Part 2 Preview: (back to Part 1) Is there a calendar in the Bible? The historical commentary presented in Frank Nelte’s calendar articles is quite thorou. Please overlook the sectarian references. 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 the International Date Line instead of Jerusalem to begin the Day; (you might consider Where is God’s International Dateline? Where Does the Sabbath Begin?) He uses astronomically calculated “invisible lunar conjunctions” instead of actual observation of crescent moons from Jerusalem to determine when a New Moon begins (Karaite site); and the equinox instead of the maturity of barley, to begin the Year. The parameters for determining a Biblically correct calendar are readily apparent (visible): All you need to understand is 1) When does a day begin? 2) When does a Biblical week begin and end in the Sabbath)? and 3) When does a month begin?; and 4) When does the year begin! We have disagreements but Frank provides an incredible amount of factual information.
1) From its inception in 358 A.D. the present Jewish calendar has been in flagrant defiance of God’s instructions! When the entire Feast of Tabernacles was so commonly scheduled to come to an end several days before the end of summer, then there is no defense and no justification for such an arrangement.
2) It cannot be argued that Exodus 34:22 only requires “a part” of the Feast of Ingathering (harvest!!) to fall into the autumn—when the entire Feast repeatedly fell into the summer. Furthermore, even if only a part of the Feast falls into the summer, it still means that the farmers have to stop reaping their crops a week or more before the end of summer—in order to be at the Feast site in time.
3) The fact that today a part of the Feast of Tabernacles still falls into the summer is entirely due to this corrupt arrangement that was installed by Hillel II in 358 A.D. If he had not determined to use an inappropriate sequence of leap years for the 19-year cycles, then no part of the Feast of Tabernacles would ever have fallen into the summer. It IS possible to have a 19- year cycle where the Feast of Tabernacles never begins before September 23rd.
4) This gross violation by Hillel II of God’s instructions removes any possibility of Hillel’s decisions somehow being “binding” on the people of God. It also makes clear that there was nothing “inspired” about the calendar he made public.
5) It was equally much a violation of God’s instructions for Hillel II to move the Passover into the winter!
6) A second, and totally unrelated, problem with the present Jewish calendar is the matter of postponements. From the Talmud (a historical document, though not in any way inspired) it is quite evident that during the ministry of Jesus Christ the Day of Atonement was not postponed away from Fridays and Sundays. These postponements prevent each of the Holy Days from falling on three different days of the week (though the three days are different for different Holy Days).
7) There is not one shred of support in the Bible for these postponement rules, and they did not exist during the first century of the present era. The early church did not use these postponement rules.
8) One major effect of the postponement rules, which is not generally understood, is as follows:
God arranged the Feasts and Holy Days in such a way that the Sunday during Unleavened Bread is used to represent the day when God the Father accepted the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (i.e. the wave offering). Now this Sunday must move from the 1st Day of Unleavened Bread to the 7th Day of Unleavened Bread (in an irregular pattern) to show that God the Father accepts the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for human beings from ALL seven 1000- year periods in His plan.
The postponement rules prevent the Sunday during Unleavened Bread from ever falling on the 3rd and the 5th and the 7th Days of Unleavened Bread—symbolizing that God the Father does not accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for people who lived during the 3rd and the 5th millennia of human existence, and who will yet live during the 7th millennium of human life. Thus the postponement rules symbolize that salvation will not be available to human beings from three different 1000-year periods in God’s 7000-year plan—because God can never accept the wave offering on the 3rd and the 5th and the 7th Days of Unleavened Bread.
When this symbolism is understood, it should expose who the real author of these postponement rules is—Satan the devil.
1) For a start the Jewish calendar does take the cycles of the moon into consideration. That is a requirement for the correct calendar to use in determining the Feasts and the Holy Days.
2) Apart from the 1-day shift every 216 years it also basically keeps the seasons constant. The key is to start with a sequence of leap years where the earliest year in the 19-year cycle does not start the Feast of Tabernacles before the 23rd of September. In that way it will be usually 500 years or longer before an adjustment to the sequence is necessary (i.e. pulling the whole sequence back a few days so that for no year in the cycle the dates for the Feast of Unleavened Bread are too late).
3) The calculations on which the Jewish calendar is based are accurate enough to be usable. The calculations themselves do not necessarily present a problem.
4) Since the postponements do not feature in any of the calculations (they are simply appended to the end of the calculations when they are deemed necessary), they can easily be avoided.
5) For most of the 19 years in each cycle the present Jewish calendar is quite acceptable. It is only in those years where the Feast of Tabernacles would start before September 23rd, that the previous year should be declared to be a leap year, thereby causing the following year to start one lunar cycle later and placing the Feast of Tabernacles squarely into autumn.
1) The current cycle of 19 years in the Jewish calendar is #304. Cycle #304 goes from 1997-2015 A.D..
2) The sequence of leap years within a 19-year cycle must always be a variation of the order of “3-3-2-3-3-3-2” (e.g. 3-2-3-3-3-2- 3; etc.). The current Jewish sequence, in harmony with this is: Years 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17 and 19 are leap years.
