The Hebrew Calendar

Understanding the Times and Seasons

By David M Rogers

www.BibleTruth.cc

Published: January 2010

Table of Contents

Bereshith 1:16 - Signs For the Times

When is the Sabbath Day?

The New Moon Controversy

Psalm 81:3 - Support for the "Concealed Moon"?

When is the Beginning of the New Year?

The "First New Moon After the Spring Equinox" Theory

Waving the Sheaf of the First Grain Harvested

Counting to Shavuot

The Set-Apart Days of The Seventh Month

Summary

 


If we wish to understand the times and the seasons as described and discussed in the Bible, our common Gregorian calendar which is used by most of the world is very little help to us.  The Gregorian calendar is based on the cycle of the earth around the sun.  One such cycle is a year.  The year is divided randomly into twelve parts we call months.  And each month is given approximately the same number of days.  Thus, most months consist of thirty or thirty one days, with February being the only exception, having 28 or 29 days, depending on the need to add another day to adjust for the completion of the cycle around the sun.

The biblical times and seasons of Scripture, however, are based on a different method of tracking time.  The biblical Hebrew calendar uses a lunar system consisting of the moon's cycles in addition to the course of the sun.  One complete cycle of the moon constitutes one month.  The reckoning of the year is from the first month in the spring to the next first month of spring (not one complete cycle of the sun).  Thus, the moon cycles add an important element in the time markers in the biblical Hebrew calendar while the sun regulates the markers of time in the Gregorian calendar.

What's wrong with the Gregorian calendar?  Nothing, as long as you have no interest in knowing when Elohim is going to accomplish his works of redemption.  The Gregorian calendar works perfectly fine for the world to keep track of time.  But if you want to know Elohim's schedule of events, you must come to an understanding of his calendar and way of tracking time.

Before moving on - a word of warning to truth seekers and Messianic believers who have already made numerous changes to their beliefs and practices:  As you continue your quest to find the forgotten truths of Scripture, you do not have to "reinvent the wheel" with every teaching, doctrine and detail of the Bible.  We who have come out of the Christian churches to walk with the Master and obey the commandments and truths of the Torah have a tendency to become obsessed with changing everything we think and do.  It can be a thrill to discover the errors we have been taught by our forefathers and find and embrace the truths of the Scriptures.  But, we can also get caught up in making more and more changes (as many have) just for the sake of change and just for the thrill of "coming into more truth."

Not everything we have been taught in the Christian churches is wrong.  Most of us came into a knowledge of our need for the Master and Savior while sitting in a Christian church.  Furthermore, not all of the changes which are being suggested and taught in the Messianic world are good nor Scriptural.  Some of those proposed changes, which are based in faulty methodology and misinterpretation, are being hoisted upon us by people who seek recognition and adulation.  Be careful about the things which you embrace as truth, and make sure that you don't embrace something just because a Messianic rabbi or teacher presents it.  But carefully and thoroughly study the Word of Elohim for yourself before you change the way you walk and worship the Creator of the universe.

Bereshith 1:16 - Signs For the Times

The way Elohim keeps tabs on time is not by the clock on the wall, or by the half life of uranium or by an "atomic clock."  The Creator of heaven and earth placed into our universe the objects which mark times, days and seasons.  These things are revealed by the words which Elohim has spoken and give the details we need to know to understand his set-apart days, times and appointed seasons.

At creation, Elohim established the method by which time would be measured.

And Elohim said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and for years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so.  Elohim made two great lights-- the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.  Elohim set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And Elohim saw that it was good.  And there was evening, and there was morning-- the fourth day. (Bereshith 1:14-19)

The two great lights are, of course, the sun in our solar system and the moon which circles the earth.  These two lights provide light upon the earth, and separate day from night.  When the sun rises in the east, bringing forth abundant light, it is "day".  Then after it sets in the west and mostly darkness advances, it is night.  It's not complicated at all.  One only needs to observe what Elohim has established.

That Scripture says, "let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and for years."  A quick glance at the Hebrew terminology will help us here.  The purpose of the lights is to "be for signs."  The Hebrew word tAa (pronounced ōt), has a range of meanings including sign, mark, token, ensign, standard, miracle, miraculous sign, proof, warning.  Probably the most useful of these meanings for our context is standard.  That is to say, Elohim has established the standard by which time is measured.  And that standard is the movements of the sun and the moon.

The second Hebrew term we need to know is d[eAm (pronounced mō-ĕd).  According to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, this word means appointed sign, appointed time, appointed season, place of assembly, set feast.  This is the word which identifies the appointments of Yahuwah which are set-apart times.  Our word moed comes from the root word d[y (pronounced ya-ad).  Ya-ad means appoint, betrothe, assemble, meet, set.  The appointed times are those days when Yahuwah wants to meet with his betrothed people.  The sun and the moon establish when those times are.

The "days and years" need little explanation.  The day is regulated by the visibility and light of the sun.  And the years are roughly one rotation of the earth around the sun.  The beginning point of a year is a point of controversy which we will discuss in detail below.  And the beginning point of a month is also debated by students of Scripture.  But the first appointed time is the seventh day Sabbath.

When is the Sabbath Day?

Traditionally, the biblical Sabbath Day is the seventh day of every week.  The calendar merely cycles continuously with six working days followed by the seventh day Sabbath of rest.  However, in some Messianic congregations, a new method of "calculating" the Sabbath day is becoming popular.  This new view maintains that the Sabbath day is the seventh day of each week in the lunar month, but that the "counting" resets following the first day of each month.

How this works out is that the 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th of every month is a Sabbath day.  But each lunar month has 29 or 30 days.  So instead of counting - 29...30...1...2...3...4...5 - the 5th being the seventh day in sequence and thus the Sabbath day, this lunar Sabbath view resets the count on the first of each month.  So, after the Sabbath day of the 29th of the month, the next Sabbath day will be eight or nine days later because of the resetting of the count on the first day of the month!

Do the Scriptures teach the "lunar Sabbath" as the proper way to observe the Sabbath commandment?  Or is the traditional view the correct interpretation of the Instructions of the Bible regarding the Sabbath day?   I believe the traditional counting to seven cycle is the biblical way.  I am not going to get into a great deal of detail refuting the lunar Sabbath theory, but I will present a few Scriptures and some basic reasons why the traditional way of reckoning is preferred.

