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Nazarene Israel
The Original Faith of the Apostles
“But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a ‘sect,’ so I worship the Elohim of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Torah and the Prophets.” Acts 24:14.

About Calendars

By servant@nazareneisrael.org

Genesis 1:28

28 Then Elohim (God) blessed them, and Elohim said to them,

“Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it;

One of the first commandments that Elohim (G-d) ever gave to mankind was the commandment to go forth and subdue the earth. Contrary to early nineteenth-century industrial thinking, this was not a command to pollute the earth. It was also not a commandment to misuse the Earth’s resources. Rather, it was the commandment (or some would say the inclination) to use one’s Elohim-given intellect to harness the resources of Nature, so as to make the Earth a more hospitable place for Israelites to live.

When we look at Genesis 1:28 (above) in this light, we see that the command to go forth and subdue the earth was basically the command to impose artificial constructs upon Nature for the betterment of Israelis (and indeed, for all of mankind). All this is very much to the good.

What is a Calendar?

One of the things that separate advanced societies from the less developed ones is that they find ways to make sense of the seeming randomness of Nature. Not very surprisingly, the more a given culture is able to harness Nature and yet stay in tune with it, the more that culture is able to thrive. Calendar systems are just such an attempt to make sense out of Nature, while keeping in touch with what is happening in the world.

A calendar is a system for assigning numerical and/or temporal dates to actual days, so as to be able to track them, and order them better. There are many different types of calendars, but it should be obvious to any Israelite that only one of them can be from the Creator (YHWH). The task for us as believers, then, is to figure out which of these calendars is the one YHWH wants, and then to systematically ignore all of the others.

It is actually very easy to figure out which one of the many calendars in this world is from YHWH, and which are not. All we have to do is to look at the Torah, figure out how YHWH wants time reckoned, and then systematically ignore all of the other means of reckoning time. However, while this may be easy in theory, in practice the task can seem far more difficult.

Before we can understand which of the calendars our Creator wants us to keep, it might be useful to take a general survey of all the main calendar types.

The Different Calendar Types:

From a Scriptural point-of-view, all of the many different calendar systems of the world can be put into three main classes:

1. YHWH’s true Torah calendar;

2. Pagan calendar systems (most of which are based upon the worship of the sun, the moon, the stars and the host of the heavens); and

3. Blends between the two.

Once a Christian is called out of the Church (and begins to re-awaken to his or her identity as an Ephraimite), first he is usually led to the truth of the Sabbath. Then he usually becomes aware of the pagan origins of the Christian calendar. Many then embrace the Orthodox rabbinic calendar, believing that it is YHWH’s true Torah calendar. However, this is not the case.

The main problem with the Orthodox Jewish (rabbinic) calendar is that it belongs to the third class of calendars: It is a hybrid blend between YHWH’s true Torah calendar, and the pagan calendar systems of the world. However, this can be very difficult for the average Ephraimite to spot, in that the rabbinic calendar uses the right names for all of its days of worship: it is only the dates themselves that are frequently off.

One reason it can be so hard to see that the Orthodox Jewish (rabbinic) calendar is not the true Torah calendar is that the rabbinic calendar contains much more truth than the Christian calendar does. Since it contains so much more truth, the typical Ephraimite overlooks the details, in which the Devil hides.

But if the Devil is hidden in the details of the Orthodox rabbinical calendar, then what is YHWH’s true Torah calendar? In order better to answer that question, let us turn now, and take a look at calendar systems from a scientific perspective.

Lunar, Solar, and Lunar-Solar-Agricultural Calendars

Scientifically speaking, calendar systems can be classified into three main types:

1. Lunar-only calendars (for example, the Muslim/Islamic calendar);

2. Solar-only calendars (for example, the Gregorian-Roman calendar); and

3. Lunar-solar-agricultural calendars.

Most of the calendar systems that we are going to discuss belong to this third class of calendars, lunar-solar-agricultural calendars. However, before we can talk about these latter types of calendars, first let us discuss the two former types (so we can safely dispense with them).

Lunar-only Calendars

A prime example of the Lunar-only calendar is the Muslim (Islamic) calendar. In the Islamic calendar, the sacred days are determined by the phases of the moon alone. However, an interesting phenomenon happens in this lunar-only calendar. Since the rotations of the moon about the earth do not match up precisely with the rotations of the earth about the sun, the Islamic calendar ‘drifts’ backwards about eleven days each year (on average). This is why the Islamic feast of Ramadan can be in the fall one year, then be in winter some decades later, and then drift into the spring, and then finally into summer (and then back into fall), ‘migrating’ from decade to decade. In scientific terms, this happens because the Muslim calendar has no system of ‘intercalation’ (or self-adjustment). Because it does not intercalate (or self-adjust), the start date drifts from season to season.

Solar-only Calendars

On the other end of the spectrum, then, is the Solar-only calendar, of which the most infamous example is the Roman (Gregorian) calendar. This Gregorian calendar only pays attention to the movement of the earth around the sun. It pays no attention at all to the movement of the moon about the earth in setting its months, which is ironic considering the word ‘month’ is derived from the word ‘moon.’

In setting the months, the Roman Solar does not pay attention to the moon at all. Rather, it pays attention only to the four phases of the sun (which correspond to the four seasons), and to the four annual punctuations of the solar cycle (including the Summer and Winter Solstices, and the Spring and Fall Equinoxes).

We might note that the solar-only system is not only the same calendar used by the Romans, but it is also the same calendar used in Satanism and witchcraft. Not only this, it is also the exact same calendar upon which the so-called ‘Christian’ calendar is based (and in fact, the Christians inherited it from the Romans). This solar-only calendar intercalates (adjusts) based upon complex mathematical calculations that we will not attempt to explain here.

Lunar-Solar-Agricultural Calendars

The third calendar category, then, contains all those calendars which use more than just the sun or the moon alone to determine the start-date of their annual cycle. These include the rabbinic calendar, the so-called “Lunar Sabbath” calendar (and its variants), and the two major variants of the so-called ‘Karaite’ calendar, (only) one of which is YHWH’s true original Torah calendar. We will speak more about all of these as this study progresses.

The Torah Calendar: Fundamentals

The primary principle that we are working with here is that any calendar which claims to be Scriptural must conform itself to Scripture: if not, then it is heretical, and should be discarded.

If a calendar does not conform exactly to Scripture (because it incorporates certain man-made [pagan] elements), then it cannot be a Scriptural calendar (but is heretical). As this article will show, this is the case with the rabbinic calendar, the Lunar-Sabbath calendar, the Lunar-Conjunction calendar, and even one of the two main ‘Karaite’ calendars: They do not conform to Scripture; and therefore they must be discarded.

Prediction versus Observation

If we can hold in memory one more means by which calendars can be typed, calendars can also be classified by whether the start of the year is determined by prediction, or whether it is determined by direct observation.

1. Prediction (solar calendar, rabbinic calendar, etcetera)

2. Direct Observation (Torah calendar, Lunar Sabbath calendar, etceteras).

As this study will show, YHWH asks us to keep a calendar that is directly observed (and never pre-calculated). One of the interesting features about calendars in which the start of the year is observed, then, is that not only are they never predicted, but they are also intercalated. But what does intercalation mean?

Intercalated (Self-adjusting) Calendars

In order to rise above the level of the apes (and to develop an advanced technological society), man needs to order his environment. Order helps him to make sense of Nature. Order makes it easier for him to harness the forces of Nature, so he can make use of it, and thereby make life better for all mankind.

There are, however, certain parameters and restrictions given to man, outside of which he cannot go if he wants to remain in covenant with YHWH. That is to say that there are some ways that man might like to order his environment which YHWH will not allow, even though they might seem convenient.

From the time YHWH asked Noach (Noah) to build the Ark, to the time YHWH asked Avraham to hear the Still Small Voice and leave his home and his father’s house, to the time He asked him to slay Isaac, YHWH has always asked His people to do certain things that seem difficult. The reason He does these things is precisely to test us, and to build our faith. Just as Israel was tested and tried in the wilderness, YHWH also tests and tries His people today, by asking them to wait on Him, no matter how difficult it might seem.

In an era where work plans, business deadlines and reservations are most conveniently scheduled weeks and months (if not years) in advance, it might seem very frustrating to the average man to have to use an intercalated calendar, in which the start date of the next year can never be known with certainty. Many find the pre-calculated calendars (such as the Gregorian Western ‘solar-only’ calendar) offer them much more freedom, and for this reason they are reluctant to embrace an intercalated calendar, such as YHWH’s Torah calendar (because it is much less convenient).

However, while it can be more difficult to use an intercalated calendar (rather than a predicted one), it is important that we do so, if for no other reason than this is what YHWH asks us to do. YHWH purposefully asks us to use a calendar system which cannot reliably be predicted very far in advance, even though He knows it is more difficult for us to do things that way.

One of the reasons YHWH asks us to do this is because it shows Him who is really willing to obey Him (or not). And then, another one of the advantages is that it improves and sharpens our abilities to plan, and to remain flexible.

There are other benefits and advantages as well.

Intercalation in the Torah Calendar

As we shall see here, and as we shall also discuss in other studies, the Torah calendar intercalates (self-adjusts) its start date according to the interplay of the sun and the moon with the maturation of the barley in the Land of Israel. This interplay of the sun, the moon and agriculture makes the Torah calendar a lunar-solar-agricultural calendar.

As we have said, the start (or head) of the New Year is never predicted in this calendar, but can only be observed. Notice, then, what a profound difference in perspective it makes, that one does not predict the head of the New Year, but only observes it. Rather than thinking, one is looking, and watching. Rather than get caught up in one’s thoughts, one is careful to wait, and see. This is the kind of careful perspicacity YHWH seeks to develop in His people.

Let us note well: man’s role in the Torah calendar is only to observe (and then to declare) what YHWH has already caused to occur. This is an eastern mindset.

We will talk about sighting the barley in a moment, but first let us talk about the need to sight the new moon.

Sighting the New Moon Crescent

As we will see below, a new month in the Hebrew calendar is declared whenever the first crescent sliver of the new moon is sighted (but no more than 31 days after the last new moon was declared). That is to say, the new Hebrew month begins whenever the new moon is sighted, and then declared.

This sighting and declaration of the new month is both an event (a happening) and a time period (a month). Both the event (the day) and the time period (the month) are called a Hodesh (חדש) in Hebrew. [This word Hodesh is pronounced with a hard Middle-Eastern H (‘Khodesh’ or ‘Chodesh’).

[5] “Behold, the New Moon (חדש) is tomorrow….” [1st Samuel 20:5]

First Samuel 20:5 shows us that while the whole month is called a Hodesh (חדש), the word חדש also refers to the day of the sighting and declaration. The New Moon was tomorrow, meaning that it would be tomorrow with some certainty. However, this does not describe the Lunar Sabbath, Lunar Conjunction, or the Full Moon models.

In the Lunar Sabbath, Lunar Conjunction and Full Moon models, there is no one set pinpoint time which can be declared as ‘the’ Hodesh (חדש). This is because in the Lunar Sabbath, Lunar Conjunction and Full Moon models, the period of time that the moon is full (or obscured) is anywhere from 1.5 to 3.5 days long (and thus, there is no pinpoint time).

