Stewarton Bible School FAQ


Questions on the Sacred Calendar

Brief answers to the following 10 questions are given in Part 2 of the SBS booklet The Sacred Calendar of the God of Israel.

Question 1 When does a month begin in the sacred calendar?
Question 2 When does the year begin in the Sacred Calendar?
Question 3 From where should the new moon be sighted?
Question 4 What are the harvest times in Israel?
Question 5 Why do some years in the sacred calendar have 13 months?
Question 6 Why do the festival dates in the calendar printed by SBS differ a day or two from the dates shown in the popular Jewish calendar?
Question 7 Do all Jews use the popular Jewish Calendar?
Question 8 How does Stewarton Bible School set up the calendar?
Question 9 How may a religious organisation check to see if the pre-printed calendar it uses is correct?
Question 10 Where does faith in God come into this matter of keeping feast days?

Many readers are, however, asking the following question:

QUESTION: Why, in 1997, does SBS start the month of Abib one month BEFORE the Jews and most other festival-keeping groups?


You should first study the answers to the above 10 questions, paying particular attention to answers 2, 4, 5 and 6. They will help you quickly understand what follows. Now to answer the question.

In 1997 SBS begins the month of Abib on the 10th March rather than 8th April simply because the spring and autumn Feasts of the Most High are linked to the agricultural harvests in Israel. Divine instructions concerning this link between Yahweh's Feasts and the harvests in Israel are found in the following verses.

Pentecost (Feast Of Weeks)

Deuteronomy 16:9 "Seven weeks shalt thou number unto thee: begin to number the seven weeks from such time as thou beginnest to put the sickle to the corn."
Leviticus 23:11 "And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it."
Leviticus 23:15 "And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete:"

We can see from the above that the count to Pentecost begins when the first sheaf of the barley harvest was cut and waved before the Almighty. The Bible tells us that this count was to begin "on the morrow after a Sabbath." In our article Counting to Pentecost you will see that, in agreement with the Jews, we reckon this Sabbath to be the one which occurs during the Week of Unleavened Bread.

In short, the Week of Unleavened Bread (15th-21st Abib) is directly linked to the beginning of the barley harvest in Israel.

Our first task, therefore, is to determine when the barley harvest in Israel begins: for it is here that we'll find the link to the first sacred season in the year - the Week of Unleavened Bread. If you read our answer to Question 4 you will see that the barley harvest in Israel begins in March and continues into April. This means that the first sheaf of barely is usually cut in late March. And that is why SBS begins Abib in 1997 on 10th March, in order that the Week of Unleavened Bread (24th - 30th March) will coincide with the start of the barley harvest. Were we to begin Abib on 8th April, as do the Jews and most festival-keeping groups, the Week of Unleavened Bread would occur 22nd - 28th April, which is a long time after the start of the barley harvest and more than a month after the spring equinox.

The Spring Equinox

What has the spring equinox to do with all this? The answer is: when printing a calendar weeks, months or years in advance, and most festival-keeping groups do this, the spring equinox is a very good indicator as to when the barley harvest in Israel will begin. That is precisely why, for the benefit of Jews scattered around the world following the destruction of the Temple in AD70, the patriarch Hillel II, in the 4th century, set out the present Jewish calendar to begin Abib as near as possible to the spring equinox. By doing so Hillel aimed to ensure that the Week of Unleavened Bread would coincide with the start of the barely harvest in Israel. Thus far, Hillel was perfectly correct in his plan: and we in SBS fully agree with him. The Westminster Dictionary of the Bible also verifies this point about the start of the 'Year.'
"The year began with the month of Abib or Nisan (Ex.12:2; 23:15; Esther 3:7), with the new moon next before or next after the vernal equinox, when the sun is in Aries" (Jos. Antiq. iii 8,4; 10,5). (emphasis mine)
The spring equinox, incidentally, occurs about 20th March. Sad to say, however, due to the adoption of an inaccurate formula by Hillel to arrive at the equinox, the dates he used began to drift away from their true astronomical position. Now, some 1700 years later, the spring equinox in Hillel's calendar is supposedly occurring on 7/8th April. This 17/18 day drift from the true equinox date of 20th March is pushing the start of Nisan, and by effect the Feast of Unleavened Bread, towards May. As a result, every group which uses a calendar similar to Hillel's, will in certain years celebrate the Passover (Pesah) a whole month later than would have ancient Israel. They will also celebrate ALL the sacred festivals in those years a whole month late. In our answer to Question 6 you will see how Arthur Spier, a leading Jewish authority on the Hebrew Calendar, states that the spring and autumnal equinoxes in Hillel's calendar have slipped some 17 days from their true astronomical positions. They are now supposedly occurring on the 7/8th April and the 7/8th October. I quote from page 227 of Spier's book The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar.
"The Tekufoth of Samuel, (Yarhinai) which are based on the length of 365.25 days for the solar year, deviate considerably from the true astronomical time. They are 17 days later than the astronomical equinoxes and solstices in our century, a difference which grows by 1 day almost every 100 years. The rebirth of the State of Israel rekindles in us the hope that a new Sanhedrin, recognised by the whole people of Israel, will be established again in our time. It will be the task of the Sanhedrin to make a decision as to when and how the sanctified calendar of Hillel II is to be modified in accordance with the requirements of astronomy and the Torah."
This year (1997) is a perfect example of this error. In 1997 the Jews, who mostly use Hillel's calendar, will begin Abib on 8th April with the new moon nearest that incorrect equinox date of 7/8th April. They will then celebrate the Week of Unleavened Bread on 22nd - 29th April, which will be a long time after the first sheaf of barely is cut. In ancient Israel this would never have happened: because the beginning of the barely harvest should coincide with the Week of Unleavened Bread.

