Chapter 6 Preview: The Jews have never relied on equinoxes as a factor in determining their calendar, their new years day, and consequently the Biblical Festivals, but the vast majority of pagan calendars are entirely based on them. So why do so many of the “calendar groups” base their “calendars” on equinoxes? Did Elohim (God) express an “opinion” in the Bible on how we should determine His Appointed Days? This article explains the paradox.
In recent years small numbers of kadishea (saints) have been abandoning the use of the modern Jewish calendar as the means of determining when to celebrate the Biblical Festivals, in favor of using the Bible alone to determine when we should assemble together for these special days. Long gone are the days when the Jewish Biblical Festivals coincided with the Scripturally mandated dates. Historic sources recount the significant changes that were made in the modern Jewish reckoning of these days. The Encyclopedia Judaica freely acknowledges the many alterations that were made in their calendar, particularly those changes made in the fourth century AD. Since the very people whose predecessors made the changes readily acknowledge the facts, you would think that the controversy would be easily resolved. The Jews could do anything that they want to do with their calendar, and those of us using only the Scriptures as our authority could simply use Scriptures.
There are several articles on the Mysteries of the Everlasting Kingdom website that explore the Biblical calendar in detail. This chapter is intended to aid those people who have already made the decision to abandon the non Biblical changes that have been adopted by mainstream Judaism and who want to know where the guideposts are for determining when Yehovah (Jehovah) intended for the year to start. I used the wrong calendar for 27 years, so I took this study seriously! In the back of my mind, I always thought that there was something fishy about the calendar, but I thought that it was too complicated for me to resolve—wrong!
A calendar answers just four questions: 1) When does a day begin; 2) when does a week begin and end; 3) when does a month begin; and 4) when does the year begin! Absolutely nothing else is required. This was written to answer the fourth question: When is the first day of the Biblical year? There is perhaps no disagreement among people who are even moderately familiar with the Biblical reckoning of time, that around the time of year we call “spring” is when the Biblical year should begin. For the purposes of this chapter, this will be considered self evident. Yehovah doesn’t begin His day in the dead of night (midnight), nor does He begin His Sabbaths in the far reaches of the Pacific Ocean (at the International Dateline) nor does He begin His months by the use of an invisible “sign” (a conjunction) or a Molad or by a convoluted solar calendar, and He doesn’t begin His year in the dead of winter or in the seventh Hebrew month.
Daniel’s prophecy warned that a world leader would come and that “four huge wild beasts came out of the sea”. While these wild beasts are virtually always considered to be part of fulfilled prophecy, Daniel 7:11-12 has “the other wild beasts” alive and kicking after the acknowledged end time fourth wild beast is killed! Daniel’s third wild beast, a leopard, seemingly matches up with the coming beast of Revelation 13:2. Apparently the reckoning of time will be changed under this kingdom, and apparently Yehovah’s Laws will be systematically suppressed, and the changes will last until the “time and times and half a time” is finished, (that being the coming 1,260 day period.)
Daniel 7:24-25 As for the ten horns, ten kings will come from this kingdom, then another will rise to power after them. He’ll be different from the previous ones, and he’ll subdue three kings. 25 He [the beast] will speak against the Highest One, and wear down by constant harassment the kadosh ones [saints] of the Highest One, and his intention will be to change the Appointed Times [or designated times?] and the Torah [or human laws?], and the kadosh ones will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time. —The Gabriel Version
Incidentally, this indicates that the wild beast will be in power for the entire three and a half year period rather than being crushed after the first two and a half years of it, as some teach.
Perhaps the entirety of Daniel 7 is an encore event that actually has had a succession of world leaders prototypically fulfilling these events over a period of many centuries.
The very months of the Roman calendar bear the names of some of the prototypical “founding fathers”: July is to remember Julius Caesar by, and August is to remember Augustus Caesar by.
Roman calendar concepts have been almost universally accepted thruout the world to determine “times” and “seasons” by assigning fixed imaginary lines. But Yehovah said that it is He who changes the times and the seasons!
Daniel 2:20-22 Daniel answered, “Praised be the name of Elohim forever and ever, since wisdom and power are His. 21 He changes times and the seasons; He removes kings, and establishes kings. He gives wisdom to the wise, and knowledge to those of understanding. 22 He reveals deep and mysterious things. He knows what 'lurks' in the darkness, but He 'remains' light.