Since there is no one pinpoint time that the moon is full (or obscured), it is impossible to say, “Behold, the New Moon (חדש) is tomorrow.” For this reason (and many others which we will explain), we know that King David did not keep a Lunar Sabbath (or a Lunar Conjunction, or a ‘Full-moon Sabbath’).

Next, we might also note that Ezekiel 46:1 also speaks of the חדש as taking place on one single day:

1 Thus says Adonai YHWH: “The gate of the inner court that faces the east shall be shut six working days: But on the Sabbath Day it shall be opened; and on the day of the New Moon (חדש) it shall be opened.”

[Yehezqel (Ezekiel) 46:1]

This passage tells us that the gate of the inner court that faces east shall be opened on the day of the New Moon. Since the moon is full (and obscured) on an average of two-plus days (from 1.5 to 3.5 days) in the Middle East, there is no one set specific 24-hour day that the moon is ‘full’ (or obscure). Therefore, we know that Ezekiel 46:1 also does not speak of the Lunar Sabbath, Lunar Conjunction, or the so-called ‘Full Moon Sabbath’ models.

Proponents of the Lunar Conjunction model(s) will argue that ancient Israelites calculated the day of the New Moon, rather than sighting it. Not only will we see from the historical record in the Talmud that this assertion is false, but it was also the Babylonian (and not the Israelite) astronomers who later learned how to calculate the exact length of the Conjunction. Therefore, the Lunar Conjunction model also does not work. But rather, as we will see, the method of determining the New Month (חדש) in Yeshua’s day was by direct sighting (observation), and not by prediction of any type.

Full Moon Facts

The ancient method of observing the Hodesh was to go out in the evening about the 28th day of the Hebrew month, and look on successive nights, until the Hodesh was seen. When two reliable witnesses have sighted the first crescent sliver of the New Moon, and have informed the priests, the priesthood then verifies the reliability of the witnesses, and declares the New Month.

Once the month is declared, the month lasts until the next first crescent sliver is sighted. However, since the average length of time it takes for the moon to go around the earth and then get back into position to be seen is 29 days, if the next חדש is not sighted within thirty days, then the next חדש is declared by default.

[It should also be noted that the thirty-day count for the sighting of the Hodesh is completely independent of the weekly ‘count seven’ that determines the (weekly) Shabbat cycle. Lunar-Sabbath model proponents will make a different argument, but as we will see below, their arguments are fatally flawed.]

Declaring the New Year: Intercalation with the Barley/Sun

It takes the moon an average of 28+ days to travel around the earth, and 29.5 days to put itself back into position where it can be seen from earth again. Since the moon takes approximately 29.5 days (on average) to make this journey, it stands to reason that the month should not be longer than 30 full days, before declaring a new moon by default.

Now, when one divides the approximately 365 days in each actual year by the 29.5 days it actually takes for the moon to travel around the earth and then get back into position to be seen, one needs an average of about 12-1/3 lunar months to complete each 365-day actual year (as 365 divided by 29.5 equals 12.37).

In the Roman calendar, one adds a leap-day to the month of February every 4 or so years (on average). However, since one needs more than twelve lunar months (on average) to fully complete the circuit of the earth’s transit about the sun, the Hebrews intercalate (or adjust the calendar) by adding a thirteenth month about every third year. As we will see, the decision to add-or-not-add this thirteenth month is completely dependent upon the state of the barley in the Land of Israel.

Aviv Barley: What Is It?

As we will see, YHWH tells us that before a New Year (known as ‘Rosh Hodesh’) can be declared, the barley must be within two weeks of being ripe, by ancient standards (a condition which is known as ‘Aviv’). Once the barley reaches a state of being Aviv (within two weeks of ripe according to hand-harvesting methods), then the New Year (Rosh Hodesh) can be declared at the sighting of the next New Moon.

In sum, then, to declare the New Year, one must:

1. Find barley that is Aviv (within two weeks of hand-harvesting ripe); and then

2. Physically sight (and declare) the first crescent sliver of the next New Moon (חדש).

By studying the interplay of several key verses, we are able to intuit what Aviv barley really is, and why.

At the beginning of the Exodus story, YHWH tells Moses and Aaron that the Exodus is about to take place in the “beginning of months”:

Shemote (Exodus) 12:2

Now YHWH spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,

2 “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.”

Then, in the next chapter, we are told that this ‘first of months’ is the month in which something called ‘the Aviv’ takes place:

Shemote (Exodus) 13:4

4 On this day you are going out, in the month of the Aviv.

In the modern Jewish rabbinical calendar, the first of the months is called by the name, ‘Aviv.’ This is actually incorrect.

Shemote (Exodus) 13:4

4 On this day you are going out, in the month of the Aviv.

(4) הַיּוֹם אַתֶּם יֹצְאִים | בְּחֹדֶשׁ הָאָבִיב

In Hebrew, Exodus 13:4 does not say that Israel went out in “the Month called Aviv.” Rather, it tells us that Israel went out in the month of ‘the’ Aviv (i.e., the month in which the event called “the Aviv” took place). This is a very important distinction to make. Why?

In Scripture, Hebrew months are not named, but numbered (first, second, third, fourth, etcetera). For example, Ezekiel speaks of a ‘fourth month.’

Yehezqel (Ezekiel) 1:1

1:1 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the River Chebar, that the heavens were opened and I saw visions of Elohim.

Understand then, YHWH tells us that the month that follows the sighting of aviv barley in the Land of Israel is called the month of the Aviv. It is not the month named, “Aviv,” but the month that followed the sighting of the barley that had reached a stage of ripeness called ‘aviv.’ It was this month that we in Israel are to consider to be the start of our year.

Shemote (Exodus) 12:2

Now YHWH spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,

2 “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.”

As we will see in the next section, when the barley in the Land of Israel is within two weeks of being declared ripe by ancient (sickle) harvesting standards (a condition called ‘aviv’), the next new moon that comes along marks the start of the New Year (called Rosh Chodesh).

1. Barley reaches a stage of maturation within two weeks of being ripe, according to ancient (sickle harvesting) methods.

2. The next new moon crescent is seen.

3. The new year is declared.

But if the intercalation (determination) of the start of the New Year is dependent upon the ripening of the barley, then how does one know when the barley is at the appropriate stage called ‘aviv’?

What Is Aviv Barley?

Barley is one of several common cereal grasses yielding seed that is good for human consumption. Like all cereal grasses, as barley grows and matures it passes through several stages.

First comes a vegetative (growth) stage, and then comes a fruiting stage. The fruiting stage itself is broken up into several phases, each of which blends seamlessly into the next. However, even though these phases are not distinct, once one becomes familiar with barley, one can generally tell what the phase (or what stage) the barley is in.

Once the barley stalk has grown and the plant moves into the fruiting stage, first the barley stalk flowers (and is pollinated). Then the pollinated barley flowers form a watery pod, in which the seed will slowly begin to be developed.

At first this seed-pod is very watery (with almost no substance), but over time it fills with a milk-like fluid which slowly solidifies, becoming harder and harder, until it begins to take on the consistency of soft bread dough.

The grain does not stop hardening. Slowly the grain becomes more and more solid, and the water content continues to decrease. At a certain point, when one peels or crushes the seed pod, the seed pod will no longer yield a (fluid) bread-dough-looking substance, but will yield only a soft-yet-solid grain. When this soft-yet-solid grain is more of a solid than a doughy consistency, it is considered to be ‘Aviv.’

The term ‘Aviv’ basically corresponds to barley that is still immature (i.e. not yet fully ripe) but no longer ‘doughy.’ Time-wise, it basically corresponds to that point in time when the barley that will be ready to harvest by hand-sickle methods in about two more weeks’ time.

In contrast, barley that is fully ripe (by ancient standards) is called ‘Carmel.’ This is alluded to in Vayiqra (Leviticus) 2:14:

Vayiqra (Leviticus) 2:14

14 ‘If you offer a grain offering of your first-fruits to YHWH, you shall offer for the grain offering of your first-fruits Aviv (almost mature) grain parched in fire, or crushed Carmel (ground fully-ripe grain).

Barley that is Aviv (almost mature) has an average moisture content of some 30-40%. Because the moisture content is so high, Aviv barley cannot be crushed. Although it is a coherent solid mass (more solid than bread dough) it still contains enough moisture that if one tries to grind it, it merely breaks apart (rather than properly grinding into flour).

Because Aviv barley still has too much water content to crush, it cannot be made into flour (or bread). However, barley that is Aviv (almost ripe) can be parched (roasted quickly) in fire. Parching Aviv barley drives the water out and makes it crunchy, giving a resultant texture somewhat reminiscent of soft puffed wheat.

Aviv Barley and the Tithe

Even though ancient farmers would have been unlikely to harvest their grain while it was still only Aviv, YHWH tells us that parched Aviv barley was suitable to offer as a tithe. This would be almost an ideal situation for the farmer, as he would be able to bring up the ten-percent tithe of his barley crop to Jerusalem, offer the tithe at the Passover, and then return back home to harvest the rest of his fields just as the crops came to full maturity.

In its fully matured state, barley is called ‘Carmel.’ Barley that is Carmel has only a water content of some 20-25%, and is considered to be fully ripe by ancient standards. Barley that is Carmel can be harvested, crushed, made into flour, and then made into soup, or baked into bread. Carmel is what we think of as barley, when we purchase it in the store.

Because ancient harvesters brought in their grain by hand, they wanted to harvest their barley while it was Carmel. If they waited any longer than the Carmel stage, the seed pods would drop off the stalk, and the crop would be lost. Also, beyond the Carmel stage, when one hit the stalks with a sickle or a scythe, the resultant blow would cause the seeds to fall off of the stalk (and the crop would be lost).

Another interesting thing about barley is that it has an inherently much-weaker head than wheat, and its seed-pods are much more susceptible to damage. For example, if barley is struck by hail when it is in the latter stages of development, its much-weaker head will be damaged, and the crop will be ruined. It is this inherent fragility of barley that is spoken of in Shemote (Exodus) 9:31-32:

Shemote (Exodus) 9:31-32

31 Now the flax and the barley were smitten, for the barley was Aviv and the flax was giv’ol (in bud);

32 But the wheat and the spelt were not smitten for they were ‘afilot’ (dark, also translated as ‘late crops’ in some versions).

Barley: First-Fruit of Humility

Barley is one of the weakest and poorest of all of the cereal grasses. This is precisely why YHWH chooses it to symbolize those whom He anoints to save His people Israel.

For example, Gideon was specifically chosen to serve Israel because he was one of the least of the Nation. Notice how YHWH chides Gideon for not having any might in the material realm.

Shophetim (Judges) 6:14-15

14 Then YHWH turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?”

15 So (Gideon) said to Him, “O YHWH, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”

Included in the greater overall passage is a remez (hint) that Gideon may have been a barley farmer, in that he (as the ‘weakest’ and ‘least’ of Israel) was symbolized by a barley loaf in a dream:

Shophetim (Judges) 7:13-15

13 And when Gideon had come, there was a man telling a dream to his companion. He said, “I have had a dream: To my surprise, a loaf of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian; it came to a tent and struck it so that it fell and overturned, and the tent collapsed.”

14 Then his companion answered and said, “This is nothing else but the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel! Into his hand Elohim has delivered Midian and the whole camp.”

