Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):

A Unique Lunar-Based Calendar


Ultimately, the Greek word "Sabbatwn" (in the complete context of its New Testament usage) can rather clearly be demonstrated to have been a formal lunar-cycle term. This plural period of Sabbath time has to refer to either the specific extended Sabbath interval in the middle of the lunar cycle, or also the extended Sabbath interval which straddled the new-phase of the lunar cycle. This specific period of extended Sabbath time (the "Sabbatwn"), as noted in the Book of Colossians, would have appeared opposite the new Moon (and specifically would have corresponded to the second Sabbath of the lunar-month cycle plus the evening of the full-phase of Moon.

by James D. Dwyer

In the context of very early Christian history, it is surprising to discover that Sabbath time corresponds with a very formalized circuit (a formal lunar-based cycle containing some very specific calendar terms).

Clement of Alexandria (of the Second Century) specifically noted a lunar-based celebration. (This lunar-based celebration was also seemingly observed by the early Christians). He wrote:

"[Peter] inferred thus: 'Neither worship as [some] Jews [for] if the moon be not visible, they do not hold the Sabbath, which is called the first; nor do they hold the new moon'" (The Stromata, or Miscellanies, Chapter 5).

Clement quoted a 'Sabbath, which is called the first' and this festival date is noted to have corresponded to the lunar cycle. This respective Sabbath interval (called the 'first') is of special interest because in seven New Testament verses a seemingly similar Sabbath date can be cited.

The formal lunar circuit -- as it was understood and counted during the Temple Era -- is somewhat complex; and consequently, some of the early used references and definitions are a bit difficult to translate into modern terms.

A modern equivalence is perhaps easier to make through an analysis of the early used Roman Calendar. This calendar was originally lunar based (with the full-phase of the Moon appearing at mid-month). In this lunar calendar, the last days of the Moon (in the waning phases) were counted backward to the beginning of the next month. Thus, the middle of the month (or the point of the full-phase of the Moon) was specially reckoned and this epoch seems to have had a certain special significance throughout the ancient world.

In particular, the point of the mid-month marked the beginning of the waning cycle of the Moon, when perceptually an opposite, or a reverse of the month was reached.

A very good example of the peculiar significance of this reverse of the lunar month can be recited from Scroll 4Q317 (as reconstructed by J. Milik).

This scroll shows a repeating 14 stage progression (from waning in 14 stages, to waxing in 14 stages, to waning in 14 stages, and so on). These specific 14 stages of the lunar cycle appear chronologically on the scroll-as follows:

[Note: Each lunar stage was listed in correspondence to a solar day throughout 21 consecutive days (see note-*). In the following representation of the original scroll, the respective solar day -- as listed on the scroll -- is not shown below for the purposes of improved clarity.]

And when the sun sets, its light ceases to be obscured, and thus the Moon begins to be revealed on the first [or Echad] of the week [or Shabet]...

And when the sun sets, its light ceases to be revealed, and thus the Moon begins to be (obscured on the first [or Echad] of the week [or Shabet]-

* -- Much of the information attributed to Scroll 4Q317 is derived from information found on other scrolls. Due to the predictable sequencing of the consecutive evenings (and the ascending/ descending lunar stages) the recovered text seems largely satisfactory.

+ -- The second reference to Echad Shabet is very critical information -- and yet -- this area in the Scroll 4Q317 appears to be lost due to various types of damage. (For additional information concerning Scroll 4Q317, refer to The Dead Sea Scrolls, A New Translation by Wise, Abegg, and Cook, 1996, Section 57)

Upon close inspection, it can be recognized that Scroll 4Q317 -- as shown above -- represents an extremely intriguing interpretation of the lunar month cycle in that the lunar circuit is shown to possess exactly formal stages.

This completely eye-opening interpretation shows the Moon to wax in exactly 14 ascending stages -- and then to wane in exactly 14 descending stages.

Notice carefully that at the middle of the month, a peculiar 1/2 stage is listed, and again at new month, the same peculiar « stage is also listed.

Based upon this formalized progression (of repeating stages of 14 1/2 intervals) its easy to recognize an important reason for the peculiar appearance of the 1/2 stage. Obviously, the 1/2 stage which appears following 14 stages of the waxing Moon is equivalent to the very evening of the full-phase of the Moon (or when the whole Moon is only visible all-night long in the evening sky. The last 1/2 stage which appears following 14 stages of the waning Moon is equivalent to the time of the new-phase of the Moon (or to when 'the Moon rules all the day in the midst of the sky'). On only this day the Moon is completely absent from the night sky.

