Learning about the Calendar© 2006 Dr. Barbara Thiering
This unit is intended for people who enjoy doing some quite hard mathematical work. It aims to take them step by step through the basics of calendar and chronology, on which so much in the pesher depends. Once these basics have been understood and mastered, it will be much easier to see why such detail on dates and times can be given, and how the times affected every aspect of the history.The student who has become familiar with this material and has learned some Greek should be able to find for herself or himself the pesher of passages in the gospels and Acts.
Essene Solar Calendar in its normative Day position
The sun has a habit of having a year of untidy length. But calendars have to agree with the sun. If they didn't, it would be rather noticeable if the calendar said it was spring and the sun showed that it was winter. The Julian calendar makes it a bit tidier, using a year of 365 1/4 days, dealing with the extra 1/4 every 4 years with a leap year. Whatever the method, there always has to be intercalation to make the calendar agree with the sun.
The Essenes with their Pythagorean thinking believed that the sun must be as tidy as they were. Surely heaven really meant to have a year of 364 days. That meant that it had exactly 52 weeks of 7 days each. It meant that a date always fell on the same day of the week, every year. The problem for the Julian calendar is that we have to have diaries to tell us the day of a date, which changes every year.
They believed that heaven was - or should have been - tidier still. It also intended to have 12 months of 30 days each . It would not allow months of vaying length such as the moon exemplified. (The moon, observed by the unlawful priests in the Jerusalem temple with their lunar calendar, was said to be a Sinner - and female- because of its irregularities.) The 12 months totalled only 360 days, but that could be reconciled with the 364 day year, needed for the weeks, by putting in an extra day four times a year, at the time of the changes of seasons at the equinoxes and solstices. This extra day was called the 31st, being the last of the previous month of 30 days, leaving the month itself to start on the 1st, the following day, as before. The 31st was counted with the following month.
The months were numbered I to XII beginning at approximately the March equinox as month I. Only the Julian calendar started month 1, January, in the middle of winter- an affront to the sun, which should dominate all numbering. So, at about the March equinox, when the sun inaugurated the spring season, a 31st was inserted, treated as 31 at I. Similarly at about the next summer solstice in June, autumn equinox in September, winter solstice in December.
The numbering of days, the same every year, had arranged that the 31st always fell on a Tuesday, so the 1st of the month fell on a Wednesday (the world was created on a Wednesday, 1/I !)
Let's start at a Tuesday 31st near the March equinox in a certain year. The necessary intercalation has been made and all is in line. Now we set out on a year of 364 days in 52 weeks, the sabbaths (Saturdays) falling 4/I, 11/I, 18/I, 25/I, 2/II, 9/II, and so on. In the famous document MMT (Dead Sea Scrolls) and in related documents the writers explain the solar calendar by giving the dates of these sabbaths.
All is well until we come to the end of our 364 day year. Now we find that the sun doesn't agree with us. It will go on for another 1 1/4 days, 30 hours, before it reaches the end of its year and arrives back at the same spot. We've started spring before it does. Still, we persist - surely no one would notice such a little discrepancy. We go on for another 364 days, and the following year we are 60 hours behind the sun. A few years later and peope are beginning to notice. After 14 years we are saying that spring begins in the first few days of March, whereas the sun waits until the equinox. If we let this go on, we would be saying it was spring when the sun said it was winter. So we have to do something about it, by intercalation.
An earlier generation of scholars believed that there was no practical method of intercalation, and thought the whole solar calendar was artificial and never put into actual use. I do have to take credit for working it out, but am still waiting for it to be recognized. Over 14 years, the solar calendar is 14x 30, 420 hours behind the sun. Using a day of 24 hours, as they did, that is 17 1/2 days. It may be observed from Daniel 9:27 that they could work with a unit of half a week, 3 1/2 days. The 17 1/2 days are 2 1/2 weeks.
An intercalation is a period of time when it is held that it is the same date at the end of it as it was at its beginning. An effective method of intercalation - the one that gave us Good Friday - was to insert 2 1/2 weeks, 17 1/2 days, beginning with the 31st, so that Tuesday 31st, falling at 6 am early in March after the 14 years, fell again on Friday at 6 pm near to the equinox. For the next 14 years the 31sts fell on a Friday evening, the 1st on a Saturday evening, and so on. This may be called the Night position of the solar calendar. For the normative Day position, the 31st fell on a Tuesday for 14 years, and for the alternating Night position, on a Friday for 14 years. See the Table of Julian Dates of the 31sts showing the successive changes from 14 BC to AD 70.
From the Table of Julian dates it is possible for us to know the dates in our terms in the period of the rise of Christianity.
That was only one method of intercalation - there were others.. The matter became very complicated, the property of priests who were the only ones who could work it out, delighting in the mathematical puzzles. (They are rather fun, but you have to take a lot of time at it.)
The solar calendar was well in place by the 3rd century BC. Two centuries before that, the old aristocrats who followed it - later to be called Essenes - had been expelled from the Jerusalem temple, which was taken over by priests keeping a lunar calendar. The aristocrats, descendants of the David kings and the Zadok high priests with their supporters, were at first permitted to live in the slums of the city, on the slope overlooking the Hinnom valley. They always hoped for a Restoration of their rule, and when prospects looked good for them they became politically active. Their intrusions into city life finally caused them to be exiled to Qumran, where they continued their astronomical studies and liturgy centring on the solar calendar.
The Book of Daniel is one of their productions. It came from the particularly troubled period of their history, that of the Maccabees, who began a line of rulers called the Hasmoneans. A foreign oppressor, Antiochus Epiphanes, a heavy-handed representative of the dominant Greek culture, had blundered into their temple and defiled it, causing all parties to attack him. The sons of an obscure priest led the Maccabean war, which was so successful that they regained a measure of national independence. Their campaign lasted for 3 years, from December 168 BC to December 165 BC. At the end of it they re-dedicated the temple and began a line of priest-kings. In the temple, the lunar calendar was still preserved.
From the outset of the war, as victory was foreseen, the Essenes thought that things were going their way. Not only would the temple be recovered, but it would be handed over to them, and the true ancient lines would be restored. They set to work recalculating the scheme of history that they had previously held, set out in the Apocalypse of Enoch. Their Restoration would be dated from 168 BC, naturally from the September equinox, the most important season according to their calendar.
During the 3 years of the war they attempted political alliances which failed. Still, they kept hoping for their Restoration. Its date would have to be adjusted to the end of the war, not its beginning. In Daniel 9:27 they gave their solution. There had been a period of 3 1/2 years from September 168 BC to March 164 BC. It was called "half a week", as 7 years could also be called a "week". The 3 1/2 years acted like an intercalation, a period when it was the same date after it as before it, for during those years there had been no religious feasts in the temple, so "no time".
They did not receive the temple back, for the Maccabean heroes swept all before them. But still the solarists hoped, still convinced that heaven ran history their way, in systems governed by the number 7. But as there had now been two sets of Restoration years, both called by the same number from creation, they themselves were divided. Some continued their dating from 168 BC, others from 164 BC. Their party dating from 168 BC was based in the northern part of the country and was less invested in the recovery of the temple itself, only of the ancestral lines. Its dates may be called North Solar. The other party, based in the southern part of the country, remained determined to get back the temple building. Its dates may be called South Solar.
Now we come to one of the complications that made the gospel period a time of chronological crisis. Between 29 AD and 33 AD, the numbering of the years that they had by then settled on should mean that the Restoration would come in those years. "The hour would come".But heaven had to choose between September 29 AD and March 33 AD, 3 1/2 years apart. Which of the two solarist parties would it favor?
Moreover, the same years were quartodecimal intercalation years. The intercalations had to continue uninterrupted, whatever the year was called, in order to bring the calendar into line with the sun. The intercalations had continued from both 168 BC and 164 BC, the latter version making possible a needed correction. They could be performed at any season in the year, according to further party preferences, and for some North Solarists the 2 1/2 weeks were inserted in March 29 AD. In that month, the 31st had fallen back over 14 years to Tuesday morning March 8. The intercalated 2 1/2 weeks brought the 31st to Friday evening March 25. Their counting of dates continued from March 25.
But not for the South Solarists. For them, the same year, in its corrected form, would not occur until March 33 AD. It was then that "the hour would come". By that year, their unintercalated Tuesday 31st fell on Tuesday March 3. The intercalated 31st of the North Solarists fell on Friday March 20.
When they came to Tuesday March 3, the South Solarists said it was the 31st, and simply kept on counting from then. Wednesday March 4 was 1/I, Thursday 2/I and so on. Their 14/I, Passover, consequently fell on Tuesday March 17. That was the same week as the crucifixion, which took place on March 20, Good Friday, the intercalated 31st of the North Solarists.
But, you ask, the gospels call the Thursday evening of the Last Supper, and the Friday, Passover (pascha). For the South Solarists, that was a few days after the Tuesday 14/I Passover. How come?
There were two other methods of intercalation that had the same result as the Day to Night method. Each dealt with the quartodecimal period, 14 years, during which the 31sts fell back by 17 1/2 days, 2 1/2 weeks.
One of them may be associated with the Hemerobaptists, who are named as one of the non-Christian sects in the patristic lists of heresies. The word hemera is Greek for "day", and "Baptist" would mean that it was related to the Qumran doctrine of John the Baptist. Its essential point was that the Day position were always preserved. It is probable that this was the version of the solar calendar set out in the document MMT (Dead Sea Scrolls), which may be understood as a missive sent by the Essene Menahem to the Pharisee Hillel in the 40's BC to bring about an alliance. It gives the sabbath dates of the Day position.
The Day to Night method had its inconveniences, the main one being the change of day for the dates during the alternate sets of 14 years. It did, however, focus on the equinoxes and solstices, so showed great respect for the sun. The permanent Day method showed less respect for these turning-points. Its method was to intercalate only every 28 years, inserting 35 days, twice the period.
When it came to the 31st at the equinox or solstice it went forward by 17 1/2 days. Thus, if the 31st fell on Friday March 20 (as on Good Friday), it intercalated until Tuesday April 7. Matthew's gospel, which gives the greatest help on matters like these, places an epaurion at 27:62 on Good Friday at 6 pm, meaning the period of 36 hours beginning an intercalation to go forward. They went forward, intercalating 17 1/2 days until Tuesday April 7 of that year, and over the next 14 years their 31st fell back by 17 1/2 days until a Friday at about the equinox. They then let it keep falling back, joining the other party who were now moving back from the Night position. After 14 years both parties were now at a Tuesday early in March for their 31st. Both sets now intercalated 17 1/2 days until the Friday about the equinox. The Night position party stopped there, but the Hemerobaptists held another epaurion, as Matthew says, and went forward. Thus from early in March, a Tuesday, until about the first week in April, another Tuesday, they had inserted 35 days, and were always at the Day position.
This later position, 2 1/2 weeks after the equinox 31st, may be called the post-position. Luke draws on it for events, especially in Acts. For a sub-party that preferred the solstices for the intercalation, the intercalation by the same method could be made at the June or December solstice. At the June solstice, it had the significant result of putting the Day of Pentecost on a Sunday near the solstice. The date of Pentecost was 15/III, over a fortnight before the 31st. When there was a post-position 31st on a Tuesday, the 15/III before it was a Sunday at about the solstice. In June AD 33, when the great Day of Pentecost of Acts 2 took place, the solstice 31st was Friday June 19, and on Sunday June 21 it was the 15/III to Tuesday 31st on July 7. The same principle for subsequent Pentecosts in Acts. The Therapeuts much preferred Sunday for Pentecost, because their pentecontad meetings fell on a Sunday in the normative position (which is why Sunday became important to Christians).
In the Maccabean period the Essene solarists were joined by Pharisees and Sadducees who admired their ascetic way of life and wanted to practice its discipline. If they were to worship with solarists, they had to change their calendar from the lunar one which put the feasts on quite different days because of its 354 day year. But they had long respected the moon , with its months shown clearly by full moons and new moons. The solution was the lunisolar Mishmarot calendar, set out in fragments from Qumran. It used the solar calendar as a basis, so that all met for the feasts on the same days. But it inserted the appearances of the new and full moons on the actual dates they appeared. These recurred in a cycle that could be used for the fortnightly courses of priests as set out in 1 Chronicles 24. The Pharisees and Sadducees observed these occasions as additional feasts beginning the courses.
They also came to terms with the solarists' 14 year intercalations, which had become associated with long periods of fasting, an excessive discipline. But since they were keeping the solar dates, the quartodecimal periods had to be dealt with. During those years, the dates fell behind at the rate of 30 hours per year. In 2 years it amounted to 60 hours, which was 2 1/2 days. If they inserted 2 1/2 days every 2 years, they would keep their lunisolar calendar in line without long periods of fasting. They fasted for the 2 1/2 days only, a short period in more frequent years. Lk 5:33 gives the clue, "The Pharisees fast often."
When they came to Tuesday 31st at 6 am, they intercalated 2 1/2 days until the Thursday at 6 pm. They then continued their dates from the Thursday evening, so that when they came to their 14/I a fortnight later, it was their Passover. In the Passion week, that was Thursday evening March 19, the evening of the Last Supper. So it was the Passover for them, as in the Synoptic Gospels. The party of Jesus included ascetic Sadducees who were observing these dates.
But that was not all. In the Old Testament, which they scrupulously observed and spent much of their time arguing about, there were two different definitions of what happened at Passover. In Exodus 12, on the evening of 14/I the paschal lamb was slain and eaten, and the same evening was the beginning of the 7 days of unleavened bread. But Leviticus 23:6 gave a different date for the beginning of the days of unleavened bread. It should be 15/I, a day after the Passover feast. In the gospels, the special meaning of pascha is not the Passover feast, but the beginning of the days of unleavened bread. For the Synoptics, both were the same, but for John's gospel it was 15/I that was meant by pascha. So when the 2 1/2 days were observed, pascha in the Synoptics means the Thursday evening, while pascha in John's gospel means Friday evening or its beginning earlier on Good Friday. This solves a long-standing problem about the differences between the Synoptics and John on the question of Passover.
Now you understand why Christian history was bound up with conflicts about calendar, and still is, with the different dates for Easter and Christmas in the Roman and Orthodox traditions. It was far from a trivial matter for them, inherited from party differences in the founding years, which themselves reflected varying previous cultures.
The way the years are numbered has nothing to do with calendar, which is bound by the sun and must be the same whatever the numbering of the year. The numbering of the years is determined by politics. The fact that we now number from 1 AD is the best illustration of the fact that the early Church was a political movement that was eventually successful.
In the ancient world, in societies with a reigning power such as an emperor or king, the years were at first numbered from the years of the king's reign, and began again with a new king. But kings were sometimes short-lived. A more stable method was introduced in the Greco-Roman world with the numbering from the Olympiads. An Olympiad was a period of 4 years, beginning July 1, 776 BC. The table is in Finegan section 187.
With a greater sense of the length of time in the past, such as was being developed in the Pythagorean schools, the need was felt for an even more permanent method of dating. The contribution of the Jews to ancient culture had been to keep continuous numbered records from the time of Adam, a hero at a certain stage of Middle Eastern history. The records began round about 4000 BC. By a leap of belief encouraged by the liturgical use of Genesis, they had accepted that this was the date of creation. In line with current hellenistic thinking, they began to practice a continuous numbering from creation, or when they thought it to be. That would have the effect of giving great authority to their record, in fact divine authority, for heaven knew when it had created the world.
For some it was enough to follow the OT figures, overlooking a few inconsistencies. That was the method used by Archbishop Ussher in the 17th century, who concluded that the world had been created in 4004 BC.
But such a method was not good enough for the Essenes, with their belief in perfect symmetry determined by the number 7, or in other mathematically significant numbers such as squares. The OT figures did not really work when closely examined, and they already believed that with their gnostic learning they were superior to the OT and the laws of Moses. They would begin with their theory, and use themselves as a starting-point - a piece of solipsism not unknown in intellectuals.
In the year we call 238 BC they had reached a hopeful new stage in their history. They had formed a new institution, a Pythagorean school in their Jewish version. They called it the Plant of Righteousness, from two of its main features, "righteousness" meaning celibacy and Plant referring to their Eden-Adam imagery, which was used to justify the inclusion of Gentiles, since Adam lived before the separation of Semitic tribes. Their mathematicians now set to work to "prove", with considerable freedom in altering the OT, that all history from creation had been divided into sets of 490 years, and that they themselves, their Plant of Righteouesness, had been chosen to appear at the greatest one of all, the 7th, at the year 3430 from creation. Past great events, Noah's Flood, Abraham, the Exodus, the building of the temple, had occurred at the end of each set of 490 years.
The world, then, had been created in 3668 BC. The date could be known, not from the biblical records, which were only approximately correct, but from their own significance. They continued to believe, through the next few centuries, that such knowledge could be obtained in the same way, from events significant to themselves, reasoning backwards. Heaven sent the great events, and heaven, it was assumed, worked according to their tidy systematic schemes.
It followed that now that they knew the system, they could predict the future. Essenes gained a reputatation for being prophets. Since they did not yet have the Restoration of the Davids and Zadoks that was their central political hope, there must be more to come. The next really great number must be 4900, 490 x the 10 periods into which all history must be divided until the End. The next great period would be the 8th, the year 3920, and surely in that year their Restoration would come. The whole system was set out in the Apocalypse of Enoch (93, 1-10; 91, 12-16), in the books they attributed to Enoch because he was greater than Noah or Abraham, being "the 7th from Adam" (as the NT says in Jude 1:14). In the 8th "week" (3920) "a house shall be built for the Great King" (the restored David, who would also restore the Zadoks to the temple).
Only 70 years after their foundation, in 168 BC, they were confronted with a much bigger event. At the beginning of the Maccabean uprising they conceived the hope that they would be given control when the defiled temple was recovered and purified. It must be, then, that they were now in the year 3920, or soon would be. They had been wrong about the date of creation. The world had been created earlier than they had thought, about 4088 BC. That meant that their calculations of the previous sets of 490 years were wrong also. They all had to be adjusted, putting the Exodus at the 5th "week", not at the 4th as previously. In the Book of Jubilees they made the change. Jubilees remained a basic text for the Essenes, as shown in CD 16:4-5.
But, as Daniel 9 illustrates, they had been operating on another error. They had been placing the fall of Jerusalem, revised to the 7th "week", in the 7th century BC. They had conflated the date of the fall of Samaria to the Assyrians, in the 720's BC, with the date of the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians in the 580's BC. When further events forced them to look again at their records, they found the mistake, and made another adjustment. They now settled for dates they stayed with, as they were near to being accurate. The fall of Jerusalem had taken place in 581 BC (we place it in 587 BC). There had been a Return to Jerusalem after 70 years, as they had stated in Daniel 9:2. They now saw that the Return had occurred in 511 BC. Since the fall of Jerusalem had been at the 7th "week" - as they continued to hold - and it should be dated from the Return as in Daniel, then it followed that the 8th "week", the year 3920, should be placed in 21 BC, that is 490 years after 511 BC.
The discovery of their error came early in the 1st century BC, when another of their systems failed see further on, so it was a matter of hope for them that the Restoration of 3920 was still in the future, in 21 BC. The Maccabean period had not brought it, as they had expected in the heady days of Daniel, but that was simply because of the mistake in their records. It was still to come, and they were energised to new efforts to fulfil their political hopes.
Related to the monastic Essenes were the Therapeuts. Philo connects them with the Essenes in his essay "On the Contemplative Life", and writes admiringly of their liturgy of the Exodus. Based in Egypt and living also in many other places in the world - including the Wilderness of Judea - they expressed their sense of alienation from the surrounding pagan world by thinking of themselves as nomads wandering in the wilderness under a "Moses", to be brought in eventually to the Promised Land, their reformed homeland, by a "Joshua". Following the figures in Deuteronomy, they counted their Exodus as lasting 40 years and the following Holy War as lasting another 40 years. The War Scroll from Qumran, col 2, sets out their sub-divisions of the 40 years of the war.
They therefore divided history into generations, sets of 40 years, rather than jubilees. Their scheme was developed in 168 BC, at the time when they agreed with the writers of Daniel and Jubilees that 168 BC had been proved by its great events to be really the year 3920 from creation. Since their preferred number was 40, they held that the true date for a great new order to begin would be in the year 4000 from creation. It was very neat that there were 80 years from 3920 in 168 BC to 4000 in 88 BC. Although they had not seen a fulfilment of their hopes in 168 BC, that simply showed that they had to wait another 80 years, first undergoing a symbolic Exodus with their exile from power, next another Holy War under another Joshua, then at last the End, the Eschaton, would come. Its content seems to have been rather vague - all they were sure of were their calculations. In 88 BC a New Jerusalem would come floating down from heaven, or something like that.
No fulfilment in September 88 BC. It was probably not coincidental that it was in that year that Alexander Jannaeus crucified Pharisees who were contesting his rule. Still, there would soon be a vindication, allowing for the 3 1/2 years of non-time that had changed from the North Solar to the South Solar year. In March 84 BC more hopes were dashed.
Their calculations had proved wrong, and they suffered the same despondency, then recovered with an adjustment of the figures, in the same way as they continued to do through the following 2 centuries. It was after 88 - 84 BC that they went back to their records and discovered their error about the date of the fall of Jerusalem, as shown in Lesson 4. Now their hopes recovered. The year 3920 for the Restoration would not come until 21 BC. The combined solarists now produced the Testament of Levi, one of the Testaments of the 12 Patriarchs that were found among the DSS. In its cols 17 and 18 the solarists set out a new scheme of jubilees starting in 511 BC, the date they now believed to have been that of the Return. Each jubilee was marked by a different high priest who brought about historical changes. The events are vaguely described, but one in particular is designated "an unspeakable pollution" at a 7th jubilee. That was clearly the defilement of the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes in 168 BC. It had happened in the year 343 from 511 BC , and that was a 7th jubilee exactly. Heaven was still controlling history in terms of Pythagorean numbers.
The end of 490 years would come in 21 BC, a date they had not yet reached at the time of writing. It would be the true year 3920. That meant that the year 41 BC was the year 3900. Since the solarists were convinced, following the prophecy of Enoch, that the whole duration of world history would be 4900 years, the year 3900 would be the beginning of the final millennium of the world.
That calculation suited very well the Essenes who were trying to influence the rising star, Herod the Great. Menahem the Essene had promised him as a schoolboy that he would become a king, and from that time he favored Essenes. They promised him that he would come to power in the year 3900, inaugurating the great final 1000 years, which would be marked by the name of Herod. A 1000 year empire of the Jews.
The Therapeuts now added their contribution. As they were always prepared to declare new sets of 80 years, they did so now. Although Herod might not see all his hopes fulfilled at once, he only had to go through an Exodus of 40 years from 41 BC until 1 BC, then a war of 40 years until 40 AD. (subtract 1 from the BC date). It was a continuation of that scheme that set the Holy War of the War Scroll in the years from 1 BC onwards. The militants were led by Archelaus Herod, the successor in rule of Herod the Great.
The Herods added another feature to calendar and chronological calculation. When creation is chosen as the starting-point there must be dispute about whether the first unit - an hour, a day, a year, a generation or a jubilee - should be called a zero or 1. Against the traditional solarists, the Herods allowed for the zero in all cases. Their day began, not at 6 am but at 7 am (or at 1 am when they adopted the Julian calendar). While expectation focussed on the 31st, which was a zero called Today as the one for fulfilment, their expectation centered on the 1st of the month , called Tomorrow. When they came to years, every date was a year later. So, whereas 29 AD was called 3969 by solarists, an intercalation year, the Herodians called 30 AD the year 3969, and they intercalated then. In the same way the South Solar 3969 of 33 AD fell for them in 34 AD. Since the Herodians also kept the lunisolar calendar of the Mishmarot, these years may be called North Lunisolar and South Lunisolar respectively.
They further applied their method to the decades and generations , with a double change that is well illustrated in Matthew's story of the Magi at the birth of Jesus, a nice little piece of calendar tuition typical of Matthew. Jesus was born in March 7 BC, which for the South Solarists was a decade, and a generation year by some methods of counting. It was the year 3930 from creation, 3 1/2 years after September 11 BC which was North Solar year 3930, following 3920 in 21 BC. Herod, wanting to destroy an heir of David who would be a threat to his power, asked the Magians when the child should be born, and they replied "in the generation year". But for Herod that meant 5 BC, for to him the year 3930 began in 6 BC, and moreover, his method held that the generation should begin in the 1 year, not the 0 year, in his 3931 which was 5 BC. So he did nothing until 5 BC when the child was 2 years old (Matthew 2:16). The Magians, with their wide knowledge of the different calendars, had tricked him to protect the child.
When it came to the war years at the beginning of the 1st century AD, the range of dates for the Holy War of 3940 covered many years. There was first the North Solar 3940 in September 1 BC, then the North Lunisolar 3940 in 1 AD. When the 3 1/2 years were taken into account, the South Solar 3940 fell in March 4 AD, the South Lunisolar 3940 in March 5 AD, and the South Lunisolar 3941 in March 6 AD. The latter was the date of the uprising of Judas the Galilean, and the Period of Wrath that saw the Roman occupation and the loss of the Herodian monarchy. The chronological calculations would have had some influence, as they continued to do through the 1st century AD.
We are the heirs of all this, when we call AD 1 the first year of the millennium. By 1 BC, the North Solar 3940, the solarists had turned decisively against Herod's 1000 year Empire. He had died, insane, in 4 BC, and they wanted to wipe him out of the history. They did it by a calendar device, declaring a zero generation, so that the year 3940 was really the year 3900 for the millennium. The year 1 BC, 3940, was the zero year, and 1 AD the year 1. That became the beginning of the Christian millennium, eliminating Herod but preserving the organisation of a world religion. It should have ended in 1000 AD, but heaven did not co-operate. Nor in 2000 AD ! Must be something wrong with the system.
We have been looking at the different versions of the quartodecimal intercalation year, observed by different parties. For the gospel years, which were an intercalation period , the year 3969, a 14th year, fell for the North Solarists in 29 AD, for the North Lunisolarists in 30 AD, for the South Solarists in 33 AD and the South Lunisolarists in 34 AD. The year 31 AD was not one of these.
Each of the party differences reflected a history of geographical and cultural significance. Since the traumatic events of 168 - 164 BC, the northerners, based in Galilee, had had less interest in the Jerusalem temple and could look outwards to the Diaspora, while for the southerners their city of Jerusalem and its temple were the primary focus. In between these lay Samaria, with sympathies in both directions. It was Diaspora oriented, while at the same time wanting a temple or its substitute.
For the monastic party of Samaritans, the Magians, there should be a real physical temple on Mt Gerizim near Shechem, which would be a direct rival to the Jerusalem temple. For another Samaritan party, however, who were Sadducees, the temple ideal should be preserved, but in the form of a spiritual temple. It would be found wherever the holy initiates of the ascetic movement met together, in any place in the world. Their meeting place in the homeland was in their abbey in Caesarea. That city was as much Roman as Jewish, the seat of the Roman government, the port of embarkation for ship journeys across the Mediterranean to Rome.
For the Sadducee Samaritans, the solution to the north-south conflict was to declare an intermediate year for intercalation, reflecting the fact that Samaria was geographically intermediate between Galilee and Jerusalem. Their 3969 fell in 31 AD.
One of the consequences was that this party gave a different association to the meeting days for the seasonal councils. These were held at the council centers on the 29th, 30th, 31st and 1st of the solar calendar. The 31st, a special added day occurring only at the equinoxes and solstices, had come to be treated as the great day when the fulfilment of prophecies was to be expected. It was called Today. So the 30th was called Yesterday, and the 1st of the following month, the day after the 31st, was called Tomorrow.
In Matthew's version of the Lord's prayer, Matthew 6:9-13, there is a phrase that has always puzzled scholars. We are taught to say "Give us this day our daily bread" but that is in fact a mistranslation. The Greek actually says, "Give us tomorrow's bread today". When the pesher of these terms is known, the text means far more than "give us our food". It means that priests should not be separate from laymen, that there is a priesthood of all believers, a Christian principle. Expressed in calendar terms, the primary sacred meal with holy bread should not be held Tomorrow, the 1st of the solar month, but Today, on the 31st. The 1st - a Wednesday in the normative position - had always been the day for the promotion of priests. It was the day when Lazarus-Simon Magus, who claimed priesthood, was "raised from the dead" - reinstated and promoted. That event took place on a Wednesday, "day 4" in John 11:17. The 31st, Today, was used for the promotion of non-priestly laymen. Now, both the priestly and lay class should be promoted on the 31st, celebrating the occasion with their primary sacred meal, the "bread".
No calendar change could be made without sound calendar reasons, not arbitrarily. The way this was managed was to take the south solar year 3969 and bring it back by 2 years to the intermediate year 3969 (from 33 AD to 31 AD in the gospel period). Since a year had 12 months, and a half-day had 12 hours (as plainly stated for the daylight hours in John 11:9), the two units of time should be paralleled according to the principle of representation. Two years of 24 months would correspond to a full day of 24 hours, justifying the change from the 1st back to the 31st.
Consequently the 30th, Yesterday, was affected. What had been done on Tuesday 31st was now taken back to Monday 30th. It became a day when some believed that the fulfilment of the 31st should be experienced, and actions reflecting this hope took place (such as the riding into "Jerusalem" on the colt, which took place on a Monday 30th). For this Sadducee Samaritan system, the values of all the council days went back by one day.
Matthew's gospel, with its version of the Lord's prayer in these terms, gives the fact of the intermediate year by using the Greek word "kairos" (apparently meaning "season") in 31 AD, the year date that was indicated by the events in all gospels. The word has the pesher "the quartodecimal intercalation year". It is placed at Matthew 12:1 and Matthew 12:14.
There are further complications concerning the days and years, built up after centuries of use of the calendars and arguments about which kind of culture heaven favored. The foregoing gives the foundation, which does need to be understood before going on to the further developments.
The Mishmarot calendar
The existence of the Mishmarot calendar, which is based on the solar one, was not known until fragments from Cave 4 at Qumran were found, numbered 4Q320 -330. They give enough detail to be able to reconstruct it with only a few gaps. It may be shown that it was drawn up in 165 BC, in the year of the recovery of the Jerusalem temple after the "abomination of desolation", the defilement by Antiochus Epiphanes. The word itself means "divisions for keeping watch". It is set out in full below.
It is clearly based on the dates of days for the solar calendar, which means that it was an Essene production, not from the lunarist Maccabees who took over the temple after their victory. At least for a short time, the Essenes hoped that their priesthood would come into power in the recovered temple, in friendly co-operation with some who followed the moon for their observances but who were willing to regard the sun as the true arbiter of times.
The first step in the attempt at co-operation was to combine the solar year of 52 weeks with the 24 priestly courses that are set out in 1 Chronicles 24:7-18. In the later days of the Jerusalem temple 24 priestly families had the privilege of being on duty for a week at a time twice a year. Each family had a name, such as Jehoiarib, Jedaiah, Harim. Each week, from Sunday to the following Saturday, was called by the name of the family, so that it was usual to name the week as Jehoiarib etc, just as days may be named. The 24 named weeks in the first half of the year were followed by 24 weeks with the same names in the second half of the year.
There was, however, an incompatibility between the solar year of 52 weeks and the sets of courses. For this and another reason, cycles of 6 years were set up, so that both systems would fit. For the solarists, there were 312 weeks in 6 years of 52 weeks. For the priestly courses of 24 weeks, the same total was reached by having 13 of them. They did not repeat at the same times each year, as the solarists did, but after running through 6 years they arrived at the same point. That point was the week containing the Day of Atonement, the 10th day of the 7th month, in autumn.
The other reason for the cycles was that the calendar incorporated the dates of the full moons and the new moons, so that those in the habit of holding religious observances at the moon's main appearances could continue to do so while at the same time observing other feasts with the solarists. The moon cycles were of three years. They could be included in the co-operative scheme without difficulty, two moon cycles in each set of 6 years. There would, however, be a necessary change in the starting-point in order to reconcile two further significant times. For the solarists, the traditional method of counting weeks began with the first week in March. The world, they believed, had been created on a Wednesday, the 1st of the 1st month at about the March equinox. They were still arguing about how long ago it had been created, but that date, 1/I had always been their New Year. It happened that in the first year of their 6 year cycle there had been a full moon on that same date. The moon observances began at that time, even though the named weeks began in September.The moon cycles were of three years because of another happy conjunction of days. In 3 solar years of 364 days there were 1092 days. In 3 lunar years of 354 days there were 1062 days. After 3 years, the moon had fallen so far behind that an intercalation of a whole month of 30 days was necessary. Its intercalation was made between the third year and the following first year of the solar triennium. Thus it had now covered 1092 days, the same as the solar triennium. That meant that it had arrived again for a full moon at Wednesday 1/I, the date that was repeated every 3 solar years.
The Mishmarot calendar gives the dates of the full and new moons in terms of the named weeks. For example, in 4Q320 which gives the full moons only, it states that the full moon is seen "on the 4th day in the week of [the sons of Ga] mul, in the first month of the [fir]st year." The 4th day of the week was a Wednesday, and in every year of the solar Day position that day was 1/I for the solarists. For the priestly courses which started in September it was the week called Gamul, the 22nd of the 24 (see the list below).
All dates for the moon are described in this way in the fragments, showing that the primary purpose was to be in union with those who followed the Esssene way of life but also wanted to retain their lunar practices. In subsequent years this class consisted of the sect of Pharisees and Sadducees. Not mainstream Pharisees and Sadducees, but a sect because they worshipped on different days from the mainstream that they had left. In the New Testament the word hairesis, "sect", a word that gave "heresy" is used of them (Acts 5:17; 15:5).
The Mishmarot thus give a lunisolar calendar, followed by some at the same time as the simpler solar calendar. It is set out below, with the named weeks designated by numbers explained in the Key. Different colors show which of the 13 sets of 24 weeks was in use.
Note that Course Names can be seen by placing the cursor over the course number.
Remainder of the 6 years are calculated next by Dylan Stephens from III fourth year with Fr. 2 being sixth year not seventh.
KEY TO COURSES
Note that the popluar translation of G. Vermes (The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, Penguin Books, 1998) contains several errors.
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