3) In this present sequence all of the years are sufficiently late to ensure that the Feast of Tabernacles does not start before the autumn equinox except the following years:
I have included Year #14 (2010 A.D.) in the above list because the Holy Day obviously starts after sunset on September 22nd, which is still part of summer.
s you can immediately see, all three of the “problem years” are leap years. This is to be expected! The solution is very simple indeed. Each of those years actually starts one new moon too early. And the way to remedy the problem is to make the preceding year in each case into the leap year.
3) Since Year #6 starts too early, therefore Year #5 must become a leap year, causing Year #6 to start one new moon later.
Similarly, to solve the problem with Year #17, we must make Year #16 into the leap year. And to solve the problem with Year #14, we must make Year #13 into the leap year.
4) Thus: IF we only wanted to cause Year #6 and Year #17 to start later (without affecting any of the other years in the cycle!), then we would have to use the leap year sequence of:
3, 5, 8, 11, 14, 16 and 19.
IF we want to cause Years #6 and #14 and #17 to start later (again without affecting any of the other years in the cycle), then we would have to use the sequence of: 3, 5, 8, 11, 13, 16 and 19.
(Comment: In the calendar program my son and Iproduced, with the executable file named ‘calgraph.exe’, there is a pull-down menu at the top named “options.” This permits you to change the sequence of leap years used in the calculations for the annual Holy Days. So IF you want the Holy Days calculated based on the sequence of leap years being 3, 5, 8, 11, 14, 16, 19 then you choose “OPTION 3” in this pull-down menu. IF you want the sequence of leap years to be 3, 5, 8, 11, 13, 16, 19 then you simply choose “OPTION 2” in this menu. This is all explained in the online manual of the program. Another option permits you to calculate the Holy Days either with reference to the Jewish postponement rules OR you may choose to ignore the postponement rules completely.)
5) The effect of these changes in the sequence of leap years is that the First Day of Tabernacles is changed as follows:
ALL of the other years in the cycle (i.e. from 1997-2015) remain exactly the same as in the present Jewish calendar. Only the years which had the Feasts scheduled too early have been moved to a later date.
6) My suggestion therefore is:
For the purposes of the Church of God observing the annual Holy Days and Feasts in their correct seasons, we modify the sequence of leap years to be: 3, 5, 8, 11, 13, 16, 19.
For those who have our calendar computer program, this is “Option 2” in the “Options Menu” of the program. For 16 years in each cycle the dates will remain in full harmony with the present Jewish calculations of the “molad of Tishri.” Only the 3 years in the cycle, where the Feast of Tabernacles would have started too early, are changed.
1) IF the Church would decide to calculate “first visibility,” then the whole question of postponements would disappear. There would be no reason to “postpone away” from first visibility.
2) IF the Church continues to base the calendar on the calculation of the invisible molad, then another question arises. Is the calculated invisible conjunction always used to date the start of the month—even when that invisible conjunction takes place at 4 seconds before the end of the day (as in 1579 A.D.)? It is to avoid this type of situation that the Jewish calendar has the rule that says: postpone to the next day if the conjunction occurs in the last quarter of the day (i.e. between noon and 6 p.m.).
3) To illustrate a real cliff-hanger: In the year 1579 A.D. the molad of Tishri was on Sunday, September 20th at exactly 3.3 seconds before 6:00 P.M.! It was at exactly “1 halak” before 6:00 p.m.—less than 4 whole seconds! Should that day have been “postponed” by 4 seconds or not? To me it would be extremely unrealistic to have pronounced September 20th to be the Day of Trumpets in the year 1579.
(Comment: It is our calendar program that allows you to find information like this within a very few minutes. You can scan whole centuries at a very rapid rate.)
4) To take a more recent example: in 1953 the molad of Tishri was on Tuesday, 8th of September at 56 minutes and 53.3 seconds after 5:00 p.m.. This was exactly 3 minutes and 6.7 seconds before the end of the day. The Jewish calendar actually invoked a 2-day postponement for that year. But would a postponement by 3 minutes and 7 full seconds (i.e. to the next day!) not have been the right thing to do anyway?
5) We say that this rule is a postponement “by 1 day.” But that does not really convey accurately what happens with this rule. In actual fact this rule of postponement postpones the calendar by a maximum of 6 hours! It is only invoked when at least 18 hours of the day have already passed before the invisible conjunction ever takes place. So this rule postpones the calendar anywhere from a few seconds to a maximum of 6 hours.
6) I personally believe that this is a sensible rule. What is the point when for one particular location on this earth the invisible conjunction is deemed to occur after 23 hours and 57 minutes of the day have already passed (never mind what that may mean for other locations on this planet?)—and we then still declare that day to be the new moon day? It wasn’t my idea (the Jews thought of this first), but taking the cut-off time as being when 75% of a day has already passed is certainly something I can identify with. To me this is a sound decision.
