God commanded Moses to establish a council of seventy elders who would assist Moses. Seventy plus one (Moses) equal seventy-one members. The Sanhedrin traced its lineage back to its formation in the time of Moses
From the members of the Sanhedrin was chosen what was called the Court of the Calendar, or a committee of three men (Beth Din) whose prime responsibility was that of declaring each new month and the intercalation of the year. They did so in order to declare the appointed times, the Holy Days in their seasons, at the right time of year and on the correct days each year.
The Sanhedrin operated from the Temple and each month their decision stood firm and was recognized by the populace of Judah, including one citizen in particular, Jesus Christ. He kept the new moons, months and Holy Days has they were declared by the Sanhedrin.
“If the court itself had observed the new crescent at the end of the 29th day before the appearance of a star on the night of the 30th day, the court might proclaim Mekuddas since it was still daytime. But if they saw it on the night of the 30th day after the appearance of two stars the proper procedure was as follows: They waited until the following day and then they appointed two other judges to sit with one of them and to constitute a new court, while the two remaining members testified as witnesses before the new court of three, where upon these three did sanctify the new moon.”
“If the court sanctified the new moon by inadvertence or by mistake or under duress, the sanctification was valid and everyone was duty bound to observe the festivals in accordance with the day in which the judges had sanctified the new crescent. Even though it was known that the judges had erred, their decision was binding, for the authority over the matter had been given to them only. He who has commanded us to observe the festivals also commanded us to follow them, for it is written: which ye shall proclaim (Lev. 23:37).
If witnesses observed the new moon, and there was a walking distance of one night and one day, or less, between their place and the place of the court, they were obliged to go there to testify. If, however, the distance was greater than this, they were not obliged to go, for after the 30th day their testimony was of no value, since the old month had already been declared embolismic.”
SANCTIFICATION OF THE NEW MOON
What we know, as actually taking place month after month in the history of Judah’s new moon declarations was more than a simple, “I see the moon - therefore it is a new month” concept.
If witnesses saw the new moon on the night of the 30th day, they had to arrive at the court by the afternoon of the 30th and upon verification; the court could then declare the 30th day of the old month the New Moon Day, hence the first day of the new month.
If witnesses could not get to the court in time (by the end/evening of the 30th day), even though they saw the new moon "in its proper time” (the night/beginning of the 30th day), then the 31st day (which starts at night) would automatically be declared the new moon day. The 31st day of the old month would automatically become the first day of the new month because it was already known that no month could ever have more than 30 days.
If the witnesses saw the new moon crescent on the night of the 30th day (in its proper time) but there was a delay in declaring the new moon, then the month’s first day would be delayed; it would in a sense be postponed. The month would actually start a day late, even though the moon was seen when it was calculated to be seen (in its proper time).
“Just as the astronomers who discern the positions and motions of the stars engage in calculation, so the Jewish court, too, used to study and investigate and perform mathematical operations, in order to find out whether or not it would be possible for the new crescent to be visible in its "proper time," which is the night of the 30th day. If members of the court found that the new moon might be visible, they were obligated to be in attendance at the courthouse for the whole 30th day and to be on the watch for the arrival of witnesses. If witnesses did arrive, they were duly examined and tested, and if their testimony appeared trustworthy, this day was sanctified as the New Moon Day. If the new crescent did not appear and no witnesses arrived, this day was counted as the 30th day of the old month, which thus became an embolistic month. If, however, the members of the court found by calculation that the new moon could not possibly be seen, they were not obliged to be in attendance on the 30th day or to wait for the arrival of witnesses.
Scriptures made it incumbent upon the court to discover by calculation whether or not the new moon might be visible, to examine witnesses and then to sanctify the new moon and to send out messengers to inform the whole community which day was to be New Moon Day, so that the people would know on which day the holidays would fall. For it is said: These are the appointed seasons of the LORD which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations (Lev 23:37), and it is further said: And thou shall keep this ordinance in its season (Exodus 13:10).”
SANCTIFICATION OF THE NEW MOON
“The court used to employ methods of calculation of the kind employed by astronomers in order to ascertain whether the new moon of the coming month would be seen to the north or the south of the sun, whether its latitude would be wide or narrow, and in which direction the tips of the horns would point. And when witnesses appeared in order to testify, the court used to examine them as follows: Where did you see the new moon, to the north or the south? In which direction did the horns point? How great was its altitude, in the estimate of your eyes, and how wide its latitude? If their testimony was found to conform with the results of astronomical calculations, it was accepted, but if it found not to conform, it was rejected.”
SANCTIFICATION OF THE NEW MOON
If, by calculation, it was determined that the new moon could not be seen in its proper time, then it was not necessary for witnesses to look for the new moon after the sunset of the 29th day, in the evening, as the night of the 30th day was beginning.
Consequently, it was not necessary for the witnesses to come to the Sanhedrin (the Court of the calendar) in order to attest to the viewing of the new moon. The reason for this was simple; the Sanhedrin would not request witnesses to come to them. The Sanhedrin knew in advance when it was not necessary for them to meet at the Temple in order to await the witnesses.
When the new moon was not seen "in its proper time," the night of the 30th day of the old month, then the 30th day was allowed to elapse and the 31st day of the old month automatically became the first day of the new month.
Observation did not matter, nor was it necessary on those months, because, whether or not one saw the new moon the next evening, on the evening of the 30th day/night of the 31st day, that 31st day of the old month automatically became the first day of the new month. The reason for this was simple. It was and is a known fact that no month can ever have more than 30 days.
The 31st day of the old month automatically became the first day of the new month.
Either the 30th or the 31st day of the old month would become the first day (echad yom) of the new month. Often the first day of the month was not the actual celestial or lunar new moon (by way of a visible crescent) day, yet it was the day which would occur in the beginning of the month (rosh chodesh).
Now we can understand why God simply stated: in the beginning(s) of your month(s) (Numbers 10:10, 28:11) and why the command to observe the new moon crescent in order to declare a new month was never given by God and is never found in the Scriptures.
Often the first day of a month would occur automatically without observation. At times, the first day of the month, although occurring in the beginning of the month, was not truly the first day of the lunar cycle.
If the lunar first day of the new month was not declared in time, then the second lunar day of the new month or the 31st day of the old month was declared Rosh Chodesh. Adjustments were then made and the next month would be back in order because the calculations predicted when the new moon should be seen in its proper time.
If the witnesses' testimony was not declared in time, or the "court of the calendar" made a mistake, or clouds interfered (of which we shall read more), then the day which actually should have been the second day of the month, was declared the first day of the month. The error was recognized and of course the calculations would make sure that the next month would be adjusted so that the next month's new moon would be seen in its proper time. If calculations determined that the next month’s new moon would not be seen in its proper time, then that fact would be know in advance and observation was not necessary.
“Even at the time when observation was the basis (for determining the recurrence of the New Moon Day), the court used to ascertain by calculation, with great precision, according to the methods of the astronomers, the exact time of the (true) conjunction of the moon with the sun, in order to find out whether the moon could be visible (on the night of the 30th day) or not.”
SANCTIFICATION OF THE NEW MOON
“The fixing of the lengths of the months and of the intercalation of the months was the prerogative of the Sanhedrin, at whose head there was a patriarch. The entire Sanhedrin was not called upon to act in this matter, the decision being left to a special court of three. The Sanhedrin met on the 29th day of each month to await the report of the witnesses. From before the destruction of the temple (70 AD) certain rules were in existence. The new moon cannot occur before a lapse of 29 1/2 days and 2/3 of an hour. If the moon could not be exactly determined, one month was to have 30 days and the next 29 days. The full months were not to be less than 4 nor more than 8, so that the year could not be less than 352 days nor more than 356.”
CALENDAR: HISTORY OF
THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA
VOL. III 1902
PAGE 499(See Pages 498–503)
“So far as we can gather, the following was the order of service on the New Moon's day. The Council sat from early morning to just before the evening sacrifice, to determine the appearance of the new moon. The proclamation of the Council - 'It is sanctified!' - and not the actual appearance of the new moon, determined the commencement of the feast. Immediately afterwards, the priest blew the trumpet…”
THE TEMPLE; ITS MINISTRY AND SERVICE
by: ALFRED EDERSHEIM
“Actually, however, the court followed a tradition transmitted by the Sages from one generation to another on the authority of Moses, our Teacher, to wit, whenever it happened that the new crescent was not visible at the beginning of two consecutive months, the court should declare one full month of 30 days and one defective month of 29 days. In this way the court proceeded to proclaim, on the basis of calculation, one full month followed by one defective month, not by sanctification, but merely by declaration. For the rite of sanctification was performed only on the basis of visual observation. Upon occasion, however, the court did declare two consecutive months full, or two consecutive months defective, when such a procedure appeared justified by calculation.
For the presupposition of calendric calculation was always that if the new crescent of the next month is to be visible, this will occur either "in its proper time," (on the night of the 30th day) or on the following night, but never before its "proper time," that is on the night of the [29th] day.”
SANCTIFICATION OF THE NEW MOON
Observation and calculation worked hand-in-hand and both methods were used by ancient Israel and Judah prior to Hillel II. Both were used during the time of Christ and the 1st Century Church.
God’s official declaration, His commandment to Israel regarding the declaration of the new month was simple: in the beginning(s) of your month(s). Men (God’s chosen) would determine when each month would begin.
Nowhere in the Scriptures do we read that God commanded Israel, “when you see the new moon crescent you shall begin your month" or “you must look at the new moon crescent in order to declare your months.”
Consider one more piece of historical evidence, of the activity performed by the Sanhedrin, as Judah faithfully kept God’s Holy Days and the new moon activities.
