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Sabbath: Counted From the New Moon?

     Many, having come to the understanding that the Fourth Commandment was not nailed to the cross with Christ, began setting apart the Sabbath day for holy use. Standing in their faith, people would choose to lose their jobs rather than work late on Fridays and chance transgressing the boundary of the Sabbath at sunset that evening. However, in recent years, and amidst the various calendar controversies, questions have arisen in certain circles:  Have we been keeping the wrong day? Should the Sabbath count start with the sighting of the new moon?  Apparently, some have answered in the affirmative.

     Followers of this reckoning provide many, many writings of men for their support (due to lack of direct Scriptural support).  For example:

"All the days are styled "favourable," an expression which must indicate a pious hope, not a fact, since the words ud-khul-gal or umu limnu ("the evil day") are particularly applied to the seventh, fourteenth, nineteenth, twenty-first, and twenty-eighth days...With regard to the reasons which dictate the choice of the seventh, fourteenth, twenty-first, and twenty-eighth days, two views have been entertained. It has been held, in the first place, that the "evil days" were selected as corresponding to the moon's successive changes; hence that the seventh day marks the close of the earliest form of the seven-day week, a week bound up with the lunar phases." (Hutton Webster, Rest Days: A Study in Early Law and Morality, New York: The MacMillan Company. 1916. P. 224)

"Asurbanipal in the seventh century promulgated a calendar with a definite scheme of a seven-day week, a regulation of the month by which all men were to rest on days 7, 14, 19, 21, 28. The old menology of Nisan [1] that made the two days of the dark moon, 29, 30, rest-days, so that each lunar month had 9 rest-days, on which neither the sick could be cured nor a man in difficulty consult a prophet; none might travel and fasting was enforced." (S. Langdon, Babylonian Menologies and the Semitic Calendars, London: Oxford University Press, 1935, pp.86-87)

"The association of sabbath rest with the account of creation must have been very ancient among the Hebrews, and it is noteworthy that no other Semitic peoples, even the Babylonians, have any tradition of the creation in six days. It would appear that the primitive Semites had four chief moondays, probably the first, eighth, fifteenth, and twenty-second of each month, called sabbaths from the fact that there was a tendency to end work before them so that they might be celebrated joyfully." [2] (The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol.10, p.135)

"It is powerfully urged by the believers in a primitive Sabbath, that we find from time immemorial the knowledge of a week of 7 days among all nations-- Egyptians, Arabians, Indians -- in a word, all the nations of the East, have in all ages made use of this week of 7 days, for which it is difficult to account without admitting that this knowledge was derived from the common ancestors [Adam and Eve] of the human race. Among all early nations the lunar months were the readiest large divisions of time...(and was divided in 4 weeks), corresponding (to) the phases or the quarters of the moon. In order to connect the reckoning by weeks with the lunar month, we find that all ancient nations observed some peculiar solemnities to mark the day of the New Moon." (The Popular and Critical Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, 1904, p.1497)

“1. Sabbath and New Moon (Rosh Hodesh), both periodically recurring in the course of the year. The New Moon is still, and the Sabbath originally was, dependent upon the lunar cycle. Both date back to the nomadic period of Israel. Originally the New Moon was celebrated in the same way as the Sabbath; gradually it became less important, while the Sabbath became more and more a day of religion and humanity, of religious meditation and instruction, or peace and delight of the soul, and produced powerful and beneficent effects outside of Judaism.” (Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, p.410 , “Holidays”)

     The sheer weight of all the commentaries, encyclopedias, and other such writings used by teachers of this reckoning would almost seem to prove this doctrine true.  But before one readily accepts it, let us recall the Biblical admontion to "put all things to the test, and hold fast to that which is good."

     As students of the Word of God, we should all be aware of the measuring stick for doctrine:

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." (II Tim 3:16,17)

"To the Law and to the Testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (Isaiah 8:20)

     We should always use this plumbline to measure all things we build our spiritual house with.

     Let us begin our testing of the "Lunar Cycle Sabbath" doctrine with the introduction to the Word of God--the book of Genesis.

Sabbath Of Creation

     What day of creation week did God rest upon, and sanctify and bless as a holy rest? Was it the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh day?

"And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made." (Genesis 2:2,3)

     Ok, now which of the creation days did the new moon appear on? Was it the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh day?

"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: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth': and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: He made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day." (Genesis 1:14-19)

     Giving Genesis chapters 1 & 2 an overview, one can gather the following:

Creation Week

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

No Moon in existence yet

No Moon in existence yet

No Moon in existence yet

Sun, Moon and Stars created

2nd day of the Moon

3rd day of the Moon

4th day of Moon

God rests; He sanctifies and blesses this day--the 7th day of the week

 

     If the Sabbath is indeed to be reckoned from the moon as "Lunar Cycle Sabbath" calendar proponents claim, then one must consider why we find that God rested on the 7th day of creation (which was the fourth day of the moon) rather than resting on the 10th day from "the beginning" of creation.[3]  Also, if "originally the New Moon was celebrated in the same way as the Sabbath," as the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia claims, why then did God not rest on the day the moon was made? (We'll examine the claim that each and every New Moon day is a Sabbath momentarily.)

     The  testimony of the first witness stands against this "Lunar Cycle Sabbath" theory. But, let's have all things established in the mouth of at least two or three witnesses.