7) We will have similar situations in the years 2011 and 2015 A.D.—in both those years the invisible conjunctions will be within 53 minutes of the very end of the day. Similarly, for this present year, 1999, the invisible conjunction will take place at 44 minutes and 30 seconds after 3:00 p.m.—i.e. almost exactly two-and-one-quarter hours before the end of the day. That is why I find the postponement by two-and-one-quarter hours for this year to Saturday, September 11th, for the Day of Trumpets quite acceptable.
8) Apart from postponing by up to a maximum of 6 hours, I don’t believe there is any room for other postponements. The other Jewish postponements are designed to manipulate the calendar in such a way that certain Holy Days may never fall on certain days of the week. To comply with such “traditions,” the Jews will even invoke a “2-day” postponement which will actually postpone the Day of Trumpets to the day after first visibility. There is no logical justification to use such “manipulation”!
9) To illustrate this lack of astronomical logic in the Jewish postponement rules, consider the following two situations:
A) In 1950 the molad of Tishri was calculated as being early Tuesday morning at 46 minutes and 50 seconds after 2:00 a.m. on September 12th. No postponements were invoked. Thus September 12th was pronounced to be the Day of Trumpets.
B) In 1957 the molad of Tishri was also on a Tuesday, but it was exactly 3 hours and 52 minutes and 50 seconds later in the day than in 1950. That year the molad of Tishri was Tuesday, September 24th at 39 minutes and 40 seconds after 6:00 a.m. This required a 2-day postponement! Thus September 26th was pronounced to be the Day of Trumpets.
C) So when the conjunction occurs shortly before 3:00 a.m., then there is no postponement. But if the conjunction takes place 3 hours later, then there is a postponement by two days! Such a two day postponement is purely for the purpose of complying with unbiblical human traditions. It amounts to shifting the calendar to suit our own personal desires.
It is precisely this type of whimsical manipulation that the Churches of God should not go along with!
10) Sooner or later the leadership within the churches of God will have to face these situations. Here is what lies ahead for the next few years.
A) 2000 A.D.: molad of Tishri is Thursday, September 28th, at 17 minutes and 13.3 seconds after 1:00 p.m. While I personally can accept a postponement by four-and-three-quarter hours to September 29th, I don’t believe it is correct to postpone the Day of Trumpets to September 30th, as is the case in the Jewish calendar.
B) 2003 A.D.: molad of Tishri is Friday, September 26th at 27 minutes and 16.6 seconds after 4:00 a.m. The Jewish calendar postpones the Day of Trumpets here to the next day for the only reason that they do not accept a Friday for the Day of Trumpets. This I do not believe is correct.
Consider the following:
In 2003 A.D. IF the molad of Tishri occurred as early as September 25th, Thursday afternoon at 12:01 p.m. (one minute past noon)—or as late as September 27th, Saturday morning at 11:59 a.m. (one minute before noon)—the Jewish calendar would still require the Day of Trumpets to be observed on Saturday, September 27th. This means that the conjunction could occur at any time during a period of almost 48 hours and the Jewish calendar requires exactly the same day for Trumpets. When the conjunction is very nearly 48 hours earlier, logic expects this to result in a Day of Trumpets that is at least one day earlier. But that is not so.
This exposes the arbitrary nature of the Jewish calendar.
C) 2004 A.D.: molad of Tishri is Tuesday, September 14th at 15 minutes and 56.6 seconds after 1:00 p.m.. While I can accept a postponement by four-and-three-quarter hours to September 15th, I don’t believe it is correct to postpone the Day of Trumpets to September 16th.
D) 2005 A.D.: molad of Tishri is Monday, October 3rd at 48 minutes and 40 seconds after 10:00 a.m. The Jewish calendar postpones this to October 4th because of the one postponement rule that states: “when in a common year succeeding a leap year the molad falls on a Monday at 32 minutes and 43.3 seconds after 9:00 a.m., or later, then postpone to the Tuesday.” Since it is before noon, the postponement in 2005 A.D. is not justified.”
(Comment: This postponement rule is to avoid problems with the length of a 19-year cycle. When no postponements for “inconvenience” are allowed, then this rule also becomes redundant.)
E) 2007 A.D.: molad of Tishri is Wednesday, October 12th at exactly 26 minutes after 4:00 a.m. Since the Jewish calendar does not allow the Day of Trumpets to fall on a Wednesday (which would cause Atonement to fall on a Friday), therefore Trumpets is postponed to October 13th. This postponement is also not justified.
That covers the next few years.
1) There are 7 days in the week, totaling 168 hours.
2) There are only 4 days in the week on which the Jewish postponement rules allow the Day of Trumpets to fall. This means that each of those 4 eligible days (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday) must on average cover molads that cover 168/4 = 42 hours. In actual practice this is as follows.
3) when the molad occurs any time between: Saturday 12:00:00 p.m. and Monday 11:59:55 a.m.—Trumpets will be on a Monday. This spans a time a few seconds short of 48 hours.
4) when the molad occurs any time between: Monday 12:00:00 p.m. and Tuesday 3:11:20 a.m.—Trumpets will be on a Tuesday. This spans a time a few seconds under 15 hours and 12 minutes.
