A Calendar Bias for Biblical Time
(2009, Revised 2015, 2022)

By: Shawn Richardson

Section 12:


While there is compelling evidence for various ancient calendars, including the lunar-based Babylonian calendar that predates Jesus (Yeshua), their mere existence doesn't necessarily imply divine intent. When exploring this topic, some shift their focus away from Biblical instructions and instead inquire about what Yeshua Himself observed. Notably, there are no recorded instances of Yeshua disputing calendar matters with the Jewish leaders of His time, suggesting that whatever He followed was likely accurate.

The problem is most attempt to place the origin of the Hebrew calendar, the version we know today, prior to the first century C.E. We have provided overpowering evidence that this calendar did not exist in its current form, at the earliest, until the 9th century C.E. based on the mathematical drift contained within the Molad calculations. There is also no documented evidence of Jews adopting any of this calendar's concepts prior to the 4th century C.E. with Hillel's publication of the 19-year intercalary cycle. However, many will still attempt to correlate recorded events within Yeshua's ministry with the results of the Hebrew calendar's backpedaled calculations. Then, if those events occur on the same day of the week, this must prove that both the Jews and Messiah followed the Hebrew calendar exclusively.

Despite lacking evidence of the Hebrew Calendar's existence before this time, the arguments put forth remain speculative and serve as a hypothesis tailored to fit a desired outcome. In essence, it is possible that the Hebrew Calendar was intentionally designed to align with the days of the week. However, relying on a chicken-and-egg fallacy, some contend that documented evidence can be disregarded, assuming the opposite to be true. Even if one can correlate these events, it remains essential to disprove the possibility of an alternative calendar method yielding the same results. Notably, the arbitrary Rules of Postponement demonstrate that both the Hebrew calendar and the timing of the moon's crescent can coincide on the same day. Additionally, establishing the precise year for these events - such as the crucifixion - requires addressing uncertainties.

Disproving the timing of visual celestial observations from the past involves several complexities. First, one must assume that specific days were free of cloud cover and that celestial movements have remained constant over time. Next, translating elapsed time into specific days of the week necessitates conversion to the Julian calendar. The Gregorian calendar, established by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, adjusted for a 10-day discrepancy by omitting days from the month of October. This correction aimed to better align the calendar with the solar year as determined during the Council of Nicea[47].

While some rely on NASA computations to retroactively determine moon observations, accurately pinpointing which renewed moon coincided with aviv barley growth in the fields also remains challenging. In such cases, assuming the spring equinox becomes a practical approach by many.

In summary, the Hebrew Calendar's origins remain speculative, and arguments based on retroactive alignment should be approached with caution. Mr. John Ogwyn, from the Living Church of God, cites three New Testament events occurring on specific days of the week as evidence for the Hebrew calendar methodology where dates coincide, and then makes some assumptions claiming these dates were not possible with direct observation:

  1. The crucifixion event in 31 C.E. occurred on a Wednesday afternoon.
  2. The Last Great Day in 30 C.E. occurred on a weekly Sabbath.
  3. The Last Day of Unleavened Bread in 29 C.E. occurred on the weekly Sabbath.

Wednesday Crucifixion in 31 C.E.

The first of these three events places Passover (the 14th day of the 1st month) on a Wednesday, aligning with the prophecy that Yeshua would spend a full three days and three nights in the grave before His resurrection on the following Sabbath at evening. By referencing the 70-Weeks Prophecy and assuming a 3½-year ministry for Yeshua, Mr. Ogwyn situates the crucifixion in 31 C.E.

However, when calculating the likely phases of the moon in 31 C.E., mathematical analysis supports the possibility of an observed new moon crescent coinciding with the Hebrew Calendar's calculated first month that year. Consequently, both methodologies could apply to this scenario, and we cannot definitively conclude that the Hebrew Calendar alone was instituted. Notably, John Ogwyn concurs with the crescent calculations[18] on this first point, stating:

    "it is true that the observable new moon of Nisan would have also been seen on Thursday, April 12."