"The Sabbath is known to all, and does not require any special designation. At the end of every seven-day cycle, the final day is designated as the Sabbath for all Israel. This however is not true of the months. The individual does not have the power to decide on which day the new month will start. This can only be done by a duly ordained tribunal (beth din). These sages have the responsibility to make astronomical calculations to determine the exact times of the various phases of the moon and in what part of the sky the new moon will be seen. Most important, they calculated whether or not the new moon will be visible in its proper time, on the 30th day of the previous month... if the testimony is valid, the beth din then declared it a new month. If the new moon could not be seen, or if two witnesses did not testify, then the 30th day is counted as the last day of the previous month and the 31st day is automatically the first day of the new month. Both the 30th and 31st are considered Rosh Hodesh. If the astronomical calculations determine that the new moon will not be visible until the 31st day, the beth din does not sit on the 30th. Even if witnesses testify on the 30th, the beth din can be certain that they are testifying falsely, or that they merely saw some illumination in the clouds. It obviously could not have been the new moon. Therefore two conditions are required before a new month can be declared: astronomical calculations, and the testimony of witnesses who actually saw the new moon. If either of these two conditions is lacking, the new moon cannot be declared on the 30th of the previous month. The same is true if there are no witnesses to testify, even though it is known from calculations that the new moon should be visible. Still the new month cannot be declared. If witnesses testified that they saw the moon, and the astronomical calculations determined that it could not have been seen at that time and place, the new moon cannot be declared. Before each new moon, the beth din would carefully calculate in precisely which part of the sky it would be seen, and exactly what position. When the witnesses were examined they were asked these questions: In what part of the sky was the moon located? How large was its crescent? In which direction did its cusps point? ...
... If their description of the moon fit the calculations, their testimony was accepted. If not, it was rejected. As mentioned earlier, testimony is not sufficient; it must be backed by astronomical calculations. ... If the moon could not be seen because of clouds or no witnesses came, then, as mentioned earlier, the new month begins on the 31st day. The previous month is considered "complete" (malleh), and both the 30th and the 31st day are counted as Rosh Chodesh. However, if this happens two months in succession, our sages have a tradition from the time of Moses that the months are alternately made 30 and 29 days. This can often happen in winter, during the rainy season. At other times, the new moon might be so small and faint that no witnesses can see it. In such cases, the first month is allowed to be 30 days long, and the new month is designated on the 31st day. The second month is 29 days long and the new month is designated on the 30th day. This alternation is maintained until the moon is seen. When a month has 30 days, it is considered "complete" (malleh). When it has 29 days, it is considered "incomplete" (chaser). In some cases, the Beth din may see fit to make two consecutive months "complete." At other times they may find it necessary to make two consecutive months "incomplete." However, in the course of the year, at least four months must be "complete;" not more than eight can be "incomplete. After all the witnesses were examined and the testimony accepted, the head of the beth din would announce, "The new month is sanctified (me-kudash ha-hodesh). Even if the new moon is seen by all Israel, the new month does not begin until the beth din announces that "the new month is sanctified.” The new month does not begin until this announcement is made, [and in such a case, it then automatically begins on the 31st day]. Therefore, even if witnesses arrive, but are not examined and accepted before sunset of the 30th day, this day belongs to the previous month. Even though the moon was clearly visible on the eve of the 30th day, the month does not begin until the 31st." God thus commanded that designating the new month does not depend on the new moon being visible, but on the announcement made by the beth din. Only when they announce the "the new month is sanctified," is a new month designated.
THE TORAH ANTHOLOGY
(Compiled and written in the early 16th Century)
by: RABBI YAAKOV CULI
PAGES 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44
"Also in the days of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpet over your burnt offerings…" (Numbers 10:10), so God commanded.
Israel knew and Judah knows how to declare the beginnings of your months as God requires them to declare. He gave them the authority to declare their months.
The information and calendar history of Israel and Judah is overt and readily available. The practices and procedures in place at the time of Christ reveal calculation and observation were utilized simultaneously.
Let us not be fooled or misled by those who are ignorant of history. There is no truth in the statement - the Sadducees used observation of the new moon and the Pharisees used calculation of the new moon. Such a statement is naïve and lacks historical integrity. Anyone who teaches this idea is disingenuous.
Often a new month was declared without viewing a new moon.
Today God’s months are declared by way of a fixed calendar, without the actual viewing a new moon crescent being applied. Doing this is not against the Law of God. There is no Law found in the Scriptures, which requires that the new moon crescent must be observed. God allowed Israel and Judah to use their God-given logic to determine how to declare the beginnings of their months, and how to keep God’s months in their seasons.
What advantage do the Jews have?
What advantage do the Jews have, asked Paul (Romans 3:1).
Was there any advantage? Is there any advantage?
As Paul answered that question to a predominantly gentile congregation in Rome, did his answer only have meaning or relevancy to the Jews or Gentiles of his day?
Did Paul's statement, his answer, become obsolete after the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD?
Would Paul's statement have relevancy in 358 AD or in the 21st Century?
Does it have any significance or relevancy to the Church of God today?
These Jews of which Paul spoke, is the House of Judah (the Children of Judah with the tribes of Simeon, Levi and Benjamin) that came out of Babylon (aka the Babylonian Captivity, the Babylonian Exile - circa 586 - 516 BC), only to repatriate in Jerusalem under Nehemiah and Ezra. God had foretold the House of Judah, through the prophet Jeremiah that He would allow them to come back to Jerusalem after their seventy years of captivity were complete.
These Jews, of which Paul spoke, survived the desecration by the forces of Antiochus IV and the Seleucid Empire, only to become a recognizable, prosperous and established nation, a protectorate under the Roman Empire. These Jews of which Paul spoke, have a rich history of persecution and survival.
God chose the tribe of Judah instead of either the tribe of Ephraim or the tabernacle of Joseph (Psalm 78:67-68).
Paul wrote that unto them (the Jews) were committed the oracles of God (Romans 3:2).
Jesus Christ said, we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22).
Stephen, in his testimony before the Sanhedrin stated that Israel (Judah included) was the assembly in the wilderness and unto them were given the lively oracles (Acts 7:38).
Do these Scripture verses have any relevancy today as related to the Jewish calendar and the keeping of God’s Holy Days?
Certainly, the answer is yes when it comes to the Sabbath day.
When it comes to the correct cycle of seven days and the sanctified day, the Jews have preserved God’s Holy Sabbath Day – known today as Saturday.
What about God’s Holy Days?
When it comes to the months (lunar cycle (29-days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, 3-1/2 seconds)); when it comes to the seasons (the signs evident throughout the annual solar cycle) which God ordained and sustains; when it comes to all the necessary required elements of the “sacred” calendar; when it comes to God’s Holy Feast Days, the answer is yes. The Jews have preserved God’s Holy Days; as the Jews have an advantage.
Yet, some may question, why should we lend any credibility to the Jews? Some look at the history of the Jews and conclude that nothing good can come from them. Those who think such are ignorant of the Scriptures and ignorant of history.
A thorough review of the Word of God will reveal the love God has for the House of Judah and the longsuffering that prevails. The Scriptures reveal the promises given to all the Children of Jacob, including the House of Judah. The Scriptures reveal the prophetic blessings ahead for Judah and Israel. The Scriptures reveal the purpose of Judah’s existence.
As the nation of Israel was taken captive by Shalmanesser, King of Assyria circa 722 BC, it was written that the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them out of His sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only. Also Judah kept not the commandments of the Lord their God… 2 Kings 17:18-19.
The history of Israel and Judah reveals that both nations were taken captive; both nations were punished as a result of their disobedience toward God. Israel never returned to prominence; these ten tribes were sifted through the nations. The ten (northern) tribes of Israel lost their identity.
The House of Judah on the other hand went into captivity in Babylon, as their punishment. They were allowed to come back to their homeland, Jerusalem, some 70 years later (Jeremiah 29:10), to continue as a nation, as God’s chosen people. Their history and prominence has continued.
Even though both nations, the southern tribes of Israel (Judah, Benjamin, Simeon and Levi) and the northern tribes (composing the eventual lost ten tribes of Israel) were punished and went into captivity as a result of their apostasy and disobedience, God’s promise was, the tribe of Judah would never lose its heritage. None is left but the tribe of Judah only!
The Jews have always been known for who they are. And today they know who they are. The nations today know the history of the House of Judah (the Jews), called the nation of Israel, today.
The Jews are known today, they stick out in world history and their heritage is obvious.
What advantage do the Jews have? They have been established as God’s chosen for specific purposes. The Jews have retained their heritage rights. Paul delineated the difference between the Church of God (the elect) and the Jews (God’s chosen). Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the Church of God (1 Corinthians 10:32).
The Church of God is the remnant according to the election of grace (Roman 11:5) and the Jews with Israel are not cast away (Romans 11:1). Although they for now have been blinded to the gospel of salvation and blinded in their own (self) righteousness (of works) they will be grafted back into the natural tree (of salvation and eternal life) and shall be saved. That promise is yet ahead. (Review Romans 9 - 11.)
When Christ returns, after having gathered His saints to Himself in the first resurrection, He will come to save the tent of Judah first (Zechariah 12:7).
The promise of God (as ordained since the days of Jacob (cf. Genesis 49), as found in the Law and the writings), for Judah (the Jews) is that the oracles will not depart from them. And they have not. What they preserve physically (the Sabbath and God’s Holy Days) is understood and kept by God’s elect, the Church of God. We have the Jews to thank for preserving the Holy days for us today.
Today in the nation called Israel and from Jerusalem, the new moon crescent can be viewed at the beginning of each month.
As performed prior to 358 AD, witnesses observed (when possible or necessary) the new moon crescent, in order to aid in the declaration of a month. The observation verified the calculations, already known.
Today the new moon crescent can be observed in Jerusalem. If today, the practice was to observe the new moon crescent, calculations would still determine when that new moon crescent would be observed in its proper time or the next night after its proper time. The calculations would allow us to know when it would not or could not be observed.
Today, the day and time of a new moon is known in advance, when it will occur. Just as it was done in the days of the Sanhedrin, the day and time of each new moon crescent is known in advance.
However, today, observation is not officially practiced. For one reason, the Scriptures do not require observation, and for another, the Temple and the Sanhedrin are not functioning today. Consequently, there is no place for witnesses to go (i.e. The Temple) in order to testify before a legal body.
Today, each new month is officially determined (declared), in advance, and the Jewish calendar is the instrument, which declares in advance the beginning (commencement) of each month and consequently, declares God’s Holy days, in their proper order, on the correct day and at the right time each year.
The preservation of the sacred Biblical calendar, the Jewish/Hebrew calendar, is one of the oracles God gave to the Jews.
Today, just as it was prior to 358 AD, it is known, in advance, that on certain months the new moon crescent will be seen in its proper time (the night of the 30th day) and in other months of that same year the new moon crescent will be seen the next night after, in its proper time (the night of the 31st day).
