Biblical Calendar 2021

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Sunset Times
Crescent New Moon Visibility; Astronomical New Moon; Equinox
The
Crescent New Moon Maps show when the next new moon will become visible.

Each biblical month begins at the new moon, but is it the dark new moon (conjunction) or the evening of the first sighting of the new moon?
At which new moon does the biblical year begin? There are 3 main ways of determining this: Jewish (Hebrew) Calendar, Equinox, Aviv Barley.
Jewish Calendar
There are actually 3 Jewish calendars currently in use:
The
Israelite Samaritans – who observe a calendar similar to [5] below.
The
Karaite Jews – originally the same as [7] below, but now vary as to when each year starts.
The
Pharisees – by far the dominant sect. Most people are unaware of any other form of Judaism, and their calculated calendar is universally regarded as being the Jewish calendar.
The Jewish calendar year is calculated from the
Molad Emtzai (conjunction) of the 7th month.
In 2021 this occurs on the third day of the week at 5 hours and 497 parts of an hour. Each calendar day notionally begins at 6pm, so this molad falls shortly before midnight on Monday, September 6th.
Two postponement rules applied in 2020, which pushed Rosh Hashanah (New Year’s Day) forward from the molad (conjunction) to the day of the sighted new moon, but in 2021 there are no postponements, so Rosh Hashana is on Tuesday, September 7th (i.e. the period from 6pm on Monday the 6th to 6pm on Tuesday the 7th).
There is no molad for the 1st of Abib (Nisan), the first 6 months being calculated by counting 29/30 days alternately backwards from Rosh Hashana.
Equinox
The new year begins at the new moon of the 1st month (either the
astronomical conjunction or the evening that the new moon is sighted), nearest to or following the vernal equinox. Thus there are 4 variations of the Equinox calendar.
In 2021 the vernal equinox is on
March 20th.
The astronomical conjunction nearest the March equinox is on March 13th.
The new moon will become visible on the evening of March 14th.
The astronomical conjunction following the March equinox is on April 12th.
The new moon will become visible on the evening of April 13th.
The justification for starting the
biblical year according to the March equinox is dependent upon interpreting the Hebrew word tequfah in Exodus 34:22 to mean equinox.
“The rule of the equinox is attested in a single passage in the Babylonian Talmud (Rosh ha-Shanah 21a) … implies that 15 Nisan, the first day of Unleavened bread, cannot occur before the vernal equinox. In this recension, the term aviv is treated as synonymous with tequfah (equinox).” (Sacha Stern, Calendar and Community : A History of the Jewish Calendar, 2nd century BCE – 10th century CE, p.167)
Tequfah (Strong’s H8622): a revolution, i.e. (of the sun) course, (of time) lapse).
This Hebrew word is found in 4 verses:
“And you shall observe a Feast of Weeks for yourself, the firstfruits of the harvest of wheat; also the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year.” (Exodus 34:22 Green’s Literal Version)
“Turn of the year” here refers to the turn of the season from Summer to Winter. (The seasons of Spring and Autumn are not found in the Bible.)
‘And it happened, at the turn of the year, that the army of Syria came up against him…’ (2 Chronicles 24:23)
‘And it happened when the time had come around, Hannah conceived and bore a son’ (1 Samuel 1:20). Tequfah here obviously does not mean the equinox.
‘… his going forth from the end of the heavens, and his orbit to their ends’ (Psalm 19:6)
Although some groups observe the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year (i.e. the equinox – September 22nd in 2021), the majority begin the 7th month at the new moon following the equinox, and so they often (as in 2021) observe this festival one month after the equinox.
Aviv Barley
Interest in this method has grown markedly since various independent Christians first travelled to Israel in 2002 to report on when the fields of barley would be ready for harvesting, and when the new moon had been sighted.
The Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmudim record that this was the method used during the period of the Second Temple, and was continued for hundreds of years thereafter, when the Sanhedrin convened at Yavneh on the Mediterranean coast and later in Galilee.
The
Temple Institute website describes in detail how the sighting of the new moon was determined during the period of the Second Temple, however it says nothing about the barley harvest. This is understandable when we read of the varied rabbinic opinions in Tractate Sanhedrin 11b of the Babylonian Talmud.
More importantly, however, the Pharisees have changed the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) to the 1st day of the 7th month – so the maturity of the barley 6 months earlier is now irrelevant to them.
(The reference to “the lateness of the Tekufah” in the above link might seem puzzling, since the equinox is a fixed time and so cannot be late – or indeed early. Tekufah is used here in its original meaning of turn or revolution of the year, i.e. the weather was still wintry, so the season had not yet turned from winter to summer.)
What will the nascent Sanhedrin do when it achieves official status and has the authority to change the calendar? The
Sanhedrin website states:
“The Jewish Calendar has a discrepancy of about one day every century. This means that by the year 6000, Pesach will come out two new moons after the first day of 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 not longer be permitted to use the mathematical calendar.”

