This section is about exploring theories on why there are discrepancies between the lunar and solar calendars. It focuses on calendars used in extreme antiquity and points out an apparent global shift in the understanding of the length of the year, all around the same time.
Again, I want to make it clear that I am posting this because it is thought-provoking, not because I absolutely agree with every word and endorse the study in its entirety.
Today's installment actually skips over a very small section immediately after the point where the previous article left off, and will include material from pages 17-23.
THEORY: WHY ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS
ABANDONED THE LUNAR CALENDAR
King Hezekiah And The Sundial
Why did world civilizations abandon their lunar calendars for fixed calendars? The solar year does not exactly total up to any exact number of days. The story you are about to hear is as strange as anything you have ever heard, but the historical and astronomical evidence for its truth is as remarkable as the story is bizarre.
As the contributor cited by Adventist Today’s Hanson explained, Genesis 1:14-16 spells out the concept that God gave the sun and moon to be the markers of time for the human race. God specifically mentioned that these markers were designed for keeping track of sacred days. This concept is especially clear in the New International Version. We will start where the contributor quoted by Hanson left off:
Genesis 1:14-16 (NIV) - 14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.
It was a disruption of world lunar calendars by a series of catastrophic events that took place somewhat before the building of the second temple in 586 BC (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Temple) that made the use of the lunar calendar impractical for world civilizations, including Israel. The disruption of these world lunar calendars, as mentioned elsewhere, strongly correlated through a study of the calendar, historical, and astronomical records of the major world civilizations of the age. Furthermore, there is a remarkable correlation between the records of these disruptive world events with the biblical record of the turning back of the sundial by 10 degrees as a sign requested by King Hezekiah. This event is recorded in both Isaiah 38:8 and II Kings 20. Historian, Edwin Thiele, places the reign of King Hezekiah between 715 and 786 BCE. See:
Also, in Joshua 10 we have the story of how God prevented the sun from going down until a battle was won. Both events took place after the lunar-based Sabbath was given to Israel from high atop the Mountain of the Moon – Mt. Sinai. Ancient civilizations used the lunar calendar until the disruptive events that seem to have taken place between 600 and 800 BCE.
As we review Velikovsky’s research, you will recognize that these dates lend credibility to his theory that it was a major astronomical event that altered the length of the lunar month. Prior to these strange events, the lunar calendars of world civilizations had 12 months of 30 days each which added up to a solar year that was about 360 days. After the miracle of the sun dial retreating 10 degrees, the solar year mysteriously grew from about 360 days to about 365.25 days, and world civilizations were forced to add extra days to their lunar calendars to get them to sync with the expanded length of the solar year. These disruptive events recorded in the histories of ancient civilizations included crazy weather patterns, earth-quakes, and other catastrophes. This is true of the calendars and histories of the Mayans in South America, the Chinese, and the civilizations of the Middle East. It is no stretch of the imagination to see the reality of the biblical teaching that the Earth is “growing old like a garment.” Today, scientists believe they have proof that the magnetic field of the Earth has reversed polarity several times in the past, and some scientists, including Albert Einstein, have believed that a major disruptive event caused the continents of the world to drift many thousands of miles within the space of less than one or two days. To dismiss Velikovsky’s astronomical explanation as the explanation for the world abandonment of the lunar calendar tends to diminish the reality of two biblical miracles. The miracles of a lengthened day and the sun dial going backwards ten degrees would have to have natural consequences. For more information on Einstein and the Polar Shift Hypothesis, follow this link:
It is critically important to understand the reality of this part of ancient calendar and astronomical history. Therefore, we quote at length from a position paper posted by the Sabbath-keeping Bethel Church of God of Eugene, Oregon:
With respect to the calendar, the book of Genesis implies a 360-day year at the time of the Flood (Dictionary of the Bible, by James Hastings, s.v. “Time”). Comparing Genesis 7:11, 24 with Genesis 8:4 we see months of thirty days-a five-month period with 150 days. Checking Deuteronomy 34:8 with Numbers 20:29 we see a thirty-day month during the time of Moses-at about 1500 BC. According to Immanuel Velikovsky in his work, Worlds in Collision, we find the following information: The old Babylonian year consisted of 360 days-twelve months of thirty days each. Scholars knew this even before the cuneiform script was understood. The Assyrian year contained 360 days; a decade was made up of 3,600 days. Assyrian documents reveal a thirty-day month from new moon to new moon. Anciently, the Persian year also had 360 days of twelve months containing thirty days each. The Egyptian year was 360 days in length. Later, it was changed to 365 days. The