The Manna And The Sabbath

"And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: And the children of Israel said unto them, 'Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.'...And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 'I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, 'At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God'.' And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host. And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground....And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted. And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. And he said unto them, 'This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the LORD..." (Exodus 16:1-30)

     From the above account, it can be ascertained that the 15th day of zif in the year of the exodus from Egypt occured on the weekly Sabbath.

Second Month (Zif)
9

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10

------------

------------

11

------------

------------

12

------------

------------

13

------------

------------

14

------------

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15

Israel camps

Quail is sent

16

Manna is sent

(day one)

17

Manna is sent

(day two)

18

Manna is sent

(day three)

19

Manna is sent

(day four)

20

Manna is sent

(day five)

21

Double Manna

(day six)

22

Sabbath Day

(day seven)

 

     We see here that the Sabbaths occured then on the 15th and 22nd--and thereby also the 8th (seven days previous) and the 29th (seven days thereafter).  This is at odds with some of the "prooftexts" used by some Lunar Cycle Sabbath Calendar proponents.  For one, as noted near the beginning of this article, Babylonian archealogical finds wherein the 7th, 14th, 19th, 21st, and 28th days are "rest days" are often quoted for support of the Lunar Cycle Sabbath teaching, yet we find here in the Scriptural account of the second month after the exodus, Sabbath days of the 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th days of the month, and also the children of Israel laboring on the Babylonian "sabbaths" (at least these 19th, 21st, and 28th days, wherein they gathered manna).

     Questions To Ponder:

     If the 14th day of the month is always Sabbath, why do we find Scripture declaring the 14th day of the first month, the month of the abib, to be a day of preparation? (see Matt 27:62; Mark 15:42; John 19:14, 31, 42; all of which correspond to the fact that there is no command in Torah to rest from labor on Passover, the 14th day of the abib).

     If the 15th day of the month is always a Sabbath (Hebrew: Shabbat), which would allow no manner of work upon it according to the commandment, why do we find God defining the 15th day of the abib like a shabbaton, and instructing Israel that certain labors may indeed be performed on it that are not lawful to be performed upon the 7th day Sabbath of the Fourth Commandment? (Exodus 12:16; Leviticus 23:7 "no servile work") [4]

The Sabbath And the Full Moon

     Despite this point, some Lunar Cycle Sabbatarians may actually cite the above example from Exodus 16 and claim it is proof for their doctrine--because the full moon, which is believed by Lunar Sabbath adherents to be a sign of a Sabbath day, can occur on the 15th of the month as well as the 14th.  True enough, the full moon can fall on either day--in fact, it can occur the 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, or 16th day after the new crescent is first seen. [5]

     Questions To Ponder:

     If the Sabbath is be reckoned by counting seven days after the new moon, how could there ever be a Sabbath on the eighth day of the month as above?

     Pause and think on this.

     If the 2nd Sabbath of a month is to be based upon the full moon (the day of the full moon is the second Sabbath of a month, it is claimed), then what day would be the first Sabbath of a month when the full moon occurs on the 12th, 13th, 15th, or 16th day of the cycle?

     Again, pause and think on this.

     The weekly cycle with its culmination in the seventh day Sabbath is independent of both the lunar (monthly) and solar (yearly) cycles. As we saw earlier in the Genesis account, the week began before them both. Weeks run consecutively without "uncounted days" in between as with the lunar-based calendar weeks (wherein the 29th and 30th days of the lunar cycle are not included within the frame of any week). Note that in the Exodus 16 account of the manna and the Sabbath, that the Israelites were commanded to gather an omer each day for days 1 through 5 of the week, but were instructed to double the amount on the sixth day to cover the Sabbath. They were never instructed to gather more than 2 omers for Sabbath preparation--they were never told to triple or quadruple the gathering amount. How would they have known how much manna to gather anyway, since it was unknown when the moon would reappear, and if the month would be 29 or 30 days? The fact is, no such provision was given to cover the alledged rest days of the 29th & 30th each month. Plainly, each week consists of seven days that run back to back.  Note the fourth commandment itself:

"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it." (Exodus 20:8-11)

     The commandment clearly shows that we have 6 days of labor in between the weekly Sabbaths--not 7 or 8 as the Lunar Cycle Sabbath would have occur in between the last Sabbath of a month and the first Sabbath of the next month. According to the Bible, each and every week consists of 6 days of labor, followed by the 7th day of rest.

     This fact is consistant with the Scriptural criteria for determining the Feast of Firstfruits (i.e., Pentecost).

"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: Even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall ye number fifty days..." (Leviticus 23:15,16)

"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. And thou shalt keep the Feast of Weeks unto the LORD thy God..." (Deuteronomy 16:9,10)

     The Holy Scriptures give us three main criteria for determining Pentecost [6] :

1) The count is to begin on the "morrow after the Sabbath" (during the Feast of Unleavens), and end on a "morrow after the Sabbath."

2) The count is to contain seven Sabbaths---seven complete weeks (culminating on the day after the seventh Sabbath).

3) The count is to number 50 days.

     All three of these criteria must be met in order for Pentecost to be correctly determined in line with the Scriptural commands.  Could they all be met utilizing the "Lunar Sabbath" calendar?  Let's take a look.

