True New Year: When is it? eCourse - World's Last Chance


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True New Year: When is it? eCourse True New Year: When is it? eCourse Index {3 Lessons: 75 points} The King James Version (KJV) is mostly used in these lessons. Click here to access the KJV online. Lesson #1 {25 points} What does the Bible say about the New Year? Lesson Quiz (offline/online) Lesson #2 {25 points} Reckoning the New Year: Other Points to Consider Lesson Quiz (offline/online) Lesson #3 {25 points} Questions/Objections Answered Lesson Quiz (offline/online)

True New Year: When is it? 1. What does the Bible say about the New Year? Go to Lessons Index

Go to Quiz (offline/online)

(1) What does the Bible say or indicate about the New Year? In Exodus 12, Yahuwah instructs Moses: "This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you." (Exodus 12:2, KJV) In context, we know that this was in or near spring1, but how was Moses to demarcate "the first month" in future years? How was he to know when spring began? Was he to base the New Year on vegetation (i.e. barley), or was he to look to the heavens? Genesis holds the answer: "And Elohim said, 'Let lights come to be in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and appointed times, and for days and years, and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth.' And it came to be so." (Genesis 1:14-15, ISR2) Genesis 1:14 states in plain language that the heavenly bodies are to be for "signs and appointed times, and for days and years." There is no mention of vegetation in this passage. Nowhere in Scripture is it stated that the beginning of the year is to be determined by examining barley. To suggest that the New Year hinges on the ripeness of the barley, when Scripture incontrovertibly declares that the heavenly bodies are to determine years, is to add to Yahuwah's Word. You shall not add to the word that I command you nor take from it that you may keep the commandments of Yahuwah your Eloah that I command you. (See Deuteronomy 4:2.) Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it. (See Deuteronomy 12:32.) Every word of Eloah is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him. Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. (See Proverbs 30:5-6.) While popular tradition teaches that the ripeness of Palestinian barley is the beacon for the New Year, this supposition cannot be supported by even one passage of Scripture. (For more on why the supposed "barely law" cannot rightfully be the determinant for the New Year, refer to the section below, entitled "Insurmountable Issues with Using the 'Barley Harvest Law of Moses.'")

Now that we have established with certainty that the heavenly bodies are to determine years, the question is "What is it that takes place in the heavens to let us know that Winter is over and a New Year can begin?" A very important clue can be found in Exodus 34. "And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year's end [H8622]." (Exodus 34:22, KJV) Now, let us examine the Hebrew word, translated here as "end." H8622 (tekufah) - "coming round, circuit of time or space, a turning, circuit" (Brown-DriverBriggs Hebrew Dictionary) While it is not immediately apparent from the KJV, the word translated here as "end" [Strong's H8622] is referring to the fall equinox (also called the Autumnal equinox) in the middle of the year. This is confirmed by the fact that the Feast of Ingathering, also referred to as the "Feast of Tabernacles" and the "Feast of Booths," takes place in fall, in the Seventh Month (Leviticus 23:34) - in the middle of the year, not at the end of the year. The Encyclopedia Judaica agrees with this interpretation. "As stated, the four seasons in the Jewish year are called tekufot [plural of tekufah; H8622]. More accurately, it is the beginning of each of the four seasons – according to the common view, the mean beginning – that is named tekufah (literally "circuit," from ‫ ףוק‬related to ‫ ףקנ‬, "to go round"), the tekufah of Nisan denoting the mean sun at the vernal equinoctial point, that of Tammuz denoting it at the summer solstitial point, that of Tishri, at the autumnal equinoctial point, and that of Tevet, at the winter solstitial point." (Encyclopedia Judaica, Article "Calendar", p.356) The translations below offer a more accurate rendering of Exodus 34:22. "And thou shalt keep to me the feast of weeks, the beginning of wheat-harvest; and the feast of ingathering in the middle of the year." (Exodus 34:22, Brenton's English Septuagint) "And a feast of weeks thou dost observe for thyself; first-fruits of wheat-harvest; and the feast of in-gathering, at the revolution of the year." (Exodus 34:22, YLT) "And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the first-fruits of wheat-harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the turn of the year." (Exodus 34:22, Darby) Thus far, we have established the following: 1. The Feast of Ingathering revolves around the fall harvest in the Seventh Month (Leviticus 23:34). 2. The Feast of Ingathering is associated with the fall equinox in the middle of the year. It is only logical to conclude based on the above that the beginning of the year then is connected to the spring equinox, which takes place about six months before and after the fall equinox. If the fall feasts are connected to the fall equinox in the middle of the year, then the spring feasts must be connected to the spring equinox at the beginning of the year.

It is very important to note here that the Feast of Ingathering is directly associated with the fall equinox; therefore, in order to fulfill the Biblical mandate, the Feast of Ingathering must be held on or very near the fall equinox. (1a) Is this in agreement with reckoning the New Year by the first New Moon after the vernal equinox? No, not always. Sometimes, when using this method of reckoning, the Feast of Ingathering will be held on or very near the fall equinox. Sometimes, however, the Feast of Ingathering will fall up to 5 weeks after the fall equinox! (This would actually be the case in 2015, if this method were used.) (1b) Is this in agreement with reckoning the New Year by the New Moon closest to the vernal equinox? Yes, always. Using this method, the Feast of Ingathering will always fall on or near the fall equinox. The earliest the Feast will fall is about 7-10 days before the fall equinox. The latest the Feast will fall is about 3 weeks after the fall equinox. (This is actually a liberal estimation; we have not found a single case where the Feast would fall an entire 3 weeks after the equinox, when using this method.) Conclusion: The only definitive anchor point given in Scripture for identifying the proper method of reckoning the New Year is the fall equinox. Exodus 34:22 states that the Feast of Ingathering (in the seventh lunar month) is to be held at the tekufah, which in context is the fall equinox. It is not possible to consistently keep this mandate when always reckoning the New Year by the first New Moon after the vernal equinox. If we reckon the New Year by the New Moon nearest the vernal equinox, however, the Biblical mandate will be consistently met. But we cannot stop here...

