THE BEGINNING OF MONTHS
While updating this article, I thought this would be a good opportunity to help others understand how to calculate the Lord's Feast Dates in Leviticus, chapter 23. My opinion is every baptized member should know the basics of how to calculate the Lord's Feast Dates so the large Church of God groups and various ministers will not be able to mislead you and have you observing the Jewish Feast Dates instead of the Lord's Feast Dates. There are also some groups who use the crescent moon image that the Babylonians used that occurs after the invisible dark new moon to determine their feast dates. On my website there is enough information posted on it for you to calculate a feast calendar. http://www.artscalendararticles.mysite.com/ "Dates of the Dark New Moons for Years 2009 - 2054;" "Dates When Days and Nights Reach 12 Hours In Length at Jerusalem, Israel" which list the dates when the new solar year begins for years 2006 - 2054. Another article titled "Where and How Information" will tell you where and how to collect the above information if you choose to do that yourself and also instructions of how to calculate a feast calendar. You will have the necessary information to calculate the Lord's Feast Dates and check the feast dates I have calculated, the feast dates of the Jew's, and the feast dates of the other crescent moon observers. "The Feast Dates of The Lord For Years 2006 - 2054" are also posted on the website. Also read the article titled "The Concealed Full Moon."
Ancient Egypt was run with different calendars. The first was a lunar calendar based on 12 lunar months, each of which began on the first day in which the old moon crescent was no longer visible in the East at dawn; what we describe today as the dark new moon phase. (This is most unusual since other civilizations of that era are known to have started their months with the first sighting of the new crescent moon.)
The Egyptian custom of using when the old crescent was no longer visible is akin to our modern use of the conjunction as the marker. The new crescent moon that begins after the dark new moon phase ends marks the beginning of the months for many nations and peoples and is the same as an idol to God. (Read: Exodus 20:3- 4; 1 Chronicles 16:26; Psalms 96:5.) The Babylonians used the first appearance of the crescent moon to mark the beginning of their months. When the Jews came out of Babylon, after 70 years of captivity, the Jewish calendar months had been changed to Babylonian names and they started their months at the first appearance of the crescent moon which they learned in Babylon.
A modern day example: Most Islamic countries today use the thin crescent moon image seen shortly after sunset, after the dark new moon phase ends, to start their months and their holy days. They also display a crescent moon image as their flag emblem of their nation that represents the god they serve and worship, their moon god, Allah! Many times a day, they bow down and pray to their moon god. The crescent moon does display an image in the heavens and that crescent moon image is a representative figure that represents the god they serve and the feast days they worship their god.
The second calendar the ancient Egyptians used was for administrative purposes and was the first calendar known to use a year of 365 days, approximately equal to the solar year. The civil calendar was split into 12 months of 30 days with an additional five days attached at the end of the year. The Egyptian civil calendar was altered by Julius Caesar about 46 BCE with the addition of a leap-year day occurring once every four years; the revised system forms the basis of the Gregorian calendar still used in modern times.
There are a number of different types of "years" defined for astronomical and civil use. The most common years used by various calendars and astronomers are as follows:
The Gregorian year is the number of days in a given year of the Gregorian calendar, the ordinary year being 365 days and the leap year 366 days. The Gregorian calendar year, that we use daily, was adopted in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII of the Roman Catholic Church with January 1 as New Year's Day and the day starting at midnight. The Gregorian calendar has become the internationally accepted civil calendar used for administrative purposes in spite of the fact that there are six "principal calendars" in current use. These are the Gregorian, Hebrew, Islamic, Indian, Chinese, and Julian calendars. These calendars duplicate or repeat astronomical cycles according to fixed rules.
Ancient Israel was familiar with the Egyptian calendar because they served Egypt as slaves for a period of 400 years as the Lord told Abram, later named Abraham, in Genesis 15:13,16,18. 13 "And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years. 16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity (5771, perversity, evil) of the Amorites (567, an Emorite, one of the Canaanitish tribes: -- Amorite.) is not yet full. 18 In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed (descendents) have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river Euphrates." In verses 19 and 20, the Lord named the ten nations that lived in the promised land of Canaan. In 1 Chronicles 11:1-7, paraphrasing: "David was anointed King over the tribe of Judah in Hebron and reigned over Judah seven years and six months. Therefore came all the elders of Israel to the king of Hebron; and David made a covenant with them in Hebron before the Lord; and they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the Lord by Samuel. And David and all Israel went to Jerusalem, which is Jebus; where the Jebusites were, the inhabitants of the land. And the inhabitants of Jebus said to David, Thou shalt not come hither. Nevertheless David took the castle of Zion, and David dwelt in the castle; therefore they called it the city of David."
