Download The Moon and the New Year (No. 213)

yes no Was this document useful for you?
   Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the workof artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Document related concepts

Origins of Rabbinic Judaism wikipedia , lookup

Jewish views on religious pluralism wikipedia , lookup

Biblical and Talmudic units of measurement wikipedia , lookup

Jewish views on astrology wikipedia , lookup

Jewish schisms wikipedia , lookup

Hebrew calendar wikipedia , lookup

Christian Churches of God
No. 213
The Moon and the New Year
(Edition 3.0 19970830-19990724-20071124)
God told us to determine the New Year from Abib (or Nisan), as the beginning of months.
Judaism holds the New Year in Tishri. Both Judaism and the Bible cannot be correct. What
is the New Year? Is it a solemn Feast of the Lord? The Bible position on this important day
has been deliberately obscured by later rabbinical Judaism to justify their traditions over the
Bible and the instructions of God. God has chosen to reveal Himself in this symbolism of
the New Moon commencing the New Year, and shows us from that symbolism His
relationship with the Church under Messiah.
Christian Churches of God
PO Box 369,
ACT 2606,
Email: [email protected]
(Copyright © 1997, 1999, 2007 Wade Cox)
This paper may be freely copied and distributed provided it is copied in total with no alterations or deletions.
The publisher’s name and address and the copyright notice must be included. No charge may be levied on
recipients of distributed copies. Brief quotations may be embodied in critical articles and reviews without
breaching copyright.
This paper is available from the World Wide Web page: and
Page 2
The Moon and the New Year
The Moon and the New Year
Judaism has decided that the New Year begins
with 1 Tishri, which is the Seventh month of
the year. That was traditionally the beginning
of the civil year and Judaism picked up that
view from the Babylonians. They determine the
entire calendar from what they call the Molad
of Tishri, which is established by calculation
and is not based on the true New Moon, either
by conjunction or observation. It is a manmade system derived from the rabbinical
determinations introduced from Babylon in 344
CE and sanctioned by Rabbi Hillel II in 358
CE. The final system was not fixed until the
eleventh century. It has no biblical basis (see
the paper God's Calendar (No. 156)).
God gave clear instructions to Moses that Abib
or Nisan was to be the beginning of months for
Israel. He deliberately removed the Babylonian
position of determining the New Year from
Tishri. The Babylonian name for Tishri is
Teshritu from which Tishri is clearly derived; it
means the month of beginnings. The Jewish
calendar is listed from Tishri to Elul. Nisan
occurs in the middle of the yearly sequence
from their depiction of the calendar even today
(The Jewish Calendar, Nicholas de Lange,
Atlas of the Jewish World, Time Life, 1996,
pp. 88-89). However, God said that that was
not to be so with Israel. Abib or Nisan was to
be the beginning of months for them.
Exodus 12:1-2 And the LORD spake unto Moses
and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 This month
[Abib] shall be unto you the beginning of months: it
shall be the first month of the year to you. (KJV)
This month Abib or Nisan was to be the first of
months, and its determination would determine
the start and finish of the year and hence the
The startling fact of the matter is that, when we
examine the Bible and ancient history and
archaeology, we find ancient Israel did in fact
obey God’s instructions by keeping 1 Nisan as
the New Year and as a solemn Feast. Judaism
took great pains to cover up this fact and even
altered the understanding of the biblical texts
and translations to achieve this deception. We
are indebted to the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS), the
Septuagint (LXX) and modern scholarship for
assisting us in exposing the matter in this
century. However, even rabbinical scholars
such as Rabbi Kohn, the Chief Rabbi of
Budapest, writing in 1894, states categorically
that the New Year of Rosh HaShanah in Tishri
is a late third-century post-Temple period
innovation (cf. Sabbatarians in Transylvania,
CCG Publishing, 1998, p. v, et seq.).
The Bible gives us a clear instruction that Israel
kept – and we are to keep – the Feast of Nisan
as a solemn Feast day. That instruction is found
in the Psalms.
Psalm 81:1-7 To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A
Psalm of Asaph. Sing aloud unto God our strength:
make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob. 2 Take a
psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp
with the psaltery. 3 Blow up the trumpet in the new
moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast
day. 4 For this was a statute for Israel, and a law of
the God of Jacob. 5 This he ordained in Joseph for a
testimony, when he went out through the land of
Egypt: where I heard a language that I understood
not. 6 I removed his shoulder from the burden: his
hands were delivered from the pots. 7 Thou calledst
in trouble, and I delivered thee; I answered thee in
the secret place of thunder: I proved thee at the
waters of Meribah. Selah. (KJV)
This text shows that the New Moon is a solemn
Feast day. It has been misinterpreted to refer to
the Feast of Trumpets, but it does not refer to
Tishri at all. Further, it refers to the New Moon,
and attempts are made to make the translation
read new moon and full moon from the Hebrew
text. Green’s Interlinear text attempts to make
this read:
Blow the trumpet at the new moon and the full moon
on our solemn feast day.
This is because the Hebrew text uses the words
chodesh (SHD 2320) and keseh (SHD 3677)
for the new moon. Green interprets SHD 3677
as referring to the full moon; he draws this
interpretation from Judaism in its application to
the Holy Days, which it places at Trumpets and
not on 1 Nisan where it should be. The Soncino
translates the text as:
Blow the horn at the new moon, At the full moon of
our feast day.
