When does the new year start according to the Bible?
Surprisingly, given that there are many feasts and such appointed by the Lord, there is no super clear instruction given for the exact date to start a new year. About the closest it gets is this in Exodus 12:2 “This month [shall be] unto you the beginning of months: it [shall be] the first month of the year to you.”
Here is where opinions start to diverge. It is not very clear exactly what is meant by “this month”. The month name was called “Abib” (Ex. 13:4 etc.) and abib means “ripe barley”, so the Karaite Jews insist that the barley must be ripe before a new year can start. Since the early Adventists based their calculation of the correct Day of Atonement on October 22, 1844, by what they thot were the Karaite methods, this fact must be examined more closely.
On the other hand, the Rabbis started just calculating the feasts and months and years all numerically, even coming up with odd rules that no “non-working” feast could fall next to a Sabbath, as that would involve too much hardship if you couldn’t work for 2 days in a row (?!), and it is very safe to say that no one really attempting to find the true calendar that God desires uses the Rabbis’ calculations for other than a very broad reference, always remembering the words of Jesus how they “have made of none effect the words of God”.
So what do the Karaites have to offer? They say that basically, the first new, visible crescent moon after some ripe barley has been discovered in modern day Israel signals the start of a new year. No, really, that is what they do based on the fact that the Bible says to: Leviticus 23:10 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: 11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.
Yes, even as i write this, that sounds like extremely weak evidence to start a new year when the barley crop has ripened in some location in Israel, but that is what they do.
The Karaite calendar sometimes starts one month later than the Rabbinical calendar, but most often, it is just one day apart, and sometimes not at all. That is because the Rabbis start their new year at the “conjunction” (when the moon is still dark), whereas the Karaites start it when the first crescent is visible, which is usually one day later. The current leaders of the Karaites claim that their date for the Day of Atonement in 1844 was the same as the Rabbi’s date, (September 23).
The Jewish civil year starts in the fall, in what is called the “7th month” in the Bible (Tishri). That usually falls around the middle of September in the Gregorian calendar. Jewish year 5771 started on September 9, 2010, and 5772 will start on September 29, 2011, as 5771 is a leap year with an extra month.
The Bible explains this year that begins in the Autumn season in Exodus 23:16, 34:22, and Leviticus 23:39. Again, it is not explicitly spelled out, but it is readily seen that when the crops were gathered in was considered as the end of the year, and this was in the Fall. And in checking actual Israelite practice, you can find that they used a “civil” calendar starting sometime in September, and a “religious” calendar starting sometime around the Spring equinox.
The Bible is clear on WHAT to use to determine the days, times, seasons, and years – Genesis 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.
Interestingly, the word used translated here as “seasons”, is the same as to refer to the feasts, or “appointed times”, thus giving a very strong reason to use the sun, moon, and stars as the only objects to determine when the “year” starts, and when the “appointed times and feasts” start.
The method to determine the new year that makes the most sense to me, is to find the first conjunction of the moon (dark phase) that occurs after the spring equinox, and start from there. This method uses only the sun and moon, (maybe stars a little), just as specified in Genesis 1:14 to find the time to start a new year.
Granted tho, there is NO TEXT in the Bible that specifically says anything about using the equinox or conjunction to determine the start of a new year. Why do i believe in it then? Because of the weight of evidence as shown below.
All the following will be based on the “religious” calendar, as that is the calendar all the feasts were based on.
The current Gregorian calendar does away with any moon-related reckonings (solar only), but the Hebrew calendar is largely based on the moon, with confirmation from the sun (luni-solar). Without going into too much detail, and using approximation, suffice it to say that solar year has 365 days, while the luni-solar year has 354 days. Things could get out of whack very quickly, so there are lots of “leap months” in the Hebrew calendar. Adding a leap month would give a leap year 384 days.
There is a 19 year cycle between the moon and sun that is a close match in total number of days. The latest 19 year cycle began in October 1997 (working with the Gregorian calendar). Leap years are every 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17, and 19 years in the cycle. This would mean that 2012, as the 16th year in the cycle, would not be a leap year, but 2013 and 2015 would be (starting in the Fall of the year).
The early Adventists were astute students, and determined that the Karaites calculated the new year more according to the Biblical principle than anyone else, so they used their methods, with one important difference — they did not give any weight to the idea that one must go tramping around the physical land known as Israel (Palestine) to hunt for ripe barley before you can declare the start of a new year. They used only the idea that you must see a crescent of the moon after the Spring equinox to determine the start of a new year. Is it necessary to physically “see” a new moon before you can start a new month or year? It doesn’t seem so.
