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114: Paper: A Case For The Biblical Calendar

This paper was presented to COGWA in 2014, resulting in the disfellowshipment of the author for daring to submit such a paper for study by their Doctrinal Committee.

Paper: A Case For The Biblical Calendar

Andrew J. Henderson

March 2014

To the reader:

This paper is divided into 3 distinct parts.

Section I-V covers the extensive Scriptural foundation for an Observational Based Luni/Solar Calendar, and illustrates the lack of scriptural foundation for the Calculated Rabbinic Calendar (commonly referred to as the “Hebrew Calendar”)

Section VI will demonstrate history is clear on which calendar was followed by Jesus Christ and ancient Israel. This will be accomplished by using the same Jewish and academic sources cited in the COGWA “Hebrew Calendar Study Paper.” Section VI is crucial to understanding exactly which calendar was followed by our Creator and Messiah, and thus, which calendar should be followed by the COG today.

The Appendix provides supporting information on biblical new moons and answers questions asked by COGWA in their calendar paper. The Appendix will contain many of the scriptural examples of new moon observance and practical answers as to how a Christian is to observe a new moon today.

This author humbly requests if the scriptural conclusions or historical information presented is deemed to be in error, the Doctrinal Committee demonstrate to this author where error was made. No one is above correction, myself included. Thank you for taking the time to consider this important issue.

 

Table and Description of Contents

Section I:   Scripture is sufficient for establishing doctrine………………………………………5

Section II:  Our Creator did supply a calendar in His holy scripture……………………………..8

Section III: God’s Biblical Calendar is simple enough to understand and be used by every member of the COG family, young and old……………………………………………………..12

Section IV: The Rabbinic Hebrew Calendar is not supported by scripture, and cannot be used by the majority of COG membership including the ministry……………………………………….18

Section V: No man, Jew or Gentile, has authority to change God’s calendar………………..…23

Section VI: History and Jewish academia agree the Calculated Rabbinic Hebrew Calendar was not the calendar followed by Jesus Christ or ancient Israel. Rabbinic Jews admit they will return back to the Biblical Observation based Luni-Solar calendar once a new Sanhedrin is established……………………………………………………………………………………….27

The Appendix:

Appendix A: Who in the Bible celebrated new moons?……………………………………………………39

Appendix B: How are Christians today supposed to observe new moons?………………………….42

Appendix C: How to “calculate” Holy day dates using new moons…………………………..45

Appendix D: Answers to COGWA’s questions ………..………………………………………47

*All Biblical scriptures will be in red and from the King James Version

Disclaimer: This author will present quotes made in the COGWA “Hebrew Calendar Paper” solely for the purpose of demonstrating the traditional, and long held teachings of the COG. The intention of this author is not to accuse, insult, or impute motive. Our desire is to turn God’s people back to His commanded precepts, while attempting to offer truth in love. No offense is intended when directly quoting the COGWA paper.

 

Section I: Sufficiency of Scripture

“Biblical references to the calendar are scarce and not sufficient to answer all the questions that are important for establishing calendar principles”. (COGWA Hebrew Calendar paper p.4)

2 Tim 3:16-17“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works”.

Paul states Scripture can be:

– Used to establish doctrinal beliefs or correct doctrinal beliefs

– Instruct in righteousness

– And equip us to be perfect and thoroughly furnished

If Paul was inspired to make this statement in regard to scripture, why would God’s calendar be exempt?

Psalm 19:7- “The Law of the LORD is perfect.”

The word used for “perfect” in Hebrew is “tamiym,” meaning: whole, complete, without blemish, full. (Strong’s Concordance)

If the word of God is whole, full, and complete, we should be able to find answers on the calendar within His inspired word.

“It is clear that over the centuries the Jews developed an incredibly accurate calendar.” (COGWA Hebrew Calendar paper p. 11).

If God’s scripture is given for doctrine, and His Law is perfect, whole and complete, why did it take 10 centuries after the death of Christ to achieve an accurate calendar?

Does this mean the calendar followed before Christ was not accurate? Did our Creator need the help of a people who denied Him, to come up with immensely complex calculations over centuries? Calculations which can only be used by a select few academic elites, and not the average COG member or minister?

Is our Creator really this secretive? Or, has man complicated a matter which was originally understood by ancient Israel? Understanding that was based on Holy Scripture, and logic derived from that understanding?

In Gen :14 our Creator declares the heavenly lights are to be used for appointed times/festivals, and a command was given to blow a trumpet at the beginning of the “moon.” (“ChodeshNumbers 10:10)

Question: Would Moses sound the trumpet declaring the new moon at a time he saw nothing in the sky? The Rabbinic Hebrew Calendar used by most of the COG today, places the beginning of each month during the time of complete darkness of the moon. Is it not reasonable to deduce, that since Moses had no telescope or advanced mathematics, he understood to watch for the light of God’s moon to establish appointed times?

To suppose God’s calendar has been a long journey of unclear and ever changing secretive ideas, does not appear consistent with God’s character.

Cor 14:33“For God is not the author of confusion.”

If God is not an author of confusion, Scripture is given for doctrine, and His Law is perfect, whole, and lacking in nothing, why would we look to men for our answers? If we are to follow men at all, shouldn’t we follow them only as they follow Jesus Christ and obey His commandments?

John 8:31- “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.”

Christ’s true disciples continue in His word, and do not change away from it. As we will see in Section VI of this paper, the Jews have openly admitted they changed away from the “former system” of “visual observation” commanded in the Torah. They even admit they will one day return back to those commandments.

If we are to seek truth on any subject, it must be founded and supported entirely on the Word of God.

Acts 17:11- “…and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”

The Bereans tested all things by the Scripture. They understood anything brought to them as truth, needed to be substantiated in the word of God, and not simply accepted because of any testimony by a man claiming authority.

Isa 28:9-10- “Whom shall he teach knowledge? And whom shall he make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little”

God instructs we must use sound judgment and put together instructions contained in His Word to form a complete picture. If one area of the Bible appears scarce, then we must put together what has been supplied elsewhere in the scripture to know God’s intent and purpose.

Scripture must be the beginning and end of any matter for God’s faithful followers.

Section II: God Supplied a Calendar in Scripture

Psalm 104:19 He appointed the moon for seasons:

Typically, we think of seasons as spring/summer/fall/winter. But, the Hebrew word for “seasons” is “mo’ade” which means an appointment or fixed time, specifically a festival & time of assembling. God created the moon so we could be able to calculate His Feast days.

So, how does one use the moon to establish seasons, appointed times, and festival dates?

Gen 1:14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

It is interesting David used the same word for “seasons,” as Moses did when directly quoting the Creator of the Universe. They both used the word “mo’ade.”  God inspired David to say the moon is for “seasons” (festivals), and Moses to say the two LIGHTS are used for signs, “seasons” (festivals), for days and years.

If the sun divides time into days, weeks and years, and the moon into months………

Then God did in fact give us a fully complete way to keep time, and determine the dates of His holy festivals. *He gave us His holy calendar!*

What are the main components of any calendar?

Days, weeks, months, and years.

Now let’s break things down so we can understand how the lights in the firmament, the sun and moon, are sufficient to establish a complete calendar.

First: By examining the way our Creator set theses LIGHTS in the firmament, we can determine the sun can only be used for days (sunset to sunset), weeks (7 sunset to sunsets), and years (365 sunset to sunsets).

The sun CANNOT be used alone to determine months. Think about it: If you woke up from a coma in the middle of a month, let’s say on the 14th of that month, how would you be able to determine what day of the month it was based solely on the sun? You couldn’t.

Though it would be possible to count how many days and weeks pass based on the number of sunsets, you could not say what day of the month it was by only using the sun only. In fact, our Gregorian calendar follows no set astronomic principle in dividing up a year into months. It was divided up by the Romans to pay tribute to Pagan deities like Janus, Jupiter, Mars and the like. For example, there is no set astronomical principle for making February shorter than other months. The earth does not change its orbit in February, nor does the moon. It is also important to point out the moon cannot be used accurately to begin and end days, because it does not rise and set consistently within a 24 hour period as does the sun. Therefore: Only the sun can be used for days, weeks, and years.

Now the moon on the other hand, is a visible sign which has a set monthly cycle. (Side note: The word “month” is derived from the word “moon,” literally Moonth). Within a “month” the moon makes a full rotation around the earth on an average of approximately 29.5 days (it is an average due to the slightly irregular orbit of the moon). This means it waxes (visibly appears), becomes full about mid-month (total illumination), wanes (visibly disappears), then is not visible to the naked eye for a few days, when finally a new visible crescent moon reappears.  All this occurs within approximately 29.5 days on average. The period of darkness when the moon is not visible to the naked eye due to its position directly between the earth and the sun (all light reflected back at the sun, no light reflected to the earth)  is called the “conjunction.”

Let’s go back to our coma example. If we woke up from our coma and could visibly see the moon, we would be able to tell what day of the month it was, or at least estimate where we were in the month. Then once the moon completed a full cycle of waxing, total illumination, waning into complete darkness (“conjunction”), and then reappearing, we would know a new month had begun! From there we could count the days of the month. This is what God expected Moses to understand when He gave him the “lights” for “seasons”, and specific days of specific months on which His people were to declare His festivals. For example: Passover is the 14th day of the 1st month. (Exodus 12).

  1. Psalm 104:19 He appointed the moon for seasons: (mo’ade)Gen 1:14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons (mo’ade), and for days, and years:

By using the sun to count days, weeks, and years, and the moon for months, God provided mankind a fully complete way to determine time.

Thus, God gave man a fully formed calendar contained in scripture!  And since we use both the sun and the moon to keep time, this means God’s Calendar is a Luni-Solar calendar.

————————————————————————————-

Light vs. Darkness

So, this is where the debate really begins. How according to scripture did God expect His people to determine the beginning of a month, which would then determine the dates of His festivals?

Let’s go back to Genesis 1:14 and read through to verse 18 to find the answer:

Gen 1:14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons (festivals), and for days, and years:

15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,

18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.”

Clearly, according to scripture we are to use the light of the heavenly bodies to keep time and determine God’s holy festivals. Notice there are 8 references to light, and only one for darkness which was only to contrast the light.

This is the center of the debate. Did God expect man to use the light of the heavenly bodies to begin a month, or the darkness? The calculated Rabbinic Hebrew Calendar averages the time of conjunction (total moon darkness) to establish far in advance, when a month begins. According to the Rabbinic Hebrew Calendar each month always begins during the mean time of conjunction, which will always occur during the time of complete darkness of the moon. Does this seem consistent with the words of our Creator?

To be clear: The calculated Rabbinic Hebrew Calendar uses the dark period of conjunction when the moon is not visible to the naked eye, and then employs immensely complex calculations to establish in advance, the beginning of each month during a period of complete darkness of the moon.

This averaged period of darkness is misleadingly called the “new moon” on our Gregorian calendars, and is called the “Molad,” or “theoretical beginning of the new month” by Rabbinic Jews. The Jews consider it the “theoretical beginning” because it is not really the beginning of a month according to Holy Scripture.