First, the seventh day Sabbath is presented very early in the Bible.  In the account of creation, Elohim is separating and forming heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in it, the land and all the vegetation and animals on it.  Then it tells us that after six days of building our environment that Elohim ceased from all the work of his hands on the seventh day:

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.  By the seventh day Elohim had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.  And Elohim blessed the seventh day and separated it, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Bereshith 2:1-3)

Elohim rested (ceased from labor) on the seventh day and blessed and separated the day from the first six.

Now the pattern given in the creation account is simple:   Work for six days, cease from work the seventh day.  This is the pattern Elohim has given us.  Nowhere does it speak of the lunar cycle or the new moon having anything to do with this pattern.  It does not tell us that the first day of creation was the first day of the month (the new moon).  If so, some could argue that the fourth day is actually the first day of the month because it was on this day that the record indicates that Elohim set the sun and moon in place for giving light on the earth.  Should we begin the counting to seven on the fourth day of each month?  No.  The record indicates no such thing.

Secondly, the Sabbath is mentioned in Vayiqra [Leviticus] 23 along with the rest of the annual set apart times and appointments.  All the rest of these moedim (appointed times) are to be observed on a certain day of a certain month.  The Pesach, for example, is to fall on the 14th day of the first month, the Feast of Matza (Unleavened Bread) runs from the 15th through the 21st of the first month, and so on.  But of the Sabbath, this instruction does not indicate that the seventh day Sabbath is to be calculated based on the new moon.  So, what does it say?

Speak to the sons of Yisrael and say to them: "These are my appointments, the appointments of Yahuwah, which you are to proclaim as set apart assemblies.  There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of set apart assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to Yahuwah." (Vayiqra 23:2-3)

This appointed time of Sabbath is not attached to a new moon or a certain day of the month.  It merely states that the Sabbath is the seventh of seven days.

We could go on the recite every place where the seventh day Sabbath is mentioned in Scripture.  But we would find the same thing that we've found in these two passages: the Sabbath day is the seventh day of the week and it is not dependant on the new month for a reset of the count.  For all the reasons lunar Sabbath proponents suggest for their point of view, they cannot escape the simple and demonstrable fact that nowhere in the Bible is the Sabbath day said to be dependant on the new moon.  For a detailed analysis of the Lunar Sabbath theory, see my study on The Lunar Sabbath.

The New Moon Controversy

In the Bible, the word translated into English as month or new moon is the Hebrew vd,xo (pronounced hōdĕsh).  The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HALOT) tells us this word means new moon, month, mating season.  This word comes from the Hebrew root vd;x which means renew, make anew, repair.  Thus the Hebrew word for new can also mean new month, or just month.

Though the Bible speaks of the new month or new moon, it does not explicitly tell us how the new moon is determined.  It is easy to identify a full moon.  Just look in the sky and when the moon is a full circle, its "full"!  But, for some reason, there are several different opinions regarding when the new moon and the new month begins.

Astronomers regard the new moon as that time when the sun illuminates the exact opposite side of the moon that is visible from the earth.  This "astronomical new moon" is also known as the "darkened moon" or the "unilluminated moon."  It occurs at its conjunction with the sun as seen from earth.  At this time, the darkened side of the moon faces earth, so the moon cannot be seen from earth.  The astronomical new moon  is considered the "new moon" on most English calendars and the Chinese calendar.

The advantage of the astronomical new moon theory is that if we use this method, we can always know in advance, using a calculation, when the new moon will occur.  It is neat and clean, and flawless, because the Creator designed faithfulness in the skies.  But, the calculation to figure out the exact moment of conjunction is not so simple.

The crazy extremes people can go to to calculate the exact time of the astronomical new moon is illustrated by the entry for "new moon" in Wikipedia, where "an approximate formula" is given to calculate any new moon:

The time interval between new moonsa lunationis variable. The mean time between new moons, the synodic month, is about 29.53... days. An approximate formula to compute the mean moments of new moon (conjunction between Sun and Moon) for successive months is:

d = 5.597661 + 29.5305888610 * N + (102.026 * 10-12) * N2

where N is an integer, starting with 0 for the first new moon in the year 2000, and that is incremented by 1 for each successive synodic month; and the result d is the number of days (and fractions) since 2000-01-01 00:00:00 reckoned in the time scale known as Terrestrial Time (TT) used in ephemerides.

Well, that's pretty complex, wouldn't you say?  I'm quite sure the ancient Israelites didn't have to pull out the slide rule to figure out when the next new moon would occur!

I once embraced this theory of reckoning the new moon.  My reason for this belief was based in large part on Psalm 81:

Sound the ram's horn at the New Moon, and when the moon is full, on the day of our Feast; this is a decree for Yisrael, an ordinance of the Elohim of Ya'acov. (Psalm 81:3-4)

The Hebrew for the phrase "the moon is full" is the word ceseh, which comes from the word which means to cover.  One way to read this scripture is to see a parallel between New Moon and covering.  So, it seems, the New Moon is a covered or concealed moon.

I also reasoned that since each moon cycle is a little more than twenty nine days long, and since Chag haMatzot and Chag haSukkot begin on the full moon of their respective months which is exactly in the middle of the month on the fifteenth of the month, and since the new moon must be exactly half way between its surrounding full moons - or a little more than fourteen and one half days before the full moon, then astronomically speaking, exactly half way between full moons is the hidden moon!  That's it.  We're done.  Case closed?

Not quite.  The problem with the astronomical new moon theory is not that it's complicated.  Though the mathematics may be complicated, there is a more serious flaw with the "I can't see a thing!" theory.  The major flaw in the theory is that the hidden moon is no moon at all.  In that view, the new moon purports to be no moon.  But isn't there a fundamental difference between a "new moon" and "no moon"?  How can you call an unseen moon "new"?  In anybody's vocabulary, new does not mean or even imply invisible, hidden, unseen or unilluminated.

The Hebrew word for new, as we have already pointed out, is vd,xo (pronounced hōdĕsh).  And hodesh means to renew, make anew, repair.  To renew is the same as to restore to existence, to regenerate, to rebuild, to replenish.  Certainly, the hidden moon has not yet begun to rebuild or to replenish.  But when the first sliver is seen in the evening sky, its easy to see that the moon is regenerating and rebuilding.

The more commonly accepted view is that the new moon is the moon when first visible to the naked eye following the darkened moon.  In this case it is actually "new" because it is being rebuilt before your eyes.  It "wasn't," but now, when seen, it "is."  The visible new moon crescent is first seen low in the western sky chasing the sun near sunset.  This is the ancient understanding of "new moon" and this meaning is embraced in modern times by the Muslim calendar, the Hebrew calendar, the Hindu calendars and the Buddhist calendar.