The new moon for each month, as declared by the Jewish calendar then, and today, is in synch with the reality of actual lunar activity, as ordained and sustained by God. Today, just like then, the ordained vicissitudes of lunar cycles requires adjustments to be made over the course of years in order to keep the months in proper order over the course of years. When adjustments are made, the result is a calendar that is more accurate to the lunar cycles over the course of many years, then if one were to ignore the required adjustments. Keeping the months in proper order will ensure the Feasts are kept on time, on the right days over the course of many years.
The court of the calendar of the Sanhedrin (as a central headquarters) was entrusted to keep track of lunar activity, of God’s calendar and of the official declaration of the new months and Feast Days for all of Judah.
If the court of the calendar of the Sanhedrin were fully functioning today, it would declare the first day of each month, today, just as it did, then; by using observation (when appropriate) in order to verify the calculations.
Likewise, today the postponement rules and rules of intercalation and the molad recognition would be employed just as they were back then; all factors put together in order to regulate the months and Holy Days.
And guess what? The first day of each month today would be declared on the same day, it would be in synch with, the days the fixed Jewish/Hebrew calendar today declares the first day of each month to be.
Calculations and the consistent predetermined number of days as counted between the first day of the first month and the first day of the seventh month (177 days or 6 months of complete lunar cycles) would still be (and are) the same as they were then, as the Jewish calendar declares them to be today.
God’s Feast Days, His new moons and new months are His. He gave the authority to Israel and Judah, giving His people the responsibility to keep His Feast Days, His new moons and new months in their proper order.
As a result of its apostasy and disobedience, Israel lost its identity and its responsibilities. The scattered 10 tribes of Israel have lost their awareness and identifying mark of the Sabbath and the Holy Days and the calendar, which regulates the keeping of God’s Holy Days.
Today the sifted House of Israel, the lost ten tribes of Israel serve and obey the Western, Roman (Holy Roman Catholic Church) calendar and keep the holidays of the Roman Catholic Church.
Judah however retained its heritage and identity, as God allowed that they would and should. The House of Judah is the lawgiver, to whom God’s oracles have been given.
The House of Judah today still has the responsibility to declare the months and Holy Days. This responsibility they have maintained.
Consider Psalm 60:7 and Psalm 108:8...Judah is my lawgiver said David.
The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come and unto him shall the gathering of all people be (Genesis 49:10).
These promises (the blessing rights) have been given to Judah and Judah will maintain them until Jesus Christ return to the earth to set up the Millennial Kingdom.
Read Psalm 78:68...” but chose the tribe of Judah"...and 2 Chronicles 33:7...” In Jerusalem will I put my name forever.... See also 1 Kings 8:29; 11:13, 36 and Daniel 9:19.
In Malachi 4:4, we read that the law of God was given to Moses who in turn gave it to Israel (of which Judah is only one tribe). How then is Judah considered a lawgiver?
To the Jews were given the oracles of God. Included in these oracles are the necessary rules, principles and laws, which authorize a calendar, God’s calendar, a calendar that properly determines the days and dates of God’s annual Holy Days.
Oracle, by the way is the English word translated from the Greek logion (Strong’s 3051). Logion means utterances, sayings, pronouncements, oracles, reasoning, thoughts.
The ICG teaches that the 1st Century Church of God, Paul, the Apostles, the brethren in the faith back then, all kept the same Holy Days as did the Jews. The Scriptures teach us this fact; history confirms. (The one exception today is the Day of Pentecost. A separate study will explain why this is.)
Notice the following historical accounts. This information is just some of the much available. Notice why the “fixed” calendar was necessary and how it is logically necessary for the Church of God today to utilize the Jewish/Hebrew calendar. None others will work.
“In the days of the Temple the calendar used to be announced by the Sanhedrin. Later it was announced by the Patriarchs and the Beth Din. The people did not have access to the chronometric tables by which they could calculate the seasons and dates. They were guided by these official announcements, which the Patriarchs would transmit through emissaries dispatched through every part of the Diaspora. There were however a considerable number of Christians who also waited for the Patriarchs calendrical information. For a great many Christians still observed the holidays common to Judaism and Christianity, especially Passover, at the same time as the Jews, just as many of them observed the Jewish Sabbath rather than the Christian Sunday. This dependence on Judaism irked some Christian clergy and about the middle of the fourth century they prevailed upon the Roman government to forbid the Patriarchs to send emissaries with such information. To avoid having Jewish life sink into chaos the Patriarchs of the day made public the rules governing the Jewish calendar. From then on any mathematically minded man in every Diaspora community could and did arrange the years, months and holidays according to fixed formula. The Family Hillel long continued as Patriarchs to rule over the Jewish people; generation after generation until 425. In 429 the Roman government announced the abolishment of the office (the Patriarch).”
A History of the Jews
By: Solomon Grayzel
“Because of the serious condition of the community of Erez Israel and the deterioration of the Galilean center, Hillel II agreed in principle to limit the authority of the nasi and his functions in connection with the proclamation of the new moon, the fixing of the festivals, and the intercalation of the year. He thereupon published Sod ha Ibbur (“the Secret of Intercalation”) and Kevi’uta de-Yarha (“the Fixing of the New Moon”). According to a tradition mentioned by Hai Gaon and quoted in the Sefer ha-Ibbur of Abraham bar Hiyya, this took place in 358 CE. Important too, is the testimony of Nahmanides in the Sefe ha-Zakkut: “from the time of Hillel II, the Sanhedrin in Erez Israel ceased and it ceased to have experts and it was (Hillel) who regulated the order of intercalation, reckoned the years, and fixed the months for generations to come.”
“In the fourth century however, when oppression and persecution threatened the continued existence of the Sanhedrin, the patriarch Hillel II took an extraordinary step to preserve the unity of Israel. In order to prevent the Jews scattered all over the surface of the earth from celebrating the New Moons, the festivals and holy days at different times, he made public the system of calendar…”
THE COMPREHENSIVE HEBREW CALENDAR
by: ARTHUR SPIER
“In the end, Hillel II decided it was impossible to continue in this way [with uncertainty placed on the Jews by the Romans] and a session of the Sanhedrin decided to draw up binding regulations to fix the dates of the festivals, to give them legal sanction and to publicize them in the Diaspora.”
THE ESSENTIAL TALMUD
“In the course of time less and less attention was paid to the evidence of observers and various devices of computation were increasingly resorted to, though the Patriarch and his council still continued to fix the time of the new moon in the traditional way. This constituted, in fact one of the strongest elements of cohesion amongst the Jews of the Dispersion and, as a special prerogative of Palestine, it was most jealously guarded... At first the beginning of the month was announced to the various communities by fire-signals, but as the Samaritans and Boethusaeans would sometimes deceive the watchers by false signs, the tidings were afterwards conveyed by special messengers (Rosh Hashanah ii. 2). Political occurrences and the constantly increasing despotism of Rome simply forced the Jews to devise a means of determining the times of the new moons and feasts independently of eye-witnesses.”
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION &
BY: JAMES HASTINGS
VOLUME IV 1928
Interesting! One reason the fixed Jewish calendar came into being was to unify all (peoples across the Diaspora – and eventually across the world) in observing God’s Holy Days, at the right time of the year and on the same days. God is not the author of confusion. He established His Holy Days and the House of Judah today still preserves the same dates of God’s Holy Days.
The Samaritans attempted to foil the calendar of the Jews. By setting false signal fires, their purpose was to confuse those who strove to remain faithful to the beginnings of the months and to God’s Holy Days. But the Samaritans did not succeed.
The history of the Karaites inform us that they attempted to devise a calendar separate from the Jewish/Hebrew calendar common to Judaism. They failed; their problems were admitted. They were unsuccessful in their attempts to devise a “better” calendar. The Karaites could not succeed and as a sect of Judaism their numbers are trite.
Like the Samaritans, Essenes, Sadducees before them, the Karaites were a sect that eventually diminished in stature, with no scriptural prominence.
The following is a general summary of the Karaites.
“Down to the rise of the Karaites in the eighth century and their revolt against the Talmud there was nothing that deserves the name of schism, and that movement, after a period of vigorous and often violent controversy lasting some four centuries, gradually subsided into an innocuous sect.”
The Jewish calendar as authorized by Hillel II was challenged, but stood the test of time. It is nothing new for the Jewish/Hebrew calendar to be challenged in this day and age. Yet all attempts fail. The Jewish calendar still prevails, as it is the calendar God allows to continue, in order to ensure the correct keeping of His Holy Days.
The Book of Esther chronicled events that preserved Judah from complete destruction. Although God’s name was not once mentioned, it is clear His hand was in the lives of Hadassah (Esther), Mordecai and Ahasuerus (Xerxes I). God preserved His chosen people and by so doing, preserved the Sabbath and the Holy Days.
The events surrounding the Jewish celebration called Hanukkah (Feast of Dedication) were recorded in the Book of I Maccabees. The Jews reclaimed the Temple from the desecrations laid to it by Antiochus IV (circa 168 BC). This victory was only made possible because the hand of God was with His people. The miracle of the oil stands as a witness of God’s involvement with His people, the Jews. This celebrated national holiday was observed by Jesus Christ (cf. John 10:22).
These two events provide evidence of God’s hand in the history of the House of Judah. Certainly, in the 20th Century, God’s hand was once again in the history of Judah as was witnessed in 1948 and again in 1967. God preserved His people, even though Hitler and the Arab nations thought to destroy them.
How hard is it then to acknowledge the reality that back in 358 AD, God’s hand was with Hillel II in order to preserve the calendar God gave to His people, allowing the preservation of the proper keeping of His Holy Days for generations to come and especially for the end-time Church of God?
The Jews have been given oracles which they have maintained. Although the Jews have gone about seeking their own righteousness, none the less, the laws, principles and practices of the “sacred” scriptural calendar (a necessary oracle) which God gave to Israel and Judah are all firmly set in the Jewish calendar, which preserves God’s Holy Days today.
Just as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Century Church of God kept the same Holy Days as did the Jews, so the elect, the “called out ones” of God today in the 21st Century, keep those same days. The days have been preserved physically by Judah. The Church of God understands them spiritually,
Why is Intercalation Necessary?
A solar year (as represented by a typical Gregorian calendar) has 12 months. The year always begins on January 1st and ends on December 31st. Each month consists of either 30 or 31 days, except for February which has only 28 days, with the exception of a leap year, when February has 29 days. A solar year has either 365 days or 366 complete days.