“The moment that the moon passes between the Earth and the sun is called the Molad – the birth of the moon. It is the theoretical beginning of the new month” (Understanding the Jewish Calendar, Rabbi Nathan Bushwick, pp.39-40)

Môlêd is a Hebrew word meaning renewal, rejuvenescence. It would be properly applied to the phase of the moon at the instant of time when her Conjunction with the Sun takes place. It is, however, commonly used not for the actual time of New Moon, but for the computed time, which governs the commencement of each year and of each Cycle…The length of a Lunation, as adopted by the founders of the present permanent calendar, is a constant quantity, whereas the Lunations of the true Moon are variable in their duration. The Moon of the Jewish [“Hebrew”] Calendar is a mean or average Moon moving uniformly, in the same way as the artificial Moon of Hilarius which is used in the Julian and Gregorian Calendars.” (S.B. Burnaby, “Elements of the Jewish and Muhammadan Calendars”, London: George Bell & Sons, 1901, p.40)

The calculated Rabbinic Hebrew Calendar does not use the light of the moon, but in fact the darkness, which appears to contradict scripture. Their moon is “artificial,” and the beginnings of their months “theoretical.” David said the moon is for seasons/appointed times, God said the light is to be used for seasons/appointed times; therefore we should only use the light of the moon to establish God’s holy festival times.

*It is essential for all members of the COG to understand that ancient Israel in the First and Second Temple Periods, including the time of Jesus Christ and 3 centuries after His death, diligently followed and preserved God’s Biblical Calendar as presented above. It wasn’t until 359 AD when Rabbinic Jew Hillel II (head of the Sanhedrin) officially changed the calendar from a visual confirmation of the light of the moon, to a solely calculated calendar. It then took nearly 800 more years of debate, gross error, and controversy among the Jews, before the Rabbins finally finished the Rabbinic Hebrew calendar late in the 10th century AD. This is the calendar the COGs use today. The Jews plainly admit this history. They also admit plans to return back to the visual confirmation calendar contained in the Torah, once a new Sanhedrin is established. (This will be sufficiently demonstrated in Section VI. Please also watch the linked video found on page 24 and 31 to see and hear the Rabbins plainly admit this)*

 

Section III: The Simplicity of God

*Within a half hour or so, any member of the COG can understand God’s Biblical calendar contained in scripture. Conversely, the majority of all COG members and ministry cannot currently use the Calculated Rabbinic Calendar because of its sheer complexity.

Let’s Illustrate……..

  1. God gave the light of the moon to establish His holy time
  2. He gave Moses numerical dates on specific months to declare His appointed times
  3. He set the moon in its orbit, and established the Lunar Month to average approximately 29.5 days (note: this is not the author’s opinion, but established scientific fact)

That means a lunar month can only be 29 or 30 days in length. To be clear, a lunar month cannot be shorter than 29 days, and cannot be longer than 30 days. (This is because we cannot have a .5, or “half day”)

Therefore, the first light of the visible crescent moon witnessed after the time of conjunction (total darkness) is declared the 1st day of a month. Then, if a Holy day is on the 14th of that month, we simply count to the 14th day. It’s that easy! (Remember a day according to God’s calendar begins at sunset, so that is when we are to look for a new moon).

Then, once the moon wanes again into total darkness, we would begin to look in the sky for the moon to reappear. Since a month cannot be shorter than 29 days, we would expect the moon to reappear no sooner than sunset ending day 29, and no later than sunset ending day 30.

If the light of the moon is not observed on sunset ending day 29 for any reason (ie: poor weather, not enough illumination), then we continue to look onto sunset ending day 30.

Since a lunar month can never be longer than 30 days (remember the average lunar month is approximately 29.5 days due to the slightly irregular orbit of the moon). Even if the moon cannot be visualized on sunset ending day 30 for any reason (ie: cloud cover/poor weather conditions…..relatively rare in Jerusalem), sunset ending day 30/beginning day 31 would automatically be declared the new moon day and the beginning of the next month.

This is not an addition to scripture, and let’s see why…..

God said He gave the light of the moon to establish holy time. We know from astronomy and simple observation that a lunar month can never be less than 29 days, and never more than 30. Therefore, we count from the first day of the visible moon, which God gave for holy time, and wait until we see the next new visible crescent after the conjunction. Remember, it was God who created all things who established this cycle! All we are doing is observing the moon which God set in the heavens, and commanded be used for appointed times. (Psalm 104:19) This is the same method practiced by ancient Israel, including the time of Jesus Christ. (see Section VI) The principle of using the light of the moon is fully established in scripture, and we must use sound judgment founded on the scripture when the light cannot be confirmed.

*For more on how to “calculate” holy day dates according to the Biblical Calendar, see Appendix C*

The next major question is from where do we determine a new moon has been sighted?

New Moons are to be declared from Jerusalem.

Let’s confirm with scripture:

  1. Jerusalem is where God placed His name and it is natural His holy times would be centered in the land which He chose to allow His name to be placed forever.

2nd Chr. 6:6 “But I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there”.

2nd Chr 7:16 “For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there forever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually”

If God’s eyes are perpetually on Jerusalem where he places His name, then our eyes should be directed there as well to see when He will declare His appointed times.

2) Future believers will come to Jerusalem to worship God. If it will be this way in His Kingdom, then Jerusalem must be central for the basis of all His works. It is also the same place all mankind will go when finally observing the Feast of Tabernacles (Zech 14:16).

Is 66:23- 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 the Lord.

This prophecy declares all flesh will worship God on new moons! And where will they come to worship? Jerusalem. Taking time each month to shift our eyes to Jerusalem helps us remember our future calling and purpose. It reaffirms God’s future plan, which is precisely why new moons are included in Paul’s list of events that are a “shadow of things to come”(Col 2:17).

Why do we use Is 66:23 as a defense for Sabbath observance, but disregard the new moons mentioned on which “shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord”?

  1. God’s people must observe appointed times on the same day. Just as we keep the weekly Sabbath within the same 24 hour day of Jerusalem, we must keep appointed times within the same 24 day. Depending on where you are on earth, you may be able to visualize a new crescent before other areas of the world. For example, in North America we are 7-10 hours behind Jerusalem, which means we have an extra 7-10 hours for the moon to advance along its orbit. It is possible that those in Jerusalem may not be able to visualize a new moon on say sunset ending day 29 for whatever reason (ie: not enough of moon is illuminated, poor weather), but 7-10 hours later in the US, because the moon continued to advance along its orbit, enough of the moon may be illuminated for those in the US. Or maybe we have better visibility? If we were to declare a new moon at sunset US time 7-10 hours later when it was not seen in Jerusalem, we would be declaring our moon a day earlier than Jerusalem, for they would still have to wait until the following sunset to have another chance to confirm the sighting of the moon.

God’s holy city will be the center of worship in the Millennium, and we will go there from “one new moon to another” and from “one Sabbath to another,” and since we understand the law of the Sabbath is not done away (for it will be observed by the entire earth in the future), the same is true with new moons! Why do we validate one half of this scripture and not the other?

Ancient Israel understood the moon must be sighted from Jerusalem. In fact, the driving force behind Hillel II changing the calendar in 359 AD, was because the Jews could no longer confirm the new moon from Jerusalem after their expulsion from the Holy Land, and the abolishment of the Sanhedrin.*

Who Declares the New Moon from Jerusalem?

It is a well understood fact, even among Rabbinic Jews, that the Sanhedrin had an established system of confirming the light of the new crescent by visual observation prior to Hillel II changes (demonstrated in Section VI).

Ancient Israel and the Sanhedrin required two or more witnesses based on the biblical principle of confirming a matter.

Deut 17:6 “At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses…..”

Deut 19:15 “….at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.”

2nd Cor 13:1“By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.”

The new moon must be confirmed by a minimum of 2 or 3 witnesses. This can only occur on sunset ending day 29, or sunset ending day 30 of the lunar cycle.

Even though these verses are not specifically referencing confirmation of a new moon, ancient Israel understood no matter should be determined based on the witness of just one person. This principle was applied to any and every type of situation where confirming a matter was necessary, as evidenced by Paul’s New Testament affirmation of this principle in 2nd Corinthians. Paul did not use this principle in reference to determining a death sentence as was the case with Moses. He understood the foundation behind what was established by Moses, and applied this principle to establish all words of testimony. This is an example of properly extrapolating a principle from scripture, and is not adding to the word of God when applied to declaring the new moon.

How do we determine the beginning of a new year?

  1. Since a lunar month averages approximately 29.5 days, and we multiply that by 12 months in a solar year: 29.5 x 12 = 354
  2. Therefore a lunar year is only 354 days, 11 days short of a solar year.
  3. This means every 3 years; the beginning of a lunar year will fall roughly 33 days earlier than it did 3 years prior (11 x 3 = 33).

The consequence of this deficit is that Passover which is to be kept in the first month (Lev 23), the beginning of the year for God’s people (Ex 12), would eventually fall in late winter if another month is not added (this is called “intercalation”).

Some may claim this too is adding to the scripture. *But there is no scripture which commands a year must be only 12 months, or any specific number of months for that matter.* The solar year is 365 days which the Romans arbitrarily divided up into 12 months. But since the lunar calendar is 11 days short this means every 3 years or so, the lunar calendar would fall out of sync with the sun, leading to holy times falling in the wrong season.

So what biblical command or religious requirements do we use to determine when to “intercalate” a 13th lunar month? Rabbinic Jew and calendar expert Arthur Spier (source also used in COGWA’s paper) explains how ancient Israel determined intercalation years:

“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 grown properly…..The Council [Temple Era Sanhedrin] on intercalation considered the astronomical facts together with the religious requirements of Passover and the natural conditions of the country.” (Arthur Spier “The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar” p.1)

Here Arthur Spier points out ancient Israel used the “religious requirement” for ripe barley. The Jews have many so called “religious requirements,” which tend to be more like requirements of tradition, rather than requirements of scripture.

So is ripe barley a “religious requirement”? If so, is it scriptural?

The answer is in the Wave Sheaf Offering ceremony conducted during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which God commanded must occur on the first month of His year (Lev 23). The Wave Sheaf Offering involved the priest offering the first fruit of the grain harvest, which then began the spring harvest in Israel. God commanded no harvest could begin until the Wave Sheaf was offered, so by this command the bible is clear: The grain of the fields must be ripe to be a first fruit offering of the spring harvest, and this must occur during the first month of the year (Exodus 12). Therefore: Ripe barley is a religious and scripturally substantiated requirement for the first month of the year.

As Arthur Spier states, ancient Israel also used “astronomical facts” like how many lunar months were included in the previous 2-3 years, and where the potential new year would fall in accordance with the solar year (would the new year fall too early and begin in late winter instead of Spring?).  But, they also used the “religious requirements of Passover” like the command for a first fruit offering of the grain harvest, which demands the grain of the fields in Jerusalem be ripe for harvest. If the grain was not yet ripe, then a 13th month was added. This process is supported by scriptural requirements, astronomical facts, and was followed by ancient Israel as Rabbinic Jew Arthur Spier stated.

To contrast, let’s see what the Rabbinic Jews have added to scripture.

The Rabbins declare the Feast of Trumpets as the beginning of “their year” which is adding to the word of God. Why don’t we follow the Rabbins in declaring our religious new year in the fall as well?

Additionally, the Rabbinic calendar uses “postponements” which delay the date of certain fall holy days so they won’t occur on particular days of the week. ).

These postponements appear to fulfill “their religious requirements,” but are in fact adding to the word of God, because they circumvent God’s Will in revealing His holy time according to the light of the moon. Every Holy day and appointed time must be established by the light of the moon (Gen 1:14, Psalm 104:19). Postponements do not have anything to do with the light of the moon, therefore they should be considered as additions to scripture.

Everyone Can Understand God’s Biblical Calendar

Now that we have an understanding of scripture and the basic movements of the moon, let’s condense God’s holy calendar into simple terms.

