WHAT ABOUT A BIBLE CALENDAR?

What about a Bible Calendar?
by Ruth Fischer Bennett

Some people say that there isn’t enough evidence to demonstrate clearly any calendar that is mentioned in the Bible. Some people say that the calendar used by the Jews is “the same one God delivered to Moses.” Then there are others who propose a great variety of Bible calendars.  It seems that if there is any possible position on this subject, someone already has it staked out. What provoked all this controversy? Sincere objections to the Jewish calendar, that’s what.  That calendar is one of the legacies of the Pharisees that is disturbing the various Sabbath and Holy Day keeping Churches of God today.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ had a great deal to say to his disciples and those who desire to follow Him warning about the attitude of the Pharisees and the traditions promulgated by them, which they used to contravene God’s written instructions.  The attitude He described was that of twisting the Word of God in order to appear to be righteous.

Matthew 16:6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

Matthew 16:11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake [it] not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? 12 Then understood they how that he bade [them] not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

Mark 7:3 For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash [their] hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. 4 And [when they come] from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, [as] the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.

5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according  to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?

6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with [their] lips, but their heart is far from me.  7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of  men.    8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, [as] the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. 

10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: 11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, [It is] Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; [he shall be free]. 12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; 13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

Luke 12:1 In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say  unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

After the temple at Jerusalem was destroyed about 70 A.D., what was the controlling power over Judaism?  It was the philosophy of the Pharisees that continued through the rabbinic system and the calculated calendar, which it produced.

The Apostle Paul wrote about the power and zeal for TRADITION of the Pharisees.  Notice that he calls it “the Jews’ religion,” not GOD’S religion.

Galatians 1:14 And [I, Paul] profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

Paul completely rejected his former application of religion.

Philippians 3:6-Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

Rabbi Nathan Bushwick who wrote Understanding the Jewish Calendar explains in detail how that calendar is based on averages and approximations and admits its discrepancy from true astronomical data.  The main objection to that calendar, though, is the way it postpones or shifts the dates of their Holy Days in order to maintain various non-scriptural rabbinical traditions such as the cutting of willows for the water pouring ceremony on the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles.  Since cutting the willow branches would be “work” not to be done on the Sabbath, that day is “postponed” so that it cannot fall upon the weekly sabbath. Or the rule that the Day of Atonement must not fall adjacent to the weekly sabbath which also causes a change in the days of the week upon which it can be “observed.”  This ignores their own Talmud which records instances in which these events used to fall upon or next to the weekly sabbath and the adjustments which at that time were made to the ceremonies, not the dates.

The Bible makes clear than a scripturally accurate calendar MUST first of all be in harmony with the heavens, i.e., ASTRONOMICAL FACT.

Genesis 1:14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

Other authors have examined this verse in great detail.   Read, study, and draw your own conclusions, but remember one thing.   God created the heavens and HE tells us that we can know about Him by the things that He has made.  Therefore, the facts of astronomy are a type of written information from God.  Any calendar formula must demonstrate that it conforms both to scripture and astronomical facts.  Now, the task is to grow in knowledge, letting scripture, science, and history harmonize together.

There must be some SIMPLE formula that anyone can understand.  Otherwise, if the Holy Day observances ordered by God become subservient to and controlled by an educated, enlightened elite who keep that knowledge hidden from the minds of ordinary people, the product is a MYSTERY RELIGION, something God hates.  Let me say that again with other words.  If you have to depend upon a human being to reveal to you when you are supposed to keep your “appointed times” with your Creator, then you have A MAN BETWEEN YOU AND GOD.

In the lobby of the Fiske Planetarium on the campus of the University of Colorado at Boulder, there is a display that illustrates the changing seasonal angle of the light of the sun striking the earth.  A globe is lighted in such a way that half is dark and half is light.  The line between day and night is called the terminus. The globe revolves so that one can clearly observe the continents rotate toward the dark half at the sunset line and out again into daylight at the sunrise line.  It also demonstrates the seasonal “wobble.”  The printed description on the front of the display points out that at the equinoxes the terminus is touching both poles.  The halves are divided longitudinally pole to pole.  At the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere, the whole arctic is inside the lighted hemisphere with the shadow line just touching the Arctic Circle.  At the winter solstice the area inside the Arctic Circle has rotated completely within the dark hemisphere. The two seasons are reversed in the southern hemisphere for when the terminus moves across the north pole enveloping the Arctic in darkness, the terminus at the other edge is retreating away from the south pole and the sun returns to the Antarctic.

