Part of a chapter from a brothers book. He has lived in Israel for almost 15 years
It is generally accepted that certain elements of the calculated Jewish calendar, commonly in use today, were codified in approximately 358 C. E. by the (president of the Jewish Sanhedrin), Hillel II. (Encyclopaedia Judaica).
Let me add some historical proof to dogmatically show that the calendar that the Jews used in the first century AD was one that started in spring and not fall and the year did NOT ever start before the vernal equinox or the precession of the equinox. There are 12 constellations in the sky and the sun goes through each one approximately every 30 days. After it has gone through the 12th and starts back in the first one, then the New Year can start. The Jewish historian Josephus referred to this in Antiquity of the Jews when he stated “the year had now begun as the sun was now in the constellation of Aries.” Also, the noted historian Eusebius had much to say confirming that ancient Israel ALWAYS waited until after the vernal equinox to start the year in spring and NOT winter.
Extracts from the Canons of Anatolius on the Paschal Festival:
But as the Romans would say, before the eleventh of the calends of April.
(15) But the sun is found on the said twenty-sixth of the month Phamenoth, not only as entering the first segment (of the zodiac), but on the fourth day is already found passing through it. But this segment they generally call the first dodecatomorium, and the equinox, and the beginning of the month, and the head of the cycle, and the head of the planetary course. But that segment, and the last dodecatemorium, and the end of the planetary revolution. Hence, also, those that place the first month in it, and that fix the fourteenth of the month by it, commit, as we think, no little and no common blunder .
(16) But neither is this our opinion only, but it was also known to the Jews anciently, and before Christ, and was chiefly observed by them, as we may learn from Philo, Josephus, and Musaeus, and not only from these, but also from those still more ancient, i.e., the two Agathobuli, commonly called the masters, and of Aristobulus, that most distinguished scholar, who was one of the seventy that translated the holy Scriptures from the Hebrew for Ptolemy Philadelphus, and his father, and dedicated his exposition of the law of Moses to the same kings.
(17) These, when they resolve inquiries on Exodus, say that all ought to sacrifice the Passover alike after the vernal equinox, in the middle of the first month. But this is found to be when the sun passes through the first segment of the solar, or, as some call it, the zodiac circle.
But this Aristobulus also adds, it was requisite that not only the sun should have passed the equinoctial segment for the feast of the Passover, but the moon also. But that the first month of the Hebrews must occur after the equinox may be gathered also from the book of Enoch.”
We see also in the 19th Psalm that there is more to determine the proper observation of time than just the new moon. Psa 19:1-6 The heavens declare the glory of Elohim; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night shows knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath He set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of His chamber, and rejoices as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and His circuit (Tekufah) unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.
The question of exactly what the connection is between the times and the seasons may well be understood in the term for line, which connotes connection, and certainly would include more than a simple sunrise/sunset repetition, particularly in the light that is their line , the line of the heavens and firmament, not just the line of the sun. The line mentioned in Hebrew thought is always circular and not linear.
While the daily rotation of the earth provided the smaller connecting circuit, the returning of the sun each year to the same point at the vernal equinox was the greater connecting circuit. From the earliest times there was an understanding of the geometry of the earth, and that the sun in its transit across the equatorial line created the equinoxes. This astronomical event precludes any artificial man-made rules. Let us look at another scripture that shows this same concept.
Deut 11:11 But the land which you are entering to possess it is a land of hills and valleys, drinking water from the rain of the heavens; 12a land which Yahweh your Elohim cares for; the eyes of Yahweh your Elohim are constantly on it from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.
When you read this scripture in Hebrew, it is once again showing a circular pattern, not a linear one. Yahweh’s eyes are always on the land of Israel in a never-ending circular pattern, which is physically manifested by the “tekufah” or circuit of the sun, portrayed yearly with the start of the New Year at the vernal equinox. That the learned men of old understood that Abib 1st always fell AFTER the vernal equinox is crystal clear.