YHWH specifically chose the barley because it was one of the weakest and least of all of the cereal grasses. It is specifically because it is one of the weakest and least, that we are supposed to give it such attention and care. This is not to say that we are to coddle those who do wrong. Rather, it says that, like sheep, and like Israelites, barley is in need of an abundance of special handling and care.

The Equinox Error

This fact that YHWH uses barley to symbolize Israel brings out another very interesting point. Barley some times ripens well ahead of the Spring Equinox; and if one chooses to declare the New Year based on the Equinoxes, one will be making a tragic error.

YHWH specifically commands us not to serve the sun, the moon, or the stars.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 4:19

9 And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon , and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which YHWH your Elohim has given to all the (other) peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage.

Most believers can spot the mistake that both the Muslims and the Lunar Sabbath people make, in focusing too much on the moon. However, even though YHWH specifically warns us against using serving the sun, many people have a hard time understanding why we should not use the Equinoxes in the intercalation (determination) of the start of the new year.

Many people wrongly believe that the New Year can only be declared if the Equinox has already come to pass. These refuse to intercalate (declare) the New Year before the Equinox, even if YHWH has already caused the barley to be Aviv. Not only is this idolatrous, but it also punishes barley farmers (such as Gideon), because these poor barley farmers are not able to eat their crops until they bring an offering of them to the priesthood, again underscoring the reason why YHWH times the festivals (and the calendar) as He does.

Vayiqra (Leviticus) 23:14

14 You shall eat neither bread, nor parched grain, nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your Elohim; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

We discuss this in more detail in the study, “Why the Omer Count Begins the Day after the Weekly Sabbath” (available for free on the website, on the Free Studies page. We will also discuss this in depth in the upcoming book, “The Torah Calendar.”

Those who insist that the New Year cannot begin until the Solar Equinox has passed will claim that they are not worshipping (or serving) the sun. This might sound good at first, until one realizes that the term ‘Equinox’ appears in Scripture about the same number of times as the word ‘Christmas’ (i.e., it does not appear.) So if the term ‘Equinox’ does not even appear in Scripture, then how is it not pagan in origin?

And if the Equinox does not appear in Scripture, then why do both Orthodox and Messianic rabbis tell us that we must wait until after the Solar Equinox, to declare the New Year (and keep the Pesach)?

Clearly, these people are engaging in idolatrous practices: that is, worship that is not commanded in Scripture.

‘Mixed’ Calendars:

There are several examples of ‘mixed’ calendars that seek to imitate the true Torah calendar. These ‘mixed’ calendars are especially difficult for most people to recognize, primarily because they contain a majority of truth (and so people are not able to spot the errors in the details).

The three false calendars that Satan uses to mislead most Israelis are:

1. The rabbinic Calendar;

2. The so-called ‘Lunar-Sabbath’ calendar (and its variants); and

3. The Obscuration (as opposed to observation) calendar.

While we will only discuss the rabbinic calendar in any kind of detail here, we will also show some of the flaws inherent in the other two systems. We will also discuss the failings of all of these systems in the upcoming book, “The Torah Calendar.”

The Rabbinic Calendar

The Rabbinic calendar is a hybrid blend of YHWH’s Word and man’s tradition. Rather than actually observing either the Hodesh (the New Moon) or the Aviv barley, the Rabbinic Calendar seeks to predict them by a highly complex algorithm that even the rabbis admit contains flaws.

Contrary to popular myth, the Rabbinic calendar was not in use in Yeshua’s time; nor was it created overnight by a man named Gamliel II. Rather, the Rabbinic Calendar was slowly developed in response to pressures put on the Jewish Nation by the Roman Empire. This pressure slowly-but-surely forced the Jewish people into wrong patterns of behavior (that eventually became traditional). Even though these traditions are wrong, they carry forward to this day, in that the Jews consider their traditions to be binding.

Evidence from the Talmud

The Talmud is not Scripture, and the Talmud is not inspired. However, the Talmud does give us a good historic record of the thoughts of the Jewish rabbis in ancient times. This can be very good information to have.

The Talmud tells us that the rabbinic calendar was not in use in Yeshua’s day, in that the New Moon was still being declared by observation (rather than prediction). For example, Mishna Tractate Rosh Hashanah (“Head of the Year”) discusses how properly to interrogate witnesses to the Hodesh (the New Moon).

Talmud Tractate Rosh Hashanah 1:7 details a dispute between the rabbis as to whether a certain pair of witnesses that had observed the New Moon formed a reliable basis for officially declaring the New Moon that month. The passage from Tractate Rosh Hashanah 1:7 reads:

“R. Jose said: ‘It happened once with Tobiyah (Tobias) the physician, that he saw the New Moon in Jerusalem, along with his son and his emancipated slave; and the priests accepted his evidence and that of his son (but disqualified his slave);

but (then) when they appeared before the [Rabbinic] Beit Din they accepted his evidence, and that of his slave, but disqualified his son.”

Clearly this passage refers to physical sightings of the New Moon, telling us that the New Moon was being observed in Yeshua’s time, because if the New Moon was being calculated (or predicted), there would be no need to sight it.

Next, Mishna Tractate Rosh Hashanah 2:7 tells us:

“Whether it was seen in its time or not seen in its time [i.e. on or before the 30th day of the preceding month], it is sanctified [i.e. the New Moon day is declared by default].

Rabbi Eleazar bar Tsadoq says, ‘If it is not seen in its time [i.e. on the 30th], we [the court] do not (even bother to) sanctify it; for it has already been sanctified by heaven.”

Further, Babylonian Talmud Tractate Rosh Hashanah 24a tells us:

“The Halachah [Traditional Law] is according to R. Eleazar ben R. Tsadoq.”

As we just read, R. Eleazar bar Tsadoq said that the New Moons (New Months) were to be declared based upon observation (and not pre-calculation). Then we are told that the Halachah (the legal practice) is in agreement with R. Eleazar’s ruling.

Since the Rabbinical calendar depends upon pre-calculation, the Rabbinical calendar could not have been the calendar that was in use during Yeshua’s time.

No Calculations:

We should further note that Talmud Tractate Rosh Hashanah 24a (above) makes no reference either to calculation, or to lunar conjunction (or to any other consideration). Rather, it makes reference only to the direct observation of the new moon crescent. This tells us that the established practice of Second Temple Times (i.e., Yeshua’s time) was that the Hodesh was declared when the first crescent sliver of the New Moon was physically seen (and then reported) by at least two reliable witnesses. This logically demolishes the argument of the so-called ‘obscuration’ method of establishing the Hodesh, since it is not possible to require witnesses to physically sight something that cannot physically be seen.

Moreover, we should note that Yeshua was a Second Temple Period (Post-Babylonian-Exilic) Jew, whose modus operandi was to adhere to the Second Temple Period Halachah, except in those cases where the Second Temple Period Halachah conflicted with His Father’s Torah.

In this case, the New Moon Day was being determined by direct observation (and not any form of prediction at all). If we think about this, we should be able to see that the reason Yeshua never said anything against the method of declaring the New Moon (or the Head of the Year) is that this is one of the things that the rabbis were still doing correctly, in His time. As we will see below, the (heretical) calculated calendar only came into use after Yeshua’s death.

Let us then ask ourselves one question: If Yeshua did not have a problem with the Torah-based calendar that was in use at the time of the Second Temple, then why would we want to do anything else?

‘Messengers’ in the Talmud

For yet more witnesses, Mishna Tractate Rosh Hashanah 1:4 tells us that messengers were sent out into those still in Exile, to relate when the New Moon was sighted. As we will see later, this appears to have continued to be the case during the entire time that the Second Temple still stood.

In other words, the rabbis considered that it was important for those in the Exile to keep the Festival times in sync with the Land of Israel (as determined by the Aviv barley and the New Moons, in the Land of Israel.) In fact, the rabbis felt that it was so important that those in the outlying areas know when the correct calendar was, that these emissaries were even required to violate the Shabbat in the 1st and 7th months, so that those in the far distant areas of Northern Syria would receive the news in time to keep the festivals in those months.

Given the seriousness with which the rabbis have always taken the Sabbath, it appears that the rabbis considered it vitally important for those in the Exile to know the correct calendar, so they could be kept in tune with it: and this also makes sense.

However, this also begs the rhetorical question: If the rabbis had known the date of the Hodesh long in advance (because they were using a pre-calculated calendar, rather than relying on observation), then why would it be necessary to require the messengers to violate the Sabbath? If the rabbis had had the benefit of a pre-calculated calendar (such as the modern rabbinical calendar), then why was the date not simply calculated months (or even years) in advance, as the rabbis do now?

The answer is simply that the rabbis in Yeshua’s day did not use a pre-calculated calendar to determine the start of the New Month, or the start of the New Year. Rather, the rabbis in Yeshua’s day still relied upon physical observation, as outlined in the Torah.

However, if the rabbis were still keeping the calendar properly during the time of Yeshua’s ministry, then when (and why) did they stop? The answer is simply that it was time for the next phase of YHWH’s Divine Plan for the Two Houses.

A New Phase for the Two Houses:

There is a lot that can be said about the development of the rabbinical calendar, and most of what passes for ‘common knowledge’ in today’s times is inaccurate.

According to most calculations, Yeshua’s ministry lasted from approximately 26-30 CE; and from the sources that are available to us, there is no evidence that the rabbis in Yeshua’s time used any other method of determining the Hodesh or the Aviv other than what was specified in the Torah (i.e., direct observation).

As we progress through the rest of this study, however, we find that Yeshua’s death marked a turning point in Israelite history, with regards to the calendar. Consistent with the thesis set forth in the Nazarene Israel book, a new phase of Israel’s history was ready to begin.

Enter Rabbinical Error:

About the year 50 CE (or approximately twenty years following Yeshua’s death), we begin to see a slow change develop in the Talmudic (rabbinical) literature. Not coincidentally, this change begins to take hold at about the same time as the Nazarene faith began to be supplanted by lawless Christianity, in the areas outside of Judea.

The Talmudic letters from the early period following Yeshua’s death (circa 50-80 CE) tell us that the rabbis first began to widen the scope of what was considered acceptable in determining the Aviv, to take into account more products than just the Aviv barley. The rabbis expanded their list of crops to include not just the aviv barley, but also fruits and animals.

Then, in the later period following Yeshua’s death (from 90 CE onward) we see the rabbis begin to expand their considerations to take into account not just fruits, vegetables (barley) and animals, but also the Solar Equinoxes.

Consistent with the theory set forth within the Nazarene Israel book, within 30 years of Yeshua’s death, a corruption had begun to take hold of the rabbinic leadership. Within 60 years of Yeshua’s death, YHWH had turned the Nation of Judah over to the worship and service of the sun, by allowing them to take the Solar Equinoxes into consideration in their declarations of the New Year (a practice which is still accepted in some circles, to this very day).

The Early Phase of the Corruption:

In the Babylonian Talmud, at Tractate Sanhedrin 11b (which some sources date to approximately 50 CE), an anecdote is recorded which tells us what the Apostle Shaul’s (Paul’s) teacher Gamliel (Gamali’el) once did, in an earlier time:

“It once happened that Rabban Gamliel (the Apostle Shaul’s teacher) was sitting on a step on the Temple Mount, and the well-known scribe Yochanan was standing before him with three cut sheets [of parchment] lying before him. He (Gamliel) said to him (Yochanan), …(and) take the third [sheet] and write to our brethren, the Exiles of Babylon and to those in Media, and to all the other exiled [sons] of Israel, saying:

‘May your peace be great forever! We beg to inform that the doves are still tender, and the lambs are still young, and the Aviv is not yet ripe. It seems advisable to me and to my colleagues to add thirty days to this year.”

[Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 11b, recorded circa 50 CE]

Although this anecdote may have been recorded in the later period (after 50-80 CE), what we are reading here is an anecdote of something that happened in the earlier period (50-80 CE).

What we should note here is that, contrary to the commandment in Torah (which tells us that only the barley should be considered when intercalating the year), Rabban Gamliel also took into account the maturity of the doves and the lambs, in determining when the head of the New Year should be. By adding these man-made elements to what the Torah commands, the calendar was automatically corrupted.

Since it was understood that the New Year was only properly determined from the Land of Israel (and not from any other place), Rabban Gamliel advised those still in the Exile that they should wait another month before celebrating the New Year (and the Pesach).

[However, note that the practice in this period (closely following Yeshua’s death) was still to observe what Elohim had wrought when intercalating the New Year. In this early period, the rabbis were not yet predicting the Head of the New Year; and neither was the Solar Equinox yet taken into account.]

Gamliel’s Son Shimon:

Also in the Talmud is the record of how Rabban Gamliel’s son (Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel I) was faced with a similar situation, and issued an identical ruling, perhaps one generation later:

“R. Yannai said in the name of R. Simeon b. Gamaliel [quoting his letter to the communities]: We beg to inform you that the doves are still tender, and the lambs are still young, and the Aviv is not yet ripe. I (Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel I) have considered the matter and thought it advisable to add thirty days to this year.”

[Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 11a]

When faced with the same situation as his father had been faced with (some twenty or thirty years before), R. Shimon ben Gamaliel made his determination in just exactly the same manner as his father had, before him. An analysis of this is early period following Yeshua’s death shows us that the New Year was not being determined just by the Aviv barley alone, but by at least three factors:

1. The state of the barley

2. The state of the fledgling doves; and

3. The state of the newborn lambs (for the Pesach offering).

One can easily understand why the rabbis would make this error. The state of the barley, the state of the fledgling doves and the state of the newborn lambs were all related to the ability of the Nation of Israel to bring forth the appropriate sacrifices, tithes and offerings at the Appointed Time (of the Pesach). If the barley, the fledgling doves and the newborn lambs were not mature enough and the rabbis declared the New Year (Rosh Hodesh) anyway, then the farmers would not only not be able to bring an appropriate offering, but the lambs would also not be big enough to feed the families for the Pesach. For these reasons, Rabbi Gamliel and his son (Shimon ben Gamaliel I) both decided to postpone the declaration of the New Year (Rosh Hodesh) another thirty days.

The problem, however, is that man had added to what Scripture commands. The declaration of the Aviv was no longer determined based solely upon the Aviv barley, but other factors had been brought into the equation. From there it was a simple matter to widen the scope just a little bit further, and include even the Solar Equinox.

The Later Phase of the Corruption:

Beginning in about 90 CE, Israelite literature enters a new phase. Flavius Josephus tells us in his works (dated circa 90 CE, or some 60 years after Yeshua’s death) that the Jews were now intercalating (or determining) the start of the New Year by the location of the sun according to the Greek Zodiac.

Josephus’ writings are interesting, but when reading Josephus one must always remember that while Josephus had been a highly respected priest at one point in time, at the time his Antiquities were written, Josephus was now writing to please a culturally Greco-Roman patron. Josephus depended upon pleasing this Greco-Roman patron for his livelihood; and this Greco-Roman patron may have wanted the facts of the matter put into language that he could readily understand.

Josephus writes:

“In the month of Xanthicus (a Greco-Roman month), which by us is 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)….”

[Josephus, Antiquities 3:10:5, Whiston Translation]

The simple fact is that the Greco-Roman calendar does not correspond to the Hebrew calendar at all. That Josephus should equate the Greco-Roman month of Xanthicus as being equal to the first Hebrew month should make the true scholar extremely suspicious of taking this passage at its face value.

That Josephus should equate the month Xanthicus with the first Hebrew month should immediately alert us to the fact that Josephus is not writing for a Torah-minded audience. Rather, he is writing to please a gentile patron. Based on this, one might desire to discount (or even brush off) Josephus’ statement that the head of the Israelite New Year was determined by the Equinox (i.e. “when the sun is in Aries”).

One could easily decide to brush off Josephus’ statement, except for the fact that his assertions are also corroborated in the other Talmudic literature of the latter period. For example, the anonymous braita of Sanhedrin 11b tells us:

“Our rabbis taught:

‘Based on three things is the year intercalated: on the Aviv, on the fruit of the trees, and on the (Solar) Equinox.

Based upon two of them the year is intercalated, but based on one of them alone the year is not intercalated; but when the Aviv is one of them, everyone is pleased.'”

[Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 11b, circa 100 CE]

The exact date of this anonymous braita is not known, but some modern scholars place it circa 100 CE. More importantly, however, this entry seems to indicate a change in the predominating school of thought.

Notice that in the earlier period (Sanhedrin 11a), the New Year was declared based upon farm products such as Aviv barley, doves and lambs. Then, in the later period (Sanhedrin 11b), the list of considerations is widened to include the Solar Equinoxes.

Even though “everyone is pleased” when the Torah is kept (i.e., the intercalation is based upon finding the Aviv barley), notice that this is not the same thing as actually keeping the Torah.

The Torah stipulates that the New Year is declared based upon finding Aviv barley (alone). The Torah also strictly prohibits giving any consideration to the sun, the moon or the stars, or any of the host of the heavens.

How easy it is to slip into sun worship, without either intending it, or realizing it.

Just as the Ephraimites would later be turned over to the worship of the sun (on the sun day), the Jews were now turned over to the worship of the Sun (by taking the Equinox into account).

Later Development of the Rabbinic Calendar:

Many people believe that the rabbinic calendar in present use by the Orthodox (and most Messianics) was simply put in place (perhaps overnight) by a man named Rabbi Hillel II. However, that is not an accurate reflection of history.

A closer examination of the development of the modern rabbinic calendar will show not only why the assumptions surrounding this calendar are false, but why the calendar itself is false.

Reaction to the Bar Kokhba Revolt:

We have already seen that within the first century following Yeshua’s death, the scope of items considered for determining the New Year was widened from just the Aviv barley (first) to include other farm products, and then (later) to include the Solar Equinoxes.

After the Bar Kokhba Revolt of 135 CE (about 100 years after Yeshua’s death) the Romans banned the Jews from entering both Jerusalem, and other areas of Judea (southern Israel). For this reason it became impossible for the rabbis to properly intercalate the calendar (from 135 onward), because they were no longer able to observe the barley fields. However, since the Spirit had already led the rabbis to consider factors other than the Aviv barley in their deliberations, they were now mentally primed to accept an altogether different (and non-Torah-based) form of declaring the New Year (and its associated festivals).

Before we discuss the modern rabbinical calendar, we should note that even as late as 135 CE (a full one-hundred years after Yeshua’s death), the rabbis still held that it was not acceptable to intercalate the calendar beyond the present New Year. That is to say, one was not allowed to predict the calendar dates more than to the end of the current year. For example:

“Our rabbis taught: We may not in the current year, intercalate the following year, nor intercalate three years in succession.

R. Shimon said: It once happened that R. Akiva, when kept in prison (following the Bar Kokhba Revolt) intercalated three years in succession.

[Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 12a, circa 135 CE]

The reason it is not possible to intercalate the calendar for more than the present New Year is that it is impossible to know what agricultural conditions YHWH will put into place, a year from now. That being the case, one has no actual idea when the barley is going to be aviv (so the Aviv can be declared).

The reason rabbi Akiva intercalated the calendar three full years in advance was simply that he had been thrown into prison for his role in the bar Kokhba revolt, and he expected to be executed at any time. He felt it was necessary to declare the New Year three full years in advance, so that the Nation would have time to recover from its devastating defeat at the hands of the Romans (and appoint new leadership).

However, since rabbinical Judaism holds that any ancient tradition provides a suitable legal precedent for a repeat (similar) decision, later rabbis looked to the fact that rabbi Akiva had intercalated the calendar three full years in advance, and, (ignoring the circumstances surrounding the decision) considered that this constituted an acceptable precedent for declaring the New Years and the festivals literally years in advance.

No matter how popular it may be to predict the ripening of the barley years in advance, it is impossible to know in advance what YHWH is going to do (except through divination, which is expressly forbidden in the Torah).

Predicting the New Year and the festivals is simply against the Torah, which calls for Israel to wait upon YHWH to show us when He wants the New Year to be.

Drifting Away from the Land

It should also be noted that since the Jews were banned from Jerusalem and Judea following the Bar Kokhba revolt, the rabbis had no alternative but to move their headquarters north, to the region surrounding the Galilee. For this reason it was said:

Our rabbis taught: Years may only be intercalated in Judah; but if it was intercalated in the Galilee, it stands.

[Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 11b, before 200 CE]

In the year 200 CE, the Sanhedrin was officially moved to the Galilee in order to find relief from Roman persecution (here euphemistically referred to as ‘the Evil Eye’):

“It once happened that 24 villages from the domain of Rabbi [Judah the Prince] came together to intercalate the year in Lod (near the present Ben Gurion airport, near Tel Aviv). The Evil Eye (i.e. Roman soldiers) entered them, and all of them died on a single occasion. From that time they removed the intercalation of the year from Judah and permanently established the rite in Galilee.”

[Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin 1:18:3b, circa 200 CE]

The reason such euphemisms were commonly used in the era of Roman rule was to escape punishment for recording the sins of the Roman Empire (which was generally punished by death). However, there are still some issues.

The rabbis were forced out of Jerusalem, and therefore the first step in divorcing the intercalation process from the Land of Israel had already been forced upon them. It was not a step taken voluntary by the rabbis, but it was nevertheless proudly adopted into Jewish rabbinic (Talmudic) tradition, based upon prior legal precedent (rather than basing things strictly upon the Torah).

This Talmudic spirit of establishing human precedents remains alive and well in the minds of most Orthodox and Messianic Israel rabbis today. Some of these will even go so far as to assert that it matter nothing if one intercalates the New Year in Jerusalem, in Jamaica or even in New Jersey. These tell us (contrary to the Torah) that the intercalation process can legitimately be divorced from the Land.

Astonishingly, some Messianic rabbis even go so far as to assert that one should not intercalate the New Year from the Land of Israel; and that one should not take the Aviv barley in the Land of Israel into account in one’s deliberations in intercalating the New Year, because to do so would fly directly in the face of the prevailing Talmudic tradition.

This is precisely the kind of thinking that Yeshua decried: the exaltation of the commandments and teachings of men above the Commandments of YHWH:

Mattithyahu (Matthew) 15:1-9

1 Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Yeshua, saying,

2 “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”

3 He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the Commandment of Elohim because of your tradition?

4 For Elohim commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’

5 But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to Elohim” — 6 then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of Elohim of no effect by your tradition.

7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:

8 “These people draw near to Me with their mouth,

And honor Me with their lips,

But their heart is far from Me.