After the above background information, let us look at what the Lord instructed Moses and Aaron about THE BEGINNING OF MONTHS that is used to determine the feast dates of the Lord.
Exodus, Chapter 12, is where the Lord started teaching Moses and Aaron how to start the first month of the Lord's festival year and when to observe the first Passover and seven Days of Unleavened Bread.
Exodus 12:1-2. KJV. (1) "And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, (2) This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you."
Let us check Strong's word meanings for an understanding of the words month, months and year in verse two. Month and months, is Strong's # 2320, chodesh; from 2318, the new moon; by implication a month: --- month, new moon, monthly. The Hebrew word chodesh means new moon or month. A month is about 29 ½ days in length, so the period of time from one dark new moon date until the following dark new moon date is 29 or 30 days.
A lunar year of 12 lunar months (12 cycles of lunar phases) is an average of 354 days, 8 hours, 48 minutes, 34 seconds. The word year in Exodus 12:2 above, and in Genesis 1:14 is Strong's #8141, shanah; a year (as a revolution of time): --- year, yearly.
The solar year is defined by astronomers as the time it takes the earth to make a revolution of time around the sun, about 3651/4 days. The solar year is also defined as the period of 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, 46 seconds, of one revolution of the earth around the sun and is also called tropical year, or year of the seasons. In Exodus 12:2, the word year, Strong's #8141, a year (as a revolution of time) is describing what astronomers call a solar year. Not a lunar year, which is 11 days shorter than the solar year. There is no even number of lunar months that equals one solar year. In just three years, the lunar year is about 33 days shorter than the solar year. Therefore calendars based on lunar months are usually out of step with the agricultural seedtime and harvest cycles. Men cannot insert a 13th month to the year because men cannot divide a lunar cycle in the heavens; this is what the sun and moon were created to rule and divide in Genesis 1:14-18. The solar years that have 13 dark new moons are usually spaced two or three years apart and in some years and extra new moon is added after one year by the sun and moon. This is the way the sun and moon adjust the lunar year to the solar year.
The Lord's feast calendar is also referred to as a lunar/solar calendar because the Lord used the invisible dark new moon that the moon appointed to be "the beginning of months" (Abib 1) to place Passover and the seven Days of Unleavened Bread in the new solar year. The agricultural seedtime and harvest cycles in the year at Jerusalem will be correct for the food harvests from vegetation to occur for the Lord's appointed feast dates. Psalms 104:19 states: "He (God) appointed the moon for seasons: (#4150, appointed times, set feasts.) the sun knoweth his going (3996, sunset or the west) down." So, the green barley will be ready for the symbolic wave sheaf offering during the Days of Unleavened Bread.
From the above definitions of month, months and year, we can understand that the Lord, and possibly Moses, and Aaron knew the date of the beginning of the solar year when He spoke to Moses and Aaron in Exodus 12: 2 because Acts 7:22 states: "And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds." We do not know if the date of the solar year started before, on, or after the invisible dark new moon or month date. But we do know it was on the date of the beginning of the month when the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron because of what the Lord stated in verse 2. "This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you." This was "the beginning of months" that I identify as "Abib 1" of the festival year that places Passover and the seven Days of Unleavened Bread in the new solar year.
The date of the beginning of the invisible dark new moon starts the beginning of each month and the sun and moon divide the 12 hour day and night equinox to start the solar year.
The 12 hour day and night equinox, divided at Jerusalem, Israel location by the sun and moon, occurs on the Gregorian calendar today on March 16th or 17th, and marks the beginning of the new solar year. The month is about 29 ½ days in length so the month will have 29 or 30 days. Because the months vary in length, the dark new moon or beginning of months that starts the festival year (Abib 1) can begin on any day of the week and can begin before, on, or after the beginning date of the new solar year.