It isn’t coincidental that the removing and raising up of kings is associated with the changing of the seasons. The harvest seasons are not fixed by humanly devised imaginary lines any more than the succession of kings is under man’s own control, tho these kings have meddled with the perceived measurements of time. May Yehovah reveal “deep and secret things” to you.
There are essentially only two methods of determining when a new year has begun. One you were taught from birth and the other is presently at least close to being a “deep and secret thing”. We will examine both of these in the light of Scripture and see if Yehovah has expressed an “opinion”. If He forgot to tell us, then we are in trouble because He has commanded us to assemble on seven exact dates!
The Feast Days are intricately associated with the harvest seasons in the geographical area of the Middle East. So the question arises, is the Biblical year subject to harvest seasons or are the harvest seasons subject to man’s imaginary lines, such as equinoxes?
It is interesting to note that the equinoxes had absolutely nothing to do with the ancient Hebrew calendar, nor do they have anything to do with the present Jewish calendar (tho at a later date they were noted). Furthermore, even the descendants of Abraham’s son Ishmael, the Arabs, do not look to the equinoxes for determining time. The Muslims continue to this day to use the crescent moon to differentiate between the months. The calculation of equinoxes has, however, been extremely well utilized by pagan religions on every inhabited continent as far back as history has been recorded. Might that not in itself raise a red flag? More about that later.
The equinox has taken a role in determining the Biblical year in the minds of a number of Yehovah’s people today. Does the equinox serve a purpose in determining when Yehovah’s Feast Days are to be commemorated? Is there Biblical support for that viewpoint?
The best “evidence” given in support of a “Biblical equinox” is found in Exodus:
“At the end of the agricultural cycle” is usually translated as “the year’s end”. Some people assume, based on this verse, that it refers to the “fall equinox”. What is an equinox? Isn’t it a “moment” in time that is designated by people? The equinoxes are not equally distanced from each other as opposites in the earth’s elliptical orbit around the sun. This can be determined by counting the days between the spring and fall versus the fall and spring—they differ some. The velocity of the earth, while it “travels” around the sun is in constant flux. The earth is continuously either accelerating or decelerating. Its speed around the sun is never constant. Technically, the equinoxes are only relative to the tilt of the earth, relative to the sun, as seen from a constantly different location (from equinox to equinox) on the “equator”, which is yet another imaginary man made “line” (By definition, a line is only two dimensional and takes up NO space.)
Do farmers harvest their crops when the almanac says that the fall equinox has occurred? Don’t even pagans wait on Yehovah to regulate their harvest? Does the spring equinox compel the trees to bud and the flowers to blossom? Does the animal kingdom regenerate itself when the animals perceive that an equinox has occurred?
Another desperate effort to find an equinox in the Scriptures is an attempt to make Psalm 1:4-6 concern an equinox. Could this refer to an equinox? What is the context? The topic in this passage concerns the “line” separating “day to day” and “night to night” as seen in verse 2. From Yehovah’s lofty vantage point, this line is in constant motion. He can always watch it “run its race”; “Its rising is from one end of heaven, and its circuit to the other end ....” (Psalm 19:6) The phrase “and there is nothing hidden from its heat” means that every part of the earth receives the sun’s heat some of the time, unlike the moon. There is no preferential treatment for the equinoxes; the earth is always halfway immersed in sunlight. So in this instance, circuit (tekufah) is the visible and moving line separating day from night that travels full “circuit” every twenty-four hours.
There is an entire article devoted to “tekufah” written by a man who speaks fluent Hebrew. There is no reason to try to improve on his explanation. Suffice it to say for now that the Hebrew word “tekufah”, (various spellings) when it was written, only meant a “circuit” or cycle. The article shows this by elaborating on every usage of the word within the Scriptures. However, that usage apparently did evolve into “equinox”, in one application of the word, by the time that the Jews wrote the Talmud, (the so-called “oral law”).
