Chapter Preview: The historical commentaries presented in Frank Nelte Nelte’s calendar articles are quite thoro. He has written many articles on the subject, but we disagree on what actually initiates a Day, a Month and a New Year. He uses man’s version of the International Date Line instead of Yehovah’s (God’s) International Date Line to begin the Day; an astronomically calculated “invisible lunar conjunction” instead of actual observation of the crescent moon from Jerusalem to determine when a New Moon (Karaite site) begins; and the equinox instead of the maturity of abib barley, to begin the Year. The parameters for celebrating a Biblically correct year are readily apparent (visible): All you need to understand is 1) When does a Day begin. 2) When does a Month begin. And 3) When does a Year begin! We have disagreements but Frank provides an incredible amount of factual information.
Millions of people heard about celebratinging the Feast Days from the late (1986) Herbert Armstrong. Frank Nelte has done a very good job of exposing many of the erroneous assumptions that HWA had about the calendar—moving many of us in the right direction. Yet I believe that he made some assumptions of his own.
He assumes that the Biblical calendar is divided up into four seasons—spring, summer, autumn and winter. While this is part of other calendars, the Bible mentions only summer and winter. Hence his opposition to the Jewish calendar sometimes beginning “in the winter”.
The four seasons assumption is his basis for believing that equinoxes play some part in the Biblical calendar. He believes that the Hebrew word tekufah (Karaite link) means equinox. Relatively modern Jewish applications of the word tekufah, have been applied to equinoxes, yet none of the Biblical texts use that term, or any other term, in reference to an equinox.
Here is what the United Church of God (that reveres Hillel 2’s calendar) says about the term “tekufah”:
“There is another possibility that must not be overlooked in our studies. In fact, when combined with other verses in the Bible, it is clear that the Hebrew tekufah as used in Exodus 34:22 doesn’t refer to the equinox at all. The word in Hebrew (as used in Scripture) has more of a generic meaning of “cycle” or “circuit” or “completion of a cycle.” When compared to other verses it can be shown that the correct explanation is that the Feast of Tabernacles (ingathering) is to occur when the cycle or circuit of harvest has been complete. Clearly the Hebrew term for “ingathering” refers to harvest. This is the descriptive phrase attached to the Feast and it has reference to harvesting the crops, hence the term “gathering.” In reality the equinox has little bearing on the completion of harvest. The harvest is completed based on weather and the number of days since planting and not based on the date of the equinox. We have no reason to believe that the autumnal equinox was ever of any real concern to the Jews.”
Frank Nelte also assumes that there would be no problem substituting calculated invisible conjunctions for the visible observation of actual New Moons. While this is convenient—it isn’t Biblical. What has total darkness to do with the coming of light? He has stated in other articles that this is a “negotiable” point. But invisible conjunctions never coincide with the sighting of a real New Moon!
He assumes that the barley harvest—necessary for the wave sheaf—is directly linked to the equinox. Actually, harvests are determined by the weather pattern of any particular year. The barley harvest determines when the agriculturally oriented Biblical calendar begins. Plant phenology, or cycles, are of far more value to an agriculturally based life style—like there was in ancient Israel and like there will be in New Israel.
Despite our differences, this is still very revealing about HWA’s understanding of the calendar.
Now for Frank Nelte’sArticle:
“In 1940 Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong wrote “a GOOD NEWS letter”, the contents of which was devoted to a discussion of “the calendar”. This letter has become the foundation for what the church of God has taught about the calendar for the past 60 years. It is also the foundation for the 3 calendar articles Kenneth Herrmann wrote in the 1950’s.
I have no desire of any kind to find faults with Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong. Most of the things about God’s way of life that I know today I have learned from Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, and for that I am very thankful. Also, I don’t think I’m smarter or cleverer (a motive some may want to imply) than was Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong. But, like Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, I want to know the truth; I don’t want to base my life on assumptions carelessly taken for granted.
It is because people have repeatedly referred back to Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong’s 1940 article, looking to it as proof and support for the present Jewish calendar that makes it, I believe, important to examine this article itself. WHAT Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong said in that article must stand or fall on its own merits. If what he stated was true and correct, then it was CORRECT, not because Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong said so, but because it really was correct! If there are errors in what Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong said 60 years ago, then it was WRONG. The content of that article (or letter) must stand or fall on its own merits, not on the reputation of a man! It must be evaluated against the Bible, the Word of God.
So this is what I will do in this article.
First I will present the entire text of that 4-page letter, without comments or alterations. In that way you will have an exact copy of that letter in your possession. It ensures that you will know that I am not quoting anything out of context, as far as that 1940 GN letter is concerned.
After that I will give my comments and observations on that article.
So here is a copy of the 1940 GOOD NEWS letter by Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong.
START OF LETTER:
“PASSOVER IS ON THE 14TH OF THE FIRST MONTH, ABIB (Nisan).
“The PROBLEM is to figure WHEN is 1st day of month Abib.
“Because the Catholics and Protestants figure “Easter” a month earlier than the Hebrew calendar sets Passover this year, and because Brother Dodd has published the date March 22 as Passover, while both Stanberry and Salem organizations have published the date as April 21st, many of the brethren are in doubt, and want the FACTS.
“Briefly, after very exhaustive study, and counsel with brethren who have also made through study of the question for years, the facts are these:
“1) The Bible YEAR is SOLAR, while the Bible MONTH is LUNAR.
