Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Scriptural Calendar

There are many different theories and teachings going on as to what the Scriptural calendar is. All these theories even have names, like “the solar calendar”, “the lunar calendar”, “the Enoch calendar” etc. But there is only one calendar that is valid according to the Almighty and His followers. It does not have a specific name as it is the only calendar that is acceptable. We find it in the Torah.

So let us have a look at what the Scriptures and history teach us about the calendar.

Let us start with what determines the New Year.

In the beginning, the Almighty gave us a clue as to what we are going to need in order to understand the calendar, “And Elohim said, “Let lights come to be in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and appointed times, and for days and years, and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth.” And it came to be so. And Elohim made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night, and the stars. And Elohim set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And Elohim saw that it was good” (Gen 1:14-18). The Sun and the Moon determine the calendar of the Almighty. The Moon is for determining the months and years, and the Sun is for determining the days and weeks. But I will be explaining this in more detail.

So let us see when the New Year begins. “And יהוה (YHWH) spoke to Mosheh and to Aharon in the land of Mitsrayim, saying, This month (chodesh) is the beginning (rosh) of months (chadashim) for you, it is the first month of the year for you” (Exodus 12:1-2). This verse teaches us what determines the start of a month. The Hebrew word “chodesh” is translated in every Bible as month. It is however more correctly translated as “renewal” and refers to the renewing of the moon (new moon). So the start of a new month is indicated by the sighting of the new moon.

But what determines the first month, or first new moon?

Guard (shomer) the month (chodesh) of Aviv (young barley ears), and perform the Passover to יהוה (YHWH) your Elohim, for in the month of Aviv יהוה (YHWH) your Elohim brought you out of Mitsrayim (Egypt) by night” (Deut 16:1). The first month is the month of Aviv. We know this as the Passover is celebrated in this month. Now the word Aviv tells us when it should be. The Hebrew word “Aviv” means, “young barley ears” and is often translated as “springtime” in many Bibles.

So now we know that the new moon determines the start of a new month and that the first month is in the spring time. So when the barley ears are sighted (in Israel) then we know that the very next new moon is the start of the Scriptural New Year.

How do the months work?

We know now that the moon determines the months. If you start observing the new moon sightings, then you will notice that the months are either 29 days or 30 days long. A month can NEVER be 28 days or 31 days long. This is because the Moon cycle is exactly 29.53 days long. That means that the Moon takes exactly 29.53 days to make one complete cycle around the Earth. So if a month has been 29 days long and the new moon was not sighted, then we can know for sure that it WILL be seen the next day after the 30th day, as it is impossible that the month could be 31 days long.

Now there are generally 12 months (or new moons) in a year. But there are also certain years that have 13 months (or new moons). One of the reasons that we know this to be true is simply by observing the Aviv (barley ears) as mentioned above.

We can also use science and mathematics to know that certain years are 13 months long. Let me explain. If we have to add up the all the days of each month for 12 months (29 or 30 days per month x 12 months) we get to the total of approximately 355 days for a year. You should by now notice that 355 days is about 10 days shorter than the solar cycle, which is the amount of time that it takes the Earth to complete one complete cycle around the Sun, which is approximately 365 days.

Now it does not take much to realize that we loose about 10 days every year to the cycle around the Sun. If we did not have a 13 month year at the right times, then all the seasons would go out of sync.

So when do we know when the 13th month should be? Well, besides using the observance of the barley ears, we can once again use mathematics to work it out. We know that a month can either be 29 or 30 days long. We also know that we loose about 10 days a year to the solar cycle. Now let us use a simple calculation. 30 days divided by 10 days gives us the answer of three. So by every third year, we have lost approximately 30 days. So what happens then to make up this time? A thirteenth month (moon cycle) simply gets added to the year which brings the cycles back into sync again.

So there is and has always been a consecutive cycle of 2 years with 12 months and then 1 year with 13 months. It looks something like this, “12 12 13 12 12 13 12 12 13….”  Now this method and the observance of the barley ears are and have always worked together. They have never once, in the entire history of the World, not been in agreement.