What is man that his imaginary lines should determine what “spring” or “fall” is, and when they should occur? Shouldn’t we depend on Yehovah for all of our needs? By using such things as lunar conjunctions and the equinoxes to determine the starting points of our months and years, haven’t we usurped Yehovah? Is there a viable Biblical method of accurately and consistently determining our annual guideposts? For example, rather than explain this verse the way many others do today—which is that the “year’s end” determines when to harvest, why not view it the logical way—that the “harvest” determines the year’s end? The fall harvest actually has nothing to do with a year ending anyway, because the old year ends on the day preceding the first day of Aviv, several months later! So how could “tekufah” refer to anything but the fall harvest? The Jews did adopt a “fiscal year” concept while in Babylonian captivity, so that they had two separate years, but that is a separate, non Biblical issue. It is important to understand that “aviv” was not really intended to be the name of a month that just happened to be named after “green ears” in Hebrew, rather it is an actual specification regarding which particular “new moon” is being referred to. [2016: The Month of the aviv is when there is harvestable aviv in the fields, and just like there is no such thing as a near new moon, nearly aviv barley is not aviv.] Also, the term “month” is a later development. While it is derived from the Biblical term “new moon”, it only approximates the length of a lunar cycle.
So how do we know when “spring” is? We don’t need someone to tell us! All we need to do is to look outside and when it is spring there will be green! Likewise, when the crops are “ripe” they are ready to harvest. When we have harvested our crops we have reached the “end” of the “agricultural cycle”. Why not acknowledge Yehovah’s creation in determining when the “cycle” has ended and when a new agricultural cycle or “end” or “tekufah”, or “circuit” has begun—as Yehovah instructed?
Yehovah placed man in a garden. He intended for humanity to thrive in an agriculturally based society. Prophecy is positively filled with agriculturally relevant information. The harvest was meant to be one of the most celebrated times of our lives. Yehovah optimistically compared ancient Israel to an early harvest of Firstfruits followed by a much larger main harvest. Some few Israelite firstfruit remained faithful to their heavenly “Husband”.
By substituting “equinoxes” for the harvests, people have taken away the natural process established by the Creator. Could this be a form of idolatry? We force ourselves to look to “other” carnal humans for the way to determine when the Biblical Festivals are to be celebrated. What is the difference between this and the Jewish calendar—there doesn’t seem to be very much of one, does there? Both of these methods require Yehovah’s average servant to consult the Jews or second hand thru “Church” Leaders—always relying on someone else for the determination of the Biblical Feasts.
For the sake of consistency, and in order to select one exact day for Yehovah’s people to begin the year, Yehovah selected one crop in one geographic locality to signify the first day of the year. Other plants have been used in other places for “calendar” purposes. Some American Indian tribes watched the leaves of a particular kind of oak tree to determine when to plant their corn. When the leaves were the size of a “mouse’s ear” it was the time to plant.
An astonishing new science is just beginning to understand that there are distinct cycles in nature—none of which check for equinoxes!
Jeremy Bell reports ...
“These circaseptan, or about weekly, rhythms are one of the major surprises turned up by modern chronobiology. Fifteen years ago, few scientists would have expected that seven-day biological cycles would prove to be so widespread and so long established in the living world. They are of very ancient origin, appearing in primitive one-celled organisms, and are thought to be present even in bacteria, the simplest form of life now existing ....
“Chronobiology is no longer a minor science. Perry and Dawson note that it ... is now being studied in major universities and medical centers around the world. There are chronobiologists working for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), as well as for the National Institutes of Health and other government laboratories. Chronobiology is becoming part of the mainstream of science, and it is changing our way of looking at life and time.”
In Leviticus, after they had “come into the land”, Yehovah placed a requirement on Israel—specifically the Levites—to harvest and wave the “wave sheaf” before any of the new grain could be eaten. This requirement obviously did not exist prior to when they crossed the Jordan, under Joshua.
Leviticus 23:10-11, 14 “Tell the Israelites, “Once you’ve entered the land that I’m giving to you, and harvested its grain, then you must bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. 12 He is to wave the sheaf before Yehovah, so that YOU will be accepted. On the day after the Sabbath the priest will wave it. ... 14 You must not eat bread, or roasted or fresh grain, until the very day you bring this offering of your Elohim. This is a perpetual statute thruout your generations wherever you live.
Ancient Egypt used three different calendars. Is it any wonder that Yehovah had to tell Israel how to begin a year at the Exodus?