But Mr. Ogwyn seeks to undermine the observational method by expressing his bias, stating:

    "The equinox was March 23 at that time, and there would have certainly been some ripe grain for the priests to offer on the day of the Wavesheaf."

However, as we've learned, the equinox is not a factor mentioned in scripture and does not play a role when using the observational method based on Aviv barley. Mr. Ogwyn assumes that barley would have matured the month prior. The prior new moon occurred on March 13th, several days before the spring equinox. Historical observations often show that barley within Israel has not yet reached the stage of Aviv by this time of the month. Interestingly, Aviv barley often aligns with the Hebrew calendar in the same year. The 19-year intercalary cycle, introduced by Hillel II, was based on historical observations of barley within Israel and often corresponds to each other - especially during its early use before gradual drifts occurred over time.

Mr. Ogwyn also highlights the alignment between the Hebrew Calendar and celestial evidence of an eclipse occurring on the same day as the crucifixion. However, the use of either a solar or lunar eclipse coinciding with the crucifixion is irrelevant. Some attempt to correlate this event with the darkness that covered the land during the time of the crucifixion (Matthew 27:45[1]), suggesting it was caused by a lunar or solar eclipse. Yet, the crucifixion took place on Passover - the 14th day of the new moon - from around noon ("sixth hour") until approximately 3:00 pm ("ninth hour"). A solar eclipse would have been impossible, occurring only at the moon's conjunction (at the beginning of the lunar month). Furthermore, a lunar eclipse would have been visually noticeable only when the full moon appeared in the sky, which does not rise until sundown. At 3:00 pm ("sixth hour") or even noon, a full moon would have not been visible. Additionally, a lunar eclipse would not have caused prolonged darkness, especially during the day, nor would it have lasted three hours as described in scripture. Speculating when the crucifixion year occured based on eclipses is simply not well-founded.

The Last Great Day a Weekly Sabbath in 30 C.E.

The second of these three events is based on New Testament testimony found in John 7 through 10. The claim asserts that the Last Great Day, described in chapter 7, coincided with the weekly Sabbath. However, lunar calculations position the crescent moon event two days later than the Hebrew calendar. This claim assumes that the events in John 7 occurred during the evening portion of the Last Great Day, while the events in chapters 8, 9, and part of 10 unfolded during the daytime. Notably, John 9:14 records Yeshua healing a blind man during this period, specifically being on the weekly Sabbath.

There is strong evidence that the events in John 7 took place on the Last Great Day, as we are told this in verse 37-38:

    "On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'" {Underlined emphasis added}

The mention of 'living waters' likely alludes to the traditional Jewish water ceremony held during the Feast of Tabernacles. Although this ceremony did not typically occur on the Last Great Day, some claim that Yeshua was referencing the earlier event of that day. Consequently, this verse was likely taking place during the evening portion (as the Last Great Day was commencing). The chapter continues until the day (or evening) concludes, as stated in John 7:53:

    "And every man went unto his own house."

The next chapter, John 8:1-2[1] states:

    "But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them."

Do we truly know the exact time elapsed between John 8:1 and 2? What we do know is that Yeshua's subsequent visit to the temple occurred early in the morning. It's equally plausible that John 7:37 referred to the Last Great Day, when everyone gathered in the temple the day after the Jewish water ceremony, and then returned home at day's end. Considering that many people traveled to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles, a pilgrimage festival, would they have left to their homes while the Last Great Day was ongoing, only to return again the next morning? Additionally, would Yeshua ascend to the Mount of Olives during this time or simply turned in for the night to sleep? Although some translations of John 8:2 indicate Yeshua entered the temple the following day, most simply state it was 'early in the morning.' A direct translation from the Greek text reads (Young's Literal Translation[2]):

    "And at dawn he came again to the temple."

The assertion that the Last Great Day must have been a weekly Sabbath (as referenced two chapters later) is somewhat speculative. While it's plausible that the events from John 8:2 to John 10:21 began on a weekly Sabbath, the only certainty is that they occurred between "that last great day of the feast" (from John 7:37) and the subsequent event mentioned in John 10:22[2]:

    "And the dedication in Jerusalem came, and it was winter"

Clearly, the Feast of Dedication does not immediately follow the Last Great Day. The earlier mention in John 7:53 of everyone returning home suggests a break in the timeline, unrelated to the events in John 8:2 - regardless of the calendar method used. Additionally, describing where everyone had gone likely served to signify the end of the Feast.