  1. God said use the light (not darkness) of the moon to establish appointed times.
  2. A lunar month is approximately 29.5 days, which means a month can never be shorter than 29 days, nor longer than 30.
  3. The first day of a month begins when the light of the new crescent moon is first visible after the time of conjunction in Jerusalem.
  4. The new visible crescent moon must be confirmed by a minimum of two or three witnesses as commanded in scripture.
  5. Count 29 or 30 days to mark the next potential beginning of the coming month, and confirm the new crescent is seen on either expected day.
  6. Intercalate a 13th month every 3 years or so based on the ripeness of the grain in Jerusalem due to the scriptural requirements for the Wave Sheaf Offering.

It’s that simple!

This is the same calendar followed by ancient Israel during the time of the First and Second Temple Periods, the same calendar followed by Jesus Christ, and was faithfully followed by the Jews up until 359 AD when the calendar was changed by a man (see Section VI for admission from the Jews regarding this, using several sources also cited in the COGWA Calendar paper). This is also the same calendar many scattered believers worldwide follow. Most of these believers still have, or had ties to HWA splinter groups. This calendar is also followed by the Karaite Jews (their motto: “only scripture”). There is unified agreement on this calendar thanks to the clear instructions of scripture!

God’s way is simple and clear. Even our children should be able to understand and learn the basics of all God’s commandments. God’s Biblical Calendar holds no secret calculations as did/does the Rabbinic calendar. No aspect of God’s commanded observances are too complex for the people He calls, especially once they receive His holy spirit.

Next, we will see how the Rabbinic Calendar is the opposite, and essentially impossible for the majority of God’s chosen people to understand or use, even after they receive His holy spirit.

 

Section IV: Confusion of Man: The Calculated Rabbinic Calendar

The foundation of the Hebrew Calendar is a gnostic idea that only the enlightened elite know the secret knowledge of God. Without the Rabbinic Jew’s elite knowledge, God’s people would not know when to observe the appointed times of God on their own.

Doesn’t God promise to grant wisdom to any who diligently seek it? If we have God’s Holy Spirit, shouldn’t we be able to understand how to keep the commands He has given, without the need of secret knowledge from men who admittedly changed from those commands? Again, God is not an author of confusion. The Hillel II Calculated Rabbinic Calendar was established on secrecy, and its history is rife with errors and confusion. (more on this in Section VI)

Practical reasons why we should question if the Rabbinic Hebrew Calendar can be God’s true calendar:

  1. Its immense complexity
  2. The fact our children, nor elderly, nor ministry can currently use it
  3. It contains unbiblical postponement rules which if not implemented cause dates to drift far out of sync with the cycle of the moon

*Please note: The calculation below is by no means the complete nor comprehensive set of calculations needed to use the Rabbinic Hebrew Calendar. (I recommend a quick skim over this section to grasp the impossibility of teaching this to the average believer of Jesus Christ, let alone our children or a babe in the faith). Please see the link below for a more complete and confounding explanation of the necessary calculations.

Source: (http://individual.utoronto.ca/kalendis/hebrew/molad.htm)

“Calculation of the Traditional [Rabbinic] Molad Moment”

In the traditional method of reckoning molad moments, as it often appears in rabbinic literature, one simply adds or subtracts 29 days 12 hours and 793 parts from a known molad moment to obtain the molad moment of the next or prior month, respectively. Although simple, this classical method is often inconvenient, because it requires starting from a known molad moment that is reasonably near to the desired molad. It is inefficient when one needs to jump from a given molad to another that is an arbitrary number of months into the future or past, because that requires repeated steps. Any serially repeated addition or subtraction calculation is also risky because if a mistake is made somewhere along the way then that introduces an offset error that may be carried through indefinitely. A shortcut commonly employed in classical calculations is to ignore the day count, simply tracking the weekday instead. This shortcut can lead to ambiguities when the ignored days add up to more than a week, and although it does yield sufficient information for the purpose of announcing a molad moment, the weekday with time of day is not enough information for calendrical calculation purposes. Instead, the following is a direct method for the unambiguous calculation of any molad moment.

A molad moment has an integer part, which represents the calendar day and weekday of the molad, and a fractional part that represents the time-of-day of the molad. The ideal way to carry out molad calculations is using using exact computing engines capable of arbitrary-precision arithmetic, such as Mathematica, or the computer programming language “LISP“, which can calculate the molad moment to the exact fraction or whole number of parts. It is also possible to obtain correct results using floating point arithmetic or a digital calculator, provided that the user takes care to round intermediate results at appropriate points, as will be shown below, but the calculation must support at least Double Precision floating point, because Single Precision is often insufficient to resolve moments to better than one second accuracy.

For the purposes of announcing the molad moment or determining the molad of Tishrei for Hebrew calendar arithmetic, the moment must be calculated exactly. For the purpose of comparing moladot to astronomical lunar conjunction moments, however, the small errors introduced by the limitations of floating point arithmetic are negligible.

In a computer program, non-variable values can be declared as constants, for optimal performance.

Calendrical calculations make frequent use of dividing a number and keeping only the remainder, for example, dividing by 7 to determine the weekday, as will be done below. Many programming languages have a MOD operator or function intended for this purpose, but in many languages MOD handles negative or real numbers improperly (the MOD operator of Microsoft Visual Basic is defective on both counts). To avoid the risk of such errors, herein I will use the solution recommended by Dershowitz & Reingold in Calendrical Calculations: 3rd Edition (CC3, see <http://www.calendarists.com/>):

modulus( x, y ) = x y × floor( x / y )

Not being limited to integer division, the CC3 modulus function also works properly with floating point (real number) parameters provided both the x and the y parameter and the function return value are declared as Double Precision.

The traditional epoch or first day of the Hebrew calendar, on the first day of Tishrei of the first year, was a Monday (Yom Sheini, or second day of the week), starting at the sunset at the end of the daytime on Sunday. Assign day number one to that epoch:

HebrewEPOCH = 1

(A good case could be made to assign HebrewEPOCH = 0 instead, to count elapsed days relative to the epoch, but that would require changes to some of the arithmetic below, such as the weekday expression. Suffice it to say that the elapsed day count is always one day less than any calculated day number.)

To compute a traditional molad moment, start by calculating the Lunation number since the traditional epoch of the Hebrew calendar, which depends on the given Hebrew year number and month number:

Lunation = ElapsedMonths( hYear, hMonth )

Within the ElapsedMonths function, adjust the year number to account for the traditional month numbering that starts from Nisan, storing the adjusted year number in a local variable:

IF hMonth < Tishrei THEN TheYear = TheYear + 1 ELSE TheYear = hYear

where the Hebrew months are numbered from Nisan=1 to Tishrei=7 to Adar=12, etc.

In 19 years there are 19 × 12 = 228 regular months, plus 7 leap months, a total of 235 lunar months per cycle. The following expression returns the number of elapsed months:

RETURN hMonthTishrei + quotient( 235 × TheYear234 , 19 )

For example, for Cheshvan, the 8th month of traditional Hebrew calendar year 5766:

= 8 – 7 + quotient( 235 × 5766 – 234 , 19 ) = 1 + quotient( 1354776 , 19 ) = 1 + 71304 = 71305

The assumed initial conjunction time (called “BaHaRad“, or PartsAtEpoch below) of the first molad (Lunation=0) was 5 hours and 204 parts (each part = 1/18 minute) after the epoch of the Hebrew calendar:

HoursPerDay = 24

MinutesPerHour = 60

MinutesPerDay = MinutesPerHour × HoursPerDay = 1440

PartsPerDay = MinutesPerDay × 18 = 25920

PartsPerHour = PartsPerDay / HoursPerDay = 1080

PartsPerMinute = PartsPerDay / MinutesPerDay = 18

PartsAtEpoch = 5 / HoursPerDay + 204 / PartsPerDay = 5/24 + 204/25920 = 5604/25920 = 467/2160 = 0.2162037…

(the overscored digits of the decimal fraction repeat forever)

The constant traditional molad interval is 29 days, 12 hours, and 44+1/18 minutes. Separate the 44+1/18 minutes in order to improve the accuracy of floating point calculations:

Parts793 = 44 / MinutesPerDay + 1 / PartsPerDay = 793/25920 of a day

TwentyNineAndHalf = 29 + 12 / HoursPerDay = 29.5 days

Ari Meir Brodsky of Toronto has pointed out that in mental molad arithmetic for the purpose of announcing the molad moment it is easier to disregard whole weeks and calculate using the molad interval in excess of 4 weeks as 1+1/2 day, plus 3/4 of an hour, minus 1 minute, plus 1 part. For more information click here to see Ari’s mental molad method web page.

The assumed molad epoch was traditionally derived as follows (Tosefot on Talmud Bavli tractate Rosh HaShanah page 8b):

  • Adam haRishon was considered to have seen the first lunar crescent at the start of the 9th hour of the daytime on the 6th day of Creation (20 hours from the sunset that started that date), when haShem commanded him never to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. The days of Creation are traditionally considered to have been the final days of Hebrew year 1, so this observation sanctified the month of Tishrei of year 2.
  • Traditionally, assuming that the lunar conjunction was 6 hours earlier, the moment of the molad of the month of Tishrei of Hebrew year 2 was at the start of the 3rd hour of the daytime on Friday (14 hours from the sunset that started that date).
  • The molad of Tishrei of Hebrew year 1 was considered to have occurred 12 lunar months earlier, where each lunar month equals the traditional molad
  • A single molad interval is 1 day 12 hours 793 parts in excess of a whole number of weeks, so the excess from 12 molad intervals is 4 days 8 hours 876 parts.
  • Therefore the BeHaRad epoch was on (6 days 14 hours) – (4 days 8 hours 876 parts) = 2nd day 5 hours 204 parts.
  • The name BeHaRad is an acronym based on the Hebrew letters beit = 2 for the 2nd day, hey = 5 for the 5th hour, and resh daled = 200 + 4 = 204 parts.

The following expression yields the molad moment as the number of days since the epoch of the traditional Hebrew calendar, plus the fraction of a day elapsed since a mean sunset time that is 6 hours before civil midnight:

MoladMoment = HebrewEPOCH + PartsAtEpoch + ( Lunation × TwentyNineAndHalf ) + ( Lunation × Parts793 )

If the calculation to this point was carried out using floating-point arithmetic then it is necessary to round the molad moment so that its fractional portion corresponds to a whole number of parts (this must be carried out before doing anything else with the molad moment):

MoladMoment = round( MoladMoment × PartsPerDay ) / PartsPerDay

To determine the weekday of any molad moment, divide the number of whole days since the epoch by 7, and add one. This yields a number from 1=Sunday (Yom Rishon, or first day of the week) to 7=Saturday (Shabbat, or seventh day of the week):

MoladWeekday = modulus( floor( MoladMoment ) , 7 ) + 1

For this weekday expression to yield the correct result, modulus( HebrewEPOCH, 7 ) must equal 1, which will be the case if HebrewEPOCH was set equal to 1 as recommended above. If for some reason you set HebrewEPOCH to some other value, then you must modify the expression appropriately.

When announcing the molad weekday, state it in Hebrew, because Hebrew calendar days begin at sunset, not midnight.