So when do the equinox and first new moons, (conjunctions), after the equinox occur between 2012-2015? The following shows the times at GMT, (Universal Time) (England’s!), according to http://www.timeanddate.com/:
(at equator)………..Moon………………New Year
2012 3/20 5:14…..3/22 14:37……….3/23 1:57
2013 3/20 11:02…4/10 9:36…………3/12 10:46
2014 3/20 16:57…3/30 18:45……….3/31 8:18
2015 3/20 22:45…3/20 9:36…………3/21 5:07
As can be readily seen there are 2 major discrepancies between the above dates. 2012 looks good, but 2013 shows that the Rabbinical new year begins way before the Spring equinox. 2014 looks good, but then 2015 shows that a new moon, while occuring on the same day as the equinox, is a few hours earlier than the equinox, so must be disqualified as being the first new moon of the new year. So 2015 will not begin until April 18, instead of March 21 as the Rabbinical calendar has it.
Here is the table as it would look like using Jerusalem as the point of reference (note that while Jerusalem is considered to be 2 hours east of UTC, to be exact, it is more like 2 hours 21 minutes east, so you may want to add 21 minutes to each of the following timings):
(at equator)…………..New Moon………..Sunset
2012 3/20 7:14……..3/22 16:37……….3/22 17:52
2013 3/20 13:02……4/10 12:36……….4/10 19:05
2014 3/20 18:57……3/30 21:45……….3/30 18:57
2015 3/21 00:45……3/20 11:36……….4/18 19:10
Year 2015 is really the only big question. Using Jerusalem as the reference point, it is seen that the new moon in March is around 13 hours or so before the equinox, thus requiring the start of a new year to be on April 18, just as the tables for Universal Time show. Please notice that all these tables show times based on the current system of counting days from 12 midnight to 12 midnight. To convert to God’s calendar, you would have to make the day start at sunset.
What location on earth should be our point of reference to calculate these things? I don’t know. Boston carried some weight with the early Adventists in 1843/1844, but doubt that place has any religious significance today. Should it be Silver Springs, Maryland, the headquarters of God’s remnant church today? That doesn’t seem so likely to me. At any rate, Jerusalem is where God’s calendar used to be determined, so even if not a holy city anymore, looks like as good a place as any to base calendar calculations on today.
The following table shows the start of the new year and some of the major feasts. The main suppositions mostly laid out in Leviticus 23 are:
The new year starts at the first sunset after the first conjunction (dark phase) of the moon after the Spring (March) equinox at the location of Jerusalem, Passover is 14 days from the new year, Pentecost is 50 days from a Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Trumpets is on the first day of the 7th new moon of the year, and the Day of Atonement is 10 days after the 7th new moon of the year.
……..New Year Passover Pentecost Trumpets Day of A
2012 March 22..April 4….May 27….Sep 16….Sep 25
2013 April 10….April 23…June 16…Oct 5……Oct 14
2014 March 31..April 13…June 8…..Sep 24….Oct 3
2015 April 19….May 2…..June 28….Oct 13….Oct 22
Note: If you want to mark the day on the calendar probably hanging on your wall (Gregorian calendar), you will need to mark it at the sundown for your location on all the above dates (like most Seventh-day Adventists i know mark sunset every Friday on their calendars).
It is interesting to note that October 23 is about the latest day possible for a Day of Atonement ever. It is also interesting to see that none of the above dates fit exactly into a 1260, 1290, or 1335 scenario, altho i believe strongly that these days will be literal days at the end time.
I may be wrong in this. Some of the expected dissenting views will be that the barley must be consulted, that the equinox is not mentioned in the Bible, that the crescent moon must be observed (but then they say if it is cloudy they just start the new month anyway – ha!), that using Jerusalem as the point of reference is not right, or even that the first new moon after the equinox is not correct. The only ones of these that have any credence at all would be about physically observing the crescent moon, (but that method leads to quite a few problems itself besides the obvious ones of starting the month anyway if it is cloudy), and what location on earth will be used as the reference point. While true that we start the Sabbath based on the sunset in each location, the moon’s conjunction does not come so nicely across the time zones, leading perhaps to a situation where one person living in Nashville would observe a whole year one month ahead of someone living in Atlanta, and then the reverse the next year!!
May this study be of encouragement to God’s people as we enter into the soon-coming 3 1/2 years of tribulation. Any comments/questions/advice would be very much appreciated.
References in order of importance (please note many of these sites have large error!) I did my own calculations and many hours of research, and in no way did i just “copy” what any other site had.
Only Grace Amadon Collection Part!! http://www.worldslastchance.com/topical-biblical-studies/yahuwah-s-calendar-luni-solar/