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© 2001
Joe Griffin
01-03-08.JSH-450 /
The Inscrutable Question: The Doctrine of Feasts: Introduction: Jewish Calendar: Regulated by
the Moon & Stars, Job 38:31-33
The Doctrine of Feasts
We have learned from our study of Genesis 1:14 that the primary reason the luminaries were
placed in the heavens was so that man could systematically calculate the times and days that the
sacred observances were to take place.
The divinely sophisticated order of the universe was designed to give mankind a repetitive cycle
of celestial phenomena that would consistently identify the times of the sacred feasts and
Job and Jeremiah refer to the precision of the heavenly bodies as the “ordinances of heaven.”
Job 38:31 Orion?
“Can you bind the chains of Pleiades or loose the cords of
v. 32 - “Can you lead forth a constellation in its season and guide the Bear with her
v. 33 - “Do you know the ordinances of the heavens or fix their rule over the earth?”
1. This passage is the Lord’s description of several constellations that He created in Genesis 1:1. The first
one He mentions is a cluster of seven stars in the constellation Taurus that rises in the east just
before sunrise beginning around April 20th. The Lord asks Job, “Can you bind the chains of
Pleiades?” The question posed to Job inquires if it was his power that brought these stars into such
a compact cluster.
2. Next is the constellation Orion. As winter approaches this grouping of stars rises in the west at sunset
thus alerting the observer to the advent of cold weather.
3. The third word used is an odd one: Mazzaroth. It refers to the “constellations of the ecliptic” that
systematically appear out of the south. The sun appears to pass through twelve of these
constellations during the course of the year, one each month.
4. The word ecliptic refers to the imaginary circle of the celestial sphere that is the apparent path of the sun
among the stars. Mazzaroth refers to the procession of constellations that appear throughout the
year within this pathway. Twelve are emphasized that are identified with each month of the year.
5. These are not to be confused with the “signs of the zodiac” associated with astrology. Astrology is an
evil corruption of the system we are describing. Astrology is an invention of Satan designed to
influence mankind into believing he can predict future events.
6. The “constellations of the ecliptic” are consistent indicators of the twelve months of the year and serve
as a celestial calendar. As we can predict that April follows March so the ancient Israelites knew
that Iyyar followed Nisan.
7. Therefore, do not assume I am speaking here of astrology. I am referring to legitimate cyclic
astronomical events by which man may observe the procession of certain constellations and develop
a consistent calendar.
8. Thus, Mazzaroth refers to the “constellations of the ecliptic” not the “signs of the zodiac.”
9. Finally, the Bear with her cubs is mentioned. This is officially referred to as Arcturus or Ursa Major but
called by those of us in the Western Hemisphere the Big Dipper. This constellation constantly
circumvents the North Pole.
© 2001
Joe Griffin
01-03-08.JSH-450 /
A summary of these celestial phenomena is found in:
The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, vol. 1, s.v. “Astronomy”:
The regular changes in the appearings and position of the constellations constitute the “ordinances of the
heavens,” ordinances which Job could neither alter for the worse by holding back the delight of springtime, or
for the better by breaking the bonds of winter cold. But these ordinances were not confined in their effects to
the heavens; their dominion was established on the earth, which answered by the revival of vegetation when
the Pleiades, then nearly in conjunction with the sun, appeared for a short time before sunrise; and by the
return of the constraints of the cold and frost when Orion, in opposition to the sun, rode the sky the whole
night long.
The Pleiades stood for the East, since by their rising just before daybreak, they heralded the morning of the
year and the “delights” of springtime.
Orion stood for the West, since his appearing just after nightfall heralded the evening of the year, and the
bands of winter cold.
Mazzaroth, the twelve constellations of the zodiac, called the “chambers of the south,” each led forth its own
And the Bear “guided” in their unceasing course around the pole, stood for the North.
And the movements of them all in a perfect obedience to the law of God where the ordinances of heaven;
while the dominion of them was seen to be established upon the earth in the constant succession of the
seasons there in unfailing answer to the changes in the stars above.
North, South, East, or West, Jesus Christ controls the universe. The cyclic pattern repeats itself in
a systematic rhythm that the observer is able to chronicle and thereby successfully predict the
recurrence of each celestial phenomenon.
The omnipotence and immutability of the Lord Jesus Christ insures that this orderly procession of
the stars will continue uninterrupted. The Lord confirms this as a matter of divine integrity in:
Jeremiah 33:25 “Thus says the Lord, ‘If My covenant for day and night
stand not, and the fixed patterns [ ordinances ] of heaven and earth I have not
v. 26 - then I would reject the descendants of Jacob and David My servant …’”
This systematic rotation of constellations enabled the Jews to calculate the year on a monthly
basis and thus schedule upcoming events on both their sacred and civil agendas.
