Context, and Calendars, and Why it Matters

How we read and study matters, especially when it comes to law, whether civil or religious, and especially where it pertains to the Bible. If we have not been trained to read and study in context, all too often, we can find ourselves creating a whole new tradition or law out of thin air, a tradition or law that is not actually supported by what we had just read and studied, but one that is of the nature of an unsubstantiated ‘plausibility’.

Imagine yourself listening to a seminar or bible teaching, either live or recorded, and thinking to yourself, ‘that sounds plausible’ and as soon as the seminar/teaching is over you begin the task to prove what you just heard is really true. You go to your computer & search the internet for any and all available thesis on the matter and if need be, you go to your local library and seek out available books that may contain further evidence to support what you heard, and not stopping there, you might also purchase some books because you know they will aid you with other studies and these books would make great additions to your personal home library.

Now the anticipation really sets in, because if what you heard is really true you want to share it with others, so let the journey begin!

Having now in your possession the material to read & study, whether a book or a thesis, you begin with the oldest dated resources you have now acquired on the subject, so to catalogue the journey in chronological order in hopes that it will help our understanding. The first is a thesis with only four chapters and so we begin by reading the opening, then you read the synopsis & say, ‘hey, just by reading this opening you already know what the conclusion is and this thesis is then catalogued as supporting the ‘plausibility’. Next you take a quote from chapter one that is cited in the synopsis of chapter one and mark that as witness #1. Then after that is recorded, you go to the actual chapter, find the quote and mark that as witness #2, ‘Voila!’, you now have two witnesses that you have included in the research paper you are writing on the subject as being two separate witnesses.

I kid you not, this happens more often than you might think!

Does anyone see the folly in this type of research? If not, they should because this is the exact scenario by which the majority is deceived into running down the road of destruction and unrighteousness.

Also, this type of scenario is how ‘traditions’ are born and the more that follow the tradition, the harder it is for another to bring the actual facts of the subject out into the light of day, for ‘tradition’ is a great ‘undertaker’ whose creators and their followers go to great lengths to make sure that the truth that was buried stays buried, and more often than not, the burial was done in ignorance and not out of any sense of malice.

I have witnessed this many times. A person, say a professor, a church leader, a reporter, or even an elected official will quote from a Supreme Court ruling and announce, this is what the court ruled, when in truth, the actual ruling said the exact opposite and then what happens? The gullible public at large, because they are too busy to take the time to prove whether what they heard was true or not, they believe the falsehood. My favorite example of this is Brushaber v Union Pacific Railroad Co. 240 U.S. 1 (1916) which is one of the most egregious traditions born in the 20th century by an unsubstantiated ‘plausibility’ that came by way of many who parsed a sentence in Chief Justice White’s opinion to support their conclusion that the unsubstantiated ‘plausibility’, that was the reason the case came to be in the first place, was and is true. The quote they use is:

“….. the Sixteenth Amendment provides for a hitherto unknown power of taxation–that is, a power to levy an income tax which, although direct, should not be subject to the regulation of apportionment applicable to all other direct taxes.” [end quote]

However, the a main part of the context regarding the ruling of the court begins in the very next sentence of that opinion written by Chief Justice White that the entire court agreed with:

“And the far-reaching effect of this erroneous assumption will be made clear….”[end quote]

And so what happened in this case? The unsubstantiated ‘plausibility’ that the court ruled as an ‘erroneous assumption’ became tradition that is enforced to this day unless one is learned in the truth and knows how to legally apply it so that the earnings which Elohim provided them to be used for His purpose are actually used for His purpose rather than blindly handing over to Caesar what rightly belongs to Elohim.

This is also how it is with the Word of Elohim, the Holy Scriptures. Many take a parsing from here and a parsing from there, and, ‘Voila!’, they have just created a new tradition that has no actual foundation in His Word of Truth, His Holy Scriptures, and the more they get to believe and follow their new tradition the greater the name they make for themselves.

