Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):

Reasons Why the Jewish Calendar Is Not Biblical!

It may well come as a profound shock to Sabbatarians to learn that the Jewish calendar they have relied on to identify and observe the "Holy days" of Leviticus 23, is just as corrupted by pagan concepts as the Gregorian calendar followed by Sunday keepers observing holidays not sanctioned by the Bible!

by Myron Martin

The collective Churches of God are in a state of abject confusion and resulting division for basically two reasons:

1) They follow human leaders instead of the scriptures. Notice what 2 Timothy 4:3 says: For the time will come when people will not stand sound teaching, but each will follow his own whim and gather a crowd of teachers to tickle his fancy, they will stop their ears to the truth and turn to fables.

2) Blindly following the myths and traditions of Judaism (Titus 1:14) they have engaged in many of the same arguments that divided the many sects of the Jews. The Pharisees and Sadducees -- as well as many other sects -- also could not agree on what the scriptures said. This was because their perceptions were founded on already corrupted concepts concerning "TIME" and the calendar created by man as a result of "leaning unto his own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5), thus rejecting the Creator's revelation.

Herbert Armstrong (late founder of the Worldwide Church of God) rightly rejected Catholic/Protestant doctrines traceable to pagan influence, but did NOT exercise the same due diligence in assessing how much pagan influences had impacted Judaism before he jumped across the ditch and embraced their basic tenets, specifically the doctrines of the Pharisees our Savior specifically warned against (Matthew 16:12, Titus 1:14). I also believe the "one true church" theology of Herbert Armstrong [and others such as Dankenbring and Meredith] caused us to give "lip service" to Revelation 12:9 to the point that we became too "self-righteous" to admit that "if the whole world is deceived," then it includes us as well! Instead of assuming that "we have all the truth" we need to humble ourselves before the Creator's revelation in His Word and make sure we are "proving all things" -- not taking some things for granted based on human religious traditions regardless of how old they are.

One of the most authoritative sources of information on the Jewish calendar is the book by Arthur Spier, The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar (Feldheim Publishers) from which I will quote extensively, to set the tone. Notice this brief quote from the forward:

"The Jews catechism is his calendar" wrote Samson Raphael Hirsch a hundred years ago, when he called upon his contemporaries to count and live their days according to the hallowed order and rhythm of the Jewish calendar. "In our century, only a few have any knowledge of the history and structure of the Jewish chronological system." (My emphasis throughout). Most people with a WCG (Worldwide Church of God) background most certainly fall into that category! In fact, most have simply blindly accepted the present Hillel II calendar without any knowledge about when, how or why it came into existence -- or any details about it!

Historical Perspectives!

Notes Spier: "The traditional law prescribes that the months shall follow closely the course of the moon, from its Molad (birth, conjunction) to the next New Moon. Furthermore, the lunar months must always correspond to the seasons of the year, which are governed by the sun. Thus, the Jewish calendar is LUNI-SOLAR."

Continues Spier:

"It is in contrast to our civil calendar, which is purely solar, in which the months have completely lost their relation to the moon. -- Since the solar year of about 365 days is approximately 11 days longer than 12 lunar months, the Jewish calendar is faced with the problem of balancing the solar with the lunar years."

It is notable in the foregoing -- as well as in the next few quotes -- that the appeal is NOT to any Biblical standards revealed by the Creator, but solely to "tradition."

Continuing --

"In the early times of our history the solution was found by the following practical procedure; The beginnings of the month were determined by direct observation of the new moon, -- sanctified and announced by the Sanhedrin, -- after witnesses had testified that they had seen the new crescent and after their testimony had been thoroughly examined, CONFIRMED BY CALCULATION and duly accepted. The Jewish communities were notified of the beginnings of months (Rosh Hodesh) in earlier time by kindling of night fires on the mountains, and later on by messengers" (Historical Remarks On the Jewish Calendar, Spier, p. 1).

What About the Seasons?

Continuing now to quote from The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar by Arthur Spier (p. 1):

"A special committee of the Sanhedrin, with its president as chairman, had the MANDATE to regulate and balance the solar with the lunar years. This so-called calendar council (Sod Haibbur) CALCULATED the beginnings of the seasons (Tekufoth) on the basis of astronomical figures, which had been handed down as A TRADITION OF OLD! When ever, after two or three years, the annual excess of 11 days had accumulated to approximately 30 days, a thirteenth month Adar II was inserted before Nisan in order to assure that Nisan and Passover would occur in spring and not retrogress toward winter. However, the astronomical calculation was not the only basis for intercalation of a thirteenth month. The delay of the actual arrival of spring was another decisive factor. The Talmudic sources report that the Council intercalated a year when the barley in the fields had not yet ripened, when the fruit on the trees had not yet grown properly, when the winter rains had not stopped, when the roads for Passover pilgrims had not dried up, and when the young pigeons had not become fledged."

