Which Is The Month of Abib This Year?

By Frank Brown

(Editor’s note: This article was in the 2002 newsletter, and refers to the year 2002. But since the same problem is still with us this year, 2005, among the “mainline Assemblies,” I am reprinting it in hopes it might do some good, even at this late date, toward ending the “calendar confusion” that arises every few years. This year I spent a lot of time sending calendar studies to all the Elders I know, pointing out these very same things. The net effect seems to have been zero, sorry to say. At the risk of sounding divisive, let me say this: If you are convicted in your heart and mind that a group is in error on any doctrine, and refuses to correct it, you should follow your conscience and not a group of men. Kepa said we should obey Yahweh rather than men. (The article has been updated where needed to reflect this current year of 2005.)

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Here are few subjects with more opinions than that concerning the True Calendar that Yahweh gave to His people. Why should this be so important? It is primarily because the timing of the Annual Holy Days that were given to Moses depends on beginning the new Scriptural year with the proper New Moon, within the proper season, as Gen. 1:14 dictates.

If we do not know how and when to begin the Sacred  year, then we cannot hope to keep the Holy Days at the right times. Of course, there are some who do not understand that we are to keep the “Old Testament” festivals, so some explanation is in order. Let’s begin at the beginning.

In Genesis 1:14-19, we find that Yahweh, during creation week, fore-ordained the heavenly bodies for some definite and very important functions.

(Gen 1:14-19 KJV)  "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: {15} And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. {16} And Elohim made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. {17} And Elohim set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, {18} And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and Elohim saw that it was good. {19} And the evening and the morning were the fourth day."

Notice the underlined words; signs and seasons. “Signs” is defined in Strong’s Exhaustive Hebrew Dictionary as follows:

226. 'owth, oth; prob. from H225 (in the sense of appearing); a signal (lit. or fig.), as a flag, beacon, monument, omen, prodigy, evidence, etc.:--mark, miracle, (en-) sign, token.

So we see that the heavenly bodies were given to be a signal, a beacon, an omen, evidence, etc.

“Seasons” is even more specific. Note one of the definitions is “specifically a festival; conventionally a year; by implication an assembly (as convened for a definite purpose)…” Notice again in Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary.

4150. mow'ed, mo-ade'; or  mo'ed mo-ade'; or (fem.)  mow'adah (H2 Chron. 8 : 13), mo-aw-daw'; from H3259; prop. an appointment, i.e. a fixed time or season; spec. a festival; conventionally a year; by implication, an assembly (as convened for a definite purpose); technically the congregation; by extension, the place of meeting; also a signal (as appointed beforehand):--appointed (sign, time), (place of, solemn) assembly, congregation, (set, solemn) feast, (appointed, due) season, solemn (-ity), synagogue, (set) time (appointed).

The dates of these moeds or moedim were to be set annually by observation of the heavenly bodies, the sun and the moon. The heavenly bodies were put in place as a perpetual calendar that was simple and accurate, and their main purpose was so that the people could keep the annual High Sabbaths at their appointed times in the proper seasons.

We are told in Psalm 81:3,  (KJV)  "Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day."

The word for “New Moon’ in Hebrew is ‘chodesh’ which literally means “New Moon.” The new moon begins each month. This is when the tiny thin crescent first becomes visible in the western sky shortly after sunset, after its period of “darkness,” when it is too close to the sun to be seen.

The word for “in the time appointed” in Hebrew is ‘kece’ and means “fullness, the full moon, i.e. its festival.” It is translated “full moon” in other versions. The full moon comes in the middle of the month.

One of the annual Sabbaths begins with the new moon of the seventh month, Feast of Trumpets in the Fall, and two begin with the full moon - Feast of Unleavened Bread, 15th of the first month in the Spring, and Feast of Tabernacles, 15th of the seventh month in the Fall.

Psa 19:1-4 (NRSV) The heavens are telling the glory of El; and the firmament [sky] proclaims his handiwork.

Psa 19:2 Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.

Psa 19:3 There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;

Psa 19:4 yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

Yes, the heavens are a silent witness to us of His great handiwork and of His calendar in the sky. We are without excuse if we ignore it.

As soon as Yahweh created a physical universe and earth, He instituted a calendar and began what we know as “time.” He did that on the 4th day of creation in the previously quoted Genesis 1:14, when He put the sun, moon and stars in the sky, as we have seen.

There is no question but that Noah knew of this calendar, because of the meticulous account given of his experiences in the ark. See Genesis 7, verses 10-13, 17, 24, Genesis 8:4-5, 13-14, all of which refer to specific dates and time spans.