Take for example Exodus 12 verses 1 & 2..

And YHWH Elohim spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, ‘this is the beginning of months for you, it is the first month of the year for you.’

There are no other instructions regarding the yearly calendar or how months are determined spoken at this time, His Word is utterly silent of any further details, so what does the context reveal to us?

#1: The matter was spoken to two people, i.e., two witnesses.
#2: Whatever month it was that YHWH Elohim spoke these words, it was a month on the Egyptian calendar that the Israelites were already familiar with.
#3: It was only the first month on the calendar that was at issue, correction only needed to be made as to which month on the calendar the Israelites were already practicing was the actual 1st month of His appointed calendar for the preservation of His appointed times on earth.

As to #1, it was commanded in Numbers 10:10 that the sons of Aaron were to blow the trumpet at the beginning of each month, and again, by the time this command is given, not a jot or tittle of instruction was given as to how one was to determine the beginning of the month.

Now as to #2, there is a plethora of research done on ancient Egyptian calendars & the most exhaustive source I have found on this subject is compiled in the book “Ancient Egyptian Science Volume II: Calendar, Clocks, and Astronomy“. In this book, which contains the research of several highly esteemed archaeological researchers on this subject, we read:

Like all ancient people, the ancient Egyptians used a lunar calendar, but unlike their neighbors they began their lunar month, not with the first appearance of the new crescent in the west at sunset but rather with the morning when the old crescent of the waning moon could no longer be seen just before sunrise in the east. Their lunar year divided naturally, following their seasons, … because 12 lunar months are on the average 11 days short of the natural year, a 13th or intercalary month was introduced so as to keep the seasons in place.

and later we read:

The first important bit of evidence was an inscription discovered and published by Brugsch first in 1862 and again in 1864. It can be translated as follows: “He (Khons, the God of the Moon) is conceived on the Feast of psdntyw (i.e., on the first day of the lunar month); he is born on the Feast of the Month (i.e., on the feast of the Second Day of the Month); he comes to maturity on the Feast of the Half-Month (i.e., on the Feast of the Full Moon or Fifteenth Day of the Month).” This seems quite good evidence that the Egyptians conceived that the first day of the month was the day of invisibility of the first crescent, that the second was the day of first visibility of the new crescent, and that the fifteenth day was the day of the full moon. And indeed Brugsch drew the conclusion that Parker was later to develop more fully, namely, that the month started with the first day of invisibility of the crescent, and the second day marked “the first visible apparition of the lunar disk”. He notes that a “host of religious texts” supports his interpretation of this passage.

This is what the Israelites were practicing, it was the monthly calendar they were familiar with and it is a monthly calendar that is supported by the pattern given to us in Genesis 1 which I will come back to later, for now let’s move on to point #3.

Next, looking at the evidence put forth by those who took a parsing from here and another from there and who magically made one witness become two, this sect of the lunar-solar waxing crescent calendar followers believe and teach what all the other nations surrounding Egypt were practicing, thereby, setting aside the context established in Exodus 12:1-2 for the sake of tradition. Here is the “lead teacher’s” ONLY explanation with a cited reference source that is in reference to Psalms 81:3 “Blow the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day“:

It is likely that kesah is related to the Aramaic word “Kista” and the Assyrian word “Kuseu” which mean “full moon” (see Brown-Drive-Briggs page 490b) [Hebrew, Aramaic, and Assyrian are all Semitic languages and often share common roots]. This fits perfectly with the description of Keseh as the day of the Hag since two of the three Pilgrimage-Feasts (Hag HaMazot and Hag HaSukkot) are on the 15th of the month, which is about the time of the full moon.

First of all, …it is likely? And second, …is related to the Aramaic? Is this how a traditional Hebrew scholar would speak when presenting their evidence? Not in any personal experiences I have had. They all are very concise and never propose their understanding with terms such as ‘likely’ or ‘may be related to’. The witness this supposed scholar presented is an outright and, might I add, purposeful effort in obfuscation! The only two languages used in the Hebrew Scriptures are either Hebrew or Chaldee (Babylonian) depending on the era the Hebrew scroll was written. Was the scroll written before or after the Babylonian captivity?