When God looks down upon the earth, what does HE see?  Exactly what the display above is designed to demonstrate, half of the globe is light and half of it is dark.  From pole to pole, the earth rotates across the light and into the dark and those watching that transition call it sunset. As any part of the earth rotates out of the dark into the light, viewers there call it sunrise. Since sunset is the line of separation between the Biblical counting of days, the sunset terminus, like a dark curtain, ERASES the old day as the globe circles beneath it.

Genesis 1 defines what a “day” is when God says, “and the evening and the morning were the first (or second, or third, etc.) DAY.”  Sunset is the line of demarcation between days.  Sunset marks the completion of BOTH definitions of “day.”  It ends the daylight portion of the 24-hour “day.”  When the sunset line passes us, we are in a NEW day.  The OLD day is gone.  If it is the Sabbath Day that has arrived, then we are WITHIN a holy time cycle.  The sunset line brings it and the sunset returns to end it.  NO MORE HOLY TIME, until six common days have been completed and the SEVENTH CYCLE returns once more.  That the sunset defines a single day is made clear in God’s instructions concerning the Day of Atonement.

Leviticus 23:27 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

Leviticus 23:32 It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, FROM EVEN UNTO EVEN, SHALL YE CELEBRATE YOUR SABBATH.

What is it that makes TIME holy?  It is the PRESENCE OF GOD, who “dwelleth at Jerusalem,” who blesses us “out of Zion.”

Psalms 135:21 Blessed be the LORD out of Zion, which dwelleth at Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD.

Psalms 128:5 The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the

good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.

Perhaps without ever realizing it, Sabbath keepers have accepted the FACT of an international dateline related to Jerusalem.  When do we keep the Sabbath?  AS IT COMES TO US!

Isaiah 66:23 And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.

Ask yourself, do you keep “one day in seven,” or is it “the seventh day?”  We keep “the seventh day.”  This is an admission that there is ONE specific rotation of the earth, which God has made HOLY.  There is NO OTHER.  Wherever we may live on this round globe, HOLY SABBATH TIME is defined by that sunset cycle, which is THE SEVENTH CYCLE RELATIVE TO JERUSALEM.

If we live west of Jerusalem, as do the people in Europe, North and South America, WE WAIT for the sunset line to pass across Jerusalem and finally reach our homes as the earth revolves toward the terminus.  That specific cycle is the Sabbath Day, none other.  If where we are on earth is not inside that SAME cycle of time as Jerusalem, then we are NOT IN HOLY TIME YET.  We wait until the sunset brings that Holy Time unto us.

What about those who live east of Jerusalem?  They can also know which cycle will be the seventh cycle of the count.  The dark hemisphere covers 180 degrees so from Jerusalem the eastern edge reaches beyond what is commonly recognized as the International Date Line.  God has divided the continents by the broad Pacific Ocean so that there is the least social disturbance to all who live on this round globe.

DISTINGUISH BETWEEN THE HOLY AND THE PROFANE.

Ezekiel 22:26 her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things [including His Holy Days]: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and HAVE HID THEIR EYES FROM MY SABBATHS, and I am profaned among them.

This specific verse is the fundamental reason that we are studying the issue of the Holy Day calendar.  We are seeking to learn to distinguish between sacred time and common time, what GOD calls holy and what GOD calls profane.

When God adds lunisolar coordinates to the marking of time, as in His definitions of the various Holy Days, some people have difficulty understanding which day is the Holy Day.  Such markers as the moon’s conjunctions and oppositions and the sun’s equinoxes are the same specific instants in time for the whole globe. Because of that, they are usually expressed today in Universal Time and must be translated into one’s local time zone to be more conveniently understood.

As we consider the lunar cycle and how to begin to count the days within it, just ask where the sunset line is on earth.  God Himself sanctifies a specific period of time according to where Jerusalem is located.  We must identify the specific sunset line which BEGINS the sanctified period of time in Jerusalem and recognize it as it circles the earth replacing common time with Holy Time.

Jeremiah 51:50 Ye that have escaped the sword, go away, stand not still: REMEMBER THE LORD AFAR OFF, AND LET JERUSALEM COME INTO YOUR MIND.

We, who are “afar,” must let Jerusalem’s “day” come unto us, bringing the Sabbath and Holy Days into our minds and into our homes.

Since God promises that His Law will go forth from Jerusalem once again, that city is the determination point for the calendar.  Just as those who live west of Jerusalem wait for the sunset that begins the weekly sabbath at Jerusalem, should they not also wait for the sunset that begins the annual Holy Days at that same location?

Isaiah 2:3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

SO WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

Leviticus 23:4 These are the feasts [4150] of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons [4150].

