Part 4 of 4 in the Calendar Series
It has been said that anything God (YHWH) has given has been somehow corrupted or polluted by man. Try to think of any exception to this observation or statement, if any?
Sadly, even God’s Sacred Calendar is NO exception. After reading Part 3 of this Calendar Series, we now focus on HOW this otherwise inspired, God-given calendar — trusted by God’s chosen people, churches of God, and other groups — has not been spared from massive corruptions. How, and why? Please read on to the end of this article.
The Top 10 Corruptions in the Sacred Calendar
In the same way that the man-made oral traditions of the Jews as recorded in their Talmud assumed a higher authority than the Word of God in the time of Christ (Yahshua), a similar situation sadly exists in our day.
Many of these human traditions are recorded in the gospels where Christ roundly contradicted their false teachings during His lifetime on earth (Matthew 15:3-9; 23:1-39; Mark 7:7-9, 13). Therefore, as corruptions already existed regarding God’s commands in Christ’s day, similar and other corruptions and pollutions sadly happened also with the Sacred Calendar, especially after the return of the Jews from their captivity in pagan Babylon.
What Are Some of These Corruptions?
1. A Change on Which is the First Calendar Month
Contrary to God’s command, the Calendar’s first month of the year was changed to the seventh month of the year (Tishri). But notice God’s original command:
This month [Abib or Aviv] shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.
~Exodus 12:2; 13:4
NOTE: Abib or Aviv literally means “green ears.” It should always have reminded them of springtime as the first month, when vegetation begins to bud new green leaves after winter.
2. Change in the Name of the First Calendar Month
Not only was the first month changed, but even the name of the first month was changed from the original Hebrew (Abib) into the Babylonian name “Nisan” which no longer reflects the true meaning of the original name. After the Babylonian captivity, we read about this new name.
In the first month, which is the month of Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, they cast Pur (that is, the lot), before Haman to determine the day and the month, until it fell on the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar.
~Esther 3:7 (see also Nehemiah 2:1)
NOTE: The change in the name of the first month may have caused them to forget when the first month of the year should be, according to its intended meaning.
3. Change in the Names of ALL the Calendar Months
God called the names of the months of the year according to their given Ordinal Numbers (e.g.: First month, Second Month, Third month, etc., as in Noah’s time). However, after the Babylonian captivity, pagan names (Nisan, Iyar, Sivan, Tammuz, etc.) have been substituted for the God-given names. Please compare these new names with those used by Noah (Genesis 7:11; 8:4, 5, 13, 14).
4. Even a Pagan god’s Name was included for the Fourth Month
One popular, notorious name is Tammuz, which was a pagan god associated with abominable worship practices [from which the Easter Sunrise Service was copied] (Ezekiel 8:14-18).
NOTE: Not only that, but the Tammuz rituals included women worshippers who put the “branch” of Tammuz to their nose [obviously in some form of ardent adoration] (Ezekiel 8:14, 17). Studies show that the Tammuz branch has the form of a cross, like a letter “T” which is common to the Egyptian, Canaanite, Greek, and Roman alphabets and pronounced as “taw” in Hebrew (The New Bible Dictionary, Douglas; Eerdmans Publishing Co., pages 1238, 1346-1347).
5. Changing Passover from the 14th to the 15th of the First Month
Repeatedly, the Bible states that the Passover was to be observed on the 14th day of the first month (Exodus 12:6; Leviticus 23:4; Numbers 9:3; Joshua 5:10; Ezra 6:19).
The 15th was the day after the Passover when Israel left Egypt (Numbers 33:3).
Please also note that while Christ and His disciples already finished observing the Passover on the evening of the 14th, John records when the officers of the Jews led Christ from Caiaphas to the Praetorium (Judgment Hall) early the next morning, some Jews were still to observe their Passover that evening (John 18:28).
NOTE: Their serious error in NOT observing the correct Passover date led them to condemn the true Passover Lamb of God, the Messiah. Will a similar error be committed again with Messiah’s the second coming? With the Rules of Postponement in place, it is very possible!