“2) PROOF the Bible month is LUNAR; that is, each month begins with a new moon: By studying Numbers 28 and 29, we learn offerings were held DAILY (vs. 3-4), WEEKLY on every Sabbath (vs. 9), MONTHLY on the 1st day of each month (vs. 11), and YEARLY on the annual holydays (vs. 16 and on thru chapter 29). Compare with 1 Chr. 23:31; 2 Chr. 2:4; 8:13; 31:3; etc., where the same sacrifices and meat and drink offerings are mentioned, and in each case the MONTHLY offerings are on the NEW MOON. Since Nu. 28:11 says this is in the “beginnings of your months”, or the first day of each month, we have Bible proof the 1st day of each month is calculated by the New Moon.
“3) The Bible YEAR is SOLAR. This is proved by the festivals and the holydays. A month is between 29 and 30 days. A 12-month year, or a lunar year, is approximately 354 days, whereas a solar year is a little more than 365 days. Thus a lunar year is about 11 days less than a solar year. If the Bible year were lunar, always 12 months, Passover would come about 11 days earlier each year. Thus, in about nine years it would come in the MIDWINTER; in another 9 in the FALL, and a few years later Passover would come in the SUMMER. In 34 years it and all the holydays would make the round of all four seasons. But Passover ALWAYS comes in the SPRING, at time of the early grain harvest. On the morrow after the Sabbath during Feast of Unleavened Bread, the priest waved the wave-sheaf, and none of the early Spring grain could be used until this was done. (Lev. 23). Pentecost ALWAYS came in the summer, Tabernacles ALWAYS in the Fall at time of, or right after, Fall harvest. (Lev. 23:29) These were SET feasts, set for DEFINITE SEASONS of the year (Ex. 23:14-17; 34:18, 22-23; Deut. 16:9, 13, 16; Lev. 23:4; Nu. 28:2; Ex. 13:10).
“4) These facts prove there had to be an intercalary, or 13th, month ADDED to the year SEVEN TIMES in each 19 years. God has set the sun, the earth, and the moon in motion so that once every 19 years the sun and moon come into conjunction. That is, once in 19 years there will be a new moon on March 21st, for example. There are SEVEN more new moons in each 19-year solar-lunar cycle than there are solar months, (12 to the year). Thus God’s great time cycle, written in the heavens, is based upon SEVEN—God’s complete number, signifying Sabbath—added to TWELVE, the number of Tribes of Israel, number of Jesus’ original apostles, etc.! Since this is true, the ONLY POSSIBLE METHOD by which months can begin on new moons, and yet the solar year can be retained, is to add a 13th month every two or three years, 7 times in 19 years. Nowhere do the Scriptures specifically mention an intercalary month, yet these facts of astronomy and these Bible facts PROVE it was used.
5) “Now, our problem is, WHEN, and HOW OFTEN, DID God ordain these intercalary months should be added?
“Research reveals two basic points on this question, 1st, GOD DID NOT RECORD IT IN THE BIBLE, which gives us absolutely NOTHING more to go on that I have stated above. 2nd, History is vague on the subject, shedding little light that can be accerted (sic) and trusted. Yet we know God gave HIS PEOPLE a FIXED RULE for calculating TIME PERIODS, and for figuring WHEN to hold the Festivals of Jehovah. Otherwise, the prophecies, so full of definite time-periods, can never be understood. Otherwise God’s people could not obey Him!
“We learn in the Bible the men of old did have understanding of the times. They knew how to figure time. Of the children of Issachar, were men that HAD UNDERSTANDING OF THE TIMES, to know what Israel ought to do.” (I Chron. 12:32). See Esth. 1:13.
“In Dan 7:25, the “little horn”, or papacy, was to “think to change TIMES” as well as laws. Notice, only to THINK to change them—to deceive the world in general, but not God’s people.
“Thus with the LAW and the Sabbath. The world is deceived. But have WE lost “TIME” in respect to the Sabbath? No! This Scripture, then, indicates TIME HAS NOT BEEN LOST! The true sacred calendar is no more lost than the weekly Sabbath. Then WHO HAS PRESERVED THIS TIME, this sacred CALENDAR? To whom did God give it? To whom were “the oracles of God COMMITTED”? To ISRAEL AND JUDAH, of course! Israel LOST the Sabbath, LOST time, LOST even her national name and identity. But JUDAH NEVER DID. Judah has kept TIME in respect to the weekly SABBATH. The Jews rejected Christ. They apostatized in doctrine, BUT THEY WERE STRICT, STICKLERS FOR THE LETTER. Would such a people have lost their CALENDAR? If so, TIME IS LOST! There is no other source thru whom God could have committed AND PRESERVED His calendar. He did COMMIT it to them. Therefore it must be thru them He has preserved it! They had the calendar correct at the time of Christ. They figured Passover, all the feasts, as He did. In 70 A.D. the Jews were scattered into every nation. The present “Jewish calendar” had come down intact without change since 100 A.D.—that much is proved by history. Could they have changed it, and all changed it the same way, while scattered all over the world, and that within a thirty-year period between 70 and 100 A.D.? IF THE PRESENT JEWISH CALENDAR EVER WAS CHANGED FROM THE WAY COMMITTED IT TO THEM, IT HAD TO BE DURING THOSE THIRTY YEARS.
“The Jews in one part of the world, without knowing what the Jews in the other parts of the world were doing, all had to get it changed in exactly the same way! That, of course, was utterly IMPOSSIBLE!