“The ancient Egyptians originally employed a calendar based upon the Moon, and like many cultures throughout the world, they regulated their lunar calendar by means of the guidance of a sidereal [star] calendar. They used the seasonal appearance of the star Sirius (Sothis); this corresponded closely to the true solar year, being only 12 minutes shorter. Certain difficulties arose, however, because of the inherent incompatibility of lunar and solar [lunisolar] years. ... To solve this problem the Egyptians invented a schematized civil year of 365 days divided into three seasons. ... The original lunar calendar, however, was not abandoned but was retained primarily for agriculture because of its agreement with the seasons. Thus, the ancient Egyptians operated with three calendars, each for a different purpose.” —Ancient Egypt, The Egyptian calendar
While Egypt was creating confusion in their calendar keeping, enough to have confused even the “Babylonians” (Literally confusion), all of the other Middle Eastern societies, Babylon included, retained their lunar calendars, presumably uninterrupted since the Noachian deluge.
Regardless of how Israel knew when the year began, during their forty years of wandering, (it seems likely that Yehovah told them when each of the forty years had begun) a “wave sheaf” was required after they finally entered the land.
Since we should use Jerusalem (or the eastern edge of Palestine) as the place on earth for determining the beginning of the day and month, [Again, Where is Yehovah’s International Dateline?] then why not use it for determining the beginning of the year as well?
If you want to use the equinox to start the year, then forget about the barley entirely and just go by that as the rest of the world does.
Those of us using barley should note that the modern varieties of commercially grown barley in Palestine don’t tend to ripen as quickly as the “wild” naturalized barley known from Biblical times that comes up without human interference over much of the region. The timing of that barley maturity is little affected by weather extremes, tho the use of modern varieties, were they to be used as the basis for determining Aviv, might significantly alter Yehovah’s timetable. Nehemia Gordon (a cuddly Anti-Messiah) and friends do annual aviv searchers, risking their lives, traveling to where Jews are in peril in search of “natural” barley. Watching for faster maturing native barley assures us that the Pentecost harvest is timed as it was originally intended—that is in such a way that the grain crops of the fall harvest are also timed for harvest prior to the Feast of Tabernacles. [Evolutionists puzzle over differences in barley.]
Yehovah specifically “permitted” Israel to use “partially” ripe grain (green ears: KJV) at the beginning of the “year” on the occasions when it was necessary. On the other hand, there is nothing stated or inferring that Israel was required to “wait” for the harvest past the time of its being fully ripe. Yehovah created a large enough window of opportunity for Israel to begin their harvest, by allowing the wave sheaf to be acceptable in the green ear stage (which required roasting for eating) as well as permitting ripening grain, or even fully ripe grain, depending upon how the new moon “fell” with respect to the crop growth. If anything, Yehovah placed an emphasis on making it possible to begin the year as early as possible, not as late as possible.
The “green ears” really has no absolute connection with the color green in Hebrew, any more than it does in English, tho quite often unripe food crops are actually “green”. A good illustration of “green ears” is the roasting ears of sweet corn found in our gardens and grocery stores. If the shucks are no longer green then the kernels inside will have begun to toughen. We eat roasting ears in the tender succulent “green ears” stage. It is not ripe; rather it is in the very perishable moist “unripe” stage. Grain farmers do not harvest corn until it is fully ripe (dry), when it’s hard enough to crack your teeth!
The very fact that Israel was “permitted” to harvest unripe grain for the wave sheaf (that had to be roasted before eating) “proves” from an astronomical and agricultural standpoint, that it is impossible for the equinox to be a factor in those years. And if it was not applicable in those years, then why or how should it be used at all? Does Yehovah use it sometimes and not use it at other times? Who came up with bird and other factors? Here, from a Jewish perspective are the factors that the Sanhedron was using to determine “spring” prior to Hillel 2 in the fourth century.
The Pilgrimage Feasts are directly based on agricultural harvest, right? How could that be the case if in some years the crops were six to eight weeks before the calendar seasons? Again, don’t the natural seasons determine the harvest “calendar” rather than the “calendar” determining the seasons? It seems incomprehensible to believe that the determining factor of the year could be responsible for a misalignment of the seasons with respect to the Biblical Festivals. The “great” concern offered by some regarding the “supposed” use of the equinox in determining the beginning of the Biblical year is a paradox in its own right. Those who “rely” on the equinox must actually “rely” on both of the “equinoxes”. This is because they “must” place the Feast of Tabernacles at or after the fall equinox due to their interpretation of Exodus 34:22 (quoted earlier). If they don’t do this then they defy their own reasoning and justification for using the equinox in their calculations in the first place. The result of “requiring” the use of the equinox in the determination of the year creates the exact same “behavior” pertaining to the “calendar” that the Rabbinical Jew’s have exhibited toward their own fourth century calculated Calendar. They both “must” determine the dates for specific “fall” Biblical Festivals (the Jew’s “Trumpets” and the Churches of God’s “Tabernacles”) BEFORE they can know when to BEGIN the year, which is six months earlier! It seems a bit paradoxical doesn’t it? First, they “decry” the Jew’s and their “calendar” because the Rabbinical Jew’s FIRST determine when or on what day of the week they think the 1st day of the 7th month should fall on; then they count “backwards” in the coming year to see where in the week the 1st day of the 1st month of that same year will occur.
