In a virtual repeat of the Biblical Calendar presentation to COGWA this Paper was presented to the UCG elder Scott Ashley [at Scott’s request] by its two UCG member authors [I understand the Paper was submitted under one name only] for vetting before being sent to the UCG Doctrinal committee. In the initial interview Scott said that the Paper “had merit”. Then Scott being a “company man” turned on the UCG member authors and “suggested” they have a rethink, refusing to even read the paper.
Before going public the UCG authors said they thought the paper was irrefutable.
Now, after the UCG required rethink under threat of removal as various others have been cast out on this subject; one is tight lipped, and the other has determined after “months of intense study” that both calendars (Rabbinic and Scriptural) are “extrabiblical”, and God cares less about what calendar we follow, and more about unity, love, and treating others with respect. For UCG the ultimate sin is daring to present the truth when it is not in line with their corporate agenda.
I submitted this paper to Jorge DeCampos who assured me that he had forwarded it to the UCG Doctrinal Committee in 2015. As far as I know the Paper has not been added to the UCG Doctrinal Committee docket by DC Chairman John Elliot.
Here is the Paper they are so afraid of examining and responding to.
The Paper has some highlighting by the UCG member author’s which did not come out in the pasting.
A Defense of The Biblical Calendar
To the reader:
The purpose of this paper is not to expostulate or argue over individual calculations comprising the Rabbinic “Hebrew Calendar”, but rather interrogate whether the “Hebrew Calendar” itself abides by the commands in scripture pertaining to the Creator’s appointed times.
This paper will ask the reader to discern between scripture and traditions of men. Proficient understanding of the current “Hebrew Calendar” with all its complexities is not a prerequisite to understand this topic.
Some may question why this paper includes quotations from the recent COGWA “Hebrew Calendar Study Paper.” It is important for the members of UCG to understand many of the men who authored the recent COGWA paper, also authored UCG’s “The Hebrew Calendar Doctrinal Paper”.
Due to this shared authorship, statements from either paper should not be considered mutually exclusive. In fact, the two papers fundamentally agree and share identical positions on the “Hebrew Calendar”. This is only to be expected when a shared authorship has occurred.
Where possible, comparable quotations from both papers will be presented together in order to illustrate a clear and common consensus. If the UCG Doctrine Committee finds it no longer agrees with past or present statements made by the former authors of its own “Hebrew Calendar Doctrinal Paper,” then reevaluation of UCG’s paper may be appropriate.
This paper is divided into 3 distinct parts.
Section IVII covers the extensive Scriptural foundation for an Observational Based Luni/Solar Calendar, and illustrates the lack of scriptural foundation for the Calculated Rabbinic Calendar (commonly referred to as the “Hebrew Calendar”).
Section VIII will demonstrate history is clear on which calendar was followed by Jesus Christ and ancient Israel. Section VIII is crucial to understanding exactly which calendar was followed by our Creator and Messiah, and thus, which calendar should be followed by His people today.
The Appendix provides supporting information on the Biblical Calendar, new moons, and answers to frequently asked questions posed by nearly all COG groups in their respective calendar papers. The Appendix will contain many of the Scriptural examples of new moon observance and practical answers as to how a new covenant Christian can observe a new moon today.
This author humbly requests if the Scriptural conclusions or historical information presented is found to be in error, the Doctrinal Committee demonstrate where error was made. No one is above correction, myself included. Thank you for taking the time to consider this important issue.
Table of Contents
Section I: Sufficiency of Scripture………………………………………………………………6
Section II: God Supplied a Calendar in Scripture……..…………………………………… 9
Section III: The Lights and Signs of Genesis 1:14………………………………………………12 Section IV: The Scriptural Command to Look for the Appearing of the New Moon…………..16 Section V: The Simplicity of God…………………………………………………………… 19
Section VI: Confusion of Man, and the Calculated Rabbinic Hebrew Calendar…….……….….26
Section VII: Do Jews Really Have the “Authority”?…………………………………………………32
Section VIII: History is Clear on Which Calendar was Observed by
Jesus Christ and Ancient Israel……………….……………………………….…………………37
Appendix A: The New Moon: Chodesh or Molad?…………………………………………………………… 52
Appendix B: The Yom Teruah Dilemma………………………………………………..………54
Appendix C: Who in the Bible Observed New Moons?……………………………………………………. 57
Appendix D: How are Christians Supposed to Observe New Moons?………………………………… 60
Appendix E: How to “Calculate” Appointed Times Using the Biblical Calendar ……………..63
Appendix F: Answers to FAQ’s………..…………………………………………………… 65
*Disclaimer: This paper will present quotes made in the UCG and COGWA “Hebrew Calendar” papers for the sole purpose of demonstrating the traditional, mutual, and long held teachings of the greater COG. The intention of this paper is not to accuse, insult, or impute motive. Our desire is to turn God’s people back to His commanded precepts, while attempting to offer truth in love. No offense is intended when directly quoting UCG or COGWA’s paper.*
*All Biblical scriptures will be in red and from the King James Version*
Section I: Sufficiency of Scripture
“The Bible does not provide us the complete means for calculating a calendar.” (UCG Hebrew Calendar paper p.2)
“Biblical references to the calendar are scarce and not sufficient to answer all the questions that are important for establishing calendar principles”. (COGWA Hebrew Calendar paper p.4)
2nd Tim 3:1617 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
Paul states Scripture can be:
- Used to establish doctrinal beliefs or correct doctrinal beliefs
- Instruct in righteousness
- Equip us to be perfect and thoroughly furnished
If Paul was inspired to make this statement in regard to Scripture, why would God’s calendar be exempt?
Psalm 19:7 “The Law of the LORD is perfect.”
The word used for “perfect” in Hebrew is “tamiym,” meaning: whole, complete, without blemish, full. (Strong’s)
If the Word of God is whole, full, and complete, we should be able to find answers on the calendar within His inspired word.
“The United Church of God has chosen to accept the Hebrew Calendar as preserved by the Jews.” (UCG Hebrew Calendar paper p.3)
“It is clear that over the centuries the Jews developed an incredibly accurate calendar.” (COGWA Hebrew Calendar paper p. 11).
Which is it? Did the Jews preserve a calendar, or develop a calendar?
If God’s Scripture is given for doctrine, and His Law is perfect, whole and complete, why did it take 10 centuries beyond the death of Christ to achieve an “accurate” calendar?
Does this mean the calendar followed before Christ was not accurate? Did our Creator need the help of a people who denied Him to come up with immensely complex calculations over many centuries? Calculations which can only be used by a select few academic elites, and not the average COG member or minister?
Is our Creator really this secretive? Or, has man complicated a matter which was originally understood by ancient Israel? Understanding that was based on Holy Scripture, and logic derived from that understanding?
In Gen 1:14 our Creator declares the heavenly lights are to be used for appointed times/festivals, and a command was given to blow a trumpet at the beginning of the “moon.” (“Chodesh” Numbers 10:10)
Question: Would Moses sound the trumpet declaring the new moon at a time he saw nothing in the sky? The Rabbinic Hebrew Calendar used by most of the COG today, places the beginning of each month during the time of complete darkness of the moon. Is it not reasonable to deduce, since Moses had no telescope or advanced mathematics, he understood to watch for the light of God’s moon to establish appointed times?
To suppose God’s calendar has been a long journey of unclear and ever changing secretive ideas, does not appear consistent with God’s character.
1st Cor 14:33 “For God is not the author of confusion.”
If God is not the author of confusion, Scripture is given for doctrine, and His Law is perfect, whole, and lacking in nothing, why would we look to men for our answers? If we are to follow men at all, shouldn’t we follow them only as they follow Jesus Christ and obey His commandments?
John 8:31 “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.”
Christ’s true disciples continue in His word, and do not change away from it. As we will see in
Section VIII of this paper, the Jews have openly admitted to changing away from the “former
system” of “direct observation” commanded in the Torah. They even admit they will one day return back to those commandments.
If we are to seek truth on any subject, it must be founded and supported entirely on the Word of God.
Acts 17:11 “…and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
The Bereans tested all things by the Scripture. They understood anything presented to them as truth needed to be substantiated in the Word of God, and not simply accepted because it came from the testimony of someone claiming authority.
God instructs we must use sound judgment and put together instructions contained in His Word to form a complete picture. If one area of the Bible appears scarce, then we must put together what has been supplied elsewhere in the Scripture to know God’s intent and purpose.
“Only the Bible can be considered ultimately reliable.” (UCG Summary of the Hebrew Calendar p.5)
Scripture must be the beginning and end of any matter for God’s faithful followers.
Section II: God Supplied a Calendar in Scripture
Psalm 104:19 “He appointed the moon for seasons:”
Typically, we think of seasons as spring/summer/fall/winter. But, the Hebrew word for “seasons” is “mo’ade” which means an appointment or fixed time, specifically a festival & time of assembling. God created the moon so we could be able to calculate His Feast days.
So, how does one use the moon to establish seasons, appointed times, and festival dates?
Gen 1:14 “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:”
It is interesting David used the same word for “seasons,” as Moses did when directly quoting the Creator of the Universe. They both used the word “mo’ade.” God inspired David to say the moon is for “seasons” (festivals), and Moses to say the two LIGHTS are used for signs, “seasons” (festivals), for days and years.
If the sun divides time into days, weeks and years, and the moon into months………
Then God did in fact give us a fully complete way to keep time, and determine the dates of His holy festivals. *He gave us His holy calendar!*
What are the main components of any calendar?
Days, weeks, months, and years.
Now let’s break things down so we can understand how the lights in the firmament, the sun and moon, are sufficient to establish a complete calendar.
First: By examining the way our Creator set theses LIGHTS in the firmament, we can determine the sun can only be used for days (sunset to sunset), weeks (7 sunset to sunsets), and years (365 sunset to sunsets).
The sun alone CANNOT be used to determine months. Think about it: If you woke up from a coma in the middle of a month, let’s say on the 14th of that month, how would you be able to determine what day of the month it was based solely on the sun? You couldn’t.
Though it would be possible to count how many days and weeks pass based on the number of sunsets, you could not say what day of the month it was by using the sun only. In fact, our Gregorian calendar (based on the sun) follows no set astronomic principle in dividing a year into months. Years were divided by the Romans to pay tribute to Pagan deities like Janus, Jupiter, Mars and the like. For example, there is no set astronomical principle for making February shorter than other months. The earth does not change its orbit in February, nor does the moon. It is also important to point out the moon cannot be used accurately to begin and end days, because it does not rise and set consistently within a 24 hour period as does the sun. Therefore: Only the sun can be used for days, weeks, and years.
The moon on the other hand is a visible sign (see section III) which has a set monthly cycle. (Side note: The word “month” is derived from the word “moon,” literally “Moon’th”). Within a “month” the moon makes a full revolution around the earth on an average of approximately 29.5 days (it is an average due to the slightly irregular orbit of the moon). This means it waxes (visibly appears), becomes full about midmonth (total illumination), wanes (visibly disappears), then is not visible to the naked eye for a few days, when finally a new visible crescent moon reappears. All this occurs within approximately 29.5 days on average. The period of darkness when the moon is not visible to the naked eye due to its position directly between the earth and the sun (all light reflected back at the sun, no light reflected to the earth) is called the “conjunction.”
Let’s go back to our coma example. If we woke up from our coma and could visibly see the moon, we would be able to tell what day of the month it was, or at least estimate where we were in the month. Then once the moon completed a full cycle of waxing, total illumination, waning into complete darkness (“conjunction”), and then reappearing, we would know a new month had begun! From there we could count the days of the month. This is what God expected Moses to understand when He said the “lights” are for “signs” and “seasons”, and that specific days of specific months His people were to declare His festivals. For example: Passover is the 14th day of the 1st month. (Exodus 12).
Psalm 104:19 “ He appointed the moon for seasons: (mo’ade)” Gen 1:14 ”
nd God said, Let
there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons (mo’ade), and for days, and years:
By using the sun to count days, weeks, and years, and the moon for months, God provided mankind a fully complete way to determine time.
Thus, God gave man a fully formed calendar contained in Scripture! And since we use both the sun and the moon to keep time, this means God’s Calendar is a LuniSolar calendar.
Section III: The Lights and Signs of Genesis 1:14
This is where the debate begins. How, according to scripture, did God expect His people to determine the beginning of a month, which would then determine the dates of His festivals?
Let’s go back to Genesis 1:14 and read through to verse 18 to find the answer:
Gen 1:14 ”
nd God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day
from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons (festivals), and for days, and years: 15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
- And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars
17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
- And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.”
Clearly, according to scripture we are to use the light of the heavenly bodies to keep time, and determine God’s holy festivals. Notice there are 8 references to light, and only one for darkness (which was only to contrast the light). Yet, there is something even more powerful in Gen 1:14 which points to something visible, and that is the word “signs.”
In Gen 1:14 the Creator instructs the luminary bodies which give light upon the earth are for “signs.”
To function properly, a “sign” must be able to be seen or recognized. For example, an invisible “stop sign” is of no use. A “stop sign” must be seen and recognized by motorists to properly function as a “sign.”
Admittedly, this is a simplistic deduction. Yet, when we evaluate the Hebrew in Gen 1:14, we will see the word “sign” clearly refers to something visible, specifically “in the sense of appearing.”