The Moon and the New Year
Even the punctuation is so arranged in the
translation as to make the full moon the solemn
Feast day, so that attention is drawn away from
1 Nisan as the solemn Feast day.
Some even try to attribute the essence to the
Seventh month or Tishri, because the KJV
clearly shows that the full moon is not meant
here in the text but only the new moon, and
hence they assume that Tishri is meant because
the Jews do not keep 1 Nisan as the New Year
and as a solemn Feast. The reasoning is thus
The Soncino states the futile attempt of the
commentators to apply the text to Tishri. Their
comments show the lengths to which they will
go to justify their traditions.
4. horn. Hebrew shofar, ram’s horn.
at the new moon. This cannot refer to the blowing at
each new moon (Num. x.10) because on that
occasion silver trumpets, and not the shofar were
sounded. The first day of the seventh month,
however, was marked by blowing (the shofar) (Num.
xxix.1), and observed as a memorial proclaimed
with the blast (of the shofar) (Lev. xxiii.24). Ibn
Ezra, however, maintains that it can also refer to
each new moon, for on that occasion the shofar too,
was blown. The use of the word hodesh as a
reference to the New Year is an allusion to the word
hadesh (meaning new or renewal) from the same
root, and suggests that the New Year is the same
time for the renewal of one’s deeds (Midrash
Shocher Tov).
at the full moon. lit. veiling [of the moon]; so,
Hirsch. While all the other holy days occur later in
the month, at the full moon, only the New Year
occurs at the beginning of the month, when the
moon is still ‘covered’ (R. H. 8a). Most
commentators render ‘at the time appointed’ (cf.
Prov. vii).
feast day. Hebrew chag, a pilgrimage-festival to
Jerusalem, of which there were three: Passover,
Pentecost and Tabernacles (Deut. xvi.16). The word
chag is usually used with reference to the feast of
tabernacles, which indeed occurs in the same month
as the New Year. Meiri renders blow the Shofar at
the new moon, at the appointed time of that month
in which our feast day occurs.
5. it ... God of Jacob. The horn is blown by statute
from the God of Jacob, Who had redeemed His
descendants from Egypt.
6. it. This could refer either to the institution of the
New Year, the new moon or to the blowing of the
horn (see Hirsch).
Page 3
The first and major point of the Psalm is that it
ties this festival to the time that God redeemed
Israel from Egypt and proved them at the
waters of Meribah, as we see from verse 7. This
is in the month of Abib or Nisan, when Israel
was brought out from Egypt and proved at
Meribah. Thus, it is the New Moon of the First
month (Nisan or Abib) of which we are
speaking and not the Seventh month (Tishri).
We see from the commentaries that another
series of factors is brought into play. The term
translated full moon here is admitted to mean
literally the veiling of the moon. Thus it cannot
be the full moon, and Hirsch admits this to be
so. The word involved is keseh (SHD 3677),
which Strong holds to mean fullness or full
moon, i.e. its festival at the time appointed; but
he derives this from the rabbinical usage and
says it is apparently derived from SHD 3680,
which he then says means to plump i.e. fill up
hollows and, hence, to clothe or cover, conceal,
to flee, to hide or overwhelm.
Hebrew Lexicon says it means full moon but its
origin is dubious. It is a loan word as Kuseu
meaning headdress or cap and also the full
moon as a tiara of the moon god ... as a feast
However, this word was not so understood by
Hirsch and, more importantly, it was not
understood that way in ancient Israel, as we see
from the LXX. When the Seventy translated the
Septuagint in Alexandria, they rendered this
verse to mean:
Psalm 80[81]:3-5 Blow the trumpet in the new moon
at the glorious day of your feast.
For this is an ordinance for Israel and a statute of the
God of Jacob. He made it to be a testimony in
Joseph, when he came forth out of the land of Egypt:
... (Brenton, Hendrickson, 1992 print).
There is no doubt whatsoever that at the time of
the translation of the LXX this text was
understood to refer to the New Moon – and the
New Moon only – of the month of Abib or
Nisan in the Exodus of the children of Israel
from Egypt. This was the solemn Feast day of
the New Year of the children of Israel. Thus,
Page 4
there is a statute forever concerning the solemn
Feast of 1 Nisan. It cannot be construed as
referring to Tishri. It was undeniably the New
Moon of Nisan, but the emphasis had to be
It should also be noted (as above) that chag
refers to all Feasts and not just Tabernacles and
hence not Tishri. The Chagigah Feasts were the
three pilgrim Feasts of Passover/Unleavened
Bread, the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost, and the
Feast of Booths or Tabernacles. The Samaritans
kept these three Feasts and went on pilgrimage
to Mt. Gerizim for the period of the 14th and
15th of the First month. They still do this to this
The LXX contradicts some premises of later
rabbinical Judaism and hence was denied or
repudiated from Jamnia in the second century,
along with Nisan, by rabbinical Judaism to
justify their traditions.
The words in this text referring to the New
Moon reinforce the concept that it is the
concealing of the New Moon of Nisan that is
the actual start of the year. This concealing is
the full dark of the moon and ensures that the
traditions cannot displace the Feasts or the
months, if this is the sole basis of calculation.
This observation of the New Moon of Abib or
Nisan as the beginning of the year, as an
ordinance of God, was understood throughout
Israel up until the destruction of the Temple in
70 CE.
The movement of the moon in its phases is
recorded in detail for one part of the cycle
(DSS: 4Q317 Frag. 1 Col. 2 + Frag. 2 Col. 2).
The phases were thus understood on a daily
basis at that time and observation was not the
critical function it was falsely asserted to be by
later rabbinical Judaism.
The historian Galen records that Judaism
understood a month of 30 days was followed by
a month of 29 days, and they allocated 59 days
for each two months.