As we have already noted, the sun’s purpose is to provide light for the day and measure time on a
24-hour schedule. The Jews kept up with a seven-day cycle and each seventh day was a holy day
known as the Sabbath.
The moon became a key in the Israelites’ development of a calendar. The moon determined the
beginning of each sacred year and its subsequent months:
The Hebrew word for “month” is:
vdj / chodhesh / - “new moon”
Knowing this we are able to easily understand the Lord’s inauguration of the new moon as the
starting point for the sacred year in:
Exodus 12:2 - “This (month) new moon shall be the beginning of new moons for you; it
is to be the first new moon of the year to you.”
© 2001
Joe Griffin
01-03-08.JSH-450 /
Further you will remember that the primary purpose for the creation of the moon was as an
indicator for the sacred feasts:
Psalm 104:19 - The Lord made the moon for the seasons [ moed: sacred feasts ] …
The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, vol. 1, s.v. 613b:
Although this word properly means “new moon,” it is commonly used as an equivalent to our word “month”
because the month began when the thin crescent of the new moon was first visible at sunset.
The Hebrew calendar used a lunar month fitted into a solar year. This was done by adding an extra month
approximately once every three years.
Unger, Merrill F. Unger’s Bible Dictionary. Chicago: Moody Press, 1966), 1097-1098:
The years of the Hebrews were lunar of 354 days, 8 hours and consisted of twelve unequal lunar months.
They were compelled to add a month to coincide with the solar year of 365 days, 6 hours.
Whenever in the last month, called Adar, it became evident that the Passover, which must be held in the
following month, Nisan, would not occur at the time when the sun would be in [the constellation] Aries, an
entire month was interjected between Adar and Nisan and called Second Adar.
As we have learned form Genesis 1:14 the luminaries—sun, moon, and stars—were put in place
in such a way that they served as indicators and identifiers of solemn assemblies or feast days to
be observed systematically, first by our original parents and their progeny and subsequently by the
For our original parents, sunset indicated the time for daily Bible study under the mentorship of
the Lord Jesus Christ:
Genesis 3:8 - Adam and Ishah heard the sound of the Lord God habitually walking
about [ Hithpael participle of halak ] in the garden in the cool of the day [ ruach plus
yom: evening or dusk ].
The moon indicated the beginning of the year and the months of the year by which the seven
major feasts were determined.
In addition to all this there is the doctrine of sevens:
1) In Genesis 1 the Lord instituted a seven-day week in which work was to be done the first
six days and the seventh—the Sabbath—was to be a day of rest.
2) The period of time between the Feast of First Fruits and the Feast of Pentecost was seven
weeks and thus Pentecost was also called the Feast of Weeks.
3) The Feast of Trumpets was held on the new moon of the seventh month Tishri, which was
also the first month of the civil year.
Also instituted was the Sabbatical Year, which fell every seventh year. During that year no
work was to be done by the people of Israel:
Leviticus 25:3 Six years you shall sow your field and six years you shall prune
your vineyard and gather in its crop,
v. 4 - but during the seventh year the land shall have a Sabbath rest, a Sabbath to the
Lord; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard.
5) Finally there was the Year of Jubilee. After 49 years in which there were seven sabbatical
years, the fiftieth year was called the Year of Jubilee.
© 2001
Joe Griffin
01-03-08.JSH-450 /
6) During this year all real estate in the land went back to its original owner; every business
went back to its original owner. In fact everything reverted back to where it was at the
beginning of the 49-year cycle.
7) This was a major gut check for grace orientation. It leveled the playing field and everyone
started over. The same could be said for the luminaries: the sun, moon, and stars.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, vol.1, s.v. “Astronomy”:
This period of 49 years was astronomically a period of restitution, for the sun and moon returned nearly to
their original positions relative to each other, since 49 solar years are 606 lunar months with an error of only
32 hours. So though the Jubilee period is not a perfect lunar cycle, it was exact enough to guide the Jewish
priests in drawing up their calendar.
The beginning of a new cycle of 49 years was marked by the Jubilee, the loud trumpet called the shophar.
Thus the cycle of the Jubilee made symmetrical, completed, and welded together all the moed of the Lord—
the two great lights were set “for seasons” (or as we have noted the festivals or sacred assemblies).
Western Christianity even uses the lunar cycle to determine when it celebrates Easter Sunday.
Remember that the Lord was crucified on Passover which falls on Nisan 14th and a full moon.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th ed., s.v. “Easter”:
Western Christians celebrate Easter on the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs upon or next after the
vernal equinox (March 20th in the year 2001). If the full moon occurs on a Sunday, Easter day is the Sunday
after. Easter, therefore, can fall between March 22 and April 25.
With this information we can plot the date of this year’s Easter Sunday. The vernal equinox falls
on Tuesday, March 20th. The first full moon after that is on Sunday April 8th. Since the full
moon falls on a Sunday then Easter Sunday is set for April 15th.