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The ‘Biblical’ Calendar is even more complicated than usual in 2015 ...
(but we'll check the apostrophe's)
(Scriptural References : ASV American Standard Version; GLV Green's Literal Version)
“ These are appointed seasons of Jehovah, holy gatherings,
which you shall proclaim in their appointed seasons.” (Lev.23:4 GLV)
The eight ‘Biblical’ calendars observed by the 7th Day Churches of God (within which there are variations), including the 2015 dates, are shown below.
 Hebrew (i.e. Jewish) Calendar - a link is given here, as a few groups keep Passover and/or Pentecost on the Jewish calendar dates, and also non-Biblical Jewish festivals.
Churches of God Hebrew Calendar
largest Church of God 7th Day (HQ in Denver) and the largest
offshoots of the Worldwide Church of God utilize the mathematical
framework of the Hebrew calendar, but observe some of God's appointed times on different dates.
12 lunar months equal 354 days, a lunar calendar has to add
(‘intercalate’) a 13th
month every 2 or 3 years to keep it in line with the solar
year. The Hebrew calendar does this in years 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17
& 19 of a 19 year cycle.
The calendar year begins at the Molad
Emtzai, which in 2015 will be on Sunday, 13th September. The calendar
postponement rules do not, however, allow the year to begin on a
Sunday, so the Day of Trumpets will be on Monday, 14th September.
First day of the dark phase of the moon, nearest
the March Equinox [00.45, 21st March, Jerusalem time], when the light of the old moon has disappeared.
First day of the dark phase of the moon, following
the March Equinox,
when the light of the old moon has
Day of the astronomical new moon (conjunction of sun/moon) [11.36, 20th March], nearest
the March Equinox [00.45, 21st March, Jerusalem time].
 Day of the astronomical new moon (conjunction of sun/moon),
[20.57, 18th April],
the March equinox [00.45, 21st March, Jerusalem time].
some groups it's the day after the conjunction – i.e. the same day
as the Equinox -
assuming Jerusalem time is being utilized.
Evening of the re-appearance of the light of the moon – visible
in the brief period between sunset and moonset - nearest
the March equinox.
Evening of the re-appearance of the light of the moon – visible
in the brief period between sunset and moonset - following
the March equinox..
Evening of the re-appearance of the light of the moon – visible
in the brief period between sunset and moonset- in the
month that the wild barley in Israel will be ready for harvesting by
the Sunday after Passover (Leviticus 23:10-12).
dates below are based on New Moon and Equinox times at Jerusalem, but if other time zones are used, the dates might be a month different. For example, calendar  (visible new moon following
the Equinox), the
new moon will not be sighted from Jerusalem until the evening
following the Equinox, so the year will begin on 22nd March. However,
some churches in North America go by the first sighting of the new
moon anywhere in the world, which could be the previous evening - before the Equinox - if Jerusalem time is used for the Equinox.
dates for the 3 annual festivals (Exodus 23:14-16)
are printed in
green, and the annual holy days are in red.
|First Day of|
- 4 Oct
- 2 Oct
- 3 Oct
- 3 Nov
- 5 Oct
|First Day of|
** New moon first visible possibly the following day.
Biblical History of the Calendar
The sun and moon declare our annual appointed times with God:
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years ... And God made the two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.(Genesis 1:14,16 ASV)
These are appointed seasons of Jehovah, holy gatherings which you shall proclaim in their appointed seasons (Leviticus 23:4 GLV)
Chodesh (Strong’s H2320) is defined as ‘the new moon; by implication, a month’.
This month (chodesh) shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. (Exodus 12:2 ASV)
Observe the month (chodesh) of Abib, and keep the passover unto Jehovah thy God; for in the month of Abib Jehovah thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.
(Deuteronomy 16:1 ASV)
Each Biblical month begins at the new moon, and the first month of the year is Abib (Nisan), the month of the Passover. (The
Egyptian calendar began with the season of Inundation [of the Nile]
in midsummer, which was prefaced by the appearance of Sirius just before dawn. Each day began at sunrise, while the month began at the sunrise after the disappearance of the old moon.)
