Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
The Dead Sea Scrolls Prove Lunar Sabbaths
There is NO RECORD in the Dead Sea Scrolls of the Essenes disagreeing with other groups as to WHEN the Sabbath was kept. In fact, there is NO historical record of ANY of the Jewish sects disagreeing with each other over when the Sabbath was kept -- period! They ALL observed the SAME Seventh-Day Lunar Sabbath.
by Arnold Bowen
The Dead Sea Scrolls are considered by scholars to be authored by the Essenes, a sect in first century Judaism. Amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls, there are a number of extra-biblical scrolls which appear to shed light on what this sect believed and practiced. Understanding what they believed can be helpful in determining whether or not the Lunar Sabbath was being observed by mainstream Judaism of that time.
Lunar Sabbatarians believe that the authors of these scrolls kept a Lunar Sabbath BECAUSE these AUTHORS would say things like the New Moon will fall on this date or that date of a particular month -- even saying things like the New Moon falls on the 25th etc. This is conclusive evidence that they had to have had a solar-only calendar in front of them, and were showing where the New Moon would hit on the solar calendar because the true New Moon can never be on the 25th. Since it is always on the first day of every month, they were obviously showing where the New Moon would fall on the solar-only calendar, and that because the New Moon was not a part of the solar-only calendar.
The same is true with the Full Moon and the true weekly Sabbaths. The Essenes also showed where the Full Moons and the weekly Sabbaths would fall on the Julian Calendar because these days also were not a part of it either, as the following will show. Anyone who cannot accept the fact that there were TWO calendars -- the Creation Calendar and the Julian Calendar -- is in a state of denial. And if you can accept that fact, the evidence shows that "if" the Essenes were observing the traditional seventh-day Sabbaths there would be no need to mention where the seventh-day Sabbaths fell because on the traditional every seven-day-Sabbath calendar, the Sabbath will be on every seventh day. But if the Sabbaths and New Moon days were by the moon, then naturally the Essenes would have to show what date they fell on in the solar-only calendar. This is an absolute.
Below is still more evidence that the Dead Sea Scrolls support the Lunar Sabbaths. Again, as said before, the scribes are showing where the true Sabbaths and New Moons fell on the Julian solar-only calendar. If the true weekly Sabbath was a repetitious seven-day cycle, the scribes would not have to state where the Sabbaths fell, because they would already be every seventh day. The same thing is true with the New Moon/month. If it were a part of the solar-only calendar, the scribes would not have to state where it fell.
We do the same thing today, we lay our solar-only calendar out and circle the days on which the true New Moons fall, the true feast days, and the true Creation Sabbaths. If the New Moons and Sabbaths were a part of the Julian calendar, there would be no need to have to say where they fell on the various months. We have to do this because the Creation Calendar -- with its New Moons and Sabbaths -- is NOT a part of Caesar's Julian Calendar which we have inherited in the form of the Gregorian Calendar. Therefore, we have to show where the Full Moon, New Moon, Feast Days, and Sabbath days fall throughout the solar year today.
The Qumran scribes were in a transitional period from a lunar-solar calendar to a strictly solar only calendar -- and today we are in a transitional period back the other way! The Dead Sea Scrolls are very choppy to say the least, and hard to read -- sometimes even guessing at what is being said and what should go where. But the very fact that they are telling you where the Sabbath and New Moons etc. fall, proves that the true Sabbaths and New Moons were NOT a part of the solar-only calendar that was in front of the Qumran scribes. Therefore it is conclusive proof that the Essenes were keeping lunar months and lunar weeks with a lunar Sabbath at the end of the lunar week.
Notice the language that is used when showing where the Sabbath and New Moons etc., fall:
The Sabbaths and Festivals of the Year (4Q327)
Frags. 1-2 Col. 1: [On the sixteenth] [of the month is a Sabbath.] On the twenty-third of the month is a Sabbath. [On the] thir[tie]th [of the month is a Sabbath.]
Frags. 1-2 Col. 2: [On the twenty-fi]rs[t] [of the] month is a Sabbath. [On the] twenty-eighth of the month is a Sabbath. The month continues with the first day of the week (day after the Sabbath), followed by the second day [and an additional day on the third day.]