5) when the molad occurs any time between: Tuesday 3:11:25 a.m. and Thursday 11:59:55 a.m.—Trumpets will be on a Thursday. This spans a time a few seconds over 56 hours and 48 minutes.
6) when the molad occurs any time between: Thursday 12:00:00 p.m. and Saturday 11:59:55 a.m.—Trumpets will be on a Saturday. This spans a time a few seconds short of 48 hours.
7) So the 4 “eligible” days for the Day of Trumpets break the 168 hours of each week up into 4 blocks of time as follows:
48 hours + 48 hours + 56.75 hours + 15.25 hours = 168 hours.
This information should make abundantly clear just how much “manipulation” is involved in fixing the dates for the present Jewish calendar. The times for the actual conjunctions are almost incidental, when in one case the molad can cover a period of over 56 hours to still qualify for one specific day of the week—and in another case the molad can only cover a period of barely over 15 hours before requiring a postponement to the next day.
Compare this kind of manipulation with the option of having a calendar where the Day of Trumpets can fall on all 7 days of the week, and where each of these “eligible” 7 days covers exactly 24 hours! Even if a postponement of 6 hours was invoked (i.e. if the molad occurs between noon and 6:00 p.m.)—this would still retain a block of exactly 24 hours for each possible day for Trumpets to fall on, since such 6-hour postponements would be applied uniformly and consistently for every day of the week.
Rejecting the postponement rules will do away with all this manipulation, which was not a part of the Jewish calendar during the time of the early apostles.
1) As we saw earlier, over a period of 19 years the Julian calendar was 0.148218 days too long. In simpler terms: for every 19 solar years the Julian calendar was 3 hours and 33 minutes and 26 seconds too long. Put another way, for every 128 years the Julian calendar was 1 day too long.
2) The effect of this was that, as viewed in the Julian calendar, the spring equinox was moving to a constantly earlier date, at the rate of 1 day earlier for every 128 years.
3) By contrast, the Jewish calendar is “only” 1 day too long for every 216 years. So when we view the dates for Holy Days in the Julian calendar, this tends to create an optical illusion! It will “seem” as if all of the Feasts and Holy Days are moving to a constantly earlier time in the year, when in actual fact they have always moved to a constantly later time in the solar year.
4) This “optical illusion” continued until 1582 A.D., when the Gregorian calendar came into use. Because the Gregorian calendar keeps the equinox at a fixed date in the calendar (i.e. it keeps the seasons in fixed positions), therefore it has been readily apparent since then that all of the Holy Days move to a constantly later date.
5) The reason for this “optical illusion” of the Holy Days apparently moving to an earlier date is that the error in the Julian calendar was almost twice as large as the error in the Jewish calendar. Thus, for the time it took the Julian calendar to move the equinox to a date two days earlier (i.e. 128 2 = 256 years), in the context of the Jewish calendar the equinox had moved only slightly more than one day earlier (256 / 216 = 1.18).
Thus, even though in the Julian calendar the spring Holy Days “appeared” to be moving to an earlier date, the distance between them and the equinox was in fact constantly increasing—i.e. in relation to the equinox they were moving steadily towards a later date.
6) I mention these facts for those who may examine dates in the Jewish calendar before 1582 A.D. and then feel that the problems I have described earlier in this paper did not apply to the early New Testament times. Yes, those problems did apply! Understand that irrespective of when in the history of man (i.e. any time after the original conditions were changed!) you apply a calendar that determines months by the appearance of new moon crescents, it is inevitable that your new moon dates will move to a time later in the year in respect to the seasons. This is an inevitable consequence of the time taken by the earth to go around the sun and the time taken by the moon to go around the earth.
As mentioned earlier, the fact that God altered the heavenly cycles as a penalty for our sins, indicates that God expects us to determine how to correctly devise a calendar that meets His requirements. We ourselves have to make some decisions in this process.
1) We have seen the requirements that are fixed and not negotiable. They include having the F.o.T. late enough in the year to ensure that it always falls completely into the autumn. At the same time the Days of Unleavened Bread must always be late enough to ensure the availability of ripe barley for the wave offering.
2) In the context of a calendar being applicable to only one nation, or to a small geographic area (the area of Palestine compared to the area of the United States or of Canada) it is certainly feasible to have it based on visual observations.
3) But when you have even one single country as large as the United States of America, with several different time-zones in one country, then it becomes impractical to rely on visual observations of the new moons. Visual observations could lead to the same Monday falling on different dates within the same country. Example: visual observations can lead to pronouncing Monday to be the 1st day of the month in Los Angeles, but in New York that Monday may have to be the 30th day of the previous month and only Tuesday will then become the 1st day of the new month. That creates confusion.
4) Applying a calendar to a worldwide context makes visual observations totally impractical as a foundation for the calendar. So calculations are a requirement for any calendar that will be applied on a worldwide basis.
[Lon—After the diaspora (when the Jews were forced out of Israel and spread all over the earth) Hillel 2 devised a “temporary” solution to compensate for no there not being any observers of the new moon and the aviv barley left in Israel. It is true that the descendants of those thrust from the land had to improvise until the day of modern communication. But how many followers of Yeshua (Jesus) even cared about the Feast Days until very recent years?]
