Let’s go to a passage in Exo 23.14-17. This is after Exo 12 so we would calculate the date by using the Religious Calendar. This passage deals with what is called the “Pilgrimage Festivals” or the “Shelosh Regalim” meaning “Three Foot Festivals.” The phrase we want to look at is in v 16 where it says that the festival of Sukkot is at the “end of the year” or “turn of the year.”
Now, Unleavened Bread in v 15 is in Nisan (Aviv) on the religious Calendar, the first month. Then we have the festival of Harvest (Shavuot) in the third month of Sivan of the Religious Calendar. Then we have Sukkot in the seventh month of Tishri on the Religious Calendar. So, the question is, how can Sukkot be at the “end” or “turning” of the year when it is only the seventh month of the religious year, with five more months to come? We’ll come back to that.
Gen 7.11 says the “windows of heaven were opened” on the second month, the seventeenth day. Gen 8.4 says the Ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat. Both of these dates are before Exo 12 where we get another calendar, so obviously, the calendar being used is the Civil Calendar. This was the calendar of Adam, Noah and Abraham (Civil).
Tishri was also called “Ethanim” (1 Kings 8.2). In the Targum Ben Uzziel on the verse it says, “in the month of Ethanim, that is, the seventh month, in the month that the ancient ones called the first month but now is called the seventh month.” So, we are able to see there was a calendar there.
The Shemitah is a seven year cycle. Crops are planted for six years and in the seventh year you didn’t plant anything. The seven year cycle and the end of the year can be seen in Deut 14.23-29. In v 28 it says, “at the end of every third year (third and sixth year of the cycle) you shall bring out all the tithe (second tithe) of your produce in that year and shall deposit it in your town” (storehouses there). This was the Levitical city in your area. On other years, you brought your second tithe (Ma’aser Sheni) to the Temple.
Now, notice it says that you should do this “at the end of the third year” at Sukkot. But how can Sukkot be at the end of the year? Even in the Civil Calendar, if Tishri is the first month, then Elul would be at the “end of the year, not Tishri. We don’t call Jan 15th the end of the year, so how can this be?
Well, first of all, time in the Bible is not like how we reckon it in the west. We start the year on Rosh Ha Shanah (head of the year) on Tishri 1. But the year is not over till we finish the fall festivals and the last day that is attached to Sukkot called “Shemini Atzeret” or the “Concluding Eighth Day.” This day is also called “Simchat Torah” or ‘Rejoicing in the Torah.” That is the day the Torah readings begin again. So, at Rosh Ha Shanah the year is over, but not totally over until Shemini Atzeret. Therefore, Sukkot is at the end of the year on the Civil Calendar, and the seventh month on the Religious Calendar. So, we can prove there were two calendars.
In Exo 12.2 it says, “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.” This is the month of Nisan (Aviv) and Nisan is the seventh month on the Civil Calendar, and the first month on the Religious Calendar. God is instituting a second calendar in Exo 12.
There were also two other calendars used. One was the the calendar for trees. Why is that important? Because you had to tithe off of them if it was within the defined borders of Israel. The new year for trees was the first of Shevat because that is when trees start to bud. These trees (fruit) had to bear fruit within four years or you were obligated to cut it down. This is what is called “Orlah” meaning “uncircumcised” (Lev 19.23-25). Why is the word for “uncircumcision” used for trees? There is a connection between circumcision and fertility (bearing fruit). This command is also a picture of the relationship between God and Israel spiritually (Jer 2.21, 11.16; Psa 80.9-12; Isa 5.2). Israel failed to produce good fruit (Isa 5.5-6; Ezek 15.6).
Yeshua comes to Israel as the promised Messiah. Luke 13.6-9 tells us about a parable where a certain man (God) had a fig tree (Israel). He came looking for fruit and found none. He told the vineyard keeper (Yeshua) that it has been three years (Lev 19.23-25) and to cut it down. But the vineyard keeper (Yeshua) said they should leave it alone. He would use several means to try and make it fruitful. If it does not bear fruit in the fourth year (full maturity after he has done some work on it), then it would be cut down (which Israel was in 70 A.D.)
In Mark 11.12-20 Yeshua comes to a fig tree (Israel) expecting to find fruit, but does not find any. He curses the fig tree and the next day they saw that the fig tree had withered from the roots. Then Yeshua goes into a teaching about faith (emunah) in Mark 11.22-23. He says, “Whoever says to this mountain (Temple Mount) ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes, what he says is going to happen shall be granted to him.”
Now, the Faith Movement, for the last forty years that we have been hearing about them, falsely teaches that this means if we say something in “faith” it must happen as we say it, but is that the meaning? Let’s look a this as it may have been understood by those listening to Yeshua.
We know that “the sea” is the nations (Isa 57.20). Spiritually, Yeshua is saying that with faith (confidence in God and his word) that the falsehoods that were being taught on the mountain where the Temple stood (Shammai’s Sanhedrin sat there enforcing the 18 Edicts and other false teachings) can be overcome and they can enter the Kingdom of God. A sharp mind (analytical) in the Torah is called an “uprooter of mountains” in Jewish idiomatic thought. When God gave the Torah, Israel was at the “foot of the mountain” (Exo 19.17). The word used there is “tachat” and it means “under.” So, Israel (in a way) was “under the mountain.”
Matt 21. 43-44 says that the Kingdom of God will be taken away from them (unbelieving Israel, the unfruitful fig). The Kingdom of God was seen as God’s rule in your life. If you accepted Yeshua and followed the Torah, the Kingdom of God was upon you. If you didn’t accept him you were not following the Torah and you were rejecting the Kingdom of God. He who falls on the stone (Yeshua) will be broken to pieces in repentance, but on whomever it falls will be scattered like dust (crushed).
Sinai is synonymous with the Torah. Faith will remove the judicial aspect of the Torah in charges against us that kill us. Without faith, Sinai falls on the unbeliever and crushes them. Sinai was the time of God’s betrothal to Israel (Jer 2.2) and so it was seen as a wedding “chupah” or canopy over their heads, and the people were under it if they followed the Torah. If they rejected the Torah the weight of it would crush them. As we know, Israel rejected Yeshua and true Torah observance and Israel was scattered like dust. The other calendar used was when you tithed your animals and that was on the first of Elul. How do you calculate how old your animals are? You start counting on Elul 1.
So, let’s look at our two main calendars, the Religious and the Civil. Previously, we have already listed the months of the Civil and Religious calendars. It would be helpful to write them down side by side is a list, 1 through 12. You will see that the first month on the Civil Calendar (used in the Bible before Exo 12) is Tishri and the seventh month is Nisan. On the Religious Calendar the first month is Nisan and the seventh month is Tishri (used after Exo 12). Why is this so important? Because the dates given before Exo 12 are according to the Religious Calendar. This knowledge will play a role in defining the time of year when the Natzal will occur as we shall see as we move forward.
In Part 9 we will pick up here.