Sunday, January 15, 2017

More Evidence for Equinox Occuring Mid-month

I attended a synagogue during the Jewish reckoning of Sukkot this past fall.  Note that it was past the 15th of the 7th month.  While reciting the Amidah, I was surprised that they were still reciting the insert for Summer instead of Winter.  Even though I was aware that the Jewish practice to observe only Summer and Winter was still observed, I hadn't investigated when that transition took place.  At the time I learned this, I thought Summer was months 1-6 and Winter was months 7-12.  So that bit of information was still in my head, even though I am now convinced that the change from Summer to Winter and Winter to Summer occur at some point during Sukkot and Passover.  As soon as it was recited, I looked at the text again and saw an asterisk to a footnote:

Winter was defined as Sh'mini Atzeret (the last great day, the day following Sukkot) until Passover.  Notice that this arrangement is consistent with the Biblical texts already mentioned in recent posts and with the Mul.Apin tablets.  Even though the current Jewish calendar uses the moon for months, I think this is an ancient remnant of reckoning from when the Dead Sea Scrolls calendar was in use.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Intercalation at the Feasts

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”.

Having 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.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Dead Sea Scrolls Calendar Update

Biblical Calendar
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.  

MUL.APIN Calendar
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.

Enoch Calendar
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 .

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).  

The Barley
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:

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. 

The Moon
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.

Monday, September 9, 2013

What do we learn from the Bible about consuming dairy?

A slight divergence from the calendar... with the number of lactose intolerant people out there (especially those of African American, Native American, Mexican American and Ashkenazic Jewish heritage), plus knowing several people with kidney and/or gall stones, and the danger in giving cows’ milk but not goats’ milk to babies, I have taken a particular interest in what the Bible mentions concerning dairy products.  The first thing I learned when we first started eating a Biblically kosher diet (eating what God says is food, and not eating what He says isn’t food), was that Abraham served both dairy and meat products together (Genesis 18:8), contrary to the rabbinical Jewish dietary laws that forbid consuming both milk and meat in the same meal.  This verse, also combined with the numerous promises of bringing us someday to a land flowing with milk and honey, also convinced me to ignore diets that promoted removing dairy from one’s intake.
Another verse that I came across early in my study was about forbidding a person to boil a kid in its mother’s milk.  This actually occurs three times in scripture (Ex. 23:19, Ex. 34:26, Deu 13:21).  I heard some people explain that this was a warning to not do some of the pagan practices of offering a sacrifice by boiling a kid in its mother’s milk.  Perhaps this was going on, but I wasn’t convinced that this was the meaning of the verse, or at least the entirety of the meaning of this verse.  Since a few years earlier I had learned that cheese was made by boiling milk (obviously from a mother) with the intestine or rennet from an intestine of a calf that had not yet weaned, I thought that perhaps this verse spoke about cheese. 

We began to seek cheese made from vegetable or microbial rennet, but wondered if this only pertained to goat cheese (since all three verses specifically use the word ‘kid’), or if it was an example that pertained to all types of animals, like cows and sheep.  Also looking at the spiritual meaning of a verse, I wondered about it only mentioning kids, which are baby goats, since goats are famous for being stubborn and rebellious.  Perhaps it was a warning about taking the Bible, which is an illusion to milk (see 1 Peter 2:2), and boiling or destroying the stiffnecked person (the baby gpat) who isn’t ready to accept it. 
Last spring, when working on a word study for milk, I discovered Proverbs 27:27 “And you shall have goats’ milk enough for your food, for the food of your household, and for the maintenance for your maidens.”  When I read this, I wondered if we were supposed to only be drinking goats’ milk.  I had also recently learned at this point that goats’ milk was naturally homogenized, a process performed on cows’ milk that I was suspicious of being unhealthy.  Deuteronomy 32:14 mentions the milk of the flock, where flock is a term that includes both goats and sheep.  It seems that sheep’s milk is also acceptable.