6. The Jewish Pentecost is fixed on Sivan 6, instead of COUNTING 50 days
And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day AFTER the seventh Sabbath [which clearly and obviously brings us to a Sunday] …
NOTE: Since the Jews don’t want to be inconvenienced with a succession of two Holy Days in a row, they devised their own system [counting from Nisan 16] contrary to God’s Command. This human reasoning is the basis of their devising and adopting the “Rules on Postponement.”
7. Starting the Calendar Year from the Seventh Month’s New Moon
The right attitude should have been a humble, courageous, faithful, and obedient attitude to all of God’s commands, just as God encouraged Joshua (Moses’ successor) to have, as we read below:
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it…
Therefore be very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law… lest you turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left…
Sadly, instead of determining first the exact first New Moon after the Spring Equinox of the Sacred Year, strangely their focus is on the seventh month, just to make very sure that by the process of applying the Rules on Postponement, there will be NO two Holy Days that will be consecutive to each other, making it somewhat inconvenient for them. Which leads us to Point Number 8…
8. The Rules of Postponement
From creation to the days of Noah, to Moses, and to the days of the Messiah (Christ) on earth, there were NO such “Rules of Postponement.” Sadly, certain myths and false information have been published even in some church of God websites falsely claiming that there were already such “Rules” during the time of Christ. And since He allegedly did not make any contrary statements, therefore, these “Rules” were accepted by Him. This is a totally false and blatant LIE.
A very simple historical check will reveal that the “Rules of Postponement” were first invented by Hillel II and made somewhat official only in A.D. 359. However, since it had poor acceptance among rationally thinking Jews, it did not gain popularity. It was not until about seven hundred years later when it was refined and promoted by Maimonides (also called Rambam), a Jewish scholar and physician in the 12th century when it gained more acceptance to this day.
The main purpose of the Rules of Postponement is to adjust the declared date of the New Moon of the Seventh Month (Tishri), so that the 10th day of that month (Day of Atonement) will not fall on either a Friday or a Sunday, and also to make sure that no other Holy Day in the autumn (Feast of Trumpets, First Day of the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day) will fall on a Friday or a Sunday. Thus, the Postponement Rules may delay the Feast of Trumpets by as much as two days later! In other words, the objective is to avoid the “inconvenience” of having two Holy Days successively next to each other. (There are several websites commenting on the Rules of Postponement like this one.)
In summary, following the Rules of Postponement is tantamount to moving the commanded seventh day Sabbath to a Sunday or postponed even until a Monday, so that such Holy Days of God will not be an “inconvenience” to its observers. Now is this a religion of obedience, or rather a religion of convenience?
Biblical Evidence that the Rules of Postponement were NOT Observed in the Time of Christ
This evidence is based on the events surrounding the last Feast of Tabernacles in the life of Christ. John 7:2 gives us the original setting. On the Last Great Day of the Feast, He preached about the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39). After that day’s event, everyone went home (John 7:53).
Early the following morning (the day after the Last Great Day), He was presented with a woman taken in adultery (John 8:2-11). Following this event was a long, heated discussion with the Pharisees (John 8:13). Events of that same day continued to the healing of the man blind from birth (John 9:1-7). Note that Christ’s healing of the blind man was on the Sabbath (John 9:14).
Therefore, we have just established that the Last Great Day (the 22nd day of the month) in that year was on a Friday! And that the following day (the 23rd day of the month) when He healed the blind man (of course, contrary to Jewish false traditions about healing) was a Sabbath Day.
From this landmark Last Great Day (22nd of the month), let us go back eight days, which brings us to the First Day of the Feast of Tabernacles (the 15th day of the month), and it was also on a Friday! And if we count back five days more, it brings us to the Day of Atonement (which was on the 10th day), and it was on a Sunday! And if we count back further 10 days more, it brings us to the First day of the Month of Tishri (the seventh month) which is the Day of Trumpets and it was again on a Friday! (As an illustration, to better understand and follow the stated dates I am talking about, try to go to a June 2018 calendar page.)