In Exodus 12:2, Yahweh told Moses that ‘this month shall be the beginning of months to you. It shall be the first month of the year for you.” The Hebrew word for “month” in this verse is “chodesh,” and means “new moon.” He explains elsewhere [Lev. 23:10-11] that this new moon is the one that comes in the spring, when the barley is beginning to ripen. It was necessary to have a sheaf of ripe barley to make this “wave sheaf offering” at the proper season.

If you are not familiar with Yahweh’s annual Holy Days, please read Leviticus 23. It explains all of them, from the Passover in the Spring season, through the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day, in the Autumn season. They are all harvest festivals, and correspond to different steps in Yahweh’s plan of salvation for all mankind - His “harvest of souls.” There are 19 days in the Holy Day system, seven being annual High Sabbaths, and the remaining 12 being regular days upon which work is permitted.

If you would like to know more about these holy days and what they represent, write for my booklet, “Yahweh’s Holy Days vs. Man’s Holidays.” They show Yahweh’s plan of salvation pictured in His Holy Day system, as well as the fallacies of the holidays that most people observe. It is free, of course.

For thousands of years the new moon was sighted visually to establish the beginning of a new month. This system worked well as long as the Jews were in their own land. But after the diasporas in 70 and 135 C.E., when the Jews were dispersed throughout the world, the rabbis and members of the Sanhedrin wanted a calendar whereby all the worldwide Jews would observe the Holy Days at the same time. A noble ambition, but the way they went about accomplishing it was not in accord with Scripture. Not only did they devise a calculated calendar that was only loosely related to the actual appearance of the new moon, but they also added rules called “postponements” so that certain Holy Days could not fall on certain days of the week. For example, if the Day of Atonement would fall on a Friday or a Sunday, they would “postpone” declaring a new moon until the next day.

They unified the Jews, all right, but at what cost? They are now unified in error, and have been for the last 1,647 years, ever since Rabbi Hillel II in 358-359 C.E. published the erstwhile secret calendar rules with the new postponements and other non-Scriptural rules added.

The purpose of all this was to insure that their man-made traditions about Sabbath observance and other things would not be violated by having a Holy Day fall at the “wrong time.”  But if there were “wrong times” for them to fall, Yahweh would have certainly made it known, and it would be recorded in the Scriptures. “The motivation of wanting to prevent certain Holy Days from falling on certain “inconvenient” days of the week is unbiblical and is NEVER acceptable.”

Note these comments from Jewish authorities:

"The first appearance of the new moon determines the beginning of the month . . . . It may, therefore happen that in different places the reappearance of the moon is noticed on different days. In order to prevent possible confusion, to the central religious authority, the chief of the Sanhedrin, in conjunction with at least two colleagues, was entrusted with the determination of new moon day for the whole nation. "
(Jewish Encyclopedia)

This is the way it was until changed in 358-359 C.E.

"Up to the middle of the 4th century C.E., the Palestinian patriarchate retained the prerogative of determining the calendar, and guarded the secrets of its calculation against the attempts of the rapidly advancing communities in Babylonia to have a voice in its determination. It was not until after Christianity had become dominant in the Roman Empire [under Constantine], and the Christian rulers forbade the Jewish religious leadership to proclaim leap years or to communicate with the Jews outside the empire, that it was determined to abandon the method of official proclamation of months and years and to fix the calendar in permanent form. The patriarch Hillel II, in 359, decided to publish the rules for the calculation of the calendar, so that all Jews everywhere might be able to determine for themselves and to observe the festivals on the same day. From that time on the Jewish calendar has been stabilized." (Universal Jewish Encyclopedia)

"In accordance with this system, Hillel II formally sanctified all months in advance, and intercalated all future leap years until such time as a new, recognized Sanhedrin would be established in Israel" (p.2, Arthur Spier’s “The Comprehensive Jewish Calendar”).

The following excerpt from the Karaite Calendar, Determining the Day of Rosh Hodesh by the Court for the Establishment of the Calendar,”  by Magdi Shamuel, says this:

Establishing the beginning of months (Rosh Hodesh) through sighting the New Moon is an ancient law in Israel . The antiquity of this practice is documented in many early sources, Karaite as well as Rabbanite. The decree of establishing the Rosh Hodesh on the basis of calculations which are unconnected to the appearance of the moon was enacted by the Rabbanite, Hillel the Elder. The method was guarded as a secret to keep the people from knowing about the change and therefore was called by our brothers the Rabbanites “The Secret of Intercalation” (this is testified to in many Rabbinite works, for example “Magid Harakia” page 35).

