Strange References to a Lost Calendar

The Old Testament makes several unusual calculations that indicate calendar formula. The first is New Year’s Day, as mentioned in the previous post. The next reference is not as obvious because its function related to religious festivals and the release of debts. I am referring to the ‘Jubilee.’

“Count off seven sabbaths of years – seven times seven years – so that the seven sabbaths of years amount to a period of forty-nine years. Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you … The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you.” (Leviticus 25:8-11)

However, Jubilee is more than what meets the eye. Apart from radical agriculture and ‘debt release’ provisions, it contained precisely 600 lunar cycles from the 1st of Abib to the 7th month of the forty-ninth year! Apparently Jubilee was part of a luni-solar system designed for the keeping of time.

Then there is the Sabbath system itself. There are various descriptions of the Sabbatical years and although they don’t directly mention calendar matters, when looking beneath the surface of the text they contain formulae relating to the placement of intercalary months. We shall look at these soon.

We notice special calendar terms and numbers which occur in the prophetic writings. An example of how a year was called a ‘time’ is found in King Nebuchadnezzar’s bout of insanity. He was “driven away from human society until seven ‘times’ passed over him.” (Daniel 4:16-32) Similarly, there are mentions of a ‘time, times and half a time.’ It is 3½ years, and is one half of a Sabbatical cycle. Then, there are the curious numbers of 1260, 1290 and 1335 days which appear in the books of Daniel and Revelation. They have baffled students with commentaries calling them ‘unknown calculations’ and popular end-time writers dreaming up fanciful ideas as to what they might mean. Please deduct 30 (one month) off 1290. Please deduct 30 + 30 + 15 (2½ months) off 1335. In both cases it equals 1260 days.

If we select the Day of Atonement, the 10th Tishri (Ethanim) and add 1260 or 1290 days, it always resets itself to the Hebrew New Year Day, the 1st of Abib, three and a half years later. Our observation suggests that these unusual figures might be intercalations to an underlying calendar.

To demonstrate this, let us take the 10th day of Tishri from a known historical date in the Babylonian captivity period. Such a year was Judah’s first year in captivity, 3175 AM. It equates to our western date, 27th September, 587 BC, and has an astronomical value of 1,507,291. Three and a half years afterwards, 3178 AM, the 1st of Nisan (Abib) equals our western date, 10th March, 583 BC, with an astronomical value of 1,508,551. By deducting the astronomical values we do indeed find a difference of 1260 days! The reason why this figure (and 1290) keeps repeating as described, is because it is mathematically linked to the phases of the moon. The math is as follows:

D.of A. to end of Tishri = 20 days
end Tishri to end of year = 5 months
3 years x 12 = 36 months
1 intercalary month = 1 month
TOTAL MONTHS = 42 mths + 20 days
42 x 29.53 = 1240.26 days
TOTAL DAYS = 1260 days
Chart showing 1260 day calendar formula

The Bible is not the only place that references a unique ancient calendar. My next post continues looking into it, and adds more from extra-biblical sources.


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