The Scriptures do not tell us that the new moon is when you see the first sliver.  Opponents of this view point out this fact and conclude that it must be the incorrect way of determining the new moon.  And they sarcastically ridicule this method.  But the Scriptures don't actually say anything to us about how to reckon a new moon.  So, we could throw back the same argument at the adherents of the "darkened moon" theory.  Really, we are left without an instruction in the Torah about how to define a new moon.  We are left to use a little common sense.

So, the "first sliver" view makes good sense where the astronomical new moon theory doesn't.  Here, the new moon is a real moon, visible in the sky.  It is easy to see by anyone who is looking for it.  No calculations needed!  However, the astronomical new moon is "no moon" or a moon not seen.  It's difficult to understand how we can call the unseen moon a "new moon."  So, it stands to reason that the first thin crescent moon begins a cycle of the moon growing till full, then shrinking until it is gone.  The ancients were able to see the new crescent sliver whether looking out of their tents, walking in the desert, or anywhere else one might find themselves.  In short, it just makes good sense.

Another objection to the sighted new moon theory is that one can't really know for sure when the month begins until he actually sees the sliver in the sky.  So we can't print and publish calendars in advance.  OK.  How is that a real problem?  Though it may remove some of the convenience of knowing in advance when the month, and therefore when the new year begins, it still makes perfect sense that a new moon is the first visible part of the moon cycle.

Still another objection to the sighted sliver new moon theory is that sometimes there are obstructive clouds overhead prohibiting us from seeing the first sliver in the evening sky.  And what if there is heavy cloud cover for several evenings in a row while we're looking for the first sliver?  Does that mean the previous month could be 31, 32 or 33 days in length?

The solution to this dilemma is to simply use some common sense: if the sliver is not visible in the sky on any evening 30 days after the previous new moon, then the next evening is the new moon, whether seen or not, because no month can have more than 30 days.  Then, the next month, the search of the skies for the crescent sliver may begin again after 28 days.

Psalm 81:3 - Support for the "Concealed Moon"?

Very little is said in Scripture which helps us understand how the ancients reckoned the new moon.  Psalm 81:3 does perhaps provide a clue.  So, therefore, proponents of both views cite it as supporting their view.  The verse (verse 4 in the Hebrew text), is as follows:

`WnGE)x; ~Ayl. hs,KeB; rp"+Av vd<xob; W[q.Ti 4

Literally, this reads, "You (pl.) give a blow on new moon shofar; on full moon for the day of our festival."

Proponents of the hidden moon theory insist that the word  hs,Ke  (ceseh), here translated full moon, actually should be translated something like, "in its hiding."  This, say they, makes ceseh parallel in thought with chodesh (new moon) and indicates by this parallelism that the new moon occurs when the moon is in its hiding.  The evidence for this comes in a study of the root word hsk which can mean to cover, to forgive, to conceal.  Thus, they would translate the verse, "You blow the shofar on the new moon, in it's hiding for the day of our feast."

One Torah teacher draws this conclusion with absolutely no evidence to suggest it.  He says, "Does ... ba-keh-seh mean revealed moon or concealed moon (conjunction)?  Obviously it means concealed at conjunction."  Wow, really?  It "obviously" means the concealed moon?  What biblical evidence do you have that makes this so "obvious"?  Then he repeats what we already know: "Gee willikers, you mean theres not narry a verse in the whole bible about sightin a crescent?  NOPE, not one!" - as if to shame us into believing his view - like anyone who believes the "first crescent" view must be stupid!  Again, we could throw that right back in his face: "You mean there's not narry a verse in the whole bible about the new moon being the concealed moon?  NOPE, not one!"

Let's find out if its so "obvious" that the new moon is the concealed moon.  Although at first blush Psalm 81:3 seems to be a convincing argument for the concealed moon theory, there are several points the open-minded interpreter needs to consider before he rashly comes to this conclusion.  First, if to cover is really the meaning of our word in Psalm 81, the idea of covering could actually support either of the two views.  The covering could be that of darkness or the covering of the moon could be its cover of sunlight.  Either way, the moon is covered.

Secondly, there are many scholars who see in our word ceseh a connection to words in the sister languages to Hebrew.  Brown, Driver and Briggs Lexicon (BDB) notes that ceseh is likely a cognate of the Aramaic word "Kista" and the Assyrian word "Kuseu" which both mean "full moon."  Accordingly, nearly every lexicon and dictionary lists the primary meaning of the form ceseh as it is here in our text as "full moon."

The third reason, and the most important reason, why the "concealed moon" theory does not fit this passage is that the ceseh is associated in the second half of the verse with "our festival."  The text reads, "...in the ceseh for our Feast."  Now we know that the new moon is never called a festival in Torah.  There are only 3 annual festivals in the Hebrew calendar.  The festivals of the first and seventh month occur at the time of the full moon, and the Feast of Shavuot occurs somewhere near the middle of the third month.  It would make no sense if the passage were translated, "Blow the shofar at the new moon; at the Hidden moon for our Feast," because there is no Feast of Yahuwah at the time of the new moon!  So the only possible rendering of Psalm 81:3 is as follows:

Blow the shofar at the new moon;

At the full moon (ceseh) for our Feast.

Therefore, the word ceseh is not describing the new moon, it is describing the full moon.  This makes better sense because we know the shofar is blown at the new moon and we know that the shofar is also blown on the first day of the Feasts of the first and seventh months on the Hebrew calendar, which occur at the full moon.  Thus, ceseh in our verse is referring to the full moon, or the covering of the moon with sunlight, because this is when "our Feast" happens.

The "I can't see a thing, but trust me anyway, astronomical alignment, no moon is a new moon" theory cannot be corroborated by Scripture.  Sure, its "scientific" and its convenient.  But the moon is actually visually being "renewed" when it appears in the sky in its first sliver stage.  Therefore, the sighted new moon theory is the preferred view because of its clear advantage in the use of common sense.

When is the Beginning of the New Year?

Now that we know that any month begins with the sighted first sliver of the moon following its phase of darkness, we can move on to the question of when the beginning of the new year is.  We will do this by first examining what the Scriptures have to say about this important topic, then we will proceed to answer objections and apparent "problems" the scriptural method of determining a new year presents.