In comparison, these “liberated” members in some of the Churches of God turn around and do exactly the same thing; only in their case they calculate the 15th day of the 7th month before being able to “know” when the year will begin. This does appear to be contradictory, doesn’t it? This is not intended to “bash” anyone; rather, simply to point out the inconsistency of applying a form of logic and procedure in one particular situation, while totally ignoring or decrying it in another. There also seems to be an apparent absence of any Scriptural reference to any “requirement” for determining the seventh month before the Scriptures explain about the wave sheaf requirements. The reference to the “end” of the year in Exodus 34 appears in the context of the end of the year and not the beginning. Yehovah didn’t appear to make any mention of this “requirement” to Moses in Egypt or in the wilderness. Yet, if the equinox were a “requirement”, there would be no reason to wait until Israel had “come into the land” to explain its purpose to Moses, since the barley harvest would have been irrelevant. At any rate, aren’t the harvests supposed to be in harmony with Yehovah’s annual cycles? The science of biological cycles is an astonishing “new” science. There is an incredible complexity of exact cycles in nature; each of these cycles is dependent on being in harmony with the other cycles, all attesting to a Supernatural plan. The present day Jewish calendar arbitrarily inserts the 13th month on a pre-determined schedule, rather than allowing the harvests to determine when the seasons are.
Finally, just how was the New Year determined in the year that Yeshua was crucified? Yeshua was the first sheaf. But on the day of His resurrection, wasn’t there a commemoration of the resurrection “so that YOU will be accepted” via a resurrection as firstfruits? Who decided when to begin that year and harvest that year’s wave sheaf? If there had been any factors other than the ones identified above, then Yeshua might have been resurrected during the wrong month. He never gave anyone any indication that that particular year should be any different than any other year in His life did He? The Israelites in Palestine used the green ears to determine the year’s beginning during the year that Yeshua died. We have no indication that it was any other way; if you have found factors that indicate otherwise, then please forward them to me for consideration. It appears that in the year of His death and resurrection, the fields were searched for the earliest possible ripening grain and then the first month began with the sighting of the first crescent moon from Palestine and Jerusalem following that! These certainly appear to be the only Biblical factors.
You may be wondering how the 13th month on a lunar “calendar” comes into play. You may have thought that an ecclesiastical guru was needed to determine when to insert them. The Jews did have a guru dependent ecclesiastical body in the fourth century that decreed quite a number of hoops to jump thru, with a variety of exceptions to the rule to guarantee their ecclesiastical positions of authority. An example of how an edict replaced a process that was self-maintaining was their arbitrary selection of seven years on a nineteen-year cycle that were to contain 13th months. That works out mathematically pretty well on average, but Yehovah didn’t say anything about using averages or schedules. By using lunar months for the delineation of time, and selecting the first month of the year based on the agricultural cycle of barley, you would discover that the additional months would automatically be added to some years, between the harvests, not however, on a calculated schedule but on a harvest based schedule. This method of determining years is so simple that Yehovah didn’t see fit to create any complicated rules.
I would like to commend a group of people for being a faithful remnant to the limited knowledge that they have been given, and for tenaciously guarding that understanding with their lives since the middle of the fourth century, when Judaism itself, under threat of the beast, compromised their “calendar”. The Diaspora didn’t halt their dedication. Actually, these same people, following a long interruption by persecution, are once again celebrating the true month and year in the modern state of Israel, as had been celebrated from the time that ancient Israel entered the land after the 40 years in the wilderness. These people are known as Karaite Jews. Having been referred to by various names by the world, these people and their present day descendants are still striving to use nothing but Scripture to determine Yehovah’s Feasts. And tho they don’t recognize Yeshua presently, their zeal for truth, limited to the “Old Testament”, will most assuredly carry over into the next age. Every year they send observers thruout the countryside where barley “springs” from the earth naturally, not being forced by human hands. They go out in armored vehicles because the area where the earliest barley matures is in very hostile country. Because of the extreme danger involved in the search, the Karaites permitted four “Church of God” observers to join them this year (2002), so that if absolutely necessary, they could rely on believers in Yeshua rather than we relying on them, for this kadosh (holy) determination.