“Further PROOF comes thru the continuous observance of Passover by one Jewish sect, going by the name of “Samaritans.”
“In the ‘Encyclopedia Britannica’, 14th edition, Vol. 17, page 357, we read:
“The Samaritans have throughout their history observed the Passover with all its Pentateuchal ceremonial and still observe it down to the present day. THEY SACRIFICE THE PASCHAL LAMB, which is probably the oldest religious rite that HAS BEEN CONTINUOUSLY KEPT UP.” Here are the ONLY people who have kept Passover, continuously, thru all generations without a break, exactly as God gave it to them under the old Testament form. They have NEVER made any change in their doctrines regarding Passover, or the manner of observing it. Could THEY have lost the calendar—the way of figuring WHEN to take it—as God committed it to them? Hardly! Yet they use today the same calendar all the Jews use—the sacred original Hebrew calendar!
“Interesting, too, is the fact they observe Passover on the eve, or night part of the 14th, not on the 15th. They kill the lamb between sunset and dark at the very beginning of the 14th. They observe the FEAST the night of the 15th. Also, they have continued to figure Pentecost from the morrow after the WEEKLY SABBATH during the days of unleavened bread, the true Bible way—instead of from the first annual Sabbath.
“In conclusion, unless God has preserved His sacred calendar thru the Jew, then WE DO NOT KNOW how to figure Passover or ANY of the holydays this year. For there is NO AUTHORITY for any other day.
“There is NO BIBLE AUTHORITY WHATSOEVER for figuring the 1st day of the 1st month from the new moon NEAREST the Spring equinox!
“As soon as I learned of Brother Dodd’s published dates for the festivals this year, I sent him a telegram asking for his authority for his dates. His reply is that he bases his method of figuring on certain statements of profane history found in encyclopedias. He replies “in some Bible dictionary, or Encyclopedia, or Jewish encyclopedia, I read something like this:
‘The ancient reckoning of Passover was from the actual sight of the New Moon nearest the Vernal Equinox....’
“But, we ask (tho Brother Dodd is quoting from memory, and was unable to find the clipping or reference, or state WHERE he had read this), how did the man who wrote the article in the encyclopedia KNOW this was the ancient method of reckoning? Did He offer proof? The Jews, continuing the observance of all the seven annual festivals EVERY YEAR continuously, tho scattered all over the world, say it was figured anciently as they figure it today, by the Jewish calendar. What more dependable record has come down from Moses’ time?
“Bro. Dodd also cited Josphesus, Jewish historian, to indicate that Passover could never be earlier than March 20th, or later than April 19th. Yet in Hastings Bible Dictionary, I find this same Josephus quoted as saying the Vernal equinox (March 21), always occurred in Nisan, which means the year always began with the New Moon PRIOR to March 21st. They quote one more author to this same effect, (Muss-Arnolt, p. 77). Thus one writer says Josephus (Ant. I, X.5) to figure the new moon PRIOR to March 21st, another uses the same Josephus to prove we ought to take the new moon NEAREST the same date, or about half the time the new moon FOLLOWING March 21st, while in the Britannica I find statements supposed to be historic that it ALWAYS began with the first new moon AFTER March 21st.
“Surely we can see that profane history only contradicts itself, is inaccurate, cannot be depended upon, and HAS NO AUTHORITY WHATSOEVER. There is no Bible authority for any of it.
“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.
“The Catholics are the ones who have thought to CHANGE the Times. They say the paschal new moon this year is the one BEFORE March 21st, and figure Easter accordingly. The Jews say it is the one AFTER March 21st.
“After thorough study of the Bible, of the Hebrew calendar, of history, and every angle,—after going into the matter with all the Eugene brethren, and other brethren who have made a special study of this question, we have unanimously agreed that the Hebrew calendar has been preserved correct by the Jews.
“The New moon occurs, IN JERUSALEM, (World Almanac), at exactly 10:18 P.M., the night of April 7th, which is the eve of April 8th. However, God had the new moon observed by the naked eye and by this method the first day of the 1st month begins the following sunset, April 8th. Thus Passover comes AFTER SUNSET APRIL 21st and the HOLY CONVOCATION after sunset April 22nd, which is Abib 15th. The second holyday begins sunset April 28th, with holy convocation held during the day-time, April 29. Pentecost this year is JUNE 17th, sunset, until sunset June 18th, instead of June 12th as erroneously figured on our calendar printed three years ago.
“PASSOVER, after sunset, April 21st
“UNLEAVENED BREAD, April 21 to 29th
“First Sabbath, meeting after sunset April 22nd,
“Second Sabbath, daytime April 29th
“PENTECOST, daytime meeting, June 18th
“TRUMPETS SABBATH, October 3rd
“ATONEMENT (fast), October 12th
“TABERNACLES, sunset Oct. 16th to sunset Oct. 24th
“HERBERT W. ARMSTRONG”
END OF LETTER!
That’s the full text of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong’s letter. Now let’s take a closer look at what he said back then in 1940.
1) THE PROBLEM Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong faced was NOT: do we accept the present Jewish calendar or do we accept some other calendar? The problem was NOT: are there perhaps some problems with the present Jewish calendar which make it unacceptable in the sight of God? The man “Brother Dodd” appears to have accepted the Jewish calendar (as evidenced by “Brother Dodd’s” reliance on Jewish sources, including “The Jewish Encyclopedia” and the Jewish historian Josephus) in general terms. The only thing this “Brother Dodd” apparently felt needed changing was that he wanted to start the year one new moon earlier than the Jewish calendar was going to start for that particular year.
