Well, it has been over a year since my last post. If you have not read “Dead Sea Scrolls Calendar Update”, please scroll down to the previous article and read it before proceeding here. It introduces the basic mechanics of the Dead Sea Scrolls Calendar system. Seeking to better understand how this calendar is intercalated, I have searched the scripture for terms translated as “end of the year”. I have found several Hebrew words with this theme:
Yatsa – “go out” (Strong’s number H3318)This term is a sense of the immediate leaving, as in Genesis 25:26 “And after that ‘went out (yatsa)’ his brother (Jacob) and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel…” Here we have the momentary “going out” of birth. Exodus 12:41 “And it came to pass at the end (cutting off – qatseh Strong’s #H7093) of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day, it came to pass that all the hosts of YHVH ‘went out (yatsa)’ from the land of Egypt.” Here we have a precise moment where the going out is a momentary event of the exodus. In Exodus 23:16 this “going out” is specifically connected with the Feast of Tabernacles: “… and the feast of ingathering in the ‘going out (yatsa)’ of the year…” The “going out” is the momentary turn from the year waxing full (summer half) to its waning (winter half).
Qatseh – “cutting off” (Strong’s number H7093 & H7097)This term, already introduced in the paragraph above in Exodus 12:41, is used to show the end of a period of time. One example is Genesis 8:6 “And it came to pass at the end (cutting off – qatseh) of forty days that Noah opened the windows of the ark which he had made.” It is often used literally as the end (cutting off) of days, as in Genesis 4:3, 2 Samuel 14:26, 1 Kings 17:7, Nehemiah 13:6, etc. It also describes the very edge, or extremity, of something, such as in Joshua 3:15, “… and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim (cutting off – qatseh) of the water” indicating the boundary edge of the river, and in Exodus 16:35 “…they did eat manna until they came unto the borders (cutting off – qatseh) of the land of Canaan” specifying the boundary edge of the Promised Land. Just as the ‘going out (yatsa)’ of the year is to occur within the Feast of Tabernacles, so shall the ‘cutting off (qatseh)’ of seven years in Deuteronomy 31:10 “And Moses commanded them saying, At the end (cutting off – qatseh) of seven years in the solemnity of the year of release, in the Feast of Tabernacles.”
Tequfah – turning (Strong’s number H8622)There are only four verses that contain this unique word. The first occurrence is Exodus 34:22 “… and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end (turning - tequfah). In Psalm 19:6, we see the sense of a circuit or cycle, in particular an extremity “His (the sun’s) going forth is from the end (cutting off - qatseh) of the heaven and his circuit (turning - tequfah) unto the ends (qatseh) of it…” In a geometrical plane, a circle at some point will have four coordinate points where the slope of the tangent line will be either zero or infinity. I think these geometrical points best describe the idea of tequfah/turning of the solar cycle. In the case of Psalm 19:6, the circuit seems to be divided into only two points, one end of heaven and the other end of heaven, dividing the circuit into two parts. Interestingly, the Septuagint translation of Exodus 34:22 says this: “… and a gathering feast in the middle of the year.” Again, this translation shows tequfah to be understood as a turning point dividing the entire year into two parts (summer and winter), and it aligns with the feast of ingathering which occurs in the middle (not beginning) of the seventh month. 1 Samuel 1:20 says “Wherefore it came to pass at the tequfot (turnings - plural) of the days Hannah conceived and bare a son…” Perhaps she conceived at a solstice and delivered at an equinox, or vice versa. The final reference is 2 Chronicles 24:23 “And it came to pass at the end (turning – tequfah) of the year, the host of Syria came up against him…”
Teshuvah – returned (Strong’s #H8666)A similar thought is expressed in 2 Samuel 11:1 “And it came to pass after the year was expired (returned - teshuvah), at the time when kings go forth (yatsa)…” Interestingly, whenever ‘teshuvah’ and ‘year’ are found together in a verse (return of the year), it is a verse about war (see also 1 Kings 20:22, 1 Kings 20:26, 1 Chronicles 20:1, and 2 Chronicles 36:10). I think this is an expression specifically speaking of the beginning of the year in the spring, where the “return of the year” is at the opposite point as the “going out of the year”.
IntercalationHaving several verses that place this turning point of the year (autumnal equinox) within the Feast of Ingathering (Feast of Sukkot), how is some form of intercalation made to keep it there? Possibilities include adding a day or two every year (which would cause the Sabbath to slide off of the modern day known as Saturday), adding a week every certain number of years, or adding a month even more infrequently. I think the scriptures testify of at least one occurrence of a week-long intercalation, maybe two.