The Hebrew word translated “signs” in Gen 1:14 is “‘ôth” H226, and is defined as “a signal (literally), as a flag, beacon, monument, omen, prodigy, evidence, etc.: mark, miracle, (en) sign, token,”) especially (“in the sense of appearing”)”. [Strong’s]
Evidently, the “’ôth” in Gen 1:14 indicates the lights (which are for “signs”) must be visible to function properly as a “sign”, similar to that of “a flag, beacon, or signal (literally) especially “in the sense of appearing.” [Strong’s]
Compare this with the following statement:
“Today we can determine the new moon by mathematical calculation. Visual sighting was one of the methods used in the past. With visual sighting, what are you looking for? The exact conjunction of the astronomical new moon is not visible”. (UCG Hebrew Calendar p.3)
It would seem the “signs” of Gen 1:14 clearly indicate something that appears, and can be seen or recognized like a flag, beacon, or literal signal. King David said the moon is for appointed times, God said the lights in the heavens are for signs and appointed times, therefore it would seem the visual appearing of the moon is a requirement for establishing appointed times!
The calculated, averaged, mean, theoretical, dark “new moon” of the Rabbinic Calendar cannot be seen, nor observed, therefore it cannot be a “sign” as defined by the Hebrew “’ôth” in Gen 1:14. If one were to argue that averaged darkness is a sign, it would clearly be an invisible sign, which would directly conflict with the “literal signal” and “sense of appearing” implied by the word “‘ôth”.
“The exact conjunction of the astronomical new moon is not visible.” (UCG Hebrew Calendar p.3)
This is the center of the debate. Did God expect man to use the light of the heavenly bodies to begin a month, or an averaged period of darkness like that of the Hebrew Calendar? The
calculated Rabbinic Hebrew Calendar averages the time of conjunction (total moon darkness) to establish centuries in advance when a month begins. According to the Rabbinic Hebrew
Calendar each month always begins during the mean or averaged time of conjunction, which always occurs during the time of complete darkness of the moon, sometimes even falling in the middle of a day!
“If the Molad [Hebrew word for calculated “new moon”. *Not found in scripture*] of Tishri occurs at or after noon of a day, the first day of Tishri on the calendar must be postponed to the next day…….Would you celebrate the Feast of Trumpets when over half the day is gone at the time of the new moon?” (UCG Hebrew Calendar p.5)
To be clear: The calculated Rabbinic Hebrew Calendar uses the dark period of conjunction when the moon is not visible to the naked eye, and then employs immensely complex calculations to establish centuries in advance, the beginning of each month during a period of complete darkness of the moon, which can even fall in the middle of a day, beginning the first day of a new month in midday, which is contrary to scripture!
This averaged period of darkness is misleadingly called the “new moon” on our Gregorian calendars, and is called the “Molad,” or “theoretical beginning of the new month” by Rabbinic Jews. The Rabbinic Jews consider it the “theoretical beginning” because it is not really the beginning of a month according to Scripture.
“The moment that the moon passes between the Earth and the sun is called the Molad the birth of the moon. It is the theoretical beginning of the new month” (Understanding the
Jewish Calendar, Rabbi Nathan Bushwick, pp.3940)
“Môlêd is a Hebrew word meaning renewal, rejuvenescence. It would be properly applied to the phase of the moon at the instant of time when her Conjunction with the Sun takes place. It is, however, commonly used not for the actual time of New Moon, but for the computed time, which governs the commencement of each year and of each Cycle…The length of a Lunation, as adopted by the founders of the present permanent calendar, is a constant quantity, whereas the Lunations of the true Moon are variable in their duration. The Moon of the Jewish [“Hebrew”] Calendar is a mean or average Moon moving uniformly, in the same way as the artificial Moon of Hilarius which is used in the Julian and Gregorian Calendars.” (S.B. Burnaby, “Elements of the Jewish and Muhammadan Calendars”, London: George Bell & Sons, 1901, p.40)
The calculated Rabbinic Hebrew Calendar does not use the light of the moon, but in fact the darkness, which contradicts Scripture. The Hebrew Calendar’s moon is “artificial” and “theoretical.”
*It is essential for all members of the COG to understand that ancient Israel in the First and Second Temple Periods, including the time of Jesus Christ and 3 centuries beyond His death, diligently followed and preserved God’s true Biblical Calendar using direct observation of the moon as commanded in scripture. It wasn’t until 359 C.E. when Rabbi Hillel II (head of the Sanhedrin) officially changed the calendar from a visual confirmation of the light of the moon, to a fixed calculated calendar. It then took nearly 800 more years of debate, gross error, and controversy before the Rabbis finally finished the calculated Rabbinic Hebrew calendar with all it’s postponements late in the 10th century C.E.. This is the calendar UCG and the COGs use today.
Rabbinic Jews plainly admit this history. They also admit plans to return back to the visual confirmation calendar given in the Torah, once a new Sanhedrin is established. (This will be sufficiently demonstrated in Section VIII. Please also watch the linked video found in Section VII and VIII to see and hear the Rabbis plainly admit this)*
Section IV: The Scriptural Command to Look for the Appearing of the New Moon
“Most calendars that are being proposed use the new moon as the beginning of the month. While we would not disagree with this principle, we know of no definitive biblical statement to that effect. We accept the new moon as the beginning of the month, and there are references in the Bible which indicate that the new moon was the beginning of the month. But we know of no clear statement that the calendar is to be calculated on this basis.” (UCG Hebrew Calendar p.2)
“The greatest hurdle is the lack of any biblical requirement for observation.” (COGWA Hebrew Calendar Paper p.17)
Deut 16:1 “Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto the LORD thy God: for in the month of Abib the LORD thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.”
Contained within the first phrase of Deut 16:1 is in fact a command to sight the first visible crescent of the moon. This command becomes clear when looking at the original Hebrew. Each Hebrew word from the phrase “Observe the month of Abib”, illustrates a distinct command which requires no personal interpretation to see. The Hebrew words interpret themselves.
“Observe H8104 (H853) the month H2320 of Abib H24….” [KJV w/ Strong’s]
- “Observe”: Heb “shâmar” H8104 (H853)
H8104 A primitive root; properly to hedge about (as with thorns), that is, guard; generally to protect, attend to, etc.: beware, be circumspect, take heed (to self), keep (er, self), mark, look narrowly, observe, preserve, regard, reserve, save (self), sure, (that lay) wait (for), watch (man). [Strong’s]
H853 “’êth” Apparently contracted from H226 in the demonstrative sense of entity; properly self (but generally used to point out more definitely the object of a verb or preposition, even or namely): (As such unrepresented in English.) [Strong’s]
H226 “’ôth” Probably from H225 (in the sense of appearing); a signal (literally or figuratively), as a flag, beacon, monument, omen, prodigy, evidence, etc.: mark, miracle, (en) sign, token. [Stong’s]
- “the month”: Heb “chôdesh” H2320
H2320 From H2318; the new moon; by implication a month: month (ly), new moon. [Strong’s]
- “Abib” Heb “’âbı̂ybH24 From an unused root (meaning to be tender); green, that is a young ear of grain; hence the name of the month Abib or Nisan: Abib, ear, green ears of corn. [Strong’Please note that “’ôth” is the same word we saw in Gen 1:14! It is translated “signs”, specifically the lights in the heavens are to be for “signs”. *Is it mere coincidence this word is found in two separate commands pertaining to the moon and its use for appointed times?*
Now let’s compare Deut 16:1 using the Hebrew above with the original KJV:
Original KJV: “Observe H8104 (H853) the month H2320 of Abib H24….” [w/ Strong’s] Hebrew: “Shâmar (êth/’ôth) chôdesh âbı̂yb…”
Direct literal Hebrew to English translation:
“Look narrowly, wait (for), Watch, observe (specifically in the sense of appearing), for a Signal (literally), the new moon of Abib.”
“Look and watch for the appearing of the new moon of abib.”
This is not a personal interpretation. This is purely a direct and literal translation of the original Hebrew into English using Strong’s definitions. Unless Strong’s definitions are wholly
inaccurate, it appears there is a command in scripture to specifically look for, watch for, the literal appearing of the new moon of abib.
Now consider this admission in the UCG “Summary of the Hebrew Calendar” paper:
“It is true that observation was used during the time of the Second Temple, which came to an end in 70 C.E. This would have included the time of Christ.” ( p.9)
The question must be asked, why did ancient Israel ever visually observe the new crescent moon in the first place? Was it by mere chance they chose this method, or could it be, they were simply following the commands given to them in Gen 1:14 and Deut 16:1?
Section V: The Simplicity of God
*Within a half hour or so, any member of the COG can understand the Biblical Calendar found in Scripture. Conversely, the majority of all COG members and ministers cannot currently use the Calculated Rabbinic Calendar because of its sheer complexity.
- God gave the light of the moon to establish His holy time
- He gave Moses numerical dates on specific months to declare His appointed times
- He set the moon in its orbit, and established the Lunar Month to average approximately 5 days (note: this is not the author’s opinion, but established scientific fact)
That means a lunar month can only be 29 or 30 days in length. To be clear, a lunar month cannot be less than 29 days, and cannot be more than 30 days. (This is because we cannot have a .5, or “half day”)
Therefore, the first light of the visible crescent moon witnessed after the time of conjunction (total darkness) is declared the 1st day of a month. Then, if a Holy day is on the 14th of that month, we simply count to the 14th day. It’s that easy! (Remember a day according to God’s calendar begins at sunset, so that is when we are to look for the first possible new crescent moon).
Then, once the moon wanes again into total darkness, we would begin to look in the sky for the moon to reappear a few days later. Since a month cannot be less than 29 days, we would expect the moon to reappear no sooner than sunset ending day 29, and no later than sunset ending day 30.
If the light of the moon is not observed on sunset ending day 29 for any reason (ie: poor weather, not enough illumination), then we continue to look onto sunset ending day 30.
Since a lunar month can never be more than 30 days (remember the average lunar month is approximately 29.5 days due to the slightly irregular orbit of the moon). Even if the moon cannot be visualized on sunset ending day 30 for any reason (ie: cloud cover/poor weather conditions…..relatively rare in Jerusalem), sunset ending day 30/beginning day 31 would automatically be declared the new moon day and the beginning of the next month.
This is not an addition to Scripture, and let’s see why…..
God said He gave the light of the moon to establish holy time. We know from astronomy and simple observation that a lunar month can never be less than 29 days, and never more than 30. Therefore, we count from the first day of the visible moon, which God gave for signs and appointed times, and wait until we see the next new visible crescent after the conjunction.
Remember, it was God who created all things that established this cycle! All we are doing is observing the moon which God set in the heavens, and commanded be used for appointed times. (Psalm 104:19) This was the same method practiced by ancient Israel, including the time of Jesus Christ (see Section VIII for proof). The principle of using the light of the moon is fully established in Scripture, and we must use sound judgment founded on the Scripture when the light cannot be confirmed.
*For more on how to “calculate” appointed times according to the Biblical Calendar, see Appendix E*
The next major question is from where do we determine a new moon has been sighted?
New Moons are to be declared from Jerusalem.
Let’s confirm with Scripture:
- Jerusalem is where God placed His name and it is natural His holy times would be centered in the land which He chose to allow His name to be placed forever.
2nd Chr. 6:6 “But I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there”.
2nd Chr 7:16 “For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there forever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually”
If God’s eyes are perpetually on Jerusalem where he places His name, then our eyes should be directed there as well to see when He will declare His appointed times.
2) Future believers will come to Jerusalem to worship God. If it will be this way in His Kingdom, then Jerusalem must be central for the basis of all His works. It is also the same place all mankind will go when finally observing the Feast of Tabernacles (Zech 14:16).
Is 66:23 And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.
This prophecy declares all flesh will worship God on new moons! Where will they come to worship? Jerusalem. Taking time each month to shift our eyes to Jerusalem helps us remember our future calling and purpose. It reaffirms God’s future plan, which is precisely why new moons are included in Paul’s list of events that are a “shadow of things to come”(Col 2:17).
Why do we use Is 66:23 as a defense for Sabbath observance, but disregard the new moons mentioned on which “shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD”?
- God’s people must observe appointed times on the same day. Just as we keep the weekly Sabbath within the same 24 hour day of Jerusalem, we must keep appointed times within the same 24 day. Depending on where you are on earth, you may be able to visualize a new crescent before other areas of the world. For example, in North America we are 710 hours behind Jerusalem, which means we have an extra 710 hours for the moon to advance along its orbit. It is possible that those in Jerusalem may not be able to visualize a new moon let’s say sunset ending day 29 for whatever reason (ie: not enough of moon is illuminated, poor weather), but
710 hours later in the US, because the moon continued to advance along its orbit, enough of the moon may be illuminated for those in the US. Or maybe we have better visibility? If we were to declare a new moon at sunset US time 710 hours later when it was not seen in Jerusalem, we would be declaring our moon a day earlier than Jerusalem, for they would still have to wait until the following sunset to have another chance to confirm the sighting of the moon.
God’s holy city will be the center of worship in the Millennium, and we will go there from “one new moon to another” and from “one Sabbath to another,” and since we understand the law of the Sabbath is not done away (for it will be observed by the entire earth in the future), the same is true with new moons! Why do we validate one half of this Scripture and not the other?
*Ancient Israel understood the moon must be sighted from Jerusalem. In fact, the driving force behind Hillel II changing the calendar in 359 AD, was because the Jews could no longer confirm the new moon from Jerusalem after their expulsion from the Holy Land, and the abolishment of the Sanhedrin by the Roman government.*
Who Declares the New Moon from Jerusalem?
It is a well understood fact, even among Rabbinic Jews, that the Sanhedrin had an established system of confirming the light of the new crescent by visual observation prior to Hillel II changes (demonstrated in Section VI).
Ancient Israel and the Sanhedrin required two or more witnesses based on the biblical principle of confirming a matter.
Deut 17:6 “At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses…..”
Deut 19:15 “….at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.”
2nd Cor 13:1 “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.”