FOR THE RECORD: It is very easy to prove that “Brother Dodd” was wrong; as with his proposed dates, amongst other things, the wave offering would have been required on Sunday, March 24th, WHICH IS BY A LONG SHOT TOO EARLY FOR ANY BARLEY FOR THIS OFFERING! So it is very easy to reject the wrong dates proposed by “Brother Dodd”.
2) The nature of the problem they faced in 1940 means that THEIR STUDY INTO A SOLUTION clearly did NOT examine any problems that no one had brought to their attention! Their focus was simply: Which of two new moons do we use for the start of Nisan: the new moon of March 9th or the new moon of April 7th? [Comment: The molad was April 7th at 4:03 p.m. and the actual new moon for the Jerusalem time zone was April 7th at 10:18 p.m., which is actually the early part of April 8th.]
3) Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong then mentions that they reached a decision “AFTER VERY EXHAUSTIVE STUDY”. Exactly what he meant by “very exhaustive study” is seen from the “5 points” he then proceeds to list. They are: the Bible year is solar; the Bible month is lunar; this requires 7 years in every 19 years to have 13 months; “OUR problem” is to figure out when and how often these intercalary months should be added.
This last point leads back to “Brother Dodd”, who disagreed with the then current year (the one that would end in March or April of 1940) having 13 months. And that is the extent of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong’s “exhaustive study” of problems with the Jewish calendar. He spelled it out quite clearly by stating in his “point 5”: “Now, OUR PROBLEM IS ...”!
4) It should be fairly easy to recognize that Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong was not aware of, and therefore did not study into, the following REAL problem areas:
A) THE BIBLE indicates that the year should start in the spring. [Lon: Try finding a single reference to “spring” in a standard Bible] This is even repeatedly acknowledged in the very first article the Church ever published about the calendar, the 1953 GOOD NEWS article by Kenneth Herrmann. It is repeated in the 1957 GOOD NEWS article. But the present Jewish calendar doesn’t do that consistently; it starts the year in the winter about one third of the time.
B) THE BIBLE makes very clear in Exodus 34:22 that the Feast of Tabernacles must ALWAYS be in the autumn. [Lon: Try finding “autunn”.] (Even Dr. Herman Hoeh, in his April 1981 GOOD NEWS article, acknowledged that Exodus 34:22 sets a requirement for the calendar.) The word “tekufah” in that verse refers to “THE SEASON of autumn” (which in the Talmud is referred to as “the tekufah of Tishri”). But the present Jewish calendar doesn’t do that consistently; it sometimes starts the Feast of Tabernacles BEFORE the end of summer.
C) The 2150-year old Greek calculations that are employed in the present Jewish calendar to establish ONE new moon conjunction (called “the molad”) for each year, for the 7th month of each year, are in fact based on AVERAGES; and they are normally in error anywhere from 15 hours too late to 3 hours too early. But the calendar employed by the Jews in the 1st century AD was ALWAYS BASED ON OBSERVATION of each new moon crescent. [all bolding added] A calendar based on observation of new moon crescents will ALWAYS stay linked to reality; the new moons are NOT removed from the start of each month. But the errors in the calculated calendar have REMOVED THE WHOLE PROCESS FROM REALITY! Sometimes the start of the new month in the present Jewish calendar coincides with the real new moon and sometimes the start of a new month is only one or two days after the real new moon. So the accurate process based on observation has been replaced by a hit-and-miss process of calculation. It needs to be established whether this hit-and-miss process has God’s approval or not. Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong DID acknowledge in this letter that “each month begins with a new moon”, but this is simply not consistently true for the present Jewish calendar.
D) And once the molad has been established in the present Jewish calendar, Jewish traditions then apply certain “postponement rules”, which have the effect of postponing EVERY MONTH OF THE YEAR AWAY FROM THE REAL NEW MOONS. The historical evidence is very clear that these postponement rules were NOT being used during the life and ministry of Jesus Christ and of the original apostles. Nor is there ANY biblical support for these postponement rules. It needs to be examined whether or not these postponement rules have God’s approval.
E) Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong also MISUNDERSTOOD what the present Jewish calendar attempts to achieve. He THOUGHT that it was based on REAL new moons. Thus his statement:
“The new moon occurs, IN JERUSALEM, (World Almanac), at exactly 10:18 P.M., the night of April 7th, which is the eve of April 8th. GOD HAD THE NEW MOON OBSERVED BY THE NAKED EYE and by this method the first day of the 1st month begins the following sunset, April 8th.” (partly my emphasis)
THIS QUOTATION MAKES CLEAR THAT MR. ARMSTRONG DID NOT REALLY UNDERSTAND THE PRESENT JEWISH CALENDAR!
In the present Jewish calendar there is no attempt to establish ANY connection with visibility! Yet Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong thought that it DID try to establish visibility! In actual fact there was a 1-day postponement in 1940 for the express purpose of preventing the Day of Atonement from falling on a Friday, yet Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong thought it was for the purpose of establishing the day of first visibility. So, CLEARLY, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong did NOT correctly understand the postponement rules of the present Jewish calendar back in 1940! And if he didn’t correctly UNDERSTAND the postponement rules, it follows that he could not have accurately evaluated them either!