Getting the beginning of the year identified correctly is of paramount importance.  Since Elohim has given us specific days on the Hebrew calendar that are designated as set-apart for his appointments with us, appointments to accomplish the redemption, and since we do not want to miss any of these appointments by even one day, then we must begin the new year precisely at the right time as identified in his Instructions.

The Torah of Elohim does present a very clear word regarding the beginning of the year and the Hebrew calendar.  For those who hold the Bible as being the sure and faithful word of Elohim to mankind, there can be no other criteria for determining the first month of the new year than those which the Scriptures themselves reveal.

In the account of the ten plagues, simple and clear revelation was given to Mosheh:

Yahuwah said to Mosheh and Aharon in Mitzrayim, "This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year.  Tell the whole community of Yisrael that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household." (Shemot 12:1-3)

The month in which the Pesach was slaughtered and eaten and in which the sons of Yisrael left Mitzrayim - that month is the first month of the year.  So which month was that?

The Torah identifies precisely what month this was:

Then Mosheh said to the people, "Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Mitzrayim, out of the land of slavery, because Yahuwah brought you out of it with a mighty hand. Eat nothing containing yeast.  Today, in the month of the Aviv you are leaving. (Shemot 13:3-4)

The month in which Yisrael left Mitzrayim is called "the month of the Aviv."   In fact, the Torah tells us in four different places that the month of the Aviv is the same month that Yahuwah delivered Yisrael from Mitzrayim.  The second passage where Mosheh is told this is here:

Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of the Aviv, for in that month you came out of Mitzrayim.  (Shemot 23:15)

Again, for a third time, Mosheh is told which month is the month of the Aviv:

Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of the Aviv, for in the month of the Aviv you came out of Mitzrayim. (Shemot 34:18)

And finally, for the fourth time, Mosheh is told that the month of the Aviv is when Yahuwah brought the sons of Yisrael up out of Mitzrayim:

Observe the month of the Aviv and celebrate the Pesach of Yahuwah your Elohim, because in the month of the Aviv he brought you out of Mitzrayim by night. (Devarim 16:1)

It couldn't be clearer that the first month of the year is the month of the Aviv.

Next, we need to understand what the Aviv is.  The BDB identifies the Hebrew byIba' (pronounced aviv) as

1. fresh, young ears of barley; 2. month of ear-forming, or of growing green, Abib, month of Exodus & passover.

TWOT translates our word as barley, and has this to say about it:

Barley. This noun refers to barley that is already ripe, but still soft, the grains of which are eaten either rubbed or roasted... Abib was also the early name (later, Nisan) of the first month of the Jewish calendar (the month of Passover). In that month the barley came to ear.

And the HALOT says aviv is to be identified with

1. ears (of corn) already ripe, but still soft, to be eaten either crushed or roasted (Dalman Arbeit 2:245, 305), Ex 9:31 Lv 2:14;

2. bbaa'h' vd,xo month of the ears of corn, March-April;

These lexicons of ancient Hebrew are in agreement that aviv has to do with the state of ripeness of the barley ears.

Wikipedia summarizes the meaning of aviv:

Aviv (Hebrew: אביב‎) has several related meanings in Hebrew:

  • According to the Torah, Aviv is the first month of the Hebrew calendar.

  • Historically, aviv literally meant the stage in the growth of grain when the seeds have reached full size and are filling with starch, but have not dried yet. During the plague of hail (Exodus 9:31), the barley was aviv and the flax was giv`ol.

  • "Aviv" accordingly also means spring, one of the four seasons. Thus the major modern Israeli city of Tel Aviv means "Spring Hill".

  • The month in the Hebrew calendar when the barley has reached or passed this stage (Exodus 13:4; 23:15) is called Aviv, or the "month of the aviv": the seventh of the Jewish civil year, and the first of the Biblical ecclesiastical year. It begins about the time of the vernal equinox (March 21). Since the Babylonian captivity, it has also been called Nisan (Neh 2:1). On the sixteenth day of the month, harvest was begun by gathering a sheaf of barley, which was offered as a sacrifice to God (Lev 23:4-11) when the Temple existed.

While we have given the Wikipedia definition of Aviv, we must understand that Aviv as meaning spring is a modern definition, not the ancient Hebrew definition.  The word spring is not what the word aviv meant when Torah was written.  The word aviv as used in Scripture refers to the ripening ears of barley.

In summary of the meaning of aviv, all sources are in agreement that aviv has to do with the stage of ripeness of grain.  All but one of these sources specifically identify the barley as that ripened grain.  This is because the first grain crop of the year in Yisrael is the barley harvest.  As such, the new moon when the barley has become nearly ripe, that is, has green ears and is soft, is also called the month of the Aviv.  And because this month of the aviv is near the time of the beginning of spring, although it has no explicit connection (biblically) to the vernal equinox, the word aviv later became associated with the word spring.  Keep in mind that aviv does not mean spring, it means green ears of barley, but the barley becomes aviv at the time when the warmer spring season is dawning.

Next, let's examine the usage of aviv in the Torah.  Our Hebrew word occurs eight times in all of the Tanach, all of which are found in the Torah.  Six of those times we have already cited above.  These are those passages which identify the month of the Aviv as that same month in which the sons of Yisrael departed from Mitzrayim.  The other two places where this noun occurs are these:

The flax and barley were destroyed, since the barley had headed (literally, the barley was aviv) and the flax was in bloom. (Shemot 9:31)

and

If you bring a grain offering of firstfruits to Yahuwah, offer crushed heads of aviv (new grain) roasted in the fire. (Vayiqra 2:14)

Now the Shemot 9:31 occurrence of aviv is its first usage in the Bible.  Mosheh had just delivered his request to Pharaoh and then pronounced the seventh plague to fall upon Mitzrayim - the plague of lightening and hail.  So, we're told that the flax and the barley were destroyed because the barley was aviv (ripe) and the flax was in bloom (although not yet ripe).  Of course, the remaining three plagues took place immediately after the seventh, the tenth occurring just two weeks or more afterwards.

And the Vayiqra passage speaks in general about offerings of aviv or new grain.  But it makes no explicit reference to barley.  It applies to any grain offered to Yahuwah as a firstfruits offering.  It is to be roasted in the fire.

With the accumulation of the data from the biblical record regarding the beginning of the year, we can make several definitive conclusions.  According to the instruction of Elohim's Word, the first month of the biblical calendar is the month of the aviv, the same month the sons of Yisrael exited Egypt.  The month of the aviv begins with the new moon when the barley in the field has green ears.  It is at the time of the year, after the cold months, when the weather is beginning to warm and the crops are coming to ripeness.