Based upon information shown on Scroll 4Q317, it can be recognized that the Moon was once very formally tracked in stages or increments which equate to parts of either daytime or nighttime, and not in specific whole-day units.

Thus, according to this very significant ancient interpretation, the lunar circuit progresses through 14 increments of waxing to the time of the reverse of the month (when 'the Moon enters the night'). The reverse of the lunar cycle is seemingly significant because it specifically marks the nighttime of the full-phase of Moon (a 1/2 stage when the whole Moon is uniquely visible in the night sky all evening). After this specific lunar-phase (the 1/2 stage on the night of the whole Moon), the lunar cycle can be counted through 14 specific increments of waning, and the cycle ultimately arrives at the other reverse of the month (a 1/2 stage when 'the Moon enters the day'). The latter reverse is also seemingly significant and it matches the day (the daylight portion) of the new-phase of Moon (the 1/2 stage on the daylight when Moon is completely invisible in the night sky).

From this ancient method of reversed month reckoning, it is ultimately elementary to quite simply count a formalized sequence of evenings and daylights across 14 remarkable stages to the special evening of the whole Moon. Following the evening of the whole Moon, a reversed sequence of daylights and evenings can be counted in 14 stages to the special daylight of new Moon.

Thus, it is extremely significant that the Moon Cycle can be formally counted in 14 increments of waxing (consisting of evenings + daylights) up to a mid-month reverse of the lunar cycle -- and then subsequently formally counted in 14 reversed increments of waning (consisting of daylights + evenings).

This formal lunar cycle arrangement -- consisting of waxing and waning stages of the Moon (in intriguing interplay with daylights and evenings) -- is quite remarkable (from both mathematical and logical viewpoints).

A math analysis proving the extremely close interface of this 14 1/2 stage progression -- as it reoccurs throughout each annual circuit -- is shown in a subsequent section.

Sabbath Time And New Moons

Scroll 4Q317 (as cited above), explicitly notes two equally spaced stages amid the lunar cycle (at the full-phase of the Moon, and also at new-phase of Moon).

This reconstructed scroll additionally notes the simultaneous appearance of 'Echad to Shabat' or 'first of the Sabbath' at precisely the two full and new-phase stages of the lunar circuit. This additional notation seems significant in that the cited text indicates that the roll-over of the week -- the peculiar 1/2 day unit -- occurred coincident to the two appearances of 'Echad to Shabat')! (Note that the second instance of 'Echad to Shabat' in the cited text is suspect due to indicated scroll damage-as noted above).

Thus -- based upon extant information found on Scroll 4Q317 -- Sabbath time can be recognized to have explicitly occurred at new month and also again at mid-month. (This does not imply that Sabbath time wasn't also counted in alignment with each seventh-day interval between the 14 stages).

Here it is important to recognize that the two respective intervals (with the 1/2 stage) equate to extended Sabbath time. Extended Sabbath time (amid a formal 14 1/2 stage progression) routinely occurred twice per month.

The first extended Sabbath interval included the additional evening when 'the Moon rules all the night in the midst of the sky', and the second extended Sabbath interval included the additional day-portion when 'the Moon rules all the day in the midst of the sky'

The startling conclusion concerning this probable early reckoning of Sabbath time seems to be that the Sabbath was very formally computed based upon the lunar cycle, and this formal reckoning explicitly included the two 1/2 stage intervals of extended Sabbath time (as documented).

The composite information from this period of ancient history seems to show that Sabbath time -- as it would have been counted under the established Temple -- was not counted in whole-day units but rather was reckoned in sequences of evenings and daylights (exactly as detailed on Scroll 4Q317).

In summary to the above (and to subsequent information), the following diagram attempts to depict the Sabbath and New Month Schedule as it once was formally observed across 14 stages of lunar waxing and 14 stages of lunar waning.

                                        Lunar Monthly Sabbath Schedule

The diagram -- as a composite summary of New Testament and Sea Scroll texts -- shows that the early Sabbath cycle was very formally counted. Amid this formal count the evening of the whole Moon was significant in delimiting the opposite, or reverse, of the lunar-month cycle and the daylight of the dark Moon was also significant in delimiting the other opposite, or reverse, of the lunar-month cycle.

This information indicates that the ancient Moon cycle was counted in stages (not actual days).