[Comment: In 1940 there was a 1-day postponement for the 1st day of the 7th month, and this affected every month of the year. In actual fact this amounted to a 2-day postponement for the start of Nisan if we view it from the Jewish calculations, because the molad of Nisan was at 4:03 p.m. on April 7th, over 6 hours before the actual new moon of Nisan. So while it may have looked like only a 1-day postponement from the real new moon for Nisan, it actually amounted to a 2-day postponement from the calculated MOLAD of Nisan, as per the calculations of the present Jewish calendar. This highlights the errors contained in the Jewish calculations.]
[Comment: This assumption by Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong in 1940 that the Jewish calendar actually attempts to establish FIRST VISIBILITY of the new moons continued to be accepted by the Church for AT LEAST ANOTHER 17 YEARS! It is still used in Kenneth Herrmann’s February 1957 GOOD NEWS article “Which Is The Calendar Christ Used?” In fact, that 1957 article follows Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong’s 1940 GOOD NEWS letter very closely, indicating that NOTHING HAD CHANGED in the Church’s understanding in those 17 years, as far as the calendar is concerned.]
It was okay for Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong to refer to the REAL new moon time in Jerusalem to make his point, which happened to work out quite well for 1940. But when I today want to do EXACTLY THE SAME THING MR. ARMSTRONG DID IN THAT LETTER (i.e. focus on the REAL new moons in Jerusalem), and show how the present Jewish calendar DIFFERS FROM REALITY, then that is rejected by those who support the present Jewish calendar! Doesn’t that sound like a double-standard; it’s okay for Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong to use REAL new moon times to support the present Jewish calendar, but don’t you TODAY dare to use REAL new moon times to show up FLAWS in the present Jewish calendar?
Notice that Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong freely acknowledges that GOD expected the calendar to be based on VISIBILITY! Today’s Jewish calendar is removed from visibility. Today’s calendar has not really “PRESERVED” what had been done during the 1st century AD and earlier.
Note still further!
Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong wrote: “God had the new moon observed by the naked eye AND BY THIS METHOD THE FIRST DAY OF THE FIRST MONTH BEGINS THE FOLLOWING SUNSET!”
THIS IS EXACTLY THE PROPOSAL I HAVE MADE! TO START THE FIRST DAY OF THE FIRST MONTH (and the same for the 7th month!) WITH THE SUNSET THAT FOLLOWS THE INVISIBLE NEW MOON CONJUNCTION!
I have proposed EXACTLY what Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in 1940!! I have followed in my proposal EXACTLY the same line of reasoning Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong employed back in 1940! But what I have proposed isn’t really acceptable, right?
Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong THOUGHT that the 1-day postponement (to avoid Atonement on a Friday) was for the purpose of moving from the calculated invisible conjunction (which he assumed the Jewish calendar calculated accurately) to first visibility. Therefore he appeared to feel that the Jewish calendar BASICALLY achieves first visibility. He didn’t realize that, had that molad of Tishri been at exactly the same time of day (it was calculated to be at 8:28 p.m. on a Tuesday evening, October 1st, which was the first part of the Wednesday), but on a Monday evening or on a Sunday evening or on a Wednesday evening or on a Friday evening, THEN NO POSTPONEMENT WOULD HAVE BEEN INVOKED! And then Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong’s reasoning that “GOD had the new moon observed by the naked eye and BY THIS METHOD the 1st day of the 1st month begins the following sunset” WOULD HAVE BEEN TOTALLY WRONG!
[Comment: The molad was calculated to be AFTER sunset on Tuesday evening, October 1st, at 8:28 p.m.. In actual fact, the new moon was actually BEFORE sunset on Tuesday afternoon at 2:41 p.m.. Thus the molad and the actual conjunction were on different days, separated by a sunset between them.]
Consider this point as well!
Had Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong’s understanding, that the 1st day of the month begins with the sunset following the conjunction, been correct, THEN THERE WOULD BE NO OBJECTIONS TO SUCH A “POSTPONEMENT RULE”!! It would be a logical and consistent way of dealing with the matter. And he actually thought that is what the Jewish calendar achieves; thus the reasoning he has employed. BUT HE WAS WRONG! The postponement rules have everything to do with “maintaining the TRADITIONS of the fathers”, and they have nothing at all to do with trying to achieve REALITY (i.e. first visibility of the new crescent).
WHY CAN WE TODAY NOT ACTUALLY PUT INTO PRACTICE THE LOGICAL WAY MR. ARMSTRONG THOUGHT THE JEWISH CALENDAR OPERATED, TO START THE FIRST DAY WITH THE SUNSET THAT FOLLOWS THE CONJUNCTION?
Let’s move on.
F) Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong was NOT aware of the fact that the present Jewish calendar unavoidably shifts 9 days away from the seasons for every 2000 years. Therefore this problem was also not addressed by him. Yet, for a calendar that is to be used for several millennia, there simply MUST be a mechanism to deal with this seasonal shifting, a process that the Jews themselves are also very aware of. There is no indication that God approves of His Holy Days moving away from the seasons (i.e. moving to dates that are later in relation to the equinoxes).
G) Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong acknowledged that on the Sunday during the Days of Unleavened Bread the priest had to wave “the wave-sheaf”. But Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong did NOT address the fact that in the present Jewish calendar the year sometimes starts TOO EARLY for this to be possible! This is also a problem that MUST be addressed.
