You know one of the greatest things about the Bible’s calendar? It’s right up there in the daytime and nighttime sky for us to see. YHWH didn’t hang His calendar on our wall, He hung it in the heavens to declare His glory and His redemptive message about Yeshua, our salvation. But how far back does our current Biblical calendar extend into the past? And what calendar does the Bible use when predicting the future? These are the questions we will explore today.
Our last article Calendar Confusion and the Basics of Biblical Time looked at the gears of YHWH’s heavenly Rolex with the goal of understanding what drives the Bible’s calendar through the days, weeks, months, and years of our existence. That exploration highlighted the solar and lunar cycles as the two main gears of YHWH’s celestial timepiece.
It was a 365.24 day solar cycle, we learned, which drives our day-to-day existence, that seemingly endless pattern of labor and rest under the curse of sin, which was set in motion by the sin of our Edenic ancestors.
The lunar cycle, on the other hand, is the gear of YHWH’s Rolex which drives the Biblical months upon which YHWH’s divine appointments are ordered, those ancient Biblical holydays which foretold the first coming of the Messiah as a suffering redemptive servant and which also tell of a yet future day when the Messiah will return as a conquering king.
Our exploration of this subject also uncovered the startling fact that these two sides of the Bible’s calendar (the lunar & solar cycles) were purposely designed by YHWH to be out of synch so that they could be reconciled by a 13th month. This 13th month “intercalation” we learned reconciles the side of the Bible’s calendar which drives mankind’s labor and rest with the side of the calendar which promises mankind’s redemption and reconciliation through Yeshua.
So in awesome Biblical congruency, we see YHWH designed the Biblical calendar to declare His redemptive message through Yeshua our messiah. Just as the two sides of the Bible’s calendar are reconciled by a 13th month so too mankind and our sins are reconciled to YHWH by Yeshua who the apostle Matthew intriguingly showed to be the 13th enumeration in Matthew 1. Further we saw this same symbolism embedded in the sacrificial redemptive rites of the Bible’s holydays otherwise known as mow’eds or divine appointments.
The Biblical Calendar Today
So today each of us can look up into the heavens and see for ourselves that YHWH’s Rolex is driven by a solar gear of 365.24 days and a lunar gear of 29.53 days. The Bible is clear, YHWH ordered His calendar based upon the cycles of the sun and moon. With this knowledge it’s just awesomely reassuring to know that despite the multitude of calendars mankind has invented through the millennia we simply aren’t capable of messing with YHWH’s calendar. No matter what we do, for those willing to look, it is there to remind us of our sin and YHWH’s promised redemption through Yeshua.
Okay, you might say it is evident that the Biblical calendar today is based upon a solar year of 365.24 days and a lunar month of 29.53 days. But what about the past? Have the lunar and solar cycles changed and if they did, what reasonable evidence do we have to determine when they changed?
You see the reason this question is important is because many well-meaning Biblical scholars claim, like the famous Sir Robert Anderson, that despite what we see in the heavens today, the real Biblical calendar is made up of lunar months of 30 days each. Others claim the Bible should be understood in light of a strictly solar year disconnected from the lunar cycles.
So were there such calendars in the Biblical past and if so when did they begin and when/or did they end? And even more importantly, when interpreting the Bible’s prophetic record should we be ignoring the calendar YHWH has placed in the heavens for us today in favor of one of these theoretical calendars which may or may not have existed in the past? These are the questions we will now pursue.
Ezekiel’s 13th Month
Let’s start with the Biblical record. In a past blog post we looked at Ezekiel’s 13th Month. We learned that in fact there is reasonable Biblical evidence to show that as far back as the 2nd temple era (circa 600 BC) the Bible used a lunar/solar calendar intercalated by a 13th month. I won’t reproduce the article here but you’ll find it at this link: Ezekiel’s 13th Month.
Because of the way YHWH designed the orbits of the earth and moon the Biblical calendar has built into it important waypoints which can be verify by the historical record. You see these waypoints are really observable eclipses of the sun and moon. These amazing celestial displays are YHWH’s way of getting our attention and marking time in the heavens.
