Saturday, February 20, 2010
Historical Evidence Proves Calendar and Sabbath Change
Historical References of Calendar and Sabbath Changes
Encyclopedia Biblica 1899
"The Hebrew Sabbathon was celebrated at intervals of seven days, corresponding with changes in the moon's phases..." Encyclopedia Biblica, 1899 edit., p.4180
In the years following Clement of Alexandria’s time, an ominous change started to take place that was to radically change the Christian concept of the Sabbath. “This intimate connection between the week and the month was soon dissolved. It is certain that the week soon followed a development of its own, and it became the custom -- without paying any regard to the days of the month (i.e. the lunar month) -- ...so that the new moon no longer coincided with the first day of the week." Encyclopedia Biblica (The MacMillan Company, 1899. P. 5290).
“The introduction...of the custom of celebrating the Sabbath every 7th day, irrespective of the relationship of the day to the moon's phases, led to a complete separation from the ancient view of the Sabbath...” Encyclopedia Biblica 1899 p4179
"The four quarters of the Moon supply an obvious division of the month... it is most significant that in the older parts of the Hebrew scriptures the new moon and the sabbath are almost invariably mentioned together. The [lunar] month is beyond question an old sacred division of time common to all the semites; even the Arabs who received the week at quite a late period from the Syrians, greeted the New Moon with religious acclamations. We cannot tell [exactly] when the Sabbath became dissociated from the month." Encyclopedia Biblica (1899 edit) pp 4178 and 4179
"The Hebrew Month is a lunar month and the quarter of this period-one phase of the moon-appears to have determined the week of seven days." Encyclopedia Biblica, (1899 edit.) p.4780
The calendar was originally fixed by observation, and ultimately by calculation. Up to the fall of the Temple (AD 70), witnesses who saw the new moon came forward and were strictly examined and if their evidence was accepted the month was fixed by the priests. Eventually the authority passed to the Sanhedrin and ultimately to the patriarch. Gradually observation gave place to calculation. The right to determine the calendar was reserved to the Patriarchate. The Jews of Mesopotamia [in Babylon] tried in vain to establish their own calendar but the prerogative of Palestine was zealously defended."
So long as Palestine remained a religious centre, it was naturally to the homeland that the Diaspora looked for its calendar. Uniformity was essential, for if different parts had celebrated feasts on different days, confusion would have ensued. It was not until the 4th century A.D. that Babylon fixed the calendar." Encyclopedia Britannica; Vol 4, article "Calendar"
In the 21st century, we take for granted a seven-day week. However, in some ancient cultures, the length of the week differed. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica:
“Among primitive peoples, it was common to count moons (months) rather than days, but later a period shorter than the month was thought more convenient, and an interval between market days was adopted. In West Africa some tribes used a four-day interval; in central Asia five days was customary; the Assyrians adopted five days and the Egyptians, 10 days, whereas the Babylonians attached significance to the days of the lunation that were multiples of seven. In ancient Rome, markets were held at eight-day intervals; because of the Roman method of inclusive numeration, the market day was denoted nundinae (“ninth-day”) and the eight-day week, an inter nundium.” Measurement of time and types of calendars: Standard units and cycles”; Britannica 2002 Deluxe Edition; 1994-2002; Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
Philo of Alexandria
"[The moon] receives the perfect shapes in periods of seven days-the half-moon in the first seven days period after it's conjunction with the sun, full moon in the second..." The Works of Philo, The Special Laws, I, XXXV (177), page 550
The Popular and Critical Bible Encyclopedia
"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 1904 edit) Vol. 3, p. 1497
Rest Days; Hutton Webster
"The (early) Hebrews employed lunar seven-day weeks, which ended with special observances on the seventh day but none the less were tied to the moon's course."
