Did you know that there are about 40 different calendars in use in the world today. To name a few: Egyptian, Inuit, Coptic, Chinese, Islamic, Syrian, Old Icelandic, and of course the Gregorian, but did you know the Gregorian calendar is very recent, it started in 1582. It replaced the Julian Calendar, which replaced the Roman Calendar. However, only one calendar actually matters, God’s Calendar, and that’s the only one that I am interested in.
So we know from God’s Word, when He put lights in the dome of the sky to divide the day from the night, to be signs of seasons, days and years, not, a 24 hour clock, nor a 365 day year, actually no 12 months in a year either, but looking at the sun and moon and signs of the seasons – God’s idea, so it is definitely a very good idea. Also God never named the days of the week, or the months of the year.
From what I understand when God, so clearly said, “This will be the first month of your year,” as the Children of Israel prepared to leave their slavery in Egypt, this was a fresh start, a new beginning, as the Nation of Israel was birthed, and also a constant reminder of what The Almighty God had done, and also the moment He began to show them very clearly how He wanted them to live. So when it was the 2nd month, it was the second month since they had been redeemed and rescued, then the 3rd, 4th etc.
Over the many years of my travelling with the Lord, through Anglican Churches, and Messianic Kehilas, I decided many years ago that I am much more interested in what God says, rather than what man says, or even sometimes, what man says about what God says!!! So bottom line, for me, we are about to enter the 7th month of the Biblical year, God’s calendar, which is NOT Rosh HaShana.
God very clearly says in Lev. 23 and Numbers 29 that the 1st day of this 7th month is to be observed as a holy day of Yom Teruah which means Day of Shouting/Blowing, also a day of rest, a Shabbat. One of the unique things about Yom Teruah is that the Torah does not say what the purpose of this Holy Day is, though it is seen as a “Wake Up Call” as we enter what we call The 10 Days of Awe, before Yom Kippur.
We have at least one, and sometimes more reasons for the other appointed times. The verb form of Teruah often refers to the noise made by a gathering of the faithful calling out to The Lord. Lev. 23 also refers to this 1st day of the 7th month as Zichron Teruah, a memorial, a remembering.
Sadly few people today welcome this first day of the 7th month just as Yom Teruah, as it is now so widely known and called Rosh HaShanah, head of the year, even to the point that this is when the counting of the year changes. From what I have found out this transformation of Yom Teruah into Rosh HaShana, was the result of pagan Babylonian influence. The first stage was the adoption of Babylonian names for the months, which God never gave. Some of these names then found their way into the later books of the Tanach, but always appear alongside the God given number of the month, as in the book of Esther, when it says “In the First Month, which is the month Nissan…”
So some of the Jewish people became more and more comfortable with the Babylonian month names, and sadly also with other Babylonian influences.
But then the confusion, for some, seems to come with references in the scriptures to the end of year, as in Ex. 23: 16 “At the end of the year, when you gather in from the fields the results of your efforts.”
Or “At the end of every 7 years during the festival of Sukkot in the year of shmita……..” (as we read in last weeks Tora Portion Vayelekh (He went). But it is clear to me these references to the end of the year and gathering in the harvest is talking about the Agricultural Year. Obviously the shmitah year is all about the land resting, so it is also clear that the shmitah year would begin AFTER the final harvest at the end of the summer, so when we have references to the end of your year in relation to harvest and shmitah, it is NOT talking about the end of the God given calendar year, and not therefore changing the 7th month to become the 1st month of the year
But is seems that sometime between the giving of the Torah and the codification of the Mishnah, the autumn agricultural new year gained ascendance, and now the God Given New Year in the Spring is just a marker of the various God commanded festivals and Appointed Times.
Another reason for this change I have read, is that the Rabbis decided to make this “man made” new year on the 1st of this 7th month, in remembrance of the end of Babylonian exile. We read in Ezra: “When the 7th month arrived, after the people of Israel had resettled in the towns, the people gathered with one accord in Jerusalem, and they organised the rebuilding of the altar of the God of Israel, and then observed the festival of Sukkot.” But those exiled were only “some” of the descendants of the Children of Israel. We read in Ezra the list of people who had been exiled and carried off to Bavel by Nebuchadnezzar King of Bavel, and later returned from that exile, and went up to Jerusalem and Judah, and it is a long long list, and at the end of the list Ezra tell us the entire assembly numbered 42,360, not including the slaves or singers. These Jews were in fact probably only about 25% of the descendants of The Children of Israel, the other 75% having remained in Judah, and did not go into exile.
Of course, it was a very significant time when these Children of Israel returned from exile in Babylon, but surely not a reason to make a new New Year. Whatever, and whoever decided to make this 7th month a “New Year” I find it quite troubling, that “man made” decisions, and “man made” narratives so quickly become something that no-one questions. I am actually quite passionate about all this. The First Exile was all the descendants of Jacob, i.e. his 11 sons went down with their whole households to join Joseph in Egypt – it was there they multiplied. If God decided that their eventual rescue, redemption and deliverance was that important that He started a fresh calendar, a new year, that this was the moment in the history of God interacting with His people that was to be remembered constantly, who is man to change or add to that?
Even after the exile ended in year 516, before Yeshua, many Rabbis remained in Babylon and this is where rabbinical Judaism gradually took shape. Rabbi Hillel 1 was born and educated in Babylon. The Babylonians had a lunar-solar calendar and often Yom Teruah fell on their New Year festival called Akitu, so it is also thought that after the Jews started calling the 7th month Tishrei, it just paved the way for eventually turning Yom Teruah into a Babylonian Akitu, New Year.
But for me when we read in Exodus 12:2 what God said to Moshe: This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you, in other words that is when Rosh HaShana is, this is God’s Word, and for me God’s Word stands for ever.
So this 7th month of the Biblical year, referred to in the scriptures as Etanim, now called Tishrei, is probably the busiest month of the year, we have a total of 13 special days, 7 of them are Shabbats. This includes the holidays known as the High Holy Days, the most important of the Biblical Year, Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur, Succot, Hashana Rabah and Simchat Torah. A month of Chags, and seen as a month of great blessing, the 7th month, a number of completion, and as many people believe, the season when Yeshua will return, and tabernacle, dwell with us forever.