First Month--Abib (Lunar Cycle Sabbath Reckoning)
1

New Moon

 

2

------------

 

3

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4

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5

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6

------------

 

7

Sabbath

 

8

-----------

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9

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10

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11

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12

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13

------------

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14

Sabbath

Passover

15

Day 1 FOUB*

------------

1st day of count to 50

16

Day 2 FOUB*

------------

2nd day of count to 50

17

Day 3 FOUB*

------------

3rd day of count to 50

18

Day 4 FOUB*

------------

4th day of count to 50

19

 Day 5 FOUB*

------------

5th day of count to 50

20

Day 6 FOUB*

------------

6th day of count to 50

21

Day 7 FOUB*

Sabbath (1st)

7th day of count to 50

22------------

------------

8th day of count to 50

23------------

------------

9th day of count to 50

24-----------

------------

10th day of count to 50

25------------

------------

11th day of count to 50

26------------

------------

12th day of count to 50

27------------

------------

13th day of count to 50

28

Sabbath (2nd)

14th day of count to 50

29

------------

15th day of count to 50

30

------------

16th day of count to 50

         

*  "FOUB" denotes the Feast of Unleavened Bread

Second Month--Zif (Lunar Cycle Sabbath Reckoning)
1

New Moon

17th day of count to 50

2

------------

18th day of count to 50

3

------------

19th day of count to 50

4

------------

20th day of count to 50

5

------------

21st day of count to 50

6

------------

22nd day of count to 50

7

Sabbath (3rd)

23rd day of count to 50

8

------------

24th day of count to 50

9

------------

25th day of count to 50

10

------------

26th day of count to 50

11

------------

27th day of count to 50

12

------------

28th day of count to 50

13

------------

29th day of count to 50

14

Sabbath (4th)

30th day of count to 50

15

------------

31st day of count to 50

16

------------

32nd day of count to 50

17

------------

33rd day of count to 50

18

------------

34th day of count to 50

19

------------

35th day of count to 50

20

------------

36th day of count to 50

21

Sabbath (5th)

37th day of count to 50

22

------------

38th day of count to 50

23

------------

39th day of count to 50

24

------------

40th day of count to 50

25

------------

41st day of count to 50

26

------------

42nd day of count to 50

27

------------

43rd day of count to 50

28

Sabbath (6th)

44th day of count to 50

29

------------

45th day of count to 50

           

Third Month--Sivan (Lunar Cycle Sabbath Reckoning)
1

New Moon

46th day of count to 50

2

------------

47th day of count to 50

3

------------

48th day of count to 50

4

------------

49th day of count to 50

5

Pentecost (?)

50th day of count to 50

6

<-- Count ended

7 Sabbath Count continues ->

7

Sabbath (7th)

 

8

Pentecost(?)

7 Sabbaths + 1

9

------------

X Xxxxxxxx X X

10

------------

X Xxxxxxxx X X

11

------------

X Xxxxxxxx X X

12

------------

X Xxxxxxxx X

13

------------

X XxxxxxxxxxX X

14

Sabbath

X Xxxxxxxxx X X

 

     The above date charts stand to show the unScriptural nature of the "Lunar Cycle Sabbath" calendar.  The three Scriptural criteria are not met.  Counting seven Sabbaths yields a 53 day count (doesn't fit Scripture), and counting 50 days yields a day that is not a "morrow after the Sabbath" (likewise doesn't fit Scripture).

     One organization who keeps the "Lunar Cycle Sabbath" calendar claims that the count to Pentecost should begin on Aviv 16, which in 2001 occurred on April 11. Their given date for Pentecost 2001 is June 1 (determined by counting 7 "lunar Sabbaths" and the day after). Would the three criteria for correctly determining Pentecost be fullfilled counting from such a date in this calendar reckoning?  Let us count.

     Counting from April 11 to June 1 yields 52 days--2 days over the Scriptural criteria of 50 days.

     Another teacher of the Lunar Cycle Sabbath Calendar begins his Pentecost count (elevation sheaf day) on the 22nd of the aviv every year, and thus observes Pentecost on Sivan 15 every year. This year, the month of the aviv was 29 days and the second month was 30 days (thus a 53 day count). This is not the only year that this Pentecost reckoning is incorrect, but this will happen EVERY year. If both months were 30 days, you have a 54 day count, and if both consisted of 29 days, you'd have a 52 day count--not one matching the Scriptural command. In short, the count to Pentecost by any Lunar Cycle Sabbath Calendar reckoning will never fulfil the Scriptural command of 50 days.

Is Every New Moon Day A Sabbath?

     At the start of this article, the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia was quoted as stating, "Originally the New Moon was celebrated in the same way as the Sabbath..." Does this statement stand as truth when measured by the plumbline of Scripture?

     Let us first briefly examine Amos 8:5, for some may believe that the prophet Amos recorded such proof.

Amos 8:5 Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the Sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?

     Due to the fact that the Hebrew word translated "new moon" here (chodesh) can also mean "month," some commentators (going back 2000 years) have understood Amos to be referring to a harvest month:

Kimchi and Ben Melech interpret it of the month of harvest, when the poor found what to eat in the fields; when they gleaned there, and got a sufficiency of bread, and so had no need to buy corn; and hence these rich misers, that hoarded up the grain, are represented as wishing the harvest month over, that they might sell their grain to the poor, having had, during that month, no demand for it; and so the Targum renders it the month of grain. (John Gill, Exposition of the Entire Bible, Amos 8:5 note)

     If Amos is speaking of the actual day of the New Moon, is he speaking from viewpoint of Law or tradition?