A lunar year has 12 months of 29-1/2 days (actually 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, 3-1/2 seconds). In total there are 354 (plus 8 hours, 48 minutes, 42 seconds) days in a normal lunar year (a normal lunar cycle). Consequently, the lunar year falls some 11 days short of a solar year. As a result, an extra month has to be added to the lunar year from time to time in order to keep the lunar months in synch with the seasons and harvesting activities (solar year) on earth, to ensure that God’s Holy Days are kept in their proper seasons.
When an extra month is added to a lunar year, that particular lunar year will actually consist of 13 months.
Intercalation is the adding of a thirteenth month to a lunar year; seven specific years out of every cycle of 19 years. Intercalation is necessary; allowing us to observe the month of Abib in its proper season, at the right time each year, every year. In so doing we will keep the Passover and the Spring Feasts properly, during the correct season and at the right time each year.
When the first month occurs at the right time of year, the seventh month will occur at the right time of the year as well. Consequently, because of intercalation, all of God’s Holy Days will be kept in their proper seasons and in proper order, at the right time each year, every year.
Within each solar year, are four seasons, marked by four solar reference points, four signs as established by God (the spring and autumnal equinox and the summer and winter solstice). These four signs are known by mankind and need not be defined by the Scriptures.
Once again, we realize that the Bible reveals to mankind the things that mankind could not logically come to understand for itself. Various societies, the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, the Mayan Indians, the Druids, the Britons, and the Chinese for example, were well aware of the winter solstice and the vernal equinox.
The science of Astronomy is in reality, the study and meticulous cataloguing of celestial activity, celestial bodily motions, cycles, and ordained patterns, all of which are sustained by God. Astronomy provides the awareness of signs and seasons, and yearly celestial patterns.
Pertaining to any calendar, all are dependant in some way on the movement of celestial bodies. With regard to a calendar which will declare God’s Holy Days, ensuring they occur in their seasons, that calendar must focus not only on the celestial activity, specifically lunar cycles, but also on the agricultural seasons (as regulated by the sun).
Consequently, a calendar that can maintain the months (lunar related) so they align with the agricultural (harvest) seasons (solar related) is critical for use, in order to declare God’s Holy Days.
The Jewish calendar satisfies all requirements.
The Jewish calendar is a mastery of balance and keeps in proper order, the Feasts of God.
The Jewish (Hebrew) calendar is normally 354 days in length (according to lunar activity). It can be 353, 354, 355, 383, 384 or 385 days in length, depending on the alignment of the months within the solar year with respect to the agricultural seasons.
According to the Jewish calendar, a normal year, called a non-intercalated year, consists of 12 lunar months. An intercalated year consists of 13 lunar months, for an extra lunar month is added. Why does the Jewish calendar add a 13th month to the end of certain years (seven specific years out of every 19-year cycle)?
The Metonic cycle
The Metonic cycle is the name man gave to an already established lunar pattern, ordained and sustained by God. Every 19 years (with the awareness of two hours short every 235 months) the moon returns to an alignment with the sun and the earth, (relatively defined in astronomical terms) where it was 19 years prior. The moon’s phases, characteristics (appearance) and positioning in the heavens, even the place of setting on the western horizon, will occur on the same day in any given calendar (solar) year, as it did 19 years prior, or will again 19 years later.
Every 19 years – a complete cycle – the moon is in its original starting point – minus a 2 hour drift – which will be adjusted for every 228 years.
It is believed that the recognition and understanding of this 19 year time cycle (the Metonic cycle) came about in the year 432 BC by a Greek Astronomer Mathematician, Meton. Meton noticed God’s ordained and sustained lunar pattern and over time catalogued this pattern into mathematical principles. There was no sin in doing so.
Did Judah take this scientific pattern and implement it into its calendar requirements back at that time or any time between 432 BC and 358 AD?
On the other hand, historical evidence indicates that the Jews knew of the “Metonic cycle” even before Meton took notice. Is it possible Meton learned this cycle from the Jews?
“We have lately learned from the discovery of a number of Aramaic papyri at Syene that there was a colony of Jews there who used a calendar constructed not from observation, but from calculation based upon a very exact luni-solar cycle (E.B. Knobel, “Ancient Jewish Calendar Dates in Aramaic Papyri,” Monthly Notice of the Royal Astronomical Society, LXVIII, 334). This cycle, known to us by the name of the supposed discoverer, Meton, is one of 19 years, which is only two hours short of 235 complete months. As this Jewish colony appears to have been founded after Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of Jerusalem by some of the refuges who fled into Egypt with Johanan the son of Kareah (Jer 40-44), this acquaintance with the Metonic cycle cannot have been due to the Babylonian influence. Nor can it be due to Egyp[tain], since the Egyptians did not use or require any such cycle, their year being a solar one of 365 days. Indeed no other nation appears to have been aware of it until, a generation later, Meton the Athenian, won immortal fame announcing it. The evidence of these Syene papyri renders it probable that Meton did not himself discover the cycle but learned it from Jewish sources. Many of the Sem[etic] nations used, like the Jews, a natural month in conjunction with the natural year, but the Jews were most likely to have discovered this cycle, since they alone had their worship centralized at a single shrine which became, in consequence, their standard observatory for their observation of the new moon. These observations, therefore, would all be comparable and during the 400 years that the Temple stood, it must have been quite clear to them that the 19 year cycle not only gave them seven, the sacred number, of intercalated months, but brought the setting places of the new moon to the same point of the western horizon and in the same order.”
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Volume One, Page 305
Regarding mathematical formulas and calculations, lunar and solar cycles, consider this commentary (just one of much of the same available to us):
“It is not possible at present to decide as to whether the Jews had learnt of this cycle and its significance from their astronomical observations. If so, they must have been far in advance in mathematical science of all other nations of antiquity. If not, then it must have been given to them by divine revelation, and its astronomical significance has been left for modern science to reveal.”
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Volume One, Page 306
It is understood that in 358 AD, Hillel II took the already known principles of calculations and intercalations and postponements and made them available to the Diaspora. He did not, nor did the Jews create something out of nothing.
“Because of the serious condition of the community of Erez Israel and the deterioration of the Galilean center, Hillel II agreed in principle to limit the authority of the nasi and his functions in connection with the proclamation of the new moon, the fixing of the festivals, and the intercalation of the year. He thereupon published Sod ha Ibbur ("the Secret of Intercalation") and Kevi’uta de-Yarha ("the Fixing of the New Moon").”
All the exact, detailed elements unique to regulating a calendar which ensures the proper and lawful observance of God’s Holy Days are not found in the Scriptures. God saw no need to speak verbatim, to spell it out that way.
God allowed that his people would be (and they were and are) educated enough and logical enough to keep His Holy Days in their proper seasons. God, through Moses and the generations of Israel and now the Jews, has provided a proper and accurate means of keeping His Holy Days in order. The Jewish/Hebrew calendar is the tool that has preserved God’s instructions for keeping His Holy Days correctly.
God provided the dates and principles (laws), the requirements relevant to each Holy Day. The details and the processes necessary for calendar regulations, were arranged and kept in order by His chosen, the House of Judah.
Regarding the correct observance of the Passover, always occurring in the spring season, in Abib, it was necessary and logical to have established a pattern of intercalating a 13th month in 7 specific years out of every 19 years. The patterns, as ordained by God, are logical and predictable.
Interestingly enough, seven is the required number of years in every 19 that demands the intercalation of a month to take place. This sacred number is another witness of the pattern God ordained and sustains. The number seven, as assigned and defined by God represents completion. Every 19 years there is a completion of lunations.
The moon and the sun travel through predictable patterns. The moon traveling in its ordained orbit completes a cycle of activity every 19 years. The Metonic cycle, which God ordained and sustains, has been formulized and the Jewish calendar utilizes it and with reason.
“Instead of inserting the extra or intercalary month whenever the circumstances seemed to make it necessary, the Jewish calendar has had a definite rule concerning this ever since the year 358 AD The months are alternately 29 and 30 days in length, and extra months are inserted at the end of the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th and 19th years of a 19 year cycle. The year can be 353, 354, 355, 383, 384 and 385 days in length. This is obviously not a good calendar for commercial purposes, but it is a good example of the luni-solar calendar. In the long run this calendar stays in step with the seasons very nicely, since the average length of the year is only about two minutes wrong.”
PUBLISHED BY THE ADLER PLANETARIUM
“According to the ancient calculations, the exact time between one new moon and the next is 29 days, 12 hours, and 793 chalakim "parts of an hour" (the hour is divided into 1080 parts). In other words, one lunar month has 29.53059 days. It is interesting to note that according to NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), the time between one new moon and the next is 29.530588 days. Of course, NASA has at its disposal the most advanced and sophisticated telescopes and computers. Nevertheless, the difference between NASA's figure and that used by Hillel II, which originated more than 3000 years ago, is .000002, or 2 millionths of a day, calculated for the period of one month."
THE ESSENCE OF THE HOLY DAYS
BY: AVRAHAM YAAKOV FINKEL
The Jewish calendar is not the creation of deceptive Rabbinical Jews who were opposed to the Laws of God. To the contrary, the Jewish calendar maintains a delicate balance between observable and predictable lunar, solar, and agricultural activity, all of which were created, ordained, and sustained by God. The Jewish calendar, as it developed, was guided by God.
In addition to keeping the months in their proper order, occurring in the proper seasons, the Jewish calendar maintains God’s laws specific to the proper keeping of the 1st day of the 1st month.
When should the 1st day
of the 1st month (Abib) occur?
A more important question to ask is, according to the Scriptures, should the 1st day of the 1st month (the month called Abib or Nisan) be considered the first day of spring, or is the vernal equinox, generally March 20th, the first day of spring?
Can the 1st day of spring occur in the 12th month or the 13th month of the old lunar year?
According to the Scriptures, the 1st day of the 1st month, the beginning of months; the first month of the year (Exodus 12:2) is a “new year’s day” as relating to the annual sequence of Holy Days, as relating to the harvesting months.
Should the first day of the first month commence on the first new moon after the vernal equinox or can the first day of the first month begin on the new moon just prior to the vernal equinox?
According to the Scriptures, can the 15th day of the first month (the First Day of the Days of Unleavened Bread) occur before the vernal equinox or must it occur after the vernal equinox?
Does the vernal equinox have anything to do with God’s Feast Days or a sacred calendar? Do the Scriptures mention anything about the vernal equinox?