I have carefully considered the ways that these people, by using every Scripture accurately and consistently, determine the Biblical Festivals. Their example has hastened my own understanding of the same Scriptures. The Karaite web site explains much that the Scriptures reveal about the Scriptural “calendar”.
By contrast, I decided to study the equinox and Easter to reexamine the little understood relationship between Christianity and the equinox, so I did an internet search combining these words.
Here, beginning in the first paragraph of the first search that I found, is information taken from the best source of this kind of information: the U.S. Naval Observatory:
“The commonly stated rule, that Easter Day is the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs next after the vernal equinox, is somewhat misleading because it is not a precise statement of the actual ecclesiastical rules. The actual conditions to determine the date for Easter are (1) Easter must be on a Sunday; (2) this Sunday must follow the 14th day of the paschal moon. The paschal moon is that of which the 14th day (full moon) falls on or next follows the day of the vernal equinox; and (4) the equinox is fixed in the calendar as March 21. Easter can never occur before March 22 or later than April 25th”
This Catholic method of creating a “fixed Passover” in order to avoid having Easter coincide with a Jewish Feast Day, did serve their purpose, altho occasionally the “paschal month” was begun earlier than the month of the equinox. This formula dates back to the Nicene Council of 325 AD where they also formally substituted Easter for the Passover, as well as substituted Sunday for the Sabbath. It is interesting to note that the Catholic formula of avoiding Passover didn’t factor in a calculated Jewish Passover, nor were postponements utilized (so as to prevent back to back Sabbaths, such as the Day of Atonements falling on a Friday or a Sunday). Rather they counted the days of the month from the actual sighting of the new moon! The reason for this is quite simple. The Jews hadn’t “invented” a mathematically fixed Passover yet! That was to take place a couple of decades later. So the Catholics invented one for them. Altho the Jews have never used the vernal equinox to determine Passover, perhaps they got the idea of a fixed calendar from the Catholics!
U.S. Naval Observatory continued:
“In order that the date for Easter be incontrovertibly fixed, and determinable indefinitely in advance, the Church constructed special tables for calculating the time of the paschal moon. There are three major differences to note between the ecclesiastical system and the astronomical system. (1) The 14th day of the paschal moon is not necessarily identical to the time of astronomical full moon. The ecclesiastical tables do not account for the full complexity of the lunar motion. (2) The vernal equinox has a precise astronomical definition determined by the actual motion of the Sun. It is the precise time at which the apparent longitude of the Sun is zero degrees. The actual date varies very slightly from year to year. In the ecclesiastical system the vernal equinox is fixed at March 21 regardless of the actual motion of the Sun. (3) The date of Easter is a specific calendar date. Easter starts when that date starts for your time zone. Astronomical phenomena occurs at a specific date and time all over the Earth at once.
“Inevitably, the date of Easter occasionally differs from a date that uses an astronomical full moon and the astronomical vernal equinox. In some cases this difference may occur in some parts of the world and not in others because two dates separated by the International Date Line are always simultaneously in progress on the Earth.
“1962 was such a case. In 1962, the astronomical full moon happened to occur about six hours after astronomical equinox. That full moon occurred on March 21, UT=7h 55m. The ecclesiastical full moon, however, occurred on March 20. The ecclesiastical equinox is fixed to be March 21; therefore, the ecclesiastical full moon occurred before the ecclesiastical equinox. In the first case, the full moon followed the equinox; in other case, it proceeded the equinox. Following the rules, Easter, therefore, was not until the Sunday that followed the next ecclesiastical full moon. That occurred on Wednesday, April 18 making Easter Sunday, April 22 ....” [complex calculations deleted, bold notation ours.]
“The date of Easter is different in the eastern (Orthodox) Christian churches. The Julian calendar, which preceded the currently-used Gregorian calendar, is the traditional basis for the ecclesiastical calendar. (The Julian calendar was still used in much of Eastern Europe until the early part of the 20th century.) In a congress held in 1923, the Orthodox churches adopted a modified Gregorian calendar and decided to set the date of Easter according to the astronomical full moon for the meridian of Jerusalem. However, these changes have not been universally implemented, and a variety of practices remain among the Orthodox churches.”
