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Calendar Notes Article Bookmarks
Two Groups Of Feasts
Today's Jewish Calendar
The Accession Year System The Jewish New Year
The Current Year A 50 Year Jewish New Year
What is a Day? What is a Leap Month?
Two Different Calendars For Israel And Judah? Other Calendar Adjustments
Mosaic Calendar Extra Day for a Holiday
Abib Calendar Working on a Holiday
Pre-Exilic Phoenician Calendar Messiah in the Holidays
Post-Exilic Babylonian Calendar Miscellaneous Notes

Names Of The Holidays:

Some of the names for the holidays came from God Himself such as the Sabbath, Passover, and the Day of Atonement. Other holiday names came from a variety of sources, most notably the religious sages in charge. Usually a holiday's name will reflect the meaning behind it.

"Hag" is a Hebrew word that comes from the root meaning “to dance or be joyous” and traditionally applies exclusively to the three festivals of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. Today it is possible to see "Hag in front of the name of many different holidays because its modern translation has come to mean "the happy holiday of."

 Holiday Dates:

Some of the dates that the Biblical holidays are to be observed on are in the Bible. There was more than one type of calendar used in the Bible so there are different dates for some of the holidays.

Dates for new holidays to be observed on can be modified with the proper authority. In 2007 both Memorial Day and Independence Day were commemorated one day later than usual, by order of the Chief Rabbinate (of Israel).(1) 

The Two Groups Of The Feasts Of Israel:(2)

The Feasts of Israel are divided naturally into two groups. In the first group, all related to Passover, are the Paschal Sacrifice, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of First Fruits and the Day of Pentecost. 

In the second group, all observed during Tishri, the sacred seventh month, we find the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles. 

There is a natural progression of the themes of the holidays.

The Feast of Trumpets teaches repentance. The sound of the ram's horn calls upon us to repent and confess.

The Feast of Atonement teaches redemption. Here peace should be made with God.

The Feast of Tabernacles teaches rejoicing. We rejoice over the harvest and goodness of God.

It is necessary to pass through repentance and redemption in order to experience His joy.(2)

The Accession Year System:

Counting the years of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah differ in the way the kings regnal years are counted. In Israel, the first year of a king's reign was counted, not from the year he became king, but from the beginning of the new year after he became king. Thus a king's reign in Israel might be counted in his land as five years, but in Judah where the regnal year began from the day when the king came to the throne, the same five years would be counted as six.(3)

 The Current Year:

Another big difference between the Gregorian and Jewish calendars is the year that we are in. While the Gregorian calendar is currently in the year 2010 (at the time of this writing), the Jewish calendar is in the year 5770. The Jewish calendar does not recognize B.C. and A.D. The Jewish calendar starts with the first day of creation (viewed as a literal 24 hour period). Traditional Jewish theology taught that God created the world already in a mature state 5770 years ago. The creation days were literal one-day periods and in-between then and now all of life as we know it has occurred. It teaches that all of creation is a little less than 6000 years old, but one must remember that the world was created in a mature state.

For example, when God made Adam, he didn't’t make him as an infant baby one day old, He made Adam as a grown man. Many believe there were also changes in the Earth due to the flood in Noah’s day that we are still unaware of. This may cause the process of carbon dating items that existed before the flood to be flawed. The Jewish world uses the Gregorian calendar for some business and political reasons, so that it can be on the same page as the rest of the world. However, on a religious cycle or from a Biblical perspective, they can use the traditional Jewish calendar.

What Is A Day?

A day on the Hebrew calendar begins at sundown and goes until sundown the following day. This is a Biblical concept declared by God himself. It is found in Genesis 1:5 when God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning the first day. Notice that the first day actually begins in the evening. So when a Jewish holiday is listed on a Gregorian calendar, the holiday actually begins at sundown the night before.

Two Different Calendars For Israel And Judah?

There are numerous indications that the calendars of the Northern Kingdom and Judah were not 100% identical. In Israel the new year began in the spring, the first day of the month of Nisan and lasted to the beginning of the next Nisan (March/April). It was a Nisan - Nisan year.(3)

In Judah the year started in the fall, the first day of Tishri and lasted to the beginning of the next Tishri (September/October), a Tishri - Tishri year.(3)

Different Calendars:

Some ancient calendars marked the succession of months in relation to the various duties a farmer had to perform in the course of a year.

This was God's true calendar. God named the months numerically,

(Ex. First month, second day).

When it was time for the Jews to be freed from their slavery in Egypt, God tells Moses to make that month the first month of his calendar. This may have been so each New Year they could be reminded of their redemption. In Exodus 13:4, this month is called Abib.

There is a calendar known as the Abib calendar that is referenced four times in the bible. Abib is the only month mentioned on all four occasions. Some believe it is an agricultural calendar based on Abib's meaning of “ripened.” It is associated with the barley crop. This is the only known month name for this calendar.(4)

This calendar is believed to be a lunar Phoenician calendar because the names of the months are of Phoenician origin. The Bible records only three of the months on this calendar in 1 Kings 6 and 8. It should be remembered that Solomon had Phoenicians as the skilled craftsmen and recorders of the work of the Temple.(4)

Upon the return to Israel, the Hebrew brought back many aspects of the Babylonian culture, including this calendar. Because it was a lunar calendar and began in the spring, this helped to make assimilation easier. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, and Zechariah use this calendar (Ester 8:9).