9 And in vain they worship Me,

Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men (the Talmud).'”

There are many self-important ‘rabbis’ in Messianic Israel who would teach you to make the Commandments of Elohim of no effect, teaching you instead to keep the commandments and teachings of men (i.e., them).

When deciding which teachers you want to listen to, I would ask you only to remember that any man that would teach you to do something other than what is written in the Torah is a man who would have you do something other than what is written in the Torah. Now ask yourself: if Israel is given the commandment to guard all of our gates, is that the kind of a man whose teachings you want to listen to?

He who has ears, let him hear.

The so-called “Karaite” calendar

As we have seen (above), YHWH wants us to reckon time according to His Torah. He also expects us to wait on Him, by observing (rather than predicting) when the start of the New Year will be. This we are supposed to do by actually going out and observing when the barley comes ripe in the land promised to Avraham (more on this in future studies).

There is a group of Torah-observant Jews who do not believe in Yeshua, who call themselves “Karaites” (which, translated, means “Scriptural Literalists”). Nazarenes find the Karaites’ use of this term to be inaccurate, since Nazarenes believe that a complete understanding of the Tanach implies acknowledgement of Yeshua’s role as the prophesied Messiah of Daniel 9:26. Since ‘the Karaites’ (per se) do not accept Yeshua’s sacrifice, they cannot honestly be called “Scriptural literalists” (Karaites).

Many believers have shied away from the term ‘Karaite,’ and also from the so-called ‘Karaite calendar,’ in that they do not wish to be associated with non-belief in Yeshua. Nonetheless, the term ‘Karaite Calendar’ has come in to popular use in Messianic and Nazarene circles, primarily because more and more Nazarenes are waking up to the fact that the Karaites have long safeguarded something that is close to the correct ‘Scriptural’ calendar (i.e., the Torah calendar that Yeshua used). However, at least as it is practiced in the modern day, the Karaites do not keep the Torah calendar, but actually practice a form of prediction.

In theory, the modern-day Karaites believe (correctly) that the New Year must be intercalated by looking for the first field of barley that is aviv, and then waiting for the next new moon after that. However, in practice, there is a problem.

Recognizing that to look into the Talmud is simply to look into a record of the decisions made by the leaders of the rabbinical Jews in past years, we can also look at the record of decisions made by the leaders of modern Karaites in this light.

The Karaites in Israel have recently been noted to be declaring the New Moon based upon prediction, rather than observation. In one of his recent posts, Karaite leader Nehemia Gordon made the statement that the new moon could be declared based upon “potential observation” (i.e., prediction), rather than on raw observation alone.

Karaite Korner Newsletter #285

New Moon Report

January 2007

Eleventh Biblical Month

On Saturday January 20, 2007 the moon was not sighted from Israel. Observers across Israel reported heavy clouds and rain. With 2.85% illumination and 88 minutes lagtime visibility would have been certain had there not been clouds. Therefore, for those who observe based on “potential visibility” the new month begins this evening (Saturday evening).

Rosh Chodesh Sameach!

(Happy New Moon!)

Nehemia Gordon

Jerusalem, Israel

The following month, Karaite leader Nehemia Gordon appeared to be following this same “potential visibility” criteria (rather than raw observation, as the Torah implies) when he made his monthly post about the sighting of the New Moon.

Karaite Korner Newsletter #288

Moon Not Seen, Heavy Clouds

On Sunday February 18, 2007 observers across Israel searched for the new moon but it was not sighted. Heavy cloud coverage was reported across the Land.

Nehemia Gordon

Jerusalem, Israel

Nehemia Gordon did not say anything specific about “potential observation” (i.e., prediction) in his post: however, it was conspicuous that this post was made on only the 28th day of the Hebrew calendar month, and then no other posts were made.

Since the New Moon can be sighted either on the 27th (rare), the 28th, the 29th or the 30th days of the Hebrew month before the Hebrew month “times out” (at the start of the 31st day) and the New Moon is declared, it was expected that Mister Gordon would then make a post the following day(s), to let people know when the first crescent sliver of the New Moon was actually seen. However, he never did that.

The only reason Mister Gordon would not have made a posting on the 29th and 30th days of the month, is if he was assuming “potential observation” (prediction) was good enough to go on. This causes a small crisis for Nazarene Israel, in that the Karaites have heretofore been considered the only reliable resource for new moon sightings in the Land of Israel. However, since their leader appears to be making determinations based upon prediction, rather than upon proper observation, the reliability of their reporting is thrown into question.

Many people wrote to Mister Gordon, but no answers were received. However, approximately a week later, the following post was made, in which Mister Gordon explained the system of “potential observation” (prediction), and appeared to be giving a carefully disguised argument in its behalf:

Karaite Korner Newsletter #289

Purim Dates

I have been on the road for over a week and when I finally checked my e-mail I found many people asking when to celebrate Purim. I apologize for the confusion on this matter and for the delay in responding.

The moon was not sighted on Sunday Feb 18 2007 due to heavy clouds in Israel. Based on modern visibility prediction criteria, we know that the moon would have been visible had there been no clouds. There are two opinions about what to do in a situation like this. The first opinion is the “potential visibility” approach which says that we should still observe a day as New Moon even if we have not seen it due to clouds, provided we can be certain it would have been visible under ideal conditions (i.e. no clouds or haze).

The second opinion is the “raw 30-day sighting” approach which says we always look for the New Moon at the end of the 29th day; if the moon is sighted we observe that evening as New Moon and if the moon is not sighted FOR ANY REASON we wait until the next evening.

According to both approaches a month can only be 29 or 30 days long. Both approaches also agree that the 31st day becomes New Moon Day by default if the moon is not visible at the beginning of the 30th day; the only difference is what to do in a situation in which there are clouds.

Obviously the ancient Israelites went by raw 30-day sighting because they did not have a means of accurately calculating potential visibility. These calculations only became reliable in the 20th century. I should point out that the potential visibility system says to revert to the raw 30-day sighting system in months in which modern visibility criteria cannot determine whether the moon will be visible or not.

Based on potential visibility Purim would fall out on Sunday-Monday March 4-5, 2007. Based on raw 30-day visibility Purim would fall out on Monday-Tuesday March 5-6, 2007. Which system should you follow? That is not something I can answer for anyone. In my opinion both must be considered valid with our present state of knowledge and when the Messiah comes he will teach us which way is true. Since there is no Torah commandment to observe Purim this day of celebration can even be kept for three days.

Nehemia Gordon

Reporting from the road in the USA

Mister Gordon appeared to be arguing in favor of adopting the system of “potential observation” (prediction) when he said,

Obviously the ancient Israelites went by raw 30-day sighting because they did not have a means of accurately calculating potential visibility. These calculations only became reliable in the 20th century.

Apparently Mister Gordon feels that the “potential observation” (prediction) system should be adopted in the modern day, because the means of accurately calculating potential visibility have now been developed. The only problem with this argument is that it is against the Torah.

If Mister Gordon believes in sighting the actual first crescent sliver of the New Moon (as opposed to predicting the New Moon), then why did Mister Gordon not make a report on the 29th and 30th days of the Hebrew month, to show when the New Moon was actually sighted?

The answer can only be that he did not make the physical sightings, because he no longer believes them to be required whenever clouds are present.

According to both approaches a month can only be 29 or 30 days long. Both approaches also agree that the 31st day becomes New Moon Day by default if the moon is not visible at the beginning of the 30th day; the only difference is what to do in a situation in which there are clouds.

Apparently the Karaites now believe that the presence of clouds gives one the right to commit prediction, and dispense with the need to physically sight the New Moon. The problem with this is that it goes against the Torah, which calls for us to physically sight the New Moon. Moreover, those who are in the Dispersion, but who want to keep YHWH’s true calendar, are now forced to rely on the “31-day time-out,” in the event Mister Gordon does not make the appropriate reports. This is far less than ideal, but it appears to be the only truly Scriptural alternative, should Mister Gordon not prove willing to make the reports necessary for people to observe the true Torah calendar.

Outlandish Observations

Many people have asked why the first crescent sliver must be sighted in the Land. “Why can we not sight the aviv barley and the New Moon in our own localities, wherever we live?” many people want to know.

As we explained in Joseph’s Return (in the chapter titled, ‘The Millennial Land’), the land promised to Avraham extends from the westernmost parts of the Nile River (the previous Land of Goshen) all the way to the Euphrates River. It covers Lebanon, lower Syria, and Jordan. This land is special to YHWH, and the other lands of the world only appear in Scripture insofar as they impact the Land of Israel, the Israelite people, and YHWH’s grand plan of Salvation for all mankind.

Further to that point, if there is to be order in the Land of Israel, the festival times must be established from one place. The world understands this concept, which is why time in all of the many nations of the world all reference Greenwich Mean Time. Greenwich Village (in the United Kingdom) is not found in Scripture, but all of the many nations of the world nonetheless see the benefits and advantages of referencing Greenwich Mean Time, so that there is some kind of a referential standard for time throughout the world.

Simply put, time has to emanate from one central place, if there is to be order in Jerusalem, when people come up for the festivals. If people all keep different calendars, then people would arrive in Jerusalem for the festivals at all different times of the year, and on all different days of the week. Surely this would create confusion and havoc, which is not YHWH’s Way.

Barley ripens in the southern hemisphere approximately 180 days out of synch with the barley in the northern hemisphere (give or take 180 days). Further, in more temperate climactic zones (where it freezes in winter), barley is a summer (and not a winter) crop. Beyond this, barley does not even grow at all near the equator, and in arctic areas. Therefore, if one was to allow people to determine (or intercalate) the New Year based upon the barley in their local areas, many people would never have an aviv, and half of the rest would be 180 days out of synch with the other half (give or take 180 days).

Now add to this the confusion that results when people want to sight the new moon crescent in their local areas. Although it may be cloudy in Israel and sunny and clear in Arizona (or Australia, or Antarctica, or wherever), one cannot have people declaring the New Month at will, or chaos is sure to result.

When the Spirit was poured out en masse in Jerusalem in Acts Chapter Two, it was important for all of the Jewish pilgrims that came up for the festival from all of the various parts of the world, to be there at the right time.

Ma’asim (Acts) 2:5-6

5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.

6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.

In order for the Day of the Pentecost to be completely fulfilled, it was important for these pilgrims all to be in Jerusalem at the right time. This underscores the reason why Mishna Tractate Rosh Hashanah 1:4 tells us that the Jewish rabbis felt that their runners should even violate the Shabbat during the 1st and the 7th months, so that those in the Dispersion could be notified of the start of those months: it was so that those who were planning to make the pilgrimages up to Jerusalem could know precisely what day they needed to be there. That could not happen if time was being declared willy-nilly, each man in his own location, as each man saw fit in his own eyes.

He who has ears, let him hear.

In His service,

Yosef ben Ruach
A servant of our Master
The Israelite sect of the Nazarenes
Re-establishing the original faith of the apostles

www.nazareneisrael.org

More about Calendars
By servant@nazareneisrael.org

Shemuel Aleph (1st Samuel) 20:5
5 “Behold, the New Moon (???) is tomorrow.”