The Lord's feast calendar has to be brought into rhythm with the man made Gregorian year that is used in the civil Gregorian calendar that we use daily. On the Gregorian calendar, "the beginning of months" (Abib 1) will occur in the month of March because the new solar year begins in that month and the month of March has 31 days. (Note:Two new moons occur in the month of March in years 2022, 2033, and 2041. Also in these years the month of January has two new moons. None in February because February has 28 days except every fourth year when a day is added in the Gregorian Calendar.) Therefore the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread can occur in the month of April on the Gregorian calendar when the Abib 1 dark new moon date starts after March 18. (Note: It is interesting to look at the article titled THE FEAST DATES OF THE LORD FOR YEARS 2006-2054. Look at the ABIB 1 dates which is the beginning of months that starts the festival year. Also look at the article titled DATES OF NEW MOONS FOR YEARS 2009 -2054 and notice how many times two new moons occur in one month on the Gregorian calendar.)
We can determine which March dark new moon date will be "the beginning of months" (Abib 1) by starting with the dark new moon date that the moon appoints in March before the 12 hour day and night equinox date at Jerusalem and count 14 days, starting with that dark new moon date, to find the Passover date. If that dark new moon date appoints Passover to occur before the March twelve hour day and night Jerusalem equinox date that begins the new solar year, it is not the beginning of months because Passover must occur on or after the March equinox date at Jerusalem for Passover to be in the new solar year. This also prevents two Passovers from occurring in one solar year. Go to the next dark new moon date that occurs on or after the March equinox date at Jerusalem and establish that as "the beginning of months," (Abib 1) and count 14 days to Passover, (Lev. 23:5-6; Num. 28:16-17). The 15th day through the 21st day are the seven Days of Unleavened Bread.
The earliest date of "the beginning of months" (Abib 1) dark new moon date must begin on March 3 to place Passover in the new solar year that begins on March 16. The dark new moon date must begin on March 4 to place Passover in the new solar year that begins on March 17.
The Israelites did not have a problem counting to the 10th day of the first month to take a male lamb of the first year, without blemish and keep it up until the 14th day of the same month. Then kill it in the evening and eat the Lord's passover.
Exodus 13:3-4, is where Moses named the first month "Abib." 3 "And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day (Num. 33:3 tell us it is the 15th day), in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten. 4 This day came ye out in the month of Abib." (Strong's #24, abiyb; from an unused root (meaning to be tender); green, i.e. a young ear of grain; hence, the name of the month Abib or Nisan.) Notice when and how Moses described the stage of growth of Abib barley on the 15th day of the first month: Abib; meaning to be tender); green, i.e.; a young ear of grain. This is describing "green ears" of barley, not a stage of growth when the barley is developing golden streaks like the Karaite Jew's tradition of using the crescent moon image and Aviv barley to appoint the beginning of their first month.
The 15th day of the first month, Abib, is the first day of the seven Days of Unleavened Bread. The wave sheaf offering was to be offered after the weekly Sabbath on Sunday during the seven Days of Unleavened Bread. That Sunday date is very important because the Feast of Weeks, also called Pentecost in the New Testament, is counted from the morrow after the Sabbath (Sunday), from the day that ye brought the sheaf (#6016, omer, from 6014; properly a heap, i.e. a sheaf; also an omer, as a dry measure: -- sheaf, omer.) of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete. Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days . . . . (Lev. 23:15-16). The specific dates for the Lord's feasts in the seventh month are also listed in Leviticus, Chapter 23.
Because the months vary in length (29 or 30 days) the dark new moons can start on any day of the week, therefore the date of the dark new moon that appoints "the beginning of months" (Abib 1) of the Lord's festival year can begin before, on or after the beginning of the new solar year. For it to be the beginning of months the dark new moon must appoint Passover in the new solar year, on or after the March 16th or 17th equinox day at Jerusalem, Israel; the location where the Lord has chosen to dwell at His return.
(Note: The Traditional Jewish Calendar Sacred Year also begins before the equinox date, the beginning of the solar year, in years 2013, 2021, 2026 and 2032.)
Updated 10-28-12 by Earl McDowell and Art Ryan.