Do the Scriptures give us any answer?
Sad to say, but once again from the Scriptures, by reading the Bible, we will never know definitively and specifically, the answers to any of these questions above.
Rather it is from the history of Israel and Judah where we will find the answers to the just mentioned questions.
We need to read the history of Israel’s and Judah’s calendar practices in order to know what is acceptable to God; that is what He allowed and allows and why.
Does the vernal equinox have anything to do with determining the first day of Abib or intercalation practices?
What about the time of the spring barley harvest or the wave sheaf offering as set forth in the Middle East and specifically, in Jerusalem? What about the time of green ears?
Do these have anything to do with calculating or determining when the 1st day of the first month should begin and when a year is to be intercalated?
Let us once again notice Deuteronomy 16:1 in which God commanded Israel: Observe the month of Abib and keep the Passover unto the Lord thy God: for in the month of Abib the Lord thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night."
Notice also Exodus 23:15 and 34:18 regarding the necessity of the month of Abib being kept properly; in its season, in its appointed time.
"Observe the month of Abib;" specifically to keep the Passover and (as understood) the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the month of Abib, in its proper time.
How was Israel to observe the month of Abib in order to keep the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread?
How are we to observe the month of Abib?
When, during the year, is the month of Abib?
In this day and age, we are accustomed to the Gregorian calendar. There is no month called Abib on that calendar. How then do you know when Abib is?
Consider for example, you live in Alaska, and as of yet you know nothing of the Jewish calendar, nor do you have a telephone, the internet or television. Yet you know that God requires you to keep the spring Feast Days and in particular, the 15th day of the month of Abib. The Scriptures command that you keep the Feast Days in their seasons, in their appointed times. You therefore have to make a decision in order to keep the Feast Days as God commands.
Now how would you know to correctly answer the question, just when is Abib?
When is the first day of the first month? Where would you look? What would be your source of information to help you to know when the first month is? Would you look at the sun? Would you look for the spring harvest and the green ears? How would you know? Would any activity in Alaska help you?
What if you lived in Australia, where the seasons are reversed from those of the Northern Hemisphere (in which Jerusalem is situated), and you knew nothing of the Jewish calendar?
Can you see how confusing it could get, if God left it up to anyone, where ever they might live, up to their own devices, to come up with a calendar?
God did not leave it up to just anyone (be anyone a simple shepherd boy out on his own or some church or assembly organization) to create their own calendar.
He gave the oracles unto the Jews. It was for Israel and the Jews to understand, for they were taught directly by God, that they were to keep the Holy Days ...in their seasons (Leviticus 23:4). The word season is translated from the Hebrew mowed or mowadah, which means appointed times.
Notice Exodus 13:4-10 (KJV). Verse 10 particularly states Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season (mowed) from year to year. When we read these verses, we are keenly aware that the month of Abib is critical to observe (preserve, keep, to guard, to watch for in order to ensure it fall at the right time of year) in its proper season each year.
"In his season.” What did this mean to Israel? What does this mean for us?
We read in Exodus 12:2: This month shall be unto you the beginning of months, it shall be the first month of the year unto you.
We know this month is the month of Abib (Exodus 13:4; 23:15; 34:18; Deuteronomy 16:1).
But again, we ask; when during the year is Abib?
The Scriptures do not inform us when specifically Abib occurs – in the year.
But we know from Jewish history that the Passover is in the spring and Abib is in the spring.
Yet, the word “spring” as in meaning the season occurring after the vernal equinox (from March 20th through June 20th) is never used in the Scriptures. How then do we know when, specifically, in the springtime, we are to keep the Passover/Days of Unleavened Bread?
When in the springtime?
And when in the springtime should Abib (Hebrew: green ears) occur?
Right in the beginning or during the middle or at the end of, or sometime toward the 90th day of springtime.
How do we know?
Once again, we know when Abib properly occurs, not because the Scriptures provide the definition, rather because the House of Judah has preserved the proper keeping as it is in Jerusalem, as a result of intercalation, as ordained by God. God taught His people when to keep His Holy Days. God provided the necessary elements to keep the days in their proper order.
A point to consider - the Holy Days were not given to Israel when they lived in the United States. Israel did not exodus from Arizona and wander to Indiana. The Holy Days were not given to Israel as they sojourned in the wilderness of Missouri or Pennsylvania.
The Holy Days were given to Israel, while they thrived in the Middle East.
Israel and the Jews were commanded to observe green ears as they lived in the Middle East, as they flourished in Jerusalem. And these commands, they have maintained, even today.
Observe green ears – understanding what
Deuteronomy 16:1 really communicates to us.
Let us continue to understand Deuteronomy 16:1 as it pertains to the pivotal command for properly observing the Passover.
We can put to rest any notion that Deuteronomy 16:1 instructs us to look at or watch for a scimitar in the sky (in order to declare the new month). To teach such an idea is disingenuous, a corruption of the Word of God and deceitful to the listener or reader.
As we have learned the Hebrew word shahmar instructs that one is to be careful for, be on guard for, to be aware of, to hedge about, to keep, to observe, to guard, to focus or concentrate upon, to honor, to safeguard, to preserve.
Deuteronomy 16:1 does not command us to watch, view, look at or see (with the eyes) the new moon crescent. Shahmar does not mean to observe, as in look at with the eyes.
Rather Deuteronomy 16:1 informed Israel the following: Safeguard the month of green ears so that you will be able to keep the Passover to the Eternal since it was in the month of green ears that God your Mighty One brought you out of Egypt at night.
The commandment to safeguard or observe the month of green ears requires that the cycle of the lunar months be adjusted parallel to the seasons of the solar year. This necessary adjustment is accomplished by adding an extra month in some years, seven specific years.
Israel and the House of Judah had to intercalate a month in certain years. Deuteronomy 16:1 authorizes the Jewish calendar to utilize the practice of intercalation. How intercalation is precisely done, God left that decision up to the men, the nation to whom was given the responsibility to declare His Holy Days.
“An embolismic year is a year to which a (13) month has been added. Such an extra month is never any other month but an added Adar. Hence, the embolismic year has two months of Adar, a First Adar and a Second Adar. And why is just this month added? Because the season of the barley harvest - that is, in order that the Passover be celebrated in its season. For it is said: Heed the month of ripening ears (Deut. 16:1), which means, give heed that this month (of Nisan) fall in the season of the ripening ears. Without the addition of this month (of Adar), however, Passover would fall sometimes in summer and sometimes in the winter.
Intercalation of the year depended upon the following three criteria: the tekufah (or the vernal equinox), the barley harvest, and the blooming of the tree fruits. Namely, if the court had ascertained by calculation that the tekufah of Nisan would fall on the 16th day of Nisan, or later, it intercalated the year and declared the Nisan of this year to be the Second Adar, so that Passover might fall in the season of the barley harvest."
SANCTIFICATION OF THE NEW MOON
When the Sanhedrin (Court of the Calendar) recognized that the 16th day of Nisan (Abib) would occur before the vernal equinox (before March 20th), a 13th month would then be have to be added to the previous (old) year.
The previous (old) year would then have an extra 30 days – an extra month, added after the twelfth month (Adar). The extra or 13th month is called Adar Sheni (Adar II).
According to the Word of God, Nisan is the first month and Adar is the twelfth month (Esther 3:7). Consequently, the only time for a month to be added to the calendar, would be after the twelfth month, after Adar.
Nisan would be postponed or held back a full lunar cycle. The 16th of Nisan had to occur after the vernal equinox, after what we know today as March 20th.
An extra month would be added (intercalated) to the old year. Thirteen months of the old year would be completed before the new year would commence.
After the second Adar (the 13th month) concluded, then the first day of the beginning of months (Nisan or Abib) (Exodus 12:2) of the new year would commence.
This was done in order to make certain that the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread and the wave sheaf (first fruits) offering would commence when the harvest was ready, in its proper time, in the spring season and not before the vernal equinox (not in the winter season).
The vernal equinox was used as a gauge, but it was not the only gauge, nor was it the determining factor in order to begin the new year (the first day of the first month).
The Scriptures are clear: the time of the harvest, the time of green ears, was always given top consideration, because Abib or green ears had to be safeguarded, protected and kept in its proper season, in its appointed time, as the law (Deuteronomy 16:1) requires.
The Jews knew and know how to keep the Feasts in their seasons.
“The moon takes an average of twenty-nine and a half days to complete its cycle; twelve lunar months equal 354 days. A solar year is 365 1/4 days. There is a difference of eleven days per year. To ensure that the Jewish holidays always fall in the proper season, an extra month is added to the Hebrew calendar seven times out of every nineteen years. If this were not done, the fall harvest festival of Sukot, for instance, would sometimes be celebrated in the summer, or the spring holiday Pesach would sometimes occur in the winter.”
EVERY PERSON'S GUIDE TO JUDAISM
by: S.J. EINSTEIN & L. KUKOFF
“A special committee of the Sanhedrin, with its president as chairman had the mandate to regulate and balance the solar with the lunar years. This so-called Calendar Court (Sod Haibbur) calculated the beginnings of the seasons (Tekufoth) on the basis of astronomical figures, which had been handed down as a tradition of old. Whether after two or three years, the annual excess of 11 days had accumulated to approximately 30 days, a 13th month Adar II was inserted before Nisan to ensure that Nisan and the Passover would occur in the spring and not retrogress toward winter. However, the astronomical calculation was not the only basis for intercalation of a 13th month. The delay of the actual arrival of spring was another decisive factor. The Talmudic sources report that the council intercalated a year when the barley in the fields had not ripened, when the fruit on the trees had not grown properly, when the winter rains had not stopped, when the roads for Passover Pilgrims had not dried up and when the young pigeons had not become fledged. The Council on intercalation considered the astronomical facts together with the religious requirements for Passover and the natural conditions of the country.
This method of observation and intercalation was used throughout the period of the second Temple (516 BCE. - 70 CE.), and about three centuries after its destruction, as long as there was an independent Sanhedrin. In the fourth century however, when oppression and persecution threatened the continued existence of the Sanhedrin, the patriarch Hillel II took an extraordinary step to preserve the unity of Israel. In order to prevent the Jews scattered all over the surface of the earth from celebrating the New Moons, the festivals and holy days at different times, he made public the system of calendar calculation which up to then had been a closely guarded secret. It had been used in the past only to check the observations and testimonies of witnesses and to determine the beginning of spring.”