1

Exodus 9:31 records that the barley and the flax were nearing maturity when they were destroyed by the plague of hail. By this, we know that it was springtime, or nearing springtime. 2

There are approximately 180 days between the autumnal equinox and the vernal equinox. (http://community.novacaster.com/showarticle.pl?id=11110;n=4001)

True New Year: When is it? 1. What does the Bible say about the New Year? Go to Lessons Index

Go to Lesson #1

QUIZ 1. In __________ , Yahuwah instructs Moses: 'This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.' o

Genesis 1:14

o

Exodus 12:2

o

Exodus 16:1

o

Leviticus 11:11

o

Deuteronomy 16:1

2. In context, we know that this was in the Spring (Question #1) because: o o

Genesis 1:14 states that the New Year will always take place in the Spring. Exodus 9:31 records that the barley and the flax were nearing maturity when they were destroyed by the plague of hail.

o

Exodus 12:18 states that the children of Israel were to observe the Passover every Spring.

o

The Jews observe the Passover in the Spring.

3. Genesis 1:14 states that __________ is to be for 'signs and appointed times, and for days and years.' o

Vegetation

o

Barley

o

Wheat

o

The Gregorian calendar

o

The heavenly bodies

4. Nowhere in Scripture is it stated that 'years' are to be determined by examining barley. o

True.

o

False.

5. Nowhere in Scripture is it stated that 'years' are to be determined by the heavenly bodies. o

True.

o

False.

6. You shall not ______________ that you may keep the commandments of Yahuwah your Eloah that I command you. (See Deuteronomy 4:2.) o

Add to the word that I command you nor take from it

o

Take notice of the equinoxes and solstices

o

Declare the New Year until the barley is ripe

o

Observe the heavens

7. Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall ______________. (See Deuteronomy 12:32.) o

Keep the Passover at even

o

Search for the Barley in its season

o

Not add to it nor take away from it

o

Try to remember all of the Commandments

8. Every word of Eloah is pure . . . ______________, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. (See Proverbs 30:5-6.) o

Speak the truth

o

Add thou not unto His words

o

Observe not the heavens

9. While popular tradition teaches that the ripeness of Palestinian barley is the beacon for the New Year, this supposition cannot be supported by even one passage of Scripture. o

True.

o

False.

10. Using the heavenly bodies to keep time is a purely pagan custom, and cannot be substantiated by even one passage of Scripture. o

True.

o

False.

11. The Hebrew word used to denote the turning point, or middle, of the year is: o

chodesh

o

tekufah

o

moed

o

sehoraw

12. Based on this word's usage (Question #11) in Exodus 34:22, we know that the Fall Feasts (in the middle of the year) are associated with: o

The Passover celebration

o

The barley harvest

o

The Fall equinox

o

The Spring equinox

13. It is only logical to conclude based on the above (Question #12) that the Spring Feasts (at the beginning of the year) are connected to:

o

The wheat harvest

o

The barley harvest

o

The Fall equinox

o

The Spring equinox

14. In order to fulfill the Biblical mandate given in Exodus 34:22, the Feast of Ingathering must be held ______________. o

In the 8th lunar month

o

Twice each year

o

On or very near the Spring equinox

o

On or very near the Fall equinox

15. Can this mandate (Exodus 34:22) be consistently met when reckoning the New Year by the first New Moon after the vernal equinox? o

Yes.

o

No.

16. Can this mandate (Exodus 34:22) be consistently met when reckoning the New Year by the New Moon closest to the vernal equinox? o

Yes.

o

No.

True New Year: When is it? 2. Reckoning the New Year: Other Points to Consider Go to Lessons Index

Go to Quiz (offline/online)

(2) What do 1st century historians tell us about the New Year? Philo, a Hellenistic Jewish Philosopher who lived before, during, and after our Saviour's earthly ministry, recorded many of the details relating to Biblical calendation in the 1st century. In the below quotations, Philo confirms that the Feast of Unleavened Bread is tied to the vernal equinox and that the Feast of Ingathering is tied to the fall equinox. "At the first season which name he gives to the springtime and its equinox, he ordained that what is called the feast of unleavened bread should be kept for seven days, all of which he declared should be honored equally in the ritual assigned to them. For he ordered ten sacrifices to be offered each day as at the new moons, whole-burnt offerings amounting to seventy in all apart from the sin offerings. He considered, that is, that the seven days of the feast bore the same relation to the equinox which falls in the seventh month as the new moon does to the month." (Philo, Special Laws I (181-182) [Colson's Translation]) [Note: Philo, here, says that the fall equinox occurs in the seventh month, just as Scripture indicates - Ex.34:22.] To seven he gives the chief feasts prolonged for many days, two feasts, that is for the two equinoxes, each lasting seven days, the first in the spring to celebrate the ripeness of the sown crops, the second in the autumnfor the ingathering of all the tree-fruits..." (Philo, The Decalogue (161) [Colson's Translation]) "...for it was the general festival of the Jews at the time of the autumnal equinox, during which it is the custom of the Jews to live in tents." (Philo, Flaccus XIV (116) [Yonge's Translation]) [Note: This quote is referring to the Feast of Ingathering, also called the "Feast of Tabernacles" or the "Feast of Booths," in which the Israelites would "dwell in booths seven days." See Lev.23:39-42.] Flavius Josephus, a 1st century Romano-Jewish scholar, sheds even more light on the issue by confirming our understanding from another angle. Josephus comments on the position of the sun in relation to the stars at the time of the Passover. "In the month of Xanthicus, which is by us called Nisan, and is the beginning of our year,on the fourteenth day of the lunar month, when the sun is in Aries, (for in this month it was that we were delivered from bondage under the Egyptians), the law ordained that we should every year slay that sacrifice which I before told you we killed when we came out of Egypt, and which was called the Passover..." (Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book III, Chapter 10, paragraph 5, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/josephus/complete.ii.iv.x.html) Before commenting on this intriguing quote by Josephus, it is imperative that we understand the following: Because of the axial precession, the progression of the sun across the celestial equator in relation to the stars is not the same as what it was in the days of Josephus. In the 1st century, the vernal equinox would

have taken place just as the sun was entering the sign of Aries (the Ram). Today, however, the equinox occurs in the sign of Pisces.

Above: Equinox, 31 AD - Note that Aries is in the immediate path of the sun following the equinox.

Above: Equinox, 2013 AD - Note that Aries, today, is no longer in the sun's immediate path following the equinox. Aries has apparently drifted because of the axial precession. Although we cannot use the same constellation today that they did in the 1st century to determine the beginning of the year, we can determine with a fair degree of certainty how the New Year was reckoned in relation to the equinox. Let us look again at Josephus' quote: "In the month of Xanthicus, which is by us called Nisan, and is the beginning of our year, on the fourteenth day of the lunar month, when the sun is in Aries, (for in this month it was that we were delivered from bondage under the Egyptians), the law ordained that we should every year slay that sacrifice which I before told you we killed when we came out of Egypt, and which was called the Passover..." (Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book III, Chapter 10, paragraph 5, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/josephus/complete.ii.iv.x.html) Here, Josephus plainly states that Passover was observed when the sun was in the sign of Aries. (2a) Is Josephus' testimony consistent with always reckoning the first New Moon after the vernal equinox as the beginning of the year? No. If, in the 1st century, they had demanded that the first New Moon after the vernal equinox was always the beginning of the year, Passover would sometime be observed when the sun was in the sign of Taurus (well past the sign of Aries). Sometimes, this method would place Passover in Aries; sometimes it would not.

Above: 31 AD - Reckoning the first New Moon after the vernal equinox as the beginning of the year would have placed Passover (the 14th day of the lunar month) in the sign of Taurus, well beyond Aries. This does not

agree with Josephus' testimony that the sun should be in Aries (1st century) on Passover. (Note: The translucent orb immediately below the sun is not the moon; it is the sun's glare, as emulated by the astronomy software.) (2b) Is Josephus' testimony consistent with reckoning the New Moon nearest the vernal equinox as the beginning of the year? Yes. If, in the 1st century, the New Moon nearest the vernal equinox was reckoned as the beginning of the year, Passover would have consistently fallen in close proximity to Aries. Using this method would be much more consistent with the testimony of Josephus.

Above: 31 AD - Reckoning the New Moon nearest the vernal equinox as the beginning of the year would have placed Passover (the 14th day of the lunar month) in the sign of Aries, in agreement with Josephus' testimony. Now let us examine a remarkable passage from Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History. Eusebius was a Roman historian who lived from about 260 AD to 340 AD. In the following passage, he is quoting from the Canons of Anatolius on the Paschal (Passover) Festival. "And this is not an opinion of our own; but it was known to the Jews of old, even before Christ, and was carefully observed by them. This may be learned from what is said by Philo, Josephus, and Musæus; and not only by them, but also by those yet more ancient, the two Agathobuli, surnamed 'Masters,' and the famous Aristobulus, who was chosen among the seventy interpreters of the sacred and divine Hebrew Scriptures by Ptolemy Philadelphus and his father, and who also dedicated his exegetical books on the law of Moses to the same kings. These writers, explaining questions in regard to the Exodus, say that all alike should sacrifice the passover offerings after the vernal equinox, in the middle of the first month. But this occurs while the sun is

passing through the first segment of the solar, or as some of them have styled it, the zodiacal circle. Aristobulus adds that it is necessary for the feast of the passover, that not only the sun should pass through the equinoctial segment, but the moon also. For as there are two equinoctial segments, the vernal and the autumnal, directly opposite each other, and as the day of the passover was appointed on the fourteenth of the month, beginning with the evening, the moon will hold a position diametrically opposite the sun, as may be seen in full moons; and the sun will be in the segment of the vernal equinox, and of necessity the moon in that of the autumnal [equinox]." (Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, Book 7, Chapter 32, http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/250107.htm) From this quote, we can deduce the following: 1. Passover cannot fall before the equinox: ". . . all alike should sacrifice the passover offerings after the vernal equinox, in the middle of the first month." 2. The full moon must occur after the equinox: "Aristobulus adds that it is necessary for the feast of the passover, that not only the sun should pass through the equinoctial segment, but the moon also. For as there are two equinoctial segments, the vernal and the autumnal, directly opposite each other, and as the day of the passover was appointed on the fourteenth of the month, beginning with the evening, the moon will hold a position diametrically opposite the sun, as may be seen in full moons; and the sun will be in the segment of the vernal equinox, and of necessity the moon in that of the autumnal [equinox]." At a glance, these may look like two entirely new criteria. Examining these quotations closely, though, reveals that this is actually just a more precise way of stating what we have already learned up to this point, namely that it is the New Moon closest to the vernal equinox that is to begin the year. The primary focus here should be on the full moon, which is inexorably tied to the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The full moon is the fulcrum of the lunar month; it marks the middle of the lunar cycle. If the full moon (the middle of the lunar cycle) falls even shortly before the vernal equinox, then the next New Moon would actually be the closest to the equinox. It is not as simple as counting the number of days between each New Moon Day and the equinox, because days are not necessarily a precise indicator of the middle of the lunar cycle. That is to say that the true middle of the lunar month (i.e. the full moon) does not always coincide with the 14th day of the month; neither does it always coincide with the 15th day of the month. That said, we will sometimes be in error if we simply count the number of days between each New Moon Day and the equinox. Making sure that both Passover (the 14th day of the lunar month) and the full moon fall after the equinox is the real test. Below is an illustration of exactly what Aristobulus was referring to when he stated, "Aristobulus adds that it is necessary for the feast of the passover, that not only the sun should pass through the equinoctial segment, but the moon also. For as there are two equinoctial segments, the vernal and the autumnal, directly opposite each other, and as the day of the passover was appointed on the fourteenth of the month, beginning with the evening, the moon will hold a position diametrically opposite the sun, as may be seen in full moons; and the sun will be in the segment of the vernal equinox, and of necessity the moon in that of the autumnal [equinox]."

Above: This is an illustration of what happens at the first full moon after the equinox. The green circle represents the counter-clockwise path of the sun and moon. Note that both the sun and the moon have crossed the celestial equator (represented by the red line) and are positioned diametrically opposite one another at the "equinoctial points," the sun at the vernal equinox, and the moon at the autumnal equinox, exactly as described Aristobulus, according to Eusebius. This is most remarkable! If we reckon the New Year by the New Moon closest to the vernal equinox, which rightly interpreted will place the Passover and the full moon after the equinox, we will be in harmony with the calendation details recorded by Eusebius. (It is worth noting here that Aristobulus' statement about the necessity of the vernal equinox preceding the full moon of the first month would make little sense if the New Moon after the equinox was always to begin the year. For if the New Moon after the vernal equinox always

began the year, the full moon of the first month would naturally fall weeks after the equinox. The fact that Aristobulus thought it necessary to comment on this criteria suggests that the full moon of the first month would sometimes fall close to the vernal equinox.) Note: In addition to being consistent with Eusebius' commentary on Biblical calendation principles, ensuring that Passover always falls after the vernal equinox is also very logical, in that it will guarantee that only one Passover is observed within each solar year (vernal equinox to vernal equinox). (2c) Is the historical record in agreement with reckoning the New Year by the first New Moon after the vernal equinox? No. Reckoning the New Year by the first New Moon after the vernal equinox:   

...will sometimes place the Feast of Ingathering well past the fall equinox, which is not in harmony with Philo's testimony (or Scripture). ...will sometimes allow the fall equinox to occur in the sixth month, which is not in harmony with Philo's testimony (or Scripture). ...would sometimes have placed the sun in the sign of Pisces (well past the sign of Aries) at the time of the Passover in the first century, which is not in harmony with Josephus' testimony.

(2d) Is the historical record in agreement with reckoning the New Year by the New Moon closest to the vernal equinox? Yes. Reckoning the New Year by the New Moon closest to the vernal equinox (which rightly interpreted will always place the full moon and the Passover after the equinox) is consistent with the testimony of Philo, Josephus, and Eusebius. Conclusion: The testimony of early historians indicates that it was the New Moon closest to the vernal equinox that began the year (which rightly interpreted will always place the full moon and the Passover after the equinox). One cannot maintain harmony with the testimonies of Philo and Josephus, while adhering to the first New Moon after the equinox methodology of reckoning the New Year.

(3) Scripture indicates that the sun, moon, and stars are to be used for timekeeping. (Gen.1:14-16) (3a) When reckoning the New Year by the first New Moon after the vernal equinox, are all three taken into account (sun, moon, & stars)? No. Josephus' testimony of how the stars (i.e. the sign of Aries) coincided with Passover in the first century must be disregarded in order to cling to this method of reckoning. (3b) When reckoning the New Year by the New Moon closest to the vernal equinox, are all three taken into account (sun, moon, & stars)?

Yes. This method is in harmony with Josephus' testimony of how the stars (i.e. the sign of Aries) coincided with Passover in the first century. Note: Although the axial precession has changed the apparent progression of the sun across the celestial equator in relation to the stars since the days of Josephus, we can still use the stars in a sense to confirm the beginning of the year. While it might on a rare occasion be possible for the sun to reach the sign of Aries by Passover, the sun will most often be in the sign of Pisces on Passover. Today, the sun will always be in Pisces when the vernal equinox takes place, and in Virgo when the fall equinox takes place. Conclusion: Reckoning the New Year by the New Moon closest to the vernal equinox is consistent with Scripture, in that it takes into account, and is in harmony with the historical testimony of how the stars (i.e. the constellation of Aries) coincided with Passover in the first century.

