Abib / Nisan
Sacred Calendar

Isn't Abib, a Month Early?

This year (2000) Stewarton Bible School (SBS) will begin the month of Abib on 8th March; it being the new moon nearest the spring equinox of 20/21st March. Many Feast-day keepers will be asking SBS the question: 'Isn't that a month early?' Let me answer this question.

In ancient times, Abib's new moon was not decided upon by its proximity to the spring equinox. Instead:

The Spring Feasts
When direct instruction from Jehovah ceased, the Sanhedrin would, with the Passover in mind, select Abib's new moon after considering various natural conditions, such as:

No reference was made to the equinoxes at these times. There was no need; because Israel was in the Promised land and the above listed natural signs were there for all to see. All that was needed was for the Sanhedrin to make a decision and the nation would follow.

When the Diaspora took place and Israel was scattered around the world, the patriarch Hillel 11 in the 4th century, made known certain calendar rules which would enable the chosen people of the Almighty to observe the sacred feasts in their correct seasons, even though they lived in lands far distant from Israel.

The rules published by Hillel used the spring and autumn equinoxes as benchmarks for the selection of the new moons of Abib (Nisan) and Ethanim (Tishri); simply because the agricultural conditions in Israel (mentioned at point 3) could be readily determined by the scattered Israelites; no matter in which country they lived. In other words, when the equinoxes are known, then it would be a simple matter to know which new moon to select in order to keep in step with the natural conditions occurring back in the homeland of Israel. This, then, was the basis of Hillel's calendar computations:

To calculate when the equinoxes would occur, Hillel adopted the simple but slightly incorrect formula of an astronomer called Samuel Yarhinai, who divided the 365 day year into 4 equal parts of 91 days 6 hours. The true length of the year is, however, 365 days, 5 hours and 46.069 minutes; a difference of some 14 minutes.

That explains the reason why - in certain years - the SBS calendar begins a month earlier than the Jewish calendar. It's just that we are selecting the new moon nearest the 'correct' spring equinox of 20/21st March.

According to the Scriptures the Feast of Ingathering (Tabernacles) should also be near the autumn equinox, (the 'tequphah' or 'tekuphah') the 'end' or 'turn of the year.' 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. According to Young's Analytical Concordance the Hebrew word 'tequphah' translated 'end' in Exodus 34:22 is the 'circuit. According to Strong's Concordance the Hebrew word 'tequphah.' translated 'end' in this verse means the 'circuit of time'. I quote Strong's:
08622 t@quwphah {tek-oo-faw'} or t@quphah {tek-oo-faw'}
    1) coming round, circuit of time or space, a turning, circuit
      1a) at the circuit (as adverb)

In other words, the Feast of Tabernacles should be celebrated at about the time of the autumn equinox (tequphah), when the agricultural year is at an end.

Stewarton Bible School is still following Hillel's guideline of selecting the new moon nearest the spring equinox to begin Abib; the difference being that we choose the new moon nearest the correct date of 20/21st March rather than the new moon nearest 7th April. In the year 2000 the new moon nearest the correct spring equinox occurs on 8th March.

Many other groups, including the Jews, will celebrate the Feasts in year 2000 a month later than SBS. For those wishing to follow the later Feast dates, see the second half of file: The Annual Sabbaths of Yahweh. There you will see that we have provided alternative dates (a month after SBS) for the Feasts in years 2000 and 2005. Why do we do this? Simply because in the final analysis:

Let me explain further.