H) The starting date employed by the present Jewish calendar (i.e. 3761 BC) is supposedly the date for the creation of Adam and Eve. To be exact, it is claimed that the creation took place in 3760 BC, and that the calendar is then based on the new moon conjunction of the 7th month BEFORE the creation of Adam (thus the date 3761 BC). This claim is based on a work known as the “Seder Olam Rabbah”, which was produced not earlier than about 150 AD.
BOTH, this document (Seder Olam Rabbah) as a whole and the supposed date for the creation, ARE TERRIBLY FLAWED! The date for the creation is in error by more than 200 years.
Firstly, this proves that the present Jewish calendar was not in use prior to 150 AD. And secondly, we should ask whether GOD is involved in something that misplaces His creation by more than 200 years?
NONE OF THESE PROBLEMS WERE EXAMINED BY MR. ARMSTRONG in 1940! All he really focused on was: WHEN and HOW OFTEN should a 13th month be added to the year? THIS was the precise problem confronting him at that time.
So the claim that Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong already carefully considered all of these problems, that they are nothing new, is simply not true! The internal evidence within this 1940 GOOD NEWS letter proves this. The problem Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong considered was actually quite shallow and should have been very easy to solve; a March 22 Passover date is clearly wrong.
Now let’s notice a few other points in the letter.
Under “point 3” Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong stated: “Pentecost ALWAYS came in the summer”.
THIS IS ALSO NOT TRUE! Summer starts with the summer solstice on June 21st. And in actual fact Pentecost NEVER comes in the summer in the present Jewish calendar! Year #9 in the present Jewish calendar is the latest year in the seasons, and for that year Pentecost MAY come as late as June 18th about ONCE every century (e.g. 1815, 1967, 2062, etc.). So the facts are: Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong here had a misunderstanding about how the Feast of Pentecost appears in the present Jewish calendar, which is ALWAYS in the spring. However, IF the biblical principle that the year should always start in the spring is followed, THEN Pentecost will very occasionally fall into the season of summer. But this cannot happen in the present Jewish calendar. And it is CERTAINLY wrong to claim that Pentecost “ALWAYS” came in the summer. Even the date Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong gives for Pentecost at the end of this 1940 GOOD NEWS letter is IN THE SPRING (i.e. June 18th; a typing mistake, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong meant June 17th, as June 18th was a Tuesday!).
If Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong didn’t realize that in the present Jewish calendar Pentecost NEVER comes “in the summer”, how well did he really understand the calendar?
Next notice his comments about “19-year cycles”.
“God has set the sun, the earth, and the moon in motion so that once every 19 years the sun and moon come into conjunction. That is, once in 19 years there will be a new moon on March 21st, for example. There are SEVEN more new moons in each 19-year solar-lunar cycle than there are solar months, (12 to the year). Thus God’s great time cycle, written in the heavens, is based upon SEVEN—God’s complete number, signifying Sabbath—added to TWELVE, the number of Tribes of Israel, number of Jesus’ original apostles, etc.!”
By the way Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong talks about “God’s great time cycle written in the heavens”, it shows that he didn’t really understand that these 19-year cycles are not perfect at all! There is actually a 1-day shift for every 216 years, or a 9-day shift for every 2000 years. It is not a perfect cycle at all! It is only an approximation to refer to it as a “19-year cycle”.
Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong’s comments make clear that in 1940 he did not give any thoughts to how a “fixed” calendar can possibly deal with such a 9-day shift every 2000 years. While this shift becomes a problem in any “fixed” lunar calendar, it is not a problem at all IF the calendar follows the simple and logical rule to always start the year with the first new moon on or after the spring equinox. As the shift starts to cause the year to start later after the equinox, the previous new moon before the equinox has moved up to the time of the equinox, and it thus becomes the start of the new year. This process takes several hundred years before such shifts are required.
Talking about the sequence of leap years within a 19-year period, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong wrote:
“Research reveals two basic points on this question, 1st, GOD DID NOT RECORD IT IN THE BIBLE, which gives us absolutely NOTHING more to go on that I have stated above. 2nd, History is vague on the subject, shedding little light that can be accerted and trusted.”
One of the obvious reasons why the sequence of leap years is not recorded in the Bible is because IT MUST INEVITABLY CHANGE WITH THE PASSAGE OF THE MILLENNIA! It is simply not possible to apply TODAY the same sequence that may have(theoretically) applied 3500 years ago, in the days of Moses. In those 3500 years all of the Feasts and Holy Days would have shifted to at least 15 days later in the seasons, as related to the two equinoxes, and many years would have Holy Days that are far later in the seasons than is intended by God.
Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong’s comments here show quite clearly that he was not aware of this shift by 9 days for every 2000 years.
Now notice Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong’s unwarranted assumption, which follows right on the heels of the above statement:
“Yet we know God gave HIS PEOPLE a FIXED RULE for calculating TIME PERIODS, and for figuring WHEN to hold the Festivals of Jehovah. Otherwise, the prophecies, so full of definite time-periods, can never be understood. Otherwise God’s people could not obey Him!”
After first making clear that neither the Bible nor history show us more than has ALREADY been laid out in the article, he simply asserts: “YET WE KNOW GOD GAVE HIS PEOPLE A FIXED RULE”! Without ANY clear statements to this effect, how could Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong possibly make this claim? “A fixed rule”?
THIS UNPROVED ASSUMPTION lies at the heart of every defense of the present Jewish calendar. It is no wonder that after 60 years of going unchallenged, this assumption is believed to be A FACT by many people.