(???? are Hebrew letters which do not transfer properly)

This article is a continuation of the article, “About Calendars.” In this article we will re-cap many of the main essential points, and then cover a lot of new material from a different angle than before. The hope is that by first reading “About Calendars,” and then by reading this article, you will become grounded in the essentials of understanding the Torah calendar, and then be able to spot the errors in the many variants (which depart from the Torah).

In contrast to the solar-oriented Western Gregorian calendar (which considers only the phases of the sun), the Torah calendar calls for the observation of the moon. And yet, as we explained in ‘About Calendars,’ the Torah calendar does not call for observation of the moon only, but also re-aligns (or intercalates) itself annually in conjunction with the ripening of the barley in the Land of Israel.

YHWH has us start the calendar year according to the barley harvest, so the farmers can bring an offering of the first fruits of their barley when they come up for the Passover festival. As we will see, with this perfect timing, the farmers are allowed to make an offering of the first fruits of their crops when they are already coming up to Jerusalem, so they can begin to partake of their crops without having to make an extra trip.

Because the Torah Calendar is intercalated (or aligned) each year according to the ripening of the barley in the Land of Israel, one can rest assured the Hebrew New Year (Rosh HaShanah) will always begin at the appropriate time (in the spring), just as the barley is coming ripe. In fact, it is the only calendar in the world that can know when the appropriate start time is supposed to be, because one determines the start of the calendar year by actually going out and physically observing that the barley in the Land of Israel is within two weeks of ripe, by ancient sickle-harvesting methods.

Aviv (????) Barley Revisited

As explained in ‘About Calendars,’ the Hebrew New Year is declared:

1. At the physical sighting of the next New Moon (???) crescent; just after
2. The first barley in the Land of Israel reaches a state of maturation two weeks short of ripe by ancient sickle harvesting methods. [This just-two-weeks-short-of-ripe state of the barley is known as “Aviv” (????).]

As we will explain in this article, one reason one must declare the Aviv (????) when the very first field of barley becomes ripe is that all cereal grasses must typically be harvested just as soon as they become ripe, or else they drop their seed, and the crop becomes lost.

Yeshua speaks to the need to harvest as soon as the crop becomes ripe in one of His many parables:

Marqaus (Mark) 4:26-29
And He (Yeshua) said, “The kingdom of Elohim is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground,
27 and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how.
28 For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head.
29 But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

If Yeshua says to bring the harvest in its right time, then is this not important?

Harvest in the Right Time

As we shall see, if the very first farmers in the Land to have ripe barley bring an offering of their crops to the priesthood, then the rest of the nation can harvest their grains as they become ripe. These other farmers cannot eat of it until they have made an offering unto the priesthood, but at least they can harvest their crops before the seed pods open, so these farmers can save their crop.

In the case of agricultural crops, the priesthood must declare the Aviv in its time. If declared too soon, the farmers will not be able to bring an offering of their crops when they come up to the Passover, which means they have to come up to the festival empty-handed, thereby breaking the Torah.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:16
16 “Three times a year all your males shall appear before YHWH your Elohim in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before YHWH empty-handed.”

Conversely, if the priesthood waits too long in declaring the Aviv (perhaps because they are waiting for the Equinox, or something) then the barley will all have dropped its seed, and the priesthood will be breaking the Torah, as they will not be able to offer a wave-sheaf, as is commanded in the Torah.

Vayiqra (Leviticus) 23:9-12
9 And YHWH spoke to Moses, saying,
10 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the First Fruits of your harvest to the priest.
11 He shall wave the sheaf (Yeshua) before YHWH, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the (weekly) Sabbath the priest shall wave it.

Timing the Festivals and the Harvest

After man finds Aviv (????) barley is found in the Land of Israel, then the priests must declare the New Year when the next New Moon (???) is sighted by two reliable witnesses. Then, two weeks after the ??? (New Moon), Israel observes the Festival of the Passover. Shortly after that comes the Wave Sheaf offering.

The Wave Sheaf is (by definition) the very first barley cut; and man must cut and offer it on the first day of the week (after the Weekly Sabbath). This will be discussed in the article, “Why the Omer Count Begins the Day after the Weekly Sabbath,” and in the upcoming book study, “The Torah Calendar.”

One reason the Wave Sheaf must be the very first barley cut is that we are told the Wave Sheaf begins not only the harvest, but it also begins the fifty-day Omer (Wave Sheaf) Count that leads up to the Festival of the Pentecost:

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:9-10
9 “You shall count seven weeks for yourself; begin to count the seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain.
10 Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to YHWH your Elohim with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as YHWH your Elohim blesses you.

One reason the Wave Sheaf must be taken from some of the very first of the barley to come ripe in the Land is that no one may consume any of the new harvest (whether wild or cultivated) until after the Wave Sheaf has been offered:

Vayiqra (Leviticus) 23:14
14 You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your Elohim; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

The need to offer the very first of the ripe barley offers a challenge, because the Land of Israel has many different and varied climates, and man grows barley in most of them.

Barley in the Land of Israel does not all ripen at the same time; but the crops in the warmer southern regions (and in the Jordan Valley, near the Salt Sea) ripen much sooner. Some people believe that one must wait until all of the barley in Israel is ripe before offering up the Wave Sheaf. However, this is incorrect.

Because of these many variations in climate, the barley in Israel ripens over a two-to-three month span. If one waits until all of the cultivated barley in Israel is Aviv before offering the Wave Sheaf, then the farmers in the south and in the Jordan Valley will lose their crops. The farmer is never to put the sickle to the grain until the critical time window for harvesting barley in their area has passed.

The solution is YHWH wants us to offer up the very first of the barley that comes ripe in the Land, for the wave sheaf (whether cultivated, or wild). Then, once Israel has offered up the Wave Sheaf, the farmers in the rest of the Land can harvest their barley whenever it comes ripe in their area; and their crops will not be lost.

Yeshua in the Wave Sheaf

Since all of the festivals speak of Yeshua, so too the Wave Sheaves.

Yeshua was the very first of the First Fruits. In a certain sense, He was the first of Adam who felt the touch of the sickle, and He did not wait until the whole crop (all of the Body) was ripe, before He ascended to Heaven. Rather, he went before us, as a kind of First Fruits (Wave Sheaf).

Yochanan (John) 20:17
17 Yeshua said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My Elohim and your Elohim.'”

Consider the analogy: now that Yeshua has been offered up as a type of Wave Sheaf Offering, the rest of us are free to be ‘harvested’ as we ‘become ripe’ over a two-to-three month span (two to three thousand years).

Vayiqra (Leviticus) 23:9-12
9 And YHWH spoke to Moses, saying,
10 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the First Fruits of your harvest to the priest.
11 He shall wave the sheaf (Yeshua) before YHWH, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the (weekly) Sabbath the priest shall wave it.

Yeshua was harvested (raised) just after the Weekly Sabbath, and He ascended to (was waved before) His Father on the first day of the week.

So too was Yeshua the male lamb of the first year (without blemish) that is to be offered on the day the Wave Sheaf is offered, as a burnt offering to YHWH:

12 And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb (Yeshua) of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to YHWH.

All of the festivals speak prophetically to His sacrifice.

The Need for the New Moon

In comparison to the rest of the Festivals, the lowly New Moon gets hardly any attention at all; and yet without this lowly New Moon, none of the other festivals would even be possible.

As we will see (below), the historical record tells us that Israel always sighted the Aviv barley and the New Moon within the Land of Israel; and that the priesthood always declared the New Moon and the New Year from the Temple Mount.

So if we can accept that we need to be in sync with YHWH’s time, as witnessed in the Land of Israel and as declared from the Temple Mount, then how can we properly determine the New Moon (???)?

Determining the New Moon

To review, there are basically two different means of determining the New Moon:

1. Pre-calculation.
2. Direct observation.

Only the latter of these two methods (direct observation) is correct.

Three Faulty Methods of Pre-Calculation

There are three methods that go by pre-calculation:

1. The rabbinical calendar;
2. The so-called ‘Lunar Sabbath’ Calendar (and its variants); and
3. The so-called ‘Obscuration’ (or ‘Conjunction’) calendar (and its variants).

Proponents of these three calculated-calendar systems can all give long explanations of why their models are allegedly superior; but as we will see below, in Yeshua’s day, the priesthood declared the New Month only by verifying witnesses to direct observation.

The Historical Record in the Talmud

We know none of the pre-calculated calendar systems were in use in Yeshua’s time, because the Talmud, the Mishna, and the Gemara all tell us that the priesthood still interrogated witnesses to the New Moon in Yeshua’s time.

The Mishna, the Gemara and the Talmud are not inspired. They are not Scripture. However, they do give us a good historical record of what took place in ancient times, as well as a good historical record of the inner workings of the minds of the men in charge of the rabbinate at those times.

The reason we know the New Moon was being observed in Yeshua’s day is that the Talmud, the Mishna and the Gemara all speak of ‘witnesses’ to the New Moon; and logically, ‘witnesses’ can only exist when one uses a method of ‘witnessing’ (or observing) the moon.

Mishna Tractate Rosh Hashanah (“Head of the New Year”)

There are many examples of witnessing the New Moon in the Mishna.

For example, Mishna Tractate Rosh Hashanah (“Head of the Year”) discusses how properly to interrogate witnesses to the ??? (the New Moon).

Specifically, Rosh Hashanah 1:7 details a dispute between the rabbis as to whether a certain pair of witnesses (who claimed to have sighted the New Moon) was reliable, or not.

The passage from Tractate Rosh Hashanah 1:7 reads:

“R. Jose said: ‘It happened once with Tobiyah (Tobias) the physician, that he saw the New Moon in Jerusalem, along with his son and his emancipated slave; and the priests accepted his evidence, and that of his son, but disqualified his slave;
but (then) when they appeared before the [Rabbinic] Beit Din, they (meaning the Beit Din) accepted his evidence, and that of his slave, but disqualified his son.”
[Mishna, Seder Moed, Tractate Rosh Hashanah 1:7]

Clearly this passage refers to physically sighting the first crescent sliver of the New Moon.

If the priesthood allegedly calculated the New Month in Yeshua’s day, then why would anyone bother to sight it? What need would there be for witnesses?

Since witnesses were used in Yeshua’s day, and since none of the pre-calculated calendars use witnesses, none of the pre-calculated calendars can be the method that Yeshua used.

The Alleged ‘Thirty Day’ Month

In the Torah calendar, the month is usually either 29 or 30 days long. This is because the average length of time it takes for the moon to go about the earth and get back into alignment (where witnesses can see it) is, on average, 29.5 days.

The moon actually makes a complete 360-degree circuit about the earth every (approximately) 27.5 days. However, because the earth also moves around the sun, the moon has to go more than 360 degrees to get back into alignment (to a place where man can see it again). Thus, it takes the moon approximately two extra days to get back into ‘alignment’ (where man can see it).

The numbers used here are all averages (and can never be exact) because the movements of all these bodies (sun, moon, stars, earth, and etceteras) are not perfectly-predictable circles. Rather, they are all ellipses (and not coordinated ellipses, either).

However, all of that notwithstanding, we can expect a month to be normally either 29 or 30 days long. (There are some exceptions to this rule, but we will not deal with these in this article.)