     If every New Moon Day is a Sabbath, why do we not find any command from YHVH to rest upon it (with the exception of Yom Teruah, the New Moon of the 7th month)?  Shouldn't we find it listed among the Appointed Times of Leviticus 23, since after all, as the favorite text of Lunar Sabbatarians says, "the moon was made for Appointed Times"? What explanation can be given to the fact that nowhere in Scripture has the command of God been recorded to cease from all labors upon the New Moon Day, or upon the 29th and 30th days of each month?

     If every New Moon Day is a Sabbath, why do we find God commanding labor upon the day, and labor being exacted upon the day?

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, On the first day of the first month shalt thou set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation.  ... Thus did Moses: according to all that the LORD commanded him, so did he. And it came to pass in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up. (Exodus 40:1,2,16,17 -- read all of Exodus 40:1-33 to see how much labor was done this New Moon Day)

In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD'S house should be built. ... Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD. ... Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the LORD. (Haggai 1:1,2,8,12)

     If every New Moon Day is a Sabbath, why do we find God commanding Zerubbabel to gather wood and build upon the first day of the month? Recall God's judgment against the man who gathered wood on the Sabbath in Numbers 15:32-36.

     If every New Moon Day is a Sabbath, we should find the command to make the Sabbath offering on the New Moon Days as well. No such command was given. Only the daily offering was to accompany the New Moon offering. (Numbers 28:15)

     In correlation to the above, we will call forth again this last witness to testify further regarding the offerings. Let us overview the laws of offering as given in Numbers 28:

Daily Offerings (Numbers 28:3-8): two lambs of the first year, tenth ephah of flour mingled with oil, drink offering (1/4 hin per lamb)

Weekly Sabbath Offerings (Numbers 28:9,10): two lambs of the first year, 2 tenths ephah of flour mingled with oil, drink offering (plus the daily offerings)

New Moon Offerings (Numbers 28:11-15): two young bulls, one ram, seven lambs of the first year, 3 tenth-measures of flour mingled with oil per bull, 2 tenth-measures of flour mingled with oil with the ram, several tenth measures of flour mingled with oil for each lamb, drink offerings (half hin per bull, one-third hin for ram, and one-fourth hin per lamb), one kid of the goats (plus the daily offerings--NOTE THE ABSENCE OF THE SABBATH OFFERINGS)

Feast of Unleavens Offerings (Numbers 28:17-25): two young bulls, one ram, seven lambs of the first year, 3 tenth-measures of flour mingled with oil per bull, 2 tenth-measures of flour mingled with oil with the ram, several tenth measures of flour mingled with oil for each lamb, drink offerings (half hin per bull, one-third hin for ram, and one-fourth hin per lamb), one kid of the goats (plus the daily offerings)

Firstfruits/Pentecost Offerings (Numbers 28:26-31): two young bulls, one ram, seven lambs of the first year, 3 tenth-measures of flour mingled with oil per bull, 2 tenth-measures of flour mingled with oil with the ram, several tenth measures of flour mingled with oil for each lamb, drink offerings (half hin per bull, one-third hin for ram, and one-fourth hin per lamb), one kid of the goats (plus the daily offerings)

     Notice that though there is relation between the New Moon offerings and the annual Appointed Times offerings, any such relation between the weekly Sabbath offerings and the offerings of the New Moon is sorely lacking. If the Sabbath is related to the New Moon, one should expect the offerings to relate to one another. There is, in fact, no relation between the weekly Sabbath (regarding its reckoning) and the New Moon. Specifically, the Sabbath operates independent of the moon phases. The offerings of the weekly Sabbath are actually in relation to the daily offerings. It is this same relation that Leviticus 23 mentions: six days labor, followed by a seventh day of sanctified rest.

     Leviticus 23 bears witness of the timing of all the Appointed Times of the Eternal. Three of the times listed have no given relation to the lunar cycle and its phases. These are the weekly Sabbath, the Elevation Sheaf Day, and Firstfruits/Pentecost. The weekly Sabbath is simply "the seventh day."  There is no mention of "of the month" therein, as with the other Appointed Times. Likewise, both Elevation Sheaf Day and Firstfruits/Pentecost are to be observed "the day after the Sabbath," with again, no mention of any relation to the lunar cycle or its phases.

The Historical Sabbath

The Sabbath Of The First Century C.E.

     The general claim of lunar sabbath adherents is that the lunar sabbath understanding was discarded during the Babylonian captivity, and was then replaced by the Sabbath of the day of Saturn (i.e., saturday) at that time. Thus, lunar sabbatarians would have us to believe that the remnant who returned to the Land of Israel were keeping a false sabbath. This would then continue to be the case in the first century, when Messiah came in the flesh. We find, however, that Jesus kept the same Sabbath day holy as did His fellow Jews about Him, (Matt 12:1-12/Mark 2:23-28; Mark 1:21; 3:1-4; 6:2; etc.), and we know that He came as one "under the Law," and that He never sinned (i.e., transgressed the Law). Therefore, the Sabbath kept by the Jews in the first centruy C.E. is the same Sabbath from creation codifed at Sinai.

     First century evidence provided by the New Testament yet further disproves the lunar sabbath theory. The Scriptures tell us that Jesus was killed on a preparation day, that is, the day before a Sabbath (Matt 27:62; Mark 15:42; John 19:14, 31, 42). This day was the Passover, the 14th day of the month of the abib--the day the lamb was killed (Ex 12:5,6; Mark 14:12; Luke 22:7). Now, for those who propose that the Sabbath is the 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th days, as the Babylonians, these Scriptures cannot be reckoned to their understanding. The 14th day of the abib is unequivocally called a preparation day, and said to be the day before the Sabbath.