Since I practice my faith experimentally, I began drinking exclusively goats’ milk, although the rest of the family still drinks cows’ milk.  I didn’t know what to do about the cheese, though.  Was the verse prohibiting the boiling of a kid in its mother’s milk saying that we drink goats’ milk but aren’t supposed to make cheese from it?  That would be okay with me since I don’t really care for goats’ cheese.  Since sheep’s milk is drinkable, can we make cheese with it in the regular process?  What about cheese from cows' milk - the most widely available cheese?
During our family Sabbath readings this past week, I came across another verse.  2 Samuel 17:29 mentioned the cheese of kine, which is cows.  This, of course, made me take notice and begged further study.  Sadly the word for ‘cheese’ is only used in this verse, so I didn’t get far with it.  But the King James version, interlinear versions, Jewish Publication Societies, and Septuagint versions all agree that this product is cheese, so I settled with it.  In my searching, however, I discovered that Deuteronomy 32:14 spoke about ‘butter of kine’. 

Examining the verses using the Hebrew word for ‘butter’, I found the story of Jael, who lulled Israel’s enemy, Sisera, to sleep with milk and drove a tent stake through his head.  Judges 5:25 “He asked water, she gave milk; she brought forth ‘butter’ in a lordly dish.”  The problem with the idea of this being butter is that if he was thirsty, he would not have been satisfied with butter.  However, another verse, Proverbs 30:33, says, “Surely the churning of milk brings forth ‘butter’, and the wringing of the nose brings forth blood, so the forcing of wrath brings forth strife.”  It seemed that it must be butter, even though it doesn’t make sense in the case of Jael.  But after researching the butter making process, I discovered that two things are produced through churning milk – butter and buttermilk.  What is translated as butter probably is really buttermilk, which would satisfy both verses.  It also works much more logically with the original verse I read this past weekend, since items were brought because the people were hungry, weary and thirsty.  Food and beds were mentioned, but if the word was butter, there would be no drinks.  However, if it is really buttermilk, then beverages were also provided.
Since buttermilk and cheese (as well as yogurts, sour creams, and cottage cheeses) tend to be tolerated by lactose intolerant people due to its fermentation, and it is mentioned in connection with cows’ milk in the Bible, at this point I have come to the conclusion that cows’ milk should be consumed in the form of fermented products.  However, for drinking fresh “off the tap”, goats’ milk is probably the better bet.  Additional information about Goats’ milk and lactose intolerance, links to medical research, as well as cheesemaking and recipes can be found online at .   This article discusses how ancient civilizations were largely lactose intolerant: .

Monday, July 8, 2013

Shavuot / Pentecost - the Birth of Christ

The Catholic Church set the birth of Christ at December 25th.  In 2004 I learned that date was due to mixing Christianity with Mithraism (sun worship) – see my article My History with Christmas . 

Many people who have learned these things are turning to observing Yah’s appointed times specified in Leviticus 23.  Some of these folks call themselves Messianics or Hebrew Roots Christians.  My favorite is TOBY’s – Torah Observant Believers in Yeshua (Jesus).  The majority of them believes and teaches that the Christ was born on the first day of Sukkot (John the Baptist being born six months earlier at Passover). 

Priestly Courses
The primary evidence for this timing is due to a thought that the 24 priestly clans that rotate their service in the temple (1 Chr. 24:10).  They assumed that the first priest started serving the first week of the year, serving twice, taking up 48 of the weeks of the years.  The remaining weeks were accounted for by all of the priests serving during the feast weeks.  Since Zacharias, who was John the Baptist’s father, was of the course of Abia and should have served on the 8th course, adding two weeks for feasts, he would have served on the 10th week of the year.  If Elizabeth conceived shortly after that week during the 3rd month of the year, John could be born around Passover.  Yeshua being conceived six months later (Luke 1:24-36) should have been born during Sukkot.