The festival of the New Moon is found in the
Temple Scroll (11Q19-20). In column 14 we
The Moon and the New Year
see that the sacrifices for the First day of the
month, i.e. the New Moon, are listed, as are the
special instructions for the New Year of the
First day of the First month. Thus, the Dead
Sea Scrolls quite clearly identify the New
Moon of the First month (Nisan) as the New
Year, and as a day of solemn assembly and
sacrifice. These ordinances are followed by the
requirements for the seven-day purification of
the annual ordination of the priesthood.
The sanctification of the priesthood thus took
place as a seven-day annual re-ordination,
probably from the day following or consequent
to the New Moon of Nisan, as the beginning of
the religious system and process leading up to
the sanctification of the simple and the
erroneous on 7 Nisan (Ezek. 45:20). The
alternative is that 7 Nisan commenced the
process which ended on 14 Nisan, but this is
unlikely. This entire concept has been lost to
rabbinical Judaism through their adherence to
the Babylonian system of Tishri as New Year,
instead of obeying God and keeping Nisan as
the beginning of months. The requirements of
sanctification were examined and outlined in
the paper Sanctification of the Temple of God
(No. 241).
The Temple Scroll (Col. 14) says of the New
Year of Nisan:
On the first day of the [first] mon[th falls the
beginning of months; for you it is the beginning of
the months] of the year. [You are to do] no work,
[You shall offer a male goat for a sin offering,]
which must be offered separately from the other
sacrifices to aton[e for you. In addition, you are to
sacrifice one young bull,] one ram, and [seven
unblemished year]ling lambs [...] not in[cluding the
regular burn]t off[ering of the first day of the month;
together with a grain offering of three-tenths of an
ephah of choice flour mixed with oil,] one-half a hin
[for the one bull; and wi]ne for a drink offering,
[one-half a hin a pleasing odour to the Lord; and
two-]tenths of an ephah of choice flour as a grain
offering, mixed [with oil, one-third of a hin; and
wine for a drink offering.
You are to offer] one-th[ird] of a hin for the [one]
ram, [an offering by fire, a pleasing odour to the
Lord; and one tenth of an ephah of choice flour] as a
grai[n offering, mixed with oil, one fourth of a hin;
and wine for a drink offering ... ] (Wise, Abegg and
Cook The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation,
Hodder and Stoughton, 1996, pp. 460-461).
The Moon and the New Year
The authors of the work from which this text
was quoted made the observation that this text
was not in the Bible. Ezekiel 45:18 shows the
intent, and perhaps refers to the sequence of
which the bull is the first element. The special
arrangements for the sacrifice were not listed.
However, the ordinance of the New Year of 1
Nisan as the beginning of months was ordained
by God as a statute, and the understanding of
the day as a solemn Feast day is preserved in
the Psalms and was kept up until the first
century CE. In other words, it was understood
as being a valid ordinance or statute during the
entire Temple period.
Only in rabbinical Judaism of the post-Temple
period do we find Tishri coming in as the New
Year. The calendar is then predicated upon
Tishri from a postponed molad, instead of
being on the true molad on the conjunction in
Nisan as the correct solemn Feast of the New
Year, as we see from Psalm 81.
Is there any evidence for the contention that
Judah and Judaism altered the intent and
method of determining the Calendar and the
New Year? The answer is that the evidence is
clear and undeniable. It is in fact
overwhelming. Here are some quotes from
eminent scholars on the matter.
Ferdinand Dexinger Samaritan Origins and the
Qumran Texts, Methods of Investigation of the
Dead Sea Scrolls and the Khirbet Qumran Site,
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences,
Volume 722, 1994 (ISBN 0-89766-794-8).
In the context of our methodological considerations
as far as the relationship between Samaritanology
and Qumranology are concerned we must turn to the
festival calendar. Is it possible to find in the existing
Samaritan liturgical tradition hints of the date of the
separation of both the Samaritan and the Jewish
liturgical traditions? And in what way can the
Qumran material be helpful in this field of research?
(ibid., Chapter: The Feast of the Seventh Month, p.
The starting point of our deliberations is the obvious
fact that the Samaritan calendar compared to the
Jewish has its pluses and minuses. Without
astonishment we register the fact that Jews and
Samaritans share the feasts Pesah, Shavuot and
Page 5
Sukkot all mentioned in the Pentateuch. A certain
difference exists as far as the Mazzot-feast is
concerned which is celebrated by the Samaritans as
a feast distinct from Pesah. I won’t pursue this
question but turn to another biblical feast, namely
the “Feast of the Seventh Month” as mentioned in
Lv 23,24 and celebrated in the Jewish calendar as
Rosh ha-Shanah.
The “Feast of the 7th Month” can be seen as another
example of an ancient, that is, Second Temple
tradition within Samaritanism.
Both the Jewish and the Samaritan liturgical texts
connect, although in totally different wording,
various religious ideas based on biblical texts with
the Feast of the Seventh Month. Some of these are
given major importance ... whereas others are
obviously considered as being of minor relevance.
The role of the Shofar can according to my view be
helpful to gain some insight into the historical
development of this feast. Again the Qumran
material will be useful for this purpose.
The blowing of the Shofar is an integral part of the
Jewish Rosh ha-Shanah Liturgy, but it is not
mentioned in Lv 23,24. The biblical proof for the
Shofar as the instrument of the Teruca can only be
obtained by reference to another biblical passage,
namely Lv 25,9. Regarding the blowing of the
Shofar as a command of this feast, the Amidah
quotes the three existing pentateuchal verses
mentioning the Shofar as part of the Sinai story. In
spite of introducing by these texts the theme of the
Decalogue, the Decalogue itself is not recited in the
Jewish Rosh ha-Shanah Musaph, whereas this is the
case in the Samaritan Shaharit. This reminds us of
what was said before in connection with the
Decalogue. Num 10,10 as the concluding
pentateuchal verse is contained as a biblical text in
the Samaritan liturgy of this day. This verse however
does not speak of the Shofar but of the Hswsrt. This
reminds us that mention of the Shofar is lacking in
mRH 3,3-4. Heinemann concluded therefore, that
the Mishnah here describes a practice dating back to
the times of the Second Temple. This part of the
Amidah using Num 10,10 therefore was part of the
Jewish Temple Liturgy.