Shouldn’t equinox observers use “the ecclesiastical full moon” and “the ecclesiastical equinox”. This is just a suggestion. Why didn’t Yehovah provide this kind of system for His people? Look at what we are missing out on! Belly laughs aside, notice the inherent contempt for the “paschal moon” —the Passover. The Catholic Church built into its calculations for Easter a stipulation that it should never fall on the Passover!
The second web site that looked promising was a pagan site. Included here are the first three paragraphs. It is interesting to note the gleeful comments that the neo pagans make about Christians adopting their equinox and solstice celebrations.
The Vernal Equinox—Mike Nichols
“Now comes the Vernal Equinox, and the season of Spring reaches it’s apex, halfway through its journey from Candlemas to Beltane. Once again, night and day stand in perfect balance, with the powers of light on the ascendancy. The god of light now wins a victory over his twin, the god of darkness. In the Mabinogion myth reconstruction, which I have proposed, this is the day on which the restored Llew takes his vengeance on Goronwy by piercing him with the sunlight spear. For Llew was restored/reborn at the Winter Solstice and is now well/old enough to vanquish his rival/twin and mate with his lover/mother. And the great Mother Goddess, who has returned to her Virgin aspect at Candlemas, welcomes the young sun god’s embraces and conceives a child. The child will be born nine months from now, at the next Winter Solstice. And so the cycle closes at last.
“We think that the customs surrounding the celebration of the spring equinox were imported from Mediterranean lands, altho there can be no doubt that the first inhabitants of the British Isles observed it, as evidence from megalithic sites shows. But it was certainly more popular to the south, where people celebrated the holiday as New Year’s Day, and claimed it as the first day of the first sign of the Zodiac, Aries. However you look at it, it is certainly a time of new beginnings, as a simple glance at Nature will prove.
“In the Roman Catholic Church, there are two holidays which get mixed up with the Vernal Equinox. The first, occurring on the fixed calendar day of March 25th in the old liturgical calendar, is called the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (or B.V.M., as she was typically abbreviated in Catholic Missals).‘Annunciation’ means an announcement. This is the day that the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she was ‘in the family way’. Naturally, this had to be announced since Mary, being still a virgin, would have no other means of knowing it. (Quit scoffing, O ye of little faith!) Why did the Church pick the Vernal Equinox for the commemoration of this event? Because it was necessary to have Mary conceive the child Yeshua a full nine months before his birth at the Winter Solstice (i.e. +Christmas, celebrated on the fixed calendar date of December 25). Mary’s pregnancy would take the natural nine months to complete, even if the conception was a bit unorthodox.”
For more information describing the universal acceptance of the spring equinox as a method of worshiping the deity of your choice, check out this link:
You have undoubtedly noticed the inherent complexities surrounding religious equinox observances. Now would be a good time to mention the built in safeguard that Yehovah has incorporated into His “calendar”. Actually, Yehovah’s timetable doesn’t necessarily concern itself with defining “spring”, because Biblically a “spring” is a source of water and the unbiblical term “calendar” is not really applicable to a Biblical year, because Webster’s first definition for “calendar” refers to “a system for FIXING the beginning ...”. The term “calendar” isn’t even Biblical. Only people insist on fixing a calendar. Since 701 BC, when a huge astronomical event took place*, virtually every civilization has relied on a fixed calendar. For example the Roman/Gregorian calendar is solar, based entirely on the sun. Today’s Orthodox Jewish calendar, altho entirely dependent on calculations, is descended from a calendar that used to be based strictly on the lunar cycles.
*[A friend of Albert Einstein’s named Immanuel Velikovsky actually provided strong proof in his book World’s In Collision (and here) that prior to 701 BC, every month was exactly 30 days long. This book was found open on Albert’s desk after he died. Long story short, the entire scientific community has rejected his findings—now even backed up by satellites—and swept him under the rug for rocking too many boats.”]
The purpose of this chapter has been to expound on the nature of the Biblical year, which is lunar/agricultural, and illuminate the faulty reasoning that Herbert Armstrong used that spanned his entire ministry, and the numerous splinter groups that all consider him to be their founder.