The debate of when Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were properly kept hinged on this single event. "’Peter, the Bishop of Alexandria, mentions that the Jews had kept the Passover properly up to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. But after the destruction of the city they ‘err in reckoning the beginning of the month, which is first amongst the months of the year, on the fourteenth day of which, being accurately observed, AFTER the equinox, the ancients celebrated the Passover according to the Divine Command: whereas the men of the present day now celebrate it BEFORE the equinox, and that altogether through negligence and error, being ignorant how they celebrate it in their season…" Anti-Nicene Fathers, Vol. VI, p. 280.
It is recognized that the calendar followed during the time of Yahshua Messiah was regulated by the priestly lineage, the Sadducees, who never started the New Year until AFTER THE VERNAL EQUINOX for reckoning the month of Aviv. As a matter of fact it is stated in Jack Finegan’s Handbook of Biblical Chronology that when Solomon built the Temple of Yahweh at Jerusalem that it was made specifically so that the sun would shine directly through the Eastern Gate on both the vernal and autumn equinoxes. Also, during the some 175 years of the Elephantine letters of the Jews in Diaspora in Egypt, never once did they start the year before either the precession of the equinoxes or the vernal equinox.
Look at the following quoted excerpt from: Kenneth F. Doig, New Testament Chronology, (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1990). “Many of these legal documents include the required Egyptian civil year date. Double-dated documents including the Hebrew dates of the Elephantine Jews cover the period 471 to 402 BCE. This included evening to evening days and a New Year beginning in Nisan (Aviv) only after the Vernal Equinox . Almost all of the datable documents can be referred back to a Nisan (Aviv) beginning only after the Vernal Equinox each year .”
When the Jews went into Diaspora after the Bar Kokhba revolt in 135 AD they systematically changed the method of calculation and at some point even started to keep the Passover itself in winter. “They blessed on the 23rd of Nissan and thus the whole nation announced that tekufat Nissan begins on the 23rd of Nissan! Therefore, Pesach of that year they celebrated in the winter tekufa , disobeying the positive, explicit Biblical commandment to “keep the spring month.”
They also disobeyed the explicit words of Chazal, who said in Rosh Hashanah 21a, “Rav Huna bar Avin sent to Rabba: If you see that the tekufa of Tevet extends to the sixteenth of Nissan, intercalate this year and do not hesitate, as is written: ‘Keep the month of spring’.”
Once Hillel the second centralized the calendar in 359AD, the ancient method of always calculating the first day of the New Year Aviv after the vernal equinox was no longer used and exchanged for a calculated calendar based on the new moon closest to the equinox. Barley was never a measure for calculating Aviv 1, as it would be clearly evident in Diaspora that one could not ever start the New Year or observe Passover, as it would be impossible in Diaspora to know when barley is ripe in Israel, and the growing season for barley is different all over the world.
People who mistakenly use Ex 9:31 to equate barley to the beginning of the year, fail to recognize that at the time of this scripture Israel was still in Egypt where the barley growing season runs from planting in August to harvest in early February, which is totally contrary to Israel’s growing season of planting in late October/November to harvest in late March early April. This fact clearly shows that barley is not the parameter for equating Aviv 1, as it would have been impossible to probably date Aviv 1 and the Passover date from Diaspora.
Also, if ripe barley in Israel is the only method to calculate the year how were years calculated before 1447 BCE when Israel entered the Promised Land? Clearly Noah calculated months (Gen 7:11) and was not using barley to know when the year began and couldn’t have seen barley while inside the ark.
Gen 8:13 And it happened in the six hundred and first year, at the beginning, on the first of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth. And Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked. And, behold! The face of the earth was dried.
Gen 8:14 And in the second month, on the twenty seventh day of the month, the earth was dry.
Likewise, and of great importance on this subject, most recently the true Gilgal was found in Israel and the place is in the shape of a sandal, with the foot of the sandal in a perfect circular pattern in which the priests would circle within the sandal on Holy Days in worship to the one true Elohim, whose heavenly bodies circle throughout the year in showing His sovereignty over His creation.
Look at the following scripture:
Exo 23:14 Three times in the year you shall make a feast to Me.