Frags. 1-2 Col. 3: [On the fourth] of the month is [a Sabbath] On the el[eventh] of the month is a Sabbath. On the eighteenth of the month is a Sabbath. On the twenty-fifth of the month is a Sabbath. On the second of the fi[f]t[h] month [is a Sa]b[bath] [On the third] [of the month is the Festival of] [Wine...]
Frags. 1-2 Col. 4: [On the ninth] [of the month is a Sabbath.] On the sixteenth of the month is a Sabbath. On the twenty-third of the month is a Sabbath. [On the th]irtieth [of the month is a Sabbath]
Frags. 1-2 Col. 5: [On the twenty-][firs]t of the month is a Sabbath. On the twenty-second of the month is the Festival of Oil, on the day af[ter the Sab]bath. On the se[cond day] is the offering of [Wood].
It is obvious that there are TWO calendars being compared and that the authors are marking which days of the solar-only calendar fall on the Sabbath in order to plan their schedules. Today we go through the whole year’s calendar month-by-month circling which days fall on the Creation Sabbath so we can plan out our Gregorian Calendar commercial work weeks and not profane the true Creation Sabbaths and New Moons when they come around. The Essenes at Qumran would not need to say the 16th falls on a Sabbath if the 16th was a Sabbath on the Julian Calendar of the time because it was every seventh day regardless! The Sabbath that the 16th fell on was obviously a lunar Sabbath and was not a part of the solar only calendar -- and that is why they specified where it fell.
The Essenes also used the exact same method with the New Moons because they did not belong on that calendar either. If they had said the 16th fell on a New Moon instead of a Sabbath, what would you think they were talking about? (Meditate on that awhile!). I would think that the 16th of the solar-only calendar fell on the true New Moon day which was NOT a part of that calendar -- just like the Creation Sabbath was not a part of that Julian Calendar either.
If you were planning a vacation -- or perhaps received a speeding ticket and had to go to court on the 20th -- and your wife said the 20th falls on a Sabbath, that doesn't mean that the 20th is on the traditional Saturday that comes every seventh day on our Gregorian Calendar. This is because if you were a Lunar Sabbath observer you would be speaking of the Sabbath that is not part of the Gregorian Calendar that the court uses.
When we read in the Dead Sea Scrolls how the Quran community was marking calendars showing how certain days of the lunar month -- such as the Full Moon or New Moon -- would fall on the 25th etc., we know from deductive reasoning that there are TWO calendars in view. Why? Because the Full Moon or New Moon cannot fall on the 25th of the month!
We can see how someone might sit down in front of the Julian Calendar and say that the New Moon will fall here or there BECAUSE the New Moon is OUTSIDE of that calendar and is not a part of it. Therefore, one might say the New Moon will fall on this date or that date -- or they might say this date or that date falls on the New Moon because it is not part of that calendar. But IT IS HARD TO SEE how someone would sit down in front of the Julian Calendar and say the Sabbath falls on this day or that day UNLESS it, too, IS NOT a part of that calendar!
There would be no need to say the Saturday/Sabbath falls here or there because every SEVENTH day is a Saturday/Sabbath UNLESS, like we said, these Sabbaths and New Moons that they were speaking of were OUTSIDE the Roman calendar. This also applies to the Full Moon -- and the other Feast Days -- and it had to be made known where they would fall. It makes absolutely no sense any other way. If the New Moon will fall on a certain date of the month, why say the 16th falls on the Sabbath if the 16th is a Sabbath? The New Moon is ALWAYS on the first day of the Lunar-Solar month. You do not have to say it is going to fall here or there if it were a part of that calendar -- and the same logic applies to the weekly Sabbath which falls on the quarters of the moon.
If the calendar they were sitting before was a 1 through 7 solar week ONLY calendar -- which seems to be the case here -- why say anything concerning where the Sabbath falls? Why even talk about it? Wouldn’t it be common knowledge that it fell every seventh day? Surely everyone can understand why they would say the true New Moon falls here or there, because it was NOT a part of that calendar that they were sitting before! And when they said the Sabbath falls here or there, it is because it was NOT a part of that calendar either.
We can also see in the Dead Sea Scrolls where they were showing how other Feast Days fell on the solar-only calendar -- such as Tabernacles, Day of Atonement, Passover, Wave Sheaf, etc. Since these days fell on days not consistent with scripture (and we know all of these are by the moon same as the weekly Sabbath and New Moon) they also had to be shown where they fall in the solar calendar.