According to the Scriptures, we will know for certain the correct month which starts the year when we see 'Yahweh's promised Signs in the Heavens!' You see, the Bible tells us that the 'sacred seasons, years and feast days,' on which the Creator has scheduled Himself to do His greatest works (i.e.the death of Messiah at the Passover), will be high-lighted by celestial displays in the sun, moon and stars! In fact that is why the sun, moon and stars were created in the first place; to be 'signs for seasons, days and years.'
Genesis 1: 14 And God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:"

According to Strong's Concordance, the word translated 'signs' is 'owth.'
0226 'owth {oth}
AV - sign(s) 60, token(s) 14, ensign(s) 2, miracles 2, mark 1; 79
    1) sign, signal
        1a) a distinguishing mark
        1b) banner
        1c) remembrance
        1d) miraculous sign
        1e) omen
        1f) warning
    2) token, ensign, standard, miracle, proof

The word translated 'seasons' is 'moed.'
04150 mow`ed {mo-ade'} or mo`ed {mo-ade'} or (fem.) mow`adah (2 Chr 8:13) {mo-aw-daw'}
AV - congregation 150, feast 23, season 13, appointed 12, time 12, assembly 4, solemnity 4, solemn 2, days 1, sign 1, synagogues 1; 223
    1) appointed place, appointed time, meeting
        1a) appointed time
          1a1) appointed time (general)
          1a2) sacred season, set feast, appointed season
        1b) appointed meeting
        1c) appointed place
        1d) appointed sign or signal
        1e) tent of meeting

This means that every year, we should be on the look out at the times of the new moons and the 'sacred seasons' (moeds') for those 'celestial signs:' for those 'miraculous omens' in the sky.

We are not to become polarized as to who is right and who is wrong. After having conscientiously made the best choice of month, 'sacred season' or feast day within that season, believers are all to look out for those prophesied 'celestial signals,' 'ensigns' and 'banners in the sky!' When we see them, be it a month early or even a month later than expected, we will all know that very moment, the correct time.

Bear in mind that the promised celestial signs will also mark out the start of the year; that is - the 1st day of Abib! So the year itself and also the sacred seasons (Week of Unleavened Bread & Week of Tabernacles etc.) and the feast days within those sacred seasons will be highlighted by those signs in the sun, moon and stars! So we will know for sure what is the true start of the year. Make no mistake, Yahweh the Holy One of Israel will not leave us in any doubt as to what He is about to do in the future; whether it be in the year 2000 or any other year after that.
Amos:3: 7: Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing,
but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
With these thoughts in mind, let us not become hysterical about what others are doing or not doing. It's like two children in London arguing as to whose wrist watch is telling the correct time. Then they walk past Big Ben, the most famous clock in the UK. They look up and actually see the time for themselves. They patiently wait and listen to hear the hour being struck by the famous bell called Big Ben. Precisely when it strikes, at that very moment, they both know whose wrist watch is correct. Perhaps they are both wrong. All arguments will cease as both wrist watches are synchronized.

It will be the same when we see the signs in the heavens! All arguments between feast-day- keepers will end immediately. Like little children we will then all know for certain that Yahweh, the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel is displaying the correct time for all the universe to see and take note, that one of His sacred Years, sacred Seasons or sacred Feast Days has begun. Only then will we know - for sure. Meanwhile we do the very best we can. We keep the Feasts on the days we think are correct; and treat with respect the choice of the other brethren who also love Yahweh's Feasts.

Yes, we know that others are keeping the feast days (in some years) a month later than SBS. So even on those days we will be on the watch for the celestial signs. We will not, however, unless we see the signs in the next month, be keeping two sets of Feasts; but we will certainly be on the lookout at both. We can do no more. For are we not like little children who only recently (in my case since 1960) have learned to tell the date of the Feasts by the Eternal's clock in the sky?

This decision to lookout for the 'Signs in the Heavens' is a returning to the pre-Sanhedrin days when the Creator gave divine directions as to which month would begin the year.
Exodus 12: 2: "This month shall be unto you the beginning of months:
it shall be the first month of the year to you."


I trust that this article has answered your query. For further explanation, please study the SBS booklet entitled The Sacred Calendar of the God of Israel; especially Part Two and the Appendices.

I end in Messiah's Holy Name
Elder: David B Loughran

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Stewarton Bible School, Stewarton,, Scotland
January 2000