The new moon must be confirmed by a minimum of 2 or 3 witnesses. This can only occur on sunset ending day 29, or sunset ending day 30 of the lunar cycle.
Even though these verses are not specifically referencing confirmation of a new moon, ancient Israel understood no matter should be determined based on the witness of only one person. This principle was applied to any and every type of situation where confirming a matter was necessary, as evidenced by Paul’s New Testament affirmation of this principle in 2nd Corinthians. Paul did not use this principle in reference to determining a death sentence as was the case with Moses. He understood the foundation behind what was established by Moses, and applied this principle to establish all words of testimony. This is an example of properly extrapolating a principle from Scripture, and is not adding to the word of God when applied to declaring the new moon.
How do we determine the beginning of a new year?
- Since a lunar month averages approximately 5 days, and we multiply that by 12 months in a solar year: 29.5 x 12 = 354
- Therefore a lunar year is only 354 days, 11 days short of a solar year. (this is not opinion, but scientific fact)
- This means every 3 years; the beginning of a lunar year will fall roughly 33 days earlier than it did 3 years prior (11 x 3 = 33).
The consequence of this deficit is that Passover which is to be kept in the first month (Lev 23), the beginning of the year for God’s people (Ex 12), would eventually fall in late winter if another month is not added (this is called “intercalation”).
Some may claim this too is adding to the Scripture. *But there is no Scripture which commands a year must be only 12 months, or any specific number of months for that matter.* The solar year
is 365 days which the Romans arbitrarily divided up into 12 months. But since the lunar calendar is 11 days short this means every 3 years or so, the lunar calendar would fall out of sync with the sun, leading to holy times falling in the wrong season.
So then, what biblical command or religious requirements do we use to determine when to “intercalate” a 13th lunar month? Rabbinic Jew and calendar expert Arthur Spier (source also used in UCG and COGWA’s paper) explains how ancient Israel determined intercalation years:
“The Talmudic sources report that the Council intercalated a year when the barley in the fields had not yet ripened, when the fruit on the trees had not grown properly…..The Council [Temple Era Sanhedrin] on intercalation considered the astronomical facts together with the religious requirements of Passover and the natural conditions of the country.” (Arthur Spier “The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar” p.1)
Here Arthur Spier points out ancient Israel used the “religious requirement” for ripe barley. The Jews have many so called “religious requirements” which tend to be more like requirements of tradition, rather than requirements of Scripture.
So is ripe barley a “religious requirement”? If so, is it Scriptural?
The answer is in the Wave Sheaf Offering ceremony conducted during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which God commanded must occur on the first month of His year (Lev 23). The Wave Sheaf Offering involved the priest offering the first fruit of the grain harvest, which then began the spring harvest in Israel. God commanded no harvest could begin until the Wave Sheaf was offered, so by this command the bible is clear: The grain of the fields must be ripe to be a first fruit offering of the spring harvest, and this must occur during the first month of the year (Exodus 12). Therefore: Ripe barley is a religious and Scripturally substantiated requirement for the first month of the year.
As Arthur Spier states, ancient Israel also used “astronomical facts” such as how many lunar months were included in the previous 23 years, and where the potential new year would fall in accordance with the solar year (would the new year occur too early and begin in late winter instead of Spring?). But, they also used the “religious requirements of Passover” like the command for a first fruit offering of the grain harvest, which demands the grain of the fields in Jerusalem be ripe for harvest. If the grain was not yet ripe, then a 13th month was added.
This process is supported by Scriptural requirements, astronomical facts, and was followed by ancient Israel as Rabbinic Jew Arthur Spier stated.
To contrast, let’s see what the Rabbinic Jews have added to Scripture.
The Rabbins declare the Feast of Trumpets as the beginning of “their year” which is adding to the word of God. Why don’t we follow the Rabbins in declaring our new year in the fall as well?
Additionally, the Rabbinic calendar uses “postponements” which delay the date of certain holy days so they won’t occur on particular days of the week (see page 30), or for that matter, if the calculated “new moon” were to fall in the middle of a day.
Rabbinic postponements appear to fulfill their “religious requirements,” but are in fact additions to the word of God, because they circumvent God’s Will in revealing His holy time according to the light of the moon. Every Holy day and appointed time must be established by the light of the moon (Gen 1:14, Deut 16:1, Psalm 104:19). Rabbinic postponements cannot be found in scripture, and have nothing to do with the light of the moon. Therefore, they should be considered additions to Scripture.
Anyone Can Understand God’s Biblical Calendar
Now that we have an understanding of Scripture and the basic movements of the moon, let’s condense God’s holy calendar into simple terms.
- God said use the light (not darkness) of the moon to establish appointed
- A lunar month is approximately 29.5 days, which means a month can never be shorter than 29 days, nor longer than 30.
- The first day of a month begins when the light of the new crescent moon is first visible after the time of conjunction in
- The new visible crescent moon must be confirmed by a minimum of two or three witnesses as commanded in Scripture.
- Count 29 or 30 days to mark the next potential beginning of the coming month, and confirm the new crescent is seen on either expected
- Intercalate a 13th month every 3 years or so based on the ripeness of the grain in Jerusalem due to the Scriptural requirements for the Wave Sheaf
It’s that simple!
This is the same calendar followed by ancient Israel during the time of the First and Second Temple Periods, the same calendar followed by Jesus Christ, and was faithfully followed by the Jews up until 359 AD when the calendar was changed by a man (see Section VIII for admission from the Jews regarding this, using several sources also cited in UCG and COGWA’s calendar papers).
This is also the same calendar many scattered members of the Ekklesia follow worldwide today. Many of these believers still have, or had, ties to HWA splinter groups. This is the calendar followed by the Karaite Jews (their motto: “only Scripture”). There is unified agreement on this calendar thanks to the clear instructions of Scripture!
God’s way is simple and clear. Even our children should be able to understand and learn the basics of all God’s commandments. God’s Biblical Calendar holds no secret calculations as did/does the Rabbinic calendar. No aspect of God’s commanded observances are too complex for the people He calls, especially once they receive His holy spirit.
Next, we will see how the Rabbinic Calendar is the opposite, and essentially impossible for the majority of God’s chosen people to understand or use, even after they receive His holy spirit.
Section VI: Confusion of Man and the Calculated Rabbinic Calendar
The foundation of the Hebrew Calendar is a gnostic idea that only the enlightened elite know the secret knowledge of God. Without the Rabbinic Jew’s elite knowledge, the COG would not know when to observe the appointed times of God on their own.
Doesn’t God promise to grant wisdom to any who diligently seek it? If we have God’s Holy Spirit, shouldn’t we be able to understand how to keep the commands He has given, without the need of secret knowledge from men who admittedly changed from those commands? Again, God is not an author of confusion. The Hillel II Calculated Rabbinic Calendar was established on secrecy, and its history is rife with errors and confusion. (more on this in Section VIII)
Practical reasons why we should question if the Rabbinic Hebrew Calendar can be God’s true calendar:
- Its immense complexity
- The fact our children, nor elderly, nor ministry can currently use it
- It contains unbiblical postponement rules which if not implemented cause dates to drift far out of sync with the actual cycle of the moon, and even change the actual calculated dates to a different 24 hour period
*Please note: The calculation below is by no means the complete nor comprehensive set of calculations needed to use the Rabbinic Hebrew Calendar. (I recommend a quick skim over this section to grasp the impossibility of teaching this to the average believer of Jesus Christ, let alone our children or a babe in the faith). Please see the link below for a more complete and confounding explanation of the necessary calculations.
“Calculation of the Traditional Molad Moment”
In the traditional method of reckoning molad moments, as it often appears in rabbinic literature, one simply adds or subtracts 29 days 12 hours and 793 parts from a known molad moment to obtain the molad moment of the next or prior month, respectively. Although simple, this classical method is often inconvenient, because it requires starting from a known molad moment that is reasonably near to the desired molad. It is inefficient when one needs to jump from a given molad to another that is an arbitrary number of months into the future or past, because that requires repeated steps. Any serially repeated addition or subtraction calculation is also risky because if a mistake is made somewhere
along the way then that introduces an offset error that may be carried through indefinitely. A shortcut commonly employed in classical calculations is to ignore the day count, simply tracking the weekday instead. This shortcut can lead to ambiguities when the ignored days add up to more than a week, and although it does yield sufficient information for the purpose of announcing a molad moment, the weekday with time of day is not enough information for calendrical calculation purposes. Instead, the following is a direct method for the unambiguous calculation of any molad moment.
A molad moment has an integer part, which represents the calendar day and weekday of the molad, and a fractional part that represents the timeofday of the molad. The ideal way to carry out molad calculations is using using exact computing engines capable of arbitraryprecision arithmetic, such as Mathematica, or the computer programming language “LISP“, which can calculate the molad moment to the exact fraction or whole number of parts. It is also possible to obtain correct results using floating point arithmetic or a digital calculator, provided that the user takes care to round intermediate results at appropriate points, as will be shown below, but the calculation must support at least Double Precision floating point, because Single Precision is often insufficient to resolve moments to better than one second accuracy.
For the purposes of announcing the molad moment or determining the molad of Tishrei for Hebrew calendar arithmetic, the moment must be calculated exactly. For the purpose of comparing moladot to astronomical lunar conjunction moments, however, the small errors introduced by the limitations of floating point arithmetic are negligible.
In a computer program, nonvariable values can be declared as constants, for optimal performance.
Calendrical calculations make frequent use of dividing a number and keeping only the remainder, for example,
dividing by 7 to determine the weekday, as will be done below. Many programming languages have a MOD operator or function intended for this purpose, but in many languages MOD handles negative or real numbers improperly (the MOD operator of Microsoft Visual Basic is defective on both counts). To avoid the risk of such errors, herein I will use the solution recommended by Dershowitz & Reingold in Calendrical Calculations: 3rd Edition (CC3, see
Not being limited to integer division, the CC3 modulus function also works properly with floating point (real number) parameters provided both the x and the y parameter and the function return value are declared as Double Precision.
The traditional epoch or first day of the Hebrew calendar, on the first day of Tishrei of the first year, was a Monday (Yom Sheini, or second day of the week), starting at the sunset at the end of the daytime on Sunday. Assign day number one to that epoch:
HebrewEPOCH = 1
(A good case could be made to assign HebrewEPOCH = 0 instead, to count elapsed days relative to the epoch, but that would require changes to some of the arithmetic below, such as the weekday expression. Suffice it to say that the elapsed day count is always one day less than any calculated day number.)
To compute a traditional molad moment, start by calculating the Lunation number since the traditional epoch of the Hebrew calendar, which depends on the given Hebrew year number and month number:
Lunation = ElapsedMonths( hYear, hMonth )
Within the ElapsedMonths function, adjust the year number to account for the traditional month numbering that starts from Nisan, storing the adjusted year number in a local variable:
IF hMonth < Tishrei THEN TheYear = TheYear + 1 ELSE TheYear = hYear
where the Hebrew months are numbered from Nisan=1 to Tishrei=7 to Adar=12, etc.
In 19 years there are 19 × 12 = 228 regular months, plus 7 leap months, a total of 235 lunar months per cycle. The following expression returns the number of elapsed months:
RETURN hMonth – Tishrei + quotient( 235 × TheYear – 234 , 19 )
For example, for Cheshvan, the 8th month of traditional Hebrew calendar year 5766:
The assumed initial conjunction time (called “BaHaRad“, or PartsAtEpoch below) of the first molad (Lunation=0) was 5 hours and 204 parts (each part = 1/18 minute) after the epoch of the Hebrew calendar:
HoursPerDay = 24 MinutesPerHour = 60
MinutesPerDay = MinutesPerHour × HoursPerDay = 1440 PartsPerDay = MinutesPerDay × 18 = 25920 PartsPerHour = PartsPerDay / HoursPerDay = 1080 PartsPerMinute = PartsPerDay / MinutesPerDay = 18
PartsAtEpoch = 5 / HoursPerDay + 204 / PartsPerDay = 5/24 + 204/25920 = 5604/25920 = 467/2160 = 0.2162037… (the overscored digits of the decimal fraction repeat forever)
The constant traditional molad interval is 29 days, 12 hours, and 44+1/18 minutes. Separate the 44+1/18 minutes in order to improve the accuracy of floating point calculations:
Parts793 = 44 / MinutesPerDay + 1 / PartsPerDay = 793/25920 of a day
TwentyNineAndHalf = 29 + 12 / HoursPerDay = 29.5 days
Ari Meir Brodsky of Toronto has pointed out that in mental molad arithmetic for the purpose of announcing the molad moment it is easier to disregard whole weeks and calculate using the molad interval in excess of 4 weeks as 1+1/2 day, plus 3/4 of an hour, minus 1 minute, plus 1 part. For more information click here to see Ari’s mental molad method web page.
The assumed molad epoch was traditionally derived as follows (Tosefot on Talmud Bavli tractate Rosh HaShanah page 8b):
- Adam haRishon was considered to have seen the first lunar crescent at the start of the 9th hour of the daytime on the 6th day of Creation (20 hours from the sunset that started that date), when haShem commanded him never to eat from the Tree of The days of Creation are traditionally considered to have been the final days of Hebrew year 1, so this observation sanctified the month of Tishrei of year 2.
- Traditionally, assuming that the lunar conjunction was 6 hours earlier, the moment of the molad of the month of Tishrei of Hebrew year 2 was at the start of the 3rd hour of the daytime on Friday (14 hours from the sunset that started that date).
- The molad of Tishrei of Hebrew year 1 was considered to have occurred 12 lunar months earlier, where each lunar month equals the traditional molad
- A single molad interval is 1 day 12 hours 793 parts in excess of a whole number of weeks, so the excess from 12
molad intervals is 4 days 8 hours 876 parts.