The word for feast here is “chagag” which means H2287 חגג , cha^gag, khaw-gag' A primitive root (compare H2283, H2328); properly to move in a circle , that is, (specifically) to march in a sacred procession, to observe a festival;
Also, there are 12 constellations on the ecliptic circle called the mazzaroth in Scripture in which the sun passes through another constellation every 30 days and then, when it passes the vernal equinox it resets itself in the first constellation again to start the New Year. Even the Jewish historian Josephus tells us that “the year can now start because the sun is in Aries”.
Also look at the following quote from the historian Philo: “And the sun the ruler of the day, making two equinoxes every year, both in the spring and the autumn. The vernal equinox in the constellation of Aries, and the autumnal one in Libra, give the most evident demonstration possible of the divine dignity of the number seven. For each of the equinoxes takes place in the seventh month, at which time men are expressly commanded by law to celebrate the greatest and most popular and comprehensive festivals; since it is owing to both these seasons, that all fruits of the earth are engendered and brought to Perfection; the fruit of Grain, and all other things which are sown, owing to the vernal equinox; and that of the vine, and of all the other plants which bear hard berries, of which there are great numbers, to the autumnal one. (Philo, on the creation of the world,1:116)
Here are several other quotes from Philo about the yearly cycle of the sun, moon and stars as biblical markers of time.
They were also created to serve as measures of time; for it is by the appointed periodical revolutions of the sun, and moon and other stars, that days and months and years are determined. (On Creation 1:59-60)
Moses puts down the beginning of the vernal equinox as the first month of the year, (Philo on Moses 2:222).
Then the twelve stones on the breast, which are not like one another in color, and which are divided into four rows of three stones each, what else can they be emblems of, except the circle of the mazzaroth ? For that also is divided into four parts, each consisting of three animals, by which divisions it makes up the seasons of the year, spring, summer, autumn, and winter, distinguishing the four changes, the two solstices and the two equinoxes, each of which has its limit of three signs of this mazzaroth, by the revolutions of the sun , according to that unchangeable, and most lasting, and really divine ratio which exists in numbers (Philo on Moses 2:124)
Clearly the ancient records tell us that ancient Israel understood the circular pattern of the heavenly bodies and how it was connected to worship toward Yahweh each cycle of each year. They also understood the plan of salvation that is told throughout the year through the 12 constellations of the Mazzaroth that represents the 12 tribes of Israel and the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Yahshua Messiah.
In order to understand the biblical calendar one must understand the circular pattern of worship at feast time due to both the Holy Days being connected to the yearly cyclical pattern of the agricultural cycle and the circular pattern of the heavenly luminaries, the sun, moon, and stars. It has always been understood from biblical times that the equinox is the dividing point of the year and the growing cycle. In contrast, history shows us, and it is no secret, that the modern Jewish calendar is based from a 4th century Rabbi and it was not codified for several hundred years after that and it is not based on the original Hebrew calendar from Scripture. Even in the Talmudic writings of the 2nd to 4th century it clearly states that the Passover must be in spring and not winter. The modern Jewish calendar also has 4 postponement rules, so that if the Holy Days happen to fall on a certain day of the week that is not convenient to keep them, then they simply postpone the Holy Day (in some cases up to 2 days) to the next day that is acceptable to the Rabbis. UNBELIEVABLE!
“This cannot be true”, some will say; but it is true. In Rabbinical Judaism it is taught that the Rabbis have the authority from heaven to change the Torah and even Holy set apart appointments of Yahweh. The Talmud also states that Yahweh is only one of 70 Rabbis and must submit to the will of the other Rabbis. Let me list the 4 postponement rules that the current Jewish calendar uses when the Holy Days fall on inconvenient days of the week. U.S. Naval Observatory summarizes the four dehiyyot [postponements] as follows: • (a) If the Tishri molad falls on day 1 [Sunday], 4 [Wednesday], or 6 [Friday], then Tishri 1 is postponed one day. • (b) If the Tishri molad occurs at or after 18 hours (i.e., noon), then Tishri 1 is postponed one day. If this causes Tishri 1 to fall on day 1, 4, or 6, then Tishri 1 is postponed an additional day to satisfy the postponement rule (a). • (c) If the Tishri molad of an ordinary year (i.e., of twelve months) falls on day 3 [Tuesday] at or after 9 hours, 204 halakim [at or after about 3:11 a.m.], then Tishri 1 is postponed two days to day 5, thereby satisfying the postponement rule (a). • (d) If the first molad [the Tishri molad] following a leap year falls on day 2 [Monday] at or after 15 hours, 589 halakim [at or after about 9:32 a.m.], then Tishri 1 is postponed one day to day 3 [Tuesday].