Continuing on page 2 --

"The Council on Intercalation considered the astronomical facts together with the RELIGIOUS REQUIREMENTS of Passover and the natural conditions of the country!"

Now, does the Creator need a committee of men to decide when a 13th month is necessary to keep His appointed times "IN SEASON" -- or did he build a natural measure of the seasons into His system?

In Daniel 2:21 we read: "HE CHANGES THE TIMES AND THE SEASONS" --

"TIMES" is Strong's #2165, Zem-awn "an appointed occasion" from 2163 "to FIX a time, appoint"! Who is right, your Creator who says HE FIXED "appointed times" we are to appear before Him, or the Jews who claim to do it for Him with a complex mathematical formula devised relatively recently?

"SEASONS" is Strong's #5732 "id-dawn" from #5708 "ayd" which means to "set a period" a set time, technically a YEAR. Does this not imply that years are also "fixed" by the Creator?

Do we not have a conflict here? Consider the concluding paragraph of Spier's Historical Remarks, page 2: "In accordance with this SYSTEM, Hillel II formally SANCTIFIED all months in advance, and intercalated all future leap years until such time as a new recognized Sanhedrin would be established in Israel. This is the permanent calendar according to which the New Moons and Festivals are calculated and celebrated by the Jews all over the world. Like the FORMER SYSTEM OF OBSERVATION, it is based on the Luni-Solar PRINCIPLE! It also applies certain rules by which the astronomical facts are combined with the religious requirements into an admirable calendar system!"

Admirable according to whom? I thought it was the Creator that "SANCTIFIES" things! See Genesis 2:3, Exodus 19:14, 22:43, Numbers 7:1 and John 10:36.

Where are we instructed in scripture to change from an observed to a "calculated system" -- and where are the "principles scripturally revealed?

Let's Take a Critical Look At the System

States Arthur Spier --

"At the time of the Second Temple, when the Sanhedrin announced the beginnings of the months on the basis of observation, the communities living far from the seat of the court could not be reached in time by it's messengers. Those communities, in doubt about the day of the New Moon and the festivals, established the CUSTOM of celebrating an additional day for each of the major holidays. Thus they were certain to observe the festivals at the same time as their brethren in Israel, on the days SANCTIFIED BY THE SANHEDRIN. Whenever the Torah had prescribed ONE DAY of holy convocation and prohibition of work, TWO DAYS were celebrated, except on Yom Kippur to avoid two successive days of fasting! -- its observance was continued by succeeding generations for more than 2000 years, and became a generally accepted law" (ibid., p.11).

Now WHOSE law is this -- certainly NOT the Creator's!

Moving on to page 13 of Spier's book we find that

"The day begins and ends at sunset, or more precisely, after dusk when the first three stars of medium size appear.

"This RULE applies to the theoretical beginning and ending of Sabbaths, festivals, fast days and the hours for the daily prayers. However for calendar calculations, especially for the computation of the Moladoth (the times of the new moon) and the Tekufoth (beginnings of the seasons), the day begins and ends at 6 o'clock in the evening, Jerusalem time. -- The beginning and duration of the months depend on the Moladoth and the time which elapses from one Molad to the next one (lunation). The average figure given by tradition for this interval is 29 days and 12 hours and 793 parts" (ibid., p. 13).


" -- the conjunction of the sun and moon at the time of the creation of the world, on Tishri 1 of the year 1 of the world era -- took place on 2d 5h 204p or Sunday evening 204 parts after 11pm. This hour is considered as the theoretical beginning of the Molad calculation. -- today we determine our New Moons and holidays according to the decision of Hillel's Beth Din" (ibid., p. 13).

We find stated in Spier's book, the following gems:

"The hours that accumulate by the omission of 793 parts each month are equalized by two deviations from the rule of alternation."

"The Hebrew calendar is based on two fundamental facts of TRADITION."

"Every month must begin on a day CLOSE to the Molad. In every cycle of 19 years there will be 7 leap years."

"Hence every Hebrew date coincides with the same civil date, once again, after a cycle of 19 years, with a possible deviation of one or two days in a century" (ibid., p. 14).