5) However, whether such calculations are aimed at establishing the invisible conjunction (the molad), or whether they are aimed at calculating first visibility of the new moon is something I believe should be negotiable. However, it seems unlikely that those who have taken up positions on either side of this issue will be prepared to enter into any negotiations. Most seem interested only in arguing their specific view on this issue, which has become rather emotive for many people. We really could use some “peacemakers” with questions like this.
[Lon—Any matter of conscience must never be subject to voting and compromise.]
6) My view is: as long as a calendar meets all the God-given requirements, it must also be practical! That includes adhering to the internationally recognized dateline! We simply cannot just make up our own “datelines” where we would like to see them. At no point in history has Jerusalem, for example, been a dateline! It is not our prerogative to decide to put the dateline there.
7) In this regard there is something some people who argue for using visual observations to determine the calendar tend to ignore. That is as follows:
They do not want to establish a calendar that would actually be functional, something that could be used worldwide without any other calendar existing at the same time! They simply want a calendar for one single purpose only—to determine the annual Feasts and Holy Days—but they are not looking for a calendar they could use for planning their daily jobs, their business interviews, their international travel, their vacations, their banking transactions, etc. No, for those things they already have a very suitable calendar, thank-you very much!
[Lon—No matter how the Holy Days are determined, they will always be an irritant to a very secular, God hating, world. But when the Kingdom arrives, guess whos calendar will be used!]
The point here is: Yes, it is fine to continue using the Gregorian calendar for regulating every facet of our lives, except for Holy Day observance. I myself will also do that. But the calendar we accept for determining the annual Holy Days is not just some religious toy either! The calendar we use for determining the annual Holy Days must be of such a nature that it is capable of fulfilling all of the calendar needs for our everyday requirements—work, play, vacations, intercontinental travel, commerce, etc.—and it must be capable of doing this in the total absence of any other calendar existing anywhere on earth! In other words, it must be a real calendar!
If the Gregorian calendar was abolished worldwide with immediate effect, and if it was to be replaced worldwide with the calendar we are talking about, then anything that is dependent on visual observations is totally out of the question. The purpose of a calendar is not to tie us down and to restrict us, so that we wait with bated breath each month as “some witnesses” come forward and pronounce that they did indeed see the new crescent of the moon in some specific geographic location.
If you have enough people going out looking for the new crescent, you are bound to have arguments and disagreements—some people will “see” a new crescent on a given evening when others who were also looking for it didn’t see the new crescent. So do those who didn’t “see” it have to simply accept that the other people’s evidence must be correct? Or could they in good conscience say: “I really looked very carefully and it simply wasn’t there tonight. Therefore I will have to look again tomorrow before deciding that the new month has started.”? Or will they accept observation at a specific locality as being valid on a worldwide basis?
Depending on visual observations for your real calendar is at best unreliable and confusing. People 200 miles west of where you are may “see” the new crescent on an evening when it will not yet be visible in your area. People on one side of a mountain range (the Rockies?) may see it on an evening when it will not yet be visible on the other side of the mountain range. Would there be an agreed-to location (e.g. the west coast of the USA) at which first visibility is determined? What about people in Britain and in Europe who would also like to go by visual observations?
How would you book an airline ticket for the first day of the month three months from now—when it hasn’t even been decided yet how many days the intervening months are going to have, because it will depend on visual observations? Today the world is a global village—and any calendar we decide on must be practical and functional under all the conditions which normally apply to a calendar. Visual observations may have an emotional appeal (if you went out to actually look for the new crescent and then you saw it, that may make you feel good), but the calendar was never intended to be something emotional. It has to be practical; it has to work in the real world!
Many times the people who insist on visual observations don’t acknowledge the confusion this would create, because they really want it both ways! On the one hand they want to hold up visual observation as the all-important deciding factor in determining the start of a new month. But on the other hand some also want to utilize access to all of the modern electronic means of instant communication! So they want to be able to receive a phone-call or an e-mail message or a fax message from someone in a totally different part of the world, telling them that the new crescent has or has not been sighted! And such a phone-call or fax message or e-mail message will then be accepted by them as the deciding evidence, even though the new crescent was not visible in their area. They want instant communications to other parts of the world, but they don’t acknowledge that the very existence of such instant communications places different demands on a calendar. Others place observing the new crescent in their own particular locality as a priority.
8) Supporters of visual observations will also sometimes present the analogy to how the start of the Sabbath is determined—by the actual sunset time at our specific locality. They reason: in the same way we can determine the start of the Holy Days by local observations of the new moon crescents.
This analogy is flawed and falls short!
There is only one reason why it actually works for us to decide locally, based on sunset times, when the Sabbath will start for us, without this also creating confusion. That one reason is that our determining the start of the Sabbath this way is predicated upon the existence of a calendar which is already in force! If we did not have a calendar that decides for us when a Monday starts, when the Tuesday starts, etc., then our Sabbath observances would be totally confused! You wouldn’t know which sunset to use for the start of the Sabbath. There must be a calendar already in existence in order for you to be able to decide which sunset signals the start of the Sabbath.
