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Hebrew Calendar before Meton

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  • Hebrew Calendar before Meton

    Hi everyone. As you know, the modern Jewish calendar employs the 'Metonic Cycle' to marry its solar and the lunar aspects. But how were soli-lunar calendars synched before Meton? The following is what I found concerning astronomy found in the Bible. We assume that they copied from superior Babylonian/Egyptian astronomers. Apparently not; but please read on:

    In 432 BC Meton of Athens developed the 19-year Metonic calendar cycle, and from about the Greek empire era other calendars began to adopt Meton's system. The Jews were no exception. During these years they compromised their ancient Sabbath-based system, changed New Year to Tishri, and stopped observing Jubilee. Shmita (the Sabbatical Years) continued but began in Tishri, rather than Nisan when New Year was supposed to be.

    It begs the question; how did the Hebrew calendar synchronise the Sun and Moon before Meton? The answer is found in the Bible. They used a 49-year Sabbatic cycle starting New Year, 1st of Nisan, immediately following the previous block of forty-nine. (Exodus 12:2)

    From there they intercalated months as required until the 10th day of the 7th month of the 49th year, upon which a special 50th year was announced. (Lev.25:8-9) This might seem strange until it is noticed how an astronomical formula is at work. The gap between the two events comes to 17718 days - a figure equaling exactly 600 months. (lunar months average 29.53 days) This gap is always the same.

    Now, 600 months equal 50 lunar years which explains why the Jubilee year is superimposed over the other years. In short, 481/2 solar years equal 50 lunar years, so the 'overlaid' Jubilee is a device that equalises the solar and lunar cycles to 50 years each, after which the new cycle began afresh.

    Now, I may not have all the details right but tell me if we aint on to something here?

    "Your name and renown
    is the desire of our hearts."
    (Isaiah 26:8)

  • #2
    IIRC there is no evidence that this was actually fully put into practice, right? Nonetheless this is fascinating.
    "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill


    • #3
      Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
      IIRC there is no evidence that this was actually fully put into practice, right? Nonetheless this is fascinating.
      Thanks for replying KingsGambit. The festivals and strict observance of lunar cycles were put into practice. As for the Jubilee system, I believe it was also put into practice but got discarded after the captivity. It is indicated during the Judges era and until as late as Hezekiah. Anyway, here is the biblical text containing the astronomical formula:

      Count off seven sabbath years—seven times seven years—so that the seven sabbath 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; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan. The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you. (Leviticus 25:8-11 NIV)
      Please follow carefully:
      • 17531 days (365.24 * 48) are the days in 48 years.
      • 177 days (29*3 plus 30*3) are the days in 6 Hebrew months.
      • 10 days is the delay from 1st Tishri until the “day of Atonement”
      • 17718 days TOTAL

      Now, please bear with me and pull out a calculator. Divide 17718 by 29.53 and …. 600 months precisely! Look, no decimals places! Zilch variation! Are you seeing what I’m seeing? This pre-Greece system may be even more accurate than the Metonic cycle?
      Last edited by Ged; 05-22-2014, 02:31 PM.
      "Your name and renown
      is the desire of our hearts."
      (Isaiah 26:8)


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