So why the obfuscation? Because if he gave the Talmud Tractate number on the subject, he would soon be found to be lacking support for his unsubstantiated ‘plausibility’ of a waxing crescent moon as being the new moon. This is revealed in the rabbinic court’s ruling on Psalm 81:3, a Psalm which concerns the first day of the seventh month which is an annual appointed time of YHWH Elohim commonly called the Feast of Trumpets, or in Jewish circles, Rosh Hashanah.

“The first of Tishri is the New Year’s Day for ordinary years.” For what purpose is this rule? Answers R. Zera, to determine the equinoxes (and solstices); and this agrees with the opinion of R. Eliezer, who says that the world was created in Tishri; but R. Na’hman says (it is the new year) for divine judgment, as it is written [Deut. xi. 12]: “From the beginning of the year till the end of the year,” i.e., at the beginning of the year it is determined what shall be at the end of the year. But whence do we know that this means Tishri? It is written [Psalms, lxxxi. 3]: “Blow on the new moon the cornet at the time when it (the new moon) is hidden 1 on our solemn feast day.” What feast is it on which the moon is hidden? We can only say Rosh Hashana (New Year’s Day), and of this day it is written [ibid. v. 4]: “For it is a statute unto Israel, a judgment (day) for the God of Jacob.”

And so I contacted this supposed scholar of the Hebrew language and asked him a few direct questions that left no room for confusion and the first response I received was nothing but more obfuscation, so I replied back with additional questions based upon his first reply, questions that were direct & to the point, and along with those questions, I included a list of the resources I used to determine my understanding of Psalm 81:3 as it was applied before Psalm 81:3 was written, and according to all Hebrew sources on the matter, it is still taught as being the correct understanding today. As of this publishing, this supposed scholar of the Hebrew language has yet to respond to the authoritative witnesses, in the authoritative resources used by all renown Hebrew scholars, that I had shared in my e-mail to his initial reply. I had sent my initial e-mail on 4/22 at 11:42 am, he promptly responded at 11:57 am and I then replied back at 1:24pm and included this request: “I do not want to belabor this, I am just seeking further understanding from further resources you used to determine your understanding other than the BDB”. All I have heard since then is ‘crickets’.

Now on the other hand, one of his most admired students did make a stronger attempt, but alas, he was the one who magically made two witnesses appear from one original witness. He takes the following quote from the synopsis to Chapter 1 of the Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Rosh Hashanah and he cites the quote in the synopsis that is from the MISHNA as one witness and then uses the same quote in the actual chapter that is from the GEMARA that immediately follows the exact quote from the MISHNA, and is but a retelling of what the MISHNA had just said a couple of paragraphs prior, and then cites that as another witness. And as with the ‘lead teacher’, I had asked this student if he had read & studied chapter two of the Tractate Rosh Hashanah and his reply was that he could not recall at that time if he had read & studied it.

“It once happened that more than forty pair (of witnesses) were on the highway (to Jerusalem) and R. Aqiba detained them,”

Next this student of the supposed Hebrew scholar makes a bold statement about the ordinances for sighting the new moon yet he never cites the actual language of the Talmud tractate that tells us what those ordinances are.

A special court has been established to accept evidence concerning the sighting of the New Moon, as required by Jewish law.

One thing to keep in mind here is that the requirement to establish a ‘special new moon court’ is nowhere to be found in the Bible, this is a man-made Jewish religious law that was established out of another man-made Jewish religious law that treated these ‘new moon’ days as Sabbaths with all the burdensome rules and regulations they had placed on the weekly & annual Sabbath days. And so to make an exception, they devised even more laws that allowed for the witnesses to ‘break the Sabbath’ in order to bring their report to the ‘special new moon court’ who refused to move an inch, but stayed indoors, so as not to ‘break the Sabbath’ that they had created.

