I read your article on the Equinox and was wondering why you teach the first biblical month begins with the barley and new moon in light of Genesis 1:14: “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for moed, and for days, and years” How do you explain the absence of the “barley” and “new moon” within this passage
The use of the equinox to begin the biblical year is not scriptural and based on modern Jewish interpretation. Regarding Genesis 1:14, this passage is too broad to form any definitive opinion about the biblical calendar. This includes the barley, equinox, crescent moon, full moon, etc.
For this reason, we do not rely on Genesis 1:14 to support the use of the barley or the new moon crescent in determining the year and subsequent months. Instead, we refer to the entire Word to support these conclusions.
Deuteronomy 16:1 is an example. It states, “Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto Yahweh thy Elohim: for in the month of Abib Yahweh thy Elohim brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.”
There are several key words in this passage. “Observe” comes from the Hebrew shamar, meaning to guard or watch. “Month” comes from the Hebrew chodesh, meaning new moon. And “Abib” is Hebrew and means young ears of grain. Here are a few additional references supporting the meaning of Abib:
“…from an unused root (meaning to be tender); green, i.e. a young ear of grain; hence, the name of the month Abib or Nisan,” Strong’s.
“Month of ear-forming, of greening of crop, of growing green Abib, the month of the Exodus and the Passover (March or April),” Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon.
“…barley that is already ripe, but still soft, the grains of which are eaten either rubbed or roasted,” The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament.
Based on this, Deuteronomy 16:1 literally reads, “Watch for the new moon of young ears of grain.” Clearly, we see here a connection between the barley and the new moon crescent as it pertains to the first biblical month.
In addition, we also know from the Exodus narrative that the barley was in Abib days before the first biblical crescent. Exodus 9:31 states, “And the flax and the barley was smitten: for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was bolled.” The word “ear” derives from the word Abib. Therefore, it reads, “…and the barley was in the Abib.” From Exodus 9:31 and 12:2, we find that the barley was in Abib just days before the first biblical month.
Scholarship also supports the use of both the new moon crescent and barley. Below are two well accepted sources explaining the use of Abib:
“…Abib is not properly a name of a month, but part of a descriptive phrase, ‘the month of young ears of grain.’ This may indicate the Israelitish way of determining the new year (Ex 12:2), the year beginning with the new moon nearest or next preceding this stage of the growth of the barley,” International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia.
“The months began with the new moon, but the first month was fixed (after the Exodus and by the necessities of the Passover) by the ripening of the earliest grain, namely, barley,” New Unger’s Bible Dictionary.
Consider the following references regarding the new moon:
“The Hebrew or Jewish calendar had three stages of development: the preexilic, or Biblical; the postexilic, or Talmudic; and the post-Talmudic. The first rested on observation merely, the second on observation coupled with calculation, and the third on calculation only. In the first period the priests determined the beginning of each month by the appearance of the new moon,” International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia.
“As the festivals, according to the Mosaic law, were always to be celebrated on the same day of the month, it was necessary to fix the commencement of the month. This was determined by the appearance of the new moon; for the new moon was reckoned not by astronomical calculation, but by actual personal observation. On the thirtieth day of the month watchmen were placed on commanding heights around Jerusalem to watch the sky. As soon as each of them detected the moon he hastened to a house in the city kept for this purpose and was there examined by the president of the Sanhedrin. When the evidence of the appearance was deemed satisfactory, the president stood up and formally announced it, uttering the words, ‘It is consecrated.’ The information was immediately sent throughout the land from the Mount of Olives by beacon fires on the tops of the hills. The religious observance of the day of the new moon may plainly be regarded as the consecration of a natural division of time,” New Unger’s Bible Dictionary.
“…at the time of the new moon, the sun begins to illuminate the moon with a light which is visible to the outward senses, and then she displays her own beauty to the beholders,” The Works of Philo, p. 283. (Note: Philo, who lived between 20 BCE – 50 CE, was a Jewish Hellenistic philosopher who lived in Alexandria, Egypt).
In summary, while we agree that Genesis 1:14 does not directly support the barley or use of the new moon crescent, the same can be said about the equinox or any other method of determining the biblical calendar. This passage is simply too broad to ascertain any specifics. For this reason, a person must consider all the evidence in determining the inner workings of the biblical calendar.
For additional evidence, please see our booklet: The Biblical Calendar.
Also, watch Pastor Randy’s message: Deciphering the Biblical Calendar: