Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):

The Wilderness of Sin and the Lunar Sabbath!

In Exodus 16 YEHOVAH God was showing the Israelites that His Sabbath days were to fall on the days of the month CORRESPONDING TO THE MOON'S PHASES, thus revealing that the weekly Sabbaths were to be observed using THE SAME CALENDAR or reckoning used to determine the annual Sabbaths or feast days!

by John D. Keyser

Not only did the first Holy Day of Unleavened Bread fall on the weekly Sabbath in 31 AD., but it ALWAYS fell on the weekly Sabbath! How do we know this? Because the weekly Sabbath is tied to the moon just like the Holy Days! YEHOVAH God outlined this truth to Moses and the Children of Israel when they came out of Egypt. After the ten plagues and the Exodus from Egypt at the end of the 12th and 13th dynasties, YEHOVAH God led Moses and the Israelites to the Wilderness of Sin where He revealed to them His TRUE Sabbath day. We read about this in Exodus, chapter 16 --

"And they departed from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sina; and ON THE FIFTEENTH DAY, IN THE SECOND MONTH after their departure from the land of Egypt, all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron. And the children of Israel said to them, Would we had died smitten by the LORD in the land of Egypt, When we sat by the flesh-pots, and ate bread to satiety! for ye have brought us out in this wilderness, to slay all this congregation with hunger. And the LORD said to Moses, Behold, I will rain bread upon you out of heaven: and the people shall go forth, and they shall gather their daily portion for the day, that I may try them whether they will walk in My law or not" (Septuagint version).

This passage highlights TWO main points, (1) the Israelites murmured against Moses and Aaron on THE 15TH DAY OF THE SECOND MONTH after leaving Egypt and, (2) YEHOVAH God was planning to test the Israelites to see if they would WALK IN HIS LAW OR NOT. The intriguing part of this whole passage is where Moses mentions THE EXACT DAY that the Israelites murmured against him and Aaron in the wilderness. NOWHERE ELSE in the narrative of the Israelites' journey from Egypt to the Promised Land is an exact date mentioned! This clearly indicates that this date was VERY IMPORTANT TO YEHOVAH GOD -- and that He wanted the Israelites to remember it. Also, on this same date, He was going to teach the Israelites something very important; He was going to test them and see if they would obey Him or not. What was this important lesson? Let's continue on with Exodus 16 --

" 'And it shall be on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be TWICE AS MUCH as they gather daily.' Then Moses and Aaron said to all the children of Israel, 'At evening you shall know that the LORD has brought you out of the land of Egypt. And in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD; for He hears your murmurings against the LORD. But what are we, that you murmur against us?'....

"Now it came to pass, as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, THE GLORY OF THE LORD APPEARED IN THE CLOUD. And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 'I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel. Speak to them, saying, "At twilight [between the two evenings] you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. And you shall know that I am the LORD your God." 'So it was that quail came up at evening and covered the camp..." (Verses 5-13).

This day -- the 15TH DAY OF THE SECOND MONTH -- was so important to YEHOVAH God that He appeared in the cloud before the Israelites, and then caused thousands (maybe millions) of quail to be blown into the Israelites' camp "between the two evenings," i.e. the afternoon of the 15th. WHY was this day so important to YEHOVAH? Writes Herbert W. Armstrong --

"I will show you that God was speaking to them [the children of Israel] on a SABBATH. It is evident that the Eternal first preached to men on the FIRST SABBATH. Adam was created on the sixth day of the creation week. Evidently he was created in the late afternoon, since the creation of man was the last act of creation on that day. When the sun had set, immediately after Adam's creation, God preached to him, offering him the GIFT of eternal life (through the tree of life), and warning [him] that the wages of sin is DEATH (Gen. 2:15-17).

"And here God is again preaching to Israel, through Moses, ON THE SABBATH" (Which Day is the Christian Sabbath. Ambassador College Press, pp. 30-31).

Now let's continue with the narrative in Exodus 16:

"...and in the morning the dew lay all around the camp. And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground. So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, 'What is it?' For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, 'This is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.' "

And now YEHOVAH God starts to teach the Israelites about the Sabbath --

"So they gathered it every morning, every man according to his need. And when the sun became hot, it melted. And so it was on THE SIXTH DAY, that they gathered TWICE AS MUCH BREAD, two omers for each one. And all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. Then he said to them, 'This is what the LORD has said: "TOMORROW IS A SABBATH REST, A HOLY SABBATH TO THE LORD. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning!" ' So they laid it up till morning, as Moses commanded; and it did not stink, nor were there any worms in it. Then Moses said, 'Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. SIX DAYS YOU SHALL GATHER IT, but on the SEVENTH DAY, which is THE SABBATH, there will be none.' "

As is normal with human nature, some of the Israelites went out on the seventh day looking for the manna (bread) --

"Now it happened that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none. And the LORD said to Moses, 'How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws? See! For the LORD has GIVEN YOU THE SABBATH; therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.' So the people RESTED ON THE SEVENTH DAY" (verses 13-30).

We see here that, starting on the 15th day of the month, YEHOVAH God provided food for all the Israelites. Then, on the seventh day after the 15th, He did not provide any manna -- thereby showing that this day (the 22nd day of the month) was a SABBATH. Obviously, if the 15th was seven days before the 22nd, it too was a Sabbath day! This Herbert Armstrong clearly understood. We can see here that YEHOVAH God was revealing His weekly Sabbath cycle for the Israelites. If the 15th and the 22nd were Sabbath days, so too were the 8th and the 29th days of the month! So we here see a pattern -- the 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th. What significance do these dates have? Just this -- THEY CORRESPOND TO THE PHASES OF THE MOON!! YEHOVAH God was showing the Israelites that His Sabbath days were to fall on the days of the month CORRESPONDING TO THE MOON'S PHASES, thus revealing that the weekly Sabbaths were to be observed using THE SAME CALENDAR or reckoning used to determine the annual Sabbaths or feast days!