      For those who hold that the Sabbath is the 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th days of the month, John's gospel account contains witness against this lunar sabbatarian theory. John records that Jesus stood up on the last day of the Feast, the Great Day, and cried out to the crowd. This "last day, that great day" is the eighth day of the Feast of the 7th month and occurs on the 22nd day of Ethanim/Tishri. The next day (John 8:2), Jesus came again to the Temple early in the morning. After His discourse with the scribes and pharisees, He healed a man who was blind from birth. John recorded that "it was the Sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and open his eyes." (John 9:14). This evidence shows that the 23rd day of Ethanim was a Sabbath that year--yet another impossibilty for lunar sabbatarians.

     Outside of the New Testament, other first century writings testify on behalf of the Sabbath of the seventh day week. First century jew Philo Judaeus wrote often of the Sabbath. In his The Decalogue, he was careful to define the Sabbath as follows:

“The fourth commandment has reference to the sacred seventh day, that it may be passed in a sacred and holy manner. Now some states keep the holy festival only once in the month, counting from the new moon, as a day sacred to the Almighty; but the nation of the Jews keeps every seventh day regularly, after each interval of six days.” (Philo Judaeus, The Decalogue, XX, p.526)

     Philo unequivically distinguished between the practice of others who kept a sabbath counted from the new moon, and the nation of the Jews, who keep every seventh day regularly, after each recurring interval of six days. He further noted:

 "But after this continued and uninterrupted festival which thus lasts through all time, there is another celebrated, namely, that of the sacred seventh day after each recurring interval of six days ... proclaiming a day of freedom to them also after every space of six days, ... having a relaxation every six days..." (Philo Judaeus, The Special Laws, II, XV, sections 56, 66, 67; pp.574,575)

“It (the number ‘seven’) was also greatly honoured by Moses, a man much attached to excellence of all sorts, who described its beauty on the most holy pillars of the law, and wrote it in the hearts of all those who were subject to him, commanding them at the end of each period of six days to keep the seventh holy; abstaining from all other works which are done in the seeking after and providing the means of life, devoting that day to the single object of philosophizing with a view to the improvement of their morals, and the examinations of their consciences.” (Philo Judaeus, On the Creation, XLIII, sect. 128, p.18)

"and the miraculous nature of the sign was shown, not merely in the fact of the food being double in quantity, nor in that of its remaining unimpaired, contrary to the usual customs, but in both these circumstances taking place on the sixth day, from the day on which this food first began to be supplied from heaven, from which day the most sacred number of seven began to be counted, so that if any one reckons he will find that this heavenly food was given in exact correspondence with the arrangement instituted at the creation of the world. For God began to create the world on the first day of a week of six days: and he began to rain down the food which has just been mentioned on the same first day;" (Philo Judaeus, On the Life of Moses II, chapter XLVIII, section 266)

The Sabbath Amongst The Diaspora

     Groups of Jews have spread abroad from the Land at various periods in time. We see from Acts 2 alone that Jews were living in Parthia, Media, Elam, Mesopotamia, Judaea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, Libya, Rome, Crete and Arabia, in fact, in "every nation under heaven." (Acts 2:5). When one looks to the nations to see what day they keep holy, the historical fact is, every group of Jews keeps the same sequence of days, and the same Sabbath--the Sabbath that commences each friday evening and closes each saturday evening.

"Dio Cassius [Roman historian (2nd century C.E.)] also speaks of the Jews having dedicated to their God the day called the day of saturn, 'on which, among many other most peculiar actions, they undertake no serious occupation'...Tacitus [Roman historian of the first and early second century] (Historiae, V, 4) thinks that the Jewish Sabbath may be an observance in honour of Saturn..." (Hutton Webster, Rest Days: A Study in Early Law and Morality, New York: The MacMillan Company, 1916, p.244-245).

The Sabbath Amongst The Nations

     First century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus made record that the Sabbath of God had been enjoined by most all nations:

"Nay, farther, the multitude of mankind itself have had a great inclination of a long time to follow our religious observances; for there is not any city of the Grecians, nor any of the barbarians, nor any nation whatsoever, whither our custom of resting on the seventh day hath not come..." (Flavius Josephus, Against Apion/Antiquites of the Jews, Book 2, section 40:282)

     Williams Jones, a Seventh Day Baptist of the 19th century, collected the names of the days of the week of the various nations into a publication entitled A Chart Of The Week. In this chart, Jones documented the truth of the Sabbath being identified as the 7th day of the week, in over 100 languages. Some of these include: Ancient Syriac, Chaldee Syriac (Kurdistan and Urumia, Persia), Arabic (western Asia, northern and western Africa), Samaritan (Nablus, Palestine), Falashas (Abyssinia), Maltese (Malta), Ethiopic (Abyssinia), Coptic (Egypt), Tamashek (Atlas mountains, Africa), Kabyle (North Africa, Ancient Numidan), Hausa (Central Africa), Hindustani (Muhammadan and Hindu, India), Pasto (Afghanistan), Pahlivi (ancient Persian), Persian (Persia), Armenian (Armenia), Kurdish (Kurdistan), Brdhuiky (Beluchistan), Georgian (Caucasus), Suanian (Caucasus), Ingoush (Caucasus), Malayan (Malaya, Sumatra), Javanese (Java), Dayak (Borneo), Makassar (southern Celebes and Salayer islands), Malagassy (Madagascar), Swahili (east equatorial Africa), Mandingo (west Africa, south of Senegal), Teda (central Africa), Bornu (central Africa), Fulfulde (central Africa), Logone (central Africa), Bagrimma (central Africa), Maba (central Africa), Permian (Russian), Votiak (Russian), Kazani-Tartar (east Russia), Arabic (ancient), Osmanlian (Turkey), Orma (south of Abyssiania), Congo (west equatorial Africa), Wolof (Senegambia, west Africa), D'oc. French (ancient and modern), French (France), Latin (Italy), Italian (Italy), Spanish (Spain), Portuguese (Portugal), Roman (Spain, Catalonia), and yet more. [7]