The significance of counting the month by lunar-stages is further evident from some of the scrolls (which are conspicuous in the usage of no more than a fixed count of 28 days in each lunar cycle):

"Not one fragment of 4Qenastr contains a complete description of days 15 and 30 for the (lunar) months of 30 days and of day 29 for the (lunar) months containing 29 days..." The Astronomical Books Of Enoch, by Milik. Pages 283-284).

"and in night 28 of this (month, the Moon) is covered by six sevenths and a half, and there is subtracted from its light [six sevenths and a half. And then it emerges (from the same door as before) and it shines during] the rest of this night with a half of a seventh (part). And it waxes during this day to its entirety. And then it sets and enters [the ... gate and is covered during the rest of] this day in its entirety and all the rest of its light is removed and its disc emerges, devoid of all light, hidden by the s[un ....". (4Qenastr, Pls. XXV-XXX).

"And in periods of seven days the moon undergoes its changes. In the first week she be comes half moon; in the second, full moon; and in the third, in her wane, again half moon; and in the fourth she disappears." (St. Clement of Alexandria [Second Century], The Stromata, or Miscellanies, Chapter 16).

An Astronomical Cycle Of Fourteen-Squared Phases

The peculiar subdivision of Sabbaths and New Moons -- by remarkable periods of 14 days of waxing followed by 14 days of waning -- is of considerable interest in the regard that a remarkable interface of 14-squared lunar quarter-phases can directly be identified based upon a conjunction of the Moon with the rate of the rotation of the Earth.

This conjunction arrives upon a count of 14-squared phases (or 14-times-14 phases) when the rate of the rotation of the Earth precisely aligns at an interface of one whole-day. Essentially, 14 phases times 14 phases are equal to a whole number of days (or 1447 of Earth's rotations).

This mysterious whole-day (or day and night) alignment at 1447 of Earth's rotations is also the same as seven-squared lunar periods, or 49 lunar cycles (as previously cited).

This interface at 49 lunar periods is interesting in the regard that during the Second Temple Era a progression of lunar cycles is indicated to have been accounted for in 1/2 day units (as cited). These specially accounted for 1/2 day units accrue to a total amount of time equivalent to 49 whole-days by the time of the cited whole-day conjunction at 49 lunar periods.

Lunar-Sabbath Terms

The above information indicates that Sabbath time was very formally counted. Of particular interest were the two monthly stages which contained extended Sabbath time (at the mid-month and at the new-month).

A formal method of counting a lunar-based Sabbath circuit is then quasi-complex. Throughout early Hebrew history it is apparent that a number of early understood terms were once used relative to the Sabbath cycle. Some of these early understood and used terms are obvious to modern comprehension (such as month, or Sabbath). However, some of the early understood terms are more difficult to understand.

One of the more interesting of the ancient terms can be extracted from out of the Greek version of the New Testament. This term 'Sabbatwn' (a plural form of the word 'Sabbaton') seems to pertain to the period of extended Sabbath time.

An example of the usage of this term as it relates to a period of extended Sabbath time (either mid-month or new-month) can be found in the New Testament Book of Colossians as follows:

"[To Early Christian Converts] Let no man judge you for eating and drinking or in part of an holyday, or of the new Moon, or of the 'Sabbatwn' [note the Greek word 'Sabbatwn' is a plural form of Sabbath time]" (Colossians, 3:16)

From this passage it is clear that early Christians were celebrating -- at least -- the new Moon. This passage also cites an interval referred to as 'Sabbatwn' (a plural form which seems to imply an extended amount of Sabbath time).

Ultimately, the Greek word 'Sabbatwn' (in the complete context of its New Testament usage) can rather clearly be demonstrated to have been a formal lunar-cycle term. This plural period of Sabbath time has to refer to either the specific extended Sabbath interval in the middle of the lunar cycle, or also the extended Sabbath interval which straddled the new-phase of the lunar cycle.

This specific period of extended Sabbath time (the 'Sabbatwn'), as noted in the Book of Colossians above, would have appeared opposite the new Moon (and specifically would have corresponded to the second Sabbath of the lunar-month cycle plus the evening of the full-phase of Moon.

A Unique Sabbath Calendar

Based upon previously presented information, it should be easy to recognize that extended Sabbath time did formally occur in the ancient calendar.

Based upon the pentecontad model -- as previously documented -- it should be clear that extended Sabbath time occurred in association with two rates: a lunar cycle rate; and a solar cycle rate.

The lunar cycle rate was formally counted in 14 1/2 stages (not by specific whole days), and a solar or Sun cycle rate may have formally counted in seven-week segments plus 1 whole day.

