THE OT CALENDAR ?
We now move to three interesting sections of OT Scripture.
1 Samuel 20:5,18.
"And David said unto Jonathan, Behold, TOMORROW is the new
moon, and I should not fail to sit with the king at
meat...Then Jonathan said to David, TOMORROW is the new
moon; and you shall be missed, because your seat will be empty."
Let's notice, both David and Jonathan DID NOT say to each
other: "tomorrow we look at the moon to see if it is new" nor
did they say, "tomorrow we shall see if the crescent of the moon
appears, so it will be new month day." Neither was there
anything said like, " tomorrow the moon may be dark (its molad, a
word never used in the Bible) and so declared as new month day."
Yet, SOMEHOW, both men KNEW the new moon, or new month day,
was the next day, when David was expected to be fellowshipping
with the king at the main mealtime.
The question arises from these verses: How did they so
positively know the next day was new month day?
Did Israel have at this time in history a calendar that was
governed strictly by CALCULATION, AND NOT BASED ON ANY
OBSERVATION OF THE MOON IN ANY WAY, EITHER BY ITS MOLAD OR
These verses MAY suggest that was the case, for it is
dogmatically stated by the two men that the following day was new
month day. It would seem they did not have to wait until the
official leaders in Israel ANNOUNCED the new month day (as in the
time of Christ, which we shall see in later studies), the new
month day was going to be "tomorrow" and that was it for sure.
Whatever the truth of the matter, one thing is again
positive. These verses DO NOT tell us ANYTHING about "observing"
the moon. They do not give us all the rules of the calendar. They
say nothing about adding a 13th month in the year, and when to do
so. The governing of the calendar cannot be found in those
"Blow the horn on the new moon, on the full moon for your
feast day" (Jewish Tanakh translation).
This verse is re-stating what had already been written in
Numbers chapter 10. And did numbers 10 tell us about the rules of
the calendar? Did it tell us HOW the new month was decided? Was
it by observation of the moon? If so, was it the observation of
the MOLAD, or the first sighting of the CRESCENT?
So likewise here in Ps.81 NOTHING along the above lines is
given us concerning the new moon or month. And from a pure
physical sighting of the FULL MOON, that fullness would by the
average human eye not be for at least TWO days. So again, no
SPECIFICS can be ascertained from this verse, just as no
specifics about the rules and methods of calendar governing can
be found in Numbers 10.
This verse in Ps.81 is pre-supposing the calendar that would
govern the new month days was an established FACT in Israel, and
so accordingly as the Law of Moses stated (Num.10) the trumpet was
to be blown.
This verse says nothing about HOW the new moon or new month
was ANNOUNCED. Was it by a fixed calendar based upon
calculation, which the Israelites did have the expert scholars to
so establish, or was it by the molad of the moon, or the first
sighting of the crescent of the moon? We just CANNOT know from
this verse, for it does not say. This verse gives us no rules at
all about how to govern the calendar in any specific way. There
is nothing here about the 13th month of the year that must be
inserted from time to time in order to keep the earth, sun and
moon in synch, over a basic 19 year time cycle, and so keep the
Festivals of God in their seasons of Palestine.
Please read this whole chapter, and take special note of
verses 2, 7-9. A great revival was taking place under Nehemiah
and Ezra. The people gather together and Ezra came to read them
the law. It was the FIRST day of the 7th month. The context
shows clearly the people were not instructed BEFORE this day that
this first day of the 7th month was a HOLY day (the feast of
Trumpets). They knew NOTHING about this day being a holy day!
It was not UNTIL they were reading in the law that they were
INSTRUCTED from that law, that the first day of the seventh month
was "holy unto the Lord." Then they were told to go their way
and not mourn and weep, BUT MAKE GREAT MIRTH, for it was a day of
On the second day of this month they found the truth about
the great feast of TABERNACLES, and they observed it according to
that which was written in the law (Lev.23).
What I am getting at, and what I want you to see from this
section of Scripture, is that it was the FIRST day of the 7th
month, but HOW WAS IT THE FIRST DAY? Nothing is said about any
moon watching (molad or crescent) to make it the first day of the
month. It COULD be that no such observation was being used, I say
COULD, for of course as nothing is stated, we cannot be dogmatic.
But it is a possibility that their calendar was governed by
Again, whatever the truth was and is (we can find out from
Nehemiah in the resurrection) one thing is very sure. There is
nothing in this section of God's word to tell us how to govern
the calendar, nothing about observation of the moon, how to and
when to add a 13th month to the year. There is nothing here
about the rules of the calendar. They were for sure under a calendar
for they discovered on the day, that that day, the first day of the
7th month, was a holy day! They had come from Babylon back to the
holy land and Jerusalem; it would seem they were following a calendar
from Babylon; for if they had formulated for themselves a calendar, they
would have already known the first day of the 7th month was a holy day.
But it says by reading the law they discovered the very day they were doing
this reading, was a holy day - the first day of the 7th month.
AFTER ALL OUR STUDY IN THE OLD TESTAMENT ON TRYING TO FIGURE
OUT "HOW" THE CALENDAR WAS GOVERNED IN ISRAEL WE ARE LEFT WITH A
1) Israel DID HAVE a calendar from the time of Moses.
2) GOD did reveal to them what was to be the first month of
the sacred festival year.
3) New month days WERE ANNOUNCED or WERE KNOWN by some
4) By what means those new month days were announced or
known IS NOT STATED IN THE OLD TESTAMENT.
5) Nothing is stated about a 13th month that needed to be
added to the year after things got out of synch with a 12 month,
30 days to the month, year.
From the above points we can clearly deduce the truth as
found in Deut.29:29. The calendar in Israel was NOT completely
SECRET to the Lord. God did give it to SOME in Israel to
understand and to regulate and have authority over. BUT what is
just as clear from the OT scriptures is the fact that the rules
to govern the calendar were NOT INSPIRED TO BE WRITTEN DOWN IN
THE OT SO EVERY PERSON IN THE STATE/CHURCH NATION OF ISRAEL,
COULD SEE THEM, HAVE THEM, UNDERSTAND THEM, AND SO BE PERSONALLY
RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DECIDING OF WHEN THE NEW MONTH DAYS WOULD BE
ANNOUNCED AND WHEN THE 13TH MONTH WOULD BE ADDED TO THE YEAR.
Coming forward to our time:
Putting this into the context of our modern NT Church age,
it means simply that there is NOT ENOUGH INFORMATION IN THE WHOLE
BIBLE for any single person or group of persons, to say that they
will TODAY from the Bible and the Bible only, start a calendar.
Some being either totally blind to what I have shown in these
three studies, or willfully self willed and vainly puffed up with
authoritarian ego, have claimed they have the true calendar.
Then someone else with the same blindness and/or vanity also
claims to have the true calendar, but it is different from the
other "true calendar" claimer. Yet it does not stop there, for
yet a third, and fourth, and maybe others also, come along with
the same dogmatic claim. They claim this "truth" but they nearly
all DIFFER at some point, at times even a MONTH apart, in some
years on WHEN to observe the Feasts of the Lord. It all results
in CONFUSION, and God says He is not the author of confusion but
of peace (1 Cor.14:33).
Next time we shall look into what we can understand about
the SANHEDRIN or Jewish council, that existed before, at the time
of Christ, and after the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. and
on down to the present.
Written May 1997