The calendric system utilized by the Hillelic Pharisees between 41 and 365 C.E. becomes an essential issue for our study. Various present-day researchers, both from rabbinic Judaism and neo-Christianity, have, without adequate foundation, concluded that the Hillelic system was the original method required by Scriptures.
Both rabbinic Judaism and neo-Christian groups, as a result, have assumed that the Israelites always had waited to declare a New Moon Day until the night that its first crescent was witnessed. For some Christian messianic groups, it is presumed that authority to continue this practice in Christianity is brought forth from Romans 3:1-2 and Matthew 23:3. The question is, Do these passages actually support such a conclusion?
The willingness to accept the pro-Pharisaic interpretation of the two above passages comes as the result of two circumstances:
• The assumption that the Jews from this period must have known and practiced the true system.
• The victory of the Hillelic Pharisees in their political struggle against their religious rivals, leaving predominantly Pharisaic records as our primary source for Jewish practices of the first and subsequent centuries C.E., somehow proves their authority. Continue reading “Pharisee Influence”
There is yet another important question that must be addressed pertaining to Yahweh’s instructions from Scriptures regarding when to begin the sacred months and years. How much authority do we allow the Sadducees, Pharisees, or any of the other ancient Jewish groups regarding the sacred calendar?
In reality, there is no justification at all for accepting as authoritative the teachings of any of the Hasidic groups, especially the Pharisees, or even that of the Aristocratic sects of the Sadducees, Boethusian Sadducees, or Samaritans. All systems must be weighed against what Scriptures actually state, not vice versa.
If after examining Scriptures we find that one or another of these groups held true to some of the practices and doctrines that were originally commanded, the most we can say is that they were observing that point correctly. Yet any conclusion must be tempered by the scriptural warnings about the various teachings of the Sadducees, Pharisees, and scribes (lawyers). Continue reading “Jewish Authority”
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
Later, the number of the assembly of participating members was changed to 10 judges.27 The leading judge was the Nasi. New Moon Days were sanctified by at least two of the three members of the court.28 Continue reading “The Pharisaic Calendar and Court – Pt. 2”
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 (head of the Sanhedrin) of the Hillelic Pharisees.
Thus began a process wherein the Hillelic party, starting 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.
These new calendar regulations were created for two reasons: Continue reading “The Pharisaic Calendar and Court – Pt. 1”
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.
Continue reading “17. Passover – Pentecost Clarity I”
A late innovation of the Aristocratic understanding of
בין חערבים (byn ha-arabim) arose sometime after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E., becoming clearly manifested in records by the 8th century C.E.
This new interpretation (System C) was built under the heavy influence of the Talmudists (spiritual offshoots of the Pharisees). It flourished primarily among the Karaites and neo (later)-Samaritans but was also practiced by some less well-known groups.
Like those of the Aristocratic school (System A), these neo (later)-Aristocratic groups (System C) understood byn ha-arabim as the period of twilight that follows sunset.
Continue reading “16. Passover – Neo-Aristocratic Practice”
There is little doubt that the ancient Samaritans reflected the Sadducean position with regard to the timing of byn ha-arabim (twilight after sunset).
To support this detail, we retain one piece of evidence from an ancient Samaritan writer, Ezekielos the Tragedian, in his work titled ἐζαγωγή (Exagoge; Deliverance).1
This work was composed sometime between the first part of the second century until about 90 B.C.E.,2 i.e., as early as the outbreak of the Hasmonaean Revolt or as late as the first decade of the next century.
Clement of Alexandria calls Ezekielos “the poet of Jewish tragedies.”3 Important fragments of the Exagoge have survived in the works of Eusebius.4
Internal evidence from this tragic drama reveals that the author belonged to the ancient Samaritan sect, which used the Aristocratic method.5 As we shall demonstrate, the ancient Samaritans held that byn ha-arabim begins the day and that the entire Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread lasts only seven days, beginning with the 14th.
Continue reading “15. Passover – Aristocratic Practice II”
The Aristocratic understanding (System A) of “בין חערבים (byn ha-arabim)” was represented by the Jews called Sadducees, the Boethusian Sadducees, and by the ancient Samaritans.
Moreover, the Aristocratic practice was utilized by Yahushua the messiah, his apostles, and the early assemblies that followed him.1
Very few writings which discuss just how to observe Passover have come down to us directly from any acknowledged Sadducean, Boethusian, or ancient Samaritan source. So, for an acquaintance with their opinions, we are mainly dependent upon their antagonists.2
These antagonists, and records which are derived from the later variations of this view (as demonstrated by the neo-Samaritans and Karaites),3 show that, contrary to the Hasidic views, the Aristocratic approach understood that the first ערב (arab; intermixing of light and dark) occurred at sunset and the second at deep twilight (the setting of darkness).
Continue reading “14. Passover – Aristocratic Practice I”
In our first installment titled 10. 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 “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.2 Their conflict with the Sadducees was in force from the time of the Hasmonaean revolt.
Continue reading “11. Passover – Sadducees & Pharisees Part 2”
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 the Aristocratic view while the Pharisees carried on the Hasidic tradition.
Continue reading “10. Passover – Sadducees & Pharisees Part 1”
How did such radically different views for the expression בין הערבים (byn ha-arabim), the Passover supper, and the seven days of Unleavened Bread come into existence among the Jews?
To fully understand this dispute we must begin with an examination of the historical and cultural context wherein the division of views took root in Judaism.
Continue reading “8. Passover – The Dark Period I”