Originally every month was 30 days long – as shown by Noah’s flood, when “the waters prevailed over the earth one hundred and fifty days” (Genesis 7:24), from the seventeenth day of the second month” (7:11) to the seventeenth day of the seventh month” (8:4) – 5 months of 30 days each. Today, a lunar month is either 29 or 30 days, and it is impossible for there to be 5 consecutive months of 30 days each.
Exodus 12:2 and Deuteronomy 16:1 were therefore all the calendar instruction that the Israelites needed – there was no requirement to add a 13th lunar month every 2 or 3 years to align the calendar with the solar year.
Ancient documents confirm that a year comprised 12 months of 30 days each:
“At first the astronomers of Babylon recognized a year of 360 days, and the division of a circle into 360 degrees must have indicated the path traversed by the sun each day in its assumed circling of the earth.” (Moritz Cantor, Lectures on the History of Mathematics.)
“The Assyrians, like the Babylonians, had a year composed of lunar months .... The calendar assigns to each month thirty full days.” (R. Campbell Thompson, Reports of the Magicians and Astrologers of Nineveh and Babylon in the British Museum.)
“A year consists of twelve months. A month consists of 30 days.” (The Arabhatiya of Aryabhata – an ancient Indian work on mathematics and astronomy)
“All over the world we find that there was at some time the same calendar of 360 days, and that at some later date, about the seventh century before the present era, five days were added at the end of the year, as ‘days over the year’, or ‘days of nothing’ ... a series of catastrophes occurred that changed the axis and the orbit of the earth and the orbit of the moon ...” (Immanuel Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision)
“Yet the fact is that no one has ever established that the 365-day calendar was in use prior to the early seventh century.” (Mark Cohen, The Cultic Calendars of the Ancient Near East.)
This was the time period of the Old Testament prophets and of Daniel, when:
“He is changing times and seasons” (Daniel 2:21 - Young's Literal Translation)
What was affecting the Earth and causing the “changing times and seasons”?
At the Babylonian Akitu festival, the high priest would recite the following prayer before the statue of Bel - a.k.a. Marduk:
(“Babylon is captured, Bel is put to shame, Merodach is broken in pieces, her images are put to shame, her idols are broken in pieces.” - Jeremiah 50:2 GLV):
“My lord is just. Is his name not ‘My-Lord’?
My lord causes trembling. My lord is the prince of all the lands ...
Jupiter, bearer of signs to the universe! My Lord! My Lord, be calmed!
Mercury, who brings rain! My Lord! My Lord, be calmed!
Saturn, star of justice and right! My Lord! My Lord, be calmed!
Mars, blazing fire! My Lord! My Lord, be calmed! ...”
The high priest then turned to pray to Bel’s consort, Beltiya:
“My lady, turn back! Turn back! My lady, be calmed! ...
Venus, brightest star - this is a name for my lady,
Bow-star, who fells the mighty - this is a name for my lady,
She-goat star, who scans the heavens - this is a name for my lady,
Star of Abundance, the star of abundance - this is a name for my lady,
Star of Dignity, the star which moves out of orbit ...”
(Mark Cohen, The Cultic Calendars Of The Ancient Near East)
“Bel, thine abode is Babylon ... thou controllest laws by thy laws ... thou burnest up the mighty ones by thy flame.” (Stephen H. Langdon, The Mythology of All Races)
“By causing the heavens to tremble and the earth to quake,
By the gleam which lightens the sky,
By the blazing fire which rains upon the hostile land,
I am Ishtar. Ishtar I am by the light that arises in heaven,
Ishtar the queen of heaven am I by the light that arises in heaven.”
(Stephen H. Langdon, Sumerian and Babylonian Psalms)
did the nations adjust to a solar year of 365 days and months of 29
or 30 days? Most retained twelve 30 day months and added ‘5 days of
nothing’ at the end of the year. For example, “The Peruvian year
was divided into twelve Quilla, or moons, of 30 days. Five days were
added at the end, called Allcacanquis.”
Clements Markham, The Incas of Peru)
238BC a decree at Canopus, Egypt, declared, “from this time onwards
one day, a festival of the Good-doing Gods, shall be added every four
years to the five additional days before the New Year, so that all
may know that the error of deficiency which existed formerly in
respect to the arrangement of the seasons, and of the year, and of
the views usually believed concerning the general ordering of the
heavens, hath been rectified and filled up satisfactorily by the
and his companions were taken captive to Babylon during this period
when Jehovah “is changing the times and the seasons”.