Spotting the New Moon

Normally speaking, on the evening of the 28th or 29th days of the Hebrew month, observers across the Land of Israel go outside near dark, and look for the New Moon. If the observers can see the New Moon on the 28th day, then the priesthood must declare the New Moon on that day. If the witnesses see the New Moon on the 29th day, then the priesthood must declare the New Moon Day (the New Month) on that day. Whenever the New Moon is seen by two reliable witnesses (and their testimony is verified by the priesthood), the New Moon must be declared on that day.

If the New Moon is not spotted on the 29th day, then the observers will spot for one more day. If witnesses sight the New Moon on the start of the 30th day, then the priesthood will declare the New Moon on the start of the 30th day. However, if witnesses do not spot the New Moon at the start of the 30th day, then the first day of the next Hebrew month will begin the next day (on what would have been the 31st day).

This 29/30/Default system is the same system used in King David’s time. When the New Moon was not spotted on the 30th day, it was already known that the New Moon Day would be the following day (on what would have been the 31st).

For example:

Shemuel Aleph (1st Samuel) 20:5
5 And David said to Jonathan, “Behold, the New Moon (???) is tomorrow, and I should not fail to sit with the king to eat. But let me go, that I may hide in the field until the third day at evening.”

Declaring the New Moon by Default

As long as the Second Temple still stood, the priesthood used this method of declaring the New Moon (???) at the start of what would have been the 31st day, if two reliable witnesses did not spot it on or before the start of the 30th day. For example, Mishna Tractate Rosh Hashanah 2:7 tells us:

Whether it was seen in its time or not seen in its time [i.e. on or before the start of the 30th day], it is sanctified [i.e. the New Moon is declared by default].
[However] Rabbi Eleazar bar Tsadoq says, ‘If it is not seen in its time [i.e. on or before the 31st], we [the court] do not (even bother to) sanctify it; for it has already been sanctified by heaven.”
[Mishna, Seder Moed, Tractate Rosh Hashanah 2:7]

Babylonian Talmud Tractate Rosh Hashanah 24a comments on the Mishna, saying:

“The Halachah [Traditional Law] is according to R. Eleazar ben R. Tsadoq” (meaning, that if the ??? is not seen on or before the 30th day, the ??? is declared the next day by default).

R. Eleazar bar Tsadoq’s comment tells us that in Second Temple Period times, the priesthood declared the New Months based upon observation. We are also told that the Halachah (????) during this time period agreed with R. Eleazar’s ruling (that the new months should be based on observation).

That the ??? was determined by observation (and not by calculation) means that the priesthood did not use pre-calculated calendar methods in Yeshua’s time.

In other words, Yeshua and His Apostles did NOT use:

1. The rabbinical calendar;
2. The ‘Lunar Sabbath’ calendar; or
3. The ‘Obscuration/Conjunction’ calendar.

Yeshua: A Halachically-Correct Second Temple Period Yehudi

The established practice all during Second Temple Times (i.e., Yeshua’s time) was that at least two reliable witnesses would report the ???, and then the priesthood would declare the New Month from the Temple Mount.

The fact that witnesses were required logically destroys all of the calendar methods requiring pre-calculation, since one does not need witnesses to observe something that man cannot see.

Moreover, as we explained in the Nazarene Israel study, Yeshua was a Second Temple Period (Post-Babylonian-Exilic) Jew, whose modus operandi was to adhere to the Second Temple Period Halachah, except when it conflicted with His Father’s Torah.

The reason Yeshua never said anything against the way the New Moon was declared was that the method the rabbis were using in His day was correct.

The ???: Seen in Israel; Declared from the Temple Mount

There are yet more witnesses that the New Moon is determined by observation (and not by calculation).

As we will see below, Mishna Tractate Rosh Hashanah records for us that the rabbis would send out messengers even during the Shabbat, to let those in the Exile in Syria know when the New Moon had been:

1. Sighted from the Land of Israel; and then
2. Declared from the Temple Mount.

Once the witnesses had sighted the ??? from within the Land, these witnesses then had to go up to the Temple Mount; for it was only from the Temple Mount that the ??? could be declared.

Witnesses Required to Travel on Shabbat

Since Tel Aviv is farther West than Jerusalem, it often happened that observers would see the ??? in the area of Tel Aviv before it was seen in Jerusalem; particularly during periods of marginal visibility. The Mishna records for us that it was the established practice in Yeshua’s time that witnesses to the ??? would travel from the area of Tel Aviv, and go up to Jerusalem to report the ???:

5 Whether it (the ???) was seen clearly, or whether it was not seen clearly, they (meaning, witnesses to the ???) violate the Shabbat on it.
[Mishna, Seder Moed, Tractate Rosh Hashanah 1:5]

Since it is vitally important that the New Moon be declared in its appointed time (so that the New Moon sacrifices may be offered in their times), the witnesses ??? had to go up to Jerusalem, even if it meant violating the Shabbat.

Why from The Land; and Why from Jerusalem?

Why does man have to sight the ??? from the Land of Israel, and why is it best declared from the Temple Mount? Perhaps it is because YHWH has always been more concerned with the Land of Israel, than any other land.

Even in practical terms, it should be obvious that although Israelites have celebrated the Festivals all over the world, Time has to be calibrated to some one particular place, or else there is chaos. It would make no sense for someone, say, in America or Australia or South Africa to begin their calendar on a different day than YHWH is having it kept in Jerusalem.

When this person from another country came up for the Pilgrimage Festival, if he was on a different calendar, the Festival either might not yet have started, or else it might already be over. If this was the case in ancient times, then how could the Jews from all over the known world have been in Jerusalem for the Pentecost, when YHWH poured out His Spirit?

Ma’asim (Acts) 2:1-5
2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Set-apart Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.

Beyond this, it is the barley farmers in the Land of Israel who will bring the Wave Sheaf Offering up to the Temple Mount, just as it will be the barley farmers in Israel who will be bringing the tithe of their barley up to the Temple Mount (to give it to support the priesthood). Given this fact, does the ripeness of the barley in Arizona or in Australia have anything to do with anything?

And, given that it is the barley farmers in the Land of Israel who will be bringing the Wave Sheaf (as well as bringing the tithes of their barley crops), then should the aviv barley search be conducted:
a. In the land promised to Avraham? or
b. In other parts of the world?

And if the barley search must be conducted in the Land of Israel (for the benefit of the Wave Sheaf, and the barley farmers who choose to live in the Land), then why not the new moon sightings, also? Since a couple of days often makes the difference between the barley being aviv, or not being aviv, then why would we discount the control that YHWH has over the weather in the Land of Israel?

What if YHWH chooses to make clouds in Israel, so that the new moon is spotted two days later in Israel than in other parts of the world? Is it wrong that YHWH should cause the barley to have two extra days to become ripe enough for the aviv to be declared, when He wills?

If the new moon can be seen from Arizona, or Australia, or Austria, should the new moon be declared in that time, even if YHWH has caused clouds in the Land of Israel, so the barley can become aviv?

Does the timing of the barley harvest outside of the Land Israel have anything at all to do with the timing of the barley harvest in the Land?

And does the timing of the barley harvest in Madagascar have anything to do with the Wave Sheaf Offering in the Land?

Does the timing of the new moon sighting in Arizona or Australia have anything to do with whether or not YHWH gave clouds in the Land, so the new moon could be sighted in the Land?

And do the new moons and the barley in Greenwich Village, England have anything at all to do with the intercalation of the New Year in Israel?

Physically Sighting the New Moon

Actually physically sighting the New Moon in the Land of Israel is a very simple procedure. One simply waits until the 29th day of the month, and then goes out just before nightfall, and looks for it.

If two witnesses spot the New Moon on the 29th day, then the priesthood will declare the ???; and if not, then the next day (the 30th) the observers will look again. If the New Moon is not spotted by the start of the 30th Day, then the next day (or what would have been the 31st day) will be New Moon Day, by default:

Shemuel Aleph (1st Samuel) 20:5
5 “Behold, the New Moon (???) is tomorrow.”

This Scriptural method of physically sighting the New Moon stands in marked contrast to the rabbinical method of pre-calculating the New Moon, which does not concern itself with New Moon visibility.

The Scriptural method also stands in contrast to the so-called ‘Karaite’ method, which says it is OK to predict the New Moon if there are clouds.

Communicating the ???

Clearly, if the New Moon must be declared from the Temple Mount because the people of the world need to come up to the Temple Mount in sync with the time the festivals are actually happening, then there needs to be some means of communicating when the New Moon is seen from the Land of Israel (and then declared from the Temple Mount).

In modern times, there is the Internet. However, in ancient times, Israelites used two different means of communicating the sighting and declaring of the ???:

2 Originally they would light flares. (Then,) after the Cutheans’ (the Samaritans’) evil practices, they enacted that messengers should go forth.
[Mishna, Seder Moed, Tractate Rosh Hashanah 2:2]

The Gemara reports that at some point there was a mix-up with the signal flares, in which the Beit Din implicated the Cutheans (the Samaritans). Because of this mix-up, the Beit Din (the Court) decided to use runners instead of signal flares (because a runner’s message would not be misunderstood).

3 How did they light the flares? They brought long poles of cedar wood, and reeds and shemen (olive) wood, and chips of flax, and he tied together with rope, and he went up to the top of the hill and he set fire to them, and he waved to and fro and he raised and lowered, until he saw his fellow doing likewise on the top of the second hill, and so, too, on the top of the third hill.
4 And from where did they light the flares? From the Mount of Olives to Sarteba, and from Sarteba to Agrippina, and from Agrippina to Havran, and from Havran to Bet Biltin, and from Bet Biltin they did not move, but he waved to and fro and he raised and lowered until he would see the whole mass of the Diaspora below him like a mass of fire.
[Mishna, Seder Moed, Tractate Rosh Hashanah 2:3-4]

The Gemara elaborates that ‘The Diaspora’ refers to a place in Babylon called ‘Pumbedita,’ where Jews still in the Babylonian Exile would get out on their rooftops and wave torches, signaling to the men on Bet Biltin that they now knew the correct time in the Land, as declared from the Temple Mount.

In this way, the whole world looked to Zion to know what time it was:

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 2:3
For out of Zion shall go forth the Torah;
And the word of YHWH from Jerusalem.

Did Yeshua Observe a Lunar Sabbath?

Those who profess the doctrine of the so-called “Lunar Sabbath” mislead many people. The basic idea behind this doctrine is that YHWH originally created the moon (and the other lights in the sky) to show us when the weekly Sabbath is. This idea derives from the same passage in B’reisheet (Genesis) that the idea of a Vernal Equinox Passover comes from:

B’reisheet (Genesis) 1:14-19
14 Then Elohim said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years;
15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so.
16 Then Elohim made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also.
17 Elohim set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth,
18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And Elohim saw that it was good.
19 So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

Proponents of the Lunar Sabbath theory argue that since the Sabbath is the most basic of the appointed times, that the moon was created to show us when the weekly Sabbath is.

The concept behind the Lunar Sabbath is simple. Since it takes the moon about 28 days to circle the earth, the Lunar Sabbath theorists divide this 28 days into four even 7-day periods. Their idea is that long before the days of Timex and computer programs, a simple shepherd out in the field could look up at the moon in the sky, and tell when the next Sabbath was coming, by whether the moon was obscured, in its first quarter, full, or in its last quarter.