Furthermore, sunset cannot be compared to the appearance of the new moon crescent! Sunset moves in a very controlled and smooth and predictable pattern from east to west—and this pattern is never interrupted. The sun will always set earlier further east (e.g. in New York) than it will set further west (e.g. in Los Angeles). But this is not how the appearance of the new moon crescents works at all!
Sometimes the new crescent will be visible in New York before it will be visible in Los Angeles. As that would mean that it would then be visible in Los Angeles later, but still on the same day, this situation does not present a difficulty. But at other times it will be visible in Los Angeles before it will be visible in New York; and that could present a problem unless the people on the east coast would accept visibility on the west coast as a valid criterion.
Unless we already had some calendar in existence, into which we can slot these new moon crescents, there would be worldwide confusion if the new crescents themselves would actually be used to determine the start of each new month. You might have different calendars for Los Angeles and London and Jerusalem and Sydney and Honolulu, etc.. At some times some of these cities would be in harmony, while the following month they might be at variance with some cities they were in harmony with for the previous month.
[Lon—Granted, keeping the Holy Days by Biblical standards can pose employment problems, but the bigger problem can be finding a job that accommodates our celebrating a week in the “fall”—no matter what, plus travel time. And now I understand that we need a week in the “spring” as well. For me, not having an educational pedigree, self employment has been my only practical option. For 14 years I fought the system as described in Dear Jennifer. I won two civil rights cases over religious discrimination concerning Sabbaths (while that was possible) and was fired many times. Finally, I tried self employment. In my first year I earned more than any previous year in the union jobs that I had had. The second year was double that, where it has remained since 1986, allowing for inflation and a slow trickle upward!]
Recall our earlier reference to the fact that the movements of the moon are not at all synchronized with the movements of the earth. And in the calendar we are talking about the movements of the moon are not at all intended to merely “slot into” the movements of the earth around the sun. No, in the calendar we are talking about the movements of the moon will be used to decide the calendar itself! It is the movements of the moon that will determine when the next month will start; and it is the movements of the earth around the sun (i.e. the passage of days!) that will then be forced to “slot into” the movements of the moon!
In determining the start of the Sabbath the movement of the earth around the sun takes precedence, while the movements of the moon are totally ignored! But in the calendar we are talking about, the movements of the moon take precedence, while the movements of the earth around the sun are of only secondary importance. The movements of the earth are only taken into account to prevent the seasons from drifting to a later date in the year. But the movements of the moon will determine the start of every month in the year.
So the analogy to the way we determine the start of the Sabbath is completely inappropriate as an analogy to the way we should determine the start of a new month.
9) Another point that I believe is negotiable is as follows: IF we select to retain the calculated invisible molad (and I myself don’t have any objection to this) as the determining point for the new moons, then we need to establish whether we always proclaim the day of the molad to be the Day of Trumpets, or whether we will “postpone” when that conjunction occurs in the last 6 hours of the day. If accepted, such postponing should be done consistently and without any bias for or against any particular day of the week.
This information is for those who want to know more of the technicalities that are involved.
1) Within any 19-year cycle there will be a considerable variation of the dates (as viewed in the Gregorian calendar) on which the Day of Trumpets will fall. The difference between the earliest date and the latest date on which the Day of Trumpets will fall may be as much as 29 days.
There is an earliest possible date. If the conjunction is one day earlier, then it means that the conjunction one new moon later must be chosen for Trumpets, thus making it 29 days later than the earliest acceptable date.
2) For the First Day of the Feast of Tabernacles to be no earlier than September 24th (i.e. starting on the evening of September 23rd), it means that Trumpets cannot be earlier than September 10th. So if there will be a molad on September 9th before noon, then that cannot be the molad of Tishri; the molad of Tishri will have to be the next molad, on October 9th.
3) So in order to ensure that the earliest possible F.o.T. does not start before September 24th, it means that the latest possible F.o.T. in that same 19-year cycle may start on October 23rd.
(Comment: As there are 30 possible days on which the 19 years within each cycle could perhaps start, it means there are 11 days in that 30-day period, which do not have a year starting on them. Some of those 11 “free” dates could be at the start or at the end of that 30-day period—and thus affect when the “earliest” and the “latest” years start. Every 19 years the exact same dates in the Gregorian calendar will be repeated, with possibly a 1-day shift on some occasions. After 216 years (more readily apparent after 12 full cycles) all the dates will be one day later.)
4) So while the 19 years within the cycle will have F.o.T. starting on dates between September 24th and October 23rd, this means that the Feast of Unleavened Bread (always 177 days before F.o.T.) will start on dates between March 31st and April 29th.
5) There will at most be one year when Unleavened Bread may start as early as March 31st—every other year in the cycle will have a later starting date. And while March 31st represents the earliest possible date when there could be some barley available for the wave offering, by April 29th barley will certainly have been available for some time.