4150 mo`ed {mo-ade’}, 1) appointed place, appointed time, meeting 1a1) appointed time (general)  1a2) sacred season, set feast, appointed season    1b) appointed meeting    (Numbers and definitions according to James Strong, Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible)

Years and its days are part of the solar cycle, but God’s Holy Days belong to the lunar cycle.  Moreover, they must be observed in their seasons, which are solar. The problem has been how to reconcile the solar year of about 365.25 days with the average lunar cycle of about 29.5 days.  In fact, the lunar cycle can vary by hours from about 29.2 to about 29.8 days.  The writings of experts have filled whole shelves in libraries (see the bibliography at the end for just a sample), so what is the solution to that problem?

We need a mark, a COORDINATE, a specific point in time somewhere in the solar cycle that will permit alignment with a similar mark or COORDINATE within the lunar cycle.  Think of it as trying to fit together two rubber bands, one huge and one tiny.  The little one needs to roll around the side of the large one, but as it does it keeps stretching and shrinking. There should only be a single point of alignment so that the rest of the two lunar and solar cycles remain FREE to expand and contract according to the dictates of their separate orbits.  Additional points of alignment require more intercalations or days added deliberately to make the additional fixed points fit that calendar.  That is what happened sometimes to the Babylonian Calendar whenever it tried to fit the lunar month to both spring and fall equinoxes. They ended up sometimes adding months in both positions to keep the solar position somewhat consistent. (Parker and Dubberstein, Babylonian Chronology, I.b)

Most people today have lost contact with the regular phases of the moon.  On occasion they might look up at the sky, see the moon, and think no more about it than simply the fact that it is there.  The actual shape or phase means nothing much to them.  However, with a bit of study one can glance at the shape of the moon, note the time of day, and determine the stage of the lunar cycle at that moment.

The standard terms CONJUNCTION and OPPOSITION are actual descriptions of lunar fact.  When the moon rises as the sun is also rising, and it is setting as the sun is setting, there is CONJUNCTION in their motions.  When the moon is setting as the sun is rising and rising as the sun is setting, then their motions are in OPPOSITION to one another.

At the actual instant of CONJUNCTION, a straight line will pass through the centers of the sun, the moon, and the earth in that order.  The moon is between the earth and sun and there is a single moment of perfect symmetry.    At the actual moment of OPPOSITION, a straight line will pass through the centers of the sun, the earth, and the moon in that order.  The earth is between the sun and the moon and there is another instant of perfect symmetry.  Since all three bodies are in relative motion, that moment of alignment is instantaneous in passing and no other moment in that cycle is like it.  This brings us to CONVERGENCE and DIVERGENCE.

CONVERGENCE is when the moon’s action begins to approach the action of the sun as viewed from earth.  If the moon set is before the sun set and the interval is decreasing, we are seeing convergence before a conjunction. When the moment of conjunction passes, then their actions DIVERGE as the moon set interval is further and further past the time of sunset.  The same activity can be seen when comparing the moonrise to the sunrise.

It’s a DANCE.  All of this shifting of relationships is caused by the difference in the length of time it takes for the moon to rise and set compared to the time it takes the sun to rise and set. While the sun sets, rises and sets again in 24 hours, the moon takes roughly an hour longer to do the same thing.

Approaching opposition or full moon, the moonrise begins to converge with sunset and moonset converges with sunrise.  After the moment of opposition, these actions begin to diverge.

Thus, if the moon is visible during the dark hours because the moon is rising later each day after sunset, the lunar phase is moving from opposition toward conjunction and the size of the moon will be waning or shrinking.  If you see the moon during the daylight hours, the phase is moving from conjunction to opposition, because the moon is rising later each day after sunrise. The size of the moon will be waxing or growing.

If you see a half moon at sunset, that means that the moon rose about noon and you are looking at the first or waxing quarter.   If you see a half moon at sunrise, that means that the moon rose about midnight and you are looking at the third or waning quarter.  The human eye is quite adept at determining the clear straight line on the face of the quarter moon.  Test it yourself.

A simple way to observe an approaching conjunction is to watch the waning moon decrease until it is a thin arc with the points to the right as seen in the northern hemisphere.  This shape is visible shortly before sunrise.  The moon goes dark just before conjunction, then it becomes lighted again on the opposite side after the conjunction has passed.  The points of a crescent moon face left.  An easy memory aid is to visualize printer’s brackets.  The old waning moon before sunrise is the first bracket; the conjunction is in the middle followed by the closing bracket, the crescent moon visible immediately after a sunset. This might be symbolized as: ( conjunction ).

When the alignments are nearly perfect, we see an eclipse of the sun at conjunction or of the moon at opposition. Study for yourself why we don’t see an eclipse every time.