Interestingly, one could also connect the events in John 8:2 to the Feast of Dedication (or the Feast of Lights). After all, in John 8:12, Yeshua refers to Himself as "the light of the world." Hanukkah is called the Feast of Dedication because it celebrates the Maccabees' victory over Greek oppression and the rededication of the Temple. But Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights, as referenced by Josephus in his book the Jewish Antiquities. But this assumption would also be a stretch.

While it would fit nicely into their argument for the Hebrew calendar being used at this time, you cannot force it, and then claim it as being evidence. With no further description of time given within these chapters, it's just as likely that events beginning in John 8:2 took place on any weekly Sabbath between the Last Great Day, after everyone went home in John 7:53, and the Feast of Dedication, described in John 10:22. And again, this argument assumes this Feast of Tabernacles occurred in 30 C.E.

While it could support the argument for the use of the Hebrew calendar during this period, one cannot assert it as conclusive evidence. Without additional temporal context provided within these chapters, it is equally plausible that the events starting in John 8:2 occurred on any weekly Sabbath between the Last Great Day (after everyone returned home in John 7:53) and the Feast of Dedication described in John 10:22. Furthermore, this argument assumes that the Feast of Tabernacles occurred in 30 C.E., a point we will explore in more detail later.

The Last Day of Unleavened Bread a Weekly Sabbath in 29 C.E.

The third of these three events is once again grounded in New Testament testimony taking place on a weekly Sabbath, specifically Luke 6:1[1]:

    "Now it happened on the second Sabbath after the first that He went through the grainfields."

In the context of the assumed year 29 C.E., Mr. Ogwyn points to the phrase 'second Sabbath after the first' as evidence that this weekly Sabbath coincided with the Last Day of Unleavened Bread. According to the Hebrew calendar calculations, this alignment occurred in 29 CE. However, computer-generated models also allow for this scenario if aviv barley was observed a month prior to the Hebrew calendar, which would have necessitated the intercalation of a 13th month in 29 CE. Despite these considerations, a closer examination of Luke 6:1 reveals that the argument based on the phrase 'second Sabbath after the first' rests on the translation of an unusual Greek term, 'en sabbato deuteroproto.'

Mr. T.C. Skeat, the author of Scribes and Correctors of the Codex Sinaiticus, compellingly posits that the original copyists (or scribes) misinterpreted a Greek phrase, resulting in what would now be considered a typographical error (smudge or blunder) in the original manuscript. This error led to the creation of what is termed a 'ghost-word' - a word that never truly existed. Upon further investigation, it becomes evident that this specific phrase appears only in this particular scriptural context, including the Septuagint. In Luke 6:1, Barnes New Testament Notes[13] also acknowledges the rarity of this Greek word, stating:

    "the word occurs nowhere else. It is therefore exceedingly difficult of interpretation."

In both Matthew 12:1 and Mark 2:23, this same event is described simply as occurring on the Sabbath, without any explicit mention of it being a Festival Day. Additionally, neither Gospel uses the Greek term 'en sabbato deuteroproto.' In Luke, the generally accepted translation of the Greek phrase is 'second-first' Sabbath. However, since there is no other occurrence of this term in literature, we cannot definitively confirm its meaning within this context. It remains possible that it refers to the second Sabbath in the count of seven Sabbaths leading up to Pentecost.


None of the three cited events from Yeshua's time can definitively determine the day of the week exclusively according to the Hebrew calendar method. However, when we examine secular and Jewish history, we find that the Sanhedrin Court system of observation was still in effect during Yeshua's earthly life. It is likely that this was the same method Yeshua, the Messiah, followed. Any alternative method would have raised concerns among the Sanhedrin members, as claims against Him would have extended beyond merely breaking the Sabbath and Rabbinical laws through miraculous acts.