Although our brothers the Rabbanites abandoned the sighting of the new Moon they know it to be the correct law and believe that at some future time they will return to that method and they have even required people to learn how to fulfill this commandment so that they will be prepared to do so when the time comes. At a lecture at a scientists’ convention at Ariel in Samaria , Professor Ariel Cohen stated “Since the Hebrew Calendar is in error, why don’t we correct it now?” In addition, there are those among our brothers the Rabbinites who are awakening to return to the fulfillment of this commandment.

But, as bad as the above scenario is, where the Rabbanite Jews use a calendar that practically guarantees keeping the Holy Days at least one day off, in some years, they are off by an entire month. This year, 2002, is one of them (Ed. note: So is this year, 2005). Remember that one of the requirements of the Holy Days is to keep them in their proper  “seasons.” That is spring season, and fall season. None occur in winter or summer seasons. They are harvest festivals. The first, Passover, Firstfruits and Unleavened Bread, is at the time of barley harvest, which comes in early spring during the first month of the Sacred year; the next one, Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), is at wheat harvest, and comes in late spring, during the third Scriptural month.

The latter Festivals occur in the seventh Scriptural month, in Autumn: The Feast of Trumpets on the first day; the Day of Atonement on the tenth day; the Feast of Tabernacles on the 15th through the 21st days, and the “Last Great Day” on the 22nd day of this seventh month.

These days must occur within their respective seasons. If any come in winter or summer, then you have picked the wrong month to start your year. And that is precisely what I did late last year (Ed. note: 2002, while still studying the calendar “problem.”) when determining the New Moons for 2002. I chose the New Moon of what I thought would be the first Scriptural month. Then later I realized that this could not be right. There were still five days of winter in the month I had chosen. And worse yet, that would have required the first three Holy Days of the Fall season to take place in summer, two full weeks before Autumn begins (Ed note: in 2005, the “early groups” will be observing  six of the ten Fall festival days in summer instead of the proper Autumn.)  

Although I caught this error and changed it on the web site, it was too late to change the dates in the newsletter. And I heard about it, too. Brethren from Canada to South Africa , and points all across the USA were quick to call my attention to it. My thanks to all of you.

I would like to quote from one letter I received second-hand (meaning it was written to another Brother, who then sent it to me). No names, as the recipient is still in one of the churches that broke from the WCG, which still blindly and doggedly follows the Rabbanite Jewish calendar which has time and again been shown to be unscriptural and erroneous, even by the Jews who use it, as we have seen. This church leadership simply refuses to discuss it.

He says: “There seems to be no end of ways people try to justify sticking to the Jewish postponements. There is conflict between Biblical instruction and the Hebrew calculated calendar. John 10:35 tells us Scripture cannot be broken. Any discrepancies between the Bible and the so-called “oral law” have to be resolved in favor of the written words of (Yahweh). A study of the Mishna will show that there are not only discrepancies in regard to the calendar, but in many areas, proving it to be spurious. We must remember that (the Messiah) castigated the Jews very strongly in Matthew 23 and other passages because of their additions to the Old Testament and their traditions of men. At the end of the chapter He dismissed them until they would honor those He would send--the Apostles and New Testament (Assembly). Paul clearly states in Colossians 2:16-17 that the calendar is a “church” matter--they were not to listen to ANY man (Chinese, German, Jew or anyone else) but to the assembly in this matter. Paul blistered the Jews in Romans 3 for their unrighteousness. Ironically, this is right after the supposed “oracles” passage in 3:1-2 which is used by some to attempt to validate the Jewish calendar.

Genesis 1:14 is an important key. (Yahweh) tells us to use the heavenly bodies to keep track of time and use them for signs, seasons, days and years. In other words, a calendar. The Jews recognize the clock in the sky. They simply choose not to follow it. We must keep seasons, days and years implicitly by the signs or signals in the heavens, specifically the sun and moon, verses 14-18. The sun is included, not just the moon. Both are necessary to determine the entire calendar.

Sunset determines the day. The new moon determines the beginning of the new month. The four circuits of the sun determine the seasons and hence are important in determining the year. …….

The first month of the year is declared to be Abib--the month they came out of Egypt , in the Spring. How do we calculate this month to begin the new year?

The Spring equinox is the change of the seasons from winter to spring. We use the sun as per Genesis 1:14 to determine this. The equinox, then, is the first signal (sign, Gen. 1:14) that we have a new year.

The first new moon after the Spring equinox is the second sign or signal that we can begin the new year, since we are determining the first month of the new year.

The sunset (just before the new moon becomes visible in the western sky) is the third signal we can begin the new year, since sundown represents the first day of the first month of the new year.

It is quite simple: Season is determined by the sun. Month is determined by the new moon. First day of the month is determined by sunset.

