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   Today’s Gregorian calendar, introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 updated its predecessor, the Julian calendar introduced by Julius Caesar in 45 B.C.E., and made three main changes to the Julian calendar:

      • New formula for calculating leap years:
         1. The year is evenly divisible by 4.
         2. If the year can be evenly divided by 100, it is NOT a leap year, unless.
         3. The year is also evenly divisible by 400: Then it is a leap year.

      • 10 days were dropped in October 1582.

      • New rules for calculating the date of Easter.


The First Month of the Year
   The Biblical new year does not begin in January, however, but after the dead winter season has ended in Israel and new life is ‘springing’ forth. It is when the trees start to produce buds, leaves and life is renewed in the creation. Yahweh is all for life and light, not death and darkness. This is another reason the new moon cannot be the conjunction (the astronomical ‘new moon’ when nothing can be seen) as many believe, but rather the first visible light (Gen. 1:14-16).
   After Yahweh had sent nine plagues, prior to giving Moses instructions about the Passover – a memorial of redemption from slavery in Egypt (ultimately redemption from sin through Messiah, the true Passover Lamb), Yahweh showed Moses that Israel was to have a different calendar system from what was familiar in Egypt. This month shall be to you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you, Exodus 12:2. The phrase “This month” in Hebrew is ha-hodesh ha-zeh literally interpreted, “This new moon.” Two things are implied:

      1. The Egyptians began their new year on a different month, easily understood from the passage.
      2. Yahweh Himself was showing Moses the new moon. If someone says, “this house” or “this car,” it is clear the object referred to is in proximity and that the other person can see it with their eyes (unlike the astronomical conjunction).

   Four passages clearly identify this month in which Israel was granted redemption from Egypt, “the month of Abib” (Exo. 13:4; 23:15; 34:18, Deut. 16:1). But how do we know when it is?

What is “The Month of Abib?”
   The very first place the term “abib” (aviv in Modern Hebrew) is used is in reference to the seventh plague of Egypt, fire and hail. And the flax and the barley was smitten: for the barley [was] in the ear, and the flax [was] bolled, Exodus 9:31.
   The phrase “for the barley was in the ear” in Hebrew is ki ha-seorah aviv, that is “for the barley was aviv.” Barley is the only cereal grain that is described as in the state of “aviv.” Famous 11th century Jewish scholar Rashi (acronym for Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaqi) wrote a detailed commentary on the “Old Testament,” used even today by the Jews. Regarding Exodus 23:15, he wrote, Abib is “[the month] in which the grain fills out in its greenness (be-ibeah). Aviv is an expression [related to the word for] a father av, the firstborn and the earliest [month] to ripen fruits.”
   Just as Yahweh gave no names to the days of the week except for the seventh day (shabbat), likewise the months too are numbered and not given names. However, the first month in Hebrew is repeatedly called hodesh ha-aviv, literally “new moon of the aviv”. Notice the definite article, “the aviv” showing aviv is not a proper noun (i.e., the first month Aviv), but an adjective referring to the new moon coinciding with the first harvestable barley crop.

First of the Firstfruits
   If you offer a cereal offering of first fruits to Yahweh, you shall offer for the cereal offering of your first fruits crushed new grain from fresh ears, parched with fire, (Lev. 2:14, RSV).
   “Fresh ears” in the above passage is the same Hebrew word aviv. This was describing the first ripe grain offering individuals could present to Yahweh at the start of the new year, to acknowledge His providence. Notice the level of maturity of the new grain. It should be “parched with fire,” and not explode. Once parched, it should be “crushed” into flour.

   Barley grows in a few key stages:
      - Head emergence (no substance inside)
      - Milk development (milk-like substance inside)
      - Dough development (dough like texture)
      - Ripening (difficult to divide with the thumb nail)

   Only the last two stages are mature enough to be parched and afterwards crushed into flour.
   Before individuals could present their new grain offering, the omer offering (korban ha-omer in Hebrew, about 2 kg dry weight of new barley), was to be offered by the high priest on behalf of Israel. No one could eat of the new produce until this omer offering was first accepted by Yahweh (Lev. 23:14). The lesson is simple: The first fruits (the YisraEl of Yahweh – Rom. 11; Gal. 6:16) cannot be accepted by Him, until the First of the first fruits (Yahshua Messiah) had first been accepted (at His resurrection):
   And He is the Head of the body, the assembly: Who is the Beginning, the Firstborn from the dead; that in all [things] He might have the preeminence, Colossians 1:18.
   This omer offering could not be performed in the wilderness or any other place, but only in the land of Israel. Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, When you come into the land which I give to you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then you shall bring an omer of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest, Leviticus 23:10. This is the land which Yahweh cares for and provides rain and growth according to His timing and blessings for obedience.
   For the land which you go to possess is not like the land of Egypt from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and watered it by foot, as a vegetable garden; But the land which you cross over to possess [is] a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which Yahweh your Elohim cares; the eyes of Yahweh your Elohim [are] always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year. And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love Yahweh your Elohim and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, Then I will give [you] the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil, Deuteronomy 11:10-14.

Criteria for Declaring the New Year:

   1. Only the first harvestable barley can be used, not some other grain (Exo. 9:31).
   2. The barley must come from the land of Israel (Lev. 23:10, Deut. 11:10-14).
   3. It must be in dough or ripened stage, for parching and grinding to flour (Lev. 2:14).
   4. The fields must be ready for harvest (Deut. 16:9), since the omer offering is from the first best harvest and cannot be from a bundle of barley picked from here and there.
   5. Aviv state should describe the general season of the land (at least half of the field should be aviv) and not just small pockets of the field.
   6. Two or more fields (as in, two or three witnesses) must satisfy the above criteria (Num. 35:30, Deut. 17:6-7; 19:15). Even though only an omer is required for the omer offering, aviv cannot be declared unless the land has reached the state of harvesting (demonstrated by at least two fields meeting the Biblical criteria).
   7. The new moon seen after aviv is confirmed, is the first month of the year. If at the end of the 12th month aviv is not reached, another month is added giving 13 months for that year which ensures each year begins in the correct season (around March-April on the Gregorian calendar).

   It is also important barley is sourced from naturally growing fields, where man has not manipulated growth with chemicals, fertilizer, etc. Barley grown on the sides of roads (influenced by car exhaust), or other places where it would not be harvested (e.g., gardens, dry wilderness, hills or stony ground) is also not suitable. Aviv barley must be from the first and best of untampered produce which Yahweh has blessed Israel with rain in due season.
   So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but Elohim Who causes the growth, 1 Corinthians 3:7 (NASB).

Does It Really Matter?
   Observe the month of [the] abib and keep the passover to Yahweh your Elohim: for in the month of abib Yahweh your Elohim brought you forth out of Egypt by night, Deuteronomy 16:1.
   The word “observe” comes from the Hebrew shamar and is first used to describe the command Yahweh gave to Adam, to look after the garden of Eden – “keep it” (Gen. 2:15). What is intended is a physical watching with the eyes. It is as though a friend has given us something very valuable to them, to look after. Are we going to give this to others to protect and let them report to us whether it is still safe and not stolen? No, but we ourselves will watch over that very carefully, to make sure nothing happens to it and that we do not disappoint our friend when they expect it back. Similarly, the new moon (once aviv is declared) is a very important marker for Yahweh’s servants. We cannot be lazy expecting others to report the new moons on our behalf, but we ourselves need to go out and look with our eyes. Yahweh has given these signs to His servants, that they may know His appointed times (Psa. 104:19).
   Keeping a festival one or two days earlier (if one follows the Jewish calendar), or even a month off (because of not looking to the agricultural signs Yahweh provides) is not a small matter. Imagine the Prime Minister or President of your country sending you and a very few others a personal mail saying they will be at a certain location, providing the date and time expecting your audience. If you go to that location, at the time specified, but one or two days earlier or even a month out, that ruler will not be there!
   You see, the festivals of Yahweh are not about us. They are predetermined meetings that the Most High has organized to have His trusted servants appear and hear His words. Many of us have left organizations which have followed the Jewish calendar rather than the calendar Yahweh has given and are familiar with the excuse, “but unity is more important.” Not so. If we are united in disobedience to the King’s command, we should not expect His presence nor favor.

   Yahweh is actively revealing Himself to His servants in many ways, including through His creation. To ignore Yahweh’s signs and rely on pre-calculated calendars of men, is to say Yahweh has no role in setting His clock; that He is sitting back to let man scratch their heads and build complicated formulas to establish a ‘biblical calendar.’ How ridiculous!
   Yahweh does not give us Truth which can be discerned by wisdom of men, but simple words which those simple of heart will understand. Don’t neglect the signs He gives – the new moons and the first harvestable barley in Israel, so that you may come into the palace of the Great King at His appointed times, by royal decree.

- Brother Rohan John (Australia)

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