(4) According to the Metonic Cycle, there are seven embolismic years within a 19-year cycle: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 (4a) Is the Metonic Cycle manifested when reckoning the New Year by the New Moon closest to the vernal equinox? Yes. This is proof only of our Creator's marvelous design. The establishment of the Metonic Cycle does not prove any particular method of reckoning, but is worth studying, as it shows us where we are in the grand scheme of embolismic years. (See Metonic Cycle Chart.)

(5) There will be two total lunar eclipses (often called "blood moons") in 2014 and two total lunar eclipses in 2015 (4 in all; a "tetrad"). Could this very rare occurrence be a sign pointing Yahuwah's faithful to the correct method of determining the New Year? Given the tremendous importance that Scripture places on the heavenly bodies, it is not unreasonable to conclude that these eclipses are, in fact, a divine marker, and that there coinciding with the annual Feasts is not arbitrary. "He appoints the number of the stars, He gives names to all of them. Great is our Master and mighty in power, There is no limit to His understanding." (Psalm 147:4-5, ISR) "Lift up your eyes on high and see. Who has created these? He who is bringing out their host by number, He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power – not one is missing." (Isa.40:26, ISR) (5a) Will these eclipses coincide with the first day of Unleavened Bread and the first day of Tabernacles both years when reckoning the New Year by the first New Moon after the vernal equinox? No. They will coincide only with the Feasts in 2014. The Feasts in 2015 will fall one month later than the eclipses.

(5b) Will these eclipses coincide with the first day of Unleavened Bread and the first day of Tabernacles both years when reckoning the New Year by the New Moon closest to the vernal equinox? Yes. They will coincide with the Feasts in both years (2014 & 2015). Conclusion: It would be irresponsible for Yahuwahs' faithful to disregard the signs taking place in the heavens in these last days. It is Yahuwah's hand that upholds and orchestrates everything in the universe. In these closing moments, Yahuwah's faithful should be especially mindful and observant of all that takes place in the heavens. And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Master come. (See Acts 2:19-20.) Note: This is not necessarily intended to be evidence in favor of using the nearest New Moon to the vernal equinox method of reckoning, for there have been tetrads of lunar eclipses in the recent past (e.g. 1967-1968) that would not have lined up with the feasts using this reckoning. It is, however, very interesting to note this phenomenon. WLC believes, based on the Exodus 34:22 mandate, that the Biblical New Year is reckoned by the New Moon closest to the vernal equinox. The historical commentary on the matter only buttresses what was deduced from Scripture alone.

True New Year: When is it? 2. Reckoning the New Year: Other Points to Consider Go to Lessons Index

Go to Lesson #2

QUIZ 1. Philo was a Hellenistic Jewish Philosopher who lived ______________. o

Before, during, and after our Saviour's earthly ministry.

o

In the 3rd century AD.

o

In the 3rd century BC.

o

In the 4th century AD.

2. Philo stated: 'To seven he gives the chief feasts prolonged for many days, two feasts, ______________, each lasting seven days . . .' o

That is for the two solstices

o

That is for the two equinoxes

o

That is for a jubilee

o

That is for the harvesting of barley

3. Philo stated: '...for it was the general festival of the Jews at the time of the autumnal equinox, during which it is the custom of the Jews to ______________.' o

Harvest barley

o

Fast for 7 days

o

Stay in their homes (referring to a Mosaic command found in Torah)

o

Live in tents (referring to the observance of the Feast of Tabernacles)

4. Flavius Josephus was ______________. o

A 1st century Romano-Jewish scholar

o

A 2nd century Romano-Jewish scholar

o

A 3rd century Romano-Jewish scholar

o

A 4th century Romano-Jewish scholar

5. According to Josephus, in what constellation was the sun when Passover took place in his day? o

Pisces

o

Aries

o

Taurus

o

It changed each year.

6. Because of the axial precession, the progression of the sun across the celestial equator in relation to the stars is not the same today as what it was in the days of Josephus.

o

True.

o

False.

7. Is Josephus' testimony consistent with always reckoning the first New Moon after the vernal equinox as the beginning of the year? o

Yes.

o

No.

8. Is Josephus' testimony consistent with reckoning the New Moon nearest the vernal equinox as the beginning of the year? o

Yes.

o

No.

9. According to Eusebius, a Roman historian, the 'ancient' writers (e.g. Philo, Josephus, Aristobulus, etc.) noted two criteria that should be met when the year is begun at the right time: (2 answers) o

Passover will fall before the vernal equinox.

o

Passover will fall after the vernal equinox.

o

The Feast of Tabernacles will fall before the fall equinox.

o

The full moon will occur before the vernal equinox.

o

The full moon will occur after the vernal equinox.

o

The Feast of Tabernacles will fall after the fall equinox.

10. The ______________ is the fulcrum of the lunar month; it marks the middle of the lunar cycle. o

New Moon

o

Full Moon

11. If the full moon falls even shortly before the vernal equinox, then the next New Moon would actually be the closest to the equinox. o

True.

o

False.

12. In order to determine which New Moon is closest to the equinox, all that is necessary is to count the number of days between each New Moon Day and the equinox. o

True.

o

False.

13. Is the historical record in agreement with reckoning the New Year by the first New Moon after the vernal equinox? o

Yes.

o

No.

14. Is the historical record in agreement with reckoning the New Year by the New Moon closest to the vernal equinox? o

Yes.

o

No.

15. When reckoning the New Year by the first New Moon after the vernal equinox, are the sun, moon, & stars taken into account? o

Yes. This method aligns perfectly with Josephus' testimony of how the stars related to Passover in his day.

o

No. Josephus' testimony of how the stars related to Passover in his day must be disregarded in order to cling to this method of reckoning.

16. When reckoning the New Year by the New Moon closest to the vernal equinox, are the sun, moon, & stars taken into account? o

Yes. This method aligns perfectly with Josephus' testimony of how the stars related to Passover in his day.

o

No. Josephus' testimony of how the stars related to Passover in his day must be disregarded in order to cling to this method of reckoning.

17. According to the Metonic Cycle, there are ______________ embolismic years within a 19-year cycle? o

Three

o

Five

o

Seven

o

Nine

18. WLC believes, based on the Exodus 34:22 mandate, that the Biblical New Year is reckoned by o

The state of the Palestinian barley.

o

The Full Moon closest to the vernal equinox.

o

The New Moon closest to the vernal equinox.

o

The first Full Moon after the vernal equinox.

o

The first Full Moon after the vernal equinox.

True New Year: When is it? 3. Questions/Objections Answered Go to Lessons Index

Go to Quiz (offline/online)

(1) Question/Objection: If the New Moon nearest the vernal equinox is the true beacon of the New Year, how can we know in advance which New Moon will be the closest? How could ancient Israel have possibly known this? ANSWER: These are very good questions. There is no doubt that the faithful Israelites had to have known well in advance when the Passover would be observed. In years when the Passover fell very close to the vernal equinox (e.g. the day after), the Israelites living outside of Jerusalem would have had to begin their journey even before the equinox had taken place. It is not clear at this time just how the Israelites were able to anticipate when the vernal equinox would occur in relation to the New Moons - so that they could declare with certainty the beginning of the year. One thing is certain, though: the ancient Israelites had an incredible understanding of the heavens. We, today, with all of the available technology are likely only approaching what would have been common knowledge to the average Israelite. Our ignorance, today, is proof of nothing except the loss of knowledge that comes through rebellion and disobedience. Our inability to understand the machinations of the heavens as the ancients did in no way negates the overwhelming evidence that it is the New Moon nearest the vernal equinox that begins the Biblical year. Perhaps, they simply counted 180 days1 from the fall equinox [autumnal equinox] to determine roughly where the vernal equinox would fall, and then calculated where the New Moons would fall in relation to that. For example, if the fall equinox occurred on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles (the 15th day of the 7th lunar month), they could have then worked out the following equation:        

180 days = Approximate number of days from the fall equinox until the vernal equinox 180 days - 15 days (the approximate number of days remaining in the 7th month) = 165 days remaining until the vernal equinox, on New Moon Day of the 8th month. 165 days - 29.5 (approximate number of days in a lunar month) = 135.5 days remaining until the vernal equinox, on New Moon Day of the 9th month. 135.5 days - 29.5 (approximate number of days in a lunar month) = 106 days remaining until the vernal equinox, on New Moon Day of the 10th month. 106 days - 29.5 (approximate number of days in a lunar month) = 76.5 days remaining until the vernal equinox, on New Moon Day of the 11th month. 76.5 days - 29.5 (approximate number of days in a lunar month) = 47 days remaining until the vernal equinox, on New Moon Day of the 12th month. 47 days - 29.5 (approximate number of days in a lunar month) = 17.5 days remaining until the vernal equinox, on New Moon Day of the following month. Since 17.5 days is significantly more than 14.77, which is approximately half the number of days in a lunar month, this will likely be a 13th month, and the next New Moon Day (which will fall about 12 days after the vernal equinox) will begin the year. Note: Once the current position in the 19-year pattern (Metonic Cycle) has been established with certainty, the number of months in future years (and consequently the first month of each year) can be known well in advance.

Doing the math in this fashion certainly cannot account for their ability to accurately anticipate the beginning of the year when the vernal equinox fell very close the full moon in the middle of the lunar month, but, again, their knowledge of the heavens was irrefutably superior to ours. It bears repeating that our inability to understand the machinations of the heavens as the ancients did in no way negates the overwhelming evidence that it is the New Moon nearest the vernal equinox that begins the Biblical year. (2) Question/Objection: Philo states that the "beginning" of the vernal equinox is the first month of the year. Does this not indicate that it is the New Moon after the vernal equinox that begins the year? "Moses puts down the beginning of the vernal equinox as the first month of the year, attributing the chief honour, not as some persons do to the periodical revolutions of the year in regard of time, but rather to the graces and beauties of nature which it has caused to shine upon men . . . Accordingly, in this month, about the fourteenth day of the month, when the orb of the moon is usually about to become full, the public universal feast of the passover is celebrated . . ." (Philo, On The Life Of Moses II, Section XLI (222-224), http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/yonge/book25.html) ANSWER: This is an excellent question. (WLC originally misinterpreted this commentary in the same way.) At first glance, it appears that Philo is saying that the first lunar month of the year begins with the vernal equinox. Philo, here, cannot be referring to lunar months, though; the lunar cycle pays no attention to when the equinox occurs, and consequently, the New Moon does not consistently line up with the vernal equinox. Philo, here, is apparently referring to solar months, not lunar months. A solar month is determined by the sun's location in the zodiac; the first solar month begins with the vernal equinox. In Philo's day, the first solar month was Aries (as noted by Josephus), followed by Taurus, Gemini, etc. The first solar month of each solar year begins with the vernal equinox. Later in this passage, Philo goes on to say "in this month, about the fourteenth day of the month, . . . [the] feast of the passover is celebrated." Here Philo is clearly referring to the first lunar month. When viewed together, we see that Philo is restating what we learned earlier from Josephus: The Passover (the 14th day of the first lunar month) was observed in the first solar month (when the sun was in Aries). This statement says nothing about reckoning the New Year by the first New Moon after the vernal equinox. (3) Question/Objection: Philo states that months are reckoned "from the vernal equinox." Does this not indicate that it is the New Moon after the vernal equinox that begins the year? "(Scripture) thinks it proper to reckon the cycle of months from the vernal equinox. Moreover, (this month) is said to be the ‘first’ and the ‘beginning’ by synonymy, since these (terms) are explained by each other, for it is said to be the first both in order and in power; similarly that time which proceeds from the vernal equinox also appears (as) the beginning both in order and in power, in the same way as the head (is the beginning) of a living creature. And thus those who are learned in astronomy have given this name to the beforementioned time. For they call the Ram the head of the zodiac since in it the sun appears to produce the vernal equinox." (Philo, Supplement II, Questions and Answers on Exodus, translated by Ralph Marcus, Ph.D., Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA:, 1953, pp. 2-3.) ANSWER: Here, again, Philo is not referring to the cycle of lunar months, but rather to the cycle of solar months, which as we discussed in the previous "question/objection," commences at the vernal equinox. Further

