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113: Setting the Biblical New Year

God set the new year in Egypt at the Passover month in which Israel came out from Egypt.  Since then the biblical new year begins with the same month [in the same season of the year] that God established in Egypt.

Later the command regarding the Wave Offering once they began to cultivate the promised land came into play, and gave us a firm starting point from that time on. 

Originally there were 12 thirty day months in a solar year, this changed later and they had to begin to intercalate to keep the months in line with the solar year. Early civilizations around the world used calendars with months of 30 days and years of 360 days. These calendars functioned well until sometime in the 8th century BC when suddenly it became necessary to change them. Then most civilizations around the world began to modify their calendars to allow for 5 extra days for the year and 6 fewer days for a lunar year of 12 full months; a modern lunar year is 354 days (12 months x 29.5 days).

The number of days in a year change was marked by the second King of Rome, Numa Pompilius, and by his Jewish contemporary, King Hezekiah. Later other civilizations adopted the new 365 day year as well. These events are often linked with the shadow on the sundial going back 10 degrees in the days of Hezekiah around 700-750 BC.

I do not pretend to know details of these things but there was a change in the number of days in a solar year and in the lunar month as well, in about the 8th century B.C.; which then necessitated the intercalation of a 13th month every so often to keep the lunar year in line with the seasons and the solar year, about the time of Hezekiah which after that would have been needed in the days of Jesus Christ and is still needed today. 

After that time the Sanhedrin began to set the new moons at Jerusalem and also set the new year from Jerusalem.  They did not go searching across the nation looking for maturing barley but set the new year by the barley in the immediate vicinity of Jerusalem, where it would be cut when the nation was to gathered at Jerusalem for the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

God commanded that when Israel entered the land and began to cultivate the land,  that they should cut and bring the first sheaf of the spring barley harvest to present to God. 

This was to be a sheaf of THEIR harvest, because of the meaning of this spring harvest as representing the early harvest of first fruits of the called out.  It is for this reason that this first sheaf was required to be from the HARVEST cultivated by Israel, and not from the harvests of the Canaanites  [which were symbolic of people not being faithful and submissive to God].  

Today many search for “wild barley.”   This is a somewhat confusing misnomer as today’s so called “wild barley” is descended from the ancient cultivated barley without the modern artificial genetic changes.  It is quite right to seek out this ancient barley for biblical purposes today.

Leviticus  23:10 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye [the nation] shall bring a [one] sheaf of the firstfruits of your [the collective national harvest] harvest unto the priest: 11And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.

The term “ye shall” here does not mean that every individual should cut a sheaf to bring to the priest, but that ONE sheaf should be cut from the collective nation of Israel and brought to the priest; otherwise the priest would have to lift up thousands of sheaves and the symbology of one first sheaf beginning the whole harvest would be lost.  This was always understood by the priests and in no case was there ever more than ONE sheaf lifted up to God.

The first sheaf represented the acceptance of the resurrected Lamb of God, by God the Father, as the first of the harvest of the early harvest of first fruits.  This was  because there would be NO spiritual harvest and resurrection of men to spirit unless the First Sheaf, the Lamb of God was sacrificed for sin and was resurrected after a perfect sinless life – which took place at Jerusalem – and that Lamb of God was accepted by God the Father as the ONLY Mediator, Intercessor and a spiritual High Priest forever; to effect reconciliation between sinners and God the Father in heaven.

Leviticus 23;11  And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. 

History tells us that Joshua took seven years to conquer the land and it took another seven years to divide the land to all the families of Israel by lot and after that, when Israel began to cultivate the land, a First Sheaf of the harvest was cut on the day after the Sabbath on a Sunday and was then waved before the LORD on that same Sunday. 

Israel did fall away many times, but when they kept the Word of God they always cut the Wave Sheaf at the very beginning of Sunday immediately after sunset ending the Sabbath and beginning Sunday and processed the grain lifting it up to they LOIRD after the morning Daily Sacrifice. 

In the wilderness God commanded that when they entered the land they were to cut the first sheaf of the spring harvest and the Rabbins interpreted this in the Mishnah to mean that the Sheaf could be cut anywhere in Palestine: However this command for cutting the Wave Sheaf was qualified by God’s command to appear before him for the Festivals. 