So what does the Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Rosh Hashanah say are the ordinances by which a witness’s testimony is considered valid or false, ordinances that both the ‘lead teacher’ and his students fail to include in their papers they have written on the subject? First we need to establish some facts regarding the cycles of the moon and when it is visible to the naked eye, both in its final waning stage and its first waxing stage. The only time the moon can be seen rising in the eastern sky just before sunrise is during the final qtr. phase of moon’s monthly cycle. Therefore, once the moon goes dark, it is not visible in the eastern sky just before sunrise during the first three qtr. phases of the next cycle of the moon because the moon always rises after the sun rises during these three phases. Another argument that the ‘lead teacher’ and his students use has to do with the sliver of the moon being seen in the morning and then again in the evening. They claim, as a supposed matter of fact, that anyone who claims they saw the moon at both times is a false witness, however, once again, they do not take into account, as the rabbis do in the Talmud, that during certain winter months when the daylight hours are very short, it is not unusual to see the final waning crescent of the moon both in the morning and then again in the evening. I have witnessed this myself many times.

Also, as we move on to read the ‘Jewish’ ordinances concerning what time of day the sightings were taking place, keep in mind that Jewish religious law is not written like the laws we are used to reading. They are written in the manner of a court transcript and in that transcript is where we find what was considered valid testimony and what was considered false testimony, i.e., ordinances.

GEMARA: We have learned in a Boraitha that R. Gamaliel said to the sages: “Thus it has been handed down to me from the house of my grandfather (Zamalill the elder) that sometimes the new moon appears elongated and sometimes diminished. R. Hyya saw the old moon yet on the morning of the twenty-ninth day, and threw clods of earth at it, saying: ‘We should consecrate thee in the evening, and thou art seen now? Go, hide thyself!'”
Said Rabbi to R. Hyya: “Go to Entob and consecrate the month and send back to me as a password 1 ‘David, the King of Israel, still lives.'”

MISHNA: There was a large court in Jerusalem called Beth Ya’azeq, where all the witnesses met, and where they were examined by the Beth Din. Great feasts were made there for (the witnesses) in order to induce them to come frequently. At first they did not stir from there all day (on the Sabbath), 1 till R. Gamaliel, the elder, ordained that they might go two thousand ells on every side; and not only these (witnesses) but also a midwife, going to perform her professional duties, and those who go to assist others in case of conflagration, or against an attack of robbers, or in case of flood, or (of rescuing people) from the ruins (of a fallen building) are considered (for the time being) as inhabitants of that place, and may go (thence on the Sabbath) two thousand ells on every side. How were the witnesses examined? The first pair were examined first. The elder was introduced first, and they said to him: Tell us in what form thou sawest the moon; was it before or behind the sun? Was it to the north or the south (of the sun)? What was its elevation on the horizon? Towards which side was its inclination? What was the width of its disk? If he answered before the sun, his evidence was worthless. After this they introduced the younger (witness) and he was examined; if their testimony was found to agree, it was accepted as valid; the remaining pairs (of witnesses) were asked leading questions, not because their testimony was necessary, but only to prevent them departing, disappointed, and to induce them to come again often,

MISHNA: Formerly they received evidence as to the appearance of the new moon the whole (of the thirtieth) day. Once the witnesses were delayed in coming, and they disturbed the songs of the Levites. They then ordained that evidence should only be received until (the time of) the afternoon service, and if witnesses came after that time both that and the following day were consecrated. After the destruction of the Temple, R. Johanan b. Zakkai ordained that evidence (as to the appearance) of the new moon should be received all day.
GEMARA: What disturbance did they cause to the songs of the Levites? Said R. Zera to A’hbha, his son: Go and teach to them (the Mishna) thus: “They ordained that evidence as to the appearance of the new moon should not be received, only that there might be time during the day to offer the continual and the additional sacrifices and their drink offerings, and to chant the (daily) song without disturbing the order.”