THE COMPREHENSIVE HEBREW CALENDAR
by: ARTHUR SPIER
Josephus, a Jewish historian, sheds additional historical light on the calendar when he explained that the 14th day of the first month (Exodus 12:6, Leviticus 23:5) (called the preparation day in the New Testament cf. Mark 15:42, Luke 23:54, John 19:31, 42) occurred when the sun was in Aries. Another way of saying this was, the 14th day of the first month, the day on which the Passover lamb was sacrificed, occurred no sooner than March 21st and no later than April 19th (as we understand today).
Interesting; here we realize that Judah had an understanding of the annual cycle of the sun traveling through the zodiac. They knew the patterns and could calculate them forward.
“In the month of Xanthicus, which is by us called Nisan, and is the beginning of our year, on the fourteenth day of the lunar month, when the sun is in Aries, (for in this month, it was that we were delivered from bondage under the Egyptians) the law ordained that we should every year slay that sacrifice...called Passover...”
ANTIQUITIES OF THE JEWS
CHAPTER X PARAGRAPH 5
Since the 14th day of the first month would occur when the sun was in Aries (which commences at the time of the vernal equinox), it was then possible that in some years the 1st day of the first month would actually begin before the vernal equinox. This fact is true even today.
Again, we never read in the Scriptures that God required or commands that the new moon day of Abib, the 1st day of the first month (also called Nisan – the first month of the year) must only occur after the vernal equinox.
Israel’s priority was to safeguard Abib (Shahmar Abib), making sure it occurred in its proper season, doing so in order to keep the Passover unto the Eternal thy God.
Deuteronomy 16:1 authorizes the Jewish calendar to employ the intercalation rules.
Abib became established, and still today, Abib (green ears) is safeguarded, protected, observed, kept safe, to occur at the right time, each year. Many factors when all put together ensures that Abib will occur at the right time each year.
The Metonic cycle; intercalations, an awareness of the sun’s travel through the zodiac, the ripening of the barley harvest; all these ordained and sustained patterns which God put into motion are utilized to ensure that the calendar of God’s people, keeps in order, the proper observance of the month of Abib, according to the Law of God.
The Jewish/Hebrew calendar, established and standardized, ensures that all who desire to observe God’s Holy Days in the first month are able to do so together and on the right days, at the right time of the year, according to God’s standards, according to God’s laws and commands.
The Necessity of the
The arguments are often emotional. A standard complaint voice by those who object to the Jewish calendar is the Jews do not keep the Biblical Holy Days because they employ postponement rules and the Bible speaks nothing of postponement rules or the need to postpone the first day of the seventh month.
Really! We shall now see.
No need to argue. The history of the Jewish calendar is open, hiding nothing, explaining why the postponements are necessary. Jewish calendar history reveals the practices and principles, the requirements of the calendar God’s people kept and maintained, since given to them back at the time of Moses.
Information about the postponement rules is readily available. A good source of information with a detailed explanation of the postponement rules is found in the book entitled: The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar written by Arthur Spier. This book, among others, provides a solid source of explanation and leaves no doubt; the Jews are well adept and faithful to the Laws of God in preserving His appointed times. The Jews are well aware of all the elements and mathematical formulas relating to God’s ordained and sustained celestial activity. The Jews, going back to Hillel and even before him, knew how to maintain God’s ordained and sustained celestial patterns.
Ancient Israel and the House of Judah knew how to calculate the appearance of the new moon. They knew how to calculate the month of Abib. And they knew how to calculate the first day of the seventh month to ensure that all the Holy Days in the seventh month will be properly observed.
We will now learn the Scriptural reasons why the Jewish/Hebrew calendar utilizes and must utilize the Postponement rules in order to ensure that God’s Holy Days are kept properly, at the right time each year. We will now thoroughly understand what the Scriptures teach!
Let us start by reviewing what we have learned so far regarding the phrase, first day of the seventh month.
As the Scriptures indicate: And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have a holy convocation, ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you. (Numbers 29:1 (KJV).
Leviticus 23:24 states: Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, you shall have a Sabbath …
Also notice Nehemiah 8:2: And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month.
Neither the Law or the Scriptures ever state, in the beginning of the seventh month or on the new moon (day) of the seventh month.
The Scriptures specifically state, on the first day of the seventh month, you shall have a holy convocation. The first day of the seventh month is the Feast of Trumpets, a Holy Day.
The Feast (or Day) of Trumpets is the first day of the seventh month; it is a new moon day, occurring in the beginning of the month.
The Feast of Trumpets is also known as Tishri 1 or Rosh Hashanah. The Feast of Trumpets acknowledges a new year, a new start, a new regal or monarchal year. We see prophetic implications in the Feast of Trumpets as we know that at Christ’s return a new Kingdom, a monarchy will commence.
Notice the significance of the Feast of Trumpets, a Holy Day.
The Feast of Trumpets is the fourth of God's seven annual Holy Days. It is the middle Holy Day. The first day of the seventh month is a unique day; it is a benchmark day, a day in the balance, both by number and by prophetic significance and understanding.
Again, by reading the Scriptures and with regard to the new moon or the actual beginning of each month, we only read the command: “in the beginnings of your months.”
Israel and now Judah, was given the responsibility, directly from God, to declare the beginning of each month, of “your months” (Numbers 28:11).
Latitude was given to Israel and Judah, allowing them to declare when the first day of each month would begin. Having been given the authority by God through His Laws, to make the decision, they establish when the first day of each month will commence. And not only the first day of each month, they specifically make the decision with regard to when the first day of the seventh month will occur.
The Jewish/Hebrew calendar, as maintained by the House of Judah today, declares when the 1st day of the 7th month will occur.
Let us now notice the activity that was required on the Feast of Trumpets.
By reading Numbers 29:1-6, we learn that three different offerings/sacrifices were performed on the Feast of Trumpets. Those three different offering/sacrifices were:
1) The actual Feast/Holy day offering/sacrifice specific to the Feast of Trumpets/Holy Day (cf. Numbers 29:1-5);
2) The beginnings of your months (new moon declaration) sacrifice/offering (for after all the Feast of Trumpet is the first day of the seventh month, a new moon day) (cf. Numbers 29:6 and compare with Number 10:10 & 28:11-14)
3) The daily morning and evening sacrifice/offering (cf. Numbers 29:6 and compare with Numbers 28:3-8 & Exodus 29:38).
In addition, if the Feast of Trumpets occurred on a Sabbath, then a fourth sacrifice/offering would be performed; that of the regular Sabbath day offering/sacrifice (cf. Numbers 28:9-10).
In some years, there would actually be four specific sacrifice/offerings performed in the Temple on the Feast of Trumpets.
As the Scriptures inform us, on this unique Holy Day, this middle Holy Day, this first day of the seventh month, the Feast of Trumpets, there was much activity, many Temple duties performed, and an elaborate trumpet ceremony, as well. Because of all this activity, it was necessary that the Temple workers and the priests knew in advance when the Feast of Trumpets would occur in order to prepare for and be prepared for that day.
Unlike the other six Holy Days, each which occurs on a day after the month has begun, the Feast of Trumpets occurs on the actual declared first day/new moon day of the month, the seventh month to be exact.
Consequently, ancient Israel had to know before the month actually began, when the seventh month would actually begin, in order to prepare for that first day.
Ironically, when it comes to the Feast of Trumpets, even non-Jewish calendar keepers have to know in advance when Trumpets should occur in order to put a date on their self-created calendar. Not so ironically, rather sad, there have been times when non-Jewish calendar keepers thought they had the right Feast of Trumpets day picked out; only to find they were wrong. As a result the leadership of an organization had to embarrassingly admit they kept the wrong day. How bad is that!
The Jewish calendar has never declared the wrong Feast of Trumpets. God said on the first day of the seventh month. The Jewish calendar ensures that you will know when the first day of the seventh month will occur, always – every year.
The Feast of Trumpets is a benchmark day, in the position to regulate all the Holy days in the seventh month.
Why does the First day of the Seventh month
occasionally occur on the day of the conjunction (molad)?
“every month must begin on a day close to the Molad [conjunction]”.... “Rosh Hashanah, the first day of Tishri, should be on the Molad, except for the so-called Dehioth [postponements], which take place in four specific cases”.... “In more than 60% of all years Rosh Hashanah does not occur on the molad but is postponed according to one of the Dehioth. Therefore the Dehioth are actually not the exceptions to the rule but the rule” ... “It is obviously not the intention of the calendar calculation to establish Rosh Hashanah and the beginnings of the months on the day of the conjunction. It would rather appear that the beginnings of the years and the months are adjusted to the days on which the Sanhedrin would have sanctified them on the basis of observation of the new crescent.”
THE COMPREHENSIVE JEWISH CALENDAR
BY: ARTHUR SPIER
By definition, postponement is the putting off until a later time. And so it is with the concept of the postponements and the Jewish calendar.
The first day of the seventh month, the Feast of Trumpets is from time to time put off until a later time. In certain years, the first day of the seventh month is put off, occurring a day or two later, a day or two after the day of the conjunction.
Just how are we to understand this statement? Is this putting off against the Scriptures?
In order to keep the days throughout each month of the year, accurate and in synch with actual (ordained and sustained) lunar patterns, it has been determined that the first day of the seventh month should begin on the day of the conjunction (the molad). This is a calculated, ordained and sustained starting point from which all lunar activity and monthly beginnings can be measured and ascertained.
It was not hard for Israel to know and calculate one conjunction to the next, consequently Israel and Judah would know in advance when the conjunction of any month, even the seventh month, would occur.
The conjunction by definition is a new moon; it commences a new lunar cycle. Consequently, the day on which a conjunction new moon occurs is technically a new moon day. Since the Bible, the Word of God does not object to this astronomical fact, no one can argue, since the scriptures are not being broken.
Therefore, if the first day of the seventh month occurs on the day of the conjunction new moon, it occurs on a new moon day.
If the first day of the seventh month occurs on the day of the conjunction, what Scripture or law of God is being broken? Look as hard as you can; you will find none! There is no scripture prohibiting the first day of the seventh month from occur on the day of the conjunction.
Once again, since there is no Scripture that informs us that a conjunction cannot be a new moon (day), no law of God is being broken if the conjunction is used as a sign to mark a new month, specifically, the seventh month.