Only for the purpose of announcing the molad time, separate it into hours and parts (alternatively, not recommended because it is not the traditional way: hours, minutes, and parts). Extract the fractional portion of the molad moment and convert it to an exact whole number of parts:

MoladFractionAsParts = [ MoladMomentfloor( MoladMoment ) ] × PartsPerDay

Then calculate the separate time components for the announcement:

MoladHour = floor( MoladFractionAsParts / PartsPerHour )

MoladParts = modulus( MoladFractionAsParts , PartsPerHour )

Alternatively, to separate the minutes and residual parts of a minute:

MoladMinute = modulus( floor( MoladFractionAsParts / PartsPerMinute ) , MinutesPerHour )

MoladParts = modulus( MoladFractionAsParts , PartsPerMinute )

—————————————————————————————————————-

 

Examples of a few unbiblical Postponement rules:

 

. . . Rosh Hashanah, the first day of Tishri, should be on the day of the Molad, except for the so-called Delioth (postponements), which take place in four specific cases. . . These are the four Delioth (postponements):

  1. When the Molad Tishri occurs on a Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday, Rosh Hashanah is postponed to the following day.
  2. When the Molad Tishri Occurs at noon (18h) or later, Rosh Hashanah is postponed to the next day.  (or if this day is Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday to Monday, Thursday or the Sabbath because of deliah (a).)
  3. When the Molad of a common year falls on a Tuesday, 204 parts after 3 a.m., i.e., 3d 9h 204p or later, Rosh Hashanah is postponed to Wednesday, and, because of deliah (a). further postponed to Thursday.
  4. When, in a common year succeeding a leap year, the Molad Tishri occurs on Monday morning 589 parts after 9 a.m., i.e., 2d 15h 589p or later, Rosh Hashanah is postponed to the next day.

Note: In more than 60 % of all years Rosh Hashanah does not occur on the day of the Molad but is postponed according to one of the Delioth.  Therefore the Delioth are actually not the exceptions to the rule but the rule. . . Deliah (a) mainly fulfills the following three religious requirements: Yom Kippur (Tishri 10) shall not occur on the day before or after the Sabbath and Hoshana Rabba (Tishri 21) shall not occur on the Sabbath.” (Arthur Spier, The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar  pg. 14 – 15)

**Please compare this small section of calculations to page 17 of this paper. Is there any way this method can be taught to our children or substantiated in scripture? Does it not conflict the conscience of the reader that they are unable to use or understand this calendar which they currently follow? Is it not unbiblical to trust men who admit they changed the calendar (see Section VI), men whom we cannot forget continue to blaspheme our Messiah?**

 

Please compare the Biblical calendar against that which man has devised.

Comparing the Fruits

Matt 7:20 “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them”

*Whichever calendar a person may choose to follow, they should be comfortable and willing to accept the natural fruits it produces.

 

Crescent New Moon Observance Astronomical Calculation
Rely on God’s sign/ timing Rely on men
Based upon Light Based upon averaged days of darkness
Origin in Genesis (Gen 1:14) our Creator gave its purpose and intended use Origin in secrecy revealed by Hillel II.-”a closely guarded secret”
Simple, ALL members could calculate for themselves (even children could be taught) Only few mathematicians and astronomers are able to calculate (members and ministry cannot)
Multiple Scriptural references/support for actual methodology Uses only 2 scriptures to show Jews have authority, no Scripture to support actual methodology
Observed by pillars of the faith (Moses, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Nehemiah, Ezra, Isaiah, Paul) Not in effect until centuries after Christ’s death and still hotly debated centuries after
Has past, present, and future implications and referred to by Paul as “a shadow of things to come” (Is 66:23, Col 2:16-17) Jews admit they plan to go back to former system when “proper authority” is re-established/ choose to disobey Scripture currently
Sola Scriptura as foundation/  Claims the Bible is sufficient for doctrine Information in Bible is scarce and not sufficient/ established on “man’s authority”

 

Section V: Do the Jews have the “Authority”?

“The greatest hurdle is the lack of any biblical requirement for observation.” (COGWA Hebrew Calendar Paper p.17)

Using this logic, should not the Hebrew Calendar also contain a few sizable hurdles because it has no biblical requirement instructing calculation of an averaged time of darkness? What about delaying the dates of fall holy days to prevent them from falling on particular days of the week? COGWA admits there are no specific scriptures supporting advanced calculations or postponements like the ones shown in the previous section, yet determine they are still a part of God’s calendar because “the Jews had authority to make changes as necessary.” (COGWA Hebrew Calendar Paper p.7)

Does any man have the authority to make changes to the word of God?

Acts 5:29- “We ought to obey God rather than men”

This verse is not advocating rebellion against all of man’s authority, but when that authority strays from the word of God (which the Jews admit they have done) we ought to obey God rather than men.

Establishing doctrine upon the idea of Jewish authority is not acceptable for multiple reasons:

1) The Jews have rejected the entire New Testament, and have added to the word of God through their oral laws. They do not even keep the commandments contained in the Torah. These accusations are no different than the ones made by Jesus Christ against the Pharisees and Sadducees.

2) In the COG we reject the Jews reckoning for the day of Passover and Pentecost. Are we to pick and choose when we follow the Jews in their “authority”? Either they preserved the laws of the Biblical Calendar, or they did not. The Jews also consider Feast of Trumpets to be the “new year” when God says the month of Passover is His new year. The Jews appear to stray from scripture when making their calendar decisions.

3) The Jews openly admit they plan to return to the “former system” of “direct observation” once they establish a new Sanhedrin.

To see proof directly from the mouths of Rabbinic Jews in Israel, please watch this very important video:

 

 

It is one thing to read excerpts from a book (see more proof in Section VI), or read the words of this author. It is another thing to see and hear the Rabbinic Jews admit the calculated calendar used today is “temporary,” not “the original,” and they are currently preparing to go back to the Torah based system of “sightings.”

Isn’t Christ now our High Priest to whom we alone give answer and grant authority to? The COG does not need a new temple or an established Sanhedrin to properly obey God. Someone would only have need of these things if Jesus Christ had not perfectly fulfilled those former physical necessities. The Jews have rejected Christ and are in serious error. Do we really want to follow them?

What will the COG do when the Jews return to an observational calendar as they admit they will? Will we follow them again, or will we stick to the current methods which they admit is not what God commanded in the Torah, nor was the calendar followed by ancient Israel?

The Jews are not confused on their history and know exactly what calendar they used before Hillel II, which is why they plan to go back to it! (see Section VI, also linked video above)

If the foundation for the COG calendar is the “authority of the Jews”, what will we do when that foundation crumbles under our feet? Christ taught we can stand firm if we obey Him and cling to The Rock as our foundation. When the Jews change their system as they admit they will, the only people who will be affected are those who built their foundation upon that “Jewish authority”. If we cling to Scripture now, we will not fall when the sands shift.

Matt 7: 24:27 “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”

It must be understood, the current Hebrew Calendar will only stand as long as the “Jewish authorities” allow it to do so. When the sands shift under the COG’s feet (and they will), what then will we stand upon?

What are the “oracles”?

The scripture typically used to say the Jews have the authority to make the changes necessary, does not actually say nor indicate this, and the COGWA paper agrees.

Romans 3:1-2 “What advantage then hath the Jew?…..Much every way: Chiefly because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.”

The Greek word here for “oracles” is “logion.”  Simply translated “words or utterances.” This is specific to the Holy Scriptures, laws, testimonies, and statutes of God which were given to the Jews for preservation. It does not in any way denote understanding of those scriptures, or give any such authority to make changes as necessary.” Remember these same Jews who faithfully preserved the “logion” of God, did not understand their Creator was in their midst, and they crucified Him just as was prophesied in the very “logion” which they faithfully preserved.

Now we will see COGWA agrees “logion” is only referring to words contained in scripture, but then conclude it also grants authority to the Jews to make “changes as necessary.”

“While the term logia [logion] does not refer in the narrow sense to the calendar, it would seem to be a fair extrapolation that if God entrusted the sacred writings to the Jews, He would also entrust them to correctly construct and preserve a calendar to allow His people to obey one of the most important aspects of His law—the keeping of holy time. It doesn’t seem logical that God would entrust His word to them and then withhold from them knowledge necessary to obey an important part of that word.” (COGWA Hebrew Calendar paper p. 12)

This author would agree with the final statement. It would seem illogical that God would withhold the knowledge necessary for establishing appointed time. However, extrapolation of authority seems unnecessary when we understand the “logion” God gave to the Jews, already contained a calendar directly within those preserved oracles. If this were not so, then why do the Jews admit their calendar is “temporary” and plan to return back to the Torah commandments? (see Section VI, and watch the linked video)

*Please understand, the whole reason Hillel II changed the calendar in 359 AD was because the Jews could no longer establish new moons in Jerusalem because they were expelled from the Holy land, and the Sanhedrin was abolished by Rome.

Being given the oracles of God, literally “words”, is not synonymous with having any authority to make calendar changes, or extra biblical rules (like postponements and 19 year cycle intercalations derived from Athenian astronomer Meton). The “oracles” (words) of God are now given to all men, Jew and Gentile, and the advantage Paul spoke of was the blessing granted to the Jews by being given these oracles first, before the Gentiles. Surely we can agree, just because someone is given the word of God (“oracles”), does not mean they will actually live by them (which the Jews admittedly do not).

The oracles or “logion” have now been given to all mankind. Surely we could not presume anyone possessing the “logion” now has “the authority to make changes as necessary?”  So why would we say they had the authority to do it then (initiated 3 centuries after the death of Christ, not finalized until 1078 AD)?  Having the word of God requires the responsibility of one to obey it, not change it.

Hebrews 3:18- “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.”

If Jesus Christ who had all things created through Him is unchanging, why did it take the Jews so long to reach an “incredibly accurate” calendar 10 centuries after His death? The Catholics changed the Sabbath centuries after the death of Christ, and we recognize the error in this. Why then do we make exception for a different group of men who also do not properly follow the commandments, and have admittedly changed from them?

We are only to follow men as they follow Christ (1st Cor 11:1). If the Jews deny Christ as their Messiah, reject the entire New Testament, and currently disobey the commandments of God in the Torah, why would we trust changes they admittedly made to God’s calendar?

Section VI: History is clear on what calendar was observed by Jesus Christ and ancient Israel

*Disclaimer: This author will present quotes made by COGWA solely for the purpose of juxtaposing the traditional teachings of the COG which state “history is not clear”, against historical information appearing to prove otherwise. The intention of this author is not to accuse, insult, or impute motive. Our desire is only to present information which may indicate COGWA and the greater COG family is mistaken, or possibly ill-informed on this history. The intention of this author is to turn God’s people back to His commanded precepts, while attempting to offer truth in love. No offense is intended when directly quoting the COGWA paper.

Issue 1: COGWA’s held position appears to be contradicted by the very sources they utilize in their paper.

“But unless all indications are deceitful, they did not in the time of Jesus Christ possess as yet any fixed calendar, but on the basis of a purely empirical observation, on each occasion they began a new month with the appearing of the new moon…”  (Emil Schurer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, p.366)

By using the same sources cited in the COGWA paper, this author will demonstrate how these sources agree and affirm, that ancient Israel from the time of the First Temple Period (516 BC), through the fourth century AD, did not possess, nor follow the calculated Rabbinic Hebrew Calendar as it is today.

These academic statements from the same source, many which are Rabbinic Jewish experts, were not included in the COGWA paper, but are vital to understanding the history of the calendar of ancient Israel.

This author humbly requests that COGWA please explain why the following statements were not included, or their subjects even addressed.  And specifically in this first example, why was the beginning sentence of a crucial paragraph cited from Arthur Spier’s “The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar” omitted?

