I’d like to provide some background information about the Jewish calendar that may prove helpful for those who are trying to figure out the visions of Daniel. This information is widely available on the internet but if you don’t know you need it, you’ll never look for it. Besides I tend to be a one stop shopper and I like it when things are neat and tidy in one place.
Originally, God planned for His people to monitor the changing of the months by the sighting of the new moon. The sighting of the crescent new moon signals the ending of the first day of every month on the Hebrew calendar; the time of the conjunction when the moon is fully dark is the first day of the month. The conjunction marks the first day of the year and thereby the count of the dates of the holy days. The moon goes through several phases (new crescent, waxing crescent > waxing quarter > half > full > half > waning quarter > waning crescent > invisible/old) as it reflects sunlight over a period of 29.5 days. If you observe the month each evening, you can see this for yourself.
Biblically, the new moon ends at the appearance of the crescent moon; it begins when it is invisible (not reflecting light from the sun). My position on this has changed. 119 Ministries has a good explanation on this on their web site; see their video: Time Our Creator’s Calendar – The Foundation – Part 2. They do discard the Hillel calendar used in this post; if I ever change any other positions on this post, I will make appropriate updates. There are other seemingly valid reasons for the new moon being at the sighting of the sliver so the debate continues on.
As God’s people were spread throughout the world, it became impossible for everyone to know when the sighting of the crescent moon took place in Israel; it ensured that the conjunction or new moon had taken place. The sighting of the new moon is important because it insures the feasts of the Lord are celebrated on the correct days of the year.
Two or three witnesses are required to confirm the presence of the crescent moon in Jerusalem. A calendar day actually begins at sundown and changes to the next calendar day when the sun goes down the following day. This is consistent with the pattern of creation–darkness followed by light.
The Hebrew calendar used today is based on a 19 year cycle called the Metonic cycle. The Hebrew calendar normally has 12 months each year but sometimes it is necessary to add a 13th month (an embolismic month called Adar II) if the barley is not ripe. This ensures that Passover is always celebrated in the month of Nissan when the barley is ripe (in the state of “Abib”). The new moon which marks the beginning of Nissan must come on or after the spring (vernal) equinox.
An embolismic month (Adar II) takes place 7 times in the 19-year Metonic cycle. Adar II is added in the 3rd, 6th, 9th, 11th, 14th, 17th and 19th years of the Metonic cycle. This pattern is sometimes described as 3, 3, 3, 2, 3, 3, 2. It is possible to determine which years in the past and in the future had/will have an embolismic month (30 intercalary days); however, Hebrew date converters (found on the internet) which convert Gregorian calendar dates that we use to Hebrew dates warn us that results for year 1752 C.E. and before may not be accurate when calculating date conversions. This is an important tool for those interested in prophecy and in celebrating the feasts of the Lord because Gregorian dates calculated for Hebrew dates vary from year to year. This is the next best thing to the sighting of the new moon.
Originally, the months of the year were numbered like the days of the week but eventually they were given names while the Jews were living in Babylon. Tishrei begins the civil calendar year which is when the number of the year changes. Nissan begins the religious calendar year which begins the counting of the months of the year and the spring feasts (Ex.12:2). The months of the Jewish year are:
- Nissan (30 days)
- Iyar (29 days)
- Sivan (30 days)
- Tamuz (29 days)
- Av (30 days)
- Elul (29 days)
- Tishrei (30 days)
- Cheshvan (29 or 30 days)
- Kislev (29 or 30 days)
- Tevet (29 days)
- Shevat (30 days)
- Adar I (29 or 30 days)
- Adar II (29 days)
There can be either 354, 355, 356, 383, or 384 days in a Jewish year. I’ve looked at lots of theories and by now I’m pretty sure the idea of using a 360 day year for Daniel’s visions is worthless.
A shavuah (7 year period) can be either 86 moons (months) or 87 moons (months). The times and seasons of Daniel center around the Feasts of the Lord because they are His appointed times. For the timing of the 70th week of Daniel to be right, we’re probably looking at a shavuah with 86 moons. For those interested in the times related to Daniel’s visions, Nissan 11, 5785 (September 7, 2021) through Elul 29, 5788 (September 20, 2028) is 1260 days…the next day being Tishrei 1, 5789. There are exactly 42 moons between those dates as well. I haven’t checked but this can probably happen in more than one shavuah with 86 moons but I am partial to this particular shavuah.
As we look for Yeshua’s return, know that it must be during a conjunction when all is in darkness:
Isaiah 13:9-10 says, “Behold, the day of the Lord comes, Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger,
To lay the land desolate; And He will destroy its sinners from it. 10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not give their light; The sun will be darkened in its going forth, And the moon will not cause its light to shine.” and Mark 13:23-27 says, “But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand. 24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; 25 the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven.”