The safest way to produce - in advance - a correct calendar, is to begin Abib with the new moon nearest the correct spring equinox. That is why in 1997 we will begin Abib (Nisan) a month before the Jews and most other festival-keeping groups. We have simply reverted to the Biblical rule that the Week of Unleavened Bread (15th-21st Abib) should coincide with the beginning of the barley harvest in Israel.

The Metonic Cycle

About the year 433 BC the Greek astronomer Meton of Athens discovered that after a lapse of 19 years (235 lunar months) the phases of the moon recurred, within a few hours, on the same day of the same month. For example if a new moon occurred on the 1st January at 9am in one year, then 20 years later when the next cycle began a new moon would again occur on 1st January within a few hours of 9am (subject to leap year disturbances). Meton concluded, that if the dates of the new moons are known in any one 19 year cycle, they are known for all the cycles following.

In the course of time, Jewish calendar makers began to use the Metonic Cycle to regulate the sacred calendar and after a few changes the following seven years in the cycle, 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th and 19th, were declared to be leap years with 13 months each. Ordinary years would have 12 months.

The year 1997 is the 19th year in the Metonic Cycle when the Jewish calendar will add an extra month (called Adar II) after Adar. This additional month will move the start of Nisan (Abib) a month forward: which will result in EVERY sacred festival in 1997 being celebrated a month late.

SBS does not use the Metonic Cycle, nor the rigid Jewish rule of making years 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17 and 19 of the cycle leap years - with 13 months each. To be sure we add a 13th month periodically to keep the 1st Abib as close to the equinox as possible: but we do not use the Metonic Cycle to do this. We follow the simple rule of selecting the new moon nearest the true spring equinox to begin Abib (Nisan). This ensures that the START of the barley harvest will coincide with the Week of Unleavened Bread when the first sheaf was waved.

The Best Method

The best method of organising a calendar, would, of course, be to have a group of watchers in Jerusalem, Israel. They would not only announce the first sightings of the new moons each month: but, when deciding upon Abib's new moon, would also take account of the natural conditions in Israel. These natural conditions are: This select group would be similar to the Sanhedrin of old. They would broadcast to the whole world as to when each year and each month throughout the year was to begin. That was the method used in ancient Israel: and is still, in my opinion, the best method. But since we do not live in Israel and cannot note those natural conditions or lookout each month for first sightings of the new moon, we have opted to print a calendar in advance by using the spring equinox as a guide when determining the beginning of the year. And that is exactly what the patriarch Hillel did when the Sanhedrin of old was no more and the Jews were scattered around the globe.

The Passover Not Before Equinox

Please note that by choosing the new moon nearest the equinox, the Passover, which occurs 14 days later, will never fall before the equinox; that is - before the 20th March. The Passover may coincide with the equinox, when the sun will also be 'passing-over' the equator, but it should not fall before the equinox. This means that when a calendar is printed in advance, the very earliest date for the 1st Abib will be the 7th March. It is perfectly in order to begin Abib before 20th March: the Jews do this in many years. But the Passover (14th Abib) should not be celebrated before the equinox.

Some groups will not even start Abib before the equinox. They always select the first new moon after the equinox to begin Abib. Consequently in their calendars the Feast of Unleavened Bread always occurs in April and in some years falls well over a month after the equinox. This is a long time after the start of the barley harvest. With due respects, we think these groups are wrong in this instance.

Tabernacles (Feast Of Ingathering)

Divine instructions are also given concerning the timing of the Feast of Tabernacles. We are told in Scripture that this autumn Festival-week should occur at the 'year's end.' In other words, the Feast of In-gathering (Tabernacles) should be celebrated at the end of the agricultural year, when all the harvests in Israel are gathered in. If you refer to our answer to Question 5 you will see that the harvests in Israel are all gathered in by late August / early September.
Exodus 23:16 "And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field."
Exodus 34:22 "And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year's end."

The Hebrew word 'tekuphah' here translated "year's end" means the 'turn of the year,' the 'equinox.' See our answer to Question 2 for more detail. In short the starting date of Ethanim (Tishri) is geared to occur after the autumn wheat, grape, date and fig harvests are in-gathered or gathered in. The harvests in Israel are normally all gathered in before the autumn equinox (September 22nd). See our answer to Question 4. Therefore to meet those two divine requirements mentioned in Scripture, that: any calendar produced in advance should be geared to the spring and autumnal equinoxes.

And that is exactly what Stewarton Bible School is doing. In this year (1997) the Week of Unleavened Bread will begin on 24th March, which is just a few days after the spring equinox; and the Week of Tabernacles will begin on the 17th September, which is just a few days before the autumnal equinox.

Were we to follow the popular Jewish calendar, which is tied to the drifting equinox dates of Samuel Yarhinai and which is also inflexibly tied to the Metonic Cycle, we would, in 1997, be well out of step with the harvests in Israel and a whole month late for EVERY festival in this year.

The Jews Know All This

Please note that the calendar makers and rabbis of Israel knew all these facts long before we did. They know: Yes, the Jews are well aware of all these facts: but they are awaiting the appointment of a new Sanhedrin, recognised by all Israelis, to make the necessary changes to their present calendar.


If you study this answer along with Answers 1 - 10 mentioned at the start of this article, you will see that Stewarton Bible School is following Yahweh's instructions as laid down in His Word. Nevertheless we still look forward to the time when the starting date of each year and each month will be decided in Jerusalem and announced to the world as in the days of old. That is by far the best method of all. But so long as we need to produce a calendar in advance we will continue to select the new moon nearest the equinox to begin Abib. This will ensure that ALL Yahweh's Feasts throughout the year will be in step with the harvests in Israel.


Author: DBL
Last Updated: February 1997