From this graphic illustration, you will notice that ALL the Rules of Postponement were broken: Feast of Trumpets on a Friday (followed by a weekly Sabbath), Day of Atonement on a Sunday (following a weekly Sabbath), First Day of the Feast of Tabernacles on a Friday (prior to a weekly Sabbath), and the Last Great Day on a Friday (prior to a weekly Sabbath)!
CONCLUSION: The Rules of Postponement were NOT known nor followed during the time of Christ!
9. Sighting of the New Moon
The movements of the heavenly bodies are very precise — more precise than any clock on earth. Therefore, God’s calendar system is likewise very precise, predictable, and calculable!
Since there was already an existing accurate calendar even in the days of Noah, he did NOT have to sneak out from his room in the ark to “sight” for the new moon each month for all the 12 months he stayed in the ark! Please remember that he and his family stayed in the ark for over a year — 12 calendar months plus 10 days to be exact! (Compare Genesis 7:11 and Genesis 8:13, 14).
During the time of Moses, Joshua, the Judges, and during the time of the Kings of Israel and Judah, there was no command for them to go to the mountains and “sight” for the New Moon. Why? They already had a precisely calculated calendar. What is our solid biblical proof?
David and Jonathan, as a case in point, already knew when the new moon would occur — even without any sighting activity from anyone! Notice these two very telling biblical verses:
Indeed tomorrow is the New Moon, 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.
~1 Samuel 20:5
Then Jonathan said to David, ‘Tomorrow is the New Moon; and you will be missed, because your seat will be empty.’
~1 Samuel 20:18
Even today, none among us (if ever) need to go out of our way, find a mountain and “sight” for the new moon! Why? We already have a calculated calendar, which tells us the exact date — many days, months, and years in advance. Because the calculated calendar is so precise, it has been automatically programmed into our watches, computers, and other devices. In fact, there are computer programs that can determine the exact time and date a thousand years in advance, or calculate the date and time going back thousands of years!
The Start of the Practice of “Sighting” for the New Moon
So, WHEN did this practice of “sighting” for the New Moon begin? History tells us that it started with the Jews coming from the Babylonian captivity. It was part of the pagan practices, which God had previously warned Israel against following:
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…
If there is found among you… a man or a woman … who has gone and … worshiped them, either the sun or moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded, and it is told you, and you hear of it, then you shall inquire diligently. And if it is indeed true … then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has committed that wicked thing, and shall stone to death… Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses…
Even righteous Job was very careful to avoid such practice:
If I have observed the sun when it shines, Or the moon moving in brightness, So that my heart has been secretly enticed…
Brief History of the Crescent Moon Fascination
Fascination with the crescent of the moon has been an ancient pagan practice. There is a Hebrew word for crescent, but it is never used (not even once) when referring to the new moon. Rather, the Hebrew word used is “Rosh Chodesh” which literally means “head of the month” or beginning of the moon cycle. There is NO biblical evidence that the Israelites ever visibly sighted a crescent before the Babylonian captivity. (By depending solely on visual observation of the crescent, we can sometimes be one or two days late in reckoning the start of the month.)
But there is a major religious group in this world today which reckons time through a Lunar Calendar system and gives much importance to the crescent of the moon, even as conspicuously depicted in their symbols, their flag, and on top of all their places of worship.
[Scientifically speaking, it takes anywhere from 18-24 hours after astronomical new moon (conjunction) when the first crescent becomes visible. The start of the biblical new moon (or month) is usually the day that begins with the sunset after lunar conjunction or astronomical new moon. This should normally coincide with the moon’s first visible sliver of light. But if the conjunction is too close to the following sunset, using that sunset to start the month may begin the month a day too early. In other words, that previous month has 30 days, instead of 29. In such cases, the next day’s sunset starts day one of the new month.]
Concerning certain practices, God bluntly told Israel:
YOUR New Moons and YOUR appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them.
NOTE: Notice how God contrasts “YOUR FEASTS” with “MY FEASTS” (in Leviticus 23:2)
Is It Wrong to “Sight” the Moon or Use Visual Observation?
Some might ask, so is it wrong to sight the moon? No. After the Babylonian captivity, to re-establish and confirm the accuracy of their calendar, both calculation and observation were used during the Second Temple period, where the Calendar Court received two or three witnesses who have seen the new moon. After cross-examining the witnesses plus checking with their calculations, the temple priests proclaimed the new moon throughout the land. But once firmly established, God did not intend this to be a regular ritual.