     Other researchers, historians and astronomers, testify to the veracity of the seven day cycle and its Mosaic origin in creation:

"The division of time into weeks is a singular measure of time by periods of seven days that may be traced not only through the sacred history before the era of Moses, but in all ancient civilizations of every era, many of which could not possibly have derived their notion from Moses.. Among the learned of Egypt, the Brahmans of India, by Arabs, by Assyrians, as may be gathered from their astronomers and priests, this division was recognized. Hesiod (900 B.C.) declares the seventh day is holy. And so also Homer and Callimachus. Even in the Saxon mythology, the division by weeks is prominent. Nay, even among the tribes of primitive worshipers in Africa, we are told that a peculiar feature of their religion is a weekly sacred day, the violation of which by labor will incur the wrath of their god. Traces of a similar division of time have been noticed among the Indians of the American continent. Now, on what other theory are these facts explicable than upon the supposition of a divinely ordained Sabbath at the origin of the race?" ("The Christian Sabbath" tract number 271, released by the Presbyterian Board of Publication.)

"One of the most striking collateral confirmations of the Mosaic history of the creation is the general adoption of the division of time into weeks, which extends from the Christian states of Europe to the remote shores of Hindustan, and has equally prevailed among the Hebrews, Egyptians, Chinese, Greeks, Romans, and northern Barbarians, --nations some of whom had little or no communication with others, and were not even known by name to the Hebrews." (Horne's Introduction, Volume 1, p.69)

     In the official League of Nations "Report on the Reform of the Calendar," published at Geneva, August 17, 1926, are the following representative statements by noted astronomers:

"The week has been followed for thousands of years and therefore has been hallowed by immemorial use." (Anders Donner, "The Report," p.51. [Donner had been a professor of Astronomy at the University of Helsingfors])

 

"I have always hesitated to suggest breaking the continuity of the week, which without a doubt is the most ancient scientific institution bequeathed to us by antiquity." (Edouard Baillaud, "The Report, p.52 [Baillaud was Director of the Pris Observatory])

 

"As to Question (1)--I can only state that in connection with the proposed simplification of the calendar, we have had occasion to investigate the results of the works of specialists in chronology and we have never found one of them that has ever had the slightest doubt the continuity of the weekly cycle since long before the Christian era.

"As to Question (2) --There has been no change in our calendar in past centuries that has affected in any way the cycle of the week." (James Robertson, personal letter, dated March 12, 1932 [Dr. Robertson was Director of the American Ephemeris, Navy Department, U.S. Naval Observatory, Washington, D.C.])

 

"As far as I know, in the various changes of the Calendar there has been no change in the seven day rota of the week, which has come down from very early times." (F.W. Dyson, Personal letter, dated March 4, 1932. [Dr. Dyson was Astronomer Royal, Royal Observatory, Greenwich, London.])

 

"Some of these (the Jews and also many Christians) accept the week as of divine institution, with which it is unlawful to tamper; others, without these scruples, still feel that it is useful to maintain a time-unit that, unlike all others, has proceeded in an absolutely invariable manner since what may be called the dawn of history." ("Our Astronomical Column," Nature, London, number 127, June 6, 1931, p.869)

 

"The week of seven days has been in use ever since the days of the Mosaic dispensation, and we have no reason for supposing that any irregularities have existed in the succession of weeks and their days from that time to the present." (Dr. W.W. Campbell, Statement. [Dr. Campbell was Director of Lick Observatory, Mt. Hamilton, California.])

 

"In spite of all of our dickerings with the calendar, it is patent that the human race never lost the septenary [seven-day] sequence of week days and that the Sabbath of these latter times comes down to us from Adam, through the ages, without a single lapse." (Dr. Totten, Statement. [Dr. Totten of New Haven, Connecticut, was Professor of Astronomy at Yale University when this statement was made.])

 

"The continuity of the week has crossed the centuries and all known calendars, still intact." (Professor D. Eginitis, Statement. [Dr. Eginitis was Director of the Observatory of Athens, Greece.])

 

"It is a strange fact that even today there is a great deal of confusion concerning the question of so-called 'lost time.' Alterations that have been made to the calendar in the past have left the impression that time has actually been lost. In point of fact, of course, these adjustments were made to bring the calendar into closer agreement with the natural [solar] year. Now, unfortunately, this supposed 'lost time' is still being used to throw doubt upon the unbroken cycle of the Seventh-day Sabbath that God inaugurated at the Creation. I am glad I can add the witness of my scientific training to the irrevocable nature of the weekly cycle.

"Having been time computer at Greenwich [England Observatory] for many years, I can testify that all our days are in God's absolute control--relentlessly measured by the daily rotation of the earth on its axis. This daily period of rotation does not vary one-thousandth part of a second in thousands of years. Also, the year is a very definite number of days. Consequently, it can be said that not a day has been lost since Creation, and all the calendar changes notwithstanding, there has been no break in the weekly cycle." (Frank Jeffries, Statement. [Dr. Jeffries was Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, and Research Director of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, England.])