The weekly Sabbaths were by the phases of the moon just as the New Moon and the other Holy Feast Days were, therefore they could intelligently say that the New Moon or the Sabbath falls here or there on the solar calendar. However, it would not make sense to say anything at all unless the Sabbath that they were speaking of did NOT normally belong on that solar-only calendar -- just as the New Moon and the other Feast Days do not belong on it. It seems evident that the Essenes were sitting before the Roman Julian Calendar and pinpointing on it when the TRUE New Moons and the LUNAR seventh-day Sabbath fell.
No one would sit down with the Roman calendar and plan out their Sabbaths and New Moons throughout the year, saying the Sabbaths and New Moons fall here or there UNLESS the Sabbaths and New Moons did not normally belong there!
It would make PERFECT sense to EXPLAIN that the New Moon falls on such and such a date of the Roman calendar -- but it would not make ANY sense to explain where the weekly Sabbaths falls on the Roman calendar if they are already a part of the Roman calendar and its SEVEN-DAY cycle. This alone proves that the Sabbath and New Moon/month that they referred to as falling on certain days is referring to the Creation Sabbath and the New Moon appointments spoken of in Genesis 1:14.
For example, in scroll 4Q320 (Fragment 4 Column 3) we find that the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) falls on the 6th, and the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles) on the 4th, Passover on the 3rd, the Waving of the Sheaf (Omer) on the 1st, the Second Passover on the 5th, the Day of Remembrance on the 4th -- and so on. Notice!
"On the third day from the Sabbath of the course [of] Jeda[iah] is the Waving of the [Omer]. On the fifth day of the course of Seorim is the [Second] Passover. On the first day of the course of Jeshua is the Feast of Weeks. On the fourth day of the course of Maaziah is the Day of Remembrance. [On the] sixth day of the course of Jehoiarib is the Day of Atonement, [in the] seventh [month]. [On the] fourth day of the course of Jedaiah is the Feast of Booths."
We know that these dates are not consistent with Scripture and, therefore, the only explanation is that the calendar makers at Qumran were showing WHERE these days would fall on the man-made solar-only calendar -- more than likely for commercial reasons.
It can be shown, in the scrolls, where the Full Moon falls on days like the 25th (and the New Moon in the same way) and we all know that there can neither be a New Moon nor a Full Moon on the 25th -- no more than the Day of Atonement can fall on the 6th. The Qumran Community was in a transitional period -- much like today when people will ask us when the Sabbaths and the New Moon are going to fall this month. This is because the TRUE Sabbaths and the TRUE New Moons are not a part of these traditional Roman calendars.
Even many of the traditional solar-based Gregorian Calendars of today show where the New Moons and their four quarterly weekly phases will fall throughout the months of the year -- which the ancient calendar makers called Sabbaths before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D. We find, in the Dead Sea Scrolls, WHERE this was being done, see above. Hardly anyone today ever wonders why the New Moon, and its seven-day phases, appears on the modern calendar -- after all, who cares? They mean nothing to us today, but should they? Could it be that we still have the same type calendars today and they still show us where the New Moon worship days fall and where the quarter-worship days fall -- but no one knows what they are for today and we therefore pay no attention to them? But when it was fresh the Jewish people would know what days their weekly Sabbaths and New Moons fell on for commercial reasons, etc.
After the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple and the scattering of the Jewish people, the Roman solar-only calendar, which no longer used the moon for months, phased its way in . This can be verified by any good encyclopedia under "Calendar." The new commercial calendar just counted one through seven -- over and over again -- and when it came to the New Moon worship day it counted it as an ordinary workday and continued on with its one through seven count! This is what we have today because the New Moon marker day has been done away with. People today do not realize that the New Moons and Creation Sabbaths/quarter moons that overlay onto the Roman calendar should be kept, because of the traditions of men. The SAME type transitional calendars that the Qumran Community worked on are still before us today -- but we simply don't understand them because of the traditions of men.
Over time men realized that the moon affects many things -- including agriculture -- and assumed that this is why the ancient calendar markers were placed there, showing where the New Moons and Sabbaths fell. However, we believe that it was originally for religious purposes because they also showed where the other Feast Days fell on the calendar. The moon phases are still there on the calendar today but are NOT used for religious appointments like they were during the time of the Dead Sea Scrolls -- or in Genesis 1:14 where it teaches that the moon phases should be for appointments as YEHOVAH God intended.