The dates in 2021 for the seven main ‘Biblical’ calendars observed by the 7th Day Churches of God (within which there are a few variations) are shown in the table below.
[1] Jewish Calendar This is included, firstly because some brethren observe Passover and Shavuot [Pentecost] – and perhaps minor Jewish holidays – on the Jewish calendar dates, and secondly to show the changes made to this calendar by the WCG.
[2] WCG’s Hebrew calendar, which continues to be kept by its major offshoots, is the same as the Jewish calendar, except for the following:
All the annual ‘moedim’ (appointed times) listed in Leviticus 23 are observed, but for one day each only, not two. Why two days?
“At the time of the Second Temple, when the Sanhedrin announced the beginnings of the months on the basis of observation, the communities living far from the seat of the court could not be reached in time by its messengers. Those communities, in doubt about the day of the New Moon and the festivals, established the custom of celebrating an additional day for each of the major holidays. Thus they were certain to observe the festivals at the same time as their brethren in Israel, on the days sanctified by the Sanhedrin …
In the land of Israel, then as well as today, the ‘Second Holidays’ are ordinary days … Rosh Hashanah is an exception, because it is the only holiday that occurs on Rosh Hodesh. It was often celebrated for two days, even at the seat of the Sanhedrin. Since it was uncertain up to the very last moment when the witnesses
[to the sighting of the new moon] would arrive and whether the court would sanctify either the 30th day of Elul or the following day, both days were considered as one long day.” [The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar, p.11, Arthur Spier]
The observance of two days became a tradition of the Jews, and so must be continued until an official Sanhedrin can be formed, which will have the authority to change the calendar and any traditions associated with it.
(The current unofficial Sanhedrin is practising sighting the new moon.)
Rosh HaShanah, the 1st day of the 7th month, is New Year’s Day in the Jewish calendar, and all the annual holy days and festivals are calculated from this date. The WCG called this day the ‘Feast of Trumpets’.
The WCG quoted Exodus 12:2 and Deuteronomy 16:1 to show that the Biblical year should begin with the 1st month – Abib (Nisan).
In order to reconcile using a calendar that calculates the holy days from the 1st day of the 7th month, the WCG taught that the Jews observe the 1st of Abib as the beginning of the religious year and the 1st of the 7th month as the beginning of the civil year. This is a falsehood. In the
Jewish Calendar, Rosh Hashanah is the 1st day of the religious year and a major holy day. Rosh Chodesh Nisan is merely one of the other 11 ‘new moons’ – not even a minor religious holiday.
Passover/Lord’s Supper should be observed on the 14th, not the 15th.
Pentecost/Shavuot is not on the 6th of Sivan, but rather 50 days from the Sunday within the festival, counting inclusively, (i.e. that Sunday is day 1 of the count), so the count is completed on a Sunday.
Prior to 1974 the WCG kept Pentecost on a Monday, because Herbert Armstrong reasoned that: “50 days FROM a Sunday can be counted NO OTHER WAY than that ONE day FROM Sunday is Monday, and 50 days FROM Sunday always falls on a Monday.”
In 1974 leading ministers produced the
Pentecost Study Material, to convince him that Hebrew counting was inclusive. In reality, Hebrews, Greeks, Romans and everyone else in biblical times used this method, with letters representing numbers.
The ‘Arabic’ numerals that we use today were not introduced into Europe until the 13th century. The symbol ‘0’ enables counting to begin with ‘zero’ (exclusive counting – the dominant modern method) as well as ‘one’ (inclusive counting – the biblical method).
The symbols AD and BC, to denote Roman calendar years, came into common use before the 13th century, which is why the year 1AD is preceded by 1BC and not the year zero. Exclusive counting did not become the more popular method until the advent of the Industrial Revolution.
If the Jewish Calendar is God’s Sacred Calendar, as the WCG taught, what authority did Herbert Armstrong hold to make several changes to it?
In an
interview with WCG minister Jeff Booth in 1980, Herbert Armstrong declared that:
“The title, and the keys, passed from chief apostle to chief apostle, from Peter to Peter. Each chief apostle was the new Peter. ‘Now I am the chief apostle, and I am the Peter’.”
“Whatever I bind is bound in heaven, and whatever I loose is loosed in heaven.”
“The Day of Pentecost is now on Sunday. But, since I had made the decision to observe Pentecost on Monday, for years the Day of Pentecost was actually on Monday.”