We can also note that the Bible says nothing about the springtime and autumn equinox, nor the winter and summer solstice.  Although there is an obvious correlation between the earth's position with reference to the sun and our weather, these alignments are not even mentioned by the Bible for any purpose.  The new year, according the Bible, begins on the day when the first sliver of the new moon is seen and the barley is visibly aviv in the field.

The "First New Moon After the Spring Equinox" Theory

There is an interesting theory about the biblical new year which is circulating in Messianic circles.  This theory states that the new year is to be declared on the first new moon following the spring equinox.  Perhaps its most attractive feature is that this view removes the need for observing the barley in the field for verification that the new moon marks the first month of the Hebrew calendar year.  It is easy enough to know precisely when the spring equinox occurs, and so that first new moon afterwards is the new year, in this view.

Another benefit of this reckoning is that we can know in advance when the new year is going to begin so that we can predict all of the feast days and appointed times on the Creator's calendar.  As a result, festival observers can request time off from the workplace well in advance for these set apart times and travel plans are more easily arranged.

A third benefit of this theory is that we can be more assured that all of the harvests will be completed in time in order to bring the tithes of those harvests to present before Elohim in obedience to the command.

The "first new moon after the spring equinox" theory has several legs.  I list them here and afterwards we'll evaluate them in full:

1.  Spring, by definition, begins at the sun's spring equinox.

2.  Barley is a "spring crop" and therefore could not possibly be aviv before spring which is "defined" (using the modern, not the ancient meaning of aviv) as beginning at the spring equinox.

3.  The barley, even in different parts of Yisrael, doesn't ripen at the same time.  There is as much as one month difference in the ripening time from the south to the north (this is their contention, not mine).  If the aviv barley is the condition which marks the beginning of the year, then in what part of Yisrael?  If the barley is declared aviv in southern Yisrael, northerners may not have any of their crops ready for harvest before the festivals.

4.  Since Elohim requires the tithe of each harvest to be brought to Yerushalayim at the three annual feasts, if the new year is declared too early, the fall crops won't be ready in time for harvest for bringing their tithes to the Feast of Tabernacles.

5.  Elohim would certainly have set a condition for determining the beginning of the new year which everyone around the world can observe at the same time.  The spring equinox is that condition which everyone around the world can observe at the same time.  But the ripening of barley does not occur at the same time across the world.  Even in the land of Yisrael, the barley is not aviv all at the same time.   Therefore, the aviv barley can not be that condition which signals the beginning of the new year.

6. 1 Kings 20:22, 26 speaks of the "return of the year" or "Teshuvat HaShanah" (Hebrew, hn"V'h; tb;Wvt.).  This "return of the year" is speaking about the spring equinox and indicates that the year begins following the spring equinox.

7. As one Torah teacher said, in 1st Samuel 20:5How did David know that the New Moon would be tomorrow if it had not yet been sighted?  Clearly, in their view, David must have known this because he knew when the astronomical new moon would occur.

The "first new moon after the spring equinox" theory will almost always produce the same beginning of the year as the "sighting of the aviv barley" method will produce, and will produce a very high likelihood that all the harvests will be ready in time for the required festival offerings.  However, there will be occasions when the two methods won't result in the same starting time for the new year.

So, which of the two methods should we follow?  In my opinion, the sighting of the aviv barley method is thoroughly scriptural and is therefore preferable.  The theory involving the spring equinox is not based on scriptural revelation but is purely reason-based.  In fact, it seems to stand in defiance of the clear instructions of Scripture.  Here are some of the inherent problems with the 6 legs (as I have presented them) of the "first new moon after the spring equinox" theory:

Response to #1.  The first leg of the theory says that spring, by definition, begins at the spring equinox.  However, this is an arbitrary, man-made definition.  For anybody who is watching, there is no one single day on which the "spring" season begins every year.  The weather patterns are different and variable all the time.  "Spring" begins about the time when the weather begins to turn warmer than it was in the "winter."  None of the seasons can be realistically defined as starting on one particular day and ending on another, every year the same.  It is only for convenience that our modern day calendars divide the four seasons into four parts equal in number of days based on equinoxes and solstices.  We all know when the seasons change by looking outside!

Response to #2.  Barley is a spring crop.  However, it grows and develops toward a ripened state mostly in the "winter."  Is it possible for barley to be aviv before spring; that is, before the spring equinox?  Of course, its possible.  And it happens more often than most people realize.  Quite recently, in the year 2005, the barley was aviv all around Yisrael nearly two weeks before the spring equinox!  That year, the equinox was on March 21st, but very large patches of aviv barley were observed all around the land of Yisrael on March 10th.  This caused a large uproar among Messianics because they didn't expect the new year to start until the following new moon (in April).  Those who observed the barley that year included Avi Ben Mordecai and his wife Dina, some Karaite Jews and other Messianic Jews living in Israel.

Now again, in this year (2010), the barley was found aviv before the spring equinox.  On Friday, March 12, aviv barley was seen by several witnesses in several locations in Israel.  Then again, on Tuesday, March 16, and on Wednesday, March 17, more aviv barley was found.  The evening of March 17, the first sliver of the new moon was sighted, and the new year dawned.  The vernal equinox then occurred on Sunday, March 21.  But according to the "vernal equinox" theory, there could not be any aviv barley before March 21.  So it must be pretty self evident that the "first new moon following the spring equinox" theory has to be in error.

Although the ripening of the barley has an obvious connection to the position of the sun in the sky, there's nothing magical about the "spring equinox" which signals the barley that it can now become ripe.  When the conditions are right - sufficient rain and sunlight - the barley will ripen when its ready.  The argument that barley cannot be aviv before the spring equinox is simply untrue, and is easy to disprove by observation and just a little bit of common sense.

Response to #3.  Is it true that there can be as much as one full month from the ripening of the barley in southern Yisrael to that in northern Yisrael?  Hardly.  Yisrael is a very small country, as they say, about the size of New Jersey.  While there may be differences of a month in the growing seasons from, let's say, Illinois in the north to Louisiana in the south, there is little difference from southern Illinois to northern Illinois, or southern Yisrael to northern Yisrael.  Again, those who actually observe the barley is Yisrael know this to be true, but those espousing theories, who don't live in the land, can make any claims they want, but there is no actual experience of observation to back such claims.