The Samaritan Shaharit does not contain the Shofarverses at all, whereas the Hswsrt are mentioned
several times. The "Shofar" is not connected with
the Samaritan Feast of the 7th Month.
Comparing this material with the Temple Scroll
(11QTemp 25,3) mentioning the Feast of the 7th
Month and also based on Leviticus, we observe that
the Shofar is not mentioned either, though one has to
admit that the text of Column 25 is very
If one does not assume that the Samaritans at some
unknown date started the celebration of their Feast
of the 7th Month one has to look for some
chronologically reasonable starting point.
Page 6
Taking into consideration that the Samaritans do not
favor the use of the Jewish names of the month but
use the ordinal numbers instead, the assumption
seems to be plausible that the proto-Samaritans did
not follow the Jewish calendar from the time when
the Babylonian names for the months were finally
introduced together with the Autumn Calendar. An
additional support for this dating is the fact that the
Samaritans do not celebrate the Jewish Feasts Purim
and Hanukkah introduced in the Maccabean period.
This is once again a parallel to the Qumran FestivalCalendar. I therefore come to the conclusion that
beginning with the Maccabean period the protoSamaritans stopped developing their religious and
liturgical traditions within the common biblical
heritage of the Jews. (ibid., p. 240)
What Frank Moore Cross said about the text of the
Samaritan Pentateuch can be applied to the
Samaritan religion in general. “The Samaritan texttype thus is a late and full exemplar of the common
Palestinian tradition, in use both in Jerusalem and in
Samaria.” It is the common Jewish heritage, then,
which forms the similar background of Qumran and
the Samaritans as well. And it is the Qumran
material that enables us to reach fresh scholarly view
of Samaritan origins. (ibid., Chapter: Conclusion, p.
MICHAEL WISE (Univ of Chicago): I have a
question for you with regard to the concept of
common Jewish heritage. I’m specifically thinking
here of the calendar texts from Qumran. As you
know, there are a group of them which set up a
concordance between a lunisolar calendar (a form or
version of it, or so it seems) and the 364 day
calendar familiar to us. The thing that is interesting
to me about this concordance is that the lunisolar
version calculates for the day on which the month
ends. This fact seems to me to imply that the new
moon is calculated and is the equivalent of the
modern astronomical new moon, rather than being a
new moon determined by observation. In other
words, it’s when the conjunction between the sun
and the moon occurs, rather than when the first
portion of the moon is visible, that the new moon is
I see the same thing in the Samaritan lunisolar
calendar. That is to say, a calculated new moon: not
based on observation, but an astronomical new
moon. In your opinion, does this then represent one
of the elements of the Jewish heritage, going back to
the Second Temple Period? (ibid., Chapter:
Discussion of the Paper)
Does then the Jewish calendar represent a
change from the original one, which appears to
be akin to the Samaritan except for the post-25
March New Moon rule?
The Moon and the New Year
Ferdinand Dexinger (Univ of Vienna, Austria): I’m
not an expert in calendrial research, because that has
to do with mathematics, but as far as Samaritan
studies are concerned, Sylvia Powels wrote about
the Samaritan calendar. Coming to your question, I
think that this has something to do with the common
heritage. Experts like you and others should try to
get the exact comparison. The calendar is of utmost
importance for the life of a community. In spite of
all the medieval changes, the calendarical
computation remained conservative. My answer is
yes. (loc. cit.)
1Chr 24:1-18 describes how the order of the priestly
courses was once determined by the fall of the lot.
As it is laid out in Chronicles, the order began with
Jehoiarib and ended with Maaziah. The Qumran
mishmarot use the same names for the courses –
apparently indicating that their system postdates 1
Chronicles 24 – but in a different order. Rather than
beginning with Jehoiarib, the Qumran texts begin
with Gamul. Probably the reason for this change is
that the list given in 1 Chronicles began the rotation
in the autumn. Jehoiarib rotated into service at the
beginning of the seventh month, Tishri. In contrast,
the Qumran calendar texts assume a vernal New
Year, beginning the year in Nisan. The different
beginning derives from an understanding of the
Creation narrative. The creation happened in the
spring. An eternal order based on the creation must
therefore also begin at that time. The vernal New
Year meant that the priestly rotation would begin
with Gamul.
Indications are that the Qumran calendar originally
comprised one full six year cycle. The time of each
course’s arrival was noted, as were “New Moons” 7
and the major festivals of the religious calendar. ...
The text speaks of sdvdv dh because in the Qumran
system the astronomical New Moon only
occasionally fell at the beginning of the month.
(Michael O Wise An Annalistic Calendar from
Qumran NYAS722, Chapter: Discussion, p. 395)
There is no biblical basis for the actions of
rabbinical Judaism.
God is clear in His instructions: the month of
Abib or Nisan “shall be a beginning of months
for you”. The first day of the Sacred Year is a
solemn Feast and was so understood from the
time of the kings, and for centuries up until the
destruction of the Temple. 1 Nisan is God’s
true New Year and is a solemn Feast, as the
First day of the first Month.
This brings us to the next point.
