There are just two calendars that can be used to determine the passage of time, and both of them are celestial. The first one is the solar calendar which is determined by the sun’s positioning. The summer solstice is the longest day of the year (from the point of view of the northern hemisphere). It is also the day when the sun is at its highest point in the sky. When the sun gets to the highest point again, it’s been one year. In ancient times it could be measured by erecting monuments (such as Stonehenge) or other rock structures for making such observations. It is the same for the winter solstice, the year’s shortest day. There are approximately 365.2422 days in a solar calendar because that’s how long it takes for the earth to orbit the sun.
The other celestial calendar is the lunar calendar. A moon calendar, more commonly called a lunar calendar, follows the monthly cycles of the moon’s phases. It’s one of the oldest calendars in the world that creates lunar months, also known as synodic months.
A lunar month is simply one that occurs between two successive syzygies, such as new moons and full moons. The word month is derived from the word moon. On average, there are approximately 29.53 days between each phase of the moon. A lunar year is only about 354 days, so you would lose 11 days annually compared to our modern-day solar calendar’s Gregorian calendar.
Ancient civilizations used the moon’s phases to help identify the seasons (Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter). Since each season has at least three full moons, this instructed them in knowing when to schedule necessary activities like harvesting and hunting. The moon calendar was used for ritual and religious purposes and still is today. Easter, Rosh Hashanah, Ramadan, and the Chinese New Year are just a few holidays or feast days that rely on the (moon) lunar calendar.
The Jewish religious calendar is a combination lunar and solar calendar called a lunisolar calendar. A new month is determined by the new moon, which will be the first day of the new month on the calendar. The middle of the month (the 15th day) will occur on a full moon. A month will have between 28-30 days, and a year will have 353-355 days. An intercalary month is added every 2-3 years to keep the harvests and religious activities (Feasts of the Lord) in their proper seasons. Over time, the lunisolar calendar will have the same number of days as the solar calendar.
I suppose you could add another type of solar calendar to the mix. With this calendar, you would count days (sun-rise to sun-rise) and determine how many days you wanted in a month and how many months you wanted in a year. The 360-day calendar is one such calendar. With this 360-day calendar, you would have 30 days in a month and 12 months in a year for 360 days in a year. This is 5-6 days shy of an actual solar calendar, so without an intercalary month added periodically, the months would eventually drift into different seasons from which the calendar first started. This calendar is strictly for counting days and years (not solar years). I don’t know why anyone would use such a calendar if it couldn’t be reconciled to the solar calendar. Yet, this is the (prophetic) calendar the Jews were supposed to use to determine Daniel’s prophecy of 70 Weeks (Daniel 9:24-27)?
The Jews should have known when their Messiah was to come as it was prophesied in Daniel’s prophecy (Daniel 9:25-26) of the 69 sevens, for Jesus said upon his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children with you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19-42-44).
If the Jews should have known when their Messiah was to come, how would they have known to use a calendar that they had never used before? Even if they knew they were to use a “prophetic” calendar of 360 days, that means they would have to count 173,880 days (483 years of 360 days per year), or they would have to count 30 days per month for 5,769 months. Of course, this would be in addition to keeping up with their standard lunisolar calendar. I find all this highly unlikely and believe the accurate calendar used in Daniel’s prophecy is the one the Jews had always used, which is the lunisolar calendar. The children of Israel already had a calendar in place for keeping up with large swaths of time, the Shemitah or Shmita year (every seven years) and the Jubilee year (every 50 years).
Of course, the Jews would have to know what years were Shemitah and Jubilee years. Did they recognize that the start of Daniel’s prophecy occurred in 444 BC when Artaxerxes issued his decree and that this was an actual Shemitah year (a seven)? Did they realize that they were to count (inclusively) 69 Shemitah years until their Messiah was to come? I don’t know if they did or not, but according to Jesus’ own words, they should have. If God had wanted his people to know when their Messiah was to come, He couldn’t have given them a better clue than telling them it would occur after “69 sevens” instead of saying “483 years.” The word “seven” was a direct reference to the Shemitah year.
Another so-called “solar calendar” has recently received much attention. It is the 364-day calendar that the Essenes of Qumran supposedly used. The Essenes were a mystic Jewish sect living during the Second Temple period that flourished from the 2nd century BC to the 1st century AD.
