A Calendar Bias for Biblical Time
(Revised 2015)

By: Shawn Richardson

Section 10:


So how accurate are the computations of today's Hebrew calendar? The Hebrew calendar claims to be lunisolar, meaning it considers both signs of the sun and moon. You have already seen, though, that this claim is not completely accurate due to additional non-Biblical rules and the fact it relies on averages rather than predicting the actual events. However, we will also see that even the calculated averages are not even 100% accurate and are slowly drifting out of position over the passing centuries. Yet, supporters for using the Hebrew calendar continue to endorse its accuracy. John Ogwyn of the Living Church of God, author of an article titled The Hebrew Calendar [16], explains:

    "...in antiquity, man had only two ways of knowing the time of the new moon. One was by physical sighting of the crescent; the other was by calculation based upon the average time between conjunctions. The Hebrew calendar uses 29 days, 12 hours and 793 parts (an hour contains 1,080 parts) as the duration of the average lunar month. This works out to 29.53059 days in decimal form. According to the 15th edition of Encyclopedia Britannica, modern astronomers using satellites and computers have come up with the figure 29.530589-one one-millionth of a day difference!"

This does, indeed, describe an amazing level of accuracy for determining the lunar cycle using observation. As we have already explained, though, it is the culmination of that small amount of error to proves the establishment of today’s Hebrew calendar was first implemented around the 9th or 10th century C.E. The assumption, of course, is that these averages were divinely given by God, at the time of Moses, and somehow proves its divinity by its amazing accuracy. Furthermore, it does not explain why these computations used for the Molad begin with the moon's conjunction rather than the visible new moon crescent, or why Jerusalem and the noon hour are chosen as the line of final determination. It also does not explain why 12 out of 13 months are not determined by this same Molad calculation and, instead, are assigned a fixed number of days for each month. Finally, John Ogwyn ignores the fact that the 19-year cycle of inserting leap-months is not as accurate as its lunar cycle counterpart.

Drifting Solar Year

According to Edward Graham Richards, author of Mapping Time - The Calendar and its History (Oxford University Press)[20], the current Hebrew calendar year is off from the mean tropical year by 6 minutes and 40 seconds:

    "as the present-era mean northward equinoctial year is about 365.2424 days long, the Hebrew calendar mean year is slightly longer than this tropical year. This results in a "drift" of the Hebrew calendar of about a day every 216 years."

As a result of this phenomenon, the Hebrew calendar has drifted since the fourth century to just over seven and a half days relative to the equinox. This means that, currently, certain leap years within the 19-year cycle will insert a leap-month, which is meant to correct for the drift, a year earlier than it should have (causing the observed aviv barley to differ from the Hebrew calendar calculations more and more frequently). Over time, Passover will be pushed later and later into the year and, eventually, will end up in the summer season (rather than in the spring). Although, this will take over a millennia to occur.

As purported, Rabbi Hillel II introduced the 19-year intercalary cycle that is responsible for computing which years to add a 13th month, which was intended to place the Passover in its correct season. This extra month is added in years 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17 and 19 of the 19-year cycle. As we have discussed, this mathematical cycle has now abandoned the observation of barley as given in the Bible. The cycle's continued usage in modern years has proven to show these discrepancies, however, where ripened barley does not match the time when the Hebrew calendar denotes the New Year, and consequently the Passover, should begin. Over time, this 19-year timetable has proved to be less and less accurate.

There is extensive research from many sources, including Jewish studies, which continue to search for the perfect mathematical calendar that varies from today's version of the Hebrew calendar. But the mathematical details of all these findings are beyond the scope of this paper and only prove that the system currently used is not standing up to the "test of time". The fact remains that our universe is in a constant state of flux and contains too many variables - known and unknown (including what Yehovah Himself may adjust at will) - that would not allow for any mathematical formula to accurately predict with 100% certainty.

And again, we're dealing with averages here. When you further attempt to standardize any formula into equal segmented chunks of time into a table of days (a calendar), you also lose any accuracy that the formula claims. Only Yehovah Himself would be able to administer a mathematical formula, or table of days, that would either be precise over a millennia and beyond the coming Kingdom. Or, He Himself would adhere to the current mathematical averages by adjusting the celestial movements to fit the formulas. Yet it is the celestial movements in Genesis (on Day Four of the Creation Week) that were ordained by Yehovah - not a mathematical formula or average calculation.