Example 1:

COGWA writes in reference to Hillel II :

“This led to Hillel II publishing the secret rules of the calendar in about A.D. 359. Because of the secrecy that surrounded the calendar, no one knows with total accuracy how the calendar (or calendars) used in biblical times was determined.” (COGWA p.8)

They then quote Rabbinic calendar expert Arthur Spier to support their statement:

“In the fourth century, however, when oppression and persecution threatened the continued existence of the Sanhedrin, the patriarch Hillel II took an extraordinary step to preserve the unity of Israel. In order to prevent the Jews scattered all over the surface of the earth from celebrating their New Moons, festivals and holidays at different times, he made public the system of calendar calculation which up to then had been a closely guarded secret. It had been used in the past only to check the observations and testimonies of witnesses, and to determine the beginnings of the spring season.” (Arthur Spier, The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar)” (COGWA p.8)

Now let’s examine Arthur Spier’s full statement from page 2 of his book “The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar”.

You can see a scan of the actual book using “Google Book’s” preview feature: http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Comprehensive_Hebrew_Calendar.html?id=CAKHNYmjqdYC

(COGWA Omitted sentence highlighted in yellow, bolding to add emphasis)

This method of observation and intercalation [adding 13th month] was in use throughout the period of the second temple (516 B.C.E. – 70 C.E.), and about three centuries after its destruction, as long as there was an independent Sanhedrin. In the fourth century, however, when oppression and persecution threatened the continued existence of the Sanhedrin, the patriarch Hillel II took an extraordinary step to preserve the unity of Israel. In order to prevent the Jews scattered all over the surface of the earth from celebrating their New Moons, festivals and holidays at different times, he made public the system of calendar calculation which up to then had been a closely guarded secret. It had been used in the past only to check the observations and testimonies of witnesses, and to determine the beginnings of the spring season.” [Arthur Spier, The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar, p.2]

Why was the first sentence of this paragraph not included in COGWA’s citation?  It would appear this sentence mentioning a “method of observation” of the moon (from 516 B.C.E.- 70 C.E. and about 3 centuries after the Second Temple’s destruction) would contradict COGWA’s statement that “no one knows with total accuracy how the calendar (or calendars) used in biblical times was determined.”

Later in Spier’s quoted statement, he references observation again saying the calculations made public by Hillel II in 359 AD were only previously used “to check the observations and testimonies of witnesses”. By mentioning observation of the moon twice, and giving dates for the time periods when the observational method was in use, it would seem Rabbinic Calendar expert Arthur Spier is clearly stating how the calendar used in biblical times was determined. Again, why was the first sentence not included in COGWA’s citation?

Example 2:

These additional statements by Spier would also suggest as a Rabbinic Calendar expert, he is quite confident on which calendar was in use during biblical times. (Note: these statements can all be viewed directly from the scanned pages in the Google Book link)

“In the early times of our history the solution was found by the following practical procedure: The beginning of the months were determined by direct observation of the new moon. Then those beginning of months (Rosh Hodesh) were sanctified and announced by the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, after witnesses testified that they had seen the new crescent and after their testimony had been thoroughly examined, confirmed by calculation and duly accepted.” [Arthur Spier, The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar, p.1, section: HISTORICAL REMARKS ON THE JEWISH CALENDAR]

(Nowadays the day, hour and parts of each Molad are announced before the Proclamation of the New Moon in the Sabbath morning service preceding the week of the New Moon. This custom keeps alive the memory of the time when the Sanhedrin sanctified the months on the basis of observation. It calls our attention to the fact that today we determine our new moons and holidays according to the decision of Hillel’s Beth Din.)” (Arthur Spier, The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar, p.13)

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 permanent calendar according to which the New Moons and Festivals are calculated and celebrated today by Jews all over the world. Like the former system of observation, it is based on the Luni-Solar principle.” [Arthur Spier, The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar, p.2]

These statements clearly illustrate there was a “former system” of “direct observation,” and now there is a new system of advanced calculation by which the Jews today state “we determine our new moons and holidays according to the decision of Hillel’s Beth Din.” Thus, it would appear the Jews have knowingly chosen to divert from the original calendar observance of ancient Israel, to an alternate man-made system of advanced astronomical calculations which the majority of our COG membership cannot understand or use.

Issue 2: What will we do when the Jews return back to the “former system?”

The previous statements by Rabbinic Jew Arthur Spier brings up another serious issue in choosing to follow this man-made and “temporary” calculated Rabbinic Calendar: What will COGWA and the other COGs do when the Jews return back to the “former system” of “direct observation”……..until such time as a new, recognized Sanhedrin would be established in Israel”?

Arthur Spier is not the only Rabbinic Jewish calendar expert to admit a future change will occur back to the “former system.” See the following statement:

“For over a thousand years, the Hebrew calendar has been fixed by calculation. Today, the Hebrew calendar does not match that fixed by observing the Moon. Even though the gap between the two calendars continues to increase, we do not have the authority to alter the calendar until a new Sanhedrin (religious high court) is reestablished. While sanctification of the month according to observation is not practiced today it is important to carry out calculations and practice observing the New Moon in order to be ready for when the Sanhedrin is reestablished. Likewise, there is increasing involvement in the Temple, red heifer, etc. Of course, we are not intending to change the current calendar (without the permission of an authorized Sanhedrin) but just to increase involvement in and embellish the Torah.

     In recent years, a number of individuals and groups have begun to observe the Moon each month to practice for the commandment of observing the Moon and for determining criteria for the limits of visibility.” [Israeli New Moon Society https://sites.google.com/site/moonsoc/] (Founded by Rabbi Dr. Nachum Rabinovitch, head of Yeshivat Birkat Moshe, Maale Adumim. The society works with the Institude for Kiddush Hachodesh Studies and includes scientists and rabbis from Universities, Yeshivot and elsewhere. They are adherents of Rabbinical Orthodox Judaism and its calculated Rabbinical calendar). *please note: this source is not used in the COGWA paper*

Here the Rabbins admit they will eventually return to the former system based on the “commandment of observing the Moon,” which has its origin in the Torah.

To see proof directly from the mouths of Rabbinic Jews in Israel, please watch this very important video:

 

 

Again, it is one thing to read excerpts from a book, or read the words of this author. It is another thing to see and hear the Rabbinic Jews admit the calculated calendar used today is “temporary,” not “the original,” and they are currently preparing to go back to the Torah based system of “sightings.”

What will the COG do when their “authority” changes its calendar? Is the COG waiting for “the permission of an authorized Sanhedrin[men]”? Should we follow men who by their own admission have deviated from the Torah, only to force ourselves into making a decision as to whether we will follow these men again, and do as Arthur Spier states: return of the “former system of observation.”

The Rabbins admit the Torah clearly commands how to declare a new moon. They know there is a calendar contained in the Word of God, they have willingly chosen to disobey God’s commands, but they also have intentions of going back to them!

Issue 3: Jewish and Historical consensus on the Hebrew Calendar

 

Now, we will examine a number of different statements made in the COGWA calendar paper. These statements represent the traditional, long held teachings of the HWA founded COG groups concerning the Hebrew Calendar. We will contrast these traditional statements against direct quotes made by the same sources utilized in the COGWA Hebrew Calendar paper

  1. “The truth of the matter is that neither Scripture nor history provides enough information about the calendar in use at any one time to reconstruct a duplicate with an assurance of accuracy.” (COGWA Hebrew Calendar Paper p. 1)
  2. “There is no record of a witness system for determining the new moon…….According to some scholars, they used the time of the conjunction [time of darkness] (COGWA Hebrew Calendar Paper p.7)

“The history of the Jewish calendar may be divided into three periods–the Scriptural, the Talmudic, and the post-Talmudic. The first [Scriptural] rested purely on the observation of the sun and the moon, the second on observation and reckoning, and the third [post-Talmudic–still used today] entirely on reckoning.”  (The Jewish Encyclopedia article: “Calendar, History of” pp.498)

“The Talmudic Rabbis [ca. first half of the third century C.E. (i.e., prior to 250 C.E.) to the end of the fifth century C.E.] recognised the variation in length of the synodic month…and hence they determined the beginning of every month separately by observation of the new moon as well as by calculation.” (W.M. Feldman, Rabbinical Mathematics and Astronomy, Hermon Press, 1965, p.123)

“In mishnaic times [the Mishnah was completed ca. 200 C.E.], though the authorities were familiar with astronomical calculations, the new moon was fixed on the basis of observation, which meant that, as a rule, the bet din formally proclaimed the New Month only after it had heard evidence of witnesses who had actually seen the new moon.” (Encyclopedia Judaica, Volume 14, article: Rosh Ha-Shanah, p.311)

“It is generally accepted that the Jewish festivals were, in Biblical times, fixed by observation of both the sun and the moon. Gradually, certain astronomical rules were also brought into requisition, primarily as a test, corroborating or refuting the testimony of observation….It has been authoritatively proved that in spite of a more advanced knowledge of astronomy the practice of fixing the new moon and the festivals by observation was in force as late as the latter part of the fifth century [C.E.]….It was only after the close of the Babylonian Talmud, in the sixth or perhaps later, in the seventh century, that the observation of the moon was entirely given up, and a complete and final system of calendation introduced [in the tenth century].” (Henry Malter, Saadia Gaon: His Life and Works, Chapter IV, Saadia’s Controversy with Ben Meir, pp.70-88, Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1921)

Note: “observation of the moon was entirely given up.” Would this not prove a change was made from the original?

 

In the time of the Sanhedrin there were no published calendars as there are today. The Sanhedrin declared the beginning of each month when the moon was actually sighted. On the thirtieth of each month they would accept testimony of anyone who had seen the new moon the night before. Anyone who had seen the new moon after sunset on the night after the twenty-ninth day of the month would go to the Sanhedrin the next day. If the Sanhedrin determined that the reports were reliable and that the moon had actually been seen, they would declare that day to be the first day of the new month. If, on the other hand, the moon was not seen the night before, that day would be the thirtieth of the old month. The next day would be the first day of the new month. No month was ever longer than thirty days because even if the moon was not sighted at all, the thirty-first day would automatically be declared the first day of the new month. On the other hand, no month was ever less than twenty-nine days because the first possible day to declare the new month was the day after the twenty-ninth. (Understanding the Jewish Calendar, Rabbi Nathan Bushwick, Moznaim Publishing Corp., New York/Jerusalem, 1989, p.51)

  1. “The four rules of postponement [“additional rules in the Hebrew calendar to prevent certain holidays from falling on certain days of the week.” – Wikipedia], which are discussed in some detail later in this paper, were also published by the time of Maimonides (12th century) and were part of the contention with the Karaites in the eighth century. The origin of these rules is unknown, but they have been confirmed as rules of the calendar since at least the time of Maimonides [1200 AD]. It is quite possible that they were in use during the Second Temple period [including time of Christ], when at least some form of postponement would have been necessary for the calendar.” (COGWA Hebrew Calendar Paper p. 7)
  2. 2. “…whatever the reason may be, these four rules [postponements] are as much a part of the calendar as the rules for witnesses and the secret rules for calculations that were active during the time of Christ.” (COGWA Hebrew Calendar paper p. 21)

 

“But unless all indications are deceitful, they did not in the time of Jesus Christ possess as yet any fixed calendar, but on the basis of a purely empirical observation, on each occasion they began a new month with the appearing of the new moon…”  (Emil Schurer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, p.366)

 

“There is…unimpeachable evidence from the works of writers with expert knowledge of the calendar that the present ordo intercalationis [adding 13th month based on the 19 year cycle credited to Athenian astronomer Meton] and epochal molad were not intrinsic parts of the calendar of Hillel II [359 AD], these being seen still side by side with other styles of the ordo intercalationis and the molad as late as the 11th century. Also the four dehiyyot [postponement rules] developed gradually. …By the tenth century the Jewish calendar was exactly the same as today.” (Cecil Roth, editor, Encyclopaedia Judaica, Vol. 5, p.50, article: Calendar)

 

-Note: It took until the 10th century AD for postponement rules to be fully developed. How can this be if “it is quite possible that they were in use during the Second Temple period, when at least some form of postponement would have been necessary for the calendar”? (p. 7 COGWA Hebrew Calendar Paper)

– More importantly: The only way the dates of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection agree with the Calculated Rabbinic Calendar is if, and only if, postponements are utilized. Otherwise the Rabbinic calculated dates are off.  This is also admitted and acknowledged by calendar experts.