One thing that I need to cover here, is that many people claim that the moon does not determine the months. They claim that the Hebrew word "chodesh", which literally means, "new" or "renewal" does not refer to the moon and that the months are determined by a solar cycle. Many get this idea from someone telling them that nowhere in the Scriptures is the moon related to the months. But this is simply not true, there are many places where the Hebrew word for moon (yarei'ach or yarach (which has exactly the same spelling)) is directly related to the monthly cycle.

Here are some of the references for you to look up for yourself:
Exo 2:2, Deut 21:13, Deut 33:14, 1 Kings 6:37, 1 Kings 8:2, 2 Kings 15:13, Zec 11:8, Job 3:6, Job 7:3, Job 39:2 and Psalm 104:19.

These Scriptural references also disprove any idea of a Solar Enoch calendar.

So now we know how the months and the years work and when the start of a new month and year are. Now all we need to do is find out how the days and weeks work.

When is the start of a new day?

Therefore, since it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the stake on the Sabbath – for that Sabbath was a high one – the Yehuḏim (Pharisees) asked Pilate to have their legs broken, and that they be taken away” (John 19:31)

Y’hoshua was put on the torture stake during the day time, while the sun was shining. Why did the Yehudim (Pharisees) want to have their legs broken? Because it was the day before their “High Sabbath” and that the bodies should not remain on the stake on the Sabbath. Now they broke their legs so that they could die quicker, before sunset, as that is when the Sabbath begins! If the Sabbath only started at sunrise, then there would be no need to break their legs, as they would have had all night to die, which is more than enough time!

Here is just one of the many examples in the Scriptures and Brit Chadashah that shows us that the start of a new day is at the going down of the Sun. We can even see this to be true in the very beginning of the Scriptures.

And Elohim called the light ‘day’ and the darkness He called ‘night.’ And there came to be evening and there came to be morning, the first day” (Gen 1:5). Notice here that the evening is mentioned before morning in regards to explaining the first day. If you read further, the same is true for all the days too.

Now many people will argue that the Hebrew word “yom” which means day, only refers to the day time, as in the time when the Sun is shining, and does not include the evening. This is not true. Although it does refer to the day time in many places it, however, does not refer to it all the time. The Hebrew word “yom” is used for 3 different purposes. Firstly it refers to the day time, secondly, it refers to a Scriptural day, which includes the evening (24 hours) and thirdly, it refers to a prophetic day. So the argument that when the Scriptures use the word “yom” that it is speaking only of the “day time” (12 hours) is not true and the person arguing this point does not have much knowledge in the Hebrew language or culture at all.

So what about the weeks and the Sabbath?

This is an interesting subject and there are many false teachings regarding this topic, so I am going to spend the most time here explaining to you what is right concerning this topic. The Christian church claims that the Sabbath is on the Sunday, but they admit that Sunday is the 1st day and not the 7th day, and that they moved it themselves. The other false teaching is that the new moon determines when the start of the new week is. This theory is called the lunar Sabbath theory.

Firstly, let us see what the Scriptures teach us about the week and the Sabbath. “Remember the Sabbath day, to set it apart. Six days you labour, and shall do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of יהוה (YHWH) your Elohim. You do not do any work – you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days יהוה (YHWH) made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore יהוה (YHWH) blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart” (Exodus 20:8-11). The only days spoken of are six days of work and a seventh day of rest.

Now there are many places throughout the Scriptures that teach us to keep the Seventh Day as a rest day (Sabbath). But can we prove, using only the Scriptures, which day is the seventh day, in our modern time? It is actually impossible to do so. But then, how can we know for sure which day is the correct Seventh Day, or the correct Sabbath?

For us to know what the correct day is to keep the Sabbath, then we need to not only use the Scriptures, but also historic evidence too. We do not need to go any further back from the time of the Messiah (about 2000 years ago). There is so much evidence available that proves, without a doubt, which day is the Sabbath day. If we know when the Sabbath day is, then we know when all the other days of the week are.