You can observe an approaching opposition or full moon in a similar manner.  The time of the moonrise during the daylight hours grows closer and closer to the time of sunset, converging with it.  After the moment of opposition occurs, the moonrise time begins to diverge.  It will rise later and later after sunset.  Or if you want to watch at sunrise, the moonset time converges with sunrise, and immediately begins to diverge.

The rising full moon brackets the day that contains the moment of opposition.  The moon rises just moments BEFORE the sun sets, the moon sets the next morning as the sun is rising, then that evening the moon does not rise until AFTER the sun has set.

Jay M. Pasachoff, author of the Peterson Field Guide Stars and Planets, confirms the explanation above on pages 349-350. “The angle between the earth, the moon, and the sun determines which phase will appear, so the time of night the moon rises depends on its phase. A full moon rises when the sun sets. A new moon rises when the sun rises and sets when the sun sets. The moon rises about 50 minutes later each night. A first-quarter moon thus rises at about noon and sets around midnight, and so is at its highest point each day at sunset.”

With these few facts in mind, your moon watching can be more informative.

The variable duration of the dark phase from crescent to crescent adds confusion and causes much argument over how to determine the first day of the new month. That is why the Hebrew priests both calculated and took testimony of witnesses in order to DECLARE the official new moon day.  “Members of the ancient court had been obliged to engage in astronomical computation and thus could determine beforehand whether the new crescent might or might not be visible in its proper time, and could bring certain astronomical data to bear on their examination of witnesses to the visibility. (Oberman, The Code of Maimonides, p. xvii)”  “These methods are indeed remote and deep, and they constitute the Secret of the Calendar, which was known only to the great Sages and which they were not permitted to reveal to anyone except to ordained and sagacious (disciples). (Oberman, Ch.XI.4)”

HOW did the Hebrew priests calculate the moon’s phases? All it actually takes is the knowledge of the Metonic Cycle.

“This cycle, nineteen years in duration, is the sequence of lunar phases relative to the solar calendar.  If there were a whole number of full moons in each 365.25 days, the same phases of the moon would occur on the same solar calendar dates each year.  Instead, every nineteen years the same lunar phases occur on the same calendar dates.

THE METONIC CYCLE

235 SYNODIC MONTHS x 29.5036 DAYS PER MONTH =

19 TROPICAL YEARS x 365.2425 DAYS PER YEAR

6939.69 DAYS = 6939.61 DAYS

The two intervals are nearly equal and permit one to predict the phase of the moon on a particular date.  (Krupp, In Search of Ancient Astronomies, 101.)”

Once an accurate database of moon phases was documented, the priests had only to verify and adjust for the small fluctuations in the individual lunar phases relative to sunset to decide which day would be declared to start the new count.

A CLUE ABOUT THE MOON

Psalm 81:3 is the key to understanding the Holy Days from the calendar system of ancient Israel.  This key to understanding is obscured in the Authorized (AV) or King James Version, which reads as follows, Strong’s numbers included.

Psalms 81:3 Blow 8628-3 up the trumpet 7782 in the new moon, 2320 in the time appointed, 3677 on our solemn feast 2282 day. 3117     4 For this was a statute 2706 for Israel, 3478 and a law 4941 of the God 430 of Jacob. 3290  (AV).

Notice that “in the time appointed” is Strong’s number 3677. This word is used only twice in all the Hebrew scripture.  It occurs also in Proverbs 7:20.

Strong’s Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary says of #3677, “kece’, keh’-seh; or keceh, keh’-seh; appar. from 3680; prop. fullness or the full moon, i.e. its festival:- (time) appointed.”

STOP! Look carefully at this definition.  Dr. Strong says that there was a festival of the full moon.   The shofar was ordered blown WHEN?  During the celebration of the new moon and on the festival of the full moon which was a solemn feast day.   When were there solemn feast days that coincided with the full moon: the First Day of Unleavened Bread and the First Day of the Feast of Tabernacles.

Strong’s Number 3677 [is a] Transliterated Word, Kece’ apparently from (3680) Phonetic Spelling:  keh’-she Parts of Speech Noun Masculine   Definition 1.full moon  (The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon (internet version) based on the Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Hebrew Lexicon).

 Nehemiah Gordon writing in The Karaite Newsletter #112 says, “Many scholars SPECULATE that it [keceh] means “full moon”.  The source of this explanation is a Babylonian word “Kuseu” which means “tiara of the moon-god” and hence “full moon” (since the full moon looked like the moon wearing a crown, at least in the eyes of the ancient Babylonians)!”  (Emphasis mine)

Ask yourself, which came first, the full moon or the tiara created to represent it? Either way, the derivation of this word still appears connected to the full moon.  Notice also that, “The word for “money” in Hebrew,[is] kesef, literally “silver.”  (Torah Science).”  Both the color and shape of a silver coin are strongly reminiscent of a full moon.