Response to #4.  The fourth leg of the argument says that if the new year occurs too early, then the other crops, particularly the late summer crops, might not be ready to harvest by the Feast of Tabernacles.  That's like saying Elohim may be able to bring the barley to ripeness on time, but he may not be able, following his own timetable, to bring the fall harvest in on time.  Elohim might not be able to pull it off, so we should give him a little extra time before WE declare the beginning of the new year!

This is an argument from unbelief and lack of trust in the Almighty!   I would hope that, upon further reflection, those who want to use this as an excuse for not following Yahuwah's instructions about marking the beginning of the year by the observation of aviv barley would speedily withdraw this specious claim.

Response to #5.  Is it true that Elohim would most certainly have chosen some other method of observation that everyone in the world could have plain evidence of besides the state of ripeness of the barley in Yisrael?   Is the spring equinox a phenomenon that everyone around the world can observe at the same time?  And is the state of ripeness of barley a condition which is unreliable for determining the new year?

First, let's consider the contention that the spring equinox is something that everyone around the world can observe with their own eyes, but that the aviv barley is not.  Certainly, with modern technological and astronomical advances, we can know down to the second when the sun comes into conjunction with the equator (this is the exact moment of the spring equinox).  But could the ancients do the same?  Can we, with just our own eyes, observe and know the exact moment of the equinox?  How about the exact day?  How about getting it right within a week?  And could the ancients have been able to do the same?

Obviously, without the aid of sophisticated scientific instrumentation, no one can observe with his eyes and know when the spring equinox occurs.  And without calendars based on these observations and calculations which tell us when the equinox occurs, how could we possible know when this phenomenon occurs.  Truth be told, the spring equinox is not something that can be pinpointed in time by anyone on earth by simply looking into the sky - not even someone in Israel.  This is because, except for at the equator, the sun is never directly overhead at the spring equinox.

Our forefathers of antiquity could not possibly have been able to look at the sky and tell when the spring equinox was occurring - not even in Israel!  It is not possible now, and it has always been impossible by simple observation, to know when the sun in directly over the equator.  What the spring equinox theorists cite as a problem for the observers of the aviv barley is an even greater problem for their theory.  It is impossible for them to really know when the spring equinox is by just looking in the sky.

We might then ask ourselves the question: does it make more sense that Elohim would have the agriculturally minded Israelis of ancient times figure out when the spring equinox is to know when the new year could begin, or to simply look outside at their fields to see if the barley is aviv?  Somehow, when you think about the absurdity of deciding which of these two may be true - that the farmers in Israel could have known which day the sun was directly over the equator, or that the farmers could simply look outside at the barley in the field - it becomes easy to see which of the two methods would be an effective and logical way to know when the new year begins.

Next, the thought that Elohim would have surely chosen a more sure way of determining the new year than the state of the ripeness of the barley in Israel doesn't make sense, either.  Such reasoning is baseless, having no revelation of Scripture in its support.  The reason why this argument is spurious is that Elohim has called his people to live in the land of Yisrael.  The inheritance of his people is eretz Yisrael, not Ephesus, not Tokyo, not New York and not North Carolina.  The Torah specifically gives instructions to be obeyed by his people while they live in the land.  What does Elohim say about the Torah he was giving his people?  Regarding the Pesach, it says,

"When you enter the land that Yahuwah will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony" (Shemot 12:25).

Regarding the harvest, it says,

"Speak to the sons of Yisrael and say to them: 'When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest'" (Vayiqra 23:10).

Regarding any food the land produces, it says,

"Speak to the sons of Yisrael and say to them: 'When you enter the land to which I am taking you and you eat the food of the land, present a portion as an offering to Yahuwah" (Bemidhbar 15:18).

And regarding all of the commandments of the Torah, it says,

"You are about to cross the Yarden to enter and take possession of the land Yahuwah your Elohim is giving you. When you have taken it over and are living there, be sure that you obey all the decrees and laws I am setting before you today." (Devarim 17:14).

And regarding many other things, the same is said.

The Torah was given to the sons of Yisrael to observe when they are in the land.  Many of these instructions of the Torah were not observed while they traveled for forty years through the wilderness, but they were observed after they entered the land.  This is not to say that we who are in the exile should not care to be keeping the Torah.  We who seek to serve Yahuwah with all our heart, soul and strength should be obedient at every point and to every commandment which we can in the Torah while living outside the promised land.  But what I am saying is that there are some commandments which are impossible to keep outside of Yisrael and without a temple and priesthood.

There are many commandments of the Torah which can only be obeyed and guarded while living in Yisrael.  All of the temple service and the keeping of the Appointed days with all their instructions can only be kept and fulfilled in the land and in Yerushalayim and in the presence of Yahuwah.  The observance of the conditions which signal the first month of the year (sighting of the aviv barley) is one of those instructions which we cannot correctly make in the exile without a little help, so we are dependent upon those in the land who can tell us when these conditions exist.  So the argument that Elohim would certainly made it easy for every around the world to see the signs of the new year falls flat on its face in the light of Scripture.

Response to #6.  Is the Teshuvat HaShanah ("return of the year") a reference to the spring equinox?  If so, doesn't this indicate that the beginning of the year is controlled by the spring equinox?  'Fraid not.  The Hebrew term merely refers to the renewal of the year when the weather begins to turn warm and the barley is becoming ripe.  In fact, biblically speaking, the ripening of the barley is the indicator that the new year is beginning, not the moment the sun crosses the equator!  There is no mention anywhere in Scripture about the equinoxes of spring and fall or the solstices of summer and winter.  Is it completely artificial to suggest that the "return of the year" must be referring to the spring equinox.  No such definition or indication comes from the Scriptures.

Response to #7.  1st Samuel 20:5 does indicate that David knew that "tomorrow" would be the new moon day.  How could he have known this if he wasn't using the hidden moon, astronomical alignment method?  It's quite simple, really.  We know that every month has 29 or 30 days.  No month goes beyond this.  Therefore, David could have easily known that "tomorrow" was to be the new moon day if he spoke this on the 30th day of the current month and the crescent was still not visible.  "Tomorrow" had to be the first day of the new month!

The ripening of the barley in the land is Yisrael is the condition to be observed for the declaration of the new year as commanded in the Torah.  It is simple for anyone and everyone to see.  The "first new moon following the spring equinox" theory is purely a postulation based on human reasoning and the human need for easy answers and predictable timetables.  While this new theory would make our calendars easy and convenient, the "first new moon following the spring equinox" theory is not the correct way Scripture tells us to know when His new year begins.  Those who wish to remove man's traditions but instead walk the Torah walk should accordingly embrace the sighting of the aviv barley to mark the beginning of the Hebrew calendar in order to celebrate and observe Yahuwah's appointed times and festivals at their correct times.