All able bodied persons were commanded to present themselves before God and to observe the Feasts in the place that God should choose and all being present at the place that God chose; the Wave Sheaf – which was cut during the Spring Feast – would be cut at that same place as well. 

All Israel was to appear wherever the Tabernacle was, because God dwelt in the Tabernacle and the Tabernacle was movable. 

Then in latter times the Ark was moved to Jerusalem by David when God revealed that God had chosen Jerusalem as the place of God’s name or presence, and finally when Solomon completed the Temple and God placed His name in that Temple (2 Chron 12:16), the people were to come to that Temple to seek God during the Feasts of the LORD.

Once the Temple was built, God commanded every able bodied person to appear before him at the Temple for the Feast, and if the people obeyed God’s command, they would all be at the Temple at Jerusalem during the Feast; and it is self evident that the Wave Sheaf would have to be cut there, because all the people were already gathered there. 

For more see The Wave Sheaf Offering article in the Spring Festivals category

The point is that the Wave Sheaf was not cut many miles away but was cut in the immediate vicinity of the tabernacle and waved on the same day that it was cut.  Later when the Ark was moved to the temple mount the ceremony and the cutting was also moved to Jerusalem, where God had chosen to dwell and to place his name. 

God has commanded that all Israel assemble before him at Jerusalem for Passover and the ULB Feast.   That is the LAW and means that the sheaf must be cut at Jerusalem where  all the people were gathered; and anyone not gathered at Jerusalem was not keeping the commandments, therefore it was unlawful to cut the Wave Sheaf anywhere else after God chose the temple at Jerusalem. 

Deuteronomy 16:16 Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the Lord empty:

Today God is again working to focus the whole world on Jerusalem from which Christ will rule all nations in the near future.

The Wave Sheaf must be cut at Jerusalem and therefore must be ripening at Jerusalem to begin the new year. 

Since Jerusalem at 2,500 feet in elevation is the highest place and is in the mountains it is the last place to ripen, meaning that the whole barley harvest will be ripe and ready to be harvested when the barley is ripe at Jerusalem.

New Year Barley:   

If the harvest was maturing, do you think that one would need to take several long days to find a small amount of anomalous maturing barley in two or three fields and then set the new year by those few abnormal plants;  while ALL of the barley everywhere else was at least a month away from maturing?  or would the barley be maturing widely and be easily found if the harvest was maturing? 

The ONLY God commanded law setting the new year, is to cut and offer the Wave Offering barley sheaf beginning the spring harvest.

The whole nation is commanded to gather at Jerusalem from Passover through the following seven day Feast of ULB and the Sheaf would have to be cut at Jerusalem, because that was where the people were gathered before God. 

Deuteronomy 16:16 Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the Lord empty:

Deuteronomy 16:5 Thou mayest not sacrifice the passover within any of thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee: 16:6 But at the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place his name in,

When the barley was ripe at Jerusalem it would also be ripening across the whole land; quite different from taking a small bit of freak barley, which is well ahead of all the other barley growth, when the barley harvest would not be maturing for another month. 

 

We need to realize that the Wave Sheaf is meant to be the first sheaf of a much larger harvest, and finding enough anomalous barley for one sheaf while the main harvest is at least a month away is not acceptable.  

We also need to keep God’s commandment regarding the Wave Offering concerning the barley, without any extraneous matters like bird migrations or ripening figs [NOTE:  The incident of Jesus and the fig tree was where?  It was in Jerusalem!  Not Beer Sheva etc!].

We know that from at least the days of Ezra, the priests were given a plot of land just outside the temple walls a few hundred yards away across the brook Kedron in the Ashes valley.  It was in the sheltered Ashes Valley that the priests cultivated a plot of land for the purpose of cutting a Wave Sheaf for the First Sheaf Offering on the first Sunday during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  

From God’s revival leader Ezra to the destruction of the temple in c 70 A.D. and throughout the physical life of Jesus Christ; the New Year was always set by the ripening barley in the Ashes valley just across the Kidron from the temple walls!  and Jesus Christ never questioned this or taught anything contrary, indeed he confirmed this method of setting the New Year by accepting it and observing the Festivals by this method throughout his physical life!  

