FESTIVALS DURING THE TIME OF JESUS©
ARISTEO CANLAS FERNANDO
Peace Crusader and Echo of the Holy Spirit
What is a lunar calendar? A lunar calendar is based on the revolution of the moon around the earth which takes 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 2.8 seconds or 29.5306 days or one lunation. Twelve lunations comprise a lunar year with 354 or 355 days. It is short by about eleven days from a solar year like in the present Gregorian calendar. A lunar calendar retrogresses through the seasons.
What is a lunisolar calendar? A lunisolar calendar is a lunar calendar that keeps the months in their proper seasons by inserting or intercalating a month every two or three years in a 19-year period called Metonic Cycle.
When the Israelites left Egypt in the 16th century BC, they were using a lunar calendar only. It was the month of Abib then, springtime. They used this lunar calendar in celebrating their festivals. The months were numbered 1 to 12. To mark the beginning of every month, the Israelites celebrated the New Moon Festival of Rosh Hodesh. During the reign of King Solomon in the 11th century BC, some of the months were mentioned in the Holy Bible, like Zif, the second month (1 Kings 6:1, 37); Ethanim, the seventh month (1 Kings 8:2); and Bul, the eighth month (1 Kings 6:38).
The Old Testament mentions that there are only 12 months in a year. These are in 1 Kings 4:7 and in 1 Chronicles 27:1. There is no mention of a thirteenth month or the intercalation of a month.
When Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians during the seventh century BC (637 BC), the Israelites were brought to Babylon as captives. While there, they learned about the lunisolar calendar that their conquerors were using. They adopted it and when they returned to Jerusalem about 50 years later, they had two calendars in use—a lunar calendar and a lunisolar calendar. Both these calendars were used until the Hillel II reformed the Jewish calendar in AD 358/359 to a form still in use today. Hence, during the time of Jesus, the Israelites were using two kinds of calendars.
The following table shows the dates the Jewish festivals were celebrated in the calendars from 4 BC to 1 BC:
|Festival||Calendar used||When celebrated||4 BC||3 BC||2 BC||1 BC|
|Feast of the Dedication||Lunar||15th day of the seventh month||Adar 15, 3757 (Mar 11)||Adar 15, 3758 (Mar 1)||Adar 15, 3759 (Feb 19)||Shevat 15, 3760 (Feb 8 )|
|Feast of Weeks or Pentecost||Lunisolar||Sivan 6||Sivan 6, 3757 (May 30)||Sivan 6, 3758 (May 19)||Sivan 6, 3759 (Jun 7)||Sivan 6, 3760 (May 27)|
|Passover||Lunar||14th day of first month||Elul 14, 3757 (Sep 3)||Elul 14, 3758 (Aug 23)||Av 14, 3759 (Aug 13)||Av 14, 3760 (Aug 1)|
|Feast of Unleavened Bread||Lunar||15th-21st day of first month||Elul 15-21, 3757 (Sep 4-10)||Elul 15-21, 3758 (Aug 24-30)||Av 15-21, 3759 (Aug 14-20)||Av 15-21, 3760 (Aug 2-8)|
|New Year’s Day||Lunisolar||Tishri 1||Tishri 1, 3758 (Sep 20)||Tishri 1, 3759 (Sep 9)||Tishri 1, 3760 (Sep 28)||Tishri 1, 3761 (Sep 16)|
|Day of Atonement||Lunisolar||Tishri 10||Tishri 10, 3758 (Sep 29)||Tishri 10, 3759 (Sep 18)||Tishri 10, 3760 (Oct 7)||Tishri 10, 3761 (Sep 25)|
|Feast of Tabernacles||Lunisolar||Tishri 15-22||Tishri 15-22, 3758 (Oct 4-11)||Tishri 15-22, 3759 (Sep 23-30)||Tishri 15-22, 3760 (Oct 12-19)||Tishri 15-22, 3761 (Sep 30-Oct 7)|
The Feast of the Dedication was in commemoration of the dedication of the First Temple that Solomon built. It was originally held on the 15th day of seventh month (Ethanim) during the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles (1 Kings 8:2).
It is assumed here that the year AM for anno mundi of the Jewish calendar was already being used from 4 BC to 1 BC. The year 3760 is 3760 A.M.
The season-dependent festivals of the Feast of Weeks (or Harvest Festival assumed to be on Sivan 6) and the Feast of Tabernacles (or In-gathering or Booths) were placed in the lunisolar calendar so that they would be celebrated in their proper seasons.
Copyright © 2009 Aristeo Canlas Fernando.