The Jews corrupt this simple process in several ways:

A)     They postpone the beginning of some months (specifically the seventh and first) by a day or two to make them fall on a day THEY desire. This absolutely contradicts Genesis 1:14, so cannot be instruction from (YHWH) as scripture cannot be broken. Actually they postpone only the seventh month, but this in turn affects the first month as we shall see.

B)     They select the new moon NEAREST the Spring equinox rather than the first one AFTER the equinox. This is inconsistent and creates problems for them as they have to artificially declare leap years. If we consistently use the new moon after the equinox, leap years automatically determine themselves since there will always be EXACTLY 12 or 13 complete months between succeeding first new moons after the Spring equinox. 

There is simply nothing to calculate or adjust with this system. Their “logic” takes into account whether there will be ripe barley and they select the new moon based partially on that factor. Does Genesis 1:14 indicate barley or any other earthly factor for determining the day, month, year, or season? NO. It is ALL in the heavens. If we always use the new moon AFTER the Spring equinox, there will always be ripe barley and it simply is not a problem. If, as the Jews do, we sometimes use the new moon before the equinox, there might not be ripe barley, so the new moon after the equinox has to be used regardless. They simply ignore the instruction about the sun being used for seasons--of which there are four, clearly demarcated by the movement of the sun.

Flopping back and forth with the new moons in the Spring leads them to directly violate another scriptural instruction. That is Exodus 34:22. Here the Hebrew word is “tekufah” and can be defined as circuit, course, pattern, or revolution. We are instructed to keep the Feast of Tabernacles (or ingathering) at the revolution or circuit of the sun--the change of the season being the only heavenly annual circuit near the Feast of Tabernacles. Since the Feast is to come at (or after, certainly not before, depending on when the 15th of the month falls) the change of the season, if we sometimes use the new moon prior to the Spring equinox, it will sometimes cause the Feast to begin BEFORE the Fall tekufah (change of season). Again, if we consistently determine the first month of the new year by the new moon following the Spring equinox, we will ALWAYS commence the Feast after the fall circuit or season begins, keeping us in compliance with Exodus 34:22. Here again, their “oral tradition” contradicts Scripture. Which is the higher authority?

I mentioned another problem in passing that postponing the seventh month creates. That is the beginning of the first month, Abib. Not only do they violate Scripture by sometimes using the new moon before the Spring circuit or tekufah, they do not follow the ACTUAL new moon even in years they use the correct new moon to determine the first month of the new year. Counting backward from the new moon of the seventh month, as they do, there are sometimes 176, 177 or 178 ACTUAL days between those two new moons. Instead of going by the actual number each year, they automatically count 177 days, the “average” amount of days. Depending on the actual number of days between the new moons of the first and the seventh months in a given year, this causes the “new moon” of the first month to occur a day earlier or a day later than the actuality in the heavens.

In other words, the Jews recognize on some level the importance of the sun and moon in determining the calendar, but they simply ignore the calendar in the heavens, having made their own adjustments. This they are famous for, whatever the subject at hand. They place themselves above the written word of (YHWH) in so doing. This breaks the first of the ten commandments--along with the other nine!

It does not matter whether we talk of Hillel II, the Mishna, the Talmud, or any other Jewish concoction. The bottom line is ALL conflict with Scripture. No man or group of men has any authority to contradict Scripture, no matter their supposed or imagined “authority’ for doing so. Conversely, we as a (church) or as individuals need no authority beyond Scripture to follow Scriptural instruction. We do not need a Sanhedrin or a Jew of any stripe to have authority to follow Genesis 1:14, Exodus 34:22, or any other Scripture. Since the Mishna contradicts Scripture, it is worthless as any kind of authority.

If we carefully and consistently follow the signs (signals) in the heavens we will never have to adjust time. Complete years are automatic. Complete months are automatic. Complete days are automatic. What else is there to a calendar? The Jews have a problem with time drifting and recognize a need for a future adjustment simply because they do not consistently follow what (YHWH) has placed there for them to use. The “postponements” have nothing to do with “correcting the calendar” as some assume. They only have to do with the Jews not liking the days the heavens dictate we should observe. If anything, their postponements cloud and muddy the actual signals in the heavens and lead to problems that would not exist apart from their artificial postponements. They always think they have a better way than (YHWH’s) Biblically stated way.”   [end letter]

I reprinted the major portions of his letter because it succinctly mirrors my own findings. So, unless and until other evidence of which I am unaware comes to light later, which would show these conclusions to be in error, I am projecting that the New Moon of Abib for this year (2002) should occur on the evening of April 13, just after sunset. This will make April 14 New Year’s Day, and the day from which all Holy Days for the year are calculated.

(Ed note: The New Moon of Abib 2005 occurred after sunset on the evening of April 9. Dates for all the Holy Days are listed elsewhere in this newsletter. ~