The Bible records a calendar system that has characteristics of twelve months evidenced by the twelve companies of men to serve the king month by month (1 Chronicles 27), the twelve deputies over all Israel each serving a month (1 Kings 4), and the tree of life produces first fruits according to its months (Ezekiel 47:12) numbering twelve (Revelation 22:2). The Biblical calendar also has thirty days a month indicated in the account of Noah’s flood (Genesis 7-8), Daniel’s prophecy (Daniel 12), a prophecy in Revelation (Revelation 11:2). There is an equinox described as being part of the circuit of the Sun where the Sun reaches the ends of heaven (Psalm 19:6), which is also the timing of the Feast of Ingathering (Exodus 34:22). Those who divide the heavens and see the stars are those who know the months (Isaiah 47:13). The cycles of the moon, however, are not excluded in the Biblical calendar. Such cycles, called yerach (derived from the word for moon, yareach), are mentioned thirteen times in the Old Testament, but do not represent calendar months. The Biblical calendar and its configuration conflict with the Rabbinic calendar system in modern Judaism, which does not have a system of regular 12 months, 30 days, equinox aligned feasts, or stars determined months; however the MUL.APIN does have these elements, plus the lunar cycles.
The MUL.APIN tablets are ancient astronomical and calendrical records found in Babylonia and Assyria. Nearly 40 copies survive, with two having dates on them: one from 687 BC and the other from the Hellenistic period, although the data on the tablets is believed to be of astronomical events from much earlier (Steele p6). The tablets record months with the familiar names of Nisannu, Ajjaru, Simanu, etc., which some will recognize as the source of modern Jewish month names. However, unlike the modern Jewish months that are determined by the recurrence of the new moon, the MUL.APIN months are determined by the division of the stars in the heavens. In the fourth section of the tablets, the helical risings of stars are given for specific days of the months throughout the year, which requires the months to be determined by the stars, not the moon. Additionally, there are only 12 months in MUL.APIN, unlike the 12 to 13 months of the lunar Jewish calendar. Although these tablets indicate months determined by the stars, nearly all academically published articles that I have found claim that the Babylonians used a lunar calendar. Why would so many copies exist if that wasn’t how the Babylonians reckoned their time? Maybe MUL.APIN wasn’t theirs.
Babylonia and Assyria were known to conquer other nations, remove the inhabitants from their lands, and bring them to live in the captors’ countries. This is attested to in the Bible in the books of Kings, Chronicles, Isaiah, and others as the way that these two nations dealt with Israel. I have been persuaded that these tablets either belonged to Israel or were the result of the wise men of Israel teaching them to their captors.
The book of Enoch is attested to directly in the Bible (Jude 1:14-15) and shares common material with at least two passages: 2 Peter 2:4-5 and 1 Peter 3:19-20. Many other allusions to the Book of Enoch have been observed by various Biblical scholars. Fragments of Enoch were recovered in the Dead Sea Scrolls, ancient documents which were recovered in the Caves surrounding the Dead Sea in Israel and dated from before Christ. Enoch was clearly known and accepted by those who wrote and adhered to the writings in the Bible. The Enoch calendar describes the path of the Sun traveling through twelve gates taking 30 days each with an extra day at the end of each set of three gates for an equinox or solstice. Totaling 364 days, Enoch’s calendar is in agreement with the calendar system recorded in detail in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the MUL.APIN.
As part of the path of the Sun through the gates, Enoch relates that the length of day and night is a total of 18 parts. These parts at the equinoxes are 9 parts day and 9 parts night. At the solstices, the parts shift to 6 parts of one and 12 parts of the other, a 2 to 1 ratio. This same ratio exists in the MUL.APIN tablets in the shadow length charts. This is especially significant since scholars who have tried to reproduce such data note that the 2 to 1 ratio does not pertain to the Babylonian latitude (Steele p5).
Head of the Year
Since Enoch 74:6 says that the first part of the path of the Sun, which is in the 4th gate/portal, is in the first month, I originally thought that the length of time in the 4th gate (30 days) was identical to the first month. According to Enoch, the day before the Sun enters this gate is the spring equinox. However, MUL.APIN Section I reveals that the spring equinox is on the 15th of the first month, Nisannu, and the autumn equinox is on the 15th of the seventh month, Tishru (Ben-Dov p 174). This interesting phenomenon causes the first half of the first month to be before the equinox and the second half after. This arrangement still has the Sun starting in the 4th gate in the first month – just not at the start of the month. Note how the year starts in “darkness” – the winter half of the year. Also note how the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread and the first day of the feast of Tabernacles occur at equinoctial points in the year, complying with Exodus 34:22.
Similarly the day, which is a parallel model of the year, also begins with “darkness” being in the night. The portion before sunrise and its mirror after sunrise comprise what I think is referred to as “morning”, which begins before sunrise in several verses of the Bible. Additionally, this seems to be the range that the morning stars are visible before sunrise to after sunrise, depending on their location relative to the Sun. Likewise, evening begins shortly before sunset and lasts to the same point after sunset. Between the evenings, I suppose, is then precisely at sunset. An interpretation of the story of the vineyard workers in Matthew 20 indicates the laborers who worked until evening only worked to the end of the 11th hour, leaving one hour until sunset. A similar concept is in Nehemiah 4:21 where the laborers worked from the rising of the morning until the stars appeared. Evening stars begin being visible up to an hour before sunset and disappear up to an hour after sunset depending on their location relative to the sun.