Nebuchadnezzar found these young men to be “skilful in all wisdom, and endued with knowledge, and understanding science” (Daniel
1:4 ASV). “And in every matter of wisdom and understanding, concerning which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his realm.” (Daniel
Was it due to their influence that the Babylonians retained a luni-solar calendar?”
months were strictly lunar (in this case, because it was the first
visibility of the new crescent that marked the start off each new
month), and those lunar months were combined with a variable year
that could average out to the same length as the solar year. Every
two or three years an intercalary lunar month was added (usually a
second Ulul [6th month] or a second Adar [12th
(Mark Cohen, The Cultic Calendars of the Ancient
the basis of three letters which record the announcement of the
intercalary year, Parker and Dubberstein [authors of Babylonian
Chronology: 626BC-AD75] suggest that, during the Babylonian period,
the directives for intercalation came from the king, whereas during
the subsequent Achaemenid period [Persian empire], priestly officials
in Babylon gave the orders.” (ibid)
intercalation of a 13th month is evident in the book of
Ezekiel, written during the Babylonian captivity:
in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month .... In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin's captivity, the word of Jehovah came expressly unto Ezekiel ....”(1:1-3 ASV). After Ezekiel had dwelt
at Tel Aviv for 7 days (3:15), the word of Jehovah came again, saying that
he should lie on his left side for 390 days, then on his right side
for 40 days (4:4-6). More than 437 days had thus elapsed when Ezekiel
was sitting in his house on the 5th day of the 6th month in the 6th
year, i.e. 1 year 2 months later (8:1).
months x 30 days + 5 days = 425 days. Since the lunar month now
averaged 29½ days, a 13th month must have been intercalated during
months x 29½ days = 413 days + intercalary month = 442 or 443 days.
After 70 years captivity in Babylon: “in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of Jehovah by the mouth of Jeremiah (Jer.29:10) might be accomplished, Jehovah stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying ... ‘Whosoever there is among you of all his people, his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of Jehovah, the God of Israel (he is God), which is in Jerusalem ...When rose up the heads of fathers' houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, even all whose spirit God had stirred to go up to build the house of Jehovah which is in Jerusalem’.” (Ezra 1:1,3,5 ASV)
And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem ...And they kept the feast of tabernacles, as it is written. (Ezra 3:1,4 ASV)
And Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly, both men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month ...And they found written in the law, how that Jehovah had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month ... Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the book of the law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day was a solemn assembly, according unto the ordinance. (Nehemiah 8:2,14,18 ASV)
How did Ezra determine when it was the 7th biblical month? What instruction did he receive from Daniel - who was alive during the reign of Cyrus (Dan.6:28)? The books of Ezra and Nehemiah contain no definite statements as to the calendar rules, but detailed information of the Second Temple calendar can be found in the Mishnah, a collection of 63 tractates, divided into 6 orders, one being the Mo’edim (the appointed times of Jehovah).
“The calendar of the Mishnah is discussed and debated in detail in both the Palestinian and the Babylonian Talmudim … The fact that no other calendar system is ever referred to in the Talmudim may be regarded as significant. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, it is reasonable to assume that the Mishnaic system was perpetuated well into the Amoraic period (third to fifth centuries).”
(Sacha Stern, Calendar and Community : A History of the Jewish Calendar, 2nd century BCE – 10th century CE, p.164)
There were other calendars in Palestine during this period in history, most notably the Samaritan calendar of the Northern Israelites, who continue to this day to observe the annual festivals at Mount Gerizim. Jesus Christ, however, observed the annual festivals in Jerusalem, so the focus must be on the calendar there.
The procedure for determining the beginning of a month is described at length in tractate Rosh ha-Shanah, and is graphically described on the Temple Institute website.
The gospels show that Jesus Christ died in the late afternoon of the 14th of Abib, the preparation day for the High Day, the 15th of Abib, on the Jewish Temple calendar.