Remember also as already shown, that the modern Jewish calendar starts the year incorrectly from Tishri and NOT from the biblical Aviv. The main points of postponing Yahweh’s sacred set apart days is so a Holy Day and in particular the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) will not fall on a Friday or Sunday, which the Jews conceive as a burden due to the Sabbath day next to it. In addition, they will not allow the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles to fall on a Sabbath due to a ritual that Jewish tradition used to perform in beating willow branches, which they believe would be breaking the Sabbath day. So instead of changing their man made tradition, they just postpone the Holy Day to another day.
Nowhere in Scripture does it ever state that any man has the authority to change Holy time. There is a man coming (the anti-messiah) who will attempt to change times and laws and is strictly condemned for doing so (Dan 7:25). Very clearly, Scripture tells us to keep the Passover on the 14th day of the first month! PERIOD!
When the new moon occurs, then on the 14th day from that time, you are to keep the Passover. NOWHERE does Scripture ever even remotely suggest about postponing Yahweh’s Holy Appointments. Some will still argue that the oracles of Yahweh were given to the Jews and we must follow whatever calendar they use, even if it is wrong.
Rom 3:1 What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?
Rom 3:2 Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of Yahweh.
This is not proper reasoning or the meaning of this scripture. The oracles of Yahweh spoken about in Romans the 3rd chapter is not even remotely hinting that the Jewish rabbis were given authority to change the eternal word of Yahweh and that believers in Yahshua must follow them. The word oracle comes from the Greek word logios, and means the utterance or words of Yahweh were given to the Jews to preserve, Not change.
Judah never lost their identity because it was their job to preserve the Torah unabated so that the people would still have the pure word of Yahweh for when the Messiah would come in the first century AD. Romans 3:1-2, is stating that the advantage that Judah had over Ephraim is that since they always had the written Torah preserved, then they had the first chance at salvation, as where Ephraim, who had lost his identity had to wait patiently in captivity for the good news message to come to them.
By far in no way does the fact that Judah’s job was to preserve the written Torah give them liberty to change any part of it. Anyone who even changed one word of Scripture was under a curse.
Deu 4:2 You shall not add to the Word which I command you, nor take from it, to keep the commandments of Yahweh your Elohim which I command you.
Actually the oracles of Yahweh (His written word) were only entrusted to Judah until the Messiah would come and then it would be the job of the followers of the Messiah to preserve the true unadulterated word from there.
Gen 49:10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
Also, you must remember the 4 postponement rules mentioned above WERE NOT IN FORCE in the first century in the days of Yahshua, and I will quote straight out of the Jewish Mishnah to prove that point conclusively. It is from the Mishnah that we learn that a Holy Day could occur on any day of the week (Dansby’s translation) such as is given on p. 125, #6: On a Festival-day next to the Sabbath, whether before it or after it, a man may prepare two Erubs…” Still with the Mishnah, on p. 146 #10 we learn that the 16th Aviv may fall on a Sabbath; pp. 197, 201, 213 show that the old calendar is not in harmony with the present-day Jewish calendar. In fact p. 509 #7 shows that the Day of Atonement could fall on a Friday, the day before the weekly Sabbath. This is in direct opposition to the modern Jewish calendar which has postponements rules so the Day of Atonement cannot be either before or after the weekly Sabbath.
