Equinox, Not Barley
By: Richard Jones

There are a number of reasons why I reject the “green ears” theory and believe we must go by the vernal equinox to determine the start of Yahweh’s sacred year. First and foremost, Genesis 1:14 tells us that Yahweh has provided the sun and moon for SIGNS and SEASONS:

“And [Elohim] 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.”

We’ll discuss this at greater length in a moment.

Another point we must consider is the fact that going by the state of the barley crop causes much confusion. Which barley? Where? How mature? There are many variations in the state of the barley crop at the time of Passover. In Israel, the barley harvest extends over a 7-week period, a span of almost two months.

It’s also noteworthy that the Scriptures do not mention “green” when referring to barley. The word “green” is supplied (added) by the translators and is not found in the Hebrew text. The High Priest offered the firstfruits of the barley HARVEST before Yahweh. So it is the HARVEST that is the key to understanding the state of the barley crop at the time of Passover. Such barley would not be green but rather mature, or nearly so. It would be in a harvestable state.

As it states in Genesis 1:14, the lights in the heavens (the sun and the moon) determine the seasons and the days and years. The setting of the sun determines the beginning and ending of a Scriptural day. The crescent moon (New Moon) determines the beginning of a Scriptural month. The sun and moon together determine the beginning of a Scriptural year. The sun travels a precise path through the heavens. Its path or “circuit” is described in the Bible by the Hebrew word TKUFAH. This Hebrew word is found four times in Scripture and conveys the meaning of seasons. There are four TKUFAHS or SEASONS produced by the sun each year. The seasons are the effects produced by the sun in relation to the earth’s surface. The spring season begins with the spring (vernal) equinox. This is the exact moment when the sun appears directly over the equator and is entering the Northern Hemisphere. At that precise moment, day and night (at the equator) are of equal length. This northerly progression of the sun brings warmer weather and heralds the beginning of spring. The sun is responsible for the spring season, and its TKUFAH (circuit, path) produces the VERNAL EQUINOX, which triggers the beginning of spring. The opposite effect of spring is produced at the autumnal equinox, when the sun again appears directly over the equator and is headed into the Southern Hemisphere. Again, day and night are of equal length, but the weather gets gradually cooler as the warming rays of the sun strike less and less of our Northern Hemisphere and more of the Southern Hemisphere of the earth. The summer and winter solstices are the midway points of the sun’s annual circuit or TKUFAH, and mark the beginning of their respective seasons.

With the above facts in mind, let’s turn our attention to the four verses where TKUFAH is found in Scripture. The first verse is Exodus 34:22. In the King James Version, it reads as follows:

“And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year's end.”

The phrase “year’s end” is from the Hebrew word TKUFAH. However, ‘year’s end’ is a poor translation that does not convey the real meaning of TKUFAH. This verse, of course, is speaking of two of Yahweh’s festivals, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. We know that Tabernacles is observed at the time of the autumnal equinox that marks the beginning of fall, not the year’s end! So TKUFAH should have been rendered “at the turn of the year” or “change of season” rather than year’s end. A number of other Bible translations render TKUFAH more accurately than the KJV. For example, the New International Version says “the turn of the year.” Young’s Literal Translation renders it “revolution of the year.” These and other translations correctly note that TKUFAH marks the turn of a season, as one season revolves and takes the place of another.

The next verse where TKUFAH occurs is found in I Samuel 1:20. Here it is in the KJV:

“Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of [Yahweh].”

In this verse, TKUFAH is rendered “was come,” referring to a certain point in the year when an event occurred. And again, this is the precise meaning of TKUFAH, which marks a precise point when an event takes place. This is true, regardless of what the event is—conception, birth, or the start of a new season.