These two codependent timing rates (both lunar and solar) would chronologically clock together as shown in the following diagram:

                    Lunar And Solar Sabbath Rates

Based upon the indicated solar rate, its easy to recognize the unique appearance of a singular or One date. This day would formally have appeared following the count of each seventh Sabbath.

Here, it seems important to note that the two rates -- as diagrammed above -- both coincide together each seven lunar cycles. Essentially, the One date coincides with the same respective Moon phase every seven lunar-months.

Josephus, the Jewish historian of the late First Century, seems to have explicitly referred to these two rates when describing the religious calendar practiced under the Second Temple. He noted a formal count of lunar-based Sabbaths, and also formal count of solar-based Sabbaths (in association with the harvest cycle):

"The law requires... a lamb of the first year be killed every day, at the beginning and at the ending of the day; but on the seventh day, which is called the Sabbath, they kill two... At the new moon... they slay two bulls, with seven lambs, and a kid of the goats also... if they have sinned through ignorance. ... In the... beginning of our year, on the fourteenth day of the lunar month, when the sun is in Aries,... we ... every year slay ... the Passover... The feast of unleavened bread succeeds that of the passover, and falls on the fifteenth day of the month, and continues seven days... but ... on the sixteenth day ... they first partake of the fruits of the earth [the beginning of a formal harvest cycle]... and after this they may ... reap their harvest... When a week of weeks has passed... on the fiftieth day, which is Pentecost, but is called by the Hebrews 'Asartha', which signifies Pentecost, they [feast]." (From: Antiquities, Book III,X:1-6)

Notice carefully how Josephus -- at first -- details the lunar-based Sabbath Cycle (as belonging in alignment with each lunar month).

Josephus -- secondarily -- details a solar-based Sabbath Cycle as belonging amid a formal count of weeks in interface with the annual cycle (or belonging amid a formal count of seven week cycles -- as also previously documented).

The Stromata (Second Century) shows the explicit early (Christian) commemoration of a Great Day (or eighth day) as follows:

"[Peter] inferred thus: 'Neither worship as [some] Jews... [for] if the moon be not visible, they do not hold the Sabbath, which is called the first; nor do they hold the new moon, nor ... the great day.'" (Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata, or Miscellanies, Chapter 5).

This date: the Great Day (which presumably appeared as an eighth day each seventh week, or perhaps which appeared in association with the festival of Tabernacles, or both) is indicated to very much be relative to lunar cycle timing rates.

It seems significant that the Stromata specifically shows the appearance of this Great Day as being dependent upon both Sabbath observance and upon proper observance of the lunar circuit.

First century sources seem to amply show an interrupted Sabbath count (by the periodic appearance of an eighth day).

Interestingly, if the rate of a seven weeks count (plus 1 day, or an 8th day) is added to the rate of 14 stages of the Moon (plus new Moon and whole Moon -- as previously cited) then a remarkable Sabbath Calendar is achievable (one which precisely, logically, and formally interfaces with both the Moon, and also with the annual solar circuit).

It seems that a continuous cycle of lunar-based Sabbaths -- if cycled 7 times 7 -- comprises the length of 49 lunar weeks (or 49 lunar phases), and it follows that this seven-squared count-over average time -- is equal to one annual cycle (as previously cited).

A Precise Annual Cycle Interface

One of the most fascinating attributes of an astronomical count of seven-squared days (or 49 days) are the two extraneous rates of the Earth's rotation, or: 1) One extraneous Earth's rotation for each lunar cycle; and: 2) One extraneous Earth's rotation for each seventh part of the annual solar circuit (as documented).

These two rates of extraneous whole days very precisely align together on an annual basis-as follows:

Essentially, a run of seven cycles of seven-squared days (plus the extraneous days) exceeds the rate of seven-squared lunar phases by the precise amount of 1/2 day (or by 0.5001 day).

This very precise 1/2 day overlap is seemingly a deliberately crafted feature of the annual cycle!

The overlap interface could perhaps be interpreted that once each annual cycle the line-up 'Sabbatwn' plus 'a solar Sabbath' -- which normally represents an extended count of 1 1/2 days -- be counted as only 1 day.

Perceptually, at one time in each annual circuit, the 'Sabbatwn' (a 1/2 stage occurring amid the lunar cycle) would come together with, or overlap on top of, a 'jubilee day' (a solar Sabbath day).