It is important to note that during this period in Israel’s history both calendars were in use. Nehemiah preferred to use the Babylonian Calendar. Ezra used the Mosaic in all references but one.(4)

Today’s Jewish Calendar:

This second calendar began with the month of Tishri. The first of Tishri was considered to be the Jewish religious New Year. The holiday of Rosh Hashanah is observed on the first day of Tishri and is considered New Year's Day. (In earlier calendars this, was the seventh month) Leviticus, Chapter 23.

By the tenth century, the modern Jewish calendar had fully developed and included the formation of two different Jewish calendars.(2)

The Hebrews following the Assyrian and the Babylonian calendar used the lunar year, consisting of twelve lunar months. Each month began with the new moon, until the next new moon, lasted 29 days, 44 minutes, 2.8 seconds. To compensate for the difference between the lunar and the solar year of 365 days and 6 hours and some minutes, an extra month was intercalated usually every seven years. This extra month was known as "the second Adar."(3) Read more about the New Moon Declaration.

The Jewish New Year:

On the Jewish calendar, Rosh Hashanah opens the New Year. However, there are actually four Jewish New Year's days. Nisan 1 begins the religious New Year. Elul 1 was used in ancient times to determine the tithing of animals; Shevat 15 was used to determine the tithing of fruit. Tishri 1. Rosh Hashanah starts the civil New Year.(5)

A 50 Year Jewish New Year:

Another aspect of the New Year's holiday that was greatly celebrated was the announcement of the year of Jubilee with the blowing of the shofar (Lev. 25:8-12). Although this only occurred every fifty years, it was still greatly appreciated.

What Is A Leap Month?

The problem with strictly lunar calendars is that there are approximately 12.4 lunar months in every solar year, so a 12-month lunar calendar loses about 11 days every year and a 13-month lunar gains about 19 days every year. The months on such a calendar "drift" relative to the solar year. On a 12-month calendar, the month of Nissan, which is supposed to occur in the spring, occurs 11 days earlier each year, eventually occurring in the winter, the fall, the summer, and then the Spring again. To compensate for this drift, an extra month was occasionally added: a second month of Adar. The month of Nissan would occur 11 days earlier for two or three years, and then would jump forward 29 or 30 days, balancing out the drift.

In the fourth century, Hillel II established a fixed calendar based on mathematical and astronomical calculations. This calendar, still in use, standardized the length of months and the addition of months over the course of a 19 year cycle, so that the lunar calendar realigns with the solar years. Adar II is added in the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th and 19th years of the cycle. Jewish year 5758 which began on October 2, 1997, was the first year of a 19-year cycle. (6)

Other Calendar Adjustments:

In addition, Yom Kippur should not fall adjacent to a Sabbath, because this would cause difficulties in coordinating the fast with the Sabbath. Hoshana Rabba should not fall on Saturday because it would interfere with the holiday's observances. A day is added to the month of Heshvan or subtracted from the month of Kislev of the previous year to prevent these things from happening.(6)

An Extra Day For A Holiday:

Some one-day biblical holidays are celebrated for two days. This is because the Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar. Those who lived inside of Israel always knew when a new moon was declared by the Sanhedrin court. Those who lived farther away sometimes had to wait for the messenger to tell them a new moon had officially been declared. This caused the practice, outside of Israel, of taking a holiday such as Rosh Hashanah, which biblically is a one-day holiday and making it a two-day holiday. This would enable everyone to observe the holiday.

This custom is still kept today by those who live outside of Israel even though modern calendars giving the exact dates are readily available. Those who live in Israel usually keep the holiday at one day because this also was their custom.

Working On A Holiday:

Those who observe Jewish holidays may choose to follow the established practice and patterns of working and not working on certain days.

In general, work should not be done on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, the first and second days of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, Simchat Torah, Shavuot and the first, second, seventh, and eighth days of Passover.

Messiah In The Holidays:

Med. Messianic SealSome religious festivals, cultures and traditions can serve the same purpose as the law did, which was as an object lesson to point us to the truth of Jesus Christ as Messiah:

"So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ
that we might be justified by faith."(Galatians 3:24)

Read about our Messiah In The Jewish Holidays.

Miscellaneous Calendar Notes:

In leap years, Adar has 30 days. In non-leap years, Adar has 29 days.

Paul declares the calendar a shadow of things to come. (Col. 2:16-17) (2)

The feast and laws of the Lord was a tutor. (Gal. 3:24)(2)

Christians following the calendar can add new depth and dimension to their lives. (2)

Some believe a 12-month calendar is biblical (1 Ch. 27:2-15).

A lunar month is a period between two moons. Its length is approximately 29 days, 12 hours, 44 min. and 28 sec.

The lunar calendar is 10 days and 21 hours shorter than the solar calendar.

For some, Tishri is considered a Sabbatical month. It is the seventh month and, therefore, the most holy, the same way the seventh day, the Sabbath, is the most holy day of the week.(2)

Over a period of time, most Biblical holidays have been changed, modified, and amended. The biggest change came after the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. Because of these changes, tradition must not be confused with scripture or Judaism with Biblical faith.(2)

Chart For Hebrew Months And Their Gregorian Equivalents:


1). Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) 4/23/07.

2). The Fall Feasts of Israel by Mitch and Zhava Glaser.

3). The Prophet Isaiah by Victor Buksbazen pp. 82-83.

4). Rob. Congdon Calendar (The Friends of Israel Ministries).

5). The Feast of Israel by Bruce Scott of Friends of Israel ministries.

6). The American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise.

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