Hutton Webster in his book Rest Days, page 254-255
"These imported [from Babylon] superstitions eventually led Jewish rabbis to call Saturn Shabbti, 'the star of the Sabbath.' [and] it was not until the first century of our era, when the planetary week had become an established institution, that the Jewish Sabbath seems always to have corresponded to Saturn's Day [Saturday]." Rest Days, p244 Hutton Webster
An old and still common theory derives the Sabbath institution from the worship of Saturn after which planet the first day of the astrological week received its designation. The theory is untenable for more than one reason. In the first place the Hebrews did not name their weekdays after the planets, but indicated them by ordinal numbers. In the second place Saturn's day began the planetary week, while the Jewish [Hebrew] Sabbath was regarded as the last day of the seven, a suitable position for a rest day. And in the third place neither the Hebrews nor any other Oriental people ever worshipped the planet Saturn as god and observed his day as a festival. Rest Days p243, Hutton Webster
Those who argue that the present Saturday of the Roman planetary week was always the 7th day of the week are either ignorant of the real facts or otherwise are plain and blunt liars. All authoritative sources plainly show that originally in Rome the week consisted of EIGHT days. And as long as this was the case the week did not begin with SUNDAY but rather with SATURDAY. Yes, in ancient Rome SATURDAY was the FIRST and not the SEVENTH day of their consecutive week. Hutton Webster in his book Rest Days: A Study in Early Law and Morality, on p. 264 clearly points out that originally in Rome, SATURDAY - the DAY of SATURN - began the Roman astrological week: “…the worship of SATURN after which planet the first day of the astrological week [Saturday] received its designation…SATURN'S DAY [SATURDAY] BEGAN THE PLANETARY WEEK, while the Jewish Sabbath was regarded as the LAST DAY.”
It is therefore not true that Saturday was ALWAYS the 7th day of the week. At the time the Romans changed their weekly cycle and made Sunday to be their 1st day of the week and Saturday therefore the 7th, the Jews themselves ceased to observe the Sabbath according to the LUNAR PHASES - as they have done for hundreds of years - adopting the Roman planetary week and Saturday their new 7th day of the week. The Jews did not only abandon and discard the older practice of observing the Sabbath which was closely tied to the phases of the moon but they have eventually even come to call this new Saturday of the Roman planetary week by the name SHABBATH and the planet Saturn by the name SHABBTI, which means “the star of the Sabbath.” Explains Hutton Webster:
“These imported superstitions eventually led Jewish rabbis to call Saturn SHABBTI, "the STAR OF THE SABBATH," [and]...it was not until [after]the first century of our era, when the planetary week had become an established institution, THAT THE JEWISH SABBATH SEEMS ALWAYS TO HAVE CORRESPONDED TO SATURN'S DAY… Dio Cassius [Roman historian born 155 A.D., died after 230 A.D.] also speaks of the Jews having DEDICATED TO THEIR GOD THE DAY CALLED THE DAY OF SATURN “ [Rest Days, p. 244-245].
Roman Calendar Encyclopedia; Days of the week
1st Century (A.D. 70)
How great are the things the enemy did wickedly in the Holy place. They hated your glory in the midst of your solemnities. They placed their signs and banners on the highest places. . . . They burned with fire your sanctuary; they befouled the tabernacle of your name in earth. The kindred of them said together in their hearts; make we all the “feast days” of God to cease from the earth. Psalms 74:3, 7, 8 Wycliffe Bible 1378
2nd Century (Emperor Hadrian)
This change from the luni-solar to a fixed solar calendar occurred in Rome during the repressive measures which were enacted against ALL Jewish customs . . . during the reign of Emperor Hadrian. With the fall of the Nazarene headquarters...at Jerusalem, this new Roman calendar quickly spread throughout ‘Christendom.’ This new calendar not only replaced yearly festival dates such as Passover, but it also revamped the concept of the week and its seventh day. Iranaeus 2nd Century A.D.
4th Century (Emperor Constantine in 321)
The modern seven-day week came into use during the early imperial period, after the Julian calendar came into effect, apparently stimulated by immigration from the Roman East. For a while it coexisted alongside the old 8-day nundinal cycle, and fasti are known which show both cycles. It was finally given official status by Constantine in 321. Roman Calendar Encyclopedia, Days of the Week
Schaff-Herzog Religious Encyclopedia
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 MOON DAYS, 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. Among the Babylonians these seventh days through astrological conceptions became ill-omened, while the sabbath in the middle of the month [15th] was made a day of propitiation, and its name was construed as meaning "the day for ending the wrath of the gods." The Israelites, on the other hand, made the sabbath the feasts of a living and holy God. The work of man became symbolic of the work of God, and human rest of divine rest, so that the sabbaths became preeminently days of rest. Since, moreover, the LUNAR MONTH had 29 or 30 days, the normal lapse of time between sabbaths was six days, although sometimes seven or eight; and six working days were accordingly assigned to the creation, which was to furnish a prototype for human life. the connection of the sabbath with lunar phases, however, was [later] discarded by the israelites..." (The New Schaff-Herzog Religious Encyclopedia pp. 135-136).
