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.
I have been revisiting this topic (3-2018) and am making changes based on what YHVH has been teaching me.
There is a problem with the term “new moon.” It can mean either conjunction of the moon (astronomical definition) or new waxing crescent. Debate exists within the Hebraic Roots community as to which is really correct to use as the 1st of the month.
During Sukkot 2018, I intend to present and publish a Power Point Presentation on this blog on the significance of the new moon (including the conjunction and new waxing crescent) that will hopefully settle the debate. I will post links in appropriate places.
In the meantime, I want to explain a few basics about the Metonic cycle, which is a calculation based on CONJUNCTION, not new waxing crescent.
Originally, God planned for His people to monitor the changing of the months by the sighting of the new moon. The peoples of the Ancient Near East all sighted the new waxing crescent, but that doesn’t mean doing so is pagan. They were still sighting the new waxing crescent moon in Yeshua’s day. Eventually, in addition to sighting the new moon, they used calculations to determine conjunction so that they would know when to hear witnesses of the new moon sightings. If witnesses came before the appointed time, they knew they were false witnesses. Hillel II (330-365 CE) is considered the creator of the Hebrew calendar that is being used today. By the 12th century, calculations were codified by Maimonides (Rambam) in the Mishneh Torah (See Kiddush HaChodesh in Sefer Zemanim; check https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/935193/jewish/Sefer-Zemanim.htm. This gives full details of the actual calculations. It is a bit hard to follow. I will not explain the actual calculations.) They finally quit having witnesses of the new crescent moon and were only going by conjunction since there was no Sanhedrin in Jerusalem.
I don’t think we should go by this practice, but we need to be aware of what they are doing. If people want, they can just see the Astronomical New Moon dates or moon phases for the month. Again, this is conjunction. You can’t predict the sighting of the new waxing crescent with the same accuracy.
The sighting of the crescent new moon is what really signals the beginning of the first day of every month on the Hebrew calendar; however, the Jews use the Metonic Cycle to determine the time of the conjunction when the moon is fully dark and use it as 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 ASTRONOMICAL new moon (conjunction) ends at the appearance of the new waxing crescent moon; it begins when it is invisible (not reflecting light from the sun). There are other seemingly valid reasons for the new moon being at the sighting of the sliver of the new waxing crescent (YOUNG – BELOW) 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. At first, bonfires were lit to notify those at great distances away. This ceased because the Samaritans started lighting fires and it caused confusion. Instead messengers were sent. It is not really necessary to do this since the moon phases are the same throughout the world, although the light appears on the opposite side in the Southern Hemisphere when compared with that of the Northern Hemisphere.
The sighting of the new waxing crescent moon is important because it insures the feasts of the Lord are celebrated on the correct days of the year.
Two or three witnesses were required to confirm the presence of the new crescent moon because that’s how matters are confirmed. 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”) and that the new moon, which marks the beginning of Nissan, comes 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. Of course, I can’t accurately predict Yeshua’s return, especially since I believe it will be on a new waxing crescent. We have to see the signs of the times. Still I like to speculate what is approximate and keep my eyes open.
As we look for Yeshua’s return, we know that the time preceding 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.”