proof of this is found later in this passage, when Philo makes reference to Aries, "the Ram the head of the zodiac," which in the first century, was the first month of the solar year. Again, this statement says nothing about reckoning the New Year by the first New Moon after the vernal equinox. (4) Question/Objection: Reckoning the New Year by the first New Moon after the vernal equinox would not allow enough time for the barley to become ripe ("Abib") before the day of First Fruits. ANSWER: Much could be said on this point, but we need not spend an exuberant amount of time addressing this in order to expose the fallacy. We need only look at what Scripture actually says about "Abib" and the First Fruits offering. "And the flax and the barley was smitten: for the barley was in the ear [Abib], and the flax was bolled." (Exodus 9:31) "This day came ye out in the month Abib." (Exodus 13:4) "Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread: (thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty." (Exodus 23:5) "The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt." (Exodus 34:18) And if thou offer a meat offering of thy firstfruits unto Yahuwah, thou shalt offer for the meat offering of thy firstfruits green ears of corn [Abib] dried by the fire, even corn beaten out of full ears. (See Leviticus 2:14.) Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto Yahuwah thy Elohim: for in the month of Abib Yahuwah thy Elohim brought thee forth out of Egypt by night. (See Deuteronomy 16:1.) According to the Brown-Driver-Briggs' Hebrew Dictionary, Abib simply means: "(1) fresh, young barley ears, barley; (2) month of ear-forming, of greening of crop, of growing green Abib, month of exodus and passover . . ." The root of Abib is Strong's #H3, which means "freshness, fresh green, green shoots, or greenery." (BrownDriver-Briggs' Hebrew Dictionary) Abib does not mean "ripe," nor does it mean 16 days2 from being ripe. It simply means young or green. This, really, is the crux of the matter. When Moses recorded the Abib state of the barley (Exodus 9:31), he was simply stating that the barley had sprung up; it was green and growing. That is why it was destroyed, while the wheat and the rie (which had not yet sprung up) were not (Exodus 9:32). When Scripture refers to the "month of Abib," it is simply referring to the month in which the crops mature, or begin to mature. The second very important point we need to address is Yahuwah's instructions regarding the First Fruits offering. And Yahuwah spake unto Moses, saying, 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

shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before Yahuwah, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto Yahuwah. And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto Yahuwah for a sweet savour: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin. And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your Elohim: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings." (See Leviticus 23:9-14.) Simply put, there is no mention here of "mature" barley. The command is simply to bring a sheaf of first fruits to the priest to wave on the appointed day, and not to eat of the fields until this had been done. As responsible Bible students and seekers of truth, we cannot ignore the weight of evidence identifying the New Moon closest to the vernal equinox as the beginning of the year in favor of the Karaite Jewish tradition, and a presumed understanding of the ripening crops in ancient Palestine. (5) Question/Objection: I was always taught that the New Year could not be declared until the Palestinian barely was ripe. Why do you not take the ripeness of the barley into consideration? ANSWER: There are many insuperable issues with the supposition that the New Year revolves exclusively around the ripeness of Palestinian barley: 

Nowhere in Scripture is there any mention of a "barley harvest law."



Genesis 1:14 declares that the heavenly bodies are "for seasons, and for days, and years." While we can logically conclude that the barley would need to be ripe for the day of firstfruits, and we can contextually verify that the barley was nearing maturity when the hail plagued Egypt (Ex.9:22-31), nowhere is Scripture does it say that vegetation (i.e. barley) is to be for "for seasons, and for days, and years."



The concept of "years" is introduced pre-sin, pre-flood, and pre-curse (Genesis 1:14), at least 1,500 years before the flood (2,500 years before the Exodus). It does not seem reasonable to presume that the antediluvian world was dependent upon barley for determining the New Year. It does make sense, however, to conclude that they were dependent upon the heavenly bodies, Yahuwah's ordained calendar, for determining "seasons, . . . days, and years."



Noah was able to accurately keep track of time during the flood (without planting barley).



The children of Israel were able to keep track of time during their wilderness experience (without planting barley). Numbers 9:1-14 explains how the children of Israel kept the Passover in the wilderness.