‘The Jews therefore, because it was the Preparation, that the bodies should not remain on the cross upon the sabbath (for the day of that sabbath was a high day), asked of Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.’ (John 19:31 ASV)
The procedure for determining the beginning of a year is described in detail in the Tosefta, Tractate Sanhedrin, section 5:2. Herbert Danby, in the introduction to his translation of Tractate Sanhedrin, issues a warning about the Tosefta: “The Mishnah and Tosefta, which are here translated, may be regarded as together giving the bulk of the traditions on the subject in the form in which they existed at the close of the second century A.D. The Mishnah gives an ordered, comprehensive sketch of the regulations which governed the legal courts; while the Tosefta goes over similar ground in a freer manner, frequently repeating, occasionally contradicting, and constantly supplementing not always relevantly the substance of the more authoritative and final code.”
Much of Tractate Sanhedrin 5:2 is rabbinic opinion, which must be stripped away, and the basic reasons given for intercalation compared with Scripture.
5.2.2. There are three signs which make it evident that the year should be intercalated:
(a) the premature state of the corn-crops
“Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye are come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring the sheaf of the first-fruits of your harvest unto the priest: and he shall wave the sheaf before Jehovah, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.” (Leviticus 23:10-11 ASV)
“Seven weeks shalt thou number unto thee: from the time thou beginnest to put the sickle to the standing grain shalt thou begin to number seven weeks ... And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks unto Jehovah thy God ...” (Deuteronomy 16:9-10 ASV)
If the fields of barley (which grows wild all over Palestine) are not ready to begin harvesting on the Sunday after Passover, a 13th month was to be added.
(b) The undeveloped state of the tree products
And He spoke a parable to them: ‘You see the fig tree and all the trees ... Now when they sprout leaves, seeing it, you will know from yourselves that now the summer is near.’ (Luke 21:29-30 GLV)
For, lo, the winter is past; The rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; The time of the singing of birds is come, And the voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land; The fig-tree ripeneth her green figs, And the vines are in blossom; They give forth their fragrance. (Song of Solomon 2:11-13 ASV)
Here are given two other indicators of the end of winter and the beginning of summer: the end of the rainy winter season and bird migration.
(c) The lateness of the spring equinox
Summer and Winter are the only biblical seasons. The season of Spring cannot be found in the scriptures.
Equinox here derives from the Hebrew word tqufah (Strong’s H8622), which is found in 4 verses:
“ And you shall observe a Feast of Weeks for yourself, the firstfruits of the harvest of wheat; also the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year.”(Exodus 34:22 GLV)
‘And it happened when the time had come around, Hannah conceived and bore a son.’ (1 Samuel 1:20 GLV)
‘And it happened, at the turn of the year, that the army of Syria came up against him ...’
(2 Chronicles 24:23 GLV)
‘his going forth from the end of the heavens, and his orbit to their ends’
(Psalm 19:6 GLV)
The ‘spring equinox’ is the result of rabbinic teaching that the ‘turn of the year’ in Exodus 34:22 may be interpreted as ‘equinox’ - thus fixing the time of the Festival of Tabernacles at the September equinox - then they taught that the March equinox was also a tqufah - and subsequently that the two solstices were also tqufahs - thus four seasons.
The vernal equinox occurs on March 20 or 21 every year. It cannot therefore be either late or early.
T’shubah (Strong’s H8666) is the ‘end of the year’ - the end of winter - in 2 Samuel 11:1; 1 Kings 20:22,26; 1 Chronicles 20:1; 2 Chronicles 36:10.
(It is used in a different sense in 1 Samuel 7:17, Job 21:34 and Job 34:36).
The kings usually waited until the end of winter to begin their military campaigns, because the rains had ceased (Song of Solomon 2:11), facilitating easier troop movement.
The ‘lateness of the tqufah’ (or t’shubah) meant that the weather had not yet turned – it was still wintry.
5.2.3 On the basis of evidence derived from three countries used they to intercalate the year: Judaea, the land beyond Jordan, and Galilee. They may intercalate on the basis of two of these, but not of one only; though in this latter case the intercalation would hold good. And if Judaea were one of the two they rejoiced, because it was from there that the offering of the firstfruits came.