INFORMATION FROM VARIOUS CALENDAR ARTICLES
Let’s briefly recap all the calendar information the Church published during Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong’s time:
1) First came this 1940 GOOD NEWS letter by Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong.
2) The March 1953 GOOD NEWS carried an article by Kenneth Herrmann.
3) This article was run again, with minor changes, in the February 1957 GOOD NEWS.
4) The October 1957 GOOD NEWS carried another article by Kenneth Herrmann.
5) The April 1981 GOOD NEWS carried an article by Dr. Herman Hoeh.
And that is about it.
Now here is THE INFORMATION that all of these articles made available.
1) MR. HERBERT W. ARMSTRONG’S 1940 ARTICLE ACKNOWLEDGED THAT:
A) Barley must be available on the Sunday during Unleavened Bread.
B) “GOD had the new moon observed by the naked eye”, first visibility.
C) The time of new moons should be expressed for the Jerusalem area.
2) KENNETH HERRMANN ACKNOWLEDGED THAT THE BIBLE CLEARLY DEFINES THE COMPONENTS OF A CALENDAR FOR US. Thus he spelled out in his articles:
A) The “DAY” starts and ends at sunset.
B) The “WEEK” starts and ends at sunset on Saturday evening.
C) The “MONTH” starts with the sunset after each “new moon”.
D) The “YEAR” starts in the SPRING, not in the middle of winter.
E) He also acknowledged the need for BARLEY during Unleavened Bread.
F) Like Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, Kenneth Herrmann also focused on VISIBILITY.
G) He also acknowledged new moons should be expressed in JERUSALEM time.
3) DR. HERMAN HOEH IN 1981 ACKNOWLEDGED THAT:
A) Exodus 34:22 requires the Feast of Tabernacles to be in the autumn. This Scripture sets a specific requirement for the calendar.
[COMMENT: As late as December 1964 it was still freely acknowledged that the year SHOULD start in the spring. For example, The Plain Truth magazine for December 1964 carried an article by William H. Ellis entitled “The Truth About NEW YEAR’S!”. In this article the following statements appeared:
“GOD’S SACRED CALENDAR YEAR BEGINS IN THE SPRING—not in the middle of a dead winter! Notice Exodus 12:1-2, ‘And the Eternal spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying’....”
“GOD PLACED THE BEGINNING OF THE SACRED YEAR IN THE EARLY SPRING to mark the beginning of the seasonal harvests.”
CORRECT!! God placed “the beginning of the year IN THE EARLY SPRING”! But no one seems to care that the Jewish calendar doesn’t actually DO this! And it doesn’t really require any “additional revelation” to know that God wants the year to start in the spring.]
Note! The three authors who have written about the calendar for the Church (i.e. Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, Kenneth Herrmann, Dr. Hoeh) have compiled a considerable number of factors that the correct calendar must incorporate or take into account! They have found ALL of these factors in the Bible! But all three of these authors then continue to claim that God “MUST HAVE” revealed “A FIXED RULE” for the calendar (or something to this effect), and this must be found somewhere outside of the Bible.
That seems incredible to me!
If we are really serious about wanting to know GOD’s will about the calendar: why don’t we start out by putting all of these “revealed factors” from the above three authors together? Perhaps that will show us WHAT, if anything, is still missing? Why did God actually GIVE us all these “factors” that apply to the calendar, if He didn’t want us to make sure that they are all inculcated into the calendar?
Look at what Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong and these other two leading men for the subject of the calendar have already shown from the Bible:
1) Use the Jerusalem time standard for the calendar.
2) God had the new moon observed with the naked eye. So EITHER look for the new moon OR [?] use the time of the invisible conjunction and take the sunset after that conjunction as the start of the month. Do this consistently. Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong THOUGHT that this is what the Jewish calendar actually achieves, though it doesn’t really do that at all.
3) Take the first new moon on or after the spring equinox to start the year. Do this consistently.
4) This will ensure that by the Sunday during Unleavened Bread some barley will be ripe,meeting this biblical requirement.
5) This will also ensure that the Feast of Tabernacles never starts in the summer.
WHAT ELSE NEEDS TO BE REVEALED? THIS QUESTION REQUIRES AN ANSWER!
What “fixed rule” could God possibly have given His people, ABOVE AND BEYOND the above factors? Does the “fixed rule”, which is NOT recorded in the Bible, take priority over the above-stated points and principles, which ARE recorded in the Bible? WHY?
WHY would God, after revealing all of the above points to us in His Word, expect us to look elsewhere for some ADDITIONAL information? Does God EVER, anywhere, expect us to have real faith in things that are NOT in the Bible? Where? Where does God EVER instruct us to look in faith to some things that are NOT recorded in the Bible?
The only thing we find in the Bible in this regard is admonitions to guard against putting our trust in man, any man! Look at Jeremiah 17:5.
“Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.” (Jeremiah 17:5 AV)
Here we find A CURSE for trusting man. To “make flesh our arm” is a way of saying “TO RELY ON MAN”. When we compare the biblical requirements for a calendar, as laid out by the Church’s three authors (Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, Kenneth Herrmann, Herman Hoeh), with the present Jewish calendar, it becomes obvious that the present Jewish calendar has “DEPARTED FROM THE LORD”. The present Jewish calendar treats these biblical requirements with disdain! They are completely ignored and violated. “Traditions” are the most important ingredient of the present Jewish calendar.
Back to Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong’s article.
Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong then implies that men of the tribe of ISSACHAR were the experts for the calendar, quoting 1 Chronicles 12:32. The problem here is that it is also claimed that God gave His calendar to the LEVITICAL PRIESTHOOD. So exactly to whom did God give His calendar information, to the priestly LEVITES or to the non-priestly men of ISSACHAR? If an appeal is made “to the children of Issachar”, then the calendar information was obviously NEVER limited to the Levitical priests; then it was always something all in the nation would have had access to.
This is something Mr. Armstrong also clearly did not think through.
Next, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong reasons about Daniel 7:25 and the papacy thinking about “changing times”. However, THE FACTS make quite clear that the Catholic Church has very meticulously preserved the knowledge of the cycle of the week! They have carefully preserved the knowledge that Sunday is the FIRST day of the week (thereby preserving the knowledge that Saturday is the seventh day of the week!). Specifically, in 1582 AD it was the Catholic Church that ensured that the weekly cycle was not broken; it was Pope Gregory XIII who ordered that October 4th (a Thursday) should be followed by October 15th (a Friday). This Catholic Pope ensured that the weekly cycle was not broken at that time.
Next, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong refers to “the oracles of God”. However, he made no attempt to explain exactly what the Bible means by this expression; he made no attempt to show what the term “oracles of God” is supposed to include. He simply ASSUMED that this term would include the calendar, based on his earlier stated assumption that “God gave His people a fixed rule for calculating time periods”. Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong then asserts that “Israel LOST the Sabbath, LOST time”.
THIS CLAIM IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE!
In the nations of Israel the weekly cycle has ALWAYS been preserved! Even without any writings from Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, the modern nations of Israel have ALWAYS known that Sunday is the FIRST day of the week, and that Saturday is the SEVENTH day of the week; they have never lost this knowledge! The nations of Israel (more so than Judah) have been involved in major ways to publish the Bible in as many languages as possible, thereby preserving the Bible statements that God hallowed THE SEVENTH DAY. This knowledge has always been available in the nations of Israel.
But the point is: they have NOT ACCEPTED this knowledge! They have refused to LIVE BY this knowledge!
Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong confused Israel REJECTING TO KEEP THE SEVENTH DAY with having “lost” the knowledge of the seventh day. But they didn’t “lose” it at all; they know very well that Sunday is the first day of the week, and that Saturday is the seventh day.
Further, in what way could Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong possibly claim that Israel had “LOST time”? Exactly what is that claim supposed to mean? In the nations of Israel neither the cycle of the week nor the passage of the years have ever “been LOST”. So what is this reference to Israel having “LOST time” supposed to be referring to? It is nothing more than an unfounded bias to make a point for supposed “calendar preservation” by the Jews.
For the record: the Jewish calendar has LOST Time!! It claims that Adam and Eve were created in 3760 BC; and they have LOST TIME, because God created Adam and Eve more than 200 years before 3760 BC. So it is WITHOUT CONTRADICTION A FACT that the present Jewish calendar has LOST time, over 200 years of it! Yes, the Jews, such “sticklers for the letter”, managed to lose over 200 years with their calendar! It doesn’t seem like Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong was aware of this?
Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong asks: “Would such a people have lost their CALENDAR? If so, TIME IS LOST!” The answer to this is: The present Jewish calendar makes quite clear that they LOST over 200 years in the process of setting up their calendar. So yes, according to the present Jewish calendar over 200 years of time have been LOST! But in spite of the Jewish calendar having lost over 200 years, time is not lost at all, thanks to the chronological records kept by nations other than the Jews. But this information doesn’t do much for those who want to make a case for the present Jewish calendar.
[Comment: The over 200 years lost by the Jewish calendar fall largely into the time between the last part of the Old Testament and the start of the New Testament. The Seder Olam, on which the starting date used by the present Jewish calendar is based, has incorrectly compacted the entire Persian period of about 200 years into a period of only 34 years, thus “losing” almost two centuries. It is interesting to note that this prominent Jewish chronological record (i.e. the Seder Olam) is one of the better-known examples of “time having been lost” by a chronologer.]
Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong then writes:
“They had the calendar correct at the time of Christ. They figured Passover, all the feasts, as He did. In 70 A.D. the Jews were scattered into every nation. The present “Jewish calendar” had come down intact without change since 100 A.D.—that much is proved by history.”
Yes, the Jews DID have the calendar correct during the time of Christ. As Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong himself states later in his letter, the new moons were at that time “observed by the naked eye”. It also had no postponement rules at that time. Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong seems unaware of the fact that even before 70 AD the Pharisees had managed to kick ALL of the Sadducees out of the Sanhedrin and out of ALL prominence in the affairs of the Jewish people. Nor does Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong seem to be aware of the fact that, once the Pharisees had obtained complete and unrestrained control over the religious affairs of the Jewish people (already before 70 AD), the invention of unbiblical customs and heresies proliferated at a staggering rate.
The proof is provided by a Jewish scholar and authority of the Talmud, Michael J. Rodkinson.
In his book “The History of the Talmud”, published by New Talmud Publishing Company in 1903 in New York, Michael J. Rodkinson writes the following in volume I on page 7:
Part 2 begins with:
Now for Part 2
For several years I have posted a selection of Frank Nelte’s many articles, (naturally, the ones I really liked) which were only available to those on his own email list. Others posted some of his other articles. Now, since I believe early 2005, he has his own web site. I always post links.