- Therefore the BeHaRad epoch was on (6 days 14 hours) – (4 days 8 hours 876 parts) = 2nd day 5 hours 204
- The name BeHaRad is an acronym based on the Hebrew letters beit = 2 for the 2nd day, hey = 5 for the 5th hour, and
resh daled = 200 + 4 = 204 parts.
The following expression yields the molad moment as the number of days since the epoch of the traditional Hebrew calendar, plus the fraction of a day elapsed since a mean sunset time that is 6 hours before civil midnight: MoladMoment = HebrewEPOCH + PartsAtEpoch + ( Lunation × TwentyNineAndHalf ) + ( Lunation × Parts793 ) If the calculation to this point was carried out using floatingpoint arithmetic then it is necessary to round the molad moment so that its fractional portion corresponds to a whole number of parts (this must be carried out before doing anything else with the molad moment):
MoladMoment = round( MoladMoment × PartsPerDay ) / PartsPerDay
To determine the weekday of any molad moment, divide the number of whole days since the epoch by 7, and add one. This yields a number from 1=Sunday (Yom Rishon, or first day of the week) to 7=Saturday (Shabbat, or seventh day of the week):
For this weekday expression to yield the correct result, modulus( HebrewEPOCH, 7 ) must equal 1, which will be the case if HebrewEPOCH was set equal to 1 as recommended above. If for some reason you set HebrewEPOCH to some other value, then you must modify the expression appropriately.
When announcing the molad weekday, state it in Hebrew, because Hebrew calendar days begin at sunset, not midnight.
Only for the purpose of announcing the molad time, separate it into hours and parts (alternatively, not recommended because it is not the traditional way: hours, minutes, and parts). Extract the fractional portion of the molad moment and convert it to an exact whole number of parts:
MoladFractionAsParts = [ MoladMoment – floor( MoladMoment ) ] × PartsPerDay
Then calculate the separate time components for the announcement: MoladHour = floor( MoladFractionAsParts / PartsPerHour ) MoladParts = modulus( MoladFractionAsParts , PartsPerHour ) Alternatively, to separate the minutes and residual parts of a minute:
MoladParts = modulus( MoladFractionAsParts , PartsPerMinute )
“The majority of questions on the calendar revolve around objections to all or some of the rules of postponement, which are seen by some as unbiblical and later pharisaic additions.” (UCG Summary of the Hebrew Calendar p.7)
“Without these postponement rules, the Hebrew Calendar would be in a perpetual state of confusion.” (UCG Hebrew Calendar p.6)
Examples of a few unbiblical Postponement rules:
. . . Rosh Hashanah, the first day of Tishri, should be on the day of the Molad, except for the socalled Delioth (postponements), which take place in four specific cases. . . These are the four Delioth (postponements):
- When the Molad Tishri occurs on a Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday, Rosh Hashanah is postponed to the following
- When the Molad Tishri Occurs at noon (18h) or later, Rosh Hashanah is postponed to the next (or if this day is Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday to Monday, Thursday or the Sabbath because of deliah (a).)
- When the Molad of a common year falls on a Tuesday, 204 parts after 3 m., i.e., 3d 9h 204p or later, Rosh Hashanah is postponed to Wednesday, and, because of deliah (a). further postponed to Thursday.
- When, in a common year succeeding a leap year, the Molad Tishri occurs on Monday morning 589 parts after 9 m., i.e., 2d 15h 589p or later, Rosh Hashanah is postponed to the next day.
Note: In more than 60 % of all years Rosh Hashanah does not occur on the day of the Molad but is postponed according to one of the Delioth. Therefore the Delioth are actually not the exceptions to the rule but the rule. . . Deliah
(a) mainly fulfills the following three religious requirements: Yom Kippur (Tishri 10) shall not occur on the day before or after the Sabbath and Hoshana Rabba (Tishri 21) shall not occur on the Sabbath.” (Arthur Spier, The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar pg. 14 15)
**Please compare this small portion of calculations needed to use the Hebrew Calendar to page 25 of this paper. Is there any way this method can be taught to our children or substantiated in Scripture? Does it not conflict the conscience of the reader that they are unable to use or understand this calendar which they currently follow? Is it not unbiblical to trust men who admit they changed the calendar (see Section VIII), men whom we cannot forget, continue to blaspheme our Messiah?**
Comparing the Fruits
Matt 7:20 “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them”
*Whichever calendar a person may choose to follow, they should be comfortable with the fruit it produces.
|Crescent New Moon Observance||Astronomical Calculation|
|Rely on God’s sign/ timing||Rely on men|
|Based upon light||Based upon averaged days of darkness|
|Origin in Genesis (Gen 1:14) our Creator gave its purpose and intended use||Origin in secrecy revealed by Hillel II.”a closely guarded secret”|
|Simple enough for ALL members to understand and use themselves (even children!)||Only few mathematicians and astronomers are able to calculate (nearly ALL members and ministers cannot)|
|Multiple Scriptural references/support for actual methodology||Uses only 2 Scriptures to show Jews have authority, no Scripture used to support actual methodology|
|Observed by pillars of the faith (Moses, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Nehemiah, Ezra, Isaiah, Paul)||Not in effect until 3 centuries after Christ’s death, and still hotly debated for 8 centuries beyond|
|Has past, present, and future implications and referred to by Paul as “a shadow of things to come” (Is 66:23, Col 2:1617)||Jews admit they plan to go back to former system when “proper authority” isreestablished/ choose to disobey Scripture currently|
|Sola Scriptura as foundation/ Claims the Bible is sufficient for doctrine||Information in Bible is scarce and not sufficient/ established on “man’s authority”|
Section VII: Do Jews really have the “Authority”?
“Some people have taken it upon themselves to determine the calendar. God lets them do so, but does He give them the authority in this matter? The United Church of God accepts the Hebrew Calendar as being authoritative in determining when the Holy Days are to be observed.” (UCG Hebrew Calendar p.7)
“the Jews had authority to make changes [to the calendar] as necessary.” (COGWA Hebrew Calendar Paper p.7)
Does any man have the authority over the word of God? More importantly, does any man have authority to make changes to the word of God?
Establishing doctrine upon the idea of Jewish authority is not acceptable for multiple reasons:
- The Jews have rejected the entire gospel of Jesus Christ and the New Testament, and have added to the word of God through their oral “laws.” They do not even keep the commandments contained in the Torah. These accusations are no different than the ones made by Jesus Christ against the Pharisees (forefathers of Rabbinic Judaism) and
- In the COG we reject the Rabbinic Jew’s reckoning for the day of Passover and Pentecost. Are we to pick and choose when we follow Rabbinic Jews in their “authority”? Either they preserved the true calendar of God, or they did not. Rabbinic Jews also consider the Feast of Trumpets to
be the “new year”, when God says the month of Passover is His new year. Rabbinic Jews appear to stray from Scripture when making many their calendar decisions.
- The Jews openly admit they plan to return to the “former system” of “direct observation”
once they establish a new Sanhedrin.
To see proof directly from the mouths of Rabbinic Jews in Israel, please watch this very important video:
It is one thing to read excerpts from a book (see more proof in Section VIII), or read the words of this author. It is another thing to see and hear Rabbinic Jewish calendar experts admit the calculated calendar used today is “temporary,” not “the original,” and they are currently preparing to go back to the Torah based system of “sightings.”
Isn’t Jesus Christ our High Priest to whom we alone give answer and grant authority? The COG does not need a new temple or an established Sanhedrin to properly obey God. Someone would only have need of these things if Jesus Christ had not perfectly fulfilled those former physical necessities. The Jews have rejected Christ and are in serious error. Do we really want to follow them?
Acts 5:29 “We ought to obey God rather than men”
What will the COG do when the Jews return to an observational calendar as they admittedly plan to do? Will we follow them again, or will we cling to the current methods which the Jews admit is not what God commanded in the Torah, nor was the calendar followed by ancient Israel?
The Jews are not confused on their history and know exactly what calendar they used before Hillel II, which is why they plan to go back to it! (see Section VIII, also linked video above)
If the foundation for the COG calendar is the “authority of the Jews”, what will we do when that foundation crumbles under our feet? Christ taught we can stand firm if we obey Him and cling to The Rock as our foundation. When the Jews change their system, as they admit they will, the only people affected will be those who built their foundation upon that “Jewish authority”. If we cling to Scripture now, we will not fall when the sands shift…..
Matt 7: 24:27 “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be
likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”
It must be understood, the current Hebrew Calendar will only stand as long as the “Jewish authorities” allow it to do so. When the sands shift under the COG’s feet (and they will), what then will we stand upon?
What are “the oracles”?
Romans 3:12 “What advantage then hath the Jew?…..Much every way: Chiefly because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.”
“In Romans 3:12 Paul states very clearly that the Jews received the oracles……Could the calendar be among these oracles? We really have no evidence to believe otherwise. The oracles clearly consisted of items beyond scripture, and most likely included the calendar.” (UCG Hebrew Calendar p.7)
HWA Spring of 1940 “In conclusion, unless God has preserved His sacred calendar through the Jews, then we do not know how to figure Passover or any of the Holy Days this year. For there is no authority for any other way…..God did not commit His oracles, or the preservation of His times to profane history, or to the Roman, Catholics, but to the Israelites. And they have been preserved by the Jews.” (UCG Hebrew Calendar p.4)
“Is it possible that the Jews are wrong in the calendar they have preserved?
We simply do not know.” (UCG Hebrew Calendar p.7)
Romans 3:12 is universally cited by nearly all HWA COG groups to say the Jews have authority over God’s calendar, and even the authority to make changes as necessary. But, what really are “the oracles”?
The Greek word here for “oracles” is “logion.” Simply translated “words or utterances,” specifically the words or utterances of God. This is specific to the Holy Scriptures, instructions, and statutes of God which were given to the Jews for preservation. It does not in any way denote understanding of those Scriptures, nor give any such authority over those oracles to make changes “as necessary.” Remember these same Jews who faithfully preserved the “logion” of God, did not understand their Creator was in their midst, and crucified Him just as was prophesied in the very “logion” they faithfully preserved.
Now we will see the authors of the COGWA paper (and former authors of the UCG calendar papers) agree “logion” is only referring to words contained in Scripture, but still conclude the Jews have been granted “authority to make changes as necessary.” (COGWA Hebrew Calendar paper p.7)
“While the term logia [logion] does not refer in the narrow sense to the calendar, it would seem to be a fair extrapolation that if God entrusted the sacred writings to the Jews, He would also entrust them to correctly construct and preserve a calendar to allow His people to obey one of the most important aspects of His law—the keeping of holy time. It doesn’t seem logical that God would entrust His word to them and then withhold from them knowledge necessary to obey an important part of that word.” (COGWA Hebrew Calendar paper p. 12)
This author would agree with the final statement. It would indeed seem illogical that God withheld the knowledge necessary for establishing appointed times. However, extrapolation of authority over the Word of God seems unnecessary when we understand the “logion” God gave to the Jews, already contained a calendar directly within those preserved oracles. If this were not so, then why do the Jews admit their calendar is “temporary” and plan to return back to the Torah commandments? (see Section VIII, and *watch the linked video*)
*The reader must understand, the fundamental reason Hillel II changed the calendar in 359 C.E. was because the Jews could no longer sight the new moon in Jerusalem because they were expelled from the Holy land, and the Sanhedrin had been abolished by Rome. They admit they changed the calendar, and they desperately want to go back to God’s commandments! The sad thing is they believe they have to wait on the authority of men before they can obey God. Is this also true of us?*
Being given the oracles of God, literally “words”, is not synonymous with having any authority over those words to make calendar changes, or extra biblical rules (like postponements and 19 year cycle intercalations derived from Athenian astronomer Meton). The “oracles” (words) of God are now given to all men, Jew and Gentile, and the advantage Paul spoke of was the
blessing granted to the Jews by being given these oracles first, before the Gentiles. Surely we can agree, just because someone is given the words of God (“oracles”), does not mean they will actually live by them (which the Jews admittedly do not).
The oracles or “logion” have now been given to all mankind. It would be wrong to presume anyone possessing the “logion” now has the authority to make changes as necessary. We reject this exact claim by the Catholic church. So why would we say the Jews had the authority to do it then (359 C.E., initiated 3 centuries after the death of Christ, not finalized until 1078 C.E.)?
Possessing the word of God requires the responsibility of one to guard and obey it, not change it.
Hebrews 13:18 “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.”
If Jesus Christ who had all things created through Him is unchanging, and He supposedly preserved the calendar through the Jews, why then did it take the Jews so long to reach an “incredibly accurate” calendar over 10 centuries after His death? The Catholics claim authority over the Word of God and changed the Sabbath centuries after the death of Christ, and we recognize the error in this. Why then do we make exception for a different group of men who also do not follow the commandments of God, and have admittedly changed from them?
We are only to follow men as they follow Christ (1st Cor 11:1). If the Jews deny Jesus Christ as Messiah, reject the entire New Testament, and knowingly disobey the commandments in the Torah, why would we trust changes they have admittedly made to God’s calendar?
Section VIII: History is clear on which calendar was observed by Jesus Christ and ancient Israel
*Disclaimer: This section will mainly comprise of quotes made by UCG and COGWA for the sole purpose of juxtaposing the traditional and mutual teachings of the greater COG, against historical information appearing to prove otherwise. The intention is not to insult, accuse, or impute motive. Our desire is to present information which may indicate the greater COG family has been mistaken, or possibly illinformed on the history of the Creator’s calendar. The
intention of this paper is to turn God’s people back to His commanded precepts, while attempting to offer truth in love. No offense is intended when directly quoting UCG or COGWA.
