Mathematical Bias and the Biblical Calendar
(Revised 2015)

By: Shawn Richardson

Section 6:


Now that we have established the primary elements of the Biblical Calendar, there is one last element that should be covered for clarification - the Biblical Week. Even more so than the Biblical Day, there is very little that is questioned about the Biblical Week. We are first given the example of the Week in Genesis 1 that consisted of six days of Creation ending with one day of Sabbath rest. The Ten Commandments further support the week as being six work days plus one rest day. The Biblical concept of the week has always been based on the perpetual, never-ending count of seven day cycles to determine the regular Sabbath that began with the Creation Week. We are told to continue this cycle forever in Exodus 31:16[1]:

Although the Bible does not name the days of the week other than the Seventh Day being the Sabbath, it does refer to the remaining days as the "First Day", "Second Day", etc. and are first referenced in this manner in Genesis 1. Modern calendars now use specific names whose origins are pulled from Pagan gods including Saturn for Saturday and the Sun god for Sunday. Although we have adopted these Pagan names as a society (and have changed the day to begin at midnight instead of sundown), the weekly concept remains.

Similar to the Biblical Month, the Bible generally always uses a specific Hebrew term, shabua (Strong's 7620[3]), when referring to Weeks. Quite literally, this word translates into English as "seven" or "a period of sevens". This would be why the prophecies in Daniel (such as the 70-week prophecy) use this form of measurement when, instead, it is understood as totaling 490 (or seventy sevens). The mere fact that the weekly cycle continues to be recognized today serves as a testament to the Bible itself and the perpetual Sabbath Day it has measured throughout history.

Historically, Rome (the birth place of the Christian movement) utilized a pattern of days known as the Nundinal cycle (which consisted of 8 days) that was adopted as early as the 5th century BC. This cycle provided a repeating pattern where city dwellers and travelers from outside of the city would purchase food and supplies made available by the city merchants. This business cycle was known as the "market week". But the day-to-day living of Romans eventually adopted the seven-day week of the Jews. Although there was a period of time when both patterns of weeks were kept simultaneously, Roman Emperor Constantine officially disbanded the market week in the 4th century AD. Constantine, a pagan, adopted certain beliefs of the Jews at the time who were following the example of Yeshua but made changes to adopt to pagan practices - including changing the seventh-day Sabbath to Sunday. This was the origin of modern Christians keeping Sunday - even though many would like to believe Yeshua changed the Sabbath to the first day of the week. But even most Sunday-based Christians understand that the week itself still begins and ends in the same manner today as it did throughout the Bible (although, most think of days as being midnight-to-midnight). Some modern calendars, however, list Sunday as the last day of the week in a deceptive attempt to make it look like the seventh day. Thankfully, this practice has not caught on as a day-to-day standard. However, this practice is becoming more popular outside of the Western World and is often used in international business relations (including the ISO 8601 date standards). Additionally, it is common to use the term "week-end" when referring to both Saturday and Sunday. Either way, it's hard to argue against history, which overwhelmingly supports Saturday as being the seventh day.

The Sabbaths (a term that includes the Festivals) listed in Leviticus 23 specify two appointed days that are based on the perpetual seven-day count that make up the Biblical Week. The first, being the most obvious, is the regular Sabbath that occurs every seventh day. The second one is the Day of Pentecost (Shavuot): which takes place on the fiftieth day of the Wave Sheaf Offering (which would take place, as Biblically commanded, on the first day of the week, or the "morrow after the Sabbath", that begins the Feast of Weeks - or the Feast of Sevens). This also places Pentecost on the first day of the week (starting after sundown on Saturday evening). This is further supported in Leviticus 23:16, which repeats the phrase "morrow after the Sabbath", after seven complete Sabbath's have passed. Some Jews believe that the Sabbath-day being referred to in the phrase "morrow after the Sabbath" would begin the count from the First Day of Unleavened Bread (which would always place the Wave Sheaf on the 16th of the Abib moon), but this would not coincide with verse 16. If the Wave Sheaf always took place on the same day of the new moon, why wouldn't the verse simply state it clearly as it does every other Festival that takes place on a specific day of the month? That's because it's not fixed on the new moon, but rather on the Sabbath fixed on the weekly count of seven days. All other days are counted from the start of the new moon specifically.

Because of our mathematical bias, we tend to think that the monthly, lunar Festivals must take place on the same day of the Biblical Week for everyone around the world. But this is not the case! These two counts (one lunar-based and one solar-based) are not tied together. Also remember that half of the world observes a lunar month one day longer than the other half. These two cycles (lunar and solar) do not depend on one another, but many will try to force the lunar cycle to fit into the solar (or vice versa), which is no different than trying to force a square object into a round hole. The Biblical Month and the Biblical Week are based on these two different events from which an observer is to count from.

Again, the Bible does not give us an "international date line" (which is strictly a mathematical concept) or instructions to do likewise. Many attempt to apply this concept to the Biblical month by drawing a date line through Jerusalem (as we discussed in the Jerusalem Time section of Biblical Months). However, the international date line currently in place today does assist us as it has helped preserve the days of the week. The determination of where to place the date line was established based on the migration patterns of historical human settlements. Early history supports humans slowly migrating eastward from the mid-east region toward India, China and down toward Indonesia while westward migrations lead to the lower portions of South Africa as well as northwestern migrations (primarily by Anglo Saxons) into Europe and Britain and finally to the Western World and the Americas. Although history marks these migrations starting nearly 200,000 years ago, the patterns are fairly accurate. From an observer's perspective, the day of the week would have been preserved based on where groups of people migrated. There is no Biblical record of anyone observing the day of the week (or the Sabbath) a day earlier simply because they were relocated east of Promised Land (even when Israel was held captive in Babylon). To a traveler in Biblical times, the day of the week would have remained the same from their perspective. Therefore, the established international date line today (in regard to the Biblical Week) would be roughly similar to an observer's perspective of history. Without any instruction to consider a particular geographical location as a date line, we would have no reason to assume otherwise.