Brethren, what was good for Jesus Christ is good for us!  He set an example that we should follow!

We are to begin the New Year when the barley is ready to ripen in the immediate vicinity of the temple in Jerusalem, regardless of the condition of the harvest in Beer Sheva or Sderot or anywhere else; just like Jesus Christ did!  We are not to set the New Year by the state of the barley in Sderot or Nazareth or anywhere other than Jerusalem; for God has placed his name [temple, headquarters; His presence] at Jerusalem!

To emphasize this I want to show how the Wave Offering was actually conducted and demonstrate its meaning, which is lost when one uses a harvest from any area except Jerusalem.

Each Passover the priests would go to the Ashes Valley plot a few hundred yards from the temple and bind out a sheaf with cords, and in 31 A.D. they bound a sheaf just as Messiah was dying on the stake.  Then late on the Sabbath after Passover they would go to the Ashes valley plot and prepare to cut the sheaf.  

In 31 A.D. the First Sheaf was cut from the earth at the beginning of Sunday just after the Sabbath had ended and at the same time as Jesus Christ was resurrected and changed from flesh back to spirit. 

Then Jesus WAITED through until the Wave Offering was lifted up to be accepted by God the Father before he also ascended up to be accepted by God the Father.  This symbolism was perfect being designed by the Creator himself!  but the symbolism would be broken if the sheaf were cut at some distant location and sent to the temple. 

The Wave Sheaf MUST be cut very close to the location where it is to be offered, for the symbolism to be properly fulfilled!  and since the New Year is set when the barley will be ripe enough to be cut; the New Year is to be set from Jerusalem. 

Micah 4:2 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

Quoting the Jewish historian Edersheim:

“On the 14th of Nisan, Passover day, the spot whence the first sheaf was to be reaped had been marked out by delegates from the Sanhedrim, by tying together in bundles, while still standing, the barley that was to be cut down.  It was customary to choose for this purpose the sheltered Ashes-valley across Kedron, because of its proximity to the temple. . . . [Edersheim also says:  The Temple – Its Ministry and Services, p.142-3:
“Though, for obvious reasons, it was customary to choose for this purpose the sheltered Ashes-valley across Kedron, there was no restriction on that point, provided the barley had grown in an ordinary field—of course in Palestine itself—and not in garden or orchard land, and that the soil had not been manured nor yet artificially watered (Mishnah, Menach. viii.1,2).”  [Edersheim was only looking at the Wave Offering command and misses the point that there was a restriction on location due to the fact that the whole nation was commanded to be present in one place, therefore obviously the cutting would take place in the vicinity of were the nation was gathered
].

When the time for cutting the sheaf had arrived, that is, on the evening of the Sabbath, just as the sun went down, three men, each with a sickle and basket, formally set to work.

In order to clearly bring out all that was distinctive in the ceremony, they first asked of the bystanders three times each of these questions: ‘Has the sun gone down?’ ‘With this sickle?’ ‘Into this basket?’ ‘On this Sabbath  and lastly, ‘Shall I reap?’ Having each time been answered in the affirmative, they cut down barley to the amount of one ephah, or ten omers, or three seahs, which is equal to about three pecks and three pints of our English measure.

The grain thus prepared was immediately taken to the temple [and parched and then] and  ground in a barley mill. According to some the flour was then always successfully passed through thirteen sieves, each finer than the other. 

The omer of flour was mixed with a ‘log,’ or very nearly three-fourths of a pint of oil, and a handful  of frankincense put upon it, then waved before the Lord [after the morning Daily sacrifice], and a handful taken out and burned on the altar.” 

The Ashes Valley is at the hghest elevation of cultivated land in Israel, and due to that circumstance the barley there is the last to ripen.  This means that when the barley is cut in the Ashes Valley by the priests, the barley harvest in all other areas will also be ripe and ready for harvest and that the national barley harvest can begin. 

On the other hand if one finds a few fields of ripening barley and cuts the First Sheaf from an isolated ripening field the national barley will not be at the ready for harvest after the Wave Sheaf is cut. 