6) Over the next 216 years (better observable over 12 full cycles of 228 years) the whole system will move to one day later. After about 432 years it will have moved to two days later. By then the earliest F.o.T. will start on September 26th and the latest F.o.T. will start on October 25th. However—when you have F.o.T. starting as late as October 25th, this means that there must be a month which started on September 11th—and that month could have resulted in a Feast of Tabernacles starting on September 25th. So then the time may have arrived to again consider adjusting the sequence of leap years within the cycle to “pull back” the one year in the cycle that is starting one month later than it needs to start.
7) As far as I am aware, all of the different church organizations of the Church of God which have come out of the Worldwide Church of God, are anticipating the return of Jesus Christ within the next 50 years, certainly less than 216 years from now! So the point is: if we now set up a system that meets all of the biblical requirements, then the gradual drifting to a later date is not going to be an issue for us at any time.
In the above points I have tried to explain the principles involved, to help you grasp the whole process. However, I can see some people still being unhappy with the 1st Day of Unleavened Bread being as early as “March 31st.” The above is the theoretical explanation. Next, I will give the dates in actual practice.
1) I have suggested that we accept two changes to the Jewish calendar. They are:
A) Change the sequence of leap years to be: 3, 5, 8, 11, 13, 16, 19 instead of the one that is currently employed by the Jews (and which even the Jewish Encyclopedia acknowledges may need to be changed at some point in time).
The effect of this would be that 16 years in every 19 years remain the same. The 3 years in the cycle that currently start too early will all start exactly one new moon later—but the other years are unaffected by this.
B) Reject the unbiblical and totally unjustified Jewish postponement rule that prevents Atonement from falling on a Friday or a Sunday or a Tuesday—the last one means that Trumpets can never fall on a Sunday. But retain the rule that postpones Trumpets from 4 seconds to a maximum of 6 hours—to me this is an eminently practical rule, especially for a calendar that will be applied worldwide.
2) The following data is based on applying this leap year sequence of 3, 5, 8, 11, 13, 16, 19. And the dates are based on rejecting all the postponement rules except this one that postpones from 4 seconds up to 6 hours. The last column represents for purposes of comparison the dates for the First Day of Tabernacles as calculated by using the present Jewish calendar (i.e. with the leap year sequence that is currently being employed!) and then applying all of the postponement rules; i.e. the way it would be if we simply continued with the present Jewish calendar as we have done up until now.
As you can see from this list, [the list is missing] in practice the earliest dates for the First Day of Unleavened Bread in this cycle will be Year #3 and Year #11.
Year #3 = 1999 = April 1st, a Thursday. Thus the wave offering on the Sunday would be required on April 4th.
Year #11 = 2007 = April 2nd, a Monday. Thus the wave offering on the Sunday would be required on April 8th.
And in the event that we really do have until Year #19, 2015 A.D.: in that year the First Day of Unleavened Bread would be on Saturday, April 4th. So the wave offering would be required on Sunday, April 5th.
3) What I am showing is that, while in theory this sequence of leap years could require the wave offering as early as March 31st, in actual practice in the present 19-year cycle it will not be required before April 4th. And that is late enough to have some barley with a relatively high moisture content available for the wave offering. (Mechanical harvesting can only be done with a much lower moisture content than is possible for harvesting manually with a sickle. So with manual harvesting the grain is available at an earlier date.) (Comment: In the following cycle, due to the Days of Unleavened Bread starting on Saturday, March 31st in 2018 A.D., the wave offering would be required on Sunday, April 1st.)
4) The above dates also make clear that in practice with the above 19-year cycle the Feast of Tabernacles will never start before September 25th—and that IS certainly after the autumn equinox.
5) The last two columns compare the dates for the First Day of Tabernacles in this suggested calendar with the dates as they are in the present Jewish calendar. This is what we find:
A) For three years in the cycle the Jewish calendar will observe all of the Holy Days one month earlier. Those years are: 2002, 2010 and 2013.
B) In 8 of the remaining 16 years all of the Holy Days remain unchanged from the way they are in the current Jewish calendar. This means that the Jewish calendar either applies NO postponements for those 8 years, or at most it only applies the rule of postponing from 4 seconds to 6 hours. Those 8 years are: 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2015.
C) In the other 8 years the Jewish calendar will place all the Holy Days one day later than I am suggesting in this calendar model. Those 8 years, where the Jewish calendar will place all the Holy Days one day later, due to unjustified postponements, are: 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2011, 2012 and 2014.
And that is about it!
6) I have not discussed the question of using calculated first visibility as opposed to the invisible molad, as I believe there are potential merits in both these options. To present them at this stage would, I believe, only distract us from the major issues at stake—admitting that the Jewish calendar at times violates God’s instructions by placing the Feasts too early in the year, and admitting that there is no biblical support of any kind for the postponement of the Day of Atonement.
However, IF we did opt for calculated first visibility instead of using the invisible molad, then we would most likely also end up agreeing with the Jewish calendar for about 8 years in the cycle. We would have the same dates as the present Jewish calendar for those 8 years where they postpone by one day—and we would most likely be one day later than the Jewish calendar for those 8 years where we are in agreement with them when we employ the molads. Either way we will be in agreement with the Jewish calendar about half the time (apart from the 3 years where they are too early!) and the other half of the time we would be either one day earlier or else one day later than the Jewish calendar.