The only other use of the word 3677, keh’-she, is Proverbs 7:20.

Proverbs 7:20 He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day 3117 appointed. 3677  (AV)

Proverbs 7:20 he hath taken the money-bag with him, he will come home on the day of the full moon. (Darby)

Most other Bible translators agree with the Darby translation above and use “full moon” in Psalms 81:3 also.

The role of the full moon has now become a clue to understanding how the Biblical Calendar was oriented, especially since a “new moon” has no conclusive scriptural definition, the lack of which has caused the confusion about when precisely to start the count of the days of the new month.

Is it just coincidence that the Babylonian calendar called the day of the full moon “shabbattum?”   They considered it “an unlucky day, in which one must appease the gods with sacrifices …One group  [of scholars] contends that the Sabbath was originally, among Jews, one day of the month, the full moon, like the Babylonian Shabattum  (Schauss 4).”   These commentators fail to point out that there actually are two occasions during the year of a “shabbattum,” which IS a full moon on which sacrifices to God were commanded.  They are the First Day of Unleavened Bread and the First Day of the Feast of Tabernacles.

The Encyclopedia Britannica verifies this Babylonian usage. “The month was divided into unequal periods by days with special names, the first, arhe, the seventh, sibutu, the 15th, sabattu …(“Calendar” 576).”

The early Roman calendar followed a structure typical of that epoch.  The first month of the year was Martius or March.  Our calendar today still retains the vestiges of that system in the names of September (seventh month), October (eighth month), November (ninth month), December (tenth month).  The Feast of Tabernacles in the middle of the Biblical seventh month still occurs frequently in the Roman seventh month of September in spite of the fact that the Roman calendar is now completely disconnected from the lunar cycle.

HISTORICAL RECORDS FROM THE TIME OF CHRIST

Some of the most explicit descriptions of the Hebrew calendar at the time of Jesus Christ are recorded in the writings of Philo. Emphasis is mine.

“Philo, often called Philo Judaeus (c.30 BC to c.40 AD), Jewish philosopher, is the most important representative of Hellenistic Judaism, and his writings give us the clearest view of this development of Judaism in the Diaspora.  He was probably a native of Alexandria, where he appears to have spent his whole life apart from his journey to Rome.  His brother Alexander was alabarch or arabarch (i.e., probably, chief farmer of taxes on the Arabic side of the Nile), from which it may be concluded that the family was influential and wealthy.  The only event of his life which can be actually dated belongs to A.D. 40, when Philo, then nearing the end of his years, went to Rome to persuade the emperor Gaius to abstain from claiming divine honour from the Jews.  Of this embassy Philo has left a full account ( De legatione ad Gaium).  (Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 17, article :Philo.)”

“In this month, about the fourteenth day, when the disc of the moon is becoming full, is held the commemoration of the crossing, a public festival called in Hebrew Pasch, on which the victims are not brought to the altar by the laity and sacrificed by the priests, but, as commanded by the law, the whole nation acts as priest, each individual bringing what he offers on his own behalf and dealing with it with his own hands. (Philo/Colson, Moses II, 224)”

“The feast begins at the middle of the month, on the fifteenth day, when the moon is full, a day purposely chosen because then there is no darkness, but everything is continuously lighted up as the sun shines from morning to evening and the moon from evening to morning and while the stars give place to each other no shadow is cast upon their brightness. (Philo/Colson, The Special Laws II, 155)”

There is only ONE day in the month that can be described this way.  It is the single day that contains the precise moment of opposition, the perfect full moon day.

In Exodus 12:2, God pointed out to Moses which new moon to use to start counting the days of the month and the months of the year. The very first full moon was to become a “time appointed,” in other words, a commemoration of the exodus with the blowing of the shophar which signaled the children of Israel to march out of Ramses under the light of a completely full moon, Exodus 12:41-42.

Exodus 23:15 Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread: (thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed [4150, moed] of the month Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty:

“The shophar was used for giving of signals for war, as in the case of Joshua, Ehud, Gideon and Joab.  It announced the year of Jubilee, and also approaching danger (Jer. 4:5; Ezek. 33:3; Joel 2:1).  It heralded the appearance of the new moon and full moon (Psa. 81:3) (Unger 768).”

Blowing the shofar on feast days as an ordinance in Israel can possibly be attributed to King David, psalmist and musician, who himself ordered the courses of the priests for service in the not-yet-built temple and also set in order the details of the sanctuary services to include the “teruah” or blowing of the shophar in addition to the silver trumpet commanded by God in Numbers 10:10.   A Holy Day upon which scripture specifically ordered the shofar to be blown is the fiftieth Day of Atonement which announces the Year of Release.  The word translated “jubile” is one of the sounds which the shofar makes.