 

"The week is a period of seven days, having no reference whatever to the celestial motions, -- a circumstance to which it owes its unalterable uniformity....it has been employed from time immemorial in almost all eastern countries; and, as it forms neither an aliquot part of the year nor of the lunar month, those who reject the Mosaic recital will be at a loss, as Dalambre remarks, to assign it to an origin having such semblance of possibility." (Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, Vol.4, p.988, article, "Calendar")

     The arguments for this Lunar Cycle Sabbath doctrine may seem weighty due to the amount of words put forth by the hands of men.  But when one actually puts their words to the test, as we just have, it is discerned that they are nothing to hold fast to.  The pro-Lunar Cycle Sabbath articles I have read contain many contradictions--not only to themselves, but more importantly, this whole doctrine contradicts Holy Scripture. Hold fast to the Word of God brethren, for the winds are most certainly blowing!  If you know any brethren who are teaching this error, or who are following it, please share the truth of God's Holy Word with them--gently, and in love.

FOOTNOTES:

1.  Don't let the mention of this month name lure you into thinking that this may be Scriptural. Please recall that "Nisan" was not the original name for the first month amongst the Hebrews, but rather it was known as the month of the aviv. "Nisan" is the name the Jews picked up from Babylon (along with the rest of the Calculated Rabbinical Calendar month names).  BACK

2.  Since the Babylonians have no connection between their lunar-based sabbath and creation, and their creation account has no indication that it consisted of seven days, is it any wonder that their sabbath lacks any connection to the week of Genesis 1 & 2 and its holy Sabbath? Is it any wonder that the Babylonian sabbath is not based on a continuous consecutive cycle of seven days, as the Sabbath of Sacred Scripture?

     Interestingly, although quoted by lunar sabbatarians, this same resource speaks equivocally, as do many "scholarly" writings, and also contests the argument advanced by Lunar Sabbath adherents:

     "The Old Testament frequently mentions the sabbath in connection with the new moon (Amos. viii. 5;  Isa. 1. 13, lxvi. 23;  Ezek. xlvi. 1, 3;  II Kings iv. 23;   II Chron. ii. 3) and also in connection with both new moon and feast (Hos. ii. 13;  Ezek. xlv. 17;  Neh. x. 34), but in none of these passages is there the slightest implication that the sabbath was connected in anyway with the moon, particulary (in contradistinction to the new moon) with the full moon. This statement is decisively confirmed by the commandments regarding the sabbath (Ex. xx. 9-11, xxiii. 12, xxxiv. 21;  Deut. v. 12-15) ... It is now held by many that the sabbath is Babylonian in origin, though received by the Jews immediately from the Canaanites; while another hypothesis maintains that the sabbath represents a moon-feast of the nomadic ancestors of the Israelites. The Canaanitic and nomadic theories are both undemonstrable [i.e., cannot be demonstrated from Scripture or history] and unnecessary... It has also been held that the seventh, fourteenth, twenty-first, and twenty-eighth days of the month, designated as ill-omened, were the Babylonian sabbaths; but for this argument there is no evidence, and it must accordingly be assumed that the fifteenth day of each month was the sabbath of the Babylonians. This day was reckoned that of the full moon, but since the Hebrew sabbath was not connected with the full moon and was a day of gladness, not of penance, and since the Babylonians had no week of seven days, the assumption that the Hebrews borrowed the sabbath from the Babylonians lacks all foundation." (The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol.10, p.135---boldface emphasis mine ~bh)  BACK

3.  Some make a claim that the sun, moon, and stars were actually created on Day One due to the fact that there was "evening and morning" the first three days, and thus all that happened on Day 4 is that these heavenly bodies 'appeared' from behind the 'clouds of vapor that had earlier blocked their view'. This claim however does not hold up under Scriptural examination. The word translated "made" in the above Scripture (Gen 1:16) is the Hebrew word "asah":

asah--(Strong's 6213)--"TO LABOR, TO WORK ABOUT ANYTHING...to make, to produce by labour...to create, as heaven, earth..." (H.W.F. Gesenius, Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, p.657).

     God thus created the sun, moon, and stars on the fourth day. If God had meant that the sun, moon, and stars merely ‘appeared’ on Day 4, then He would have inspired Moses to use the same Hebrew word (ra’ah) which He inspired him to use in reference to when the dry land ‘appeared’ as the waters gathered in one place on Day 3 (Genesis 1:9).

     As Genesis 1:1-3 shows us, one of God's actions on the first day was that of creating the unformed, unfilled earth in an otherwise empty heaven. The whole of the earth was in darkness. God then created a light source that shone upon one part of the surface of the earth, while the other part was yet in complete darkness. We can be positive that this light source was not the sun, for this same Word of God states that the sun was not created until the fourth day (and the Bible does not contradict itself). We can also determine from the Hebrew that the earth was already in motion this first day, for the word translated "night" (layil, #3915), literally means "a twisting away from light." Hence, as the earth made its "24 hour" revolution in front of this light source, there was evening and morning. The earth thus made three complete revolutions before this temporary light source prior to God creating the sun, moon, and stars on the fourth day. Hence, days, and their corresponding time measurement the week, are not measured by revolutions around the heavenly bodies, but by revolutions of the earth alone. BACK