According to the information on pages 15 and 16 of Spier's book, there are 14 categories or different types of years called regular, defective, excessive, common and leap years -- ranging from a low of 353 days to a high of 385 days. Where is such a deviation in years even remotely alluded to in scripture?

On page 22 Spier makes this enlightening statement: "The very first Tekufah (spring Equinox) took place on Adar 22 at the beginning of Wed.; i.e. Tuesday evening at 6 o'clock of the year one, the creation of the world. From this theoretical beginning, the period of 91 days and 7 and a half-hours is added successively and all the Tekufoth, the beginnings of the seasons are obtained. All though this calculation is extremely simple, there is much confusion about them among our calendar makers."

The concluding page of explanations of how the calendar is calculated says this: "The Tekufoth of Samuel, which are based on the length of 365 1/4 days for the solar years, deviate considerably from the true astronomical time. They are 17 days later than the astronomical equinoxes and solstices in our century, a difference which grows by one day almost every 100 years. -- For example; we celebrate Pesah (Passover) 4 1/2 days later, on the average, than our ancestors did 1000 years ago at the time of Saadia Gaon" (p. 22).

Are they not "reasoning in circles" by working backward to establish a supposed creation obviously at variance with clear scriptures? Having waded through all the references to custom, theoretical calculation, tradition, deviations, approximations, practical procedures, averages, man made rules and mandates, etc. we are left without even ONE reference to scripture! So, then, what have we really learned?

1) The Jewish calendar is astronomically inaccurate by their own admission!

2) CLOSE is good enough for them, the moon does not have to accurately regulate months as the Creator says; (Genesis 1:14) or determine the seasons, (Psalm 104:19).

3) Passover is being moved towards summer at the rate of a day every 100 years.

4) They consider "tradition" more important than Biblical revelation as our Savior himself testified repeatedly, (Matthew 15:6-9, Mark 7:7-8 and Luke 6:46).

5) They have "RULES" but deviations are allowed, based on human "traditions" and a complicated but obviously flawed mathematical formula!

6) How can Sunday evening at 11 o'clock be the beginning of creation if "days" start at sunset? Even more telling, if the present weekly cycle is accurate, how could that be the 2nd day?

7) If, as some allege, (citing Matthew 23:2, Romans 3:2) they were following divinely revealed laws handed down to them "orally" (not recorded in the scriptures), how could they switch from observing a crescent to calculating a conjunction as the beginning of months? Did the Creator make a mistake and change horses in mid-stream? (See Malachi 3:6).

8) If Judah was given authority over the calendar, why does scripture say it was Issachar that had "understanding of times" (1 Chronicles 12:32)?

9) If the Jews accurately understood the "19 year solar cycle" on which they claim the Hillel calendar is based, why is it that their much more complicated formula is actually less astronomically accurate than the Gregorian?

While making no pretense of following the moon as a measurement of months, the Jewish calendar also has a mathematical formula supposedly based on the 19-year solar cycle! Is it possible that BOTH calendar designers rejected the requirements of scripture putting more stock in "human traditions" and so missed VITAL clues the Creator reveals as to how HE regulates time?

The bottom line is: The so-called Jewish calendar is an absolute fabrication of men with no Biblical foundation whatsoever -- it cannot be proven in scripture!

I consider Revelation 18:4 to be a clear admonition from the Messiah that his people in the end-times are still in Babylon (confusion) and that he is standing "outside the door" knocking wanting to be let in (Revelation 3:20), so that his spirit can direct us into all truth (John 16:13). His spirit can hardly have "free reign" in any mind that is "locked into" a hierarchical mold that demands conformity under threat and intimidation of loss of family and friends, normal fellowship, etc. What point would there be in the Creator [YEHOVAH] revealing "new truth" to someone fearful of acting on what was revealed for fear of the consequences? In respect to the calendar, we failed once again to "prove all things" and given the well-detailed apostasy over many generations, we cannot reconstruct a true calendar from history. There have been societies with 8 day weeks and 10 day weeks -- as well as the current 7 day week. Contrary to Herbert Armstrong's plagiarized booklet, Has Time Been Lost, the weekly cycle has been altered many times, so we must look to the creation (Romans 1:20) and the Biblical clues to reconstruct an accurate one.


Hope of Israel Ministries -- Taking the Lead in the Search for Truth!

Hope of Israel Ministries
P.O. Box 853
Azusa, CA 91702, U.S.A.

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