Leviticus 25:9 Then shalt thou cause the trumpet [shofar]of the jubile [teruah] to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet [shofar] sound throughout all your land.

The Encyclopedia Judaica says, “When used in the Temple, the shofar was usually sounded in conjunction with the trumpet (hazozrah). The Talmud (RD 27a) states that the trumpet was made of silver while the processed horn of one of the five species of animal – sheep, goat, mountain goat, antelope, and gazelle- was used to fulfill the ritual commandment of the sounding of the shofar (“Shofar” 1443).”

The Abingdon Bible Commentary discusses Psalm 81. “V.2 mentions the instruments with which the service was carried on: …Shophar, the horn as distinguished from the metal trumpet.  New moon – according to the Talmud the reference is to the new moon of the month Tisri; if so, the second part of the verse refers to the Feast of Tabernacles, which began on the full moon of the same month.  This festival had been divinely appointed (Abingdon 561).”

LOOKING FOR A SOLAR COORDINATE

God’s instruction to Moses concerning the proper month or moon to begin the year was in complete harmony with the commencement of the agricultural season.

Exodus 12:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,  2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the  year to you.

Exodus 13:4 This day [the 15th] came ye out in the month Abib [Strong’s #24].

Leviticus 2:14 And if thou offer a meat offering of thy firstfruits unto the LORD, thou shalt offer for the meat offering of thy firstfruits green ears [24] of corn dried by the fire, even corn beaten out of full ears.

Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon defines Abib,  number 24 , ‘abiyb {aw-beeb’}  from an unused root (meaning to be tender); translated in the AV – Abib 6, in the ear 1, green ears of corn 1; 8 other;  1) fresh, young barley ears, barley  2) month of ear-forming, of greening of crop, of growing green ;  Abib, month of exodus and passover (March or April)

How do plants know when to wake up and begin to grow?  They are responding to increasing length of daylight and more direct sun angle warming the soil as the sun returns toward its crossing of the celestial equator at the spring equinox.

The Feast of Tabernacles is observed after the bulk of the summer harvest has been completed.

Deuteronomy 16:13 Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine:

The timing of the Feast of Tabernacles six full months or moons from the first day of unleavened bread is in harmony with the turning point, which ends the agricultural cycle.  Why do plants begin to mature or prepare to go dormant? The sun angle as well as the amount of daylight is decreasing as the sun moves across the celestial equator on its journey into winter.

Concerning Exodus 34:22, the Schocken Bible calls the Feast of Tabernacles,  “…the Pilgrimage-Festival of Ingathering at the turn [8622] of the year…”   The New International Version says, “…the Feast of Ingathering at the turn [8622] of the year…”   The NIV adds a footnote which says, “That is, in the Fall.”

Leviticus 23:34 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD.

Exodus 34:22 And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end [8622].

The word translated “end’” is Strong’s # 8622, tek-oo-faw’ from 5362; a revolution, i.e. (of the sun) course, (of time) lapse: circuit, come about, end.   Zodhiates’ Lexical Aids to the Wordstudy Old Testament says of #5362- naqaph,  “ to go around, move in a circle; to surround, encompass, enclose, draw around; to circulate.  It describes the cycle of days (Job 1:5).”  The derivation of the word “tekufaw” indicates the time when a seasonal shift occurs.

“There are four special days in each year. They are the longest day, the shortest day, and the two days on which the day and the night are equal. They are called the Tekufos…The two days on which the day and the night are equal are Tekufas Nisan, the spring equinox, and Tekufas Tishrei, the autumn equinox. They are the beginning of spring and fall. People generally measure the year from one of these four days (Bushwick 48).”

These four dividing points of the year are easily observable to anyone who pays attention to the sun’s movements.

“After each equinox the sun gradually recedes from the equator until it reaches the greatest angular distance of about 23 ½  [degrees],… when the sun changes its direction with respect to the equator and instead of receding from it begins to approach it again…[T]he sun appears to be standing still, momentarily, and for this reason these points are called the Solsticespointsturning points, or tropical points (Feldman 74).”

The root meaning of solstice is “sun + stop.” That is the time at which the sun at noon casts the shortest shadow in summer or longest shadow in winter.

The equinoxes mark the movement of the sun north or south of the equator and can be observed when the angle of shadows at sunrise or sunset point due east or west. The increasing angle of the shadows away from due east/west shows the movement of the sun away from the equinox.