Some argue that the December birth time is possible if the timing were reconciled based on the second time the course of Abia would serve in the year.  See for reasoning supporting the December birth dating. 
With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran, we now have the record of how the priests actually rotated through temple service in detail.  THIS INFORMATION DOES NOT SUPPORT THE ASSUMPTIONS MADE ABOVE, which were developed prior to the scrolls’ discovery and translation.  The scrolls specify that all 24 priests’ clans serve, not interrupting that cycling for the feast days.  After they complete, they all serve again.  The cycle starts again, using the first four priests to complete the year.  The 5th priest now begins the next year, with the other priests following in order.  This causes a slippage of four priests a year.  After six years, it is back to where it began.  These weekly cycles, however, are not the “courses” specified in the “course of Abia”.  The “course” is the quarter of the year which is assigned to the priest that serves the first week of the quarter, who also remains to serve the rest of the quarter alongside the other clans cycling in weekly.  This is also spelled out in detail in the scrolls.  Due to the way 24 priests interact with a 52 week calendar year, the four priest slippage causes each priest to fall at the head of exactly one quarter over a six year period. 

The course of Abia lands in the third year for the third course (months 7-9), which includes the appointed times of Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles.  If Elizabeth conceived immediately after the course was completed, she would be due in the 7th month.  Depending on when Zacharias was serving, if it was a “about this time next year” message (like that for Isaac), she could have been due as late as the 9th month.  This puts Yeshua’s birth sometime during the 1st – 3rd months. 

Other Dating Clues
There are other textual clues that help us to narrow the timing.  In the birth narrative in Luke, we are told about how John is conceived.  We see that Elisabeth hid herself for five months (Luke 1:24-25), and then immediately it transitions into the sixth month when Gabriel is visiting Mary.  Because of the flow of the story, most people assume it is only “the sixth month” of her pregnancy.  But since it says, “in THE sixth month”, and not “in HER sixth month”, it is open to also being the sixth month of the year.  “In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth…”  This would provide a 9th month delivery of John the Baptist.  It would follow for a 3rd month delivery of Yeshua.

In the scrolls, the dates of the other first fruits of wine and oil are given (Due 7:13, 11:14, 12:17, 14:23, 18:4, 28:51).  The first fruit of oil is during the sixth month on the 22nd. The Holy Spirit came over Mary and is symbolized by oil (1 Samuel 16:13).   The 22nd of the 6th month is exactly 38 weeks to Shavuot, which is the exact gestation time from fertility, being 2 weeks in from the beginning of a cycle, making 40 weeks in all.
Another clue occurs during Yeshua’s baptism.  When he was baptized, the Holy Spirit fell upon him, and Luke records that Yeshua “began to be about thirty years of age” (Luke 3:23).  Since he “began to be” a certain age, it was his birthday. 

Luke 3:21 records that “when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that [Yeshua] also being baptized …”.  This suggests that there is a particular timing of the baptism.  1 Corinthians 10:1-2 link baptism with the crossing of the sea: “… All our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” The timing of the passing through the sea was in the first month after they left Egypt, and the timing of the cloud descending upon the mount was Shavuot (Pentecost) (Exodus 19:16).  After this point, Moses went up on the mountain for forty days and nights, just as Yeshua also went out to the wilderness for forty days and nights.  So, if the window of baptism is between the time of the crossing of the sea and Shavuot, since Yeshua came at the end, it would have been Shavuot.
Yeshua was also anointed with the Holy Spirit and proclaimed as being Yah’s son.  Shavuot is the time of renewing the kingdom.  It was when the covenant was made at Sinai.  It was the time of when the kingdom was renewed under Saul (1 Sam 12:17). And it was the time of the giving of the Holy Spirit to all people, with the purpose of renewing that Sinai covenant on their hearts (Acts 2:1)

Other people that were recorded as being born on Shavuot are King David   (Bechor Shor Jerusalem Talmud, Chagigah 2,3: ) and Isaac (Jubilees 16:13).  Both of these men are significant messianic foreshadows of Yeshua showing his death and resurrection (Isaac) and kingship (David).

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Calendar Insight: Judges 14:15

Judges 14:15
KJV: And it came to pass on the SEVENTH day...
NASB: Then it came about on the FOURTH day...