1 Kings 8 and 2 Chronicles 5-7 recount the story of Solomon dedicating the temple. In 1 Kings 8:2 “… all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto King Solomon at the feast (chag) in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.” Searching the use of the Hebrew word, chag, through scripture the term is only used to describe the pilgrimage holy days (Unleavened Bread, Feast of Weeks (Shavuot/Pentecost), and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). So, if the people are assembling for a chag in the seventh month, they are assembling specifically for the Feast of Tabernacles. In verse 65 it says “And at that time Solomon held a feast (chag) and all Israel with him, a great congregation … before YHVH our Elohim, seven days and seven days, fourteen days.”
In the parallel account in 2 Chronicles 5:3, the scripture again says all of Israel is assembled for a chag in the seventh month. Verse 11 is interesting, because typically, according to the Dead Sea Scrolls, the priests rotate in week-by-week by course. This means that at any given point, only a small fraction of the priests are working in the Temple. Verse 11 says that for this particular week “And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy, for all the priests present were sanctified and did not wait by course”. So in this week, the entirety of the priests were present.
A few chapters later, a summary of the timing is presented in 2 Chronicles 7:9, “And in the eighth day they made a solemn assembly for they kept the dedication (Chanukah) of the altar seven days and the feast seven days. And on the twenty-third day of the seventh month he sent the people away into their tents…” If this were being counted traditionally, the first seven days should start on the 15th, the second seven days on the 22nd, ending on the 28th. The eighth day would be the 29th, and the people would be sent away on the 30th. However, this verse specifically says they were sent away on the 23rd, showing that not only was an extra week of festivities kept, but the dates duplicated over this time.
Examining John 7-10, the order of observance of the Feast of Dedication (Chanukah) and the Feast of Tabernacles are reversed. In John 7:2 it says “Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand.” His brothers urged him to go to Judea, but Yeshua told them, “My time is not yet come, but your time is always ready.” However, he did go up to the feast secretly. At this particular feast, there is also the last great day (v. 37), appearing to be a regular account of the Feast of Tabernacles. “And every man went to his own house” (v. 53). However, Yeshua remained at the Temple teaching for several days. John 10:22 explains that it was the Dedication/Chanukah and that Yeshua was on the porch of Solomon, suggesting that it was the Dedication/Chanukah of Solomon. It also states that it was winter. This means that the autumnal equinox had already passed. The fact that John reports it is winter suggests that sometimes Chanukah doesn’t actually fall in the winter. For instance, the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot/Pentecost) is always in the summer, so mentioning it would be redundant. So, it seems that when the autumnal equinox occurs during the regularly occurring Feast of Tabernacles, the full eight days are observed followed by Chanukah. But when the equinox will occur after the regular time of Tabernacles, Chanukah is inserted first and Tabernacles follows, but without an overall change in the calendar date so that people still depart on the 23rd.
Another potential occurrence of intercalation is in 2 Chronicles 30:23. This is the time of Hezekiah’s Passover. Starting in verse 22, “And Hezekiah spake comfortably unto all the Levites that taught the good knowledge of YHVH, and they did eat throughout the feast seven days, offering peace offerings and making confession to YHVH Elohim of their fathers. And the whole assembly took counsel to keep other seven days; and they kept seven days with gladness.” The assembly being “counseled” to keep another seven days can be interpreted as those who understood the times (maybe Levites, since they were the ones already teaching) counseled them to add a week at this point in the calendar year.
In conclusion, it seems that the regular course of intercalation to keep the autumnal equinox during the Feast of Tabernacles occurred at either the spring or fall feasts, depending on how many excess days had accumulated. As mentioned on the previous post, the MUL.APIN tablets list the celestial objects to track: “On the 15th of month I, on the 15th of month IV, on the 15th of month VII, on the 15th of month X, you observe the risings of the Sun, the visibility time of the Moon, the appearance of the Arrow, and you will find how many days are in excess” (Brack-Bernsen p. 8). Given that the phase of the moon and the position of the stars as recorded in the scrolls will vary from the given dates as each year passes and excess days acrue, it is possible that the positions mentioned are for target years immediately following intercalations. One final note – by the texts mentioned above, the equinox must occur during the seven days of the feast (chag), not including the eighth great day. The equinox will occur this year on September 23rd, a Wednesday. This is on the eighth day of the regular count, so the Feast of Dedication (Chanukah) would be added first with the Feast of Tabernacles beginning on the 23rd.
Brack-Bernsen, Lis. “The ‘days in excess’ from MUL.APIN On the ‘first intercation’ and ‘water clock’ schemes from MUL.APIN.” CENTAURUS 2005: Vol. 47: p1-29.