Today, we realize that there may be some sincere and converted people of God who do not have a correct calendar, a computer, or Internet access. They may sight the new moon (not to worship it), but to accurately determine God’s appointed times, His Feasts. They may also look at the moon to confirm whether it is really a full moon on the opening of the spring and autumn Festivals. These people are not sinning, nor are they in violation of Scriptures.
10. Unbiblical Reckoning of the Start of the Sacred Year
Sadly, the present Hebrew Calendar system does not follow the God-ordained principle of starting the Sacred Year with the New Moon ON or AFTER the Spring Equinox. Rather, it sometimes arbitrarily, or even conveniently starts the year with the new moon closest to the Spring Equinox WITHOUT any biblical basis for doing so. You may also observe that there are years (for example, 2016 and 2019) when the modern Hebrew Calendar correctly starts the year — NOT with the closest new moon to the Spring Equinox — but in fact, with the farthest new moon (but the first new moon after the Spring Equinox.) Talk about inconsistency!
The start of the Sacred (or Hebrew) Calendar Year should never begin before the Spring Equinox because such season before it is still part of winter. The complete cycle (Hebrew tekufah) of the Calendar Year should first be ruled by our circuit around the sun, the “greater light” with a demarcation point at the Spring Equinox. When fully completed, then secondly, the new moon cycle, the “lesser light” is now to be factored in.
Below are actual examples of such violations in the recent past, present, and in the coming years. Please remember that the Spring Equinox in our current era is on March 21. Please note the premature starting dates:
- 2007: Hebrew Calendar declared the start of the year on March 20
- 2010: Hebrew Calendar declared the start of the year on March 16
- 2013: Hebrew Calendar declared the start of the year on March 12
- 2018: Hebrew Calendar declared the start of the year on March 17
- 2021: Hebrew Calendar declared the start of the year on March 14
All these stated Calendar Years began the Sacred Year before the Spring Equinox (March 21). In all of these cases, it appears that the required 13th month was not properly added that year.
Ignoring God’s Principle Which Means “Completion”
The Hebrew word used is the principle of “tekufah” which actually means the COMPLETION of a [time] cycle, as discussed in Part 3 of this article series. This is based on Exodus 34:22, among other verses.
NOTE the following biblically defined guidelines or parameters:
- A Day ends at sunset (NOT at any hour in the afternoon)
- A Week ends at Sabbath sunset (NOT at any hour on a Sabbath afternoon)
- A Month ends at or very soon after new moon conjunction (NOT at any point in the last quarter of the moon cycle)
- Similarly, a Year should end at the new moon ON or AFTER the Spring Equinox (NOT at any point in winter or still approaching the end of the old solar year cycle). By the way, there is absolutely no biblical verse which supports the yearly cycle beginning before the Spring Equinox.
Therefore, to begin the start of the Sacred Calendar Year at any other time before the Spring Equinox VIOLATES the principle of “tekufah” which means COMPLETION of a cycle.
These rules are not new. Even the ancient Babylonian Calendar (and the Persian calendar) supports this rule of always starting their year from the new moon on or after the Spring Equinox. It started reckoning years this way beginning in 499 B.C. They seem to have faithfully retained the Calendar Rules from the original Hebrew Calendar, introduced during the time of Daniel in Babylon (discussed in Part 3 of this article series). Various Hebrew Calendar researchers and experts such as Frank Nelte, Herb Solinsky, and Don Esposito (among others) unanimously affirm these important principles concerning calendar matters. Even the recent discoveries in the 12th cave at Qumran of more Dead Sea Scrolls confirm the fact of the tekufah time reckoning. For more details, you may also check the Patterns of Evidence website.
This Roman Year of 2018 is Unusual in Some Respects
First, there are two Full Moons in both months of January and March. Second, the New Moon in March (the 17th) occurs before the Spring Equinox of March 21.