Just like the start of the day is signaled by stars, the start of the year is signaled by stars. MUL.APIN says that the star known as the agrarian worker (LU.CHUN.GA) is visible. The identity of most of the MUL.APIN catalogued stars continue to cause debate among scholars. For a copy most of the MUL.APIN text, as well as interesting commentary and speculation, see Andis Kaulins’ work at www.lexiline.com .
Quarters of the Year
Enoch 76 and 77 are dedicated to the division of the year in quarters. In the schematic diagram, these are identical with the areas marked “Path of Anu” (twice), “Path of Enlil” and “Path of Ea”. The same quarter divisions of the months are indicated in the MUL.APIN Gap A 1-7 writing: “From of the 1 of Adar to the 30 of Iyar, the Sun travels in the Path of Anu; breeze and warm weather. From the 1 of Sivan to the 30 of Av, the Sun travels in the Path of Enlil; harvest and heat. From the 1 of Elul to the 30 of Arachsamnu, the Sun travels in the Path of Anu; breeze and warm weather. From the 1 of Kislev to the 30 of Shevat, the Sun travels in the Path of Ea; cold weather” (Ben-Dov p. 162).
Because of the association of Anu, Enlil and Ea with particular seasons when the sun is in a particular location along the ecliptic, Anu likely represents a celestial band straddling the celestial equator, Enlil likely is another band extending from Anu up to the celestial Tropic of Cancer, and Ea is likely a band extending from Anu down to the celestial Tropic of Capricorn.
Enoch 75:2 teaches that when reckoning the year to not count the extra quarter days (i.e. use 360 days a year – as in the day totals in Daniel and Revelation for prophecy). However, Enoch 82 also instructs that some fail to count the four additional days in the WHOLE reckoning of the year. Ancient documents reckoning the year as 360 and 364 days has generated many academic journal articles speculating if two different systems were at play.
Enoch 82:11 lists the leaders of each division of the calendar. “Their four leaders who divide the four parts of the year enter first”, which are the leaders who start off the spring Path of Anu, the summer Path of Enlil, the Autumn Path of Anu and the Winter Path of Ea. “After them the twelve leaders of the orders who divide the months”, which would be the head of the 12th month. “And for the three hundred and sixty there are heads over thousands who divide the days”, which naturally are next looking at the schematic diagram. “And for the four intercalary days there are the leaders which sunder the four parts of the year.” I actually had to look up the definition of “sunder” – it means to break apart, divide in two. Notice that the equinox truly does “sunder” the four parts exactly.
Verse 13 gives four leaders’ names, one for the beginning of each season, which occurs in different gates throughout the year. However, in verse 14, only three names are given for the equinox and solstice leaders, likely because the equinox leader is the same star – located exactly between gates 3 and 4. Similarly, the Path of Anu title is used for both the Spring and Fall because it is the same stretch of heaven from mid 2nd gate to mid 5th gate.
Intercalation is the adding of a day(s), week(s) or month(s) to keep a calendar in sync with the agricultural seasons. In the Bible, there is possibly an intercalation of a week during the dedication of the Temple (2 Chr. 5:3, 2 Chr. 7), since it seems that the people gathered at the feast, yet two weeks of dedication and feasting passes in a one week period of time. Enoch doesn’t allow any intercalation in an eight-year span of time (Enoch 74:13-14), which would lead to at least a one week long intercalation occurring in year nine or later. The MUL.APIN tablets mention intercalation at the equinox and solstice points: “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). Notice that the excess is plural “days” instead of “day”. If we are making observations at the quarter points of the year, we would never need to add more than one day at a time to account for the 1.24 days a year the solar year exceeds the calendar year of 364 days. However, since we are observing the accumulated days, it seems logical that we are adding them in larger groups at specified times. Reasoning that since there is no historical record of the days of the week being altered when calendars have changed, there is probably intercalation inserted in groups of a whole week(s).
Many are concerned about sighting the barley to determine when to start the year, and therefore decide when to start the year based on the ripeness of the barley in Israel. This is based on the need to have the first cutting of barley to wave as an offering for the feast following Unleavened Bread (see Leviticus 23). I have some objections to that. In Genesis 1, on the fourth day of creation, Yah created the luminaries to determine the years, not the barley. If the start of the year is determined relative to the equinox, then the barley will be ready at the appropriate time. I found a detailed barley growth guide for Scotland. Clearly substantially further north than our discussion area, notice that the point that barley comes ripe is a consistent date relative to a solar calendar: http://archive.hgca.com/publications/documents/cropresearch/Barley_growth_guide.pdf .
I am also not convinced what constitutes “aviv/abib”, a stage of growth that people are trying to determine for the barley. The word is supposed to indicate “green ears”, yet Nehemiah Gordon in the Karaite Korner Newsletter #615 sent out on March 4, 2014, reporting that the barley was green five times, said it was not aviv. He further noted that a professional agronomist said the barley was 2-3 weeks away from reaching the stage of Aviv. Therefore, the decision was made to intercalate a lunar month, placing Passover in mid-April.
I do not have time to share what I have seen regarding the inclusion of cycles of the moon in scripture, MUL.APIN and Enoch, but hope to get it coordinated soon. Please have patience with me.
Ben-Dov, Jonathan. Head of All Years, Astronomy and Calendars at Qumran in their Ancient Context. Brill. 2008.
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.
Steele, J. M. “Shadow-Length Schemes in Babylonian Astronomy”. SCIAMVS 14 (2013), 3-39.