The Moon and the New Year
The determination of the New Year
The determination of the New Year on 1 Nisan
is interlinked with the Passover. The ancient
rule for the determination of Nisan was a
simple formula, from which the entire year was
The formula is found in Schürer (The History
of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ,
Vol. I, ‘Calendar Appendix’, pp. 590, 593). He
says simply that the Feast of the Passover,
which began on 14 Nisan (ibid.), must always
fall after the vernal equinox when the sun stood
in the sign of Aries (p. 593). Schürer points to
the comments of Anatolius preserved in
Eusebius that holds this to be the unanimous
view of all the Jewish authorities.
Thus, the method is simple. The New Year was
the New Moon nearest the equinox that ensured
the full moon fell after the equinox, while the
sun stood in the sign of Aries. The simplicity of
this is obvious. There was no serious problem
in determining the New Moon. The only
problem the people had was determining the
equinox. It was simple within the knowledge of
the Jews in that the solar year and the equinox
had always been calculated from the Egyptians,
and the Jews had this knowledge. It is too much
for the most credulous to accept they were
dependent upon the western system, which in
the Julian dates was identified with 21 March
from Alexandria, although Rome had the
equinox as early as 18 March (Julian) (see
Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, second series,
Vol. XIV, pp. 55ff. for details of the conflict).
In the Gregorian system it can fall on 2123 March.
Therefore, the earliest date for the New Year
was 14 days before 21 March (Julian) –
namely, 8 March. This was the earliest date for
1 Nisan. The latest date is determined by
15 Nisan and the sun in Aries. The sun leaves
Aries on 19 April. Thus, the day 19/20 April is
the last day in which the Passover can begin.
Assuming this is allowed to refer to 14 Nisan,
then the last day for the Passover in either
calendar is 20 April. Thus, 15 Nisan cannot be
later than 20/21 April.
Page 7
Thus, according to the ancient rules of the
Hebrews, 1 Nisan or the start of the Sacred
Year was not earlier than 8 March and not later
than the Hebrew day on 5/6 April (Julian) or
8/9 April (Gregorian) in the case of a thirty-day
month falling with an equinox on 23 March.
It is impossible, therefore, for there to be a
Passover earlier than the vernal equinox and
one later than 20/21 April.
The Wave Sheaf on the Sunday cannot fall
earlier than 23 March (22 March Julian) and
cannot fall later than the first Sunday on or after
20/21 April. Thus, the latest date is 25 April
(Julian) or 26/27 April (Gregorian) for the
Wave Sheaf if the Passover falls on
20/21 April.
This now brings us to the distinction between
the Samaritan calendar and the Sadducean
calendar observed in the Temple period. The
Samaritans and the Sadducees kept exactly the
same method of determining the months by
calculation of the phasis of the astronomical
New Moon. However, they had a major
distinction in that the Samaritan records appear
to show that the method of determining the
New Year was on the New Moon subsequent to
the equinox, and not before it. This means that,
for a good deal of the time, the Samaritan
calendar was one month behind the Jewish
calendar in the Temple period, from at least the
second century BCE. The Samaritans thus often
kept their Feasts in the Eighth month of the
Temple Calendar. Moreover, they had another
ancient error that seems to bear out Dexinger’s
point that they somehow froze their calendar
sometime by at least the Maccabean period. We
are able to determine, with a fair degree of
certainty, that they were actually frozen in time
at a period prior to the beginning of the second
century BCE.
We are able to do this in the following manner.
In the papers Jeroboam and the Hillel Calendar
(No. 191) and The Quartodeciman Disputes
(No. 277) we saw that the Samaritans
determined their New Year from the equinox at
25 March. Now this date was fixed as the
equinox in the Julian calendar in the last
Page 8
century before the current era, but it actually
reflected a much more ancient practice. In that
text of paper No. 277 we noted the following
points, which are important to this argument.
“The New Moon and the Festival
The New Moon was the most important aspect
of determining the months, and the New Moon
of Nisan determined the year, not Tishri as
observed by Judaism from the third century of
the current era. Rosh HaShanah, under its
present system of determination, cannot be
regarded as a correct biblical or Temple period
observance or as being a correct JudeoChristian observance.
Philo of Alexandria in The Special Laws, II,
XI,41 (tr. by F.H. Colson, Harvard University
Press, Loeb Classical Library, Cambridge, MA,
1937) tells us: “The third [feast] is the new
moon which follows the conjunction of the
moon with the sun”. And in II, XXVI, 140:
“This is the New Moon, or beginning of the
lunar month, namely the period between one
conjunction and the next, the length of which
has been accurately calculated in the
astronomical schools”. It should be noted that
the popular Hendrickson Publishers edition
(1993) of C.D. Jonge’s 1854 translation does
not have the same information that the Colson
translation gives. The indications are that the
conjunctions were determinative in deciding
the first of the month.
The Samaritans and the Sadducees both
determined the Calendar according to the
conjunction, and the festival was determined in
accordance with the conjunction by all systems
during the Temple period, except for the Essene
who had a fixed calendar and 14 Abib fell on a
Tuesday each year, with intercalation on a fixed
cycle. The Samaritans to this day still
determine according to the conjunction (cf. the
paper God's Calendar (No. 156)).
The Samaritans introduced an error into their
calendar that determined the First month as
occurring with the New Moon, which always
must fall on or after the equinox, and which
they determined as falling on 25 March. The
calculations (1988-2163 CE) as noted by the
The Moon and the New Year
priest Eleazar ben Tsedeka, are included in the
prayer book for Passover and Mazzot, Knws
tplwt hg hpsh whg hmswt (Holon, 1964, pp.