Even the Jews understand that the current calculations are not accurate and are drifting beyond their intended purpose. But they settle for it, believing that it's the best method they have for now - but many are realizing that a change may be needed soon. The Wapedia Encyclopedia states in an article titled Rectifying the Hebrew Calendar [33]:

    "Given the importance in Jewish ritual of establishing the accurate timing of monthly and annual times, some futurist writers and researchers have considered whether a 'corrected' system of establishing the Hebrew date is required, due to the small but accelerating changes in the actual lunar cycle interval. Further religious questions include how such a system might be implemented and administered throughout the diverse aspects of the world Jewish community.

    It is traditionally held that the fixed arithmetic Hebrew calendar was established on the authority of Hillel ben Yehudah, President of the Sanhedrin in Hebrew year 4119, and therefore only an equal authority (a modern Sanhedrin) can either amend it or reinstate the observational Hebrew calendar."

Notice they understand observation was once used and would need to be reinstated but lack the authority to do so. We, as followers of Yeshua, do not need to wait for the arrival of the Messiah or a High Priest! We serve as a temple and as the body of Yeshua, the Church (I Peter 2:5)! Therefore, we have a foundational system that can reinstate the observational methodology from ancient history and one that is supported by the Bible. Yet most church groups have chosen to ignore this and follow with settling along with the Jews!

Rood Ministries, a group dedicated to following the signs of Aviv barley, have taken it upon themselves to plant barley near Jerusalem (and other surrounding locations within Israel) annually to determine the appropriate month the barley is considered Aviv. Here are their findings [14]:

    "...since our return to the land, observation of the barley crop has proven that the rabbinic cycle is often in error and now obsolete. Over the past decade, several Israelites have investigated the state of the barley crop at the time that the modern Jewish calendar declared the month of Aviv (Nissan) and discovered that the barley was not yet aviv."

Waiting To Be Fixed

The Wikia Encyclopedia confirms the findings of the Hebrew calendar becoming less and less accurate and explains why Jews have not corrected it. It states in the Accuracy [20] section:

    "As the 19 year cycle (and indeed all aspects of the calendar) is part of codified Jewish law, it would only be possible to amend it if a Sanhedrin could be convened. It is traditionally assumed that this will take place upon the coming of the Messiah, which will mark the beginning of the era of redemption according to Jewish belief. Theoretically, if Jewish law could be modified, one solution would be to replace the 19-year cycle with a 334-year cycle of 4131 lunations. This cycle has an error of only one day in about 11,500 years. However, this would be impossibly cumbersome in practice. Further, no such mathematically fixed rule could be valid in perpetuity, because the lengths of both the month and tropical year are slowly changing."

How can the Sanhedrin court be reestablished? AllExperts Encyclopedia [16] explains:

    "This will only take place when the rebuilding of the Third Temple has begun, which will mark the salvation of the Hebrews according to Jewish belief."

We see here that the Jewish community is fully aware of their calendar's inaccuracy and admit that no calculated method can account for the constantly changing lengths of both the lunar and solar cycles. They believe that one possible resolution to this problem is re-establishing the Sanhedrin with the building of a third Temple in Jerusalem. Just how possible would this be?

Today, a group claiming to already be the reestablished Sanhedrin[34] continues to push for restoration of a third Temple in Jerusalem and for the Jewish people to return to the original traditions. They agree that there is a major discrepancy in today's mathematical calendar as introduced in the 4th century described in their article Fixing of the Calendar[7]. They claim:

    "In recent years, a situation has been created where more and more frequently the onset of spring does not coincide with {the} calendar currently in use. This means that the calendar is beginning to drift noticeably. Albeit, the rate of drift is very slow, much slower than other lunar calendars (such as the Islamic calendar). However, if continued unchecked, we will be celebrating Pesach in the summer, rather than the spring. Our current calendar will exceed halachically acceptable limits and we will be celebrating Biblically commanded holidays at times other than when Scripture requires them to be celebrated. One could argue that if a change is necessary in any event, it would be most correct according to Biblical and Jewish Law to once again use the system of witnesses. But it is certain that we will no{t} longer be permitted to use the mathematical calendar of Hillel II in the near future."

This supports the fact that the current calculated calendar will no longer be adequate for the current Jewish community soon without some sort of change. Yet, an observation method based on witnesses would be Biblical and acceptable, even by Jewish standards.

Download full-version PDF document

<< Previous Section (CURRENT HEBREW CALENDAR) | Next Section (AUTHORITY) >>
GO TO SECTION: Index | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16

This work may be reproduced only in its entirety and without cost to its recipient outside of reproduction and delivery.