At least according to Lunar Sabbath theory, a shepherd or a farmer would look up, and would see that either the moon was full (the middle of the month), a quarter moon (a half-moon waxing to become full), a three-quarters moon (a half-moon waning to become “empty”), or a “no moon,” which is what most Lunar Sabbath theorists incorrectly call a “new” moon.

[Note: there is one exception to this. In the so-called “Full Moon Lunar Sabbath” model, the month is supposed to start with the full moon, rather than with the obscuration. However, this argument of man also has fatal flaws, for reasons we shall see below.]

The idea behind the Lunar Sabbath Theory is very beautiful: simply by looking up in the sky, one can tell what time of the month it was, without having to bother keeping track of a “count seven.”

Another beauty of the Lunar Sabbath model is that the weekly Sabbath also lines up with the festival days. Festivals such as the Day of Trumpets and Rosh Chodesh (New Moon Day) allegedly begin on the new moon conjunction (no moon). They also count this as a weekly Sabbath.

Festivals such as Passover and Tabernacles fall on a full moon (which they also count as a weekly Sabbath).

The idea is so simple and elegant that the logical mind wants to believe it: it just seems so simple and beautiful. However, like lawless Christianity, when you begin to actually study into it, one finds that it just does not work.

Problems with the Lunar Sabbath Model

The real problem with the Lunar Sabbath Model is the prohibition against the worship of the host of the heavens (e.g. Deuteronomy 17:3, Job 25:5, etceteras). However, for the moment let us put these aside, and focus on the more direct specific problems that the Lunar Sabbath Model gives us.

How can one observe what one cannot see?

The most obvious problem with the Lunar Sabbath Model has to do with their idea of a “no moon Sabbath,” or what man calls the ‘New Moon Conjunction.’ This is the idea that one of the Sabbaths (and the beginning of each month) falls at the time of the conjunction, where the moon is on the same side of the earth from the sun (and cannot be seen at night). This simply does not work.

The idea behind the “new moon conjunction” is that when you can not see the new moon, then that is the Sabbath, and the start of the new month. The only problem with this is that in the Middle East, the period of time that the moon cannot be seen averages more than two days, but can fluctuate anywhere between 1.5 to 3.5 days (or even longer in cloudy weather).

If the moon is obscured an average of 2-2.5 days, then when (in this 2-2.5 day period) does one observe the Sabbath? Moreover, what does one do with the last week of the month, and the first week of the next month, which are likely to be either longer or shorter than the standard seven days?

The Lunar Sabbath Theory might work with a 28 day month, but in real life, the months average 29.5 days. This means that the last week of every month must last 8.5 days (on average). This 8.5 day average does not line up with the way YHWH taught the children of Israel to observe the Sabbath in the wilderness.

The “Count Seven”

In the wilderness, YHWH taught the children of Israel simply to “count seven,” and then the seventh day of the count was the Sabbath. This lines up perfectly with the Creation Week, in which there were exactly seven days (and not 8, 8.5 or 9 days).

B’reisheet (Genesis) 2:1-3
2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished.
2 And on the seventh day Elohim ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.
3 Then Elohim blessed the seventh day and set it apart, because in it He rested from all His work which Elohim had created and made.

We should also note that Elohim created the moon on the fourth day of the week.

B’reisheet (Genesis) 1:14-19
14 Then Elohim said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years;
15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so.
16 Then Elohim made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also.
17 Elohim set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth,
18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And Elohim saw that it was good.
19 So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

What are we to conclude from this? If Elohim created the moon new on the fourth day, then is the fourth day of the week the Sabbath?

First Day Worship

Next, consider that if one begins the month with the obscuration (or with the Full Moon), and that is also one’s Sabbath, then (like the Christian Church) one is worshipping on the first day of the week.

In contrast, Scripture tells us that the Sabbath is the seventh day of the week.

B’reisheet (Genesis) 2:3
3 Then Elohim blessed the seventh day and set it apart, because in it He rested from all His work which Elohim had created and made.

If you observe a Lunar Sabbath, then you worship on the first day of your week.

There are many more holes in Lunar Sabbath Theory.

Manna in the Wilderness

When Israel was in the wilderness, YHWH taught them to gather each day for five days, and then on the sixth day, they were to gather for two days.

Shemote (Exodus) 16:22-30
22 And so it was, on the sixth day, that they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. And all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.
23 Then he said to them, “This is what YHWH has said: ‘Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a set-apart Sabbath to YHWH. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.'”
24 So they laid it up till morning, as Moses commanded; and it did not stink, nor were there any worms in it.
25 Then Moses said, “Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to YHWH; today you will not find it in the field.
26 Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none.”

Is any mention made here of gathering for an 8.5, or a 9 day week?

27 Now it happened that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none.
28 And YHWH said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws?
29 See! For YHWH has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.”
30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

There is no mention of gathering enough manna to fulfill up to 3.5 days of an obscuration. The only commandment is to take enough on the sixth day to last them through the end of the seventh day. This is the consistent pattern throughout Scripture, and the Lunar Sabbath theorists have no answer for it.

Moshe does not say that on the last week of the month you are to take in a little extra, “just in case the obscuration lasts a little bit longer than usual, or in case this happens to be an eight or a nine (or even a ten) day week.”

Moshe made no such exception.

What did Yeshua Do?

But perhaps the most compelling evidence against the Lunar Sabbath model is Yeshua, who kept the regular Seventh Day Sabbath.

Lunar Sabbath Theory proposes that the children of Judah lost the correct means of calculating the calendar when they went in to captivity in Babylon around 586 BCE. They then postulate that the children of Judah left the (supposedly “correct”) Lunar Sabbath model behind, and began following a “corrupt” means of keeping time (that just coincidentally happens to fit the model handed down in the Torah).

However, if the Lunar Sabbath model is correct (and the ‘count seven’ is not), then why did Yeshua keep the Seventh Day Sabbath along with the rest of the children of Judah? Why did Yeshua not rebuke the Pharisees for counting to seven (as the Torah says), if they were (allegedly) supposed to keep the Lunar Sabbath instead?

Yeshua did not rebuke the Pharisees for keeping the seventh-day Sabbath. In fact, we see exactly the opposite, with Yeshua honoring the seventh-day Sabbath, by going into the synagogues on it:

Luqa (Luke) 4:16
16 And according to His practice, He went in to the congregation on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.

Prophecies in Daniel

Next, let us consider the prophesies over Yeshua in Daniel.

Daniel 9:27
27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;
But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.

Many scholars recognize how this passage speaks of how Yeshua confirmed the covenant with many, when He served as the Passover Lamb.

According to classical Nazarene thinking, Yeshua was cut off in the middle of the week (Pesach being in the middle of the week), and was then raised on the weekly Sabbath (as Master of the Sabbath).

However, depending upon which version of Lunar Sabbath Theory one listens to, the Passover is either the first day of their week, or the end of their week (a “seventh” day). However, if the Passover is at the start or the end of the week, then how could Yeshua Messiah have confirmed the covenant with many at Golgotha, in the middle of the week?

Clearly, the Lunar Sabbath model sounds great in theory, but it does not match up with Scripture, and therefore, it just does not work.

The Hebrew Day Begins When?

Finally, some assert that the day begins at morning.

Scripture tells us that the evening and the morning were the first day. By this, we are told that the day begins at evening.

B’reisheet (Genesis) 1:14-1914 Then Elohim said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. 16 Then Elohim made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. 17 Elohim set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And Elohim saw that it was good. 19 So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
If YHWH wills, we will go into a more detailed proof in the upcoming book-study, “The Torah Calendar.” However, the Hebrew word Erev (?????) means evening

OT:6153 `ereb (eh’-reb); from OT:6150; dusk:
KJV – day, even (-ing, tide), night.

When we look up the suggested reference to OT:6150, we get a reference to how colors, shapes and textures seem to be all ‘mixed together’ at eventide, as the light wanes, and the darkness takes over:

OT:6150 `arab (aw-rab’); a primitive root [identical with OT:6148 through the idea of covering with a texture]; to grow dusky at sundown:
KJV – be darkened, (toward) evening.

Finally, when we look up the reference to OT:6148 (just to be complete), we see another reference to colors, shapes and textures becoming muddled, braided or intermixed with the approaching of night, as if one is becoming covered with a textured cloth:

OT:6148 `arab (aw-rab’); a primitive root; to braid, i.e. intermix; technically, to traffic (as if by barter); also or give to be security (as a kind of exchange):
KJV – engage, (inter-) meddle (with), mingle (self), mortgage, occupy, give pledges, be (-come, put in) surety, undertake.

The “Day Begins at Morning” theologians suggest that the word erev (?????) means ‘morning.’ However, if this was the case, then the word ‘erev’ (?????) would mean “increasing clarity and brightness,” rather than increasing obscurity.

Next, the word ‘boqer’ (?????) means ‘morning.’

OT:1242 boqer (bo’-ker); from OT:1239; properly, dawn (as the break of day); generally, morning:
KJV – (+)day, early, morning, morrow.

When we look up the suggested reference to OT:1239, we get a reference to plowing, breaking forth, inquiring after and inspecting something (in this case, probably agricultural crops, or livestock). All of these are activities that intelligent people do in the daytime.

OT:1239 baqar (baw-kar); a primitive root; properly, to plough, or (generally) break forth, i.e. (figuratively) to inspect, admire, care for, consider:
KJV – (make) inquire (-ry), (make) search, seek out.

“Day Begins at Morning” theologians give lengthy arguments suggesting that the Hebrew text is misunderstood, or mistranslated, or that people have gotten it all wrong since the times of Moses, or some such related argument. The problems with their arguments are too many to go into here. However, consider the following:

The first day of the month (Rosh Hodesh), the Day of Trumpets (Yom Teruah) and the New Year (Rosh HaShanah) all begin with the sighting of the new moon, at eventide. Further, all of these begin at a day and an hour no man knows, but the Father.

MattithYahu (Matthew) 24:40-42
40 “Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left.
41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.
42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Master is coming.”

The first crescent sliver of the new moons of Rosh Hodesh, Yom Teruah and Rosh HaShanah are all sighted at evening. However, if the day begins at morning (as the ‘Day Begins at Morning’ theologians suggest), then either we would not know when these festival days began until half-way through these days were done. But how are we to keep the commanded morning sacrifices of these festival days, if we do not know we are in the festival day until evening?

Some ‘Day Begins at Morning” theologians suggest that we would know the day and the hour these festival days began, because these festival days would not begin until the next morning. However, since Yeshua returns at the Last Trump (on the Day of Trumpets, or Yom Teruah), then Yeshua would have to be a liar, because His Word that we would not know the day or the hour would be false.

Is Yeshua a liar? Elohim forbid! Rather, the day begins at evening.

Shalom,

Yosef ben Ruach
A servant of our Master
The Israelite sect of the Nazarenes
Re-establishing the original faith of the Apostles

www.nazareneisrael.org

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May Elohim bless you, and be with you.

QorintYah Bet (Second Corinthians) 2:14-17
14 Now thanks be to Elohim who always leads us in triumph in Messiah, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.
15 For we are to Elohim the fragrance of Messiah among those who are being saved, and among those who are perishing.
16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?
17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of Elohim; but as of sincerity; but as from Elohim. We speak in the sight of Elohim, in Messiah.”

Nazarene Israel is the original faith of the apostles, being restored in the modern day by the workings of His Spirit.

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