Issue 1: UCG and COGWA’s joint positions appear to be contradicted by the very sources they utilize in their papers.
“There is simply no reason to believe that Christ followed anything but the standard calendar of His day.” (UCG Summary of the Hebrew Calendar p9)
“But unless all indications are deceitful, they did not in the time of Jesus Christ possess as yet any fixed calendar, but on the basis of a purely empirical observation, on each occasion they began a new month with the appearing of the new moon…” (Emil Schurer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, p.366)
By using the same sources cited in the UCG and COGWA paper, this author will demonstrate how these sources overwhelmingly agree and affirm, that ancient Israel from the time of the First Temple Period (516 B.C.E.), through the 4th century C.E., did not possess, nor officially establish appointed times using any form of the calculated Rabbinic Hebrew Calendar.
These academic statements, nearly all of which are Rabbinic calendar authorities, come from the same sources used to write UCG and COGWA’s papers. These statements are vital to understanding the history of the calendar of ancient Israel.
Example 1: An Interesting Omission In reference to Hillel II :
“In the year A.D. 358, Hillel II released the rules for the calendar calculation, which included the rules of postponement [note: postponements were not apart of Hillel II’s calendar, this will be proven later in this section]. Prior to this time, the whole subject was shrouded in mystery. No one knows when these rules were added to the calendar….Were they a part of the calendar during the days of Christ? We simply do not know.” (UCG Hebrew Calendar p.6)
“This led to Hillel II publishing the secret rules of the calendar in about A.D. 359. Because of the secrecy that surrounded the calendar, no one knows with total accuracy how the calendar (or calendars) used in biblical times was determined.” (COGWA p.8)
COGWA then quotes Rabbinic calendar expert Arthur Spier to support these similar statements:
“In the fourth century, however, when oppression and persecution threatened the continued existence of the Sanhedrin, the patriarch Hillel II took an extraordinary step to preserve the unity of Israel. In order to prevent the Jews scattered all over the surface of the earth from celebrating their New Moons, festivals and holidays at different times, he made public the system of calendar calculation which up to then had been a closely guarded secret. It had been used in the past only to check the observations and testimonies of witnesses, and to determine the beginnings of the spring season.” (Arthur Spier, The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar)” (COGWA p.8)
Now let’s examine Arthur Spier’s FULL statement from page 2 of his book “The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar”.
You can see a scan of the actual book using “Google Books” preview feature: http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Comprehensive_Hebrew_Calendar.html?id=CAKHN YmjqdYC
(Omitted sentence highlighted in yellow, bolding to add emphasis)
“This method of observation and intercalation [adding 13th month] was in use throughout the period of the second temple (516 B.C.E. 70 C.E.), and about three centuries after its destruction, as long as there was an independent Sanhedrin. In the fourth century, however, when oppression and persecution threatened the continued existence of the Sanhedrin, the
patriarch Hillel II took an extraordinary step to preserve the unity of Israel. In order to prevent the Jews scattered all over the surface of the earth from celebrating their New Moons, festivals and holidays at different times, he made public the system of calendar calculation which up to then had been a closely guarded secret. It had been used in the past only to check the observations and testimonies of witnesses, and to determine the beginnings of the spring season.” [Arthur Spier, The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar, p.2]
Why would the first sentence of this paragraph be omitted? It would appear this sentence mentioning a “method of observation” of the moon (from 516 B.C.E. 70 C.E. and about 3 centuries after the Second Temple’s destruction) would contradict both UCG and COGWA’s statements that “no one knows with total accuracy how the calendar (or calendars) used in biblical times was determined.”
Later in Spier’s quoted statement he references observation again saying the calculations made public by Hillel II in 359 AD were only previously used “to check the observations and testimonies of witnesses”. By mentioning observation of the moon twice, and giving dates for the time periods when the observational method was in use, it would seem Rabbinic calendar expert Arthur Spier is clearly stating how the calendar used in biblical times was determined.
Again, why would the first sentence of Arthur Speir’s statement be omitted? Compare this with UCG’s statement on page 6 of their Hebrew Calendar paper:
“…in Christ’s time the new moon was ostensibly established by observation….What we know from firstcentury records is that the calendar was operated by observation and controlled by the Sanhedrin.” (UCG p. 6)
Which is it? Either we don’t know what calendar was followed by ancient Israel at the time of Christ, or we do? It would appear the Jews are not as confused on this subject as we are.
The following additional statements by Spier would continue to suggest as a Rabbinic Calendar expert, he is quite confident on which calendar was in use during biblical times. (Note: these statements can all be viewed directly from the scanned pages using the “Google Book” link)
“In the early times of our history the solution was found by the following practical procedure: The beginning of the months were determined by direct observation of the new moon. Then those beginning of months (Rosh Hodesh) were sanctified and announced by the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, after witnesses testified that they had seen the new crescent and
after their testimony had been thoroughly examined, confirmed by calculation and duly accepted.” [Arthur Spier, The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar, p.1, section: HISTORICAL REMARKS ON THE JEWISH CALENDAR]
“(Nowadays the day, hour and parts of each Molad are announced before the Proclamation of the New Moon in the Sabbath morning service preceding the week of the New Moon. This custom keeps alive the memory of the time when the Sanhedrin sanctified the months on the basis of observation. It calls our attention to the fact that today we determine our new moons and holidays according to the decision of Hillel’s Beth Din.)” (Arthur Spier, The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar, p.13)
“In accordance with this system, Hillel II formally sanctified all months in advance, and intercalated all future leap years until such time as a new, recognized Sanhedrin would be established in Israel. This permanent calendar according to which the New Moons and Festivals are calculated and celebrated today by Jews all over the world. Like the former system of observation, it is based on the LuniSolar principle.” [Arthur Spier, The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar, p.2]
These statements clearly illustrate there was a “former system” of “direct observation,” and now the Jews use a new system of advanced calculations by which they state “we determine our new moons and holidays according to the decision of Hillel’s Beth Din.” Thus, it would appear the Jews have knowingly, and admittedly chosen to divert from the original calendar observance of ancient Israel, to an alternate manmade system of advanced astronomical calculations which the majority of our COG membership cannot understand or use.
Issue 2: What will we do when the Jews return back to the “former system?”
The previous statements by Rabbinic Jew Arthur Spier brings up another serious issue in choosing to follow this manmade, and “temporary” calculated Rabbinic Calendar: What will UCG and the other COGs do when the Jews return back to the “former system” of “direct observation”……..”until such time as a new, recognized Sanhedrin would be established in Israel”?
Note: Arthur Spier is not the only Rabbinic Jewish calendar expert to admit a future change will occur back to the “former system.” See the following statement:
“For over a thousand years, the Hebrew calendar has been fixed by calculation. Today, the Hebrew calendar does not match that fixed by observing the Moon. Even though the gap between the two calendars continues to increase, we do not have the authority to alter the calendar until
a new Sanhedrin (religious high court) is reestablished. While sanctification of the month according to observation is not practiced today it is important to carry out calculations and practice observing the New Moon in order to be ready for when the Sanhedrin is reestablished. Likewise, there is increasing involvement in the Temple, red heifer, etc. Of course, we are not intending to change the current calendar (without the permission of an authorized Sanhedrin) but just to increase involvement in and embellish the Torah.
In recent years, a number of individuals and groups have begun to observe the Moon each month to practice for the commandment of observing the Moon and for determining criteria for the limits of visibility.” [Israeli New Moon Society https://sites.google.com/site/moonsoc/] (Founded by Rabbi Dr. Nachum Rabinovitch, head of Yeshivat Birkat Moshe, Maale Adumim. The society works with the Institude for Kiddush Hachodesh Studies and includes scientists and rabbis from Universities, Yeshivot and elsewhere. They are adherents of Rabbinical Orthodox Judaism and its calculated Rabbinical calendar).
Here the Rabbis admit they will eventually return to the former system based on the
“commandment of observing the Moon,” which has its origin in the Torah.
To see proof directly from the mouths of Rabbinic Jews in Israel, please watch this very important video:
Again, it is one thing to read excerpts from a book, or read the words of this author. It is another thing to see and hear Rabbinic Jews admit the calculated calendar used today is “temporary,” not “the original,” and they are currently preparing to go back to the Torah based system of “sightings.”
What will the COG do when their “authority” changes its calendar? Is the COG waiting for “the permission of an authorized Sanhedrin”[men]? Should we follow men who by their own admission have deviated from the Torah, only to force ourselves into making a decision as to whether we will follow these men again, and do as Arthur Spier states: return of the “former system” of “direct observation”?
Rabbinic Jews plainly admit the Torah instructs how to declare a new moon. They know there is a calendar contained in the Word of God, it’s just they have willingly chosen to disobey God’s commands for the time being, but they also openly declare their intentions to go back to them!
Issue 3: Jewish and Historical consensus on the Hebrew Calendar
Now, we will examine a number of different statements made by UCG and COGWA in their respective calendar papers. *Remember, many of the men who authored UCG’s calendar papers also authored COGWA’s recent Hebrew calendar paper.*
These statements represent the traditional, mutual, long held teachings of nearly all HWA related COG groups concerning the Hebrew Calendar. We will contrast these traditional teachings with direct quotes made by the same sources utilized in nearly all HWA related COG Hebrew Calendar papers. *Please remember: No offense is intended by this author in using COG statements*
A. “The truth of the matter is that neither Scripture nor history provides enough information about the calendar in use at any one time to reconstruct a duplicate with an assurance of accuracy.” (COGWA Hebrew Calendar Paper p. 1)
- “The Bible does not provide us the complete means for calculating a calendar. There are no calculations in the Scriptures.” (UCG Hebrew Calendar Paper p. 2)
- “There is no record of a witness system for determining the new moon…….According to some scholars, they used the time of the conjunction [time of darkness]” (COGWA Hebrew Calendar Paper p.7)
D. “…in Christ’s time the new moon was ostensibly establish by observation….What we know from first century records is that the calendar was operated by observation and controlled by the Sanhedrin.” (UCG Hebrew Calendar paper p.7)
“The history of the Jewish calendar may be divided into three periodsthe Scriptural, the Talmudic, and the postTalmudic. The first [Scriptural] rested purely on the observation of the sun and the moon, the second on observation and reckoning, and the third [postTalmudicstill used today] entirely on reckoning.” (The Jewish Encyclopedia article: “Calendar, History of” pp.498)
“The Talmudic Rabbis [ca. first half of the third century C.E. (i.e., prior to 250 C.E.) to the end of the fifth century C.E.] recognised the variation in length of the synodic month…and hence they determined the beginning of every month separately by observation of the new moon as well as by calculation.” (W.M. Feldman, Rabbinical Mathematics and Astronomy, Hermon Press, 1965, p.123)
“In mishnaic times [the Mishnah was completed ca. 189 C.E.], though the authorities were familiar with astronomical calculations, the new moon was fixed on the basis of observation, which meant that, as a rule, the bet din formally proclaimed the New Month only after it had heard evidence of witnesses who had actually seen the new moon.” (Encyclopedia Judaica, Volume 14, article: Rosh HaShanah, p.311)
“It is generally accepted that the Jewish festivals were, in Biblical times, fixed by observation of both the sun and the moon. Gradually, certain astronomical rules were also brought into requisition, primarily as a test, corroborating or refuting the testimony of observation….It has been authoritatively proved that in spite of a more advanced knowledge of astronomy the practice of fixing the new moon and the festivals by observation was in force as late as the latter part of the fifth century [C.E.]….It was only after the close of the Babylonian Talmud, in the sixth or perhaps later, in the seventh century, that the observation of the moon was entirely given up, and a complete and final system of calendation introduced [in the tenth century].” (Henry Malter, Saadia Gaon: His Life and Works, Chapter IV, Saadia’s Controversy with Ben Meir, pp.7088, Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1921)
Note: “observation of the moon was entirely given up” as late as the 6th or 7th century C.E.! Jesus Christ was murdered early in the 1st century C.E. Would this not prove a change was made from the original? How could Jesus Christ have followed a system of fixed calculation if it wasn’t until 67 hundred years after His death that it was fully implemented?
In the time of the Sanhedrin there were no published calendars as there are today. The Sanhedrin declared the beginning of each month when the moon was actually sighted. On the thirtieth of each month they would accept testimony of anyone who had seen the new moon the night before. Anyone who had seen the new moon after sunset on the night after the twentyninth day of the month would go to the Sanhedrin the next day. If the Sanhedrin determined that the
reports were reliable and that the moon had actually been seen, they would declare that day to be the first day of the new month. If, on the other hand, the moon was not seen the night before, that day would be the thirtieth of the old month. The next day would be the first day of the new month. No month was ever longer than thirty days because even if the moon was not sighted at all, the thirtyfirst day would automatically be declared the first day of the new month. On the other hand, no month was ever less than twentynine days because the first possible day to declare the new month was the day after the twentyninth. (Understanding the Jewish Calendar, Rabbi Nathan Bushwick, Moznaim Publishing Corp., New York/Jerusalem, 1989, p.51)
E. “In the year A.D. 358, Hillel II released the rules for the calendar calculations, which included the rules of postponement [this is false, see below]. Prior to this time, the whole subject was shrouded in mystery. No one knows when these rules were added to the calendar. Could they have been a part of the calendar from the beginning? Possibly. Were they a part of the calendar during the days of Christ? We simply do not know.” (UCG Hebrew Calendar paper p. 6)
- “The four rules of postponement [“additional rules in the Hebrew calendar to prevent certain holidays from falling on certain days of the week.” Wikipedia], which are discussed in some detail later in this paper, were also published by the time of Maimonides (12th century) and were part of the contention with the Karaites in the eighth century. The origin of these rules is unknown, but they have been confirmed as rules of the calendar since at least the time of Maimonides [1200 AD]. It is quite possible that they were in use during the Second Temple period [including time of Christ], when at least some form of postponement
would have been necessary for the calendar.” (COGWA Hebrew Calendar Paper p. 7)
G. “We do not know when the Jews began using a calculated calendar instead of simply relying on visual observation. Some speculate that the calendar was in existence long before Christ.” (UCG Hebrew Calendar paper p.6)
- “…whatever the reason may be, these four rules [postponements] are as much a part of the calendar as the rules for witnesses and the secret rules for calculations that were active during the time of Christ.” (COGWA Hebrew Calendar paper p. 21)
“But unless all indications are deceitful, they did not in the time of Jesus Christ possess as yet any fixed calendar, but on the basis of a purely empirical observation, on each occasion they began a new month with the appearing of the new moon…” (Emil Schurer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, p.366)
“There is…unimpeachable evidence from the works of writers with expert knowledge of the calendar that the present ordo intercalationis [adding 13th month based on the 19 year cycle credited to Athenian astronomer Meton] and epochal molad were not intrinsic parts of the calendar of Hillel II [359 AD], these being seen still side by side with other styles of the ordo intercalationis and the molad as late as the 11th century. Also the four dehiyyot [postponement rules] developed gradually. …By the tenth century the Jewish calendar was exactly the same as today.” (Cecil Roth, editor, Encyclopaedia Judaica, Vol. 5, p.50, article: Calendar)
Note: It took until the 10th century AD for postponement rules to be fully developed.