However, the first day of the seventh month actually occurring on the day of the conjunction happens only as an exception rather than a rule. In more than 60% of all years (or in more than six years out of every ten years), the first day of the seventh month does not occur on the day of the conjunction, rather the Feast of Trumpets, the first day of the seventh month occurs on a day when the new moon crescent would be visible.
When the first day of the seventh month does not occur on the day of the conjunction, the first day of the seventh month will occur on a day (which begins with the night) when the new moon crescent would be viewed either in its proper time or on the next night after its proper time.
When the first day of the seventh month does not occur on the day of the conjunction, the first day of the seventh month is postponed to occur a day or two later.
In other words, the first day of the seventh month will actually commence (as calculated to occur by the use of actual lunar ordained and sustained activity) with a visible new moon crescent.
In more than 60% of the years, the first day of the seventh month will occur with a visible new moon crescent (either in its proper time or on the next night after its proper time).
To summarize: the first day of the seventh month can occur on the conjunction day or on the day when the first visible new moon crescent is seen, either in its proper time or the next night after its proper time.
Regardless of which of these three events occur, no law of God is being broken. All three possibilities qualify in fulfilling God’s command – in the beginning(s) of your month(s), specifically on the first day of the seventh month.
In a year when the first day of the seventh month does not occur on the day of the conjunction (molad), it is postponed. The first day of the seventh month is put off until later.
When the first day of the seventh month does not occur on a conjunction day, it is put off to occur a day or two later, occurring on a day when the visible new moon crescent will be seen on its night.
Are there reasons why the first day of the seventh month has to be postponed from time to time? Are there principles or laws of God, found in the Bible which requires that the first day of the seventh month has to be postponed?
The first day of the seventh month is carefully maintained to occur when it does, in order to ensure that all the Holy Days of the seventh month are properly observed "shahmar," as required by the Scriptures.
The first day of the seventh month (the Tishri 1) postponement rules resolve or takes care of four different problems simultaneously.
The first day of the seventh month (the Tishri 1) postponement rules:
1. ensures the commandment regarding the proper keeping of the Day of Atonement is obeyed;
2. ensures the commandment regarding the proper keeping of the Feast of Tabernacles/Last Great Day (the eighth day Feast pattern) is obeyed;
3. ensures that the calculated time of the conjunction, the calculated time of the sighting of the new moon crescent and the calculated time of the full moon for each month in the year is in synch with the lunar times and reality;
4. ensures that the Spring Holy Days are kept in their season and at the right time as relating to intercalation, while ensuring that the correct length (number of days) is maintained between the Spring and the Fall Holy Days; along with keeping the accurate time for the full moon occurrence on the 15th day of the first month.
All these elements could never be satisfied simultaneously if one uses a non-Jewish calendar. All these elements are requirements to be kept, as found in the scriptures.
All these elements are the “oracles” of calendar keeping; God has allowed the Jews to maintain.
Every non-Jewish/Hebrew calendar fails to keep the Scriptural requirements necessary for the proper observance of the Day of Atonement and the eight-day pattern.
Only the Jewish/Hebrew calendar faithfully ensures all these elements simultaneously.
Tishri 1, the first day of the seventh month, is a checkpoint, a benchmark day, which regulates all beginnings of your months throughout the year.
Tishri 1, the first day of the seventh month is the balance and control day ensuring that God’s people will properly keep the Day of Atonement, the preparation day and the eight-day pattern.
The Jewish calendar utilizes the postponement rules to ensure that God’s people will faithfully keep the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day.
The Postponement Rules and the Day of Atonement
The postponement rules ensure that the Day of Atonement does not occur on a Friday or Sunday.
Let us read the scriptural reasons why the Day of Atonement, a day, which requires absolutely no work at all (Leviticus 23:28, 30, 31) and fasting (Leviticus 23:27), must not fall on a Friday or a Sunday.
Why should the Day of Atonement not occur on a Friday?
First, let us understand - Why the Day of Atonement should not fall on the sixth day of the week or the day, we call Friday.
If the Day of Atonement were to fall on a Friday, then the “preparation day” for the Sabbath would not be properly observed. The Day of Atonement, falling on a Friday, would interfere with God’s ordained Sabbath preparation day.
The preparation day has been established by God for a reason, by way of law, by way of command, as a test. The sixth day of the week (the preparation day) and the seventh day of the week (the Sabbath Day) are two days that go together.
The sixth day is, of necessity, for the seventh day. The seventh day (the Sabbath) cannot be complete unless the sixth day is understood and utilized. One cannot be without the other (cf. Exodus 16:28-30).
The Sabbath is the day of rest, a Holy Day and the sixth day of the week is the day (required) to prepare for that rest and Holy Time.
Most important – in the scriptures, by command of God, no other day of the week is considered the preparation day. Only the sixth day of the week is the commanded preparation day.
Israel knew and Judah knows the significance of the weekly day of preparation for the Sabbath.
From the Scriptures we read that God commanded Israel to do no work (of any kind, at all) on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:27-28, 30-31; Leviticus 16:29; Numbers 29:7).
The Day of Atonement is specifically called a Sabbath of rest or a Sabbath of complete rest. In Hebrew the Day of Atonement is called a shabbath shabbathown (See Leviticus 16:31 and Leviticus 23:32).
Just like the Sabbath Day (Leviticus 23:3; Exodus 31:12 and Exodus 35:2), the Day of Atonement is called a shabbath shabbathown (a Sabbath of complete rest).
On the Day of Atonement, absolutely no work of any kind is to be performed.
Now read Leviticus 23:7,8,21,25,35,36 along with Numbers 28:18,25,26; 29:1,12,35 and notice the type of work (only) which God requires is not to be performed on these six of the seven commanded Holy Days. Notice the difference between these six Holy Days and the Day of Atonement.
On the First and Last Day of Unleavened Bread, on the Feast of First Fruits (Pentecost), on the Feast of Trumpets, on the First Day of the Feast of Tabernacles and on the Last Great Day (the eighth day), the command, which God gave to Israel, was that no servile or regular work is to be performed.
On these six Holy Days God requires that, we do not perform work, which is considered servile or laborious. Yet on these six Holy Days, some work can be performed.
On these six Holy Days, the work we can do is that which is required for the eating of a meal.
When reading the term no servile work, which is used for these six Holy Days, we must consider the instructions given in Exodus 12:16. From that Scripture we see that it is allowable to perform work, which is for the preparation and cooking of food for your Feast meal.
This same law or principle applies to First and Last Day of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of First Fruits (Pentecost), the Feast of Trumpets, the First Day of the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day (the eighth day).
Again, only on the Day of Atonement is the command given that no work at all, no manner of work, is to be performed.
Simply put, on the Day of Atonement you shall not do any work period (Numbers 29:7).
Consequently, we can understand that on the Day of Atonement you cannot cook a meal (naturally, because it is a fast day), nor can you even prepare a meal, even for the next day.
No work at all to be performed means, not even preparation work for Sabbath meals.
Absolutely no work is to be done on the Day of Atonement.
Considering the solemnity and affliction of the Day of Atonement and the deep spiritual and prophetic significance, you can understand why no work is to be performed; why God demands your complete and full attention on the Day of Atonement.
Now we know that Friday, the sixth day of the week, is a required day of preparation, on which God (as recorded in the Scriptures), commands us to prepare our Sabbath meals (Exodus 16:22-29).
The purpose in doing this is to ensure we honor and keep the Sabbath Holy (Exodus 20:8) and to make sure the Sabbath is observed as a delight and honorable (Isaiah 58:13).
Likewise the Sabbath day is a Feast day (Leviticus 23:2-3).
Engaging in a Feast (joyous, festive) meal is acceptable and proper on the Sabbath. Truly we are spiritually fed on the Sabbath, too!
On the Sabbath we are not to be burdened by meal preparation. Technically speaking God rested from His creative activity on the Sabbath. We too should, following His example, rest from creating meals on the Sabbath. Our meals are to be prepared and created on the sixth day for consumption on the Sabbath Day.
Preparing labor intense meals on the Sabbath Day is not keeping the Sabbath Holy. The preparation day, the sixth day of the week (the day we commonly call Friday) is the day to prepare for the Sabbath (for both meal and spiritual preparation).
If we were to accurately keep the Sabbath, we would begin to “close down” during the afternoon of Friday and begin to prepare for the Sabbath. We would prepare our meals for the Sabbath on Friday afternoon. And not just meal preparation, there are other activities, work which we could do on Friday, in order to prepare for the Sabbath.
Unfortunately, living in this world, in the 21st Century, causes us to struggle keeping the preparation day (Friday) properly, as the Scriptures inform us to do. That is our fault. Judah has been faithful in preserving the principle of the preparation day.
Exodus 16 sets the precedent regarding the preparation day. God gave Israel the preparation day for a reason and to break the preparation day is to disrespect the gift God gave, the command He requires.
Ancient Israel knew the Law of God forbade them to prepare a meal (to do any work) on the Day of Atonement. As the Scriptures state, absolutely no work at all is to be performed on the Day of Atonement. Said another way; you are forbidden by commandment of God to prepare a meal on the Day of Atonement. Easily said!
Since Friday is a preparation day (by Law), if the Day of Atonement occurs on a Friday, then you cannot keep the “preparation day” properly because you cannot prepare your meals for the Sabbath. You then are breaking the law of the preparation day.
Consequently, the Sabbath day (a day of delight and a Feast day) is not being kept properly, if you cannot prepare your Sabbath day meal on the day of preparation, on Friday.
Anyone who observes the Day of Atonement on a Friday is violating the preparation day principle/law of God.
Israel, Judah, the Priesthood, and the Sanhedrin knew this Law of God.
God allowed an adjustment, a postponement to Tishri 1 in order to prevent His people from breaking the law He gave pertaining to the preparation day. Israel was and the Jews are faithful to the law pertaining to the preparation day.
Any Church of God member who keeps the Holy Days (as declared by the Jewish/Hebrew calendar), has never observed the Day of Atonement on a Friday; nor will ever. God’s elect and called people will not keep the Day of Atonement on a Friday.
Now those who object to the Jewish calendar cry out; “but if you postpone the Feast of Trumpets then the Day of Atonement is not on the tenth day of the seventh month.”
