Saturday, April 13, 2013

Bible Calendar

In The Beginning
Creation began without a time clock. A time of darkness, followed by a time of light, were the first day. 
Gen 1:1  In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 
Gen 1:2  The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 
Gen 1:3  And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 
Gen 1:4  And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 
Gen 1:5  God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Fourth Day Sun and Stars

Gen 1:14 And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years,
Gen 1:15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth." And it was so. 
Gen 1:16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 
Gen 1:17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 
Gen 1:18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 
Gen 1:19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

The timepiece was set up on the fourth day, with the creation of the sun, moon, and stars. The movements of these bodies are the observable clock of the universe. Movement of  the earth around the sun marks the year, and can be divided into months by the observation of the moon and stars. The lunar movement is secondary, and interacts with  the movement of the earth around the sun and the rotation of the earth on its axis. The phases of the moon  may be interrelated with the solar calendar, but the solar calendar is exact and observable without inter-calculation. From a fixed line of sight on earth observations of the stars at a set time of day would establish the time of year, and it helps if you live under clear skies in the desert. One year is the complete rotation of the earth around the sun.   

First Stars At Evening

A convenient time for observing stars at a fixed time relative to the earth's rotation around the sun is just after sundown when the first stars appear. Distant stable star clusters which had been charted by Babylonian Astronomers would identify the time of the year. The daily and monthly relationship to that observation were fixed by various calendars. Apparently the Jews used the Canaanite Calendar for some time, before adopting the Babylonian Calendar after the Babylonian Captivity, and latter adopted the Jewish Calendar based upon the solar lunar cycle, with provisions for adjustments of the calendar based upon visual sightings, with sightings authenticated by the Sanhedrin.

Moses recorded the timing of the Passover observance in Exodus. 

Exo 12:1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt,
Exo 12:2 "This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. 
Exo 12:3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers' houses, a lamb for a household. 
Exo 12:4 And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. 
Exo 12:5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 
Exo 12:6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.
Exo 12:7 "Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 
Exo 12:8 They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 
Exo 12:9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. 
Exo 12:10 And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn.

Various calendars seem to have been used by the Jews over time. There were two established systems of determining the calendar for feast days in Jerusalem during Jesus' time. The Sadducees and Pharisees, who controlled the Temple worship by appointment by the Romans, used the solar lunar calendar based upon lunar sightings, with the first month of the year beginning with the first new moon in the spring solar quarter. 

The Essenes community apparently used a calendar that always had the four major Jewish feast days coming on Wednesday, which began on our Tuesday evening at twilight.  Jesus and the disciples apparently observed the Essenes Passover, in which the bread was substituted for the lamb, in an upper room in the Essenes quarter of Jerusalem, on Wednesday after sundown. 
Image result for jesus and disciples last supper 
Lord's Supper

Many questions arise about why Jesus would have observed the Passover in the Essenes community. Perhaps Jesus had connections with the Essenes by virtue of John the Baptist, who is believed to have been connected with the Essenes order. The Essenes apparently considered themselves to be the legitimate heirs of the the Temple worship order that was assigned to the descendants of Zadok. 

Perhaps Jesus was referring to the Essenes Passover calendar when He said on Monday, Mat 26:2  "You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified."

A key part of the arrangement for the supper was that the disciples were to contact a man carrying a vessel of water, and ask him to arrange the room for the Passover.  Matthew, Mark and Luke all mention this man who carried the jar of water.  Perhaps this account is given to connect the upper room of the Passover with the Essene Quarter in Jerusalem.  An Essene carrying water would enter the city through the Essene gate, directly into the Essene quarter, so that the water would not be contaminated by contact with unclean persons.
Image result for sill of gate to essene quarters  
Sill Of Gate To Essene Quarter, Mt. Zion
Jesus chose the place to observe the Passover meal with His disciples, as we see clearly from the account in Matthew.

Mat 26:17 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?" Mat 26:18 He said, "Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, 'The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.'"
Mat 26:19 And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover. 
Mat 26:20 When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve.

Jesus instructs the disciples to follow the man carrying the water, and to enter where he goes, and to say that "The Teacher" says, where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples? The Essene quarter on Mt. Zion is likely the place this could have happened. Where else would people have been observing the Passover on Wednesday night?

Mar 14:1 It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him,
Mar 14:12 And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, "Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?" 
Mar 14:13 And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, "Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him,
Mar 14:14 and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, 'The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?'
Mar 14:15 And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us."
Mar 14:16 And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.

Luke repeats Mark's story.

Luk 22:7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 
Luk 22:8 So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it."
Luk 22:9 They said to him, "Where will you have us prepare it?" 
Luk 22:10 He said to them, "Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters
Luk 22:11 and tell the master of the house, 'The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?'
Luk 22:12 And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there."
Luk 22:13 And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover. ESV

Jesus and his disciples likely ate the Passover Meal in the Essene Quarter of Jerusalem, on the Priestly day of the Passover Day of Preparation, which was always on the 4th day of the week, by the Solar calendar observed by the Essenes. They claimed to be the legitimate heirs of the High Priesthood given by David to Zadok. Just after sundown on Wednesday Jesus and his disciples ate the supper, using the bread as a substitute for the Lamb, as was the custom of the Essenes. 

Jesus did not take a piece of lamb and divide it among the disciples, but he broke the loaf, representing His body, the eternally planned Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Thus He was able to partake with His disciples of the traditional Passover meal of the Essene on Wednesday evening, and yet be offered as the Passover Lamb on Thursday afternoon, Nissan 14, as observed by the official rulers of Israel, who arranged to have Jesus crucified by their authority and by their calendar. 

Participation in the Essene Passover celebration would have some implications about the proper timing of the Passover, but would not be an approval of all that the community taught. Jesus and the disciples communicated with all people, and especially with sinners, because Jesus came to earth to save sinners.

The bible is not just a collection of laws and facts about what we are to know and do, so much as it is a collection of stories about how God works out His will over time in ways that challenge our imaginations. When we see all the story lines coming together, we know that we are on the right track.  Know the stories, and you will see the picture. It is what it is.

Image result for essene upper room 
Upper Room


  1. The Israelites would have used the Egyptian Calendar for a long time after leaving Egypt. The Egyptian Calendar had 12 months of 30 days each. The leftover days were sandwiched in between the years and used for festivals. Each month had three 10-day weeks, with 9 work days followed by a market day. They had no "Sabbath" or holy day as they had many gods. So contrary to some who insist otherwise, the Hebrews as slaves would not have kept the Sabbath before the Exodus - in fact Moses seems to have had a lot of trouble getting the concept across! In fact, there is NO mention in the Bible of anyone keeping the Sabbath before the Exodus.

    The Hebrews changed the 11th month of the Egyptian year (Abib or Epip) into the first month at God's command, but there is no mention that they changed anything else immediately. After they entered the Promised Land they may or may not have gradually merged the Egyptian calendar into the Caananite one - I don't know about that. After the Babylonian Captivity they had adopted the Babylonian names and calendar.