A Calendar Bias for Biblical Time
(Revised 2021)

By: Shawn Richardson

Section 6:

BIBLICAL WEEKS

Now that we have established the primary elements of the Biblical Calendar, there is one last element that should be covered for clarification - the Biblical Week. Even more so than the Biblical Day, there is very little that is questioned about the Biblical Week. We are first given the example of the Week in Genesis 1 that consisted of six days of Creation ending with one day of Sabbath rest. The Ten Commandments further support the week as being six workdays plus one rest day. The Biblical concept of the week has always been based on the perpetual, never-ending count of seven-day cycles to determine the regular Sabbath that began with the Creation Week. We are told to continue this cycle forever in Exodus 31:16[1]:

    "Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant."

Although the Bible does not name the days of the week other than the Seventh Day being the Sabbath, it does refer to the remaining days as the "First Day", "Second Day", etc. and are first referenced in this manner in Genesis 1. Modern calendars now use specific names whose origins are pulled from Pagan gods including Saturn for Saturday and the Sun god for Sunday. Although we have adopted these Pagan names as a society (and have changed the day to begin at midnight instead of sundown), the weekly concept remains.

Similar to the Biblical Month, the Bible generally always uses a specific Hebrew term, shabua (Strong's 7620[3]), when referring to Weeks. Quite literally, this word translates into English as "seven" or "a period of sevens". This would be why the prophecies in Daniel (such as the 70-week prophecy) use this form of measurement when, instead, it is understood as totaling 490 (or seventy sevens). The mere fact that the weekly cycle continues to be recognized today serves as a testament to the Bible itself and the perpetual Sabbath Day it has measured throughout time.

Historically, Rome (the birthplace of the Christian movement) utilized a pattern of days known as the Nundinal cycle (which consisted of 8 days) that was adopted as early as the 5th century BC. This cycle provided a repeating pattern where city dwellers and travelers from outside of the city would purchase food and supplies made available by the city merchants. This business cycle was known as the "market week". But the day-to-day living of Romans eventually adopted the seven-day week of the Jews. Although there was a period when both patterns of weeks were kept simultaneously, Roman Emperor Constantine officially disbanded the market week in the 4th century AD. Constantine, a pagan, adopted certain beliefs of the Jews at the time who were following the example of Yeshua but made changes to adopt to pagan practices - including changing the seventh-day Sabbath to Sunday. This was the origin of modern Christians keeping Sunday - even though many would like to believe Yeshua changed the Sabbath to the first day of the week. But even most Sunday-based Christians understand that the week itself still begins and ends in the same manner today as it did throughout the Bible (although, most think of days as being midnight-to-midnight). Some modern calendars, however, list Sunday as the last day of the week in a deceptive attempt to make it look like the seventh day. Thankfully, this practice has not caught on as a day-to-day standard. However, this practice is becoming more popular outside of the Western World and is often used in international business relations (including the ISO 8601 date standards). Additionally, it is common to use the term "weekend" when referring to both Saturday and Sunday. Either way, it's hard to argue against history, which overwhelmingly supports Saturday as being the seventh day.

The Sabbaths (a term that includes the festivals) listed in Leviticus 23 specify two appointed days that are based on the perpetual seven-day count that make up the Biblical Week. The first, being the most obvious, is the regular Sabbath that occurs every seventh day. The second one is the Day of Pentecost (Shavuot): which takes place on the fiftieth day of the Wave Sheaf Offering (which would take place, as Biblically commanded, on the first day of the week, or the "morrow after the Sabbath", that begins the Feast of Weeks - or the Feast of Sevens). This also places Pentecost on the first day of the week (starting after sundown on Saturday evening). This is further supported in Leviticus 23:16, which repeats the phrase "morrow after the Sabbath", after seven complete Sabbath's have passed. Some Jews believe that the Sabbath-day being referred to in the phrase "morrow after the Sabbath" would begin the count from the First Day of Unleavened Bread (which would always place the Wave Sheaf on the 16th of the Aviv moon), but this would not coincide with verse 16. If the Wave Sheaf always took place on the same day of the month, why wouldn't the verse simply state that it takes place on a specific day of the month as it does for every other Festival? That's simply because it's not fixed on the new moon, but rather it is referring to the weekly Sabbath. All other days are counted from the start of the new moon specifically.

International Dateline

Because of our calendar bias, we tend to think that the monthly, lunar-based Festivals must take place on the same day of the Biblical Week for everyone around the world. But this is not the case! These two counts (one lunar-based and one solar-based) are not tied together. This concept is strictly from our calendar bias. Also remember that half of the world observes a lunar month one day longer than the other half. These two cycles (lunar and solar) do not depend on one another, but many will try to force the lunar cycle to fit into the solar (or vice versa), which is no different than trying to force a square object into a round hole. The Biblical Month and the Biblical Week are based on these two different events from which an observer is to count from.