How can this be if “it is quite possible that they were in use during the Second Temple period, when at least some form of postponement would have been necessary for the calendar”? (p. 7 COGWA Hebrew Calendar Paper) Or, “In the year A.D. 358, Hillel II released the rules for the calendar calculations, which included the rules of postponement.” (UCG Hebrew Calendar p. 6)
“Further, Gans points out, that it is hardly likely that R. Gamaliel [alive during the time of Second Temple destruction 70 AD] would speak of a mean [average] synodic month, as in his time the ‘fixed’ calendar was not yet in use.” (Rabbinical Mathematics and Astronomy W.M. Feldman, Ibid, p.124)
It is generally accepted that the Jewish festivals were, in Biblical times, fixed by observation of both the sun and the moon. Gradually, certain astronomical rules were also brought into requisition, primarily as a test, corroborating or refuting the testimony of observation….It has been authoritatively proved that in spite of a more advanced knowledge of astronomy the practice of fixing the new moon and the festivals by observation was in force as late as the latter part of the fifth century [C.E.]….It was only after the close of the Babylonian Talmud, in the sixth or perhaps later, in the seventh century, that the observation of the moon was entirely given up, and a complete and final system of calendation introduced [in the tenth century].” (Henry Malter, Saadia Gaon: His Life and Works, Chapter IV, Saadia’s Controversy with Ben Meir, pp.7088, Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1921)
“This method of observation and intercalation [adding 13th month] was in use throughout the period of the second temple (516 B.C.E. 70 C.E.), and about three centuries after its destruction, as long as there was an independent Sanhedrin [Arthur Spier, The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar, p.2]
“…intercalation [adding 13th month] was carried out as the need arose, on the basis of an empirical observation made on each occasion without any advance calculation. The following two passages demonstrate that this was still the case in the time of the Mishnah [completed 189 AD]: (1)
mMeg. 1:4…(2) mEduy. 7:7…The two passages are so clear that they require no further commentary...there was absolutely no calculation [of intercalary months] in advance.” (Emil Schurer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, p.593)
– Let’s reread that again: “The two passages are so clear that they require no further commentary…there was absolutely no calculation in advance.“
*Please note the source’s title*: The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ.
I. “A close scrutiny of the Hebrew calendar will reveal a high level of accuracy in its calculation…..Most of those who study the calendar are willing to accept the accuracy of its calculation.” (UCG Summary of the Hebrew Calendar p.7)
- “The truth of the matter is that a calculated and fixed calendar is more accurate and eliminates the confusion that results from attempts to develop a calendar based on an observation only approach.” (COGWA Hebrew Calendar Paper p.18)
*Note: Those who follow The Biblical Calendar do not advocate an observation ONLY approach. There is nothing wrong with counting to 29 and 30 (i.e. calculating), or checking NASA data for the next projected new crescent moon figures for planning purposes. There is nothing wrong or evil about advanced mathematical calculations. Just as there is nothing wrong with checking sunset times in advance using astronomical data. We are simply illustrating the commanded to confirm our projected dates by observation (Gen1:14, Deut 16:1, Psalm 104:19)*
How do Rabbinic Jews view the “accuracy” of their Hebrew Calendar?
“…the Gregorian calendar is solar, the Jewish one is lunar. The latter evolved over a period of many centuries, going through a number of formulations, much experimentation, and a great deal of controversy….Despite the fact that the Jewish calendar finally became fixed in 358 C.E. [note: it was around this time that the formulation of the set calendar was *initialized* by Hillel II], there was no end to the criticisms and disputes leveled at its inaccuracies for centuries thereafter.” (Nathan Ausubel, The Book of Jewish Knowledge, An Encyclopedia of Judiasm and the Jewish People, pp.7071, 1964.)
– Note: “There was no end to the criticisms and disputes leveled at its inaccuracies for centuries thereafter.” If the calculations were a divine gift given to Moses for preservation, why did those “divine calculations” contain so many inaccuracies?
“Today, the Hebrew calendar does not match that fixed by observing the Moon. Even though the gap between the two calendars continues to increase, we do not have the authority to alter the calendar until a new Sanhedrin (religious high court) is reestablished.” (Israeli New Moon Society https://sites.google.com/site/moonsoc/]
– If it wasn’t until after the first millenium of the C.E. (as these sources agree) before most of the postponement kinks were worked out, how were the Jews of Christ’s time so “accurate” in their calculations?
It would appear these sources all agree the Jews were not using, during the time of Christ or even 3 centuries after His death, postponements, or any form of a fixed calculated calendar as is used today by Rabbinic Jews and the COG.
K. “It is logical to conclude that if you had witnesses this must mean they were looking for something, which implies they were looking for the crescent. But did they use the first crescent, or did they watch for the final crescent to go dark? No one knows……..No one knows the criteria that might have been used during the time of Christ.” (COGWA Hebrew Calendar Paper p.17)
- “It is true that observation was used during the time of the Second Temple, which came to an end in 70 C.E. This would have included the time of Christ….There is no record of Christ condemning the Jews of His day regarding calendar matters. It simply doesnt seem to be a question.” (UCG Summary of the Hebrew Calendar p. 9)
In the time of the Sanhedrin there were no published calendars as there are today. The Sanhedrin declared the beginning of each month when the moon was actually sighted. On the thirtieth of each month they would accept testimony of anyone who had seen the new moon the
night before. Anyone who had seen the new moon after sunset on the night after the twentyninth day of the month would go to the Sanhedrin the next day. If the Sanhedrin determined that the reports were reliable and that the moon had actually been seen, they would declare that day to be the first day of the new month. If, on the other hand, the moon was not seen the night before, that day would be the thirtieth of the old month. The next day would be the first day of the new month. No month was ever longer than thirty days because even if the moon was not sighted at all, the thirtyfirst day would automatically be declared the first day of the new month. On the other hand, no month was ever less than twentynine days because the first possible day to declare the new month was the day after the twentyninth. (Understanding the Jewish Calendar, Rabbi Nathan Bushwick, Moznaim Publishing Corp., New York/Jerusalem, 1989, p.51)
*As shown above, clearly ancient Israel used the sighting of the light of the new crescent moon to begin their months*
Note: They were looking for the “new moon” on day 29 and 30 of the lunar cycle, not a waning crescent. And remember, many times waning crescent moons will not wane completely until mid morning during daylight hours. This would end a month in the middle of a day contrary to scripture!
Note: These are the same source used in COGWA’s paper, and it clearly says they were looking for the new moon on day 29 and 30.
“It is generally accepted that the Jewish festivals were, in Biblical times, fixed by observation of both the sun and the moon. Gradually, certain astronomical rules were also brought into requisition, primarily as a test, corroborating or refuting the testimony of observation….It has been authoritatively proved that in spite of a more advanced knowledge of astronomy the practice of fixing the new moon and the festivals by observation was in force as late as the latter part of the fifth century [C.E.]….It was only after the close of the Babylonian Talmud, in the sixth or perhaps later, in the seventh century, that the observation of the moon was entirely given up, and a complete and final system of calendation introduced [in the tenth century].” (Henry
Malter, Saadia Gaon: His Life and Works, Chapter IV, Saadia’s Controversy with Ben Meir, pp.7088, Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1921)
“In mishnaic times [the Mishnah was completed ca. 189 C.E.], though the authorities were familiar with astronomical calculations, the new moon was fixed on the basis of observation, which meant that, as a rule, the bet din formally proclaimed the New Month only after it had heard evidence of witnesses who had actually seen the new moon.” (Encyclopedia Judaica, Volume 14, article: Rosh HaShanah, p.311)
“For as the beginning of a month was fixed on the accredited evidence of witnesses who reported having seen the new moon soon after sunset on a certain day, it was the duty of the Calendar Council not only to test their evidence by stringent crossexamination…but also to ascertain, by mathematical calculation, whether the moon could, in fact, be seen at that particular moment at the particular place from which the witnesses came.” [example: if it had only been 26 days since the last sighting of the new moon, then “calculations” (ie: counting days) were employed to determine if a new moon can be seen on day 26…….which it cannot, since no month can be shorter than 29 days] (Rabbinical Mathematics and Astronomy W. M. Feldman, Ibid., p.160)
“But unless all indications are deceitful, they did not in the time of Jesus Christ possess as yet any fixed calendar, but on the basis of a purely empirical observation, on each occasion they
began a new month with the appearing of the new moon...” (Emil Schurer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, p.366)
*Note: “appearing of the new moon.” Not disappearing of an old waning crescent on day 26 or 27 because that would make a month too short, and certainly no waning crescent can occur on day 29 or 30. This would be impossible*
Using the same sources as UCG and COGWA (and these sources agree) it is clear ancient Israel, up until the destruction of the 2nd temple in 70 C.E., and 3 centuries beyond into the 4th century C.E., used direct visual observation to determine a new moon. These sources also agree that postponement rules were not in effect during the time of Jesus Christ or even centuries after His death.
THE CALENDAR FOLLOWED BY CHRIST AND HIS APOSTLES WAS BASED ON DIRECT VISUAL OBSERVANCE OF A NEW CRESCENT MOON.
If Christ during His earthly ministry did not correct the Jews for their observance of His calendar, then how could we say any man has the authority to deviate from that which Jesus Christ our Creator established in Gen 1:14, followed as a physical man, and did not change?
Again, if “the Jews have the authority to make changes as necessary,” what will we do when that authority changes back to the commandments in the Torah?
Why is this such an important, vital, trunk of the tree issue?
Because, if Scripture and history indicate there is a calendar in the Bible, there is a command to sight the new moon (Deut 16:1), and ancient Israel faithfully followed this calendar found in the Torah up until 359 AD, would we not have to conclude the Calculated Rabbinic Calendar has diverted from the original commanded system?
If this is the case, then the greater COG family has been observing the wrong appointed times, and neglecting the commanded new moon ordinance given to Israel forever.
2 Chron 2:4 “ Behold, I build an house to the name of the LORD my God, to dedicate it to him, and to burn before him sweet incense, and for the continual shewbread, and for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts of the LORD our God. This is an ordinance for ever to Israel.”
“Is it possible that the Jews are wrong in the calendar they have preserved?
We simply do not know.”
– (UCG Hebrew Calendar p.7)
Men and brethren, what shall we do?
The end of this age is approaching, and our King’s return draws near………
Rev 22:1214 “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”
If we desire the right to the tree of life, we will do His commandments as written in the Holy Scriptures.
Is it possible something has been lost over time? Is now the time for reestablished truth?
Could this be the time of renewal for God’s chosen before the end?
The New Moon: Chodesh or Molad?
The very definition of “chôdesh” H2320, which is translated “new moon” or “month” throughout the old testament, can only refer to the first visible appearance of the moon after the phase of conjunction.
The root word for “chôdesh” H2320 is “châdash” H2318 which is ; “A primitive root; to be new; causatively to rebuild: renew, repair.” [Strong’s]
Interestingly, translating “chôdesh” as “new moon” is not entirely accurate. For if a literal “new” moon appeared each month since the beginning of creation, there would be thousands of moons crashing into each other as they orbit the earth. Therefore, a more accurrate and direct translation of “chôdesh” would be “renewed moon.”
While I understand UCG currently considers the moon “renewed” at the instant of time derived from the calculated averaged conjunction time period (“Molad”: pure and total darkness), and admittedly this would fit the academic and astronomical definition of a “new” moon, it does not match the command by the Creator to use the lights as visible signs, or literal signals (especially “in the sense of appearing”) as implied by the Hebrew “signs” in Gen 1:14.
Then, consider the literal command found in the Hebrew of Deut 16:1, “Look narrowly, wait (for), Watch, observe (in “the sense of appearing”; a (literal) signal, the renewed moon of Abib”.
How can a calculated, averaged, unobservable, instantanious, split second period in the middle of the conjunction (sometimes falling in the middle of a day) fit the biblical definition of chôdesh? That is what the Molad is, and the simple answer is the term “Molad” does not fit the biblical definition of “chodesh”, and Rabbinic Jews plainly admit this.