Ogwyn's theory is based on the assumption that Christ's ministry lasted 3½ years - a widely accepted view despite evidence to the contrary. To arrive at these years, most scholars begin with Yeshua's birth in 4 B.C.E. and calculate the start of His ministry after He turned 30. Adding a 3 ½-year ministry leads to the conclusion for a crucifixion date of 31 C.E.

Consider an alternative perspective: Mr. Michael Rood, the author of 'The Chronological Gospels,' proposes that Christ's ministry spanned 70 weeks, commencing with His baptism. This aligns directly with Daniel's Messianic prophecy, which encompasses 7 and 62 weeks (a total of 69 full weeks), with a 70th week truncated in the middle (marked by the crucifixion on a Wednesday and the resurrection at week's end). Rood places the crucifixion in the year 28 C.E., coinciding with Passover, which also fell on a Wednesday due to calculations based on the observable crescent. Notably, Yeshua, having turned 30 years old the previous year (during the Feast of Tabernacles), would have been crucified in His first year of coming-of-age, akin to the requirement for the Passover lamb to be of its first year. In his study[73], Mr. Michael Rood asserts:

    "It was Eusebius who first proposed a three-and-one-half-year ministry, three hundred years after the resurrection of Yeshua. Every church 'father' and historian for the first three centuries either clearly stated, or never contradicted, that Yeshua's ministry was 'about one year.' Eusebius proposed his undocumented assertion as a fulfillment of Daniel's 70 week prophecy, and now, after 1600 years, his eschatological adherents continue to voice his unprovable invention with unwavering conviction. His assumptions destroyed any chance of understanding the prophecy of Daniel that he was purportedly solving. Furthermore, Eusebius' followers have been left with unsolvable contradictions if his inventions are maintained."

Above, Michael Rood illustrates the recorded Gospel records in a sequential timeline. The top graph shows a 3 ½-year ministry with large gaps of time highlighted in yellow where no recorded events take place. The bottom graph shows a 70-week ministry containing all the Gospel records, all correlating with calculated lunar cycles.

Michael Rood has meticulously constructed a detailed timetable based on the calculated timing of visible new moon crescents within Israel. His approach centers around a 70-week ministry, which aligns seamlessly with the entire sequence of gospel accounts. When compared to the possibility of a 3½-year ministry, Rood's analysis reveals significant gaps - up to a year - where no scriptural events are recorded. Given the profound importance of Yeshua's ministry, this absence seems highly improbable.

Rood's 70-week timeline harmonizes the four gospels, particularly focusing on a pivotal event: the feeding of the 5,000. By contextualizing gospel events within this period, it sheds light on Yeshua's life and teachings. For instance, John 6:4 describes events during Passover, yet Yeshua is not in Jerusalem for the commanded pilgrimage festival; instead, He is distributing leavened bread.

While Rood's timetable offers valuable insights, it's essential to recognize that backtracking dates to accommodate for multiple calendar methods, including observation, remains a possibility within the Gospel record. However, Ogwyn's approach alone cannot definitively establish whether the Hebrew calendar method was used during Christ's time. Equally possible is that observation alone was employed.


  • Referencing a lunar eclipse at the time of the crucifixion is pointless as the crucifixion occurred in the early afternoon hours when the moon was not yet visible (the moon is full at the time of Passover and rises at sundown).
  • The Hebrew calendar is not historically documented to have existed any earlier than Hillel II - and he is only attributed to the 19-year intercalalary cycle.
  • Attempting to show the dates of the Hebrew calendar system match that of a Biblical event is pure conjecture since there is no evidence the calendar system ever existed at that time (as it could have been purposely designed to fit these events after the fact).
  • Additional arguments proving certain Biblical events occurred on a particular day of the week are also weak.
  • Many of these attempts rely on the assumption of a 3 ½-year ministry, which is simply accepted as fact despite evidence to the contrary.
  • Utilizing today's mathematics of lunar cycles and applying a 70-week ministry, a pure observation method was also possible matching all the events within the Gospel record with a crucifixion in 28 C.E.

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