TWO COORDINATES IDENTIFIED

By adding Philo’s clear explanation that the full moon is day 15 of the lunar month to our study of Psalm 81:3, we have the coordinates needed to fix the order of the days within the month and the order of the months within the solar year.  Fixing the count so that the full moon is day 15 causes day 1 to fall sometimes ON the day of the conjunction, sometimes the next day, and once in a while the second day afterward as the moon’s orbit stretches and shrinks from its minimum to its maximum length. Thus, the irregular lengths of the lunar cycle are adjusted automatically during the dark period of the conjunction.

These are the two marks in time that we have been looking for. The “tekufaw” of Exodus 34:22 puts a mark on the solar cycle.  Knowing that the full moon day is also day-fifteen of the lunar cycle is the mark that harmonizes both systems.  The seventh lunar cycle overlaps the autumn equinox so that the Feast of Tabernacles is close to or “AT the Turn.”  The rest of the year falls into position automatically.  The Fall Holy Days have an intimate relationship to the “turn” at the end of the agricultural season.   Now we can understand that the oft-repeated rule about Passover being the first full moon after the Spring Equinox is a logical derivation, just not scriptural, of these very principles. The only equinox specifically mentioned in scripture in relation to any holy day observance is the Tekufaw of Tishri and the Feast of Tabernacles, Exodus 34:22.

Now, put it all together.

Remember the KISS principle?  Keep It Simple, Sir!

First: remember that God measures days from sunset to sunset.

 Step 1Adjust the dates and times for the spring and fall equinoxes to Jerusalem Time (U+2) and mark them on your calendar.   There is a solar chart at the end of this paper, which has current equinox data, also a lunar chart with dates and times for each phase obtained from the US Naval Observatory Data Services.  Or, consult a Farmer’s Almanac.

Step 2:  Look at the full moons closest to the fall equinox.   The full moon of the seventh month must occur so that the fall equinox is prior to or during one of the seven days of the Feast, which is just as close as it can possibly be to “at the turn.”  Mark the date of this full moon on your calendar as Tishri 15, the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles.

Step 3:  On the list of moon phases locate the full moon six months prior to the one you just noted. This is the full moon of the first month. Mark it on your calendar as Abib 15, the first day of Unleavened Bread. Double-check the interval so that the full moon in the fall is the seventh from the first counting inclusively, that is, the first is “one” not “zero.”  Once these two dates are marked, all the rest of the Holy Days become obvious. Just finish filling in the dates for Abib and Tishri.

Each person must decide for himself how to give weight to the various factors, where to put the emphasis, which calendar to use, if any.  In actual fact, since we no longer have a temple and priesthood with new moon sacrifices to perform, we really do not need a complete calendar at all in order to worship God in spirit and truth on His Holy Days.  Yet, if one desires to plot out all of the lunar months for the complete year, these principles will permit one to do so.

Now you can do it yourself.  You don’t need a specialist in calendrical studies to tell you when you ought to keep your date, your moed, your appointed meeting time with God.  Yes, you can mark your own calendar, your “date book” with your Maker.

Leviticus 23:4 These are the feasts [4150] of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.

4150 mo`ed {mo-ade’}, 1) appointed place, appointed time, meeting 1a1) appointed time (general)  1a2) sacred season, set feast, appointed season    1b) appointed meeting    (Strong)

“One of the most distinguished words in the Bible is the word qadosh, holy; a word which more than any other is representative of the mystery and majesty of the divine.  Now what was the first holy object in the history of the world?  Was it a mountain? Was it an altar?

It is, indeed, a unique occasion at which the distinguished word qadosh is used for the first time: in the Book of Genesis is the fact that it is appointed to time: “And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy” [Gen.2:3]. There is no reference in the record of creation to any object in space that would be endowed with the quality of holiness…it is holiness in time, the Sabbath, which comes first…(Hertzberg, 119).”

The Holy Days are also God’s Sabbaths.  Just how important is God’s Holy Time to you?

Universal Time [Military or 24 hour clock] USNO Data Services.
Calender-1

Moon Phases USNO Data Services  http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/MoonPhase.html

Calender-22006 Phases of the Moon Universal Time

Calender-3

2007 Phases of the Moon Universal Time

Calender-4

 

GLOSSARY

Conjunction:  the moment in time at which the rays of the sun strike the non-visible face of the moon at 90 degrees as viewed from Earth.  The light is on the far side of the moon, and the surface that we see is completely dark. The astronomical definition is when the moon is at zero degrees celestial longitude from the sun.

Converge:  To tend toward or approach an intersecting point: lines that converge.

Diverge: To go or extend in different directions from a common point; branch out.

Intercalation: the addition of a 13th month to the lunisolar calendar every second or third year as required to keep the months of the year in harmony with the seasons.