“The Jewish historian Josephus records that Essenes existed in large numbers (thousands) and lived throughout Roman Judaea. They were fewer in number than the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the other two major sects at the time. The Essenes lived in various cities but congregated in communal life dedicated to voluntary poverty, daily immersion, and asceticism (their priestly class practiced celibacy). The Essenes have gained fame in modern times due to a discovery of an extensive group of religious documents known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are commonly believed to be the Essenes’ library. These documents preserve multiple copies of the Hebrew Bible untouched from possibly as early as 300 BC until their discovery in 1967.” Essenes – Wikipedia
The Dead Sea Scrolls consist of about 800 texts. Among the texts discovered were over 200 copies of all the different books of the Hebrew Bible, except Esther. While most manuscripts were fragmentary, a few, such as Isaiah, were complete. Also found among the Dead Sea Scrolls are portions of the Old Testament Apocrypha – the Book of Tobit, the Letter of Jeremiah, and Sirach. Other non-canonical books were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls – The Book of Jubilees and the Book of Enoch.
Many of the Dead Sea Scrolls have references to a unique calendar used by the people who lived around the Dead Sea area, who are often considered Essenes. This calendar is based on an ideal calendar of twelve 30-day months thought to have existed in ancient Mesopotamia (but more likely had an intercalary month added periodically), to which were added four cardinal days at the equinoxes (spring, fall) and solstices (summer, winter), making a total of 364 days. Each season would have three months of 30, 30, and 31 days with the cardinal day being the extra day at the end of the season for a total of 91 days. A 364-day calendar year divides into 52 weeks exactly (7 x 52 = 364).
Each season starts on the 4th day of the week (Wednesday). Every Feast of the Lord is on the same day of the week in the same month. Passover is always on a Tuesday, Nisan 14. The week of Unleavened Bread occurs from Wednesday Nisan 15 to Tuesday Nisan 21. Firstfruits is on Sunday, Nisan 26. The next day begins the “counting of the Omer” for 50 days until Pentecost. The 50th day, Pentecost, occurs on Sunday, Sivan 15. The summer solstice occurs the day after Sivan 30, the day before Tammuz 1.
The day after Elul 30 is the calculated fall equinox. The next day is Wednesday, Tishri 1, which is Trumpets. On Friday, Tishri 10 is the Day of Atonement. Wednesday, Tishri 15 through Tuesday, Tishri 21 is the Feast of Tabernacles. The next day, Wednesday, Tishri 22, is the day for reading and meditating on the Law of God. The winter solstice is included after Kislev 3 on a Tuesday. The last day of the month is Monday, Adar 30. The cycle then repeats. Wednesday, Nisan 1, or New Year’s Day, is the following day.
If you don’t count the cardinal days as one of the 30 days of the month, then this calendar could be called a 360-day calendar. Still, you have to count them in the weekly cycles (all four are figured as Tuesdays) and, therefore, the yearly calendar, so it is actually a 364-day calendar. This calendar was primarily used by the Essenes (but not the ruling group of Pharisees and Sadducees) as an ideal calendar for keeping the Feasts of the Lord on the same day of the week and month every year and for rotating the priests in the Holy Temple.
During the time of David, the priests were divided into 24 groups. Each group would work approximately two weeks per year. With 24 groups and 52 evenly divided weeks (if the Essenes calendar had been used), the service would rotate around the calendar ideally. John the Baptist’s father, Zachariah, was included in these priestly groups.
With only 364 days, the calendar would be very noticeably different from the actual seasons after several years, but there is nothing to indicate what was done about this problem. Scholars have made various suggestions. One is that nothing was done, and the calendar was allowed to change concerning the seasons. This would mean the Feasts of the Lord would not occur in their proper seasons. Another suggestion is that changes were made irregularly, only when the seasonal anomaly was too significant to be ignored.
The writings often discuss the moon, but the calendar was not based on the movement of the moon (observed) any more than indications of the moon’s phases on a modern western calendar indicate that it is a lunar calendar. A recent analysis of one of the last scrolls remaining to be deciphered has revealed that the sect used the word tekufah to identify each of the four special days marking the transitions between the seasons. Otherwise, the observance of the moon did not appear to influence the monthly calendar of the Essenes in direct contrast to what the Tanakh had stipulated. “Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon, At the full moon, on our solemn feast day” (Psalm 81:3).
We know the first four Feasts of the Lord were fulfilled historically by the Israelites (and the last three as well) and prophetically by Lord Jesus. This means God would not have allowed these Feasts of the Lord to occur on any day other than their appointed day (days of the week and month). For example, we know Jesus died on Passover, Nisan 14 on a Thursday. If we are to believe the Essene calendar, Jesus would have died on a Tuesday, which is not Biblically correct. If Jesus died on a full moon, we need to observe His death on a full moon. We know Jesus rose from the grave three days later on Firstfruits, Nisan 17, and not on Nisan 26 as the Essene calendar would have it. Firstfruits occurs on the first day after the Sabbath, which follows Passover, not the second one. If you get the date of Firstfruits wrong, then you will get the date of Pentecost (50 days later) wrong as well.
The 364-day calendar looks good on paper but is not Biblically sound. The Jewish lunisolar calendar is the actual calendar used by Moses, the judges, priests, and kings of Israel, not some mysterious 360-364 day calendar observed for several centuries by a small sect in Israel. No record of any kind says this calendar was used by the ancients from the time of Creation to the 2nd century BC and was replaced with a lunar calendar by corrupt Jewish priests, as some writers have claimed.
I also believe the Jewish calendar, with its Shemitah and Jubilee years, is the correct one to decipher Daniel’s prophecy of 70 Sevens (Daniel 9:24-27). As I mentioned in my previous article, In The Midst of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks Prophecy (rev310.net), the 69 sevens prophecy was from 444 BC to AD 33. It’s interesting that for this 476-year timeframe, there are 173,847 days in a Jewish calendar (Nisan to Nisan), and there are 173,856 days in a Julian calendar (January to January)… only nine days difference. The end date for this prophecy occurred when Jesus was “cut off” or crucified on Passover, Nisan 14, or April 2, AD 33 on the Julian calendar. If you subtract 173,847 days from this date, you come to Nisan 14 or April 14, 444 BC on the Julian calendar, which is most likely the start of Daniel’s prophecy.
Even though this timeline was from Nisan to Nisan, it still contained 69 sevens or Shemitah years that start on Tishri 1 (the Feast of Trumpets) and end on Elul 29. Tishri 1 is the start of the new year on the Jewish civil calendar, where the year count changes. So, there are 69 sevens (Sabbath years) within the 476 years (444 BC to AD 33) timeline of Daniel’s prophecy. The last seven or 70th seven of Daniel’s prophecy will be the “year of the Lord,” which will start on a Feast of Trumpets day; 353-355 days later, Jesus will return on the next Feast of Trumpets day. Remember, I am not talking about the last seven years (Shemitah cycle or week). I am talking about the last actual Shemitah year itself.
The last seven years of Daniel’s prophecy (otherwise known as the Tribulation, Jacob’s Trouble, Day of the Lord, Daniel’s 70th week) will not start and end on a Feast of Trumpets day, however. Just as the first 69 sevens of Daniel’s prophecy didn’t begin and end on a Feast of Trumpets (Tishri 1) day, neither will the last seven (the 70th).
In my last article, I gave two examples (using the Jewish calendar) with the scenario of 2022-2029 and 2023-2030 being Daniel’s last week (seven years). I want to revise 2023-2030 by one day and give you a few more examples. These four examples will cover the years 2023 – 2033. In 2033, it will have been 2000 years since Jesus was last on the earth. All four examples have the starting and end dates as Heshvan 1 on the Jewish calendar. All four have 1260 days between Nisan 10, the “in the midst” mid-point (Abomination of Desolation), and Tishri 1, the Feast of Trumpets, when Jesus returns. All four have 1290 days between the A.O.D. and the end of the Tribulation (or 30 days from Tishri 1). To find the start (for all four examples), you must deduct 1290 days from the total amount of days in the seven years. In all four models, it will be on Heshvan 1.
One: 2023-2030 –Exactly 2569 days on the Jewish calendar
Jewish Calendar Gregorian Calendar
Start – Heshvan 1, 5784 10/14/2023
Mid – Nisan 10, 5787 4/16/2027
2nd Advent – Tishri 1, 5791 9/27/2030
End – Heshvan 1, 5791 10/27/2030
Two: 2024-2031 – Exactly 2541 days on the Jewish calendar
Jewish Calendar Gregorian Calendar
Start – Heshvan 1, 5785 11/02/2024
Mid – Nisan 10, 5788 4/05/2028
2nd Advent – Tishri 1, 5792 9/17/2031
End – Heshvan 1, 5792 10/17/2031
Three: 2025-2032 – Exactly 2540 days on the Jewish calendar
Jewish Calendar Gregorian Calendar
Start – Heshvan 1, 5786 10/22/2025
Mid – Nisan 10, 5789 3/25/2029
2nd Advent – Tishri 1, 5793 9/05/2032
End – Heshvan 1, 5793 10/05/2032
Four: 2026-2033 – Exactly 2569 days on the Jewish calendar
Jewish Calendar Gregorian Calendar
Start – Heshvan 1, 5787 10/11/2026
Mid – Nisan 10, 5790 4/12/2030
2nd Advent – Tishri 1, 5794 9/23/2033
End – Heshvan 1, 5794 10/23/2033
Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!