332-336; cf. Reinhard Pummer Samaritan
Rituals and Customs, pp. 681-682 fn. 201 in
Alan D. Crown Ed. The Samaritans, 1989,
J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck) Tübingen). This
fact also indicates that we are looking at an
ancient common source, which is based on a
calendar in use when the equinox was at 25
March. This date long preceded the time of
Christ and was standardised in the calendar of
Julius Caesar (cf. David Ewing Duncan, The
Calendar, 4th Estate London, 1998, p. 81).
This indicates the probable source of the error.
The ancient time for determining the
conjunction at 25 March is actually derived
from the period of the Second Temple. It also
indicates that we are probably looking at a
combination of errors, one of which may have
arisen with the calendar under Jeroboam (cf.
Jeroboam and the Hillel Calendar (No. 191).”
Fixing the Samaritan deviation
The first item we shall deal with is the fixed
date of the equinox. A fixed equinox is an
aberration in time.
The equinox progresses or in fact regresses
over time and thus the luni-solar New Year
moves progressively forward.
It follows from this fact that if we determine
the dates of the equinox, we can fix the earliest
and latest points in time in which the Samaritan
Calendar could have occurred as we know it.
David entered Jerusalem in 1005 BCE and the
equinox was on 30 March at that time. Thus the
New Year under the old Tabernacle was never
earlier than 17 March in any year.
At the time of the first Temple and the division
of Israel and Judah the equinox was on 29
March and the earliest date of the New Year
was on 16 March.
When Israel went into captivity in 722 BCE,
the equinox was on 28 March and the earliest
date for the New Year was 15 March.
The Moon and the New Year
When Judah went into the Babylonian captivity
and the Temple was destroyed the equinox was
on 27 March. The earliest date for the New
Year was 14 March.
From this fact it is also beyond doubt that the
Samaritan calendar as we know it was fixed
some time after the fall of the first Temple and
was never in practice in Israel during this time.
That does not mean, however, that the rule of
determining the New Moon after the equinox
was not in place, and that this rule was the rule
that was in effect in Jeroboam’s calendar. It is
considered that we are actually looking at two
deviations in the Samaritan calendar. The first
deviation was that of placing the New Year
subsequent to the equinox, which meant that
Jeroboam’s New Year would always be
subsequent to 28 March during the entire
period of the Israelite kingdom.
We can then proceed to isolate the earliest time
that the Samaritan Calendar could have come
into existence.
When the second Temple was completed and
the Temple at Elephantine was destroyed up to
410 BCE, the equinox was on 26 March and
remained there until the restoration under Ezra
and Nehemiah. It did not come into operation
on 25 March until the end of the life of Ezra
and the fixing of the OT Canon in 321 BCE.
We can thus deduce that the fixing of the
Samaritan calendar occurred some time after
the death of Ezra (ca. 321). It may be around
the events mentioned in the deviations between
the Macedonians and the Babylonians ca. 229
BCE as noted by Frazer, which we will
examine below.
The holding of the Feast in the Eighth month,
condemned by the Bible, would have occurred
from the practice of making the New Moon
always occur on or after the equinox. This
aspect appears not to have been altered in the
case of the Samaritans since the fall of Israel.
For this reason, they came under a curse and are
still the only remnant of Israel not blessed with
the birthright promise of Joseph. The Samaritan
Page 9
calculations were kept secret, perhaps for
precisely this reason. However, they and the
Sadducees always determined the Calendar
according to the conjunction, which was the
original practice during the entire Temple
Determining the deviation of the
two systems
We may be able to determine a point at which
the Babylonian calendar, and hence the ancient
calendar based on the old equinox, was
adjusted by a throwaway line in some research
done by two eminent scholars of last century.
These two scholars were James Frazer, author
of The Golden Bough and his friend, the
scholar of Semitic Studies, W. Robertson
In The Golden Bough (Part V, Vol. 1 (i.e. Vol.
7) at p. 259), Frazer makes an observation
relating the months of the year in the days of
Berosus the Chaldean. He makes the
observation that since Berosus dedicated his
history to Antiochus Soter, he must have used
the Macedonian calendar, and that in his day
the Macedonian month Lous appears to have
corresponded to the Babylonian month of
Tammuz. He then cites the reasons in his
footnote 1 (below) to the page. It appears that
neither he nor Robertson Smith had grasped the
astounding importance of the observation that
they had made. He says at footnote 1:
The probably correspondence of the month which
supplies so welcome a confirmation of the
conjecture in the text, was pointed out to me by my
friend W. Robertson Smith, who furnished me with
the following note:
“In the Syro-Macedonian calendar Lous represents
Ab, not Tammuz. Was it different in Babylon? I
think it was and one month different, at least in the
early times of the Greek monarchy in Asia. For we
know from a Babylonian observation in the
Almagest (Ideler, I, 396) that in 229 B. C. Xanthicus
began on Feb. 26. It was therefore the month before
the equinoctial moon, not Nisan but Adar, and
consequently Lous answered to the Lunar month
The quotes raise a very important question.
It establishes beyond doubt that in 229 BCE the
Macedonian calendar was a month earlier than
Page 10
the Babylonian calendar. The date of February
26 is supplied by Robertson Smith.
There is, however, another answer. That matter
is the reason for the difference in 229 BCE. The
more likely reason is that Xanthicus was
determined from the new calculations of the
equinox, which was no longer occurring on 25
March, as had been the case in Babylon and the
East for the previous approximately one
hundred and thirty years, and consequently, as
we understand it, with the Samaritans also.
What we may be looking at here is the source
of the deviation between the Samaritan and the
ancient Hebrew calendar, and the calendar as it
became adjusted to the movement of the
equinox to a point earlier in time than 25
March, closer to 22/23 March. Hence, if this
were the case, the understanding of when the
Babylonian month began would be incorrect.