When the first day of the seventh month, the Feast of Trumpets (always the new moon day of the seventh month) is postponed, the Day of Atonement is not violated. The Day of Atonement will still occur on the tenth day of the seventh month. The Day of Atonement is not somehow off.
The Feast of Trumpets will only and always fall on the first day of the seventh month; the date on which God requires this Holy Day to occur. Once the first day of the seventh month is established, then count nine days after that day and you will arrive at the tenth day of the seventh month the Day of Atonement. The Day of Atonement is always and only on the tenth day of the seventh month.
As a matter of fact, all the Holy Days of the seventh month are kept in order, observed on their proper day, as God requires. The Jewish/Hebrew calendar ensures this fact.
Adjusting Tishri 1, by postponing it, will ensure that the Day of Atonement does not fall on a Friday.
Now, why should the Day of Atonement not occur on the first day of the week, or as we called it, Sunday?
If the 10th day of the seventh month (Day of Atonement – cf. Leviticus 23:27; Leviticus 16:29-31; Numbers 29:7) occurs on a Sunday, then the 9th day of the seventh month would occur on a Saturday, which of course is the Sabbath.
The Sabbath day is a day of joy and delight (Isaiah 58:13). It is a Feast day (Leviticus 23:2-3).
As the Sabbath day is ending, in the evening twilight of the day, the Sabbath is still observed as a delight, as a joyful day, as a feast. (See our study Sunset to Sunset – What does that mean? for a comprehensive explanation of when the Sabbath ends.)
Now as the commandment states, the Day of Atonement is a day of affliction (a day on which you humble yourself, by fasting, not eating a meal – it is not a day of joy or delight) (Leviticus 23:27).
With this understood, next we read Leviticus 23:32 where God commands that we are to begin keeping the Day of Atonement as the 9th day of the seventh month is coming to an end.
We read you shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at evening.
The term at evening (ba erev) specifies the evening or ending of the 9th day.
If the 9th day of the seventh month is a Sabbath, then the Day of Atonement is beginning as (at the same time) the Sabbath is ending.
If the 9th day of the seventh month is a Sabbath, then neither that Sabbath (as it is ending, on the 9th day at even) nor the Day of Atonement (as it is beginning, on the 9th day at even) are being fully observed, as per the commandments regulating each day.
To understand this overlapping period (on the ninth day at even), once again read the studies, Sunset to Sunset – What does that mean? or the section in the Passover Study –When does the Day End, as Defined by the Law?
If the Day of Atonement occurs on a Sunday, then the Sabbath delight (as the Sabbath is ending – Saturday evening/night) is interrupted by the commencement of the affliction required for the Day of Atonement.
Additionally, if the Day of Atonement occurs on a Sunday, then the Day of Atonement (affliction) (as it is beginning – Saturday evening/night) is being interrupted by the delight to be had on the Sabbath day, as it is ending.
There is a conflict and confusion during this overlapping time, the 9th day at even.
The commanded requirements (as the Law of God reveals), giving meaning to each day, are at odds with each other. God is not the author of confusion.
Therefore, the Day of Atonement should not occur on the first day of the week, a Sunday.
Those who utilize the Jewish calendar know they never have nor ever will observe the Day of Atonement on a Sunday.
An adjustment (postponement) to Tishri 1 is necessary to ensure that the Day of Atonement is properly kept, in accordance with God’s Law, ensuring that the Day of Atonement does not fall on a Friday or a Sunday.
Now what about the Feast of Tabernacles, the Last Great Day and the Postponement principle?
The Postponement Rules allow for the proper
and lawful keeping of the Eight-day pattern.
The seven-day Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day occur in the seventh month, and combine to create an Eight-Day Feast. Read fully and carefully the following Scriptures: Leviticus 23:33-36 and 39-41; Numbers 29:12-35, and Nehemiah 8:14-18.
The Feast of Tabernacles is a “seven-day in duration” Feast, which begins on the 15th day of the seventh month and ends on the 21st day of the seventh month.
Like the Days of Unleavened Bread (a seven-day Feast, Exodus 12:15-18; Leviticus 23:6-8; Numbers 28:17-25, which begins on the 15th day of the first month, under a full moon, and ends on the 21st day of the first month), the Feast of Tabernacles is a seven-day Feast.
Unlike the Days of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Tabernacles has only one High or Holy Convocation Day.
Whereas the seven-day feast called the Days of Unleavened Bread has a Holy Day on the first day (15th day of the first month) and the seventh day (the 21st day of the first month), only the 15th day of the seventh month, the first day of the feast, is required to be a High, Holy Day during the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles.
The 15th day of the seventh month is the sixth of God’s seven annual Holy Days.
God commanded that only the 15th day of the seventh month, the first day of the seven-day in duration Feast of Tabernacles is to be observed as a day of holy convocation, on which no servile work is to be performed.
God commanded that during the Days of Unleavened Bread, both the first (the 15th day of the first month) and the last (the 21st day of the first month) days of this seven-day in duration Feast be High, Holy Convocation Days (again, refer to Exodus 12:15-18; Leviticus 23: 6-8, and Numbers 28: 17-25).
God did not command that the last day of the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles be kept as a High, Holy Convocation, day of assembly, on which no servile work is to be done.
The last or seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles, (the 21st day of the seventh month) is simply a normal day ending the seven-day in duration, Feast of Tabernacles.
Now, God commands the observance of one more High/Holy Day.
Called in the Scriptures, the eighth day (Leviticus 23:36, 39; Numbers 29:35; Nehemiah 8:18), this Holy Day is the last annual Holy Day (the seventh) of God’s seven annual Holy Days.
Leviticus 23:39 makes it clear; on the first day you shall have a Sabbath and on the eighth day you shall have a Sabbath.
The eighth day (commonly called the Last Great Day) is the 22nd day of the seventh month, and it is a Holy Day.
Now notice and understand; God did not command, His Law does not state … on the 22nd day of the seventh month you shall have a Holy convocation, a solemn assembly, offering a offering made by fire, a day on which you will do no servile work.
Rather God simply stated, “on the eighth day ….” (Leviticus 23:36 and 39; Numbers 29:35).
God informs us that the eighth day is associated with the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles. Yet, the eighth day is unique in that it is a separate day, a Holy Convocation, Holy Day.
The eighth day is observed, being connected to seven, yet it is a separate Holy Day, unto itself.
It is rather obvious that there is no name for this last Holy Day, as given in the Old Testament Scriptures. It is simply called the eighth day.
Yet, without the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles, we would not understand the significance of the eighth day.
It is the eighth day because it is attached to the seven days preceding it. God established and defined an eight-day pattern.
Notice Revelation 20:11-15. This Great White Throne Judgment, which begins after the seventh millennium is completed, begins what we could possibly call the “eighth millennium,” a judgment period.
As the Holy Days picture God’s plan of salvation, we are aware that the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day occur together in sequential order, just as the millennium and the Great White Throne judgment will occur together in sequential order in the future, with no lag or interruption in between.
The Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day (the eighth day) combine to make an EIGHT-DAY FEAST; they create an EIGHT-DAY PATTERN. Of this fact, we cannot escape. God established, by command, an eight-day pattern.
Now as we know, the Sabbath is a Feast Day (Leviticus 23:2-3). The Sabbath is given elevated Holy Day, sanctified status. The Sabbath is a set apart, appointed time just as the Holy Days are Holy days. The Sabbath, just like the Holy Days, is Holy unto you (Exodus 31:14).
Consequently, if a Sabbath day immediately precedes the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles or immediately follows the Last Great Day (the eighth day), then the Feast would not obey the eight-day festival pattern as commanded in the Scriptures.
For the Sabbath day to occur immediately before or immediately after the eight-day pattern would create a nine-day pattern.
Therefore, by way of the postponement principle, a Sabbath will not precede the Feast of Tabernacles, nor will a Sabbath follow the Last Great Day.
God did not establish a nine-day pattern. He commanded an eight-day pattern. (The eight-day pattern reveals spiritual and prophetic wisdom.)
The House of Judah understands physically, to preserve the eight-day pattern. This is one of the oracles, which God gave to Judah.
From the physical we understand the spiritual elements (of the Holy Days).
An adjustment to Tishri 1, by way of a postponement, allows for the proper keeping of the Eight-day pattern, which God established, which is necessary to be maintained.
God’s laws, regulating the proper observance of His Holy Days, make it absolutely necessary that calendar postponement rules be employed.
The postponement principles are necessary to utilize; they are established by the Scriptures.
For the Jewish calendar to apply the postponement rules, ensures that all who observe God’s Holy Days are able to properly observe the Day of Atonement and the Eight-day pattern, as God requires both to be kept.
The postponement rules ensure that God’s Holy days are observed properly, according to the Laws of God. The Jewish/Hebrew calendar is necessary; it ensures that the Holy Days of Nisan and Tishri are observed properly, according to the Laws of God
Does God honor more than one sacred calendar?
There is the Jewish/Hebrew calendar. Then there are dozens of so-called sacred calendars, promoted by scores of individuals, all who claim to be inspired by God.
In some years there can easily be three, if not more, sets of Holy Days; each one occurring on a different day. Talk about confusion!
If not the Jewish/Hebrew calendar, then which calendar as created by any one of these scores of individuals is right? If not the Jewish/Hebrew calendar, then which non-Jewish calendar, which new moon, which set of Holy Days, which US Naval Observatory inspired calendar is right, should be kept?
The question is simple, logical. Does God honor more than one calendar to regulate His Holy Days? Is God divided? Is there a shadow of turning with Him? Would He accept several different sets of Holy Days each year?
You therefore have a choice. There is the Jewish/Hebrew calendar. Then there are others from which to choose. Whose calendar will you choose?
Why does the Intercontinental Church of God utilize the Jewish/Hebrew calendar? Why should you utilize the Jewish/Hebrew calendar?
The Jewish/Hebrew calendar keeps track of the proper order of days, months, seasons and years, allowing for the proper observance of God’s Holy Days; Biblical Holy Days. No other calendar does this and God is not the author of confusion.
The Jewish/Hebrew calendar ensures that God’s Holy Days will always be
preserved, known and kept. The Jewish/Hebrew calendar ensures that God’s
elect (the Church of God) will properly and accurately
keeps His Holy Days, His appointed times.
The activities of the Intercontinental Church of
God are paid for by tithes, offerings and donations freely
Mail: The Intercontinental Church of God
Telephone: (903) 561-7070