The Dead Sea Scrolls show that the Qumran Community was NOT observing a recurring seven-day weekly cycle, independent of the moon's phases. In the works of Philo and Josephus much is said about the Essenes. Josephus was a first-century Jewish historian who wrote much about life in Judea during the first century A.D. He goes into great detail showing how the practices of the Essenes were different from other groups in Judea. He mentions everything from how the Essenes didn't carry anything with them when they traveled, to how they regarded oil to be a defilement. In Wars of the Jews (2:119-161) Josephus speaks of them in no less than 2,000 words -- describing over 100 characteristics of their way of life.
So did Josephus mention that they kept the Sabbath on a day that was different than the rest of the Jews? Notice!
"Moreover, they are stricter than any other of the Jews in resting from their labors on the seventh day; for they not only get their food ready the day before, that they may not be obliged to kindle a fire on that day, but they will not move any vessel out of its place, nor go to stool thereon" (Wars of the Jews, 2:147).
In this passage Josephus even goes so far as to say that the Essenes are "stricter than any other of the Jews in resting from their labors on the seventh day." Does this sound like there was any disagreement regarding WHEN the Sabbath was kept? Doesn't it seem strange that Josephus would mention that the Essenes were stricter in their resting from labors on the Sabbath but not bother to mention that the Essenes held the Sabbath on a totally different day than himself of the other Jews of that period?
The overwhelming fact is, if the Essenes were keeping a different day than the rest of the Jews, Josephus would NOT have been able to say that they were even resting on the seventh day to begin with! He would have had to say that they were typically resting on some other day -- and when we get to Philo we will give CONCLUSIVE PROOF that the Essenes OBSERVED LUNAR SABBATHS just like the rest of the Jews and the Messiah and his disciples.
There is NO RECORD in the Dead Sea Scrolls of the Essenes disagreeing with other Jewish groups as to WHEN the Sabbath was kept. In fact, there is NO historical record of ANY of the Jewish sects disagreeing with each other over when the Sabbath was kept -- period!
In another interesting note, Josephus speaks of one of the large towers that was built in Jerusalem:
"...and the last was erected above the top of the Pastophoria, where one of the priests stood of course, and gave a SIGNAL BEFORE-HAND with a trumpet, AT THE BEGINNING OF EVERY SEVENTH DAY, in the evening twilight, as also at the evening when that day was finished, as giving notice to the people when they were to stop work, and when they were to go to work again" (Wars of the Jews, 4:582).
So his report is that a trumpet was blown at the beginning of every seventh day, to mark WHEN the people should stop working -- and also when to start working again. If the Sabbath was occurring according to a continuous seven-day cycle -- independent of the moon -- then why the need to blow trumpets at the beginning and end of every Sabbath? Everyone would know without question when the Sabbath fell.
It is quite evident from Josephus that the Essenes observed the SAME weekly Sabbath as did the rest of the Jews and, after we see what Philo had to say, we will proceed to show that the weeks -- and the seventh day of the week -- were lunar in nature during the time of the Messiah.
Philo the Jew
First, we will give you some of what Philo recorded about the Essenes then we will show you what Philo had to say about the SEVENTH DAY and how it was kept according to the phases of the moon. Following this, we will give you conclusive proof that Philo also observed LUNAR Sabbaths -- as did the Essenes and the rest of the Jews of that day. Philo wrote, speaking of the Essenes,
"and yet no one, not even of the more treacherous and hypocritical oppressors was EVER able to bring any real accusation against the multitude of those called Essenes or Holy. But everyone being subdued by the VIRTUE of these men, looked up to them..." (The Works of Philo, translated by C. D. Yonge. Hendrickson Publishers, 2004. "Every Good Man is Free," XIII (91), p. 690).
Note well that Philo could NOT have said this if the Essenes observed a different Sabbath day to the rest of the Jews. The people of Judea would NOT have looked up to the Essenes if they were Sabbath breakers!