There was a restriction in that the sheaf be cut and offered at the place where God’s tabernacle and later temple was, simply because all the people were commanded to be there. During the tabernacle period there was no restriction on where the tabernacle was set up, the ark could be moved to any place in the land and in fact was set up at Shiloh and later at Jerusalem.

Once the temple was built, since it was not movable and God had placed his presence there; Jerusalem became a permanent place for the cutting and offering of the Wave Offering as well as making all other offerings.

2 Chronicles 7:12 And the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice.

Edersheim’s statement that there was no restriction on the location of the Wave Sheaf cutting place is wrong, since he was looking for a specific command to cut at a certain place; and did not take into account the fact that God had chosen Jerusalem and the temple there as His own and that all sacrifices were to be made at the temple and nowhere else; and that all Israel was commanded to be gathered at the Temple for the full seven day Feast during which the Wave Sheaf was to be cut. 

The Wave Offering is included in the sacrifices as a commanded offering during the Feast of Unleavened Bread which was to be observed for seven days in the presence of God which in the temple period was AT JERUSALEM.

Deuteronomy 16:16 Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the Lord empty:

All Israel was gathered at Jerusalem for the seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread [and Passover] during the temple period! Why? Because God’s House was there and they were appearing before God!

Therefore the Sheaf was cut at Jerusalem, [Where else could the sheaf be cut with all Israel gathered at the tabernacle or later at the temple at Jerusalem?] just as Jesus died and was resurrected at Jerusalem!

Deuteronomy 16:1 Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto the Lord thy God: for in the month of Abib the Lord thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.

16:2 Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the passover unto the Lord thy God, of the flock and the herd, in the place which the Lord shall choose to place his name there.

16:3 Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life.

16:4 And there shall be no leavened bread seen with thee in all thy coast seven days; neither shall there any thing of the flesh, which thou sacrificedst the first day at even, remain all night until the morning.

16:5 Thou mayest not sacrifice the passover within any of thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee:

16:6 But at the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place his name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt.

16:7 And thou shalt roast and eat it in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose: and thou shalt turn in the morning, and go unto thy tents.

Then the Feast of Unleavened Bread also at the tabernacle and later at Jerusalem

16:8 Six days thou shalt eat unleavened bread: and on the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to the Lord thy God: thou shalt do no work therein.

It is extremely obvious that the Sheaf was to be cut the same day that it was offered as was clearly done in the temple period [and approved of by Christ] and was commanded to be offered at the House of God at Jerusalem, when the whole nation was gathered there before God; and it was an offering being presented to God to be accepted by God.

Incidental signs 

Things like greening trees, migrating birds and the equinox are indeed strong indicators of spring, but the only God commanded sign to set the first month of the year is the Wave Sheaf Offering for which the barley must be ripe, and remember that the ripening fig tree cursed by Christ was at JERUSALEM not in some other location, showing that the ripening trees and harvest were to be observed at JERUSALEM – after God placed His name there – and not some other place.

The biblical new year begins with the first light of the new moon at Jerusalem when the barley is ripening enough at Jerusalem for the Wave Sheaf cutting during the Feast of Unleavened Bread at Jerusalem.

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  1. What? Brian said there was plenty of barley ready. Whats going on.

    Brian also said that there was only flowering barley in Jerusalem. I was very careful to explain the reasons for my position; ONLY barley ripening at Jerusalem is acceptable to begin the new year; barley in other locations is NOT acceptable for the reasons given in the article. James

  2. I was just wondering whose barley report you were going by – as Brian Convery seemed to think the barley was abib.

    Brian also said that there was only flowering barley in Jerusalem. I was very careful to explain the reasons for my position; ONLY barley ripening at Jerusalem is acceptable to begin the new year; barley in other locations is NOT acceptable for the reasons given in the article. James

  3. James,

    Why are you leaving part of the quote from Edersheim out? [Because he has included various later Rabbinic errors and the only essential point is that it was cut in the immediate vicinity of the presence of God and offered the same day at the temple, more below. I have also updated the article with more proofs].