An alternative concept to the Biblical Week, which has grown rather quickly in the past few years, is that of the Lunar Sabbath. This is a belief that the Biblical Week is also based on the moon - specifically the four primary stages of the moon (new moon, first quarter, full moon and last quarter). This concept is very similar to the modern Zoroastrian Calendar that is also believed to have originated from Babylon[citation needed]. Although this lunar week concept also contains seven whole days, it is extended at the end of the lunar cycle to account for extra days in the lunar month (adding leap days to the week). Followers of this system do keep the new moon day to begin the month, but also treat it as the Biblical Sabbath day, or the Lunar Sabbath (but does not correlate with the secular week, placing the Weekly Sabbath on a different day of the commonly-accepted week with each new lunar phase). This is then followed by four additional Sabbaths that always fall on the 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th day of the lunar cycle. Since the lunar cycle is just over 29 days in length, the last Sabbath can extend into the 30th day (making for either two or three Sabbath days in a row as the lunar cycle repeats). Consequently, this also forces the First Day of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, the Day of Trumpets, the First Day of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day as always falling on one of these Lunar Sabbaths.

But the Lunar Sabbath concept is not directly instructed anywhere within the Bible and is only derived through scattered examples of Biblical events combined with several assumptions. The primary example used is the story of the heavenly manna in Exodus 16. Here, we are told about the arrival of Israel in the Wilderness of Sin[1]:

Supporters of the Lunar Sabbath claim that Israel's purpose of pitching camp, here in verse 1, was to observe the 15th day Lunar Sabbath (as the 15th is always a Sabbath using this theory). They claim that this is supported because of the instruction regarding the heavenly manna that fell following their arrival (which is described in verses 4-5[1]):

The claim is that the sixth day referenced here is describing the sixth day following their arrival in the Wilderness and not as a reference to the day of the week. But as we have learned, the Bible does refer to days of the week by number. In the modern-day vernacular, this would be no different than stating "And it shall be on Friday that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather on other days". This would mean that verse 1 could have taken place at any time during the standard week mirroring that of the Creation Week. Verses 22-23[1] then concludes:

If the Weekly Sabbath were based on the lunar cycle, then we would have an issue with the Creation Week given in Genesis as the moon itself is not even appointed until the Fourth Day (Genesis 1:14-19). Even if the moon were created on Day One, then according to the Lunar Sabbath model, the first day should have also been a Sabbath and the Creation Week should have lasted eight days (starting and ending with a Sabbath), instead of seven. There are also direct instructions for keeping specific Festivals in Leviticus 23 that specify the exact day of the month (or lunar cycle) to be kept. But no such reference is used when referring to the regular Sabbath.

More importantly, the Lunar Sabbath concept would also negate the one sign of Yeshua as being the true Messiah who told us we would know of his authenticity because He would be in the ground for three days and three nights before being resurrected (the sign of Jonah). Although mainstream Christianity believes that Yeshua died on Friday afternoon and rose Sunday morning, there would also be no weekly scenario where you can get three days and three nights between Passover (the 14th of the month, which always falls one day prior to a Lunar Sabbath) and the first day of the "lunar" week - it would be simply impossible to confirm Yeshua's authenticity as Messiah. In order to explain this, many claim that the Jonah prophecy implies three days OR nights making the count as: 1) the "night" of the 15th; 2) the "day" of the 15th; and 3) the "night" of the 16th - with a resurrection before the day-time portion of the 16th. Others will count this as 1) died on the 14th; 2) in the grave on the 15th; and 3) rose on the 16th. Both of these scenarios ignore that an evening and a morning constitute a day, which would be yet another contradiction to the Creation Week example. Only a mid-week Sabbath (the First Day of Unleavened Bread) can you then complete three days AND three nights (or three full Biblical days) with Passover falling on the 4th day of the week where Yeshua died at the end of the 4th day (a Wednesday afternoon). The count would then be 1) "night" and "day" of the 5th day (Wednesday evening and Thursday - the Day of Unleavened Bread); 2) "night" and "day" of the 6th day (Thursday evening and Friday); and 3) "night" and "day" of the 7th day (Friday evening and Saturday - the Weekly Sabbath). Yeshua was then witnessed as already being resurrected in the night-time portion of the 1st day (Saturday evening).

Finally, the Lunar Week is also not a documented method among Jewish history - and certainly not during the time of Yeshua (a blatantly obvious contradiction that would have certainly raised concern with the Jews of the New Testament). A similar concept has also been introduced basing the weekly Sabbath on a perpetual seven-day count starting with the Passover (which falls on 15th of the first month). This, obviously, would make the weekly Sabbath fall on different days of the week with each passing year depending on where Passover falls in the first month. But again, the above facts negate this practice and simply are not supported from scripture (or by historical facts).

The origin of today's secular week itself - a perpetual repeating seven-day cycle - serves as a witness to the Biblical Sabbath. There is no other origin outside of the Bible to explain why we keep a perpetual seven-day week today and there is no historical record of this count ever being broken. Although there are historical records of certain societies keeping weeks of different patterns, they were not wide-spread and none of them pre-date the seven-day week concept. The week was originated and preserved by non-Biblical historical Jewish records as far back as the Babylonian captivity with the Biblical instruction given prior to that time.

The Sabbath day of rest is also referred to within the Bible as a sign for Yehovah's chosen people. It is also this sign, first used in Genesis, which serves as the delimiter of the Biblical Week, separate from the lunar cycle.

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