Philo goes on to say, under the same heading --
"Now these laws they are taught at other times, indeed, but most ESPECIALLY ON THE SEVENTH DAY, for the seventh day is accounted sacred, on which they abstain from all other employments, and frequent the sacred places which are called synagogues [just like the rest of the Jews], and there they sit according to their age in classes, the younger sitting under the elder, and listening with eager attention in becoming order" (ibid., XII (81)).
It is profoundly obvious that Josephus, Philo and the Essenes observed the SAME Sabbath day -- and, of course, the Messiah also kept the same day! Philo underscores the above in other passages in his works -- notice!
"Having mentioned the Essenes, who in all respects selected for their admiration and for their especial adoption the practical course of life, and who excel in all..." (The Works of Philo, "On the Contemplative Life," I (1), p. 698).
"Therefore, during six days, each of these individuals, retiring into solitude by himself, philosophizes by himself...never going outside the threshold of the outer court...on the SEVENTH DAY they all come together as if to meet in a sacred assembly, and they sit down in order according to their ages..." (ibid., III (30), p. 700).
We have presented ample evidence to show that the ESSENES observed the SAME weekly Sabbath as did Philo, Josephus and the Jews of their day -- including the Messiah and his disciples. Now we will show conclusive proof that Philo observed LUNAR WEEKS and Seventh-Day Sabbaths at the END of the Lunar weeks. Note -- once again -- what Philo states regarding this vital topic:
"...the sacrifices which have been preserved in the soul, which is illuminated in two portions out of the three, until it is entirely changed in every part, and becomes a heavenly brilliancy like a FULL MOON, at the height of its increase AT THE END OF THE SECOND WEEK [of the Lunar month]..." (The Works of Philo, "On Mating With the Preliminary Studies," XIX (106), p. 313).
Note carefully what Philo just said in the highlighted words. His readers and fellow Jews of that era clearly connected the WEEK they were observing with the phases of the moon and understood that the WEEKS WERE DETERMINED BY THE MOON -- and that at the end of the "SECOND WEEK" there would be a Full Moon/Sabbath. This statement needs no interpretation though, we suspect, some will try! The people in Philo's audience understood through COMMON KNOWLEDGE that the WEEKS were by the moon -- same as in the Tanakh. If this is so then the sacred seventh day of the week -- which comes at the end of the second week -- must be a FULL MOON/15th-day-of-the-Lunar-month Sabbath.
In XIX (106) Philo is making an observation of how a person can be spiritually illuminated to a full brilliance just like a Full Moon at the height of its increase at the end of the second week.
Notice what Psalm 81:3-5 says about this --
"Blow the horn [trumpet] on the New Moon, ON THE FULL MOON FOR OUR FEAST DAY [the Sabbath]. For it is a law for Israel, a ruling of the God of Jacob; He [YEHOVAH God] imposed it as a decree upon Joseph when he went forth from the land of Egypt..." (Tanakh).
Why must the Sabbath that comes at the end of the second week be a FULL MOON? Because in many places Philo speaks of the weekly seventh day (Sabbath), and we all know that the seventh day comes at the end of the week. People would like for us to believe that the months were originally by the moon but the weeks were not!
Philo did NOT count the New Moon day when counting out the weeks as the calendars of today do. This statement is very easily proven from Philo's writings because he clearly states -- in other places throughout his work -- that the Full Moon is on the 15th of EVERY month. He also separates the New Moon from the weeks as a SEPARATE Feast Day, therefore they DID NOT count the New Moon day when counting out the weeks. Instead, people today count the New Moon day in counting their weeks -- but it is obvious from Philo that he did NOT count the New Moon day when determining the weeks. The reason that we know this is so, is because if the New Moon day was counted, you would not have a Full Moon at the end of the second week because it would fall on the 14th instead of the 15th -- and Philo plainly declares -- many times -- that the Full Moon is on the 15th!
The bottom-line is that it does not take a Sherlock Holmes to look at the historical evidence and prove that the Essenes and the rest of the Jews of the day observed the SAME seventh-day Sabbath; and that Philo the Jew observed LUNAR Sabbaths as did the Messiah and the rest of the Jews. THEY ALL OBSERVED THE SAME SEVENTH-DAY LUNAR SABBATH. When we use deductive reasoning we can logically conclude that the Messiah and his disciples observed Lunar Sabbaths. It's elementary, Doctor Watson!
-- Edited by John D. Keyser.
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