Again, the Bible does not give us an "international dateline" (which is strictly a mathematical concept) or instructions to do likewise, no more than it gives us time zone boundaries. Many attempt to apply this concept to the Biblical month by drawing a dateline through Jerusalem (as we discussed in the Jerusalem Time section of Biblical Months), with everyone else either considered as part of the diaspora (keeping two days for each holy day) or simply assume the same day of the week using the international dateline. However, the international dateline does assist us as it has helped preserve the perpetual count for the days of the Biblical Week.

The original determination of where to place the dateline was established in 1884 and was loosely based on the migration patterns of historical human settlements. Although, it was the 180-degree longitude meridian that was chosen, because this line is mostly in the open sea and not legally enforced, any country is allowed to determine which side of the line they would prefer. This means the dateline is not straight from pole to pole, but zig zags slightly. This has caused issues for Sabbath keepers, such as in Samoa that switched their dateline in 2011, moving the dateline to the east changing Saturdays to Sundays. The argument for which day to observe as the Sabbath amongst Seventh Day Adventists in Samatau Village continue to debate this issue today.[80]

To retain the perpetual count for the Sabbath, it makes sense to be based on the historical migration pattern for any given location. Early history supports humans slowly migrating eastward from the mid-east region toward India, China and down toward Indonesia while westward migrations lead to the lower portions of South Africa as well as northwestern migrations (primarily by Anglo Saxons) into Europe and Britain and finally to the Western World and the Americas. Although history marks these migrations starting nearly 200,000 years ago, the patterns are fairly accurate. From an observer's perspective, the day of the week would have been preserved based on where groups of people migrated. There is no Biblical record of anyone observing the day of the week (or the Sabbath) a day earlier simply because they were relocated east of Promised Land (even when Israel was held captive in Babylon). To a traveler in Biblical times, the day of the week would have remained the same from their perspective. Therefore, the established international dateline today (regarding the Biblical Week) would be roughly like an observer's perspective of history. Without any instruction to consider a particular geographical location as a dateline, we would have no reason to assume otherwise. As for Samoan's, since the original migrants were from southeast Asia in the 18th century, it makes sense for them to be located west of the dateline, which was the date determined in 2011.

Lunar Sabbath Theory

An alternative concept to the Biblical Week, which has grown rather quickly in the past few years, is that of the Lunar Sabbath. First attributed to Jonathan David Brown in his book titled Keeping Yahweh's Appointments in 1998[72], this theory claims the Biblical Week is also based on the moon - specifically the four primary stages of the moon (new moon, first quarter, full moon and last quarter). This concept is very similar to the modern Zoroastrian Calendar that is also believed to have originated from Babylon[71]. Although this lunar week concept also contains seven whole days, it is extended at the end of the lunar cycle to account for extra days in the lunar month (adding leap days to the week). Followers of this system do keep the new moon day to begin the month, but also treat it as the Biblical Sabbath day, or the Lunar Sabbath (but no longer correlates with the secular week, placing the Weekly Sabbath on a different day of the commonly accepted week with each new lunar phase). This is then followed by four additional Sabbaths that always fall on the 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th day of the lunar cycle. Since the lunar cycle is just over 29 days in length, the last Sabbath can extend into the 30th day (making for either two or three Sabbath days in a row as the lunar cycle repeats). Consequently, this also forces the First Day of Unleavened Bread, the Day of Trumpets, the First Day of Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day as always falling on one of these Lunar Sabbaths.

Research conducted on some of the earliest layers of the Pentateuch done by Jeffrey H. Tigay and others conclude that the perpetual seven-day week (Sabbatical Week) dates to the 9th century BC - centuries before Judea's exile to Babylon. He also finds no resemblance between the Biblical Sabbath week and the Babylonian system tied to the new moons. Tigay writes[70]:

    "It is clear that among neighboring nations that were in position to have an influence over Israel - and in fact which did influence it in various matters - there is no precise parallel to the Israelite Sabbatical week. This leads to the conclusion that the Sabbatical week, which is as unique to Israel as the Sabbath from which it flows, is an independent Israelite creation." {Underlined emphasis added}

The Lunar Sabbath concept is also not directly instructed anywhere within the Bible, although some will attempt to derive it from scattered examples of Biblical events combined with several assumptions. The primary example used is the story of the heavenly manna in Exodus 16. Here, we are told about the arrival of Israel in the Wilderness of Sin[1]:

    "And they journeyed from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the Wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they departed from the land of Egypt." {Underlined emphasis added}

Supporters of the Lunar Sabbath claim that Israel's purpose of pitching camp, here in verse 1, was to observe the 15th day Lunar Sabbath (as the 15th of the lunar month is always a Sabbath using this theory). They claim that this is supported because of the instruction regarding the heavenly manna that fell following their arrival (which is described in verses 4-5[1]):

    "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not. And it shall be on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.'" {Underlined emphasis added}

The claim is that the sixth day referenced here is instructing them to count six days from the 15th following their arrival in the Wilderness, and not as a reference to the day of the week. But as we have learned, the Bible refers to specific days of the week by number. In our modern-day vernacular, this would be like saying, "and it shall be on Friday that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather on other days". This means verse 1 could have taken place at any time during the perpetual seven-day week, mirroring that of Creation Week. Verses 22-23[1] then concludes:

    "And so it was, on the sixth day, that they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. And all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. Then he said to them, 'This is what the Lord has said: "Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning."'" {Underlined emphasis added}

If the Weekly Sabbath were based on the lunar cycle, then we would have an issue with the Creation Week given in Genesis as the moon itself is not even appointed until the Fourth Day (Genesis 1:14-19). Even if the moon were created on Day One, then according to the Lunar Sabbath model, the first day should have also been a Sabbath and the Creation Week should have lasted eight days (starting and ending with a Sabbath), instead of seven. There are also direct instructions for keeping specific Festivals in Leviticus 23 that specify the exact day of the month (or lunar cycle) to be kept. But no such reference is used when referring to the regular weekly Sabbath.

More importantly, the Lunar Sabbath concept would also negate the one sign of Yeshua as being the true Messiah. He tells us we would know of his authenticity because He would be in the ground for three days and three nights before being resurrected (the sign of Jonah). Although mainstream Christianity believes that Yeshua died on Friday afternoon and rose Sunday morning, there would also be no weekly scenario where you can get three days and three nights between Passover (the 14th of the month, which always falls one day prior to a Lunar Sabbath) and the first day of the "lunar" week - it would be simply impossible to confirm Yeshua's authenticity as Messiah. To explain this, many claim that the Jonah prophecy implies three days OR nights making the count as: 1) the "night" of the 15th; 2) the "day" of the 15th; and 3) the "night" of the 16th - with a resurrection before the day-time portion of the 16th. Others will count this as 1) died on the 14th; 2) in the grave on the 15th; and 3) rose on the 16th. Both scenarios ignore that an evening and a morning constitute a day, which would be yet another contradiction to the Creation Week example. Only a mid-week High Sabbath (the First Day of Unleavened Bread), taking place on the fourth day of the week (Wednesday), can you then complete another three days AND three nights (or three full Biblical days) and have a resurrection on the morrow after the Sabbath (Sunday) - coinciding with the barley wave sheaf ceremony. This begins the count, following Yeshua's burial at sundown of the fourth day, as 1) "night" and "day" of the 5th day (Wednesday evening and Thursday - the Day of Unleavened Bread); 2) "night" and "day" of the 6th day (Thursday evening and Friday); and 3) "night" and "day" of the 7th day (Friday evening and Saturday - the Weekly Sabbath). Yeshua was then witnessed as already being resurrected in the night-time portion of the 1st day (Saturday evening).

Finally, the Lunar Week is also not a documented method among Jewish history - and certainly not during the time of Yeshua (a blatantly obvious contradiction that would have certainly raised concern with the Jews of the New Testament). A similar concept has also been introduced basing the weekly Sabbath on a perpetual seven-day count starting with the Passover (which falls on 15th of the first month).

A similar concept has also been introduced that does keep a perpetual count of seven days for the week but is reset each year starting from the Passover (which is considered as being on the 15th of the first month). This also causes the weekly Sabbath to fall on different days of the secular week with each passing year. But again, the above facts negate this practice and simply are not supported from scripture (or by historical facts).

Sign of the Sabbath

The origin of today's secular week itself - a perpetual repeating seven-day cycle - serves as a witness to the Biblical Sabbath. There is no other origin outside of the Bible to explain why we keep a perpetual seven-day week today and there is no historical record of this count ever being broken. Although there are historical records of certain societies keeping weeks of different patterns, they were not widespread and none of them pre-date the seven-day week concept. The week was originated and preserved by non-Biblical historical Jewish records as far back as the Babylonian captivity with the Biblical instruction given prior to that time.

The Sabbath day of rest is also referred to within the Bible as a sign for Yehovah's chosen people (Exodus 31:13, Ezekiel 20:12). Since those that keep the Sabbath serve as a sign to those throughout the world, it doesn't make sense that the Biblical Week has ever changed. If it had, the rest of the world would not understand the Sabbath as being a sign because they would have no idea when it should occur. There is documented evidence, as well, within the Catholic Church claiming they changed the Sabbath from the seventh day of the week to the modern day of Sunday. With most Christian organizations following this same Catholic declaration, it not only recognizes the seventh-day Sabbath as originally being the Sabbath, but it also puts into direct contrast those that continue to keep the seventh-day Sabbath instead. As a seventh-day Sabbath keeper, I know from experience that many take notice as it goes against the majority norm.

Summary of the Biblical Week

  • The Biblical Week is a perpetual count of seven days since the Creation Week of Genesis 1 and has been unbroken ever since.
  • Days of the week were numbered, except for the seventh day referred to as the Sabbath.
  • Weeks is translated from shabua meaning seven, or a period of sevens.
  • A week based on the Lunar Sabbath can be more than seven days and is not supported by scripture in either the Creation Week or with Yeshua's sign of being in the grave for three days and three nights.
  • The Weekly Sabbath is a sign of Yehovah's people.





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