There are a widening number of smaller Churches of God today, descended from Herbert Armstrong, that have rightfully rejected the current Orthodox Jewish calendar, but they have erroneously turned to non Biblical versions of a “solar/lunar” calendar of their own creation! This newer conjecture embraces a presumed “solar/lunar” calendar for Yehovah’s people. Today, those people who have shed the Jewish calendar for another, have unknowingly traded one faulty calendar for another one that also includes assumptions and errors. In their sincere efforts to obey the living Elohim, they have unwittingly, and unfortunately accepted a concept ingrained on the human conscience since ancient Egyptian times, that the sun (“solar” equinox) establishes the year. Depending on the group, the result of this misunderstanding has led them to utilize the equinox as the determining factor for establishing the beginning of the year, by arbitrarily assigning the new moon closest to, or prior to, or following, and in one case even using the second new moon following the equinox to initiate the first month. The very fact that one uses an equinox as a part of a “calendar” creates a “calendar” possessing an artificial “solar” component. So whether someone starts the month with a conjunction or first visibility, the addition of the equinox component, by definition, identifies that calendar as being a “solar/lunar” syncretic hybrid—both pagan and lunar in origin.
A careful study of the “fourth day” (Genesis 1:14-19) will eliminate some common misunderstandings held by many in the Church of God. Many assume that Yehovah instituted the “solar/lunar” calendar, because both the sun and the moon appear to be intricately involved in the calendar year’s determination. This assessment is only partially right. While no one disagrees that the sun sets the boundaries between the day and night, verse 14 might appear to require the sun’s use to distinguish not only the day from the night, but an added role concerning the signs, the seasons, the days, and the years. I should mention that these signs are all actual and visible, rather than imaginary and calculated! The word “lights” means “light holders or luminaries”, and is understood as being plural, due to the context. Still, this doesn’t require the sun to directly factor into everything listed in verse 14, otherwise this Scripture would then require us to use the moon to help determine every time period as well, since it is plural and there is only one sun. The conflict that this creates is presented by the impossible situation of having to use the moon in helping determine the day. So the two great lights of verse 16 don’t have to be used simultaneously to determine everything in verse 14. However, the sun does play a role in the determination of not only day from night, but for “lights” “signs”, “season” and “years” because years are made up of months, which are made up of days. Don’t be confused with spring, summer, or fall “seasons”. Notice carefully what the word “seasons” implies. Genesis 1:14 is the first indication that two lights are to be used “for signs, and for seasons [Hebrew: mo’ed: appointed times, Biblical Feasts] and for days and years”. In practice, how does this work? Psalm 104:19 says that “He appointed the MOON for “seasons” [mo’ed]; the sun knows its going down. You make darkness, and it is night ....” Here we see that the moon plays a dominant role in determining the Biblical Feasts because “mo’ed” as used here indicates the kadosh [holy] Time. However the “sun ... going down” separates the days from each other. Incidentally, the “signs” can include much more than the sun and moon. Signs are used in the Bible as a true indication of “things to come”, such as the heavenly signs involving the sun being darkened and the moon turning to blood.
For thousands of years, one of humanity’s strongest desires has been to develop fixed calendars to live by, so that people can plan as far into the future as they want. However, Yehovah told us not to be anxious about the future, and to let the needs and problems of the present be sufficient. Over and over again, Yehovah has shown us that we must wait on Him for every good and perfect gift. We are transitory creatures, sojourners and vapors, from Yehovah’s perspective. Perhaps this desire for a fixed calendar relates to our desire for control of our present and particularly our future. Could it be that Yehovah, understanding our human desires, has allowed His years to be permanently indeterminate and flexible, forcing us to look to Him for everything, especially our future. We know from celebrating the Biblical Festivals, that Yehovah has woven into them a story about the future of humanity, and particularly a Second Exodus and Judgment Day. We also know that Yehovah has chosen to keep secret His earth shattering timetable until the end times:
Yehovah knows the “end” from the “beginning”. Perhaps we don’t know the end because we haven’t known Yehovah’s beginning!
PS: This may explain why a friend of mine who was planting a few feet of garden row every day, noticed distinct irregularities among the crops planted under different moon signs. Crops sown on astronomical “new moons”—dark moons, (being calculated from invisible conjunctions rather than the actual visible new moons) did very poorly, whereas plants sown on the first visible crescent (as farmers in the not too distant past routinely did) performed admirably. See the Old Farmers Almanac Search words “Best Planting Dates”.
Chapter 7 is The Biblical “Feasts” of Hebrews 6!