Robertson Smith may have actually hit upon
the year in which the Macedonians had adjusted
their calendar, but the Babylonians had not
followed suit.
Thus the Babylonian year was actually a month
late, and Xanthicus was commenced not on
February 26 as Robertson Smith had thought
but almost a month later, on or before March
25. The Babylonians might then be assumed to
have started their month, as do the Samaritans
to this day, on the New Moon after the equinox
and thus placed themselves a month later than
the true Nisan. The Samaritans are then in error
for at least sixty percent of the time, with their
First month being later than the true Nisan as
held in the late-Temple period (as recorded by
Josephus). Modern Judaism is in error most of
the time because of the Hillel (and later
rabbinical) system, and thus the Church in the
wilderness has been the only one actually
keeping the correct Feasts over time.
This observed conflict would seemingly have
been caused by the change of the equinox, and
under the rules the First month would have
been pushed back. Robertson Smith’s
calculations need further examination.
The importance of this observation is that, in
the year 229 BCE, a major conflict was evident
The Moon and the New Year
in the observance of the calendar and the First
month of the year, probably following the
changes in the equinox. The conflict would
seem to demonstrate a latest possible date of
the deviation. We know from the records, as
Dexinger notes above, that by the beginning of
the Maccabean period in the early part of the
second century BCE the deviation is final. The
Samaritans held to a 25 March equinox, which
they still observe. Their record of resistance to
change indicates that they may also have held
to the determinations established in Israel,
probably from the time of Jeroboam. The
argument has been examined and put forward
by some scholars, but has been rejected by
Sylvia Powels-Niami. It is, however, beyond
dispute that their calendar is a post-restoration
and post-OT Canon structure.
Robertson Smith’s conclusions regarding
February 26 could stem from the error that the
calendar used in Babylon had been constant
when, in fact, it had to change with the
equinox. He and Frazer did not see the full
significance of what they were examining even
though, or perhaps because, Frazer was actually
dealing with the killing of the mock king in
Lous, which he equates with Tammuz himself,
thus necessitating the association.
The dating for the beginning of the year in 229
BCE presented a clear and difficult problem for
the Samaritans. The equinox had been slipping
forward over time and was not any longer at the
demarcation point of 25 March, where the
Persians and their vassal states had observed it
for the previous one hundred years. This
included the Samaritans. This distinction was
not related to the problem of the post-equinox
New Year which was probably related to the
earlier Jeroboam problem.
What did happen in 229 BCE? Why might it
have been important? Robertson Smith thinks
the Macedonians held Xanthicus on 26
February 229. This seems to be based on the
supposition that the Babylonians had the same
calendar as they always had, but this may not
be so at all.
The Moon and the New Year
In 229 BCE the conjunction of the New Moon,
which is when the Greeks also determined the
moon, was not on 26 February but on 24
February at 9:58 p.m. at Babylon, and some
twenty minutes earlier at Jerusalem. Thus, the
New Moon would have been observed by all
nations on 25 February 229, commencing from
the evening of 24 February.
The equinox was on 24 March at 5:01 p.m. or
1701 hours in 229 BCE. Sunset was at 6:14
p.m. Babylon time and some twenty minutes
earlier at about 5:55 p.m. at Jerusalem. This
was the major clue and real reason for the
change. The Samaritans would not have
accepted, and still do not accept, the changes to
the equinox. They hold 25 March as the
equinox and always have, so they claim, even
to this day. They do not commence the month
until the New Moon after the set date of 25
March. The New Moon in 229 BCE in March
was on 25 March at 0001 a.m. thus appearing
on the equinox evening as they determined, and
prior to the day itself. Thus the Samaritans
would and did transfer the New Moon to the
next New Moon of 23 April at 9:42 p.m. Hence
they were in the absurd position of holding the
New Year at the incredibly late time of 24
April, and the Passover on 14 and 15 Nisan as
late as 8 May 229 BCE.
It is probable that this is the real reason for the
changes. The Babylonians commenced their
year from Tishri, but still related to the dates
around the equinox. The fact is that in this year,
Xanthicus was a month earlier than Nisanu and
the Samaritan First month. We will also see
below that there is another possibility. Perhaps
the delay was due to some influence of the
refusal to change the dates relating to 25
March. 25 March remained the stated equinox
down to the formulation of the Julian calendar
and was the determination regarding the
festival of Ishtar or Easter in the East, and
seemingly associated with the festival of Attis.
25 March remained the New Year among the
Anglo-Saxons throughout their existence in all
areas of their occupation, including the USA,
until the middle of the 1700s of the current era.
We might digress into the question of the Julian
and Gregorian dating, but the astronomical
Page 11
determinations of the 25 March equinox still
show this window of time.
Thus, the entire premises of the calendar and
the determinations of W. Robertson Smith
should be examined further. It is apparent from
the details we have that the Babylonian and
Samaritan calendars were out by one month in
this year and the placement of the equinox and
the New Moons explain why that was so when
compared with the Samaritan system. The
Babylonian system would simply have adjusted
and it is considered that this in fact happened,
as the Jewish, Greek and Babylonian months
coincided after this date, with Xanthicus
coinciding with Nisanu and Abib, and did so
until the end of the Temple period in 70 BCE.
The system of adjusting the months to the
equinox was seemingly a normal event over the
centuries until the twentieth century. The
Samaritans, for some reason, remained fixed in
time and from then on determined their New
Moon of the First month after 25 March as a
fixed equinox. Effectively, this meant that
much of the time from year to year they held
their Feast in the Eight month of the Jewish and
Greco-Babylonian calendar in the previous
centuries. Now they were progressively
removed into virtual total nonconformity. From
our previous studies we see that that was the
reason why Jeroboam was castigated (cf.