“The moment that the moon passes between the Earth and the sun is called the Molad the birth of the moon [note: *Molad is not found in scripture*]. It is the theoretical beginning of the new month” (Understanding the Jewish Calendar, Rabbi Nathan Bushwick, pp.3940)
“Môlêd is a Hebrew word [not found in scripture] meaning renewal, rejuvenescence. It would be properly applied to the phase of the moon at the instant of time when her Conjunction with the Sun takes place. It is, however, commonly used not for the actual time of New Moon, but for the computed time, which governs the commencement of each year and of each Cycle…The length of a Lunation, as adopted by the founders of the present permanent calendar, is a constant quantity, whereas the Lunations of the true Moon are variable in their duration. The Moon of the Jewish [“Hebrew”] Calendar is a mean or average Moon moving uniformly, in the same way as the artificial Moon of Hilarius which is used in the Julian and Gregorian Calendars.” (S.B. Burnaby, “Elements of the Jewish and Muhammadan Calendars”, London: George Bell & Sons, 1901, p.40)
Rabbinic Jews are not ignorant of the biblical definition of “chôdesh” (or “renewed moon”) as was demonstrated in the video by the “Israeli New Moon Society” linked in earlier sections of this paper. The Rabbis have knowingly and admittedly chosen to accept a counterfeit, manmade definition of the “new moon” (now “Molad”).
The chôdesh of scripture is a renewed moon which can be seen and recognized. The Molad is an artificial, theoretical, unobservable, split second point in time.
Consider: Are we to believe when God said to Moses in Exodus 12:2:
“ This month (chodesh) shall be unto you the beginning of months (chodesh): it shall be the first month (chodesh) of the year to you.”
….that Moses was sitting in the desert working out calculations (that did not get finalized until after the first millenium of the Common Era) and God was over his shoulder pointing out dates on a calendar saying “this chodesh shall be the beginning of chodesh(s’), it shall be the first chodesh of the year”?
Or, does it make more sense the Creator pointed to His sign in the heavens and said to Moses (with implication….”look here”) “THIS chodesh shall be unto you the beginning of chodesh(s’); IT shall be the first chodesh of the year to you.”
The Yom Teruah Dilemma
Yom Teruah, or the Feast of Trumpets, is a unique holy day on God’s yearly calendar. It is the only holy day commanded to be observed on the first of the month, specifically on the “chôdesh” or “renewed moon.” (Numbers 29:1)
“And in the seventh month (“chôdesh” H2320) , on the first day of the month (“chôdesh” H2320)
, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you.”
All other feast days throughout the year are established by the monthly “renewed moon,” and therefore officially set 10, 14, 15, even 50+ days prior to their actual observance. But, the Feast of Trumpets is different. It is unique, for no man can know in advance, the exact day or hour it will occur, until the “renewed moon” (chôdesh) has been visibly confirmed, initiating the Feast of Yom Teruah.
There is a significant problem with a theoretical, artificial, unobservable, instantaneous, split second “new moon” (“Molad”) established solely on mathematical calculations. The problem is that each year during the Rabbinic Feast of Trumpets, there is no visible sign whatsoever of a “chôdesh” per Numbers 29:1.
Again, consider the command in Deut 16:1 to “look and watch for the appearing of the chodesh”, and Gen 1:14 sharing the Hebrew word “’ôth”, which specifically refers to something visible, as “a signal (literally), as a flag, beacon, monument, omen, prodigy, evidence, etc.: mark, miracle, (en) sign, token,” especially “in the sense of appearing,”.
Clearly, the lack of any visible sign on the yearly Rabbinic date for Trumpets is in direct conflict with Gen 1:14, Deut 16:1, and Num 29:1.
The second problem with calculating an artificial, theoretical, unobservable, instantaneous, split second “new moon” (“Molad”) specifically for the Feast of Trumpets, may be far more significant prophetically.
In Matt 24 Jesus is asked by his disciples : ”v3….Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (KJV)
After explaining the signs Jesus says in v30, “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other…..36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” (KJV)
Having grown up in the faith, we were always taught the Feast of Trumpets is the rehearsal for the triumphant return of Jesus our Messiah. Then, consider the Apostle Paul said of the times and seasons concerning the day of the Lord, he should have no need to write (1 Thessalonians 5). He went on to explain we are not children of darkness, but children of light, and the day of
the Lord should not come upon us as a thief in the night (as it will the rest of the world). It would seem Paul expects God’s people to already understand the times and seasons concerning the day of the Lord.
Additionally, let us consider most major prophetic events in scripture occurred on a literal feast day, and in some cases, more than one significant prophetic event occurred on the same feast day separated by thousands of years. Therefore, it would seem there is a strong indication that Jesus Christ will return on a literal Feast of Trumpets.
Yet, didn’t He say no man can know the day nor the hour of His return?
I propose, (and admit this is merely personal conjecture) that since no man from the beginning of creation has ever known in advance the exact day or hour of any Feast of Trumpets (according to the biblical calendar), and IF Jesus Christ will return on a literal Feast of Trumpets; then according to the Hebrew Calendar, the Rabbis and the COG’s could “know” in advance the exact day, and the exact hour of His triumphant return.
Of course, that would be profoundly problematic.
Imagine, we see the signs of the end of the age, and prophecy is fulfilled before our very eyes. The false prophet is set up, commits the abomination of desolation, the two witnesses arrive and are then murdered; they rise after 3 and a half days, and all signs point to our savior’s imminent return.
So, we make ready our garments, trim our lamps, and prepare for the bridegroom’s arrival, only to find our Messiah does not return on the expected Feast of Trumpets according to the
Rabbinic date. Some may conclude, “We must have made a mistake. Perhaps there is another year before the Messiah returns?”
“….50the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, 51 ” ( Matt 24:50)
Imagine, two to three days after the calculated Rabbinic date of Trumpets, a visible sign in the sky appears, and the Messiah returns on the very “chôdesh” beginning the 7th (Sabbatical) biblical month.
Those who were looking for that “chôdesh” would not be caught as a thief in the night.
Who in the Bible observed new moons?
This list is based only on Scriptures that mention new moons specifically. Obviously many others observed them as well throughout the history of God’s people.
*Moses and the Israelites
Numbers 28:11 “And in the beginnings of your months ye shall offer a burnt offering unto the LORD”
The word for month here is “chodesh” which literally means “moon”. At the beginning of the Israelites months/moons they were to present and offering to God.
*David (a man after God’s own heart)
1st Samuel 20:5, 18, 2426
Verse 5 “And David said unto Jonathan, “Behold to morrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit with the king at meat…”
Verse 18 “The Jonathan said to David, Tomorrow is the new moon: and thou shalt be missed, because thy seat will be empty”.
This passage illustrates David was accustomed to being present on a new moon and it would be very obvious when he did not show. Once Saul notices David’s absence, his only rational conclusion for David missing the new moon celebration is that he must be ceremonially unclean.
Many have used this passage to prove the Rabbinic Hebrew Calendar calculations were in use before the First Temple period because David and Jonathan knew the New Moon would be the next day with certainty. However, a more simple and logical answer could be one of these two scenarios:
- It was day 29 and the moon was not seen that evening, so by default the New Moon would begin at sunset the following day (ending Day 30) because no month can be longer than 30 days.
2) Or, the previous two months had been 30 days each, and being day 28 they knew the current month would most likely be 29 days to correct for the 24 hour surplus in the 29.5 day average.
What makes more sense? David and Jonathan in roughly 1,000 B.C.E. knew the following day was going to be a new moon simply because they counted, or they were using extremely advanced, “closely guarded”, secret calculations that we’ve already established were not a part of the official Hebrew Calendar for another 1,359 years? Calculations which still needed to be adjusted for inaccuracies, and were hotly debated over for another 800 years beyond 359 C.E.…….
Every Revival Period back to the Law of God:
2nd Chron. 2:4 “Behold, I build an house to the name of the Lord my God, to dedicate it to
Him, to burn before Him sweet incense, for the continual shewbread, and for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the Sabbaths, on the new moons, and on the set feasts of the Lord our God. This is an ordinance forever to Israel.”
2nd Chron 8:13 “Even after a certain rate every day, offering according to the commandment of Moses, on the Sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts, three times in the year, even in the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and in the Feast of Weeks, and in the Feast of Tabernacles.”
2nd Chron. 31:3 “He appointed also the king’s portion of his substance for the burnt offerings, to wit, for the morning and evening burnt offerings for the Sabbaths and for the new moons and for the set feasts, as it is written in the Law of the Lord.”
Ezra 3:5 “
and afterward offered the continual burnt offering, and both of the new moons, and
of all the set feasts of the LORD that were consecrated, and of everyone that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the LORD.”
*Nehemiah Neh 10:33 “
for the shewbread, and for the continual meat offering, and for the continual burnt
offering of the Sabbaths, of the new moons, for the set feasts; and for the holy things, and for the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of our God.”
Ezekiel 46:1 ‘Thus saith the Lord God: “The gate of the inner court that looketh toward the east shall be shut the six working days; but on the Sabbath it shall be opened, and in the day of the new moon it shall be opened.”
All of these periods show a time when God’s people restored the Law, including reestablishing the offerings on every new moon. There are joint references to Sabbaths, New Moons, and Feast Days. They were inseparable.
*Paul and those in Colossi
Colossians 2:16 “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or respect of an holyday or of the new moon or of sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ.”
*Future believers in God’s Kingdom
Isaiah 66:23 “And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.”
There is great biblical evidence showing the pillars of faith observed new moons, and future believers will be required to worship God on new moons as well. Are we exempt from this today? 2nd Chron. 2:4 This is an ordinance forever to Israel.” Scripture would appear to indicate we are not exempt.
What are Christians supposed to do on new moons?
We have been taught the Bible is not clear on how God’s people should observe new moons. Is this really so? If Moses, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, and many others had enough information, wouldn’t it be proper to conclude we have been given enough information as well?
Many times we must obey a command before we fully understand; this is how we grow in faith.
Examples: Numbers 28:11, 1st Chron 23:31, 2nd Chron 2:4, 8:13, 31:3, Ezekiel 45:17,
46:111, Ezra 3:5, Nehemiah 10:33
Psalm 141:2“Let my prayer be set forth before thee; as incense and the lifting up of my hands
as the evening sacrifice.”
Followers of Jesus Christ no longer need a physical temple for offerings because we are now the temple, and Christ’s perfect sacrifice removes the necessity for physical sacrifice for the time being; but we still offer our prayers of thanksgiving and repentance as sacrifice. This is very special to God and He longs for us to do this continually, including during His appointed times.
2nd Kings 4:2223 “And she called unto her husband, and said, “Send me, I pray thee, one of
the young men and one of the asses, that I may run to the man of God and come again.” And he said, “Wherefore wilt thou go to him to day? It is neither new moon, nor Sabbath.”
The context of this story tells of a woman who desires to seek the help of Elisha the prophet. Her husband is confused why she wants to see him, because “it is neither new moon, nor Sabbath?”
Commentaries agree during the time period of new moons and Sabbaths, people would go to the house of God and hear the prophets speak. A person should not make doctrine from commentaries, but this principle is upheld in others Scriptures. Ezekiel 46:1 also speaks of the
house of God being closed six days except on the Sabbath and new moon. New moon days are another precious opportunity for extra bible study and focus on the Word of God.
*Blow a trumpet/shofar:
The trumpet has great biblical significance. It can be used as a call to warning or attention. This new moon practice was meant to bring attention to God’s people that a new month was beginning. They alerted the land that a New Moon was spotted. This was how they knew to count and calculate their Feast days.
Numbers 10:10 “
lso in the day of your gladness, in your solemn days, and in the beginnings
of your months, ye shall with blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be a memorial before your God: I am the Lord your God.”
Psalm 81:3 ”Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day. For this was a statute for Israel, a law of the God of Jacob.”
Ezekiel 46:3 “Likewise the people of the land shall worship at the door of this gate before the LORD in the Sabbaths and in the new moons”.
Isaiah 66:23 “And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.”
This word “worship” can mean humbly prostrating ourselves before God. We are coming to show reverence for Him. We are to bow before Him with respect and give honor on His appointed times. Each new month turns our focus to the upcoming Holy days that we anxiously await throughout the year.
Is the new moon a Holy Day?
No, the new moon is not a Holy day. A Holy day is deemed as such by God, and follows with a command not to do any servile work on that day. We see no such command from God concerning new moons, and therefore would not proclaim new moons to be a Holy day.
However, this does not mean we can ignore new moons altogether because they are not a Holy day. For example: Passover is not declared a Holy day by God, but rather a memorial and festival of great meaning. New moons should be observed in a similar manner. They are a time set apart and given special honor by God. We are still able to work on this day, just as we would during the day of Passover, but it is still treated with reverence, and time specifically devoted to God.
Remember, new moons are a commanded observance, and an ordinance to Israel forever. God will require all flesh to come and worship Him on new moons in the future. Throughout the Old Testament new moons were observed by God’s people. Paul mentioned new moon observance in Colossians 2. Just because new moons are not a Holy Day where servile work is prohibited, does not remove the COG’s need to observe and recognize what God has commanded.
How to “Calculate” Appointed Times Using The Biblical Calendar
Is it possible to accurately “calculate” holy days in advance using God’s Biblical Calendar?
Yes, it is certainly possible, and in fact quite simple. Following God’s lights as He commanded in scripture is the only accurate way to establish Holy day dates. Here is how it’s done:
Because the average length of the moon is 29.5 days and we understand no month can be shorter than 29, or longer than 30 (there cannot be a .5 or “half a days” for example), this generally means each month will alternate between 29 and 30 days in length. For example, if the first month of the year was 29 days in the length, then the following month should generally be 30 days.
Think about it: 29.5 days x 2 months = 59 days.