4.  See our article Distinguishing Between "Sabbaths"   BACK

5.  "The necessary time for full moon varies from 13.73 to 15.80 days after conjunction." (Richard A. Parker, The Calendars of Ancient Egypt, pp.6,7). "The difference between the first days of an exact month [conjunction] and an observed lunar month [crescent sighting] is one or two days, or in exceptional cases three days." (B.L. van der Waerden, Journal of Hellenic Studies, vol. 80, 1960, p.169, article: "Greek Astronomical Calendars and their Relation to the Athenian Civil Calendar").  Being that the new crescent is not seen until 14-72 hours after conjunction (i.e., 1-3 days), there would be even greater variability between new crescent and full moon than quoted above concerning conjunction and full moon. The precise full moon can occur anywhere from the 12th day after the new crescent, up until the 16th day after the new crescent.

 

An example of a possible 12th day Full Moon:

28th  Dark moon conjunction occurs at 2 a.m. (i.e., approximately 8 hours into the 28th day)

29th  Continued dark moon

30th  Continued dark moon

1st  Fresh crescent seen at 7:30 p.m. (65.5 hours after dark moon conjunction)

12th  Full moon proper occurs at approximately 8 p.m. [being 13.73 days (approx. 330 hours) from conjunction--2 hours into the 12th day from the fresh crescent]

 

An example of a possible 16th day Full Moon:

30th  Dark moon conjunction occurs at 5:30 a.m.

1st  Fresh crescent seen at 7:30 p.m. (14 hours after dark moon conjunction)

16th  Full moon proper occurs at approximately 11:30 p.m. [15.8 days (approx. 378 hours) from conjunction--5.5 hours into the 16th day from the fresh crescent]

 

***days are reckoned sunset to sunset--the above examples being based on an approximate 6 p.m. sunset)  BACK

6.  See our article Determining Elevation Sheaf Day & Pentecost   BACK

7.  Here is some of the documentation, collected by William Jones, of the seventh day of the week being Sabbath as evidenced by the names given the 7th day in the weekly cycle:

Ancient Syriac: shab-ba-tho ("Sabbath")

Chaldee Syriac (Kurdistan and Urumia, Persia): shaptu ("Sabbath")

Arabic (western Asia, northern and western Africa): as-sabt ("the Sabbath")

Arabic (ancient): shi-yar ("chief or rejoicing day")

Samaritan (Nablus, Palestine): shab-bath ("Sabbath")

Falashas (Abyssinia): yini sanbat ("the Sabbath")

Maltese (Malta): is-sibt ("the Sabbath")

Ethiopic (Abyssinia): san-bat ("Sabbath")

Coptic (Egypt): pi sabbaton ("the Sabbath")

Tamashek (Atlas mountains, Africa): a-hal es-sabt ("the Sabbath")

Kabyle (North Africa, Ancient Numidan): ghas assebt ("the Sabbath day")

Hausa (Central Africa): assebatu ("the Sabbath)

Hindustani (Muhammadan and Hindu, India): shamba ("Sabbath")

Pasto (Afghanistan): shamba ("Sabbath")

Pahlivi (ancient Persian): shambid ("pleasantest day of the week")

Persian (Persia): shambah ("Sabbath")

Armenian (Armenia): shapat ("Sabbath")

Kurdish (Kurdistan): shamba ("Sabbath")

Brdhuiky (Beluchistan): shembe ("Sabbath")

Georgian (Caucasus): shabati ("Sabbath")

Suanian (Caucasus): sammtyn ("Sabbath")

Ingoush (Caucasus): shatt ("Sabbath")

Malayan (Malaya, Sumatra): hari sabtu ("day Sabbath")

Javanese (Java): saptoe or saptu ("Sabbath")

Dayak (Borneo): sabtu ("Sabbath")

Makassar (southern Celebes and Salayer islands): sattu ("Sabbath")

Malagassy (Madagascar): alsabotsy ("the Sabbath")

Swahili (east equatorial Africa): as-sabt ("the Sabbath")

Mandingo (west Africa, south of Senegal): sibiti ("the Sabbath")

Teda (central Africa): essebdu ("the Sabbath")

Bornu (central Africa): sibda ("Sabbath")

Fulfulde (central Africa): assebdu ("the Sabbath")

Logone (central Africa): se-sibde ("the Sabbath")

Bagrimma (central Africa): sibbedi ("the Sabbath")

Maba (central Africa): sab ("Sabbath")

Permian (Russian): subota ("Sabbath")

Votiak (Russian): subbota ("Sabbath")

Kazani-Tartar (east Russia): subbota ("Sabbath")

Osmanlian (Turkey): yom-es-sabt ("day of the Sabbath")

Orma (south of Abyssiania): zam-ba-da ("Sabbath")

Congo (west equatorial Africa): sabbado or Kiansbula ("Sabbath")

Wolof (Senegambia, west Africa): alere-asser ("last day Sabbath")

D'oc. French (ancient and modern): dissata ("day Sabbath")

French (France): samedi ("Sabbath day")

Latin (Italy): sabbatum ("Sabbath")

Italian (Italy): sabato, sabbato ("Sabbath")

Spanish (Spain): sabado ("Sabbath")

Portuguese (Portugal): sabbado ("Sabbath")

Roman (Spain, Catalonia): dissapte ("day Sabbath")  

 

     For more on determining which day is the seventh day Sabbath, see the article Has Time Been Lost?

 

Email: Brian Hoeck

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