MISHNA: It happened once that two witnesses came and said: We saw the moon in the eastern part of the heavens in the morning, and in the western part in the evening. R. Jo’hanan b. Nouri declared them to be false witnesses; but when they came to Yamnia, Rabbon Gamaliel received their evidence as valid.

What we have learned from the ‘transcripts’ of the proceedings of the court is that in each instance, the witnesses were sent out to bring back testimony of the moon rising in the east during the final qtr. phase of the moon’s monthly cycle. Period!

Now as to the ‘Feast of the Fifteenth’, that was noted in the book “Ancient Egyptian Science Volume II, Calendars, Clocks, and Astronomy’, the same is with YHWH Elohim’s Appointed times of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread that begins at sunset immediately following the Passover sacrifice.

R. Na’hman said to certain sailors, “Ye who do not know the calendar take notice that when the moon still shines at dawn (it is full moon, and if it happens to be Nissan) destroy your leaven bread (for it is then the fourteenth day).”

It is plainly clear that if a person is waiting to witness the first sliver of the waxing new moon, the dates they keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Tabernacles on are nearly always going to be at least a day or two after the full moon when it is now clearly visible to the naked eye that the moon is no longer full, but is growing old and losing its light. This also proves that what the ‘lead teacher’ claimed as truth is, in fact, not true at all.

…(Hag HaMazot and Hag HaSukkot) are on the 15th of the month, which is about the time of the full moon.

The truth of the Feasts that begin on the ‘fifteenth’ day of the first and seventh months was revealed to me many years ago when we had set up camp down at the river to remember and celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall. At that time we were following tradition and we had gone down and set up the camper a few days in advance. It was on that first evening as I was taking the dog for a walk that I looked up and saw the full moon rising in the eastern sky and I thought to myself, this isn’t right. The Feast was to begin at the time of the full moon, not two days later!

And so why should this even be important to us today? The majority like to quote the Scripture that says, no man knows the day or the hour, and in doing so, they ignore the other Scriptures that say those in Messiah will not be caught as a thief in the night when Messiah returns because they are children of the light. Once one clears out all the clutter that was added to the following verses by translators, who didn’t understand the importance of the Appointed times of YHWH Elohim, nor did they remember or honor them, instead setting them aside for man-made religious traditions, they twisted what Paul had said to their own destruction, because, had they not added to Paul’s words and had simply stuck to what the Greek text actually says, they would have translated it as:

1Th 5:1-2 Now, brothers, as to the time, yea the Appointed time, you do not need to be written to. For you yourselves know very well that the day of יהוה comes as a thief in the night.

The context of these verses, as well as the context of all the surrounding text to these verses, clearly reveals that Paul is speaking of one specific day on Elohim’s Holy Appointed calendar, the day of YHWH Elohim that is described by Moses and the Prophets as the day that the moon gives no light. There is only one Appointed time when this occurs and that is the first day of the seventh month which is the Feast of Trumpets. According to Scripture, this day is “The Day of YHWH” which is often referred to by many as “The Day of the LORD”.

Remember the ten maidens in Matthew 25:1-13? They all knew of the Appointed time, however, not all had prepared themselves to stay put so to be sitting still and patiently waiting the Grooms arrival. Half of the maidens had to leave to go shopping because they showed up unprepared for the Groom’s arrival. They knew the approximate time the Groom would arrive, however, because of tradition, half of them failed to bring with them all that was needed because in their minds the arrival was still a day or two away, and since the others who were prepared did not bring any extra oil with them, the five foolish maidens set out on foot to go shopping and upon their return the door to the wedding Feast had already been opened & closed.