Therefore, by God’s Calendrical Rules, the true start of the Sacred Calendar Year is on the next new moon, which occurs April 17. In other words, this year is a special 13-month year in the 19-year time cycle. From the Spring Equinox of March 2017 to the Spring Equinox of 2018, there are actually 13 new moons. You can easily verify this with NASA, US Naval Observatory, or TimeandDate.com. The implications for this is that the Spring and Fall Festivals would be a month later than usual. This sometimes happens when an intercalary (or 13th) month is added to keep God’s Festivals in their proper seasons.
God’s Festival Dates for the Year 2018
The Official Data for this year 2018 is from NASA (all based on Jerusalem time):
(VERNAL EQUINOX, March 20, 6:15 p.m. — or March 21, since after sunset)
(AUTUMNAL EQUINOX, September 23, 3:54 a.m.)
(First astronomical new moon after the Spring Equinox: April 16, 3:57 a.m.)
(Seventh astronomical new moon after the Spring Equinox: October 9, 5:47 a.m.)
- [First Day of Sacred Year (First Day of Abib/Nisan): April 17]
- Passover: April 30 (observed the previous evening [April 29])
- [Night to Be Much Observed: April 30 in the evening (FULL MOON)]
- Days of Unleavened Bread (DUB): May 1 to 7
- Pentecost: June 24
- Feast of Trumpets (First Day of Ethanim/Tishri): October 11
- Day of Atonement: October 20
- [Opening Night Service: October 24 in the evening (FULL MOON)]
- Feast of Tabernacles: October 25 to 31
- Last Great Day (The Eighth Day): November 1
[NOTE: Since the cycle of the moon is very precise, a secret counter-checking formula is to count 177 days (29.5 x 6) from the first new moon after the Spring Equinox to the new moon (or first day) of the seventh month. The number 29.5 represents the approximate number of days in a complete moon cycle, while 6 is the number of months from the first month after the Spring Equinox to the seventh month around the Autumn Equinox.]
Possible Objections or Justifications
Did Paul not say, we are to follow the oracles given to the Jews? (Romans 3:1-2)
ANSWER: The word “oracles” is from the Greek word, “logion” [Strong’s #G3051]. It basically means a brief utterance, but it can also include the Mosaic law. However, it did not mention the Jewish Calendar, except perhaps the verses governing its guidelines. But one very clear point to remember here is that it certainly did not include the present Jewish Calendar with its corruptions and Rules of Postponement, which was only introduced centuries later by Hillel II in A.D. 359 and further refined by Maimonides in the 12th century — long after the apostle Paul had died.
Didn’t Christ also say, the Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat, and whatsoever they bid you to do, do, but do not do [follow] after their works? (Matthew 23:2-3)
ANSWER: Sadly, the Greek to English translation is not very accurate, somewhat confusing, and above all contradictory. A better translation is based on Matthew’s original Hebrew:
Therefore, whatever he [Moshe (Moses)] commands you to observe; that observe and do — but do not follow the takanot [rules enacted by the Pharisees which change or negate biblical law] and ma’asim [acts of the rabbis which serve as a legal precedent for righteous behavior] of the Prushim [Pharisees] — for they say [they follow Moshe (Moses)] but they do not do [what Moshe (Moses) says to do!]…
~Matthew 23:3, The Chronological Gospels
Obviously, the correct Hebrew version is what Christ really meant, because starting from verse four to the end of chapter 23 (rather than upholding their teachings and practices as what the verse seems to mean), it was instead a barrage of fiery condemnation of the hypocritical words and works of the Scribes and Pharisees.
If we do not reckon the Festivals accurately, like the Feast of Trumpets (symbolizing the return of Christ on earth, Matthew 24:29-31; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18), we will likely also fail in that very important event in our life — in the same way that the Jews failed to recognize the identity of the true Messiah simply because they changed the true Passover date to the 15th of the month.
Let us not forget that the Great Deceiver [Satan] has not only both blinded and confused, but has also planted lies with regards to the reckoning of God’s Sacred Calendar. His handiwork is manifest in the ignorance, confusion, and lies that presently exists in this world — sadly including the Calendar.
Let us, therefore, be wise, knowing and doing the will of God in our lives now. God has promised that “those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).