Second Temple, Yeshua And The Moedim Appointed Times
Keeping the feast of Passover marks the first appointed time in the Torah observant believer’s year. The Torah states very plainly in Deut. 16:1 when Passover is to be kept: “observe the month of Abib, and keep the Passover unto the LORD thy God: for in the month of Abib the LORD thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night[i] According to this passage we must keep the feast of Passover in the month of Abib. To determine the exact date of this crucial month we must first come to an understanding what Abib is, and what is required.
The word Abib itself gives us the first clue in the time of year in which Passover was to be celebrated as stated in the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament: “Abib. Barley. This noun refers to barley that is already ripe, but still soft, the grains of which are either rubbed or roasted” (Harris 3)[ii]. The time of year in which Abib occurs is obviously during the first of ripe barley. Barley generally ripens in early spring, but there are many factors that determine the exact day that Abib will be ripe. Two of the primary factors that affect when this first month may begin are moisture and temperature. These factors are variables over which human beings have no control. Since man can not control the weather conditions, the start of the biblical year is not an exact science.
How was Abib kept during the time of Yeshua? To find the answer to how our mentor would have kept this crucial month, we must look into the biblical record of priestly service at the Temple. The most important item that the Temple priests needed for Passover was ripe barley for the offering of the omer. This offering is commanded in Leviticus 23:5-10. The offering was to begin when the Israelites harvested the first produce in the land. The priest was to make this offering on the day after the Shabbat (Lev. 23:11). This was an important issue to the Israelite during the time of the 2nd Temple. The day after the Sabbath when this first wave offering was presented began the counting of the Omer. This counting is crucial in calculating the second spring Holy Day of Shavuot (Pentecost-Lev. 23:15-16). During the 2nd Temple the priest would have had to wait for the green barley to appear. This would enable them to make the Omer offering. This witness demonstrates Israel’s dependence on the agricultural provision of HaShem. The second witness of the way Yeshua would have observed the beginning of the biblical year comes from a historical study on Biblical chronology. The Sanhedrin closely watched the arrival of Abib. If the barley crop was not in a state ready for the wave offering the month was intercalated. This means the month of Adar II was added to the calendar, realigning the lunar year with the solar year. Unlike the present day traditional calculation for the reckoning of Adar II, the Sanhedrin reckoned it according to the signs of the seasons. This is documented in the Talmud where the author states: “in tractate Sanhedrin 11b letters are quoted which were sent out by Rabbi Simeon ben Gamaliel and Rabban Gamaliel II. Simeon, son of Gamaliel I and head of the Sanhedrin in the two decades before the destruction of the Temple, wrote as follows. ‘We beg to inform you that the doves are still tender and the lambs are still young, and the grain has not yet ripened. I have considered the matter and thought it advisable to add thirty days to the year” (Finegan 38)[iii]. From this we can see, even from the Talmud Tractate Sanhedrin 11b, that during the time of Yeshua the presence of ripe grain was the determining factor used to calculate the first of the biblical months.
The third and final witness comes from Yeshua himself in Mark 4:27-29 "And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come. iv
In this passage the Lord shows us through a parable that the harvest is likened unto the Kingdom of God. We will not know when it comes, but when it is grown to full stature the harvest will come. In the same way we are commanded to wait and observe the crops to determine when Passover will come. In summary, the fact we can only estimate, and not know exactly the day when the harvest is ready, requires us to watch and wait. This is exactly what the Lord commanded us to do (Mat 25:13)v. Even though we can determine the approximate time of the Lord’s return, we will only know the season of the Lords return; we are not allowed to know the exact day and hour. So let us embark on keeping the feast as Yeshua would have done. This will require us to trust in HaShem for provision. After all when Yeshua came the first time no person declared him until he was presented at the Temple (Ma 3:1,Lu 2:27). Truly following Yeshua and wanting to serve HaShem we need to trust in Him to bring about the fullness of time (Ga 4:4).
[i] The Bible. King James Version
[ii] Harris, Laird R., Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Bruce K. Waltke. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Chicago: Moody Bible Instittute, 1980.
[iii] Finegan, Jack. Handbook of Biblical Chronology. Revised ed. Massachusetts: Hendrickson, 1998.
[iv] Finegan, Jack. Handbook of Biblical Chronology. Revised ed. Massachusetts: Hendrickson, 1998.
[v]The Bible. King James Version
“The Thirteenth Month and the Importance of AVIV”
To clarify the issue it is crucial to note that the first new moon after the AVIV is sighted is declared as the new moon of AVIV. Therefore, even when AVIV is found before the vernal equinox the month of AVIV most likely starts on the new moon after the vernal equinox. This is because when AVIV is found before the vernal equinox AVIV has only been found a few days before the vernal equinox. Therefore, 99% of the time the first new moon after the vernal equinox is the new moon that starts the New Year. As a result, it makes it appear that the new moon that starts the first month of the biblical year is determined by the vernal equinox.
However, biblically the emphasis is on the AVIV and not on the vernal equinox.The only exception to the new moon of the first month being before the vernal equinox would happen when the new moon was sighted within few days after the AVIV was found. This would be in that few days when AVIV was sighted before the vernal equinox and the new moon occurred after the AVIV was sighted.
This is a rare occurrence because, the vernal equinox is crucial for the maturing and the ripening of the AVIV. The Northern Hemisphere begins to warm more rapidly when the sun is north of the equator. Therefore, the traditional Spring weather conditions and temperatures are more favorable for the AVIV to ripen.
A much more common occurrence is when AVIV is sighted much later than the vernal equinox. When this happens the sighting of AVIV is used to add the 13th month, and the current year becomes a leap year. According to the Talmud, the case of using the vernal equinox (Tekufah) alone, to determine whether to add a 13th month or to start the first month was never officially accepted. “Our Rabbis taught: A year may be intercalated on three grounds: on account of the premature state of the corn-crops; or that of the fruit-trees; or on account of the lateness of the Tekufah Any two of these reasons can justify intercalation, but not one alone. All, however, are glad when the state of the spring-crop is one of them. Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel says: On account of [the lateness of] the Tekufah. The Schoolmen inquired: Did he mean to say that ‘on account of the [lateness of the] Tekufah [being one of the two reasons], they rejoiced, or that the lateness of the Tekufah alone was adequate reason for intercalating the year? The question remains undecided.” This places a much greater emphasis on the Aviv.
Even the Talmud states that the Sanhedrin was more comfortable declaring the thirteenth month when the AVIV had not matured “Any two of these reasons can justify intercalation, but not one alone. All, however, are glad when the state of the spring-crop is one of them. 10”( Talmud - Mas. Sanhedrin 11b). The primary reason that the Sanhedrin was felt more comfortable declaring the thirteenth month when the AVIV had not matured, because, regardless of whether the vernal equinox had already occurred, the Omer wave offering could not be presented to HaShem without the first AVIV harvest. In other words, the priests could not approach the Lord empty handed. more...