To suggest that the ripeness of Palestinian barley is the only way to determine the beginning of the year is to suggest one of two things: (1) Those living outside of the geographic region of Palestine are entirely dependent upon internet technology (for receiving witness to the state of Palestinian Barley, which is itself incredibly trivial, given the nature of today's agricultural practices); (2) Yahuwah's faithful must rely on tradition and man's version of history which declares the acceptable parallel of

Gregorian dates in which the "latter rains" would have fallen two thousand plus years ago. In a sense, this implies that we need the Gregorian calendar to determine the beginning of the New Year, for without it, we could not know the satisfactory dates for beginning the New Year. It is not acceptable to suggest that Yahuwah's faithful must rely on man's guesswork or the papal Gregorian calendar for reckoning the Biblical New Year. Nor is it acceptable to suggest that the faithful must rely on internet technology and modern agricultural practices in the middle east. 

1

Adhering to the supposed "barley harvest law" demands that we believe that the faithful prior to Israel's entrance into Canaan (including the children of Israel in the wilderness) could not begin their year correctly, or that the method for reckoning the beginning of the year changed once Israel had entered the promised land. This is an absurd proposition. Are we to believe that the faithful, up to this point, calculated the beginning of the year based upon an assumed ripening date for barley in a land in which they were not even living? Nowhere in Scripture does it say that Palestinian barley is to determine the new year. The Bible states in plain language that years are to be determined by the heavenly bodies. "And Elohim 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." (Genesis 1:14)

There are approximately 180 days between the autumnal (http://community.novacaster.com/showarticle.pl?id=11110;n=4001) 2

equinox

and

the

vernal

equinox.

The First Fruits offering was to take place on the 16th day of the first month, following the Sabbath of Unleavened Bread. (See Leviticus 23:9-11.)

True New Year: When is it? 3. Questions/Objections Answered Go to Lessons Index

Go to Lesson #3

QUIZ 1. It was not possible for the ancient Israelites to know in advance when the vernal equinox would occur in relation to the New Moons. o

True. The ancients' understanding of the heavens was very poor.

o

False. The ancients had an incredible understanding of the heavens.

2. There are about ________ days between the fall equinox and the vernal equinox. o

150

o

180

o

200

o

354

o

365

3. Once the current position Metonic Cycle has been established with certainty, the number of months in future years (and consequently the first month of each year) can be known well in advance. o

True.

o

False.

4. The vernal equinox always marks the beginning of a lunar month. o

True. The vernal equinox marks the beginning of the first lunar month of the year.

o

False. The vernal equinox marks the beginning of the first solar month of the year.

5. Scripture states that the barley must be ripe before the New Year can be declared. o

True.

o

False.

6. 'Abib' means: o

Ripe barley

o

Barley ripe enough to be parched and eaten

o

Palestinian wheat

o

Young or green

7. When Scripture refers to the 'month of Abib,' it is simply referring to ______________. o

The first month to begin after the Palestinian barley has been declared ripe

o

The first month to begin after the Palestinian barley has began to ripen

o

The month in which the crops mature, or begin to mature

o

The first month to begin after the Palestinian barley is harvested

8. Yahuwah's instructions regarding the First Fruits offering (Leviticus 23:9-14) make no mention of mature barley. o o

True. False. The command states that the first fruits cannot be brought to the priest until the barley is ripe.

9. The First Fruits command (Leviticus 23:9-14) is: (2 answers) o

Bring a sheaf of first fruits to the priest to wave on the appointed day

o

Bring a sheaf of mature barley to the priest to wave on the appointed day

o

Bring a sheaf of green barley to the priest to wave on the appointed day

o

Bring a sheaf of barley to the priest that is ripe enough to be parched and eaten

o

Not to eat of the fields until the first fruits offering had been made

o

Not to eat of the fields until the after the Feast of Unleavened Bread

o

Not to eat of the fields until the barley was 'in the ear'

10. The infallible foundation of all truth is: o

Jewish Tradition

o

The Karaite Tradition

o

Scholarly commentaries on the Bible

o

Majority consensus

o

Popular opinion

o

The Bible

11. Nowhere in Scripture is there any mention of a 'barley harvest law.' o

True.

o

False.

12. Genesis 1:14 declares that the heavenly bodies are for 'years.' o

True.

o

False.

13. Genesis 1:14 declares that vegetation is to be for 'years.' o

True.

o

False.

14. The concept of years was not introduced until after the flood.

o

True.

o

False.

15. Noah was able to accurately keep track of time during the flood (without planting barley). o

True.

o

False.

16. The children of Israel were able to keep track of time during their wilderness experience (without Palestinian barley). o

True.

o

False.

17. The Biblical New Year is dependent upon: o

Modern agricultural practices in the middle east

o

The heavenly bodies

o

The papal Gregorian calendar

18. Adhering to the supposed 'barley harvest law' demands that we believe that the faithful prior to Israel's entrance into Canaan could not begin their year correctly. o

True.

o

False.

19. It is probable that that the faithful, living prior to Israel's entrance into the promised land, calculated the beginning of the year based upon an assumed ripening date for barley in a land in which they were not even living. o

True.

o

False.

20. The weight of evidence, the bedrock of which is the Exodus 34:22 mandate, indicates that the Biblical New Year is reckoned by: o

The first visible crescent after the barley is ripe in Palestine

o

The first visible crescent after the barley is ripe in Palestine

o

The first New Moon that takes place after the vernal equinox

o

The first New Moon that takes place after the autumnal equinox

o

The New Moon closest to the vernal equinox

o

The New Moon closest to the autumnal equinox