The ripeness of the barley was assessed in the above three areas.
5.2.4, 5.2.5 & 5.2.6 The following were additional indicators in years when there was doubt about the barley being ready for harvesting.
5.2.4 The season of the kids or lambs or pigeons had not yet arrived.
5.2.5. R. Jannai said in the name of Rabban Shimeon, the son of Gamaliel: He used to say: “In that the pigeons are still tender (Song of Solomon 2:12) and the spring Iambs thin (Exodus 12:2,3,5), it is fitting in my opinion to add thirty days to this year.”
5.2.6 Repetition of 5.2.5 with more detail.
“This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you ... In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb.” (Exodus 12:2,3 ASV)
5.2.7 The year is not to be intercalated unless the spring equinox is still distant the greater part of a month.
The Mishnah records that the new year declaration (Rosh ha-Shanah) was publicized throughout the land and further north into the diaspora by a system of beacons (but later via messengers. The Palestinian and Babylonian Talmudim both write of another chain of beacons eastward across Jordan to Pumbeditha in Babylonia.
Gamliel is recorded as sending letters to the brethren in Syria, Asia
Minor (Turkey), Media (western Iran) and Yawan (Macedonia).
The new moon was declared in the morning, so it was
impossible for those in the diaspora to receive the news by the end of
that day. The distance from Jerusalem to Babylon by road is 900
miles. Even if they’d had the resources of the Pony Express, whose team of riders could cover up to 250
miles in 24 hours, it would have taken 4 days to reach Babylon. The
reality seems to have been much slower and less reliable.
use local new moon sighting, Jews in the diaspora bowed to the
authority of the Palestinian calendar court, and observed each annual
holy day for 2 days, in order to be sure of keeping the day that the
court had sanctified. This tradition continues today for Orthodox Jews
living outside Israel (except for the Day of Atonement - to avoid
fasting for two successive days).
A ‘rule of the equinox’ was agreed
for use when news regarding intercalation had not been received from
Palestine by Passover - and if this proved to be the wrong decision, correction was made for
subsequent appointed times.
“The rule of the equinox is attested in a
single passage in the Babylonian Talmud (Rosh ha-Shanah 21a) ...
implies that 15 Nisan, the first day of Unleavened bread, cannot occur
before the vernal equinox. In this recension, the term aviv is treated
as synonymous with tequfah (equinox).” (Sacha Stern, ibid, p.167)
computation of the equinox - Tequfah Nisan - was based on a solar year of 365¼ days,
which is inaccurate for long term use, but it remains part of the modern
calculated calendar for ritual purposes. (Tequfah Nisan is now
7-8 April - 18 days later than the true equinox.)
introduction of the permanent calendar ... the independent computation
of the beginnings of the four seasons, the Tequfoth, has lost its
importance. Nevertheless, in all our annual calendars we find the dates
of the four Tqufoth listed ... on the day of Tequfah Nisan in the first
year of the 28-year sun cycle ... we praise God as the Creator of the
universe and especially of the sun in a special blessing.”
Spier, The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar)
Jewish communities outside the land and Christian churches, most of whom had no desire to follow ‘the practice of the Jews’, followed various time cycles, usually based around the equinox, for calculating future dates for Passover/Easter.
“We do not know how early the Easter cycles were used in practice by Christian communities, but by the early 4th century, and certainly by the Council of Nicea (325CE), the Roman cycle of 8 or 84 years had become standard in the West, and the Alexandrian cycle of 19 years in the East.” (Sacha Stern, ibid, p.225)
Emperor Constantine wrote to the Syrian and Palestinian absentees from the Council of Nicea: “It was resolved by the united judgement of all present that this feast ought to be kept by all and in every place on one and the same day ... And first of all it appeared an unworthy thing that, in the celebration of this most holy feast, we should follow the practice of the Jews.”
There was no unanimity at this council, however, as to the format for calculating Easter Sunday. In 525AD Dyonysius Exiguus published his Easter table, which the Roman Catholic church soon began to use. His paschal table is an adaptation of the 19 year Alexandrian cycle, with intercalations in years 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17 & 19. This table has the same cycle and leap year sequence that would later be adopted for the Jewish calculated calendar.
(to be continued)