The NASB footnotes 'fourth' saying that some ancient manuscripts say fourth, but the Hebrew MSS is seventh.

In context in the story, Samson declares a riddle to the Philistines that they must answer within the seven days of the feast.  In the next chapter, we read about the wheat harvest, so this seven day feast is likely the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  In 14:14, Samson gives the riddle, and the people could not discern what it was for three days.  Then in verse 15, they go to Samson's wife threatening her to disclose the answer - some versions say it is the fourth day and some say the seventh day.  In verse 17 she has wept the full seven days of the feast, wearing him down, until he gives in and tells her the answer on the seventh day, at which point she betrays him.

In Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, he writes,
And it came to pass on the seventh day,.... Not on the seventh day of the feast, for some time before that they applied to his wife, and she pressed him hard to disclose it; but on the sabbath day, as Kimchi, and so Jarchi says, on the seventh day of the week, not on the seventh day of the feast, for it was the seventh day of the feast; this is so clear, that the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions, instead of the seventh, read the fourth day.

The conclusion of the scholars is that the fourth day of the feast is actually the Sabbath day, the seventh day of the week.  According to the Dead Sea Scrolls, when the feast days always fall on the same day of the week from year to year, the fourth day of the feast is actually the Sabbath day.  Here is a glimpse of one of the six cycling years of the Dead Sea Scrolls priestly calendar with the feast of unleavened bread outlined in red and the fourth day of the feast (the Sabbath day) highlighted.  It would be the same if it occurred on any of the other five years.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Divorce: Is remarriage adultery?

Most churches teach that if a woman is divorced and remarried, she is committing adultery.  They base this doctrine on Matthew 5:31.  But, is this what the scripture really says?

Here is the New King James version of the verse: "Furthermore it has been said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery."  However, there are a few words in this verse that were not translated faithfully. 

This is a literal rendering of the verse:
"Whoever should dismiss (separate from) his wife (a legal wife), let him give to her a certificate of divorce (a legal canceling of the marriage).  But I say to you, who ever should dismiss (not legally divorce) his wife, except for the matter of prostitution, makes her to commit adultery; and who ever marries a dismissed woman (one who is not legally divorced) commits adultery."  The same is true of Matthew 19:19.

The underlined words are all translated as "divorce", even though they are two different words in the Greek.  The word literally translated as "dismiss" is always used in the context of "put away", "released", "sent away", etc.  The only time it gets translated as "divorce" is in this passage. 

So, if a man separates from his wife and refuses to give her a divorce, and that woman later wishes to be with another man, she will commit adultery if she proceeds because she is legally still married to the first husband.  Any man who tries to marry her also commits adultery. 

The exception to this in the Greek is porneia, which was translated as sexual immorality in the NKJV.  The actual meaning of this word in Greek is prostitution.   If a woman is engaged in prostituting herself, the husband's failure to give a writ of divorce is not the cause of her adultery.

Divorce, although not desirable, is allowed in the scripture.  YHVH, Himself, grants the northern kingdom a divorce (Jeremiah 3:8).  The men of Israel all put away their foreign wives and children because YHVH had said not to unite with them (1 Kings 11:2).  In Deuteronomy 24, not only is divorce allowed, but so is remarriage.  The only restriction is that a husband may not remarry a woman who marries another man after he divorces her.

In our country, either the husband or the wife may file for divorce.  However, in Israeli law, only the husband can pursue a divorce.  The problem still exists today where men in Israel refuse to give their abandoned wives a writ of divorcement.  These men, being the cause of future adultery, will have to answer YHVH for their actions.
"Under Israel's Divorce Laws, Men Get The Final Word"
Matthew 5:31
Also it was said
should dismiss  [separate from]
his wife, [A legal wife]
let him give
to her
a certificate of divorce.  [A legal divorce]
But I
to you
should dismiss  [notice not legally divorce]
his wife,
except for
the matter
of harlotry,  [because she committed adultery herself]
to commit adultery.
a woman being dismissed  [notice again, she is not legally divorced]
should marry
commits adultery.