Opposition: the moment in time in which the light of the sun is at 90 degrees to the face of the moon visible from Earth; the full moon. The astronomical definition is when the moon is at 180 degrees celestial longitude from the sun.

Postponements: within the Jewish Calendar, rules which adjust the date of Tishri 1 away from its lunar position in order to keep the Day of Atonement from falling next to the weekly sabbath or the seventh day of the feast of tabernacles from falling on the weekly sabbath.

Syzygy: Either of two points in the orbit of a celestial body where the body is in opposition to or conjunction with the sun.  The configuration of the sun, the moon, and the earth lying on a straight line.

Wane: to decrease, as the moon during the period of time between opposition and conjunction.

Wax: to grow larger, as the moon during the period of time between conjunction and opposition.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Asimov, Isaac, Asimov’s Guide to the Bible, Avenel Books, New York, 1981.

Braun, Moshe A., The Jewish Holy Days: Their Spiritual Significance, Jason Aronson, Northvale, NJ, 1996.

Bushwick, Nathan, Understanding the Jewish Calendar, Moznaim Pub. Corp., N Y, 1989.

“Calendar,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1961.

“Chronology,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1961.

Cornell, James, The First Stargazers, An Introduction to the Origins of Astronomy, Scribner, NY, 1981.

Dictionary, http://www.yourdictionary.com.

Eiselen et al., eds., The Abingdon Bible Commentary, Abingdon Press, NY/Nashville, 1929.

Feldman, W.M., Rabbinical Mathematics and Astronomy, Hermon, 1978.

Fox, Everett, The Schocken Bible: Volume 1, The Five Books of Moses, Schocken, NY, 1995.

Gleiser, Marcelo, The Dancing Universe, Dutton, 1997.

Gordon, Nehemiah, “New Moon or No-Moon?” Karaite Korner Newsletter #112,

http://www.karaite-korner.org, 2002

Hadingham, Evan, Early Man and the Cosmos, Walker and Company, New York, 1984.

Hertzberg, Arthur, Great Religions of Modern Man: Judaism, George Braziller, New York, 1962.

KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon. <http://www.biblestudytools.net/Lexicons/Hebrew/> 1999.

Kopal, Zdenek, Ed.,  Physics and Astronomy of the Moon, 2nd Ed., Academic Press, NY, 1971.

Krupp, Dr. E.C., Ed., In Search of Ancient Astronomies, Doubleday, Garden City, NY, 1977

Levy, David H., Skywatching, Time-Life, 1996.

Oberman, Julian, Ed., Maimonides, The Code of, Yale Univ. Press, New Haven, 1956

Meeus, Jean, Astronomical Tables of the Sun, Moon, and Planets 2nd Edition, Willmann-Bell Inc., Richmond, VA, 1995.

Neugebauer, O., The Exact Sciences in Antiquity, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1952.

Parker, Richard and Dubberstein, Waldo, Babylonian Chronology 626 B.C.-A.D. 75, Brown Univ. Press, Providence, RI, 1956

Pasachoff, Jay M., Stars and Planets, Peterson Field Guides, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, MA, 2000.

PHILO with an English Translation by F. H. Colson,  The Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, London, MCMLXVI.

Rintoul, Kevin,  God’s Word for Windows, <rintoul@islandnet.com> 1997.

Schauss, Hayyim, The Jewish Festivals History and Observance, Schocken Books, NY, NY,1962.

“Shofar,” Encyclopaedia Judaica, Macmillan, Jerusalem, 1972.

Strong, James, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Abingdon Press, NY/Nashville, 1967.

Torah Science, http://www.torahscience.org/economics/letter.html

Unger, Merrill F., Unger’s Bible Dictionary, Moody Press, Chicago, 1977.

U.S. Naval Observatory, Astronomical Applications Dept., Data Services,  <http://aa.usno.navy.mil>.

Vine, W.E. et al., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, Nelson, Nashville, 1996.

Young, Robert, Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, Hendrickson Pub.

Zodhiates, Spiros, The Complete Word Study New Testament, AMG Pub., Chattanooga, 1994.

Zodhiates, Spiros, The Complete Word Study Old Testament,   AMG Pub., Chattanooga, 1994.

Recommended Reading

Aveni, Anthony, Conversing with the Planets, How Science and Myth Invented the Cosmos,

Times Books, NY, 1992.

Aveni, Anthony, Empires of Time-Calendars, Clocks, and Cultures, Basic Books, NY, 1989.

Peterson, Ivars, Newton’s Clock: Chaos in the Solar System, Freeman and Co., NY, 1993

© 2005 All rights Reserved, Ruth Fischer Bennett

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