Waving the Sheaf of the First Grain Harvested

The next great controversy and issue of dispute on the Hebrew calendar is that of when the sheaf of the first grain is to be presented, which marks the beginning of the "counting of the omer" to Shavuot.  We read this about the counting:

Yahuwah said to Mosheh, "Speak to the sons of Yisrael and say to them: 'When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest.  He is to wave the sheaf before Yahuwah so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath.'" (Vayiqra 23:9-11)

The word translated sheaf in our text is from the Hebrew rm,[o (pronounced ōmĕr).  This word means,

I. rm,[o n.m. sheaf (swath, row of fallen grain); fig. of food (abs.); lit. (pg 771).  B7436 II. rm,[o n.m. omer; a measure; itself; amount measured; = 1/10 ephah.

The omer is the first sheaf of the spring harvest which is brought and waved before Yahuwah.

Now this text immediately follows the instructions regarding the Feast of Unleavened Bread and its set-apart observances.  So, the question which is frequently debated is that of when this sheaf is presented and waved before Yahuwah.  In the first century, various sects such as the Sadducees, the Boethusians and the Essenes (who lived in the Dead Sea / Qumran area) and later the Karaites had a disagreement with the Pharisees (who are traced today to Rabbinic Judaism) on when this day of the waving of the omer was. The Boethusians were considered a sect of the Sadducees. They received their name from Simeon b. Boethus who was appointed high priest by Herod the Great in 24 B.C.E [Josephus, Antiquity 15:320].

The Sadducees, Boethusians and Karaites maintain that the counting of the omer should begin the first day following the weekly Sabbath. The Essenes believed it started on the Sunday after the end of the entire eight day festival (one week later than the Sadducees, Boethusians and Karaites.)  The Pharisees (Rabbinic Judaism) maintains that the counting should begin on Aviv / Nisan 16 which is the day following the first day of Unleavened Bread.  So, who is right?

The whole argument hinges on the meaning of Shabbat, since the waving is to occur on "the day after the Shabbat."  The Pharisees and their successors - the Rabbinic Jews - propose that "the Shabbat" can refer to the seventh day Shabbat or to the "high" set-apart days or to a set of seven years.  Therefore, they believe that the first day of Unleavened Bread is this "Shabbat," the day after which the offering is to be presented and waved.

The problem with this theory is that it is not supported by Scripture (but then, there are a lot of teachings of the Rabbis that are not supported by Scripture!)  The form of our word in Vayiqra 23:15 is tB'V;h; (haShabbat, or "the Sabbath").  In this form, haShabbat occurs 17 times in the Torah, including in our text, and every time this word is used in this form it is referring to the weekly seventh-day Sabbath day (Exod. 16:29; 20:8, 11; 31:14, 15, 16[twice]; 35:3; Lev. 23:11, 15, 16; 24:8[twice]; Num. 15:32; 28:9; Deut. 5:12, 15).  In the rest of the Tanach, the same is true - a total of about 40 times haShabbat is used in the Tanach - haShabbat always refers to the weekly Sabbath.

Furthermore, the word shabbat without the definite article also always refers to the weekly seventh day Sabbath, except where there are other modifiers to further define its meaning.  An example of when shabbat does not refer to the seventh day Sabbath is here:

Count off seven sabbaths of years-- seven times seven years-- so that the seven sabbaths of years amount to a period of forty-nine years. (Vayiqra 25:8)

Here, the word shabbat is in the plural (shabbatot) and it explicitly calls this time period sabbaths of years.  The modifier of years lets us know that these shabbats are not the weekly Shabbats but are referring to a different kind of shabbats.

The other modifier used to give shabbat a different meaning is in the expression !AtB'v; tB;v; (Shabbat shabbaton), which means a sabbath of complete rest.  This phrase is used specifically only of the following set apart holy days - the seventh day Sabbath, Shavuot, Yom Teruah, Yom HaKippurim, and the first and eight days of the Feast of Tabernacles, and of the land in the seventh year which is to enjoy a complete rest.  But the phrase shabbat shabbaton is never used of the first and seventh day of Unleavened Bread, because preparing of food was allowed on those days (they were not a "complete rest").

Since the phrase shabbat shabbaton is never used of the first day of Unleavened Bread, why would the word shabbat or haShabbat be referring to the first day of Unleavened Bread?  The answer to this rhetorical question is: haShabbat does not refer to the first day of Unleavened Bread, it refers to the seventh day Sabbath.  So, except where there are modifiers to let us know that a different meaning and context is intended, every occurrence of Shabbat in the Scriptures is used exclusively as a designation for the seventh day Sabbath.

Now the next question that needs addressed is: Which Sabbath?  Vayiqra 23:9-11 is a little vague to identify which Sabbath the sheaf is to be waved:

He is to wave the sheaf before Yahuwah so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath.

Of the more common views, the Essenes believed the Sabbath after the conclusion of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was the time of this offering.  The rest believe that the Sabbath being referred to is the one which, the day after is one of the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

There are several reasons why the Sabbath being referred to must be the one which, the day after the Sabbath falls on a day during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  First, the order of the Times and Seasons as given in Vayiqra 23 is sequential.  Each of the annual set-apart days and Feasts are given to us in order of their timeframe on the Hebrew calendar.  So, the waving offering must occur sometime during or after the Feast of Unleavened Bread, but never before the Feast.

Second, the explicit command of Scripture is to bring the first portion - the tithe - of all the produce of the land to the presence of Yahuwah at one of the three annual Festival holiday seasons:

Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in that month you came out of Mitzrayim. No one is to appear before me empty-handed.  Celebrate the Feast of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field.  Celebrate the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the fieldThree times a year all the men are to appear before the Adonai Yahuwah. (Shemot 23:15-17)

and

Three times a year all your men must appear before Yahuwah your Elohim at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before Yahuwah empty-handed. (Devarim 16:16)

These instructions make it clear that everyone is required to bring the first fruits of the crops of the field to present before Yahuwah during the three annual Festival seasons.  No other time of bringing this offering was allowed.

So, it stands to reason that the "vague" reference in Vayiqra 23 to presenting the new grain to Yahuwah is the first of these three commanded presentations of first fruits which is to be waved during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  Therefore, since the offering of the new grain of the first fruits of the harvest was to occur during these three annual feasts, it is clear that the Sabbath being referred to in Vayiqra 23:11 is that Sabbath which, the day after is the first day of the week which sits somewhere among the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.   (I'm not talking about the first day of Unleavened Bread, I'm talking about the first day of the week - "Sunday" as depicted on the Gregorian calendar - which falls during the seven days of Unleavened Bread.)  It is that "Sunday" of the week of Unleavened Bread when the new grain is waved before Yahuwah.

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread falls on Aviv 15 through Aviv 21:

On the fifteenth day of that month Yahuwah's Feast of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast.  On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.  For seven days present an offering made to Yahuwah by fire. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. (Vayiqra 23:5-8)

This would mean that the Sabbath will always be on one of the days between Aviv 14 through 20 - whichever of those days is the seventh day Sabbath, that is the day being referred to in Vayiqra 23:11.  And the "day after the Sabbath" falls on one of the days between Aviv 15 through 21, which are the commanded days of celebrating the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the authorized time for bringing tithes of the field to present and wave before Yahuwah.

The point of all this is that the waving must occur on the first day of the week (the "Sunday") which lands during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  And therefore, the Sabbath referred to in the expression "the day after the Sabbath" can be the seventh day Sabbath which falls between the day before the Feast begins (Aviv 14) through the sixth day of the Feast (Aviv 20).

Additional support for this view is found in the testimony of Scripture of the historical account of the crossing over into the land of Yisrael when the new grain of the land was eaten during Unleavened Bread.  First of all, note the instruction of Scripture regarding the harvest of the new grain:

You must not eat any bread, or roasted or new grain, until the very day you bring this offering to your Elohim. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. (Vayiqra 23:14)

The sons of Yisrael were explicitly commanded not to eat any of the new grain of the spring harvest until they presented the first portion of grain to be waved before Yahuwah.

 But after they crossed over the Yarden into the Land, the sons of Yisrael celebrated a Pesach and subsequently ate of the new grain of the land:

On the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, while camped at Gilgal on the plains of Yericho, the sons of Yisrael celebrated the Pesach.  The day after the Pesach, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. (Yehoshua 5:10-11)

Since the Pesach was slaughtered on Aviv 14, then "the day after the Pesach" was Aviv 15 - the first day of Unleavened Bread.  Aviv 14 that year must have fallen on the Sabbath day because on Aviv 15, the new grain was eaten.  Though not explicitly stated, it is implied that the new grain of the land was waved before Yahuwah and then eaten, in accordance with the instruction Yahuwah had given Mosheh while in the wilderness.  This agrees with our assessment above that the new grain was waved and eaten on the first day of the week during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and that the Sabbath being referred to lands somewhere between Aviv 14 through Aviv 20.

Counting to Shavuot

The next instruction regarding the Times and Seasons of Yahuwah is that of the counting:

You must count for yourselves seven weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day you bring the wave offering sheaf; they must be complete weeks.  You must count fifty days--until the day after the seventh Sabbath--and then you must present a new grain offering to Yahuwah. (Vayiqra 23:15-16)

From the Sabbath, of which the day after falls on one of the days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread - from that Sabbath, we are commanded to count seven full Sabbaths.  And then the day after the seventh Sabbath, is to be the day of the next Feast on the calendar - the Festival of Shavuot.

The word shavuot in Hebrew means "weeks".  It is known as Weeks because of the counting of the seven weeks to the day of the Feast.  Since the day of the presentation and waving of the new barley grain always occurred on the day after the seventh day Sabbath, then Shavuot will always occur on the day after the Sabbath, also.  This feast is also known as Pentecost in Christian circles because the counting of the seven weeks and then add "to the day after the seventh Sabbath" totals 50 days.

Furthermore, the text here specifies that the counting begins on the day after haShabbat, which is "one" in the count, and seven complete weeks are to be counted.  Verse 16 goes on to say that the count continues "until the day after haShabbat," which is again the first day of the new week.  This continuous use of the designation haShabbat affirms that the weekly Shabbat is the anchor day in the counting.

Not everyone will agree with my assessment of the "counting of the omer," but I invite dissenters to prove wrong my analysis of the usage of the words shabbat and haShabbat.  It may not be until Messiah himself comes and sets everyone straight that all argument and differences of opinion will end.

The Set-Apart Days of The Seventh Month

For all the disagreements and debates and controversies regarding the correct understanding and rendering of the Hebrew calendar, and therefore the correct times and dates for the observance of all Yahuwah's appointed times, there is some good news: there is little or no debate whatsoever regarding the correct dates for the observances of the set-apart times and Festival of the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar.  When we get correct the beginning of each new month and the start of the year, the seventh month observations fall in line simply and without dispute!

Yom Teruah, the day of the Awakening Blast, occurs on the first sighting of the sliver of the seventh new moon of the year.  It cannot be known with absolute certainty when this day will occur, because it requires the human element of observing the first visible sliver of the moon following its hiddenness.  Yom Teruah was accordingly also know as "the Day that No One Knows" because no one knows in advance what day it will happen until it happens.

Messiah Yahusha alluded to this as the day of his coming when he told his disciple that "no one knows the day or the hour" of his coming.

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.... Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Master will come. (Mattityahu 24:36-37, 42)

Just as no one knows what day will be Yom Teruah, but one must "keep watch" to know when the new month begins, so is Messiah's coming.  He will come at the appointed time of which no one knows the day!

After the new moon is sighted in the seventh month, then nine evenings later (the 10th of the month) begins Yom haKippurim (day of atonements).  Then on the evening of the fifteenth day begins Chag haSukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), ending on the 8th day which runs from the evening of the 21st to the evening of the 22nd.

Summary

It is vital to those who wish to faithfully comply with the directives of the Almighty that we correctly identify when the new moon occurs, when the new year begins, and when the first new grain is presented and waved before Yahuwah to begin the counting to Shavuot.  All the proper observances and sanctifying of Yahuwah's special days depends upon correctly identifying these important dates.

The new moon must be a moon that can be seen; otherwise it is no moon at all.  The sighting of the first sliver is the sign that the new month is beginning.  And the new year starts, according to Scripture, at the new moon at the time of the ripening (aviv) barley crop in the fields.  The presenting of offerings of the first fruits of the field must be done in Yahuwah's presence at the three prescribed annual Festivals in Yerushalayim.

May El Shaddai give every one of us who diligently seek after his truth and his way the wisdom and insight to serve him faithfully and to be found pleasing to him at his coming.

END