Book of Sothis states the added five days were introduced at a later time. The Eber Papyrus lists a year of twelve months with thirty days each. During the Eighteenth Dynasty the new moon festival was observed at periods of thirty days. After the fall of the Middle Kingdom, the Hyksos introduced a solar year of 360 days according to a gloss on a manuscript of Timaeus. The Mayan year originally consisted of 360 days, but five days were later added, as well as another day every fourth year. In South America, in ancient times, the year consisted of 360 days with twelve months. The same was true in China – 360 days with twelve months. When five days were added to the Chinese year they included another one-quarter day. Plutarch wrote that when Rome was first founded during the time of Romulus, the Roman year was 360 days. Various Latin authors record the month as being thirty days in length. What this means is that there is ample historical evidence to demonstrate that before the introduction of a 365¼ day year the length of the year was 360 days. The ancient texts of India during the Veda period state the year was 360 days in comments found throughout the Brahmanas. Nowhere is intercalation mentioned. Nor is an extra five or six days associated with a solar year. The Hindu year was made up of twelve months of thirty days each. With their astronomical skills it is astonishing why the Brahmans failed to realize that 360 days was 5¼ days short. All the historical computations found in Hindu history used a 360-day year with months of thirty days each. What is quite apparent is that throughout the world we find a calendar of 360 days that was later changed at about the seventh century BC when five days were added to the year (Velikovsky, 124, 331-341). Did God change the seasons as Daniel stated? (Dan. 2:21).
About the seventh or eighth centuries BC five additional days were added to the length of the year. From about this time the Hindu year, for example, was lengthened to 365¼ days even though the original length of the year was still used. From the fifteenth century down to the eighth century BC, the length of the year was consistently the same due to the orbit of the Earth and revolutions of the moon. It was the same thirty-day month, and the length of the year itself did not vary more than a few hours. What happened to change this? Some sort of catastrophe occurred that altered both the orbit and axis of the Earth and moon as well as the length of the year. Repeated disturbances changed the orbit of the Earth from 360 days to 365 and ¼ days in length and the length of the month from thirty days to 29½ days (Velikovsky, 338, 332, 342).
What is required to bring about the kind of changes that took place in the eighth century BC? For one thing the axis of the Earth must be altered from the perpendicular into a tilt. This would affect the seasons. The 23½ degree tilt of the axis is now responsible for the seasons-spring following winter and fall following summer because the axis is tilted either toward or away from the sun. A perpendicular axis prevents seasonal changes, which appears to be the case from the opening chapters of Genesis. Fossil remains prove that at one time the climate was the same worldwide. Should there be another change in the axis the seasons would be more intense and their order would be altered. The orbits of both the Earth and moon must be modified in order to change the times. According to Velikovsky, there is a vast amount of information available from peoples all over the globe to demonstrate what took place in the eighth century BC. During a century of disturbances, which involved two catastrophes, the moon receded into an orbit of 29¼ days as an average and has remained so ever since. Also, the Earth orbit was changed so that 5¼ days were added. Written traditions by many of the ancient peoples recount the disorder of the seasons and connect it directly with the motion of the planets (Velikovsky, 345, 120-121).
What took place in the middle of the eighth century BC, is that the calendar [that was] previously accurate became unusable. Lunar and solar movements changed repeatedly from 747 to 687 BC, and calendar adjustments had to be made, Velikovsky tells us. Adjustments were soon outdated and had to be readjusted. Clay tables found at the royal library in Nineveh record astronomical observations made prior to the time our present system was established. One tablet places the vernal equinox as the sixth of Nisan, and another places it at the fifteenth. This difference cannot be explained by modern scholars. These Assyrian astronomers were very accurate and precise in their work and would not have erred by a period of nine days. The astronomical tablets at Nineveh reveal three systems of planets. Single planets were closely observed and tracked in three dissimilar schedules. The movements of the moon itself were found to have two different systems. The last one to be observed corresponds to our present solar order. In one of the systems observed, the solstitial and equinoctial locations on the ecliptic are found six degrees too far to the east. Tablet 272 records that the distances from one new moon to another on the Chaldean ecliptic average three degrees, fourteen minutes too great. Thus, during a lunar month the moon traveled farther in relationship to the fixed stars than the present order shows. The astronomical tables at Nineveh reveal that the world order repeatedly changed during a single century. Included in these tables is the fact that the apparent path of the sun, as it traversed the heavens, led Babylonian astronomers to differentiate three orbits for the sun (Velikovsky, 349-350).
