Data About Dating

by George F Spall

Calendars are rather like the Mississippi, are they not? They all "Just keep rollin' along". Like the oceans, they are unstoppable, and, whatever their origin, be they Moslem or Judean, Roman or Chinese, they all proceed at the same pace.

Judean and Christian calendars are both religious in intent and have close association, or are believed to have, but in fact their celebrations do not often coincide.

Because this magazine has to be posted regularly, we work to the western world's secular system of measuring them. However, this scribe holds the calendar that Moses set out so precisely in Vayikra (Leviticus) chapter twenty-three in high esteem; and this screed is to consider that.

Moses measured years in 'moonths' (to play with a word) even though this meant that an extra month had to be inserted into the year three times in each span of nineteen years so that it maintained parity with the solar year. The system has worked very well.

Moses acted under God's authority when he ordained that the sacred year begin in Abib with Passover and conclude in Tishri with the Feast of Tabernacles seven months later. That provided that the seven significant festivals were contained within seven months.

The extra month when required was inserted AFTER Tabernacles and BEFORE Passover so that the spiritual symmetry and the significance were not spoiled. Judaism's reversion to the earlier Chaldean system which the Lord had rejected has blurred this spiritual symbolism somewhat.

The Eternal, blessed be his Name, is outside of time, but measures and masters it, so we do well to take notice. Does the ineffable Name that is never spoken carry the idea of "I ever shall be that which I am and ever have been"? I believe it does.


During this year of 1986 the Christian Pentecost was observed on May 18th. The Jewish community will keep it on a Friday, June 13th. We would choose the SUNDAY, June 15th, so as to be consistent with the calendar in Leviticus 23. This is the "day after the Sabbath" as it required.

There is not really any Scriptural warrant for the method used to arbitrarily decide on the date of Easter, and that affects the Christian date for its Pentecost. It is but a clerical decision dressed in the robes of tradition. It was decided to celebrate the Resurrection on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox.

They do have a point when they count seven weeks from the Sabbath day that follows Pesach. With that Sabbath day counted in as verses 11 and 16 of Leviticus 23 indicate they should be, they can call that day -- Pentecost. The mistake is made when they calculate the day for Easter!


A study of Jewish literature on the subject shows that discussions about the date for the observance of Shavuot (Pentecost) have occupied Rabbinic scholarship for centuries, for this is the only "Feast of the Lord" that is undated. Much of the reason for the interminable discussion results from the teaching of the Rabbis that the written Torah which we have in our Bibles "is only the first part of the Oral Law", a quotation from Dr. Chaim Pearl, M.A. Ph.D., published by the JEWISH CHRONICLE PUBLICATIONS of London.

In his book GUIDE TO SHAVUOT he has also written " … the world has fallen into a state of primitive lawlessness which can be redeemed only by an unqualified return to the original teachings, of God, proclaimed at Sinai." We heartily endorse that comment.


Speaking of the Law proclaimed on Sinai provokes the observation that it was that same proclamation that gave rise to the celebration of Pentecost itself, and gave us one of its names, "The Time of the Giving of the Law" -- on the 6th Sivan.

Exodus 19:1 reads: "In the third month after the Israelites went out of Egypt, the same day, they came to the wilderness of Sinai." The use of the phrase "the same day" in other Bible passages assures the Rabbis that it means THE FIRST DAY OF THE MONTH.

The next day Moses went up the mountain. It was the second day of the month. He came down of the third to propose the Law and climbed again on the fourth with Israel's acceptance of the legislation. It was after that he was commanded to institute three days of preparation, on the last of which the legislation that had been proposed was imposed.

Israel had left Egypt on the 15th day of Abib after the night of the Passover. The 6th day of Sivan was fifty days later. Israel's day for keeping Passover this year was 24th April and fifty days after that is Friday 13 June. Our claim is that it should be Sunday 15th June!

However, Dr. Pearl is quite right when he urges us to "an unqualified return to the original teachings of God proclaimed from Sinai." To do this, we must re-read carefully Leviticus 23 where precise details for the observance of the "seven feasts of the Lord" are set out. The first four of the seven are closely linked with Passover. The second one was the Week of Unleavened Bread, which is today absorbed with the original Passover day when the lamb was killed, and the whole known as Pesach or Passover.

The third was known as the Waving of the Sheaf of First-fruits which today does not receive as much attention as a rule, but it is there in the Torah plainly enough. It was kept on yom rishon , the first day of the week. "And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you; on the morrow after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it."

The fourth one had to be kept seven sevens of days after that, hence its name Shavuot (Weeks). We notice that Moses keeps things that belong to one another in paragraphs. The third festival and the fourth are in the same one between verses 9 and 22. Both of them had to be offered "on the morrow after the Sabbath" as can be seen by reference to verses 11 and 16.

It is argued that both the first and seventh days of unleavened bread are Sabbath days because there was to be "no servile work done on them." There is a pertinent reply to this, of course, because in the first paragraph in verse 3 Moses describes the Sabbath day and leaves no doubt at all that it is the seventh day of the week. The other two days are known as "holy convocations" to distinguish them from the weekly Sabbath.


The two names Shavuot and Pentecost are significant. Shavuot keeps before us the Divine chronology (see THE VINEYARD October 1985), and the addition of the Sabbath day to that seven weeks makes fifty, which is the number of Jubilee and speaks of freedom, remission of debts, restoration to full inheritance.

The complete Passover-Pentecost season occupies fifty days and brings joy and rest. The forty-nine years plus one bring us to a Jubilee of fifty years and also bring us to a time of rest. The Divine arrangement of time assures us of his tender loving care. God knows what he is doing, and why.

3,000 DIED; 3,000 LIVED

While celebrating Pentecost with flowers and the eating of dairy foods and honey as is fitting, because the observance of the Ten Words brings happiness and well-being, a sombre note can be heard behind the happy songs. We remember the death of 3,000 who died on that dreadful day at the foot of the Mountain of God. They had doubted and disobeyed. Doubt first, then disobedience.

Christians regard the lamb in the original Passover in Egypt as a graphic portrayal in advance, as it were, of the Man known as Yeshua ha Mashiach. It explains why the title Lamb is applied to him in the fourth gospel and in the last book of the Bible where it occurs twenty-eight times as a synonym for him. He was 'ha seh' as we have noted in my other message (page 3).

That was a momentous Pentecost in the year when 'ha seh' was delivered by the predetermined counsel of God. On that day 3,000 lost their doubts, and did believe. That day, too, was marked by noise and fire. It's all recorded in Acts 2 in the New Testament.

One of the loveliest hymns I know is Rabbi Gabriel Falk's translation of the eleventh century composition: Akdumath.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,

Were every blade of grass a quill,

Were the whole world of parchment made,

And every man a scribe by trade,

To write the love of God above,

Would drain the ocean dry,

Nor would the scroll contain the whole,

Though stretched from sky to sky.