And this all brings us back to Genesis 1. It is written that in the beginning Elohim created (bara) the heavens and the earth which means everything existed, but Elohim had not yet prepared them,  i.e., given light to them. All was dark including the sun & the moon. It was not until sometime after the 3rd day that Elohim prepared (asah) the sun and the moon and then after preparing them we are told that they are to be as signs (oth) in the heavens for days, for years & for His Appointed times (moed).

The Creator’s calendar began the counting of all time, days, days of months, and days of years from the first day that all was created (bara). The moon on the very first day, of the very first month, of the very first year of all creation, that day the moon gave no light, just as the ‘special new moon court’ testified it to be according to what is written in His Holy Scriptures, His Word of Truth. And this brings us to the 1260 days, aka, 3 1/2 years. Well, ask yourself, 3 1/2 years of what?

There is a weekly Sabbath every seven days, and then there are seven annual Sabbaths in His Appointed calendar, which annual Sabbath occurs in the ‘midst’ of those seven, i.e., in the middle? The Feast of Trumpets, the day & hour when no man is able to see those few minutes in time when the old light has faded and the new light begins, only YHWH Elohim in Heaven knows! Even King David understood the importance of witnessing the waning moon so to know when to hide from Saul who was seeking to kill him.

1Sa 20:5 And David said to Jonathan, “See, tomorrow is the New Moon, and I ought to sit with the sovereign to eat. But let me go, and I shall hide in the field until the third day at evening. … 18 So Jonathan said to him, “Tomorrow is the New Moon, and you shall be missed, because your seat shall be empty.

Both David and Jonathan knew it was not safe for David to go up to the Feast, or to come out of hiding until after the new moon had passed and his evidence that the new moon had passed was when David and Jonathan were able to visibly see the light of the moon growing in illumination and strength after the third day!

And this is why “Context, and the Calendar Matters” for all who claim to be children of Elohim, whether native or grafted in, and yes, as it is written both in the Old Testament and New Testament, some of those grafted in are the natural branches who remain broken off because they have yet to receive Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah! It was YHWH Elohim who placed a veil over their heart that they would not understand, and only when that veil is lifted through their belief that Yeshua (Jesus) is indeed their Messiah and confesses that belief with their mouth, is understanding then given. And so those of us who have been grafted in, we must be careful not to boast against the natural branches that were broken off lest, because of our arrogance, we find ourselves broken off as they were! But nowhere is it written that we are to set the unbelieving natural branches up as teachers and scholars over any assembly, in fact, Yeshua (Jesus) warns us to beware of those men and their teachings, because it is through their twisting of His Word of Truth, His Holy Scriptures, and then taking His Word of Truth out of context, that man is able to create all kinds of false doctrines and false calendar systems so to deceive the masses.

Pro 6:16-19 These six matters יהוה hates, And seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, And hands shedding innocent blood, A heart devising wicked schemes, Feet quick to run to evil, A false witness breathing out lies, And one who causes strife among brothers.

Therefore, let us quit using this matter of the calendar to cause further strife. One person may prefer ‘tradition’ because they have not sufficiently studied the matter out, as we had done in the beginning of our walk in His Sabbath truth, while another who has studied the matter out has chosen to practice truth as Elohim spoke it, while also remaining in fellowship with those who prefer to practice tradition. No matter the choice, it is a personal choice that neither side should hold against the other.

The truth of the matter is, YHWH Elohim was and is perfectly capable of preserving His calendar as He established it in the beginning, even through the Pharaohs of Egypt through whom He preserved the Israelites until the time of their deliverance from Egypt, as opposed to one of the surrounding nations of Egypt who all began their calendars after the second or third day of the new moon, depending on when the first waxing crescent of the renewed moon was seen in the evening.

In conclusion, I leave with those who desire to continue to berate and cast out believers in Messiah, because they do not follow their unsubstantiated calendar ‘traditions’ and refuse to lie to others about their belief so to support the unsubstantiated ‘tradition’, these words of Messiah.

“For he who is not against us is for us” [Numbers 11:24-29; Mark 9:33-41; Luke 9:46-50]