So there you have it. If we are to follow the Rabbis for the setting of the calendar, which rabbis of which era do we follow, as the Jewish calendar today is not the calendar used in the days of Yahshua, and not even the one used in the 2nd to 4th century, as at that time the Passover used to fall before the vernal equinox and now the Passover, but not the first day of Aviv, must fall after the vernal equinox. Also, there were no postponement laws in the time of Yahshua and the year before he died Yom Kippur actually fell on a Sunday, which would be against one of the rules of postponement.
I would also like to prove from the New Testament that conclusively there were no postponement rules in the first century, during Yahshua’s ministry.
Joh 7:2 And the Jewish Feast of the Tabernacles was near.
Joh 7:37 And in the last day of the great feast, Yahshua stood and cried out, saying, If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.
Joh 7:53 And they each one went to his house
Joh 8:1 But Yahshua went to the Mount of Olives.
Joh 8:2 And at dawn, He again arrived into the temple; and all the people came to Him. And sitting down, He taught them. ( This is the next day after the last great day)
Joh 9:1 And passing by, He saw a man blind from birth. (It is still the same day after last Great day)
Joh 9:7 And He said to him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, which translated is Sent. Then he went and washed, and came seeing
Joh 9:14 And it was a Sabbath when Yahshua made the clay and opened his eyes.
Interesting enough if you read the above scriptures you will see that the Last Great Day or the 8th day of the feast was on a Friday and the next day was a Sabbath when Yahshua healed the blind man. Knowing this for sure from Scripture, just merely count back from Friday, the Last Great Day which is the 22nd day of the 7th month, back to the 10th day of the month, which is Yom Kippur, and you will see that it was on a Sunday, so right here from Scripture one can easily disprove that there was any type of postponement rules for Yom Kippur not falling on a Sunday in the first century. Scripture is very clear.
Yahweh created the Sun and moon and stars to tell us the timing of His Holy Days. No man has the authority to change that. To postpone the Feast of Trumpets for a day is no different than postponing the Sabbath for Sunday. There is no scriptural basis for either.
Clearly, from Scripture we are to start the year in spring after the vernal equinox and not in winter before it; thus, the next new moon after the equinox was the beginning month of Aviv, thus always occurring in the spring.
If the 12th month of the year (Adar) fell early enough to allow another new moon to occur before the vernal equinox, it necessitated adding a 13th month and waiting until the vernal equinox was observed as the beginning of spring and the New Year. This addition of an intercalary month always kept the 1st month of the year after the vernal equinox! The year is an astronomical event determined by the sun! It is the point at which the revolution of the earth around the sun comes to complete its cycle. The sun determines the year! And that returning point is the vernal equinox.
Determining Passover after the beginning of the New Year, i.e. after the Vernal Equinox, then setting Aviv 1st before the vernal equinox, would be allowing Passover to be in the New Year, but setting Aviv 1st before the year ends, i.e. before the circuit of the sun is complete at the vernal equinox is still in the winter of the previous year, which is not Aviv. That is the reason for intercalary years, i.e. the addition of an extra month, so that the first new moon after the year begins, after the vernal equinox, is Aviv. The year 2013 is one such year when the Jewish calendar will be starting the year in winter, one month earlier than the biblical calendar.
This brings us to one most important point why Yahweh and the biblical calendar never had people visually observing the heavenly bodies to start time, but it was actually the absence of seeing these bodies that controlled time. The day starts when the sun disappears over the horizon and is not visible any longer. The month starts at conjunction when the last waning crescent has disappeared and now the moon is in perfect alignment (conjunction) with the sun and earth, and the year begins when the sun passes the equator and now is back into the first heavenly constellation of the year.
Again this is not something that you go and physically sight but we know the day of the vernal equinox by the shadow of the thing Not seen (the sun) as we read in Hebrews 11:1.
Heb 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things being hoped, the evidence of things not having been seen.
It is by the shadow of the sun that one can determine the day of the equinox as was done in biblical times with sundials. There have been many ancient sundials found right near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and it is even stated that Solomon built the Temple so that the sun would shine through the eastern gate only on the day of the equinoxes, the dividing point of the winter and summer and the old year and New Year. Then the next new moon after the equinox is Aviv, the beginning of months. How simple Yahweh’s biblical calendar really is.