Probably the most famous of our generation were the so called Blood Moons popularized by Pastor Mark Biltz. Thanks in part to the sensationalism surrounding this series of lunar/solar eclipses, for the first time in the modern age many people were given a glimpse of how the Bible reckons time. Like never before they were able to make that connection between the cycles of the sun and moon, the Biblical calendar, and the Bibles holydays (mow’eds). To be sure there were those who took Pastor Biltz’s information and used it in a manner that it was not intended, but when the celestial dust settled mankind was given a new awareness of how the Bible reckons time.
In my opinion someday we will look back on the Blood Moons of 2014/2015 and realize that their real significance was that for the first time in the history of the world (thanks to modern technology) nearly all mankind was reminded to pay attention to how YHWH reckons time. The significance of this should not be underestimated. 2014/2015 marked the first time in 6000 years that nearly every person on earth had the ability to see YHWH’s calendar mark, a specific period of time with an amazing celestial display. Seriously this should make your hair stand up. Are you paying attention?
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: (Romans 1:18-20)
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof. (Psalm 19:1-6)
Lunar/solar Eclipses in the Historical Record
While the Blood Moons of 2014/2015 were the first of such eclipses to captivate the entire world, mankind has been recording these amazing celestial displays for at least 2700 years now.
This is important because the historical eclipse record is one way to determine how far back in ancient history our current Biblical calendar has extended. For example when the royal astronomers of Babylon (like the prophet Daniel) recorded eclipses, those records acted like historical waypoints and thanks to modern computing, we can run the lunar/solar cycles backwards and verify the veracity of those records.
Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon. Daniel 2:48
The reason this is important to our understanding of the Biblical calendar is because when you accumulate a series of these waypoints we can determine with reasonable accuracy the length of both the lunar and solar cycles through history as well as linking those eclipse records to both Biblical and ancient history.
YHWH made us. He knew mankind would start recording His celestial displays because they were something out of the ordinary. Kind of like children attracted to sunlight reflected of a piece of glass, mankind, as far back as recorded history goes, has been enthralled by YHWH’s heavenly displays.
The sum of the matter concerning the eclipse record and the length of the lunar and solar cycle is that we have reasonable evidence to show that the sun’s cycle has remained relatively constant at 365.24 days per year since at least 700 BC. We also have reasonable historical evidence to show that from the 2nd temple era to the present, the cycle of the moon has remained relatively constant at 29.53 days. In other words, the eclipse record shows that the Biblical calendar that we observe today was the same calendar that Daniel, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and yes, even Yeshua saw in the heavens when they lived during the second temple period. But what about farther back in history. What kind of calendar was used before the 2nd temple era? To that we now turn our attention.
(For those who like to dig deeper into this subject I would recommend Richard Stephenson’s book Historical Eclipses and the Earth’s Rotation. If you can’t afford to purchase the book you can always get a copy through your local inter-library loan program.)
The Solar Year
First let’s look at the solar year. The following historical evidence shows reasonable examples which prove that the solar year of 365.24 days was the accepted duration of the solar cycle as far back as 2nd and 3rd millennium BC.
Before we get started I want to stress again the important fact that the Bible’s calendar is comprised of both lunar and solar cycles. You can’t have one without the other. In other words if at some point in the past the lengths of the solar or lunar cycles were different than they are today then this must be accounted for in any calculation of the Bible’s prophecies. That is the goal here, to determine the calendar the Bible uses to calculate its prophetic record.
The Last Wonder of the Ancient World
So, just how far back into antiquity do we have evidence for a 365.24 day year? Not only will the answer surprise you, but,I believe, it will fascinate you as well. Let’s start with the Great Pyramid of Giza, the last remaining of the seven ancient wonders of the world. Believed to be built sometime around 2600-2500 BC this ancient megalith at 481 feet tall, remained the tallest manmade structure in the world for nearly 3800 years. Surprisingly, archeologists and researchers have shown that built into the very base measurements of this structure was a representation of the solar, sidereal, and anomalistic years. The interior passages were no less intriguing. The picture below shows the Ante-Chamber and the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid and here too we find a relatively accurate representation of the solar year as found in the measurements of both chambers:
As you can see by the measurements above, the length of the year was not only known nearly five millennia ago, but it was so well known that it was an integral factor in the construction of one of mankind’s most impressive building accomplishments.
It should be noted here that even the 1st century, Jewish historian Josephus, nearly 2000 years ago wrote about an Egyptian monument which represented the astronomical order of the heavens. A monument, which he claimed, was built before the flood by the descendants of Shem and which still existed in his day.
Now this Seth, … so did he leave children behind him who imitated his virtues…
They also were the inventors of that peculiar sort of wisdom which is concerned with the heavenly bodies, and their order. And that their inventions might not be lost before they were sufficiently known, upon Adam’s prediction that the world was to be destroyed at one time by the force of fire, and at another time by the violence and quantity of water,
… they made two pillars, the one of brick, the other of stone:
they inscribed their discoveries on them both, that in case the pillar of brick should be destroyed by the flood, the pillar of stone might remain, and exhibit those discoveries to mankind; and also inform them that there was another pillar of brick erected by them.
Now this remains in the land of Siriad [Egypt] to this day. (Antiquities of the Jews 1:68-71)
The Aroura & Cubit
In ancient Egypt the length of the solar year was of such importance that is was also incorporated into one of Egypt’s common area measurements called the Aroura. This Aroura measurement was then used as the basis for the Egypt’s royal cubit. Archeologist have uncovered evidence for Egyptian royal cubits from as far back as the Old Kingdom circa 2700 BC. For more on the relationship of the Egyptian Aroura, Pi, the royal Cubit, and a 365.24 day solar year you can read my article: The Ancient Origins of the Cubit
The next stop in our historical survey takes us to ancient England and the enigmatic megalithic monument Stonehenge. Built sometime between 3000 – 2000 BC this impressive stone monument has a fascinating feature that most scientists have all but ignored. The famous English archaeologist and Egyptologist, Sir Flinders Petrie, in his work Stonehenge: Plans, Description, and Theories notes that the diameter of the inner circle of stones is 1168 British inches, thus giving the inside diameter of that circle a circumference of 3652.5. This “year” circle, as it was known by the Egyptians, was an ancient area measure which shows the relationship between a 365.24 day year and Pi. For more on this see my article The Ancient Origins of the Cubit.
For more on the 365 day year in antiquity see the following:
- Solar Eclipses of Historical Note: NASA
- Sothic cycle: Wikipedia
- Historical Eclipses and the Earth’s Rotation by F. Richard Stepheson
- Ancient Egyptian Calendars used 365 days years and included an intercalary 13th (See Egyptian Calendar Encyclopedia Britannica)
In summary, there is reasonable if not compelling evidence as far back a 2700 BC to show that the sun’s solar cycle was 365.24 (.25) days in length. According to the Masoretic Text of the Bible the Deluge took place in approximately 2300-2400 BC therefore this suggests that at a very minimum the length of the solar side of the Biblical calendar at the time of the flood consisted of a solar cycle of 365.24 days in length. There is virtually no evidence to suggest that the solar cycle, at least in recorded history, was ever 360 days in length. With the solar side of the Biblical calendar well established in historical fact we now turn our attention to the lunar cycle.
The lunar Cycle in History & the Bible
When I set out to write this article I was surprised by the amount of information out there related to historical calendars and the 13th intercalary month. I knew about the eclipse records and Biblical evidence related to Ezekiel’s 13th month but when looking closer at the available information related to the ancient calendars of the Chinese, Egyptians, and other cultures it became apparent that an intercalary 13th month was part of many of the very earliest recorded calendar traditions.
Here’s the bottom line regarding a 13th month. Many of the oldest recorded calendars in history show evidence that they understood the need to add an intercalary 13th month. Two of the most notable examples come from ancient calendars of the Egyptians and the Chinese. Their intercalary 13th month provides reasonable evidence that the lunar cycle of today is much the same as it was 4500 and possibly even 5000 years ago. Any further back and the subject becomes a bit murky.
In the links below I’ve provided several ways for you to follow the lunar cycle of 29.53 days into the ancient past. I encourage you to explore the evidence for yourself.
- Ezekiel’s 13th Month.
- The Sky Disk of Nebra found in Saxony Germany in 1999 is a bronze age artifact dated to 1600 BC which was used to reconcile the lunar/solar calendar by adding a 13th See: Wikipedia and Sky Disk
- Sothic cycle: Wikipedia
- Historical Eclipses and the Earth’s Rotation by F. Richard Stepheson
- Intercalary months were recognized by the Shang Dynasty of ancient China (1500-1000 BC) Reference: Earlier Chinese Calendars & Shang Dynasty
- The Yellow Emperor, Zhuanxu, Xia, Yin, Zhou and Lu calendars were also lunar/solar with an intercalary 13th (see Wikipedia Ancient Chinese Calendars)
- Ancient Egyptian Calendars used 365 days years and included an intercalary 13th (See Egyptian Calendar Encyclopedia Britannica)
A 360 Day “prophetic” Year
So what about a 360 day year? If you’ve read a few books on Bible prophecy then you are probably aware of the so called “prophetic” 360 day year popularized by Sir Robert Anderson in his wonderful book The Coming Prince. After reading the evidence above you might be wondering where Anderson came up with a 360 day year. After all, we’ve learned that the Bible’s calendar is based upon both the lunar and solar cycles and these cycles have remained much the same for the past 4500 years.
For chronological context’s sake it’s important to reiterate that the above evidence means our present solar cycle of 365.24 days and our lunar cycle of 29.53 days predates the Exodus of Israel from Egypt and calendar instructions YHWH gave to Moses at Sinai. These same cycles were recorded back to the dawn of recorded history and the Biblical era of the great Deluge.
Noah’s 360 Day Year
Interestingly it is the flood account to which many like Sir Robert Anderson point to justify a 360 day calendar. So let’s see what the Bible has to say about it. In the Biblical account of the flood it states that Noah and his family entered the ark on the 17th day of the 2nd month. That very same day the flood came and the waters “prevailed” upon the earth for 150 days. Then YHWH remembered Noah and on the 17th day of the 7th month (5 months later) the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat. Here take a look:
In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. 12 And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights. (Genesis 7:11-12)
And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days. (Genesis 7:24)
And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged; The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained; 3 And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated. And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat. And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month: in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen. (Genesis 8:1-5)
30 Day Months
From the account above it appears that there were 150 days in a 5 month period. This would seem to indicate that in Noah’s day the months were 30 days in length. Frankly this would appear to be a reasonable assumption even though there are other possibilities as well.
But the real question here: Is this above information reasonable grounds to then conclude that the lunar side of the Biblical calendar at that time was composed of twelve of these 30 day months for a lunar year of 360 days? Further, since the Biblical calendar also incorporates the solar cycle, does this then give us grounds to conclude the solar year was at one time 360 days as well? Remember even if the lunar cycle was 30 days at one time, in order to have an accurate rendering of the Biblical calendar it must intercalated with the solar year.
Take a moment to pursue the chart to the right. This chart is the sum total of the evidence used by many to conclude that five 30 day months of Noah’s day are sufficient evidence to supersede the Biblical calendar as it existed when YHWH gave Israel their calendar instructions and the same calendar you and I see in the heavens today. Not very compelling, is it?
It is an even more difficult proposition when you consider that today the first 5 months of our own modern calendar are equal to 150 days. How many people today take those first 5 months and try to argue that our months are 30 days each and our year is really only 360 days? A rather unreasonable assumption wouldn’t you say?
360 Day Calendar in Antiquity
In the links I gave above (or a quick internet search) you’ll find that many ancient cultures had a 360 day calendar made up of 30 day months. Indeed many prophecy teachers today point to this fact when trying to strengthen their 360 day “prophetic” year theory. The problem with this theory is that these cultures also acknowledged that their calendars needed an extra 5 days to synchronize them with the solar cycle.
Further, it becomes apparent from the historical record that these 30 day months were likely a formulary approximation of the 29.53 day lunar cycle existent at that time. Simply put, they averaged the lunar cycle and then accounted for the missing days at the end of the year or after several years by various means of intercalation. By the way, it’s also important to note that some ancient calendars did not account for the 5.24 missing days or a 13th month. Some included the 5 missing days but disregarded the .24 of a day. In any case the end result was the same. Those cultures who did not intercalate their calendars saw their seasons shift backwards in time.
Based upon the evidence found in Genesis we simply don’t have enough evidence to know the kind of calendar which was used before the flood. Did Noah intercalate the 5 missing days so that lunar cycle would synchronize with the solar year? Did Noah use a formulary 30 day month and ignore the 29.53 day cycle of the moon? Was the length of the lunar/solar cycle different at some point before the flood? We simply don’t know.
What we do know is that calendar records and other archeological evidence shows that our 365.24 day solar year and our 29.53 day lunar month existed all the way back to and even possibly before the Deluge accounts.
YHWH Defines the Calendar
Frankly, while it may be interesting to speculated about if the solar/lunar cycle were different at some point before the great flood, it becomes a difficult leap of logic to then conclude this partial evidence should be used to supersede the calendar instructions given to Moses and Israel at the Exodus.
You see the Law, its calendar instructions, messianic symbolism, and imbedded prophecies were all given when YHWH’s calendar used a 365.24 day solar year and a 29.53 day lunar month. From Noah’s day to the present every single prophet in the Bible looked up into the heavens and saw the Biblical calendar much as you and I see it today.
When Daniel was given the prophecy of 70 Weeks he saw the same Biblical calendar as we observe today. When John was given the prophecies found in the book of Revelation, Biblical months were 29.53 days in length. Even more compelling is that when Yeshua died for your and my sins and then rose again from the grave He did so under the influence of the same celestial calendar we see in the heavens today. This cannot be overstated, Yeshua fulfilled the very prophetic types found in the calendric festivals of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits, when such calendar festivals were based upon a 365.24 solar year and a 29.53 day lunar month.
How Did We Go so Wrong?
Think about the implications of this for a moment. A 360 day lunar “prophetic” year by far is the most popular calendar used to interpret the Bible’s prophetic word today. Yet, this is a calendar which even ancient “Bronze Age” people understood was not representative of a true lunar month nor a full solar year.
When Sir Robert Anderson with the best of intentions, calculated Daniel’s 70 Weeks using this 360 day “prophetic” year he used a calendric reckoning of time that even his ancestors 4000 years before understood was a best an approximation.
Anderson was a fine Biblical scholar but unfortunately he started off on the wrong foot when he tried to explain Daniel 9 and the 70 Weeks prophecy using a calendar which was not based upon a Biblical reckoning of time. Anderson’s 30 day month – 360 day “prophetic” calendar was simply borrowed from an era which did not adhere to the basics of Biblical time as YHWH defines them.
For more on Daniel’s 70 Weeks and Biblical reckoning of time, subscribers to my blog may download a free copy of my book Daniel’s 70 Weeks: The Keystone of Bible Prophecy.
A Better Way
There is a better way to understand the prophecies of the Bible. Prophecies like those found in the book of Daniel and Revelation. Simply take the prophecies at face value and apply a Biblical reckoning of time as it was understood when the prophecies were given.
Remember YHWH didn’t give any prophetic revelation as a private interpretation. He provided the calendar for His prophecies right up in the heavens where no one can mess with them. When the Bible says month it literally means month as Daniel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Paul, John, and Yeshua understood them.
What About the Future?
So what are we to make of prophecies found in the book of Daniel and Revelation? So many good prophecy teachers tell us today that the prophecies relating to the great tribulation, the 70th week of Daniel, and the 2nd coming all should be understood within the context of a 30 day month.
If this is a correct assumption then, it’s only fair to ask; why should we use a different calendar than every Biblical prophet (including Yeshua) used since the Exodus of Israel? Further, when is this great calendar change going to take place? At what point before the great tribulation does our solar year decrease to only 360 days. When will the lunar cycle increase to 30 days instead of our 29.53 days today? And why are those scholars who believe in this coming 30 month and 360 day year silent on the issue?
I mean , we are talking about a major reordering of the heavenly cycles as we know it today. A reordering I might add which according to conventional wisdom must take place at some point well in advance of any of the events described during the great tribulation so that those prophecies which are believed to be based upon this 30 day lunar calendar can be fulfilled. Does the Bible even hint of such a calendar reordering at some point before the tribulation? Frankly, it does not.
Where Do We Go from Here?
My fellow believers, it’s time to get back on YHWH’s calendar as far as the prophetic record of the Bible is concerned. Right up there in the heavens for all of us to see is the calendar YHWH wants us to use when interpreting the prophecies that He has given to us. None of us have the authority to change YHWH’s times and seasons. I would encourage you to not let the calendar confusion of the past sidetrack you from seeing the prophecies of the Bible in the way YHWH intended.
This is one of the most important prophetic issues of our time and over the coming weeks, months, and years, I believe, you’ll see many in the prophetic community come to this realization. I encourage each of you to take this subject seriously. The time is short and the appointment has already been set. Make sure you are reading your calendars correctly. Maranatha!
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