Defective and full Months The Pharisees established rules that limited not only the number of months which could be defective (i.e., only 29 days long) or full (i.e., consisting of a full 30 days) but even limited which months were eligible.
The Mishnah states:
There are never less than four “full” months in the year, nor do more than eight (full) months require to be taken into account.31
In turn, they point out that there were never more than eight or less than four defective months. Meanwhile, a 12 lunar-month year has no less than 352 days and no more than 355 days, while a 13 lunar-month year has no less than 383 days and no more than 385 days.32
These reckonings were further encumbered by other restrictions which ignored the reality of the new moon phases. For example, the last month of the year, Adar—the month which precedes Nisan, the first month of the next year—is always defective,33 as was, except in special cases, the sixth month, Elul.34 The first and seventh months, on the other hand, i.e., Nisan and Tishri, were “never intercalated,” that is, they were always full.35Continue reading “Sanctification of New Moons – Pt. 2”→
The Hillelic Pharisees differed from their religious counterparts in that they followed the Babylonian custom of demanding that there must be witnesses who could testify to a Calendar Court confirming the sighting of the moon’s crescent on the very first day of the new moon. They also required official sanctification of the new moon by their Calendar Court.
Our attention will now shift to examining the rules for sanctification and dissemination for the Hillelic New Moon Day. As we shall see, many of these regulations prove to be arbitrary and counter to scriptural intent.
The Hillelic Pharisees considered it “a religious duty to sanctify (the new moon) on the strength of actual observation.”1 This duty was required, “even though the observation is not necessary for the purpose.”2
The Calendar Court The Hillelic system for determining the New Moon Day and how to intercalate the year operated through a court panel of three judges.25 In the time of the Temple, these judges represented the Court of Elders and, after the Temple’s destruction in 70 C.E., the Great Sanhedrin of Pharisees.
The Mishnah reports:
The intercalating of the month and the intercalating of the year (are decided upon) by three (judges). So (says) Rabbi Meir. But Rabban Simeon ben Gamaliel says: The matter is begun by three, discussed by five, and decided upon by seven; but if it is decided upon by three the intercalation is valid.26
In 41 C.E., the Aristocratic system of determining new moons and the intercalation of a year, previously calculated only by the priests who were the descendants of Aaron, the high priest, was officially usurped by the Nasi of the Hillelic Pharisees.
Thus began a process wherein the Hillelic party, beginning with Gamaliel I, using the “traditions of their fathers” and heavily influenced by Babylonian customs, instituted a series of modifications that forever changed the requirements for determining the beginning of a month and a year in what became known as Orthodox Judaism.
A popular Sacred Name group offers an article titled “Why Passover is Not a High Day.” This article contains the subtitle “12 Reasons Why the Passover Is Not the First High Day.”
We shall present a few excerpts from the article to illustrate the reinterpretations of Scriptures utilized to justify the predetermined conclusions regarding the Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread.
The following are “Reasons” 10 and 11. In addition, after each – SNG STATEMENT – ( Sacred Name group statement) we, will provide a • YRR RESPONSE • (Yahu Ranger response).
10. Does Passover Memorial Make Eight Days of the Feast?
– SNG STATEMENT – From the time we take the emblems of unleavened bread and the cup, we are to purge (Strong’s No. 1571 ekkathairo), meaning to cleanse thoroughly, to eliminate, to purify, to get rid of the old leaven. Does this mean that we are now keeping eight days of unleavened bread rather than seven, as some allege?
As found with the celebration of Passover, there existed a great debate among the various Jewish factions, beginning in about the second century B.C.E., with regard to just how and when one was to count to the Khag of Shabuath (Weeks), also called Pentecost.
This debate was sparked by the fact that there is no direct statement found in Scriptures telling us exactly on which date one is to keep the Festival of Weeks.
In this second and final half of our discussion we will now look to the ancient records that demonstrate the Hasidic view regarding Passover.
The Book of Jubilees The Book of Jubilees, originally composed in Hebrew by the Hasidim in the late second century B.C.E.,1gives us the earliest representation of the Hasidic argument. To date, the most complete version of this text is found in the Ethiopian edition. It reports:
Since the first century C.E., the most prevalent and popular view for the observance of Passover and the seven days of Unleavened Bread has beenHasidic System B—an interpretation first expressed by the ancient Hasidim.
This practice has the Passover sacrifice offered during during the afternoon of Abib 14 with the Passover meal eaten at the beginning of Abib 15. All leavening is removed from one’s home by noon on Abib 14. Abib 15 begins the 7-day Feast of Unleavened Bread and continues through Abib 21. There is a total of 8 days of Unleavened Bread counted from Abib 14-21.
The questions that must be asked are:
• What is the ancient evidence of this interpretation? Also, just how and on what days did they keep the Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread?
• When did this Hasidic view of Passover and the seven days of Unleavened Bread first appear?
• What issues created their interpretation and how did they derive their understanding of בערב (be-arab; in the mixing of light and dark [twilight]) and its cognate term בין הערבים (byn ha-arabim; between/among the mixings of light and dark [twilight])?
In our first installment titled10. Passover – Sadducees & Pharisees I, we discussed the religious philosophy of the Sadducees. With our second installment we will proceed to address the viewpoint of the Pharisees and their power struggle with the Sadducees.
It is within the framework of the evolving political and religious conflict between the Sadducees and Pharisees that we can understand just how and why the Pharisees ultimately became victorious in the officially recognized practice of Passover and Unleavened Bread which we have labeled “Hasidic System B.”
The Pharisees The “Hasidic System B” Passover and Unleavened Bread method originated among the early Hasidim but became dominant as a religious practice because of the political power of their spiritual descendants, the Pharisees.1
From Pharisaism derived what is now called Orthodox Judaism.2Their conflict with the Sadducees was in force from the time of the Hasmonaean revolt.
With the proper historical and cultural context in hand per our previous posts dealing with “The Dark Period,” we shall now turn our attention toward the two leading Jewish religious parties: the Sadducees and the Pharisees.
These two religious groups held opposing interpretations for בין הערבים (byn ha-arabim; between the evenings), for the day on which the Passover was eaten, and for the seven days of Unleavened Bread.
The Sadducees reflected theAristocraticview while the Pharisees carried on theHasidic tradition.
One of the most important historical and cultural developments in Judaism during the Hellenic period was the formation of the movement, during the late third century B.C.E., that later became the Hasidim.
From them are derived the Pharisees, Essenes, Zealots, and others, including the later Rabbinists and Talmudists, who are their spiritual descendants.1
The name Hasidim means “pious, devout” ones.2These early Hasidim must not be confused with the German mystics of the 12th–13th centuries C.E. or with the modern Hasidic movement, founded in 18th century Poland by Israel ben Eliezer.3