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This page was last updated on 2 August, 2017.

Teamwork of sun and moon

Gen 1:14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

The lights (sun, moon, stars) are used to mark of days, seasons and years.

Gen 1:16 And God made two great lights; the greater light (sun) to rule the day, and the lesser light (moon) to rule the night: he made the stars also.

The light that rules the night obviously is the moon. The moon is also called the lesser light.

Lesser isn't just about the amount of light, but also about authority. So in case of conflict the sun overrules the moon.

The equinox, a sun-sign, set the very first allowed date for the spring to start.

The moon is then allowed to pick the exact start of the year.

There are several opinions about what that moon-sign actually is.

Sun-sign and moon-sign both ok? Then start the year.

There is also the sign of ripe barley. I reject the idea that barley alone can determine the start of the year. But I see it as a possibility that barley is a third time marker. That works like this.

Sun-sign and moon-sign and barley-sign all ok? Then start the year.

This page was very long with lots of quotes but in the end I decided they didn’t add much. There are many quotes that state Passover should be after  the equinox. But they never forbid the month to start after the equinox.

Also lots of quotes barley has it’s place in starting the year.

Despite of all that info I’m still not sure it’s correct.

For me a sign is something you wait for and then act on it. You don’t act before the sign.

On the 100m sprint the runners start running when the gun goes off.  They don’t anticipate and start running a bit earlier.

A better example may be something army related.

The general (sun) decides the troops will attack on Monday.

The captain (moon) picks the exact timing. For example when the enemies are reloading.

That’s like starting the month after the equinox.

The captain anticipates (calculates) the general will plan battle on Monday, so decides he can just as well attack a few days earlier because they are going into battle anyway. I think army command wouldn’t be happy with that captain.

If barley is relevant in starting the year more predictions are needed because it has to be guessed that the barley is ripe in a few weeks. Likely that’s a simple task for an experienced farmer but still it’s predicting.

Everyone agrees Passover is a spring feast and because the spring equinox (21 March) starts the spring, Passover must be after the equinox.

I agree with that.

However, I wonder if the selecting and inspecting the lambs that are eaten on Passover can be seen as part of Passover. If so it means that event, 10 Nisan should take place after the equinox.

There are also fall feasts. Especially the last feast Tabernacles/Succoth is mentioned frequently as a fall feast that’s ‘in the season of the equinox’.

When the rule to start the year is that Passover has to fall after the equinox, often only part of Tabernacles is after the fall equinox. In other words the fall equinox falls inside the week of Tabernacles.

For me, personally that doesn’t feel well.

But if the year starts after the spring equinox then not only the full Tabernacles falls after the fall equinox, but the Feast of Atonement too.

The Feast of Trumpets falls after the equinox about 2/3 of the time.

As you can read here Pentecost is closely linked to harvests that take place at the end of the summer. So Pentecost also benefits from a later(r) start of the month.

The Biblical calendar uses the syndic month which simply is new moon to new moon - click

2:6   In this manner it rises in the first month through the major gate; it proceeds through this gate which is the fourth among those six openings which are located in the direction of the east.

72:7   By this fourth gate through which the sun rises during the first month there are twelve open windows from which a flame flows, when they are opened at the appropriate time.

72:8   When the sun rises in the east in the sky, it goes out through this fourth gate for thirty mornings and descends faithfully through the fourth gate in the western sky.

72:9   During those thirty days the day daily becomes longer and the night nightly shorter, for thirty days.

Enoch defines the first month as the month in which the days start to get longer. That’s exactly what happens after the spring equinox; the days start to get longer. This month he calls ‘the major gate’ and the sun stays in it for a 30 days.
Because a lunar year is 10 days shorter than a solar year the years are out of sync. A system of leap months makes sure the lunar and solar months never get to much out of sync; but rarely the first day of the month rarely is exactly the same day as the day of the spring equinox.

That means that month (major gate) in which the equinox takes place is the first month. Even if the equinox for example falls of the fifth day of that month.


Rule of the equinox

This rule seems to be the most popular and in use during Christ’s time.

This [rule of the equinox] is not our own reckoning, but it was known to the Jews long ago even before Christ and it was carefully observed by them. One can learn it from what is said by Philo, Josephus and Musaeus . . . when these writers explain questions concerning the Exodus, they say it is necessary that all alike sacrifice the Passover after the vernal equinox, in the middle of the month.’  If, towards the end of a Jewish year, it was estimated that Passover would fall before the equinox then the addition of an extra month before Nisan was decreed.

Canons of the Passover,  Anatolius, Bishop of Laodicea (Syria), 270AD

But even if we accept this rule we don’t know when to start it.

For that to make sense, some explanation may be needed.

A lunar year in 354 days. A solar year 365 days. That's a difference of 11 days. The rule is simple, do nothing as long as the Passover falls after the equinox. Usually that means adding a leap month every 3 years.

Example using fictive dates:

If we would start living according to the Hebrew calendar we should know in which year (A, B, C or D) we are according to the calendar Christ would use if He was still among us in the flesh. I don’t know. Do you?

2. Let’s review the various methods of inserting leap years

Exod 34:22 "Observe the festival of Shavu'ot with the first-gathered produce of the wheat harvest, and the festival of ingathering at the turn of the year.

Turn has the meaning of the fall equinox. So we know the feast of Ingathering, aka Tabernacles, aka Succoth must be around 23 September.

Some numbers used in my calculations:

Below I use handpicked dates to prove a point. I reality the dates and therefore the results differ every year.

2a. 1 Nisan falls after the equinox

1 Nisan = 21 March.

21 March + 191 days = 28 September.

Because the lunar year is about 11 days shorter than the solar year 1 Nisan of the next year would be 11 days earlier on our Gregorian calendar. That’s before the spring equinox. For that reason a 30 day leap month is added.

1 Nisan now falls on 9 April. Tabernacles starts 17 October.

Those 2 examples show:

2b. 14 Nisan falls after the equinox

This method shifts the first 2 dates of 2a 13 days backward.

2b. 14 Nisan falls after the equinox

This method inserts leap months in such a way that Passover is always as close (before or after) as possible to the equinox.