How would we add up to 59 days in two consecutive months if there are two 29 day months back to back? That would only add up to 58 days! To reach 59 days in two consecutive months, conceivably we would need one month to be 29 days and the other to be 30 (29+30 = 59!).
Therefore, if we want to determine when appointed times will fall on the Gregorian calendar for planning purposes, all we need do is count the days and months, alternating between 29 and 30 day lengths for each month. These would be the “expected dates” of the new moons and High Holy days. I say expected dates, because we still must confirm months by the light of the moon. (Gen 1:14) On the rare chance the new moon cannot be confirmed on the expected date during a month containing holy days, then we would adjust our dates for that month accordingly. This is not a postponement. This is simple logic based on observation of the moon and its clearly documented cycle (which God created, and established the orbit). We are still using the light of the moon as commanded, so nothing has been added to scripture. The light of God’s moon dictates when Holy days will occur, not man. If we see no light, then it is not God’s appointed time.
The good news is God’s calendar is essentially selfcorrecting! So, if there ever are two months back to back with the same number of days (relatively rare), the 3rd month following should always be the opposite number of days. This is because a lunar month is an average of
29.5 days, and since we cannot have halfdays, eventually the cycle of the moon will have to correct back to an alternating cycle. For example, if we had two 30 day months consecutively, the next month should be 29 days to get back on track for a 29.5 day average.
Anytime two consecutive months contain the same number of days (relatively rare), this will result in either a deficit, or a surplus of days. And the only way to get back to the established average of 29.5, the moon will need to appear a day sooner or later than the previous consecutive month lengths. Remember, there are only 3 months out of the year containing Holy days. So if one month in the middle of the year is shorter or longer than we had expected, there is still a good chance our projected holy day dates later in the fall will be unchanged, because of the moon’s selfcorrecting cycle.
This is the beauty of God’s design! His calendar is relatively predictable for planning purposes, but it still forces us to put our focus on His heavenly sign as He commanded, and will not allow man to rely solely on their own understanding (as the Rabbinic Calendar does). The Jew’s calendar removes the need to focus on God, because they calculate their dates years in advance using averaged times of darkness, and sanctify those dates far ahead of time (without confirming the heavenly lights as God commands). And without unbiblical postponement rules, their Holy day dates would fall far out of sync with the actual cycle of the moon.
“Accurate” is a relative term when applied to the calculated Rabbinic Hebrew Calendar. For it is not accurate with the scripture, or with the cycle of the moon. It is only “accurate” concerning the Jew’s mathematical calculations (as mathematics are considered accurate), and assuming unbiblical postponements rules are applied, otherwise Holy days would drift into the wrong season. The truth is, the Rabbinic Jews establish the beginning of months during a time of darkness far in advance, which is not according to the light of the moon or the commands in scripture.
The Biblical Calendar only allows God to determine His appointed times, and the Rabbinic Hebrew Calendar grants that authority to men.
Answers to FAQ’s
Find proof for Jerusalem as the place to sight a new moon:
- Jerusalem is where God declares He has placed His name. His eyes are set on that holy city, and as we too take time each month to shift our eyes to Jerusalem, we can reflect on our future calling and purpose.
2nd Chr. 6:6 “But I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there”.
2nd Chr 7:16 “For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there forever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually”
- Future believers will come to Jerusalem to worship God. Since it will be this way in His Kingdom, this serves to illustrate how important Jerusalem is for the basis of all His works. It is also the same place where all nations will go when finally observing the Feast of Tabernacles (Zech 14:16).
Is 66:23 “And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.”
It is true, God’s people before the times of telephone and internet, would have had difficulty determining if the new moon was sighted in Jerusalem in a timely manner. Yet, we must understand the time of Hillel II in the 4th century AD was a punishment on the Jews who had rejected and crucified Jesus Christ. Instead of turning to God for help, they sought their own way in hopes of avoiding the consequences of the new moon no longer being able to be observed in Jerusalem, and the Holy Days dates would be varied within the diaspora. Now that the Jews have been given back the Holy Land, we no longer need to live under that time of punishment. We are now capable of knowing when God’s sign is sighted from Jerusalem because the Jews have been given back God’s holy city.
The past difficulties should not dictate God’s expectations for His followers today, based on His inspired word.
Find proof for total darkness observation of a new moon:
Before Hillel II, the moon’s darkness had never been the basis for determining a new moon. This was proven in Section VIII using the words of Rabbinic calendar experts. The Biblical Calendar has no need to observe the moon in total darkness because the Bible commands the light of the moon to be used when determining appointed times (Gen 1:14, Psalm 104:19). Having said this, the darkening of God’s heavenly lights at different times in history, have been used by God as a curse and a punishment.
Hosea 2:11 “I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.”
This is a prophecy against adulterous Israel. Please note: God does not only condemn her Feasts, He takes away her new moons as well. This was a punishment that would cause great sadness to the people of God. We have no need to live under a time of punishment, when God clearly reveals His intentions and we have the ability to follow it today.
Find proof for crescent light observance by naked eye with no telescope:
This can be answered by taking a look at the Bible and using logic based upon what we know ancient Israel had available at that time.
- There were no telescopes in the days of ancient Israel. They would have nothing but their naked eye. Rabbinic Jews admit this, and say when they return to the system of observation, it must be witnessed with the naked eye (watch video linked in sections VII and VIII)
- Secondly, at the time God commanded Moses in Num 10:10 “…at the beginning of your months (“chodesh”, meaning new moon), you shall blow the trumpets,” Moses already had an understanding in how God defined a new moon. God’s initial purpose for the moon was set from the beginning of creation and would have served as Moses’ definition as well. This definition came long before God’s command in Numbers 10:10. Moses was also the author of Genesis and knew which Hebrew word he had been inspired to use in Gen 1:14 for “seasons” (mo ‘ade), which referenced the appointed times and festivals of God.
Gen 1:14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons (“mo’ ade” meaning appointed times, festivals), and for days, and years:
Crescent light observance is supported by Scripture; the use of darkness is not. God said He set the lights in the heavens to be for appointed times, which is the same Hebrew word in Leviticus when mentioning the Holy days.
Leviticus 23:4 “These are the feasts (mo’ ade) of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons (“mo’ade”).” God says they have to be proclaimed. Moses was to proclaim when the months and festivals started based on the instruction God had given in Genesis for those appointed times (mo’ ade) which was declared by the moon’s light in the heavens. The only way for them to see that moon’s light was with their naked eye.
Moses goes on to specifically date the Holy Days at certain points within a month. How would Moses know when the 14th of a month was without Hillel’s complex mathematical equation and a telescope? The only natural conclusion is: He used the light of the moon with his naked eye.
Therefore, we must conclude, the COG does not currently use the same methodology of Moses and the other pillars of faith. Consequently, we would not observe the correct Holy Day dates either.
Find proof that someone besides the Jews have authority over the calendar:
As shown earlier in this paper, no man has the authority to makes changes to God’s calendar. It is God’s calendar, and His alone. He made the sun, moon, and stars. He set them in their places and their orbits. His calendar is the same today as it was in Genesis. The ultimate authority is the word of God. If anyone speaks contrary to it, we must follow God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)
Is 8:20 “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
– *notice light* Does God work in darkness?
Again, would God have established holy time without giving ancient Israel and believers today, the means to observe them accurately? Again, why did it take the Jews centuries to finally create an “accurate” calendar, one which was not initiated until 3 centuries after Christ’s death (proven in Section VIII).
Whose definition are we to use when claiming the calculated Rabbinic Hebrew calendar to be “accurate”? Astronomers, scholars, and mathematicians? As followers of God, we need to define accuracy by its compatibility with Scripture, and align all we do according to the Word of God.
Find proof for what to do when moon is not visible on cloudy days:
It is agreed, no scripture explicitly states what to do on a cloudy day and the crescent moon is not visible to the naked eye. However, we simply use what Scriptures God did give us, and then make sound judgments from those commands. There are 2 possible and easily reckoned scenarios here:
- If on sunset of day 29/beginning day 30, which is the first possible evening/day a visible crescent can be sighted, and the weather conditions are poor so no moon is visible, one would wait and look again on sunset of day 30. Now this may seem to be “adding to the word of God”, but this is not so. When Scripture commands to observe the light for appointed times (Gen 1:14) and no light is seen, then according to this command we would not proclaim God’s sign confirmed, and wait until the next evening to look
- If no moon had been visible previously on sunset ending day 29/beginning day 30, and at sunset ending day 30 it is too cloudy to confirm a crescent, then automatically it would be declared the beginning of new moon day, because a month cannot be longer than 30 days (this is astronomy and physics, not opinion). Again, this is not adding to the Word of God, but rather just using common sense to apply what God did say about His founding principle of using the light (Gen 1:14).
*Question: Did God need to lay out this detail for us, or would He expect us to follow what He had already made clear by appointing the light as a sign to begin counting a new month, and make wise judgments accordingly? Ancient Israel knew that the lunar month alternated between 29 and 30 days, just by simple counting. The Muslims, who also use a lunar calendar, knew this as well. This was knowledge attained by simply observing the heavens.
It seems to be quite a stretch to believe God wanted ancient Israel to somehow calculate an average time of darkness and then blow a trumpet, which would alert the people nothing had been sighted in the sky. That principle cannot be inferred in the Scripture and it is not corroborated by history, therefore it would appear to be adding to God’s word.
Just as God did not detail every prohibited thing to do on a Sabbath day, He expects us to use the given instruction and commands us to make sound judgments based upon what we were given.
Has the observation method ever been used in last 2,000 years?
It must be agreed a change was made in 359 AD, a change which caused the majority of Jews (although not Karaite Jews) to follow the Rabbinic method of calculation since 359 AD. It was a decision made to preserve unity of the Jew’s observance of Holy day dates, while being scattered throughout the diaspora. Hillel II made public the calculated calendar because the Jews could no longer declare the appointed times from Jerusalem. So naturally, “most” COG members have followed the changed calculated Rabbinic Calendar over the last 2,000 years. (We must bear in mind, just because the Observational Calendar has not been kept by the majority in the last 2,000 years, does not prove it is invalid or wrong).
However, despite methodology being changed in 359 AD, there are still examples of brethren in the 1st century keeping the observational method founded in the Torah:
- Paul and the Colossians Col 2:1617 “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of ”
Some say the new moon mentioned by Paul is not clearly defined here. While that may be true to a degree, we do know Colossians was written roughly around AD 6163. Hillel II’s calendar was far from being revealed or agreed upon at that point (see section VIII). To be clear, the “closely guarded” secret calculations were not yet made public, and were not in use as the official calendar of the Jews, as admitted by Rabbinic Jews today (see Section VIII and watch video).
Paul was an apostle of God, servant to Christ, and is known for using the Scriptures to reason and make sound judgments (Acts 17:2). Paul and His followers would have observed new moons based on the Scripture’s definition of them. History also supports Christ’s use of observational methods (proof in Section VIII).
- Good News Magazine 1953 written by Kenneth Herrman “God’s months begin with the new moon….The observation of the new moon is to be made from Jerusalem, not from the North American continent…….The appearance of the new moon in the western sky just after sunset is used to determine the beginning of a new ”
- Herbert W Armstrong in the article “How often should we partake of the Lord’s Supper” “The first day of the new year begins near the spring equinox when the new moon usually is first visible to the naked eye at Jerusalem (not the United States).”
At one point, even Mr. Armstrong recognized the new moon was to be determined by the naked eye in Jerusalem!
● Many believers in the COG’s today follow the Biblical Calendar
While they may be scattered, these church of God members can “calculate” the Holy Day dates without any special knowledge or advanced equation. Their authority comes not from themselves, but from God and His Word. When Jews appoint a new Sanhedrin, and return to observation (proclaimed by their own words, see linked video), it will not affect those who are already following the Torah command. They follow Gen 1:14, Deut 16:1, and Psalm 104:19 which command we are to use the light from the moon for appointed times.
● Future worshippers of God
Isaiah 66:23 “And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.”
In the COG we use this scripture for the Sabbath, but not for the new moon. Why? If all flesh will be expected to observe the Sabbath and new moons in the Kingdom, we should set a pattern for righteousness today, as the first fruits of God. We are called to be future kings and leaders! It will be a blessing to teach this simple way and help all men understand why they must come before God at these special appointed times.
We cannot ignore God’s commands on the basis that only a few have observed this way in “recent history”. Whenever the Jews in the Old Testament fell away from God’s Law, could they claim because few had been faithful before them, they were no longer required to obey God’s Law? Of course not. They had revival periods in which they turned wholeheartedly to God and reinstated what they had lost (including new moons). Every revival period reinstated new moons, Sabbaths, and Feast Days, these 3 are mentioned inseparably in the following Scriptures: (2nd Chron 2:4, 8:13, 31:3, Ezra 3:5, Neh 10:33, Ezekiel 46:111)
*We too have such an opportunity, so let us all return to our God with whole hearted zeal!*
2nd Chron 2:4 “Behold, I build an house to the name of the LORD my God, to dedicate it to him, and to burn before him sweet incense, and for the continual shewbread, and for the burnt
offerings morning and evening, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts of the LORD our God. This is an ordinance for ever to Israel.”
This memorial of coming before God on new moons is an ordinance forever. If we don’t believe this word “forever” truly means forever, why do we then observe the Sabbath and Feast days? All of these are relevant because throughout the Bible they are mentioned inseparably and God’s Law is eternal (Psalm 11:78). Offerings and sacrifices are also considered eternal commands, even though their meanings for now have a new fulfillment in Christ, and symbolize our prayers and thanksgiving (Psalm 141:2).
Let us come before God with praise and thanksgiving on all His special appointed times, as listed in Scripture: Sabbaths, new moons and solemn feast days!