For information on Velikovsky, follow this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immanuel_Velikovsky
There is no record that the Hebrews ever had to add extra days to their calendar before 600 to 700 BCE. In fact there is no record of any ancient contemporary civilization adding extra days to its lunar calendar before these strange astronomical events happened. The Sabbatarian writers from the Bethel Church of God also conclude from their research that there may have been some convulsive global activities during the Great Flood and/or the Exodus that may have contributed to solar system events that created minor disparities between the lunar and solar calendars even before the major disruptive events that occurred later. Here is another interesting observation the authors credit to Velikovsky:
Velikovsky is not the only one who contends that the original new year in the Bible fell on the tenth day of the seventh month, the same day as the Day of Atonement. See Leviticus 25:9. It was later transferred to the first of Tishri — the first day of the seventh month. If this is true, on the Jewish calendar as well as the Babylonian calendar, there is an equinoctial displacement of nine days. When scholars examine the Assyrian astronomical records, they regard them as enigmatic mistakes. Yet, what needs to be asked is how could these astronomers who were responsible for the earlier records be so careless as to uphold a 360-day year, an error that in only six years would lead to a whole month’s divergence? Certainly these astronomers of the royal observatories would not have announced to the king wrong dates when anyone can observe when the moon is new. Furthermore, their records on the clay tablets required mathematical calculation. What should be obvious is that during the reign of Assurbanipal, the movements of the planets, the precession of the equinoxes, and recurring return of the eclipses had been recorded and recalculated. As changes in the heavens took place, new tablets were placed in the royal archives along with the older records (Velikovsky, 350).The Greek philosopher Thales is credited with discovering how many days were in a year. From his time (640-546 BC) the Greeks knew the year consisted of 365 days. Since he was born in the seventh century BC, is it possible he learned the new length of the year? It was about this time that the year was firmly fixed at its present length. A contemporary of Thales was Solon. He is credited with discovering that the length of the lunar month was less than thirty days. Yet, for the purpose of computation, as well as respect for the earlier length, the 360-day year was maintained for some period of time (Velikovsky, 338). If the year was 365 days then as it is now, it is odd that the discovery of the 365-day year should have occurred as late as the seventh century BC. There were many more much older kingdoms which certainly would have discovered this earlier. Why would the calculation of the length of a year, which is a reasonably simple matter to understand, be discovered by Thales, while the calculation of the eclipses, which is quite difficult to forecast, had been discovered centuries before? The same conclusion can be reached regarding Solon’s discovery of the length of the lunar month because we can see that an adjustment of a new calendar system was taking place! (Velikovsky, 356-357). In Peru, the king issued orders that astronomical observations be made. The result was a calendar change in the length of the year from 360 days to 365¼. The same was true with the Toltecs. Their history records how the sages and astrologers were gathered together in order to recalculate the length of the year which had been recognized as inaccurate. The Talmud relates how King Hezekiah made a calendar change. He is said to have intercalated the calendar in order to delay the Passover. While this conclusion may be erroneous, it is recognized that the Passover was held the second month for ritual reasons. See 2 Chronicles 30. Whatever changes became fixed at that time is not known, but it is apparent calendar computation had become difficult (Velikovsky, 352). Even the Romans made corrections in their calendar near the end of the eighth or beginning of the seventh century BC. Numa, the second king of Rome and a contemporary of King Hezekiah, made corrections in the inequality of the calendar which required further corrections later (ibid, 356).
The same writers cite the following additional support for the observation that calendar adjustments were taking place on a global basis after these disruptive global events:
What can be seen in all this is that in the years following 687 BC there were calendar reforms taking place all over the Earth. The calendar was in a state of chaos between 747 – 687 BC, the length of both the month and the year constantly changing. We have our present calendar today because the new order has not been altered (Velikovsky, 358-359).
Note that Velikovsky’s research does not appear to mention that the week may have had its position altered again much later by Constantine as suggested by Hanson. It is widely believed that Judaism officially divorced the Sabbath from the lunar calendar connection around 700 AD by a committee of powerful Jewish rabbis in a dispersed community of Jews that had remained in Babylon since the days of the Babylonian Captivity. The article on Karaite Judaism in Wikipedia gives this explanation of what happened. Anan Ben David (CE 715-795 or 811?) arose as a major proponent of the Karaite sect when the Jews from another sect began teaching doctrines that were highly offensive to him:
Isma‘’il al-‘Ukbari believed he was the prophet Elijah, and hated ‘Anan; and Mishawayh al-‘Ukbari, who was a disciple of Isma‘’il al-‘Ukbari and the founder of the Mishawites, taught his followers to use a purely solar calendar of 364 days and 30 day months, insisted that all the Holy Days and fast days should always occur on fixed days in the week, rather than on fixed days of the months, and said that Shabbat should be kept from sunrise on Saturday to sunrise on Sunday. Such beliefs were anathema to Ananites and Karaites and their practitioners were excoriated by the Karaites.