Unfortunately, Herbert Armstrong never made the connection (to our knowledge) between these Sabbath days in Exodus 16 and the phases of the moon.

In the booklet Proof That Weekly Sabbath Days Are Determined By the Moon, author Arnold Bowen DOES make the connection -- notice!

"What about Joseph, he too was a ruler in Egypt and had power over all Egypt to enforce a Lunar Sabbath with no problem whatsoever. History records that both of these countries (Babylon and Egypt) at one time observed the Lunar Sabbaths. There are Historical records proving the Babylonian calendar was by the Moon, and the Egyptians were the first to abandon the Lunar calendar.

"We know that another Pharaoh arose who knew not Joseph, and the children of Israel were forced to abandon the rests of YHWH until the Father heard their groaning and once again gave them rest, and it was on a Sabbath (15th) when He delivered their shoulders from the burdens and their hands from the pots.

"Would it not make sense to restore the Sabbath that was lost under Egypt's bondage on the Sabbath, whether Saturday, Sunday, or the 15th? He later made His Sabbaths known to Moses and THEY WERE STILL ON THE 8TH, 15TH, 22ND, AND 29TH OF THE MOON [MONTH] (Ex. 16)" (page 43).

Regarding the Israelites' new understanding of YEHOVAH God's weekly Sabbath, Hutton Webster makes the following observations --

"The brief prohibitions of work found in the Pentateuch cannot be separated, by any subtleties of exegesis, from the numerous other taboos with which the institution was invested. The rest on the Sabbath is only one of the forms of abstinence in CONNECTION WITH LUNAR CHANGES; and if the Sabbath began as a festival at NEW MOON and FULL MOON, it may well have been observed BY THE ISRAELITES BEFORE THEIR CONTACT WITH CANAANITISH CULTURE" (Rest Days: The Christian Sunday, the Jewish Sabbath, and Their Historical and Anthropological Prototypes, Republished by Omnigraphics, Detroit, MI 1992, p. 246).

Referring to a passage in the Book of Isaiah, Webster writes the following:

"Elsewhere, in the same work appears the prophecy: 'And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, saith Jehovah.'

"This remarkable association of the Sabbath with the day of new moon had been previously noticed by such acute critics as Wellhausen and Robertson Smith, who were unable to offer a satisfactory solution of the problem thus presented. When, however, the cuneiform records disclosed the fact that the Babylonian shabattum fell on the fifteenth (or fourteenth) day of the [lunar] month and referred to the day of the full moon, it became clear that in these Biblical passages we have another survival of what must have been the PRIMARY meaning of the Hebrew term shabbath....

"How long-lived were the old ideas is further illustrated by the provision in Ezekiel's reforming legislation that the inner eastern gate of the new Temple at Jerusalem should be shut DURING THE SIX WORKING DAYS, but should be opened ON THE SABBATH AND ON THE NEW-MOON day for the religious assemblage of the people. That the term shabbath, the designation of the full-moon day, should have come to be applied to every seventh day of the [lunar] month seems to be quite in accord with both Babylonian and Hebrew usage, which, as we have seen, led the month itself to be called after the new-moon day" (ibid., pages 252 and 253).

However, the Israelites -- in rank disobedience to YEHOVAH's commands -- cut the lunar week (with its Sabbath) loose from the moon's phases. Notice!

"The celebration of new-moon and full-moon festivals, which both Babylonians and Hebrews appear to have derived FROM A COMMON SEMITIC ANTIQUITY, underwent, in fact, a radically unlike evolution among the two kindred peoples. To DISSEVER the week from the lunar month, to employ it as a recognized calendrical unit, and to fix upon ONE DAY OF THE WEEK [Saturday in our Gregorian Calendar] for the exercises of religion were MOMENTOUS INNOVATIONS, which, until evidence to the contrary is found, MUST BE ATTRIBUTED TO THE HEBREW PEOPLE ALONE.

"...the Hebrews employed lunar seven-day weeks, perhaps for several centuries preceding the Exile; weeks, that is, which ended with special observances on the seventh day but none the less were TIED TO THE MOON'S COURSE.... (ibid., pages 254 and 255).

"The establishment of a periodic week ending in a Sabbath observed every seventh day was doubtless responsible for the gradual obsolescence of the new-moon festival as a period of general abstinence, since with CONTINUOUS WEEKS the new-moon day and the Sabbath would from time to time coincide" (Ibid., page 255).

Since YEHOVAH God set the weekly Sabbath to follow the phases of the moon -- and clearly revealed His calendar to the Israelites in the Wilderness of Sin --  then it will always fall on the 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th days of the lunar month. Clearly, then, since the 15th is always a weekly Sabbath it, too, always fails on the first Holy Day of Unleavened Bread since this Holy Day is always on Nisan 15!

For more information on YEHOVAH's Sabbath day, send for our articles, Have We Been Observing the Sabbath At the Wrong Time All These Years? and From Sabbath to Saturday: The Story of the Jewish Rest Day.


Hope of Israel Ministries -- Proclaiming the Good News of the Soon-Coming Kingdom of YEHOVAH God Here On This Earth!

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

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