Jeroboam and the Hillel Calendar (No. 191)).
The freezing of the equinox increased this
If the Samaritan system was not according to
the Babylonians and was itself an aberration,
then it was in effect as described and this year
of 229 was far out. If W. Robertson Smith was
correct and the Macedonian royalty was a
month early in their calendar in 229, then we
have three erroneous systems in that year. It is
possible, however, that his calculations were
based on premises of a constant Babylonian
calendar. The Babylonian calendar in that year
may well have been a month later than was
thought and in accordance with the Samaritan,
based on the movement of the equinox prior to
25 March, and which had been calculated and
recognised by the Greeks but not acted upon by
Page 12
the Babylonian priesthood.
This error was later recognised and adjusted by
the Babylonians under Macedonian influence,
and also by the Jews under the same influence.
For some reason this knowledge was
disregarded by the Samaritans, who preserved
their original calendar based on a 25 March
equinox and a New Moon that was determined
after that date. It may well be that the deviation
occurred from this year 229 BCE, as the
Macedonians correctly calculated the changing
This is no small matter in the determination of
the correct ancient Calendar.
The alternative possibility
There is another alternative in this flow of the
three different systems if we take Robertson
Smith at face value.
If indeed the Macedonian calendar was a month
early on February 26 in 229, more than a day
later than the conjunction which they observed,
then we are looking at the meeting of two
pagan systems, and 229 is indeed a watershed
year. We do have three calendars in effect and
the Samaritans come in behind because of their
post-25 March New Moon. If Xanthicus was a
month early up until 229 BCE and the
Macedonian month of Lous was indeed the
same as the month of Tammuz or Dummuzi,
and the sacrifices are in fact identical as Frazer
surmises, then we are looking at the early pagan
calendar. That calendar is probably the one that
was taken into China. It may also have even
affected the Arabs down into the post-Christian
pagan system, affecting also their calculations
and view of Ramadan in relation to the message
of Muhammad.
The implications are that this calendar was
synchronised during the Macedonian rulership
of Asia Minor and subsequently during its
Hellenisation period. The only ones who did
not get in step were the Samaritans, who kept
to this aberration of a post-25 March New
Moon. This does not seem to have been the
case with the Babylonians, unless we are
altogether deceived as to their original calendar.
The Moon and the New Year
The other deviations would have been the
pagan system, which was also seemingly
retained in China and also among some tribes
of the Middle East.
The Samaritan calendar is the only known
candidate for the honours of being the
successor to the Jeroboam calendar, with the
post-equinox New Moon. However, the
implications in either case above for the
Macedonian and the Babylonian calendars are
The fact is that Christ, the Apostles, and the
early Church had no issue with the Calendar of
the Temple period. They followed its dates
throughout the period of the early Church prior
to and after the destruction of Jerusalem. They
completely ignored the later Jewish calendar of
358 CE from Hillel II. That is by far the
strongest argument that it was considered to be
Problems with Nisan in Christianity
The Council of Nicaea adopted a formula for
the determination of the Paschal month or
Nisan. The Roman system had been keeping a
sequence for the determination which was
based on a system of calculation that differed
from the East and was based on an eighty-twoyear cycle rather than the nineteen-year cycle
observed in Syria and the East.
The British Christians were alleged to have also
used this system (according to Krusch, cf. Cath.
Encyc., art. ‘Easter,’ Vol. V, p. 229). Those in
Gaul had adopted a five hundred and thirty-two
year cycle of Victorius (ibid.). The
Alexandrians were given charge of the calendar
from Nicaea, but Rome did not always stay in
step from their long cycle, which they also
attribute to the Britons (and probably
Quartodecimans; cf. Joseph Schmid Die
Osterfestberechnung auf den britischen Inseln,
1904, cf. Cath. Encyc., ibid.; cf. the paper The
Quartodeciman Disputes (No. 277)).
After Nicaea, they were out of step with
Alexandria on the matter of Easter in the years
326, 330, 333, 340, 341 and 343. The Romans
The Moon and the New Year
also differed from the Greeks in the observance
of Easter. They did not celebrate Easter the next
day when the full moon fell on the Saturday.
The problem was not resolved with the East for
some decades. The result was that the variation
affected the simplicity of the determination of
the month of Nisan and thus the holding of the
Passover or the later observance of the pagan
festival of Easter.
The Orthodox/Catholic schism
When the schism between East and West
occurred, the Eastern Church returned to
keeping the timing of Nisan as determined by
the Jews. The only problem was that between
the Council of Nicaea and the Council of
Constantinople and the later Councils, the Jews
had adopted another calendar under Rabbi
Hillel II from 358 CE and which altered up
until the tenth century. Thus, the Orthodox
Church, also hampered by the Julian calendar
which it still uses for religious purposes, in
Page 13
1997 had their Easter on 27 April, while the
Western Churches celebrated theirs in March,
commencing on the last weekend of what was
Unleavened Bread – according to the true
Calendar as observed during the period of the
second Temple. Thus, the rabbinical farce of
the Hillel calendar has intruded into Eastern
Orthodox Churches. Hence, the New Year is
incorrectly determined by more than 100
million Christians, as well as the rabbinical
system they blindly follow.
The New Year of the First day of the First
month (1 Nisan) is a commandment by God
and is to be observed as an ordinance forever. It
is simply determined within the rule given
above and is a solemn assembly treated in the
same way as the other Feast days of Leviticus
23, with a compulsory gathering for worship
and festivity.