Now the Messiah Yehoshua kept the same Sabbath as the rest of the Jews. This means that even the Pharisees kept the same day as the day of rest as the Messiah did. In fact, there is not one Jewish or Hebrew group that disagrees on when the Sabbath is to be kept, and there are no records of them ever disagreeing on this subject. We can see from Scripture that the Messiah did in fact keep the same Sabbath day as the rest of the Jews, “So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read” (Luke 4:16)

We also know that the Apostles and even Paul himself kept the same Sabbath as the rest of the Jews, “Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures” (Acts 17:2)

So the question is then, whether or not there are any first century eyewitnesses that may enlighten us as to when the Jews of that time kept the Sabbath. To find a clear answer to this question, we will examine the various Roman Historians and writers of that period.

The truth is that Jews didn't want the Set-Apart Sabbath to be associated with "Saturn," an idol that had nothing to do with Judaism. The name "Saturday/Day of Saturn" originated with the pagans, not with the Jews. The Jews repeatedly and unequivocally refer to the seventh day of the week as "the Sabbath." 

Examining the records of Roman historians and other writers can be helpful in determining when the Sabbath was kept and is still to be kept today.

For this reason, we can look into the writings of Roman historians and other writers to see if the Romans associated the Jewish Sabbath with their "Saturday/Day of Saturn." If they did associate the Sabbath with their Day of Saturn in the first century or before, this would be undeniable evidence that the Jewish week and the Roman week were both kept on the same recurring weekly cycle.  

As we will see in this section, there is no doubt that Roman historians and other writers explicitly and repeatedly consider the timing of Jewish Sabbath keeping to be linked with the seventh day of the Roman week, which was a repeating seven day cycle, independent of the moon phases. 
70 - 84 CE (AD)
Frontinus, a Roman Soldier who lived from c. 40 CE to 103 CE, wrote book on military strategy called Strategematicon in 84 A.D. In it, he writes:
"The deified Augustus Vespasian attacked the Jews on the day of Saturn, a day on which it is sinful for them to do any business." Frontinus Stratagem 2.1.17.  

The original Latin version of this book has "Saturnis" for Saturn, confirming that the Romans associated the Sabbath day with their "day of Saturn" which is on the seventh day of the week. 

Since this book was written a mere 14 years after Vespasian's (Titus') destruction of Jerusalem, this is obviously very strong historical evidence directly from a first century eyewitness, tying in the Sabbath with the recurring seven day cycle of the Romans.
63 BCE - 229 CE
Cassius Dio, a Roman Historian who lived from ca. 155 to 229 CE, using the historical annals of the Roman empire, wrote about 3 battles which the Roman empire had with the Jews. 

The first battle was during a time when the Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus II, two brothers who were the offspring of the Maccabees, were engaged in a dispute over who would rule. The Romans, through the actions of Pompey, came in and settled the dispute, siding with Hyrcanus. While speaking of Pompey's battle, the Sabbath is mentioned.
The setting is 63 BCE
"Most of the city, to be sure, he took without any trouble, as he was received by the party of Hyrcanus; but the temple itself, which the other party had occupied, he captured only with difficulty.
For it was on high ground and was fortified by a wall of its own, and if they had continued defending it on all days alike, he could not have got possession of it
As it was, they made an excavation of what are called the days of Saturn, and by doing no work at all on those days afforded the Romans an opportunity in this interval to batter down the wall
The latter, on learning of this superstitious awe of theirs, made no serious attempts the rest of the time, but on those days, when they came round in succession, assaulted most vigorously. 
Thus the defenders were captured on the day of Saturn, without making any defense
, and all the wealth was plundered.
The kingdom was given to Hyrcanus, and Aristobulus was carried away." Cassius Dio Roman History 37.16.1-4 

So the Romans took advantage of the fact that the Jews would not work on the Sabbath. When was the Sabbath? Again, the weekly Sabbath coincides with the Roman "day of Saturn." 