    …”

    It was customary to choose for the purpose the sheltered Ashes valley across Kedron, there was no restriction on that point, provided the barley had grown in an ordinary field – of course in Palestine itself – and not in garden or orchard land, and that the soil had not been manured nor yet artificially watered. When the time for cutting the sheaf had arrived,…”

    Or to add even more context from the quote:

    “Already, on the 14th of Nisan, the spot whence the first sheaf was to be reaped bad been marked out by delegates from the Sanhedrim, by tying together in bundles, while still standing, the barley that was to be cut down. Though for obvious reasons it was customary to choose for the purpose the sheltered Ashes valley across Kedron, there was no restriction on that point [This is false; the restriction was added later when God chose Jerusalem see below] , provided the barley had grown in an ordinary field – of course in Palestine itself – and not in garden or orchard land, and that the soil had not been manured nor yet artificially watered. When the time for cutting the sheaf had arrived, that is, on the evening of the 15th of Nisan (even though it was a sabbath) [here is an obvious later Rabbinic error and is not scriptural as he later admits that they did cut after sunset ending Sabbath] just as the sun went down, three men, each with a sickle and basket, formally set to work. But in order clearly to bring out all that was distinctive in the ceremony, they first asked of the bystanders three times each of these questions: ‘Has the sun gone down?’ ‘With this sickle?’ ‘Into this basket?’ ‘ On this sabbath?’ (or first Passover day); and lastly, ‘Shall I reap?’ Having been each time answered in the affirmative, they cut down barley to the amount of one ephah, or ten omers, or three seahs, which is equal to about three pecks and three pints of our English measure. The ears were brought into the court of the temple” (Edersheim, ‘Temple Service’)

    There was a restriction that the sheaf be cut and offered at the place where God’s tabernacle temple was. During the tabernacle period there was no restriction on where the tabernacle was set up, the ark could be moved to any place in the land and in fact was set up at Shiloh and later at Jerusalem.

    Once the temple was built, since it was not movable and God had placed his presence there; Jerusalem became a permanent place for the cutting and offering of the Wave Offering as well as all other offerings. This makes the extended quote unnecessary as I thought that I had explained this in the article.

    2 Chronicles 7:12 And the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice.

    Edersheim’s statement here; that there was no restriction on the location of the Wave Sheaf cutting place was wrong, since he was looking for a specific command to cut at a certain place; and did not take into account the restriction that God had chosen Jerusalem and the temple there as His own and that all sacrifices were to be made at the temple and nowhere else;and that all Israel was commanded to be gathered at the Temple for the full seven day Feast during which the Wave Sheaf was to be cut. The Wave Offering is included in the sacrifices as a commanded offering in the Feast of Unleavened Bread which was to be observed for seven days in the presence of God which in the temple period was AT JERUSALEM.

    Deu 16:16 Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the Lord empty:

    All Israel was gathered at Jerusalem for the Feast of ULB [and Passover] during the temple period! Why? Because God’s House was there and they were appearing before God! Therefore the Sheaf was cut at Jerusalem, [with all Israel gathered at the tabernacle or later at the temple at Jerusalem where else could it be cut?] just as Jesus died and was resurrected at Jerusalem!

    Deu 16:1 Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto the Lord thy God: for in the month of Abib the Lord thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.

    2 Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the passover unto the Lord thy God, of the flock and the herd, in the place which the Lord shall choose to place his name there.

    3 Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life.

    4 And there shall be no leavened bread seen with thee in all thy coast seven days; neither shall there any thing of the flesh, which thou sacrificedst the first day at even, remain all night until the morning.

    5 Thou mayest not sacrifice the passover within any of thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee:

    6 But at the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place his name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt.

    7 And thou shalt roast and eat it in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose: and thou shalt turn in the morning, and go unto thy tents.

    Then the Feast of Unleavened Bread at Jerusalem

    8 Six days thou shalt eat unleavened bread: and on the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to the Lord thy God: thou shalt do no work therein.

    It is extremely obvious that the Sheaf was to be cut the same day that it was offered as was clearly done in the temple period [and approved of by Christ] and was commanded to be offered at the House of God at Jerusalem, when all the people were gathered there before God and it was an offering being presented to God to be accepted by God. James

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