The Church of God 7th Day (HQ in Denver) and the Church of God 7th Day (Jerusalem) utilize the Jewish Calendar to calculate the time of the Lord’s Supper, which they observe on the evening of the 14th of Abib (Nisan). The Jerusalem church group does not acknowledge any other annual observances, but the Denver church allows its congregations and individual members to observe them if they so wish.
[3] Day of the astronomical new moon (conjunction of sun/moon), nearest to the Vernal Equinox.
[4] Day of the appearance of the crescent new moon – visible in the brief period between sunset and moonset – nearest to the Vernal Equinox.
The Church of God 7th Day (Salem) keeps the Lord’s Supper on the evening of the 14th by this method (see doctrinal point no.15 on this website link).
[5] Day of the astronomical new moon (conjunction of sun/moon), following the Vernal Equinox.
[6] Day of the appearance of the crescent new moon – visible in the brief period between sunset and moonset – following the Vernal Equinox.
[7] Day of the appearance of the crescent new moon – visible in the brief period between sunset and moonset – in the month that the barley in Israel will be ready for harvesting by the Sunday after Passover (Leviticus 23:10-12). The dates will be the same as for either [4] or [6].
The dates for the 3 annual festivals (Exodus 23:14-16) are printed in
green, and the 7 annual holy days are in red.

 

[1]

[2]

[3]

[4]

[5]

[6]

New Years Day
Rosh Hashana

Tu-We
Sep.7-8

Sun
Mar.14

Sat
Mar.13

Mon
Mar.15

Mon
Apr.12

Wed
Apr.14

Lords Supper / Passover/Seder
(evening before)

Sun
Mar
28

Sat
Mar
27

Fri
Mar
26

Sun
Mar
28

Sun
Apr
25

Tue
Apr
27

Passover/Festival of Unleavened Bread

Mar.28
-Apr.4

Mar.28
-Apr.3

Mar.27
-Apr.2

Mar.29
-Apr.4

Apr.26
-May2

Apr.28
-May4

1st Day of
Unleavened Bread

Su-Mo
Mar
28-29

Sun
Mar
28

Sat
Mar
27

Mon
Mar
29

Mon
Apr
26

Wed
Apr
28

7th Day of
Unleavened Bread

Sa-Su
Mar.3-4

Sat
Apr.3

Fri
Apr.2

Sun
Apr.4

Sun
May 2

Tue
May 4

Firstfruits Festival
(Pentecost
/Shavuot)

Mo-Tu
May
17-18

Sun
May
16

Sun
May
16

Sun
May
23

Sun
June
20

Sun
June
20

Day of Trumpets
(Yom Teruah)

Tu-We
Sep.7-8

Tue
Sept.7

Tue
Sept.7

Thu
Sept.9

Wed
Oct.6

Fri
Oct.8

Day of Atonement
(Yom Kippur)

Thu
Sept.16

Thu
Sept.16

Thu
Sept.16

Sat
Sept.18

Fri
Oct.15

Sun
Oct.17

Sukkot – Festival
of Tabernacles

Sept
21-27

Sept
21-27

Sept
21-27

Sept
23-29

Oct
20-26

Oct
22-28

1st Day of
Tabernacles

Tu-We
Sept
21-22

Tue
Sept
21

Tue
Sept
21

Thu
Sept
23

Wed
Oct
20

Fri
Oct
22

Eighth
Day

Tu-We
Sept
28-29

Tue
Sept
28

Tue
Sept
28

Thu
Sept
30

Wed
Oct
27

Fri
Oct
29

 

 

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