The second battle listed by Cassius Dio occurred in 36 BCE, is the one that resulted in the very first King Herod coming to power: 

"The Jews, indeed, had done much injury to the Romans, but they suffered far more themselves.
The first of them to be captured were those who were fighting for the precinct of their god, and then the rest on the day even then called the day of Saturn.
And so excessive were they in their devotion to religion that the first set of prisoners, those who had been captured along with the temple, obtained leave from Sosius, when the day of Saturn came round again, and went up into the temple and there performed all the customary rites, together with the rest of the people.
These people Antony entrusted to a certain Herod to govern; but Antigonus he bound to a cross and flogged,— a punishment no other king had suffered at the hands of the Romans,— and afterwards slew him." Cassius Dio Roman History 49.22.4-6

Note that Cassius Dio reports the Jews as keeping "customary rites" at the temple on "the day even then called Day of Saturn." This indicates that the Sabbath wasn't only called the "Day of Saturn" during his lifetime, but it was called the "Day of Saturn" back in 36 BCE, well before Yehoshua was born in Bethlehem.

Next, he records that the 70 CE Jerusalem destruction was on the Sabbath, which he once again calls the "day of Saturn:" 
70 - 229 CE
Thus was Jerusalem destroyed on the very day of Saturn, the day which even now the Jews reverence most.
From that time forth it was ordered that the Jews who continued to observe their ancestral customs should pay an annual tribute of two denarii to Jupiter Capitoline.
In consequence of this success both generals received the title of imperator, but neither got that of Judaïcus, although all the other honours that were fitting on the occasion of so magnificent a victory, including triumphal arches, were voted to them. Cassius Dio Roman History 65.7.2

So his report is that the Jews kept the Sabbath on the "day of Saturn" from 63 BCE up until his day, no later than 229 CE. His report also agrees with Frontinus' account of the 70 CE battle. 
c. 100 CE
The Historian Cornelius Tacitus (ca. 56CE – ca. 117CE), after suggesting that Jews kept the Sabbath out of laziness, also associated the Sabbath with the Roman idol, Saturn: 
They are said to have devoted the seventh day to rest, because that day brought an end to their troubles. Later, finding idleness alluring, they gave up the seventh year as well to sloth. 
Others maintain that they do this in honor of Saturn
; either because their religious principles are derived from the Idaei, who are supposed to have been driven out with Saturn and become the ancestors of the Jewish people; or else because, of the seven constellations which govern the lives of men, the star of Saturn moves in the topmost orbit and exercises peculiar influence, and also because most of the heavenly bodies move round their courses in multiples of seven. From The Histories, Book V

Again, the fact that a pagan associated Sabbath keeping with Saturn demonstrates that the Roman week's day of Saturn (Satur-day) was concurrent with what the Almighty calls the Sabbath day. Tacitus is an eyewitness from the first century who has no "axe to grind" in regards to when the Sabbath should be observed. He wrote this a mere 30 years after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.  

So we can clearly see that the same Sabbath that the Messiah kept is associated with the “day of Saturn” or Saturday. This does in no way mean that we keep a Saturday Sabbath, but rather that the Roman Saturday falls on the same day as the Scriptural Sabbath.

Now that we know that Yehoshua the Messiah kept the Sabbath on the same day as the Pharisees and the rest of the Jewish people. History proves to us that the Jews of today keep the exact same 7th day Sabbath as the Messiah did 2000 years ago. To think otherwise is evil and is ignoring these proofs.

You see, all Jewish people, even many who did not learn of other calendars, who were scattered all around the world, ALL agreed on when the Sabbath was when they eventually were able to make contact with other Jews because of the advance of technology. There were none that disagreed on when the Sabbath was.

Another source that we can use is that of the Muslim calendar, which is about 3,000 years old, where they faithfully kept the day before the Sabbath as their "holy day", and look, what day do they keep today? It is still the same today as it was 3,000 years ago.

And lastly, we have the faithful Christian (Roman) calendar that has preserved the weekly cycle from the time of the Messiah up until this very day.

I truly hope this helps those who are new to this and found this article to be of use. I also hope that it opens the eyes of those who were deceived by the many false teaching that are floating around.

Shalom to all who read this