This special 1 day overlap in a cycle of seven-weeks (only once per year) is seemingly mentioned in Jubilees, 6:16-22: "...they should celebrate the festival of weeks during this renewal -- once a year -- to renew the covenant each and every year...it is the 'festival of weeks' and it is 'the festival of firstfruits'. This festival is twofold and of two kinds...".

Because the 'Sabbatwn' corresponds to either the extended evening of the whole Moon (a « day interval), or to an extended interval for the dark Moon (also a 1/2 day interval), then the ultimate annual overlap of the 'Sabbatwn' interval with a solar Sabbath day must have been an important calendar event in the religion of the ancient Middle East. Indeed, the intersection of "Dawn" and "Dusk" was once specially celebrated. History graphically shows just how this important epoch was counted and observed (as a feature of the jubilee cycle):

"... the jubilee year followed seven sabbatical cycles. ... A Ugaritic liturgical text specially designed for this phenomenon aims at terminating a sabbatical cycle of privation and ushering in one of fertility by celebrating the birth and triumphal entrance of... Shahar ("Dawn") and Shalim ("Dusk"), whose advent brings an abundance of food and wine" (britannica.com: Middle Eastern religion).

Thus, this peculiar annual overlap is indicated to have been carefully counted by ancient priests (as part of the harvest circuit).

On only one remarkable annual day (probably on a lunar 'Sabbatwn' closest to the vernal or autumnal equinox) the conjunction of a solar Sabbath day occurred (the advent of both "Dawn" and "Dusk" together). Incredibly, this significant epoch (a probable 'Sabbatwn' overlap) can actually be astronomically identified as a feature of the annual cycle (the time when a stage of the Moon cycle overlaps with one of the seven divisions of the Sun circle).

This unusual overlap definition may be critical information, both for understanding the early practice and count of the Jubilee Calendar, and also for understanding and interpreting the Earth-Moon system (as a logical model).

It minimally seems -- and very amazingly so -- that a formal count of seven Solar-Sabbaths is indicated (mathematically, logically, and historically) to interface with a normalized or formally expressed cycle of New Moons.

Ultimately, it isn't unreasonable to at least speculate that a peculiar formal count of 14 1/2 lunar stages once had large significance: 1) For tracking Sabbath time; 2) For delimiting the length of the annual cycle; and even: 3) For determining 'the division of days' on an annual basis (between nighttime or daytime).

Based upon the indicated annual overlap it is interesting to note that a reverse of lunar stages would annually occur from 'stages of night and day' to 'stages of day and night'. Essentially, something on the order of a reversed sequence of lunar stages would be counted across alternate years. (To compound this interpretation, the rates of X1 and at X2 would also need to be accounted for.)

Here, it is of some interest to note that the Hebrew word for the annual cycle or year is 'Shaneh' -- a word which literally means two-folded. (This term may encompass the definition of a reversed count of lunar stages in alternate years).

The indicated seven annual Sabbaths (or Sun Sabbaths), and their annual interface with a progression of Moon Sabbaths (an overlap of either day or night) tends to point toward a cycle of 14 (or even more) Sun Sabbaths (involving day and night counts across 14 Moon stages). Thus, seven Sun Sabbaths may have ultimately been formally counted in 14 increments, or 7 + 7 pentecontads... (inline with an extended count of 7 + 7 lunar stages...).

A formal count of 14 annual Sabbaths may ultimately have been significant in the determination of festival time. One -- or possibly two -- of the festivals are indicated to have occurred in association with an extraneous lunar phase (or the X1 and X2 signs, as previously documented). Logically, this indicated festival might have occurred in association with a periodically appearing 15th Sun Sabbath, and it would have lasted for seven, or eight days (or for the average length of one phase). (For further information of this very speculative analysis, refer to Leviticus, Chapter 23).

Essentially, through a count of lunar stages revolving into a larger count of solar stages (both involving the specific determination of either ' day and night', or 'night and day'), a very sophisticated Earth-Moon interpretation is indicated to have once been practiced under the Temple system.

It is of further interest to note that a lunar-based jubilee progression (with the reoccurring signs at X1 and at X2) produces a long time cycle which requires 600 years to complete. Essentially, the same phase of the lunar cycle revolves into the same alignment with a count of the annual cycle signs only once every 600 years. Very remarkably Josephus, the Jewish priest-historian of the First Century, noted in Antiquities (1:3:9) that the 'Great Year' reoccurs in the interval of 600 years. This piece of information tends to reinforce the fact that early Jewish astronomers were counting Earth-Moon cycles in specific counts of jubilee signs.


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