Scribner's Dictionary of the Bible
"In the time of the earliest prophets, the New Moon stood in the same line with another lunar observance, the Sabbath. Ezekiel, who curiously enough frequently dates his prophecies on the New Moon.... describes the gate of the inner court of the (new) temple looking eastward as kept shut for the six working days, but opened on the Sabbath and the New Moon." Scribner's Dictionary of the Bible (1898 edit) p.521
Shawui Calendar; Ancient Sabbath Observance
"The [lunar] calendar was used by all the original disciples of Yeshua. This original Nazarene lunar-solar calendar was supplanted by a Roman "planetary week" and calendar in 135 C.E. when the 'Bishops of the Circumcision' (i.e. legitimate Nazarene successors to Yeshua) were displaced from Jerusalem. This began a three hundred year controversy concerning the true calendar and the correct Sabbath." Shawui Calendar: Ancient Shawui Observance
Early historical records clearly confirms that very early Gentile Christians also kept the same Sabbath as the Nazarenes. This practice was first changed by [Pope] Sixtus in 126 AD, and later officially changed by a royal Roman decree from the emperor Constantine. Observance of the Sabbath day was made illegal and observance of a "sunday" of a fixed week was made mandatory for all except farmers. Previous to this time the Roman saturday was the first day of the Roman week. The veneration of the Sun in the second century AD began to pressure Roman culture to change the first day of their week from Saturn Day to sunday. Shawui Sabbath: Ancient Sabbath Observance
“Most theologians and some scholars assume that mainstream Jewish society, at the time of Jesus...was practicing a fixed seven-day week which was the same as the modern fixed seven-day week. This is extremely doubtful. The change, from a lunar to a fixed week, was brought about by the power and influence of Rome. As long as the Nazarenes held power in Jerusalem, all Roman practices and customs, including that of THE CONSECUTIVE WEEK, WERE HELD AT BAY” Shawui Sabbath: Ancient Sabbath Observance
The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar; Arthur Spier
Since Biblical times the months and years of the Jewish calendar have been established by the cycles of the moon and the sun. The traditional law prescribes that the months shall follow closely the course of the moon . . . In the early times of our history the solution was found by the following practical procedure: The beginnings of the months were determined by direct observation of the new moon. . . .
This method of observation and intercalation was in use throughout the period of the second temple (516 B.C.E. – 70 C.E.), and about three centuries after its destruction, as long as there was an independent Sanhedrin. In the fourth century, however, when oppression and persecution threatened the continued existence of the Sanhedrin, the patriarch Hillel II took an extraordinary step to preserve the unity of Israel . . . he made public the system of calendar calculation which up to then had been a closely guarded secret. It had been used in the past only to check the observations and testimonies of witnesses, and to determine the beginnings of the spring season.
In accordance with this system, Hillel II formally sanctified all months in advance, and intercalated all future leap years until such time as a new, recognized Sanhedrin would be established in Israel. This is the permanent calendar according to which the New Moons and Festivals are calculated and celebrated today by the Jews all over the world. Like the former system of observation, it is based on the Luni-Solar principle. Arthur Spier, The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar
The Seven Day Circle; Eviator Zerubavel
The Jewish and and astrological weeks evolved quite independently of one another. However, given the coincidence of their identical length, it was only a matter of time before some permanent correspondence between particular Jewish days and particular planetary days would be made. a permanent correspondence between the sabbath and "The Day Of Saturn" was thus established...[some time] later than the first century of the present era, Jews even came to name the planet saturn shabtai, after the original hebrew name of the sabbath, shabbath. Moreover, as they came into closer contact with Hellenism, their conception of their holy day was evidently affected by the astrological conception of saturn as a planet that has an overwhelming negative influence (a conception which, incidentally, is still evident even from the association of the English word "saturnine" with a gloomy disposition). There are traditional Jewish superstitious beliefs about demons and evil spirits that hold full sway on the Sabbath, and an old Jewish legend even links the choice of "the day of Saturn" as the official Jewish rest day with the superstition that it would be an inauspicious day for doing any work anyway! (The Seven Day Circle: The History and Meaning of the Week, Eviator Zerubavel, New York: The Free Press, 1985. P. 17).
On page 11 Zerubavel makes some interesting comments about the Jewish divorcement of YEHOVAH's true Sabbath day from the lunar phases --...the dissociation of the week from a natural cycle such as the waxing and waning of the moon can be seen as part of a general movement toward introducing a supranatural deity. Not being personified as any particular natural force, the Jewish god was to be regarded as untouched by nature in any way. Accordingly, the day dedicated to this god was to be regarded as part of a divine temporal pattern that transcends even nature itself. That obviously involved dissociating the week from nature and its rhythms. Only by being based on an entirely artificial mathematical rhythm could the Sabbath observance become totally independent of the lunar or any other natural cycle.
Zerubavel goes on to say that
A continuous seven-day cycle that runs throughout history paying no attention whatsoever to the moon and its phases is a distinctly Jewish invention. Moreover, the dissociation of the seven-day week from nature has been one of the most significant contributions of Judaism to civilization. Like the invention of the mechanical clock some 1,500 years later, it facilitates the establishment of what Lewis Mumford identified as "mechanical periodicity," thus essentially increasing the distance between human beings and nature. Quasi [lunar] weeks and [continuous] weeks actually represent two fundamentally distinct modes of temporal organization of human life, the former involving partial adaptation to nature, and the latter stressing total emancipation from it. The invention of the continuous week was therefore one of the most significant breakthroughs in human beings' attempts to break away from being prisoners of nature [and from under God's law] and create a social world of their own (The Seven Day Circle, p. 11).
The Dead Sea Scrolls
When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, archaeologists found several manuscripts which dated, approximately, from the 1st century B.C. What made these particular documents so unusual, however, is that they were for the express purpose of synchronizing the lunar calendar to a longer solar calendar. Archeologists found that two of these scrolls (4Q320 and 4Q321) recorded the beginnings of the solar months and the festivals. A third manuscript, 4Q321a, might also have given this information, but because part of the text had disintegrated over time, it is impossible to know for sure.
The following quotes show how luni-solar dates correspond to dates on the solar calendar. It is important to note that at this time, the Jews were under the dominion of the Romans and the solar year to which they were comparing the luni- solar dates was likely the Julian calendar or its immediate predecessor.
The following quotations are taken from The Dead Sea Scrolls, translated by Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, Jr., and Edward Cook:
4Q320 Mishmerot A (fragment 1, column 1): Line 6: [On the fifth day of Jeda]iah is the twenty-ninth day (of the lunar month), on the thirtieth day of the (first solar) month. Line 12: [On the Sabbath of the course of Seori]m is the twenty-ninth day (of the lunar month), on the twenty-fifth day of the seventh (solar month).
4Q321 Mishmerot Ba (fragment 1, column 1): Lines 4 and 5: . . . and the first crescent [of the moon] is on the sabbath of the course of Pethahiah, on the ninth of the [solar] month.
4Q321a Mishmerot Bb: This fragment regulates the lunar calendar to the solar for the first year, months two through five.
Line 4: [(The full moon is on the) Sabbath of the course of Koz, on the thirtieth day of the second (solar) month, and the first crescent is on the first day of Malchijah, on the seventeenth] of the month.
Line 5: [(The full moon is) on the first day of Eliashib, on the twenty-ninth day of the third (solar) month, and the first crescent] is on the second day of Jeshua, on the [sixteenth] of the month.
Universal Jewish Encyclopedia
"...each lunar month was divided into four parts corresponding to the four phases of the moon. The first week of each month began with the new moon, so that, as the lunar month was one or two days more than four periods of seven days, the additional days were not reckoned at all." The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol 10. p482 Article "week"
"The idea of the week, as a subdivision of the month [was found]...in Babylonia, where each lunar month was divided into four parts, corresponding To The Four Phases Of The Moon. The first week of each month began With The New Moon, so that, as the lunar month was one or two days more than four periods of seven days, these additional days were not reckoned at all. Every seventh day (sabbatum) was regarded as an unlucky day. This method of reckoning time spread westward through Syria and Palestine, and was adopted By The Israelites, probably after they settled in Palestine" (The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia vol. 10, p. 482. Article "Week.").
"In the Diaspora the New Moon came to occupy a secondary position in contrast to the Sabbath; the prohibition against work and the carrying on of commerce was lifted, and the New Moon, although still celebrated by means of increased offerings, soon was reduced to the rank of a minor of half holiday. Its importance was confined to the fact that it remained of great value and necessity for the fixing of the festivals." (Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, "New Moon," Vol. 8, p. 171.
Revised July 10 2011