The Karaite View Of The Sabbath
Karaite Judaism is interesting to the Sabbath-Sunday question primarily because of its knowledgeable position that calendar issues and other factors make it impossible to know which day of our current week is the “real” seventh day. The history of the Hebrew calendars is complicated indeed. For example, Steve Rudd, an apologetics researcher with Bible.CA and the author of the article, “Solved: Divided Kingdom Chronology,” explains that the Kingdom of Judah began its new year with the month of September-October, whereas Israel’s new year began with the month of April. Also adding to the confusion, during much of the history of the Hebrews, they used a lunar calendar for feast days and a “business” calendar for the solar year of approximately 365 days in length. The fact that the Hebrews used different calendars of different kinds may partially explain why the Karaites have no problem with keeping the weekly Sabbath on an arbitrarily chosen seventh day themselves. It is less clear why they had, and still have, no interest in keeping the weekly Sabbath according to the lunar calendar. Instead, they were focused on the importance of observing Jewish feasts and holy days according to the lunar calendar. They seem to have fought against Judaism’s change to a fixed calendar on that basis only. Documentation of their fight to maintain the use of the lunar calendar is very clear in regard to the events that took place within Judaism during the late 700’s.
Despite the seemingly formidable evidence, lunar Sabbatarian, John D. Keyser, has found in support of the lunar Sabbath concept, the fact that the Karaite Jews have no interest in keeping the weekly Sabbath according to it may represent the single most powerful indirect evidence against the idea that Israel ever kept the Sabbath according to the phases of the Moon. There are possible explanations for this paradox, however, including the fact that the primary focus of Karaite Judaism has not been on the lunar calendar but rather on the principle that the Torah, which came directly from God, is to be the Jew’s only guide to Faith—that the Talmud and Mishnah, books of Jewish tradition, are not inspired as mainstream, Rabbinical Judaism, claims.
When it comes to the role played by their predecessor groups— the dissident sects that sprang up at some time after the building of the second temple– the issues that drove them are less clear. They sprang up to oppose mainstream, rabbinical Judaism on a variety of issues that almost certainly included disputes over the Jewish calendar. The Babylonian Captivity began in 597 BCE, and by this time the Assyrians and Babylonians had adopted fixed calendars. It would have been natural for both the Assyrians and the Babylonians to try to impose their national calendars on all of their citizens, including their Jewish subjects. It is possible, and even likely, that these dissident sects that later evolved into the Karaites may have opposed a possible change from observance of the Sabbath according to the lunar calendar to observing it according to the fixed calendar of their captors. However, we have only indirect evidence that this is likely so in that a variety of historical sources indicate that (1) The Jews kept the Sabbath according to the lunar calendar before the building of the second temple. (2) Excerpts from The Dead Sea Scrolls documents the fact that some Jewish sects were keeping the lunar Sabbath at the time of Christ. (3) The writings of the early fathers of the Christian church document the fact that some Christians and Jews kept the lunar Sabbath for hundreds of years after the death of Christ. (See Appendix XI, excerpts from John D. Keyser’s paper, “From Sabbath to Saturday.”)
The Karaite position on the observance of the weekly Sabbath might suggest that today’s lunar Sabbatarians cannot find any real support for their unique beliefs from Karaite Judaism. Instead, an examination of the facts pulls the rug out from under the foundation of Sabbatarian doctrine– the untenable concept that the current seventh day of our week is an exact seven-day interval of the seventh day of Creation.
The predecessors of the Karaites were called by various names:
Karaism has been around since God gave his laws to the Jewish people. At first those who followed YHWH's laws were merely called "Righteous" and it was only in the 9th century CE that they came to be called Karaites. The question of why God's followers are today called Karaites is really a question of the origin of the other sects. At first there was no reason to label the righteous as a separate sect because there was only the one sect which consisted of the whole Jewish people. Throughout history a variety of sects appeared and it was only to distinguish the righteous from these other groups which caused them in different periods to take on such names as Sadducees, Boethusians, Ananites, and Karaites.