Now let’s see where TKUFAH appears the third time in Scripture:

“And it came to pass at the end of the year, that the host of Syria came up against him: and they came to Judah and Jerusalem, and destroyed all the princes of the people from among the people, and sent all the spoil of them unto the king of Damascus.” (2 Chronicles 24:23)

Here, the KJV translators supplied the entire phrase “And it came to pass at the end...” in place of TKUFAH. Of course the phrase “came to pass” fits the meaning of TKUFAH, which is the Hebrew word associated with an event that comes to pass or that does occur. What we need to get firmly fixed in our mind is that TKUFAH means an exact time when an event takes place.

The fourth and final time that TKUFAH is found in Scripture is Psalm 19:6:

“His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.”

In this verse, TKUFAH is rendered “circuit.” The English rendering “circuit” accurately describes the sun’s divinely appointed path (which produces the annual equinoxes and their changing seasons). Again, the Scriptures show us the sun has a divinely appointed role in producing our changing seasons. The Scriptures teach those who are “teachable,” and thus willing to learn Yahweh’s truths, even willing to unlearn old truths whenever necessary, when confronted by the truth of Yahweh’s Word.

Now let’s see how TKUFAH is related more specifically to Yahweh’s appointed times—in other words, His Holy Days. The Dead Sea Scrolls, which are written in ancient Hebrew, can provide some valuable insight into how the word TKUFAH was used before the time of the Messiah. For example, there are two expressions found in the scroll known as I QH. One expression is “TKUFAH of the day” and the other is “at the appointed time of the night at TKUFAH.” According to Jewish scholar Sidney B. Hoenig, the first expression means “zenith of the day,” or noon, while the other means “at the appointed time of the night at zenith,” meaning midnight. As you no doubt recall, the Hebrew word MOED means “appointed time,” and refers to the Holy Days, which are special times when Yahweh’s people have appointments to meet with Him. Now for the clincher: in the expression “at the appointed time of the night at TKUFAH,” the Hebrew word for “appointed time” is MOED. And this appointed time—this MOED—is at TKUFAH! So this expression from one of the Dead Sea Scrolls reveals that MOED and TKUFAH are related words! This reveals that TKUFAH refers to astronomically distinctive points in time, which are associated with movements of the earth and sun. And it is these movements that cause the vernal and autumnal equinoxes!

Passover, which is the first of Yahweh’s appointed times, is a spring event. It does not occur in the dead season of winter, but rather in the spring when plants are beginning to exhibit signs of life. We find lots of green budding plant life at the time of Yahweh’s New Year, and we must remember that this “greening” and new life occurs in the spring season, which is determined by the sun. More precisely, it’s the vernal equinox that determines when spring arrives. Those who go by the barley crop in Israel to determine the start of Yahweh’s spiritual year wind up meeting on days that have not been made holy by Yahweh—days that have not been sanctioned by the Creator. Manmade calendars based on “green ears of barley” sometimes have Abib 1, the start of the Scriptural year, falling within the winter season rather than spring. Furthermore, miscalculation of Abib often misplaces the autumn Holy Days into the summer season.

Looking for barley to determine the start of Abib (the first month of the Year) is not where our focus should be. Instead, we should be looking to the heavens, and heeding the signs that Yahweh has given us: His two great lights, the sun and the moon. Yahweh’s New Year begins in the spring, and the months of the year begin with each New Moon. Therefore, to determine Abib, we must look for the first New Moon following the vernal equinox. The sun’s TKUFAH or appointed time, which is the vernal equinox, is a SIGN that tells us that Yahweh’s spring season has arrived. And the visible crescent of the first New Moon is another SIGN that the first of Abib, the true New Year’s Day, has arrived. It is then, and only then, that we can start our count to determine Yahweh’s MOED or APPOINTED TIMES—His Holy Days.

So does barley have a place in determining the Scriptural year? No, it does not. Barley is simply an INDICATOR that tells us the month of Abib has arrived. We must not look to barley to determine the beginning of the Scriptural year, but rather to the heavens—to the two great lights that Yahweh has given us to help us determine the signs and seasons. ~

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