(Comment: This also shows up the lack of consistency in the present Jewish calendar. When either of the above two options is applied consistently, then the Jewish calendar will be in agreement with each option about half the time. The Jewish calendar is not consistently based on the molad, nor is it consistently based on first visibility—the postponement rules really give it roughly a 50-50 mixture of both options. When they postpone, they are in agreement with first visibility; when they don’t postpone, they are in agreement with the invisible molad. And it is all done in order to preserve “the traditions of the pharisees”!])
1) It seems we are all agreed that the Passover must be in the spring. I have pointed out that the Days of Unleavened Bread cannot be so early in the year that no barley would be available for the wave offering. To meet that requirement, it means that the 1st month can never start before March 18th.
2) But is that sufficient? Or should the first month of the year not even start in the winter? Should the 1st month never start before March 21st?
3) As far as I can see, the Bible does not really specify whether all of the 1st month must be in the spring, or whether a part of the first month being in the spring is sufficient. I suspect that only a part of the 1st month being in the spring will fulfill the requirements—and it obviously has to be a large enough part to ensure the availability of some barley for the wave offering, and also to ensure that the entire F.o.T. falls in the autumn.
4) However, in practical terms the difference between the minimum requirements (i.e. the year starting on or after March 18th) and this proposal (i.e. the year starting on or after March 21st) is only 3 days. And I don’t feel that accepting such a proposal would go against the principles revealed in the Bible.
So I myself feel that this question is also something that could be negotiated.
When we look at the proposed leap year sequence of years 3, 5, 8, 11, 13, 16, 19 we find that the years 3, 11 and 19 would start the year before March 21st. So the solution is to have each of these three years start one new moon later. The way that is achieved is by changing the sequence to: 2, 5, 8, 10, 13, 16, 18.
This sequence of 2, 5, 8, 10, 13, 16, 18 is “OPTION 1” in the menu selection of our calendar program. So you can use our program to also give you all the dates for this sequence of leap years.
6) The following data is based on applying this leap year sequence of 2, 5, 8, 10, 13, 16, 18. And the dates are again based on rejecting all the postponement rules except the one that postpones from 4 seconds up to 6 hours. The last column again represents the dates for the First Day of Tabernacles as calculated by using the present Jewish calendar (i.e. with the leap year sequence that is currently being employed!) and then applying ALL of the postponement rules; i.e. the way it would be if we simply continued with the present Jewish calendar as we have done up until now. (see chart on next page)
7) The effects of this option would be as follows:
A) This will result in a 19-year cycle where for six years the Holy Days will be one month later than in the Jewish calendar. This is due to the fact that in the Jewish calendar there are 6 years where Nisan 1 is placed before the start of spring. Those 6 years which will start one month later than the Jewish calendar are: Years 3, 6, 11, 14, 17 and 19 in the 19-year cycle.
(Comment: It would affect this present year 1999, by placing all the days in this year one new moon later.)
B) For a further six years all the dates will be exactly the same as in the present Jewish calendar. Those years are: Years 1, 2, 5, 10, 12 and 13 in the 19-year cycle.
C) For the remaining seven years the dates would all be one day earlier than the Jewish calendar. Those 7 years are when the Jewish calendar employs an unjustified postponement. The years involved are Years 4, 7, 8, 9, 15, 16 and 18.
8) As can be seen from the above data, if we insist that Nisan 1 can never fall before March 21st, then it will create a calendar where we will be at variance with the Jewish calendar by one month for six years in every 19-year cycle. I am pointing this out merely as an observation, not from a desire to adhere to the Jewish calendar.
9) As I said above: I don’t know that this approach is necessarily required by the Bible, but neither am I automatically against the possibility of using this line of reasoning (that all of the 1st month should lie within the spring). My reason is that it is quite clear to me that the 1st month may at the very most start 3 days before the start of spring in order to ensure that the Feast of Tabernacles never starts before the autumn. And perhaps by insisting on starting the year these 3 days later, it will be more likely that some barley is available in the earliest years of the cycle?
10) With this system the earliest Days of Unleavened Bread will be in Year #8 and Year #16. The latest Holy Days would be in Year #19 and Year #11.
11) Thus in this sequence of leap years, where the year will never start before the spring equinox, we will have the following characteristics:
A) The year will fluctuate by 28 days (earliest FoT on September 29th and latest FoT on October 27th).
B) The wave offering would never be required earlier than about April 8th, nor later than about May 3rd - 6th. The “latest” dates may appear to be a bit late—and perhaps they are?
It may, however, be helpful to point out that in the present Jewish calendar, with its postponements and all, the latest Sundays during the Days of Unleavened Bread (the wave offering Sundays) are scheduled to fall as late as:
2024 AD = Sunday April 28th, and
2062 AD = Sunday April 30th.
And the latest starting dates for FoT are scheduled to be:
2005 AD = October 18th, and
2043 AD = October 19th.
Let’s try to get an overview perspective on all these different possibilities.
Now for Part 3: