Volume. XXXiii, No. 44
Sunday, 28 April 2019


From the Pastor’s Heart: For Your Curiosities


When my children were young, they wondered why their grandfather’s birthday was different from year to year.  It was sometimes in January and other times in February.  His age counting was even funnier.  Two days after he was born, he was considered to be two years old!  Culturally, it was because spending ten months in mother’s womb was also counted toward his age, and thus as soon as he was born he was already one year old, and two days after he was born, a new year began according to the calendar.  Thus, one more year was added to his age.  Possibly, you feel that it is really funny to count someone’s age like this, or you are confused.  Well, then just laugh!

When we come to the Bible to know about seasons and times, we are also confused.  I need to give you some ideas about what I mean by confusion.  See the following chart and understand what I mean.

The Hebrew Calendar

Number

Name of the Months

Correspondence

Before Exile

After Exile

 

1st

Abib

Nissan

March-April

2nd

Ziv

‘iyyar

April-May

3rd

 

siwan

May-June

4th

 

tammuz

June-July

5th

 

‘abh

July-August

6th

 

‘elul

August-September

7th

etanim

tishri

September-October

8th

bul

marcheshwan

October-November

9th

 

kislew

November-December

10th

 

tebheth

December-January

11th

 

shebhat

January-February

12th

 

adhar

February-March

13th

 

veadhar

Every three years

 

You should be able to notice a few interesting differences between this Hebrew calendar and our solar calendar.  For example, the first month in the Bible is not in January, but in March.  There are not twelve months in a year, but thirteen months.  Besides, the thirteenth month exists only once in every three years.  If someone had been born in the thirteenth month, he celebrates his birth day only once in three years! 

Complications of the Bible calendar are not just about different names and differences with Gregorian calendars.  For example, let me consider the first day of the year.  In our minds, there is only one first day of each year.  However, it is not so in the Bible calendar.  Probably, it is right to say that there are three celebrations of the first day of the year but with different meanings.  (1) The first day of Tishri is probably identified with our January 1st, which is supposed to be the first day of the year for legal contracts.  It is important for the Jews to know this date, because they have used it as the basis to compute the progression of the years and thus to be able to calculate the Sabbatical year and the year of Jubilee.  (2) The first day of Shebhat is linked to the agricultural year.  It was the time when the first tenth of the total product of the year was given to the tribe of Levi, and also one tenth of the leftovers was to be given to the poor.  The Jews did not forget to look after the Lord’s priests and temple labourers, and the poor.  (3) The first day of Nissan was the beginning of the religious year.  Exodus 12:2 says, “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.”  Do remember that Nissan was initially called Abib.  Passover falls on the fourteenth day of Nissan.  It is the first and most important celebration of the calendar, one of the three pilgrimage Jewish feasts.  The seven days following the Passover are called Feast of Unleavened Bread (Numbers 28:16, 18, 25).  Pentecost falls on the fiftieth day after the Unleavened Bread.  Thus, this religious calendar is important. 

You may think it very strange that there are different first days in calendars from the one we are celebrating.  However, it should not surprise us too much.  It is not just the Bible calendar, or the Jews, whose first days are different from ours (the Westerners).  There are different first days in some countries.  Chinese have their Lunar new year, Balinese and Javanese have theirs too.  Moslems have their Islamic new year’s day, and Ethiopians follow the Coptic one, which is different from January 1.  I noticed that Cambodians’ new year’s day was in April this year. 

Then, let me go back to the confusion over my father’s birthday.  Why is it different every year?  The simple answer is because he has followed the Lunar calendar.  With this thought, we move on to a more relevant question.  This year’s Easter Sunday was April 21, while it was April 1 (2018), April 16 (2017), March 27 (2016), and it will be April 12.  Well, the reason is again simple: the year of the Hebrews was not solar but lunar.  How different is it from the solar calendar?  Significantly.

Let me begin with the solar calendar.  The oldest solar calendars include the Julian calendar and the Coptic calendar.  There are many others.  They both have a year of 365 days, and it is extended to 366 days once in every four years.  Thus, the duration of a mean year is 365.25 days.  The Gregorian calendar is a revision of the Julian calendar, and it has 365.2425 days a year in average.  It includes leap years, which has 29 days in February, instead of 28 days.  This extra day is called a leap day or leap year day.  Thus, if you happened to be born on February 29, you have to wait for four years to receive birthday gifts.  Yes, life is not fair.

Then, let me go back to the Lunar calendar of the Jews that causes the fluctuation of the religious dates.  How is it different?  Well, first of all, its length is different.  A year of the Hebrews consists of only 354 days 8 hours 48’ 38”.  This length of a year has to be divided by twelve months.  The first month (or Nissan) corresponds to the end of March or the beginning of April.  In the middle of this month, the first ripe barley was presented to the Lord, and it could fall into the middle of winter season.  Remember that the Hebrew calendar is almost 10 days shorter than ours.  If there were no leap years, then our March becomes their February within three years!  If it continues, then we will have completely different seasons and times in the Hebrews calendar!  Thus, the Sanhedrim appointed a committee to determine which year was to be made a leap year by the insertion of a thirteenth month.  The committee’s recommendation was usually in the twelfth month (Adar).  This additional month was added between the twelfth and the first month.  If we compare the Easter dates between year 2016 and this year, the difference is 25 days!  We can see why sometimes we find hugely different dates of Easter.  We should be able to relate the resurrection Sunday to Passover, which is the 14th of Nissan.  If Lunar calendar is not the same as our calendar, it is more than obvious that we get different dates for Easter (Passover dates, too). 

Well, I hope that this article gives some answers to your curiosities!

Lovingly,

Your Pastor


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

  • Special thanks to our speaker Rev Kevin Currell, organisers, helpers and participants at the Easter Family Bible Camp.
  • Mother’s Day Picnic on Sat, 11 May, 10am at Thorndon Park. All are welcome. Please see Sisters Natalie Ki or Sherilyn Wong for details.
  • Please observe all parking signs when parking on council strips. Please DO NOT block the driveways of our neighbours & DO NOT park on the streets north & west of our church compound (Bedford Square).
  • Lunch Duty: This week: Neighbourhood Groups. Next week: Volunteers.

 

Praise & Thanksgiving

  • God’s blessings on our Easter Family Bible Camp – speaker, Rev Kevin Currell & all participants. Bible teaching & fellowship at the camp.
  • Working Bee
  • Journey mercies: All those who have travelled.

 

Prayer

  • Special prayer for healing: Pastor Ki; Rev Pong Sen Yiew (S’pore); and all those with physical affliction.
  • Missions: IBPFM – missionaries;  House of Hope ministry (Cebu).  
  • Australian Federal Election, 18 May – God’s guidance & wisdom to elect the right party to govern this nation.
  • Persecuted believers in Islamic, Communist, Hundu & Buddhist countries.
  • Those injured & those who lost loved ones in Sri Lanka church & hotel attacks.
  • Session meeting: God’s wisdom & guidance.
  • Journey mercies: Rev & Mrs Kevin Currell (Melb); & others who are travelling.

 

 

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PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063