 

“Further, Gans points out, that it is hardly likely that R. Gamaliel [alive during the time of  second temple destruction 70 AD] would speak of a mean  [average] synodic month, as in his time the ‘fixed’ calendar was not yet in use. (Rabbinical Mathematics and Astronomy W.M. Feldman, Ibid, p.124)

 

It is generally accepted that the Jewish festivals were, in Biblical times, fixed by observation of both the sun and the moon. Gradually, certain astronomical rules were also brought into requisition, primarily as a test, corroborating or refuting the testimony of observation….It has been authoritatively proved that in spite of a more advanced knowledge of astronomy the practice of fixing the new moon and the festivals by observation was in force as late as the latter part of the fifth century [C.E.]….It was only after the close of the Babylonian Talmud, in the sixth or perhaps later, in the seventh century, that the observation of the moon was entirely given up, and a complete and final system of calendation introduced [in the tenth century].” (Henry Malter, Saadia Gaon: His Life and Works, Chapter IV, Saadia’s Controversy with Ben Meir, pp.70-88, Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1921)

 

“This method of observation and intercalation [adding 13th month] was in use throughout the period of the second temple (516 B.C.E. – 70 C.E.), and about three centuries after its destruction, as long as there was an independent Sanhedrin  [Arthur Spier, The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar, p.2]

 

“…intercalation [adding 13th month] was carried out as the need arose, on the basis of an empirical observation made on each occasion without any advance calculation. The following two passages demonstrate that this was still the case in the time of the Mishnah [completed 189 AD]: (1) mMeg. 1:4…(2) mEduy. 7:7…The two passages are so clear that they require no further commentary…there was absolutely no calculation [of intercalary months] in advance.” (Emil Schurer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, p.593)

 

– Let’s reread that again: “The two passages are so clear that they require no further commentary…there was absolutely no calculation in advance.” *Please note the source’s title*: The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ.

 

  1. “The truth of the matter is that a calculated and fixed calendar is more accurate and eliminates the confusion that results from attempts to develop a calendar based on an observation only approach.” (COGWA Hebrew Calendar Paper p.18)

 

Note: These following 2 sources were not used in the COGWA paper.

 

…the Gregorian calendar is solar, the Jewish one is lunar. The latter evolved over a period of many centuries, going through a number of formulations, much experimentation, and a great deal of controversy….Despite the fact that the Jewish calendar finally became fixed in 358 C.E. [note: it was around this time that the formulation of the set calendar was *initialized* by Hillel II], there was no end to the criticisms and disputes leveled at its inaccuracies for centuries thereafter.” (Nathan Ausubel, The Book of Jewish Knowledge, An Encyclopedia of Judiasm and the Jewish People, pp.70-71, 1964.)

 

Note: “There was no end to the criticisms and disputes leveled at its inaccuracies for centuries thereafter.”  Is the way of God really this inaccurate?

 

“Today, the Hebrew calendar does not match that fixed by observing the Moon. Even though the gap between the two calendars continues to increase, we do not have the authority to alter the calendar until a new Sanhedrin (religious high court) is reestablished.”  (Israeli New Moon Society https://sites.google.com/site/moonsoc/]

 

– If it wasn’t until after 1000 AD (as these sources agree) before most of the postponement kinks were worked out, how were the Jews of Christ’s time so “accurate” in their calculations?

 

– It would appear these sources agree the Jews were not using postponements or any fixed calculated calendar as is used today by Rabbinical Jews and the COG, during the time of Christ or even 3 centuries after His death.

 

F.: “It is logical to conclude that if you had witnesses this must mean they were looking for something, which implies they were looking for the crescent. But did they use the first crescent, or did they watch for the final crescent to go dark? No one knows……..No one knows the criteria that might have been used during the time of Christ.” (COGWA Hebrew Calendar Paper p.17)

 

In the time of the Sanhedrin there were no published calendars as there are today. The Sanhedrin declared the beginning of each month when the moon was actually sighted. On the thirtieth of each month they would accept testimony of anyone who had seen the new moon the night before. Anyone who had seen the new moon after sunset on the night after the twenty-ninth day of the month would go to the Sanhedrin the next day. If the Sanhedrin determined that the reports were reliable and that the moon had actually been seen, they would declare that day to be the first day of the new month. If, on the other hand, the moon was not seen the night before, that day would be the thirtieth of the old month. The next day would be the first day of the new month. No month was ever longer than thirty days because even if the moon was not sighted at all, the thirty-first day would automatically be declared the first day of the new month. On the other hand, no month was ever less than twenty-nine days because the first possible day to declare the new month was the day after the twenty-ninth. (Understanding the Jewish Calendar, Rabbi Nathan Bushwick, Moznaim Publishing Corp., New York/Jerusalem, 1989, p.51)

 

*It is clear ancient Israel used the sighting of the light of the moon to begin their months*

 

  • Note: They could only have been looking for the new crescent moon on day 29 and 30 of the lunar cycle, not a waning crescent. If they were looking for the waning crescent as the COGWA paper suggests, this could only have been done on day 26 or 27 at the latest. It is impossible to see the waning crescent on day 29 or 30 due to the fact there must be a few days of darkness following the waning crescent to lead into conjunction. This is the same source used in COGWA’s paper, and it clearly says they were looking for the moon on day 29 and 30.

 

  • Therefore, ancient Israel could not have been looking for a waning crescent as suggested, because that would make their months only 26 or 27 days long.

 

“It is generally accepted that the Jewish festivals were, in Biblical times, fixed by observation of both the sun and the moon. Gradually, certain astronomical rules were also brought into requisition, primarily as a test, corroborating or refuting the testimony of observation….It has been authoritatively proved that in spite of a more advanced knowledge of astronomy the practice of fixing the new moon and the festivals by observation was in force as late as the latter part of the fifth century [C.E.]….It was only after the close of the Babylonian Talmud, in the sixth or perhaps later, in the seventh century, that the observation of the moon was entirely given up, and a complete and final system of calendation introduced [in the tenth century].” (Henry Malter, Saadia Gaon: His Life and Works, Chapter IV, Saadia’s Controversy with Ben Meir, pp.70-88, Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1921)

 

“In mishnaic times [the Mishnah was completed ca. 189 C.E.], though the authorities were familiar with astronomical calculations, the new moon was fixed on the basis of observation, which meant that, as a rule, the bet din formally proclaimed the New Month only after it had heard evidence of witnesses who had actually seen the new moon. (Encyclopedia Judaica, Volume 14, article: Rosh Ha-Shanah, p.311)

 

“For as the beginning of a month was fixed on the accredited evidence of witnesses who reported having seen the new moon soon after sunset on a certain day, it was the duty of the Calendar Council not only to test their evidence by stringent cross-examination…but also to ascertain, by mathematical calculation, whether the moon could, in fact, be seen at that particular moment at the particular place from which the witnesses came.” [example: if it had only been 26 days since the last sighting of the new moon, then “calculations” (ie: counting days) were employed to determine if a new moon can be seen on day 26…….which it cannot, since no month can be shorter than 29 days] (Rabbinical Mathematics and Astronomy W. M. Feldman, Ibid., p.160)

 

“But unless all indications are deceitful, they did not in the time of Jesus Christ possess as yet any fixed calendar, but on the basis of a purely empirical observation, on each occasion they began a new month with the appearing of the new moon...”  (Emil Schurer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, p.366)

 

*Note: “appearing of the new moon.” Not disappearing of an old waning crescent on day 26 or 27 because that would make a month too short, and certainly not day 29 or 30 which would be impossible*

 

Using the same sources as COGWA (and all these sources agree) it is clear ancient Israel up until the destruction of the 2nd temple in 70 AD, and 3 centuries beyond into the 4th century AD, used direct visual observation to determine a new moon. These sources also agree that postponement rules were not in effect during the time of Christ or even centuries after His death.

 

Therefore:

 

THE CALENDAR FOLLOWED BY CHRIST AND HIS APOSTLES WAS BASED ON DIRECT VISUAL OBSERVANCE OF A NEW CRESCENT MOON.

 

And if Christ during His earthly ministry did not correct the Jews for their observance of His calendar, then how could we say any man has the authority to deviate from that which our Creator made, followed, and did not change?

 

If “the Jews have the authority to make changes as necessary,” what will we do when that authority changes back to the commandments in the Torah?

 

In Conclusion:

 

Why is this such an important, vital, trunk of the tree issue?

 

Because, if Scripture and history indicate there is a calendar in the Bible, and ancient Israel faithfully followed it up until 359 AD, would we not have to conclude the Calculated Rabbinic Calendar has diverted from the original commanded system?

 

If this is the case, then the greater COG family has been observing the wrong appointed times, and neglecting the commanded new moon ordinance given to Israel forever.

 

2 Chron 2:4 Behold, I build an house to the name of the Lord my God, to dedicate it to him, and to burn before him sweet incense, and for the continual shewbread, and for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts of the Lord our God. This is an ordinance for ever to Israel.”

 

Men and brethren, what shall we do?  The end of this age is approaching, and our King’s return draws near.

Rev 22:12-14 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”

If we desire the right to the tree of life, we will do His commandments as written in the Word of God. Is it possible something has been lost over time, and is now being re-established?

 

Could this be a time of renewal for God’s people before the end?

 

The Appendix

 

Appendix A:

Who in the Bible celebrated new moons?

 

This list is based only on Scriptures that mention new moons specifically. Obviously many others observed them as well throughout the history of God’s people.

 

*Moses and the Israelites

Numbers 28:11- “And in the beginnings of your months ye shall offer a burnt offering unto the LORD”

 

The word for month here is “chodesh” which literally means “moon”. At the beginning of the Israelites months/moons they were to present and offering to God.

 

*David (a man after God’s own heart)

1st Samuel 20:5, 18, 24-26

Verse 5- “And David said unto Jonathan, “Behold to morrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit with the king at meat…”

Verse 18- “The Jonathan said to David, Tomorrow is the new moon: and thou shalt be missed, because thy seat will be empty”.

 

This passage illustrates David was accustomed to being present on a new moon and it would be very obvious when he did not show. Once Saul notices David’s absence, his only rational conclusion for David missing the new moon celebration is that he must be ceremonially unclean.

 

Every Revival Period back to the Law of God:

 

*Solomon

2nd Chron. 2:4- “Behold, I build an house to the name of the Lord my God, to dedicate it to Him, to burn before Him sweet incense, for the continual shewbread, and for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the Sabbaths, on the new moons, and on the set feasts of the Lord our God. This is an ordinance forever to Israel.”

 

2nd Chron 8:13- “Even after a certain rate every day, offering according to the commandment of Moses, on the Sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts, three times in the year, even in the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and in the Feast of Weeks, and in the Feast of Tabernacles.”

 

*Hezekiah

2nd Chron. 31:3- “He appointed also the king’s portion of his substance for the burnt offerings, to wit, for the morning and evening burnt offerings for the Sabbaths and for the new moons and for the set feasts, as it is written in the Law of the Lord.”

 

*Ezra

Ezra 3:5- And afterward offered the continual burnt offering, and both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the LORD that were consecrated, and of everyone that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the LORD.”

 

*Nehemiah

Neh 10:33-for the shewbread, and for the continual meat offering, and for the continual burnt offering of the Sabbaths, of the new moons, for the set feasts; and for the holy things, and for the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of our God.”

 

*Ezekiel

Ezekiel 46:1- ‘Thus saith the Lord God: “The gate of the inner court that looketh toward the east shall be shut the six working days; but on the Sabbath it shall be opened, and in the day of the new moon it shall be opened.”

 

All of these periods show a time when God’s people restored the Law, including reestablishing the offerings on every new moon. There are joint references to Sabbaths, New Moons, and Feast Days. They were inseparable.

 

*Paul and those in Colossi

Colossians 2:16 – “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or respect of an holyday or of the new moon or of sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ.”

 

*Future believers in God’s Kingdom

Isaiah 66:23 “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 the LORD.”

 

There is great biblical evidence showing the pillars of faith observed new moons, and future believers will be required to worship God on new moons as well. Are we exempt from this today? 2nd Chron. 2:4 – This is an ordinance forever to Israel.   Scripture would appear to indicate no.

 

Appendix B:

How are Christians today, supposed to observe new moons?

 

Is the Bible really not clear on how we are to observe new moons? If Moses, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, and many more had enough information to follow the command, wouldn’t it be proper to conclude we have been given enough information as well?

 

Many times we must obey a command before we fully understand; this is how we grow in faith.

 

*Offerings/Prayers

     

Examples: Numbers 28:11,  1st Chron 23:31,  2nd Chron 2:4, 8:13, 31:3,   Ezekiel 45:17,  46:1-11,   Ezra 3:5,   Nehemiah 10:33

 

Psalm 141:2Let my prayer be set forth before thee; as incense and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.”

 

Followers of Jesus Christ no longer have a physical temple for offerings because we are now the temple, and Christ’s perfect sacrifice removes the need for physical sacrifice for the time being; but we still offer our prayers of thanksgiving and repentance as sacrifice. This is very special to God and He longs for us to do this continually, including during His appointed times.

 

*Bible Study

 

2nd Kings 4:22-23- “And she called unto her husband, and said, “Send me, I pray thee, one of the young men and one of the asses, that I may run to the man of God and come again.” And he said, “Wherefore wilt thou go to him to day? It is neither new moon, nor Sabbath.”

 

The context of this story tells of a woman who desires to seek the help of Elisha the prophet. Her husband is confused why she wants to see him, because “it is neither new moon, nor Sabbath?” Commentaries agree during the time period of new moons and Sabbaths, people would go to the house of God and hear the prophets speak. A person should not make doctrine from commentaries, but this principle is upheld in others Scriptures. Ezekiel 46:1 also speaks of the house of God being closed six days except on the Sabbath and new moon. New moon days are another precious opportunity for extra bible study and focus on the Word of God.

 

*Blow a trumpet/shofar:

 

The trumpet has great biblical significance. It can be used as a call to warning or attention. This new moon practice was meant to bring attention to God’s people that a new month was beginning. They alerted the land that a New Moon was spotted. This was how they knew to count and calculate their Feast days.

 

Numbers 10:10 Also in the day of your gladness, in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall with blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be a memorial before your God: I am the Lord your God.”

 

Psalm 81:3 ”Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day. For this was a statute for Israel, a law of the God of Jacob.”

 

*Worship/ Praise:

 

Ezekiel 46:3 – “Likewise the people of the land shall worship at the door of this gate before the LORD in the Sabbaths and in the new moons”.

 

Isaiah 66:23 – “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 the Lord.”

 

This word “worship” can mean humbly prostrating ourselves before God. We are coming to show reverence for Him. We are to bow before Him with respect and give honor on His appointed times. Each new month turns our focus to the coming Holy days that we anxiously await throughout the year.

 

Is the new moon a Holy Day?

 

No, the new moon is not a Holy day. A Holy day is deemed as such by God, and follows with a command not to do any servile work on that day. We see no such command from God concerning new moons, and therefore would not proclaim new moons to be a Holy day.

 

However, this does not mean we can ignore new moons just because they are not a Holy day. For example: Passover is not declared a Holy day by God, but rather a memorial and festival of great meaning. New moons should be observed in a similar manner. They are a time set apart and given special honor by God. We are still able to work on this day, just as we would during the day of Passover, but it is still treated with reverence, and time specifically devoted to God.

 

Remember, new moons are a commanded observance, and an ordinance to Israel forever. God will require all flesh to come and worship Him on new moons in the future. Throughout the Old Testament new moons were observed by God’s people. Paul mentioned new moon observance in Colossians 2. Just because new moons are not a Holy Day where servile work is prohibited, does not remove the COG’s need to observe and recognize what God has commanded.

 

Appendix C:

How to “calculate” your own Holy Day Calendar

 

Is it possible to accurately “calculate” holy days in advance using God’s Biblical Calendar?

 

Yes, it is certainly possible, and in fact quite easy. Following God’s lights as He commanded in scripture is the only accurate way to establish Holy day dates. Here is how it’s done:

 

Because the average length of the moon is 29.5 days and we understand no month can be shorter than 29, or longer than 30 (there cannot be a .5 or “half a days” for example), this generally means each month will alternate between 29 and 30 days in length. For example, if the first month of the year was 29 days in the length, then the following month should generally be 30 days.

 

Think about it: 29.5 days x 2 months = 59 days.

 

How would we add up to 59 days in two consecutive months if there are two 29 day months back to back? That would only add up to 58 days! To reach 59 days in two consecutive months, conceivably we would need one month to be 29 days and the other to be 30 (29+30 = 59!).

 

Therefore, if we want to determine when appointed times will fall on the Gregorian calendar for planning purposes, all we need do is count the days and months, alternating between 29 and 30 day lengths for each month. These would be the “expected dates” of the new moons and High Holy days. I say expected dates, because we still must confirm months by the light of the moon. (Gen 1:14) On the rare chance the new moon cannot be confirmed on the expected date during a month containing holy days, then we would adjust our dates for that month accordingly. This is not a postponement. This is simple logic based on observation of the moon and its clearly documented cycle (which God created, and established the orbit). We are still using the light of the moon as commanded, so nothing has been added to scripture. The light of God’s moon dictates when Holy days will occur, not man. If we see no light, then it is not God’s appointed time.

 

The good news is God’s calendar is essentially self-correcting! So, if there ever are two months back to back with the same number of days (relatively rare), the 3rd month following should always be the opposite number of days. This is because a lunar month is an average of 29.5 days, and since we cannot have half-days, eventually the cycle of the moon will have to correct back to an alternating cycle. For example, if we had two 30 day months consecutively, the next month should be 29 days to get back on track for a 29.5 day average.

 

Anytime two consecutive months contain the same number of days (relatively rare), this will result in either a deficit, or a surplus of days. And the only way to get back to the established average of 29.5, the moon will need to appear a day sooner or later than the previous consecutive month lengths.  Remember, there are only 3 months out of the year containing Holy days.  So if one month in the middle of the year is shorter or longer than we had expected, there is still a good change our projected holy day dates later in the fall will be unchanged, because of the moon’s self-correcting cycle.

 

This is the beauty of God’s design! His calendar is relatively predictable for planning purposes, but it still forces us to put our focus on His heavenly sign as He commanded, and will not allow man to rely solely on their own understanding  (as the Rabbinic Calendar does). The Jew’s calendar removes the need to focus on God, because they calculate their dates years in advance using averaged times of darkness, and sanctify those dates far ahead of time (without confirming the heavenly lights as God commands). And without unbiblical postponement rules, their Holy day dates would fall far out of sync with the actual cycle of the moon.

 

“Accurate” is a relative term when applied to the calculated Rabbinic Hebrew Calendar. For it is not accurate with the scripture, or with the cycle of the moon. It is only “accurate” concerning the Jew’s mathematical calculations (as mathematics are considered accurate), and assuming unbiblical postponements rules are applied, otherwise Holy days would drift into the wrong season. The truth is the Rabbinic Jews establishes the beginning of months during a time of darkness far in advance, which is not according to the light of the moon or the commands in scripture.

 

The Biblical Calendar only allows God to determine His appointed times, and the Rabbinic Hebrew Calendar grants that authority to men.

 

Appendix D:

Answers for COGWA           

“In order to prove that the correct biblical calendar must be based on observation, advocates must do the following:” (p.19 of the COGWA Hebrew Calendar Paper)

 

Find proof for Jerusalem as the place to sight a new moon

 

1) Jerusalem is where God declares He has placed His name. His eyes are set on that holy city, and as we too take time each month to shift our eyes to Jerusalem, we can reflect on our future calling and purpose.

 

2nd Chr. 6:6 “But I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there”.

 

2nd Chr 7:16 “For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there forever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually”

 

2) Future believers will come to Jerusalem to worship God. Since it will be this way in His Kingdom, this serves to illustrate how important Jerusalem is for the basis of all His works. It is also the same place where all nations will go when finally observing the Feast of Tabernacles (Zech 14:16).

 

Is 66:23 “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 the Lord.”

 

It is true, God’s people before the times of telephone and internet, would have had difficulty determining if the new moon was sighted in Jerusalem in a timely manner. Yet, we must understand the time of Hillel II in the 4th century AD was a punishment on the Jews who had rejected and crucified Jesus Christ. Instead of turning to God for help, they sought their own way in hopes to avoid the consequences of the new moon no longer able to be observed in Jerusalem, and the Holy Days dates would be varied within the diaspora. Now that the Jews have been given back the Holy Land, we no longer need to live under that time of punishment. We are now capable of knowing when God’s sign is sighted from Jerusalem because the Jews have been given back God’s holy city.

 

The past difficulty should not dictate God’s expectations for His followers today, based on His inspired word.

 

Find proof for total darkness observation of a new moon

 

Before Hillel II, the moon’s darkness had never been the basis for determining a new moon. This was proven in Section VI using the words of Rabbinic calendar experts. The Biblical Calendar has no need to observe the moon in total darkness because the Bible commands the light of the moon to be used when determining appointed times (Gen 1:14, Psalm 104:19). Having said this, the darkening of God’s heavenly lights at different times in history, have been used by God as a curse and a punishment.

 

Hosea 2:11- “I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.”

 

This is a prophecy against adulterous Israel. Please note: God does not only condemn her Feasts, He takes away her new moons as well. This was a punishment that would cause great sadness to the people of God. We have no need to live under a time of punishment, when God clearly reveals His intentions and we have the ability to follow it today.

 

Find proof for crescent light observance by naked eye with no telescope

 

This can be answered by taking a look at the Bible and using logic based upon what we know ancient Israel had available at that time.

 

  1. There were no telescopes in the days of ancient Israel. They would have nothing but their naked eye. Rabbinic Jews admit this, and say when they return to the system of observation, it must be witnessed with the naked eye (watch video linked in sections V and VI)

 

  1. Secondly, at the time God commanded Moses in Num 10:10 “…at the beginning of your months (“chodesh”, meaning new moon), you shall blow the trumpets,” Moses already had an understanding in how God defined a new moon. God’s initial purpose for the moon was set from the beginning of creation and would have served as Moses’ definition as well. This definition came long before God’s command in Numbers 10:10. Moses was also the author of Genesis and knew which Hebrew word he had been inspired to use in Gen 1:14 for “seasons” (mo ‘ade), which referenced the appointed times and festivals of God.

 

Gen 1:14And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons (“mo’ ade” meaning appointed times, festivals), and for days, and years:

 

Crescent light observance is supported by scripture; the use of darkness is not. God said He set the lights in the heavens to be for appointed times, which is the same Hebrew word in Leviticus when mentioning the Holy days.

 

Leviticus 23:4-These are the feasts (mo’ ade) of the Lord, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons (“mo’ade”).” God says they have to be proclaimed. Moses was to proclaim when the months and festivals started based on the instruction God had given in Genesis for those appointed times (mo’ ade) which was declared by the moon’s light in the heavens. The only way for them to see that moon’s light was with their naked eye.

 

Moses goes on to specifically date the Holy Days at certain points within a month. How would Moses know when the 14th of a month was without Hillel’s complex mathematical equation and a telescope? The only natural conclusion is: He used the light of the moon, with his naked eye.

 

Therefore, we must conclude, the COG does not currently use the same methodology of Moses and the other pillars of faith. Consequently, we would not observe the correct Holy Day dates.

 

Find proof that someone besides the Jews have authority over the calendar

 

As shown earlier in this paper, no man has the authority to makes changes to God’s calendar. It is God’s calendar, and His alone. He made the sun, moon, and stars. He set them in their places and their orbits. His calendar is the same today as it was in Genesis. The ultimate authority is the word of God. If anyone speaks contrary to it, we must follow God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)

 

Is 8:20- “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”

– *notice light* Does God work in darkness?

 

Again, would God have established holy time without giving ancient Israel and believers today, the means to observe them accurately? Again, why did it take the Jews centuries to finally create an “accurate” calendar, one which was not initiated until 3 centuries after Christ’s death (proven in Section VI).

 

Whose definition are we to use when claiming the calculated Rabbinic Hebrew calendar to be “accurate”? Astronomers, scholars, and mathematicians? As followers of God, we need to define accuracy by its compatibility with Scripture, and reckon all we do according to the Word of God.

 

Find proof for what to do when moon is not visible on cloudy days

 

It is agreed, no scripture explicitly states what to do on a cloudy day and the crescent moon is not visible to the naked eye. However, we simply use what scriptures God did give us, and then make sound judgments from those commands. There are 2 possible and easily reckoned scenarios here:

 

1) If on sunset of day 29/beginning day 30, which is the first possible evening/day a visible crescent can be sighted, and the weather conditions are poor so no moon is visible, one would wait and look again on sunset of day 30. Now this may seem to be “adding to the word of God”, but this is not so. When Scripture commands to observe the light for appointed times (Gen 1:14) and no light is seen, then according to this command we would not proclaim God’s sign confirmed, and wait until the next evening to look again.

 

2) If  no moon had been visible previously on sunset ending day 29/beginning day 30, and at sunset ending day 30 it is too cloudy to confirm a crescent, then automatically it would be declared the beginning of new moon day, because a month cannot be longer than 30 days (this is astronomy and physics, not opinion). Again, this is not adding to the Word of God, but rather just using common sense to apply what God did say as His starting principle of using the light (Gen 1:14).

 

*Question: Did God need to lay out this detail for us, or would He expect us to follow what He had already made clear by appointing the light as a sign to begin counting a new month, and make wise judgments accordingly? Ancient Israel knew that the lunar month alternated between 29 and 30 days, just by simple counting. The Muslims also use a lunar calendar, knew this as well. This was knowledge attained by simply observing the heavens.

 

It seems to be quite a stretch to believe God wanted ancient Israel to somehow calculate an average time of darkness and then blow a trumpet, which would alert the people nothing had been sighted in the sky. That principle cannot be inferred in the Scripture, is not corroborated in history, and would appear to be adding to God’s word.

 

Just as God did not detail every prohibited thing to do on a Sabbath day, He expects us to use the given instruction and commands to make sound judgments based upon what we were given.

 

Has the observation method ever been used in last 2,000 years?

 

It must be agreed a change was made in 359 AD, a changed with caused the majority of Jews (although not Karaite Jews) to follow the Rabbinic method of calculation since 359 AD. It was a decision made to preserve unity of the Jew’s observance of Holy day dates, while being scattered throughout the diaspora. Hillel II made public the calculated calendar because the Jews could no longer declare the appointed times from Jerusalem. So naturally, “most” COG members have followed the changed calculated Rabbinic Calendar over the last 2,000 years. (We must bear in mind, just because the Observational Calendar has not been kept by the majority in the last 2,000 years, does not prove it is invalid or wrong).

 

However, despite methodology being changed in 359 AD, there are still examples of brethren  in the 1st century keeping the observational method founded in the Torah:

 

  • Paul and the Colossians- Col 2:16-17- Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.”

 

Some say the new moon mentioned by Paul is not clearly defined here. While that may be true to a degree, we do know Colossians was written roughly around AD 61-63. Hillel II’s calendar was far from being revealed or agreed upon at that point (see section VI). To be clear, the “closely guarded” secrete calculations were not yet made public, and were not in use as the official calendar of the Jews, as admitted by Rabbinic Jews today (see Section VI and watch video).

 

Paul was an apostle of God, servant to Christ, and is known for using the Scriptures to reason and make sound judgments (Acts 17:2). Paul and His followers would have observed new moons based on the Scripture’s definition of them. History also supports Christ’s use of observational methods (proof in Section VI).

 

  • Good News Magazine 1953 written by Kenneth Herrman“God’s months begin with the new moon….The observation of the new moon is to be made from Jerusalem, not from the North American continent…….The appearance of the new moon in the western sky just after sunset is used to determine the beginning of a new month.”

 

  • Herbert W Armstrong in the article “How often should we partake of the Lord’s Supper”“The first day of the new year begins near the spring equinox when the new moon usually is first visible to the naked eye at Jerusalem (not the United States).”

 

Mr. Armstrong at one point in time, recognized the new moon was to be determined by the naked eye in Jerusalem. It is said Mr. Armstrong was later misled by Herman Hoeh and certain Rabbis who convinced him the Rabbinic calendar uses light in its calculations to establish appointed times. As we know, this is just not true.

 

  • Many believers in the COG’s today

While they may be scattered, these church of God members can calculate the Holy Day dates without any special knowledge or advanced equation. Their authority comes not from themselves, but from God and His Word. When Jews appoint a new Sanhedrin, and return to observation (proclaimed by their own words, see linked video), it will not affect those who are already following the Torah command. They follow Gen 1:14 and Psalm 104:19 which command, we are to use the light from the moon for appointed times.

 

  • Future worshippers of God – Isaiah 66:23 “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 the Lord.”

In the COG we use this scripture for the Sabbath, but not for the new moon. Why? If all flesh will be expected to observe the Sabbath and new moons in the Kingdom, we should set a pattern for righteousness today, as the first fruits of God. We are called to be future kings and leaders! It will be a blessing to teach this simple way and help all men understand why they must come before God at these special appointed times.

 

We cannot ignore God’s commands on the basis that only a few have observed this way in “recent history”. Whenever the Jews in the Old Testament fell away from God’s Law, could they claim because few had been faithful before them, they were no longer required to obey God’s Law? Of course not. They had revival periods in which they turned wholeheartedly to God and reinstated what they had lost (including new moons). Every revival period reinstated new moons, Sabbaths, and Feast Days, these 3 are mentioned inseparably in the following Scriptures: (2nd Chron 2:4, 8:13, 31:3, Ezra 3:5, Neh 10:33, Ezekiel 46:1-11) We too have such an opportunity, so let us all return to our God with wholehearted zeal!

 

2nd Chron 2:4- “Behold, I build an house to the name of the Lord my God, to dedicate it to him, and to burn before him sweet incense, and for the continual shewbread, and for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts of the Lord our God. This is an ordinance for ever to Israel.”

 

This memorial of coming before God on new moons is an ordinance forever. If we don’t believe this word “forever” truly means forever, why do we then observe the Sabbath and Feast days? All of these are relevant because throughout the Bible they are mentioned inseparably and God’s Law is eternal (Psalm 11:7-8). Offerings and sacrifices are also considered eternal commands, even though their meanings for now have a new fulfillment in Christ, and symbolize our prayers and thanksgiving (Psalm 141:2).

2 Comments

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  1. Wow! It is hard to know exactly what to say in light of the sheer mass of information that Andrew and Sarah Henderson have compiled and presented. The rabbinic calendar is not only non-biblical, it is just plain silly in its rationale.
    There is probably no better illustration of “silly” than the part titled, “Calculation of the Traditional [Rabbinic] Molad Moment” (within section 4 of the paper). Quoting directly from Jewish sources, this “explanation” reads like some double talk comedy routine concocted by the likes of Burns and Allen or Abbot and Costello. The reader becomes more confused than enlightened as they continue through this “explanation”.
    More damning is Section VI, Issue 1, which the Henderson paper diplomatically titles: “COGWA’s held position appears to be contradicted by the very sources they utilize in their paper”
    This reader would argue that a more accurate title would be “Lying by ellipsis–how to make a quote say whatever you want it to say.” (an ellipsis is three dots …used to delete extended parts of quoted material for the sake of saving space without sacrificing the sense of what is conveyed in the cited material).
    I bring this up because it gets to the very foundation of the trustworthiness of any ministry. If the ministry will lie to themselves (these quotes, after all, come from the very doctrinal paper approved and enforced by COGAWA–and, in concept, by the entire rest of the cohort of corporate COG fellowships), then how can you ever hope to hear the truth on this issue from any of them?
    And if they are lying about this matter, about how many other matters are they similarly lying? Just think about that! This matter impacts virtually all of the corporate church of God denominational fellowships whether their members and affiliates know or believe it or not.
    Tim McCaulley
    Jacksonville FL

  2. It is amazing how much information is available if one really wants to know. There is so much more than just the calendar issue, which is just one that became apparent to many over the years. Meanings of various commonly used words in religious circles are not necessarily what one thinks they are, nor is their origin commonly known. About ten years ago a few questions came to mind. A purposeful study became my quest to gain better understanding. Better understanding leads to truth. Two questions came to mind. “What does it REALLY mean?” and “Do we REALLY want to know?” It was no longer important to do as one minister (?) said in a sermon, “We have men who have studied all these things, just believe what we tell you.”

    We do not need nor should we want to be taught. We need to be educated. Maybe we should consider the meaning and origin of those two words.

    Teach: Old English tæcan was “show, declare, warn, persuade”

    Educate: Latin, educo or educe was “to draw forth from within.”

    Based on the above, the things we need to understand are already within us. But maybe we just don’t realize what they are because we have been taught rather than educated.

    Two quotes from Galileo became important in my quest for better understanding.
    1. “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”
    2. “You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him discover it in himself.”

    Be careful; no man knows. The truth is NOT within us; we must seek it out through a diligent study of God’s Word; and discover the truth in the Word of God. The problem is that these men think the truth is within them; and close their minds to God’s word and the truth to follow their own false ways.

    God knows, and we must prove all things by the whole Word of God, never blindly following the words of any man! James

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