The first reference in the history of Israel to more than one sect takes place some 200 years after the close of the Biblical period, in the first century BCE. Various sources tell us of two opposing sects, the Sadducees (Zadokites) and the Pharisees. The Sadducees followed the Torah as it was written while the Pharisees believed in a second "Oral" Torah which they added to the real one. The Second Temple period saw the rise of several more sects among them another group which only followed the written Torah called the Boethusians and a sect which added several books to the Bible called the Essenes (a.k.a. the "Dead Sea Sect").http://www.karaite-korner.org/history.shtml
The Karaites are first mentioned in written sources in the late eighth century. They themselves claim to be descendants of dissident sects of the First Temple period, and the rabbinical tradition traces them back to opposition trends of the Second Temple period.http://www.myjewishlearning.com/history/Ancient_and_Medieval_History/632-1650/Islamic_World/Karaites.shtml?p=1
Historians have argued over whether Karaism has a direct connection to anti-Rabbinic sects and views, such as those of the Sadducees, dating back to the end of the Second Temple period (70 CE), or whether Karaism represents a novel emergence of similar views. Karaites have always maintained that, while there are some similarities to the Sadducees, there are also differences, and that the ancestors of the Karaites were another group called Benei Ṣedeq during the Second Temple period.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karaite_Judaism
Here is the current position statement of the Karaite Corner, a website that articulates the beliefs of Karaite Jews in the U.S., and whose webmaster is Nehemia Gordon, on the calendar problem as it relates to keeping the weekly Sabbath. This subject should be of special interest to Seventh-day Adventists because of William Miller’s connection with Karaite Judaism through his Hebrew teachers. Adventism evolved out of the Millerite Movement. William Miller and Ellen White corresponded with each other. She said that God showed her that William Miller rejected the Sabbath because he had a “mental block” to it, implying that it was a honest but mistaken rejection of the truth on his part. What we know about William Miller's understanding of Karaite Judaism, the lunar calendar, and the arbitrary assignment of the fixed calendar’s 7th day suggests that he rejected Adventism because he knew that even the Jews did not know which day was really the 7th day. Here is the official position of the Karaite Jews on these issues:
Does Shabbath Have to Be on a Saturday?
One of the questions which I am constantly asked by former gentiles making their way into Karaism is whether Shabbath must be on a Saturday. The idea that it must be on Saturday comes from two questionable assumptions: (1) That Saturday is the actual "anniversary" of the day within the seven day week on which Yehowah rested from creating the universe, and (2) That the Shabbath has to be the same day as this anniversary. If either one of these assumptions is incorrect, then Shabbath does not have to be on a Saturday. While there is no outright proof that the first assumption is not correct, there is also no outright proof that it is. Through all the trials and tribulations that humanity has experienced over the past 5,000 years, we have no proof whatsoever that our current Saturday is the actual seven-day "anniversary" of the original Shabbath of Creation. Likewise, the Rabbinical year (5768 as of this writing) is only a guesstimate rather than a cold, hard fact. (More likely than not, the current year is not what the Rabbinical calendar says it is.) To illustrate this point, I borrow a quote from the character Morpheus in the movie The Matrix, who, explaining his post-apocalyptic world, says, "You believe it's the year 1999 when in fact it's closer to 2199. I can't tell you exactly what year it is, because we honestly don't know." As for the second assumption, this too comes from the flawed Rabbinical concept that the essence of the Shabbath is the celebration of the seventh-day "anniversary" of Yehowah's rest-after-creation. In fact, the essence of the Shabbath is not the seventh day, but the rest. As usual, the Rabbis have switched the focus of this crucial holiday away from its humanistic and social justice aspects, and placed it on the symbolic and ritualistic aspects. From a Karaite point of view, we do not celebrate the Shabbath because it is some esoteric and mystical anniversary of an original Shabbath, we celebrate it so that we can rest, so that our dependents can rest, and so that our animals can rest. This is the essence of the Shabbath. Shabbath, and indeed the entire Torah, is about serving Elohim through serving our fellow man. Thus, theoretically speaking, it does not matter what day the Shabbath falls on; it only matters that on every seventh day, the entire society is allowed a day of rest, physical and spiritual rejuvenation, and holiness. Do I therefore recommend that you start celebrating Shabbath on Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Sunday? No, I do not. I personally celebrate the Shabbath on Saturday, and will continue to do so. This is the day that the people of Israel have currently chosen for the Shabbath, and the Shabbath must be a national rather than an individual effort. But let us not harbor the illusion that the day the nation has chosen is the exact same day on which Elohim rested, or that it even needs to be. What is important and central to the idea of the Shabbath is that on every seventh day, all people and animals get a chance to rest. -
See more at:
General Internet reference: http://karaiteinsights.com/article/shabbat.html