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TorahTimes Messianic Ministry

Teaching Truths about Torah, Time, and Messiah

When To Add Month XIII

And The Month For Aνıv

The first rule is: “Then you shall have kept this statute at its appointed time from days to days” (Exodus 13:10). The second rule is: “Your bounty and your pressings you shall not delay to offer” (Exodus 22:29).1 The third rule is, “Three feasts by foot you shall keep for me in the year” (Exodus 23:14).

From these three rules and some basic cultural knowledge of the choices for adding a month to the year we may infer exactly how Israel regulated their lunar year in relation to the solar year. The statute being referred to in Exodus 13:10 is the rule to eat unleavened bread for seven days. See the preceding words of the passage, Exodus 13:6-9. The fact that Passover is in the spring and the requirement that three feasts occur in one year shows that the Exodus feast2 must not occur earlier than the same day the year begins. That the year is referred to as so many “days” in Exodus 13:10, יָמִים yamım shows that the cycle of the year is calculated in terms of a number of days. There are only two numbers for this: 365 and 366 for a leap year. This corresponds to a month being either 29 or 30 days.

The third rule is the commandment not to delay the offering portions of the harvest and pressings. From this it may be inferred that Passover may be no later than it must be according to the other two rules. There is a rule that the first crop shall not be consumed until the 16th day of the first month (cf. Lev. 23:14). There are also commandments to love mercy and justice. Delaying Passover farther than the first two rules require would also contradict these two additional rules as it would deprive the poor and needy or those short of stored food the use of the new crop at the soonest possible time.

These rules were summed up long ago in this manner: When considering whether a month following month XII is either I or XIII, if the 16th of the month falls in the new year, then the month is to be month I. If the 16th of the month falls in the old year, then it is month XIII. The rule can also be equivalently stated: The time of sunset at the end of Nisan 15 must occur in the new year. These equivalently stated rules have the effect of making sure that (1) the first day of unleavened bread is not before the same day that the year begins, and (2) That it is never delayed further than it needs to be.

In principle, though not in practice, the modern Rabbinical calendar is regulated by the exact rule I have stated: When part of the 16th day (sunset reckoning) of the decision month falls in the old year, then it will be month XIII. If the whole day comes in the new year then it is month I.

The definition of the year

The year is necessarily defined by the cycle of the sun. Since the year is termed “days unto days” (Exodus 13:10) it is clear that the year makes a sum of days in its circuit, either 365 or 366. There is only one method in ancient times that was in common use for determining the start of a new year, and this was to watch when the sun rose in the exact east or set in the exact west. If the sun had not yet risen in the exact east and it had set just north of exact west at the end of the day, then that day was the first day of the year. One would count at least 365 days from that day up to the next new year. If the sun was still setting south of due west at the end of the day, then the year would have to be 366 days. Another leap year would not be expected until the next 4th year.3

The actual procedure

When the new moon of the decision month4 had been sighted then the day count of the old year was consulted:

CASE 1: A leap year is not expected:

   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16
 352 353 354 355 356 357 358 359 360  361  362  363  364  365   E1    2
 351 352 353 354 355 356 357 358 359  360  361  362  363  364  365   E1 
CASE 2: A leap year is expected

   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16
 353 354 355 356 357 358 359  360  361 362  363  364  365 366   E1    2
 352 353 354 355 356 357 358  359 360  361  362  363  364  365  366   E1

For the first case: if the day count on the new moon day was 352 or greater then the month was declared Nisan. This is because the new year would fall sometime on Nisan 15, and Nisan 16 would be the first whole day in the new year. If the day count was 351 or less, then the month would be Adar II. This is because 15 Adar II would fall on the last day of the old year and the new year would be sometime on 16 Adar II, which means it could not be 16 Nisan.

For the second case a leap year is expected (for certain, due to an accumulation of 365 day years). In this case the same procedure is used, but the test numbers are one day higher, and if the new moon day is day 353 then the month will be Nisan, but if the day is 352 the month will be XIII (II Adar).

If it is not certain which of the two cases will occur, then the judgment is made according to the first case. This corresponds to the ancient rule that if the new moon is not seen due to bad weather for all observers that the old month is made to be 30 days.

In the uncertain case, the next year is sure to be 366 days, so the extent of any error is that when 366 365 should occur, what really occurs is 365 366. This is the same as a month being made 30 when it it should be 29. The case turns out to be 30 29 instead of what it really was 29 30. Since a lunation is between 29 and 30 and a year between 365 and 366 days, it could be argued that both cased are legal. But in practice one prefers a certain sighting of both the first day of the year and the first day of the month.

The the ability to calculate the location of the sun in the heavens, the uncertain case is all but eliminated except in a very rare case where the sun sets exactly due west on Nisan 15, and the case may depend on the value of refraction on that day or the weather or haze. The decision would default to case 1 since it must be made in advance, and the year will not be intercalated.

The Month of Aνıν

Both Karaite Jews and Rabbinic Jews assign a role for barley observation in the fixing of the calendar. The Rabbinic Jews assign a lesser role for it even though they do not in fact fix the month of Nisan on the principle of Aνıν observation. The reason for the assigned role may be misdirection so that the secret of the calendar would not be discovered. Why did they not want the secret to be discovered? There is only one reasonable explanation: control. The Rabbis wanted people to follow their naked authority as to what the law required rather than observations that showed what the law required. As long as the Aνiν search was announced, the Rabbis or priests in the Temple had a possible option of overriding the beginning of the year. It may be in the thinking of some Rabbis or priests that the Aνiν search would only be factored if the rare case came about of the year ending near the 15th day of the decision month. In other words, it was regarded as a rarely needed back up system. But this does not appear to be the way they officially presented the matter to the laity.

It is a certitude that if the priests or Rabbis miscalculate or err in the matter of the calendar that the priests will bear the iniquity when offerings are brought at an incorrect time and the rest of Israel will not bear the sin when they have to bring offerings at those times. The people are allowed to disagree with both priests and Rabbis in all matters relating to the calendar that involve no offerings at the Temple. That is, the people are allowed to disagree if and when it is obvious that the priesthood, which is based on priestly descent, are clearly in transgression of the times and the seasons. The people are even allowed to forgo going to the Temple altogether if the leaders of the land have so sinned as to cause a war to come upon the Holy Place, or if somehow the leaders threaten the safety and safe conduct of the people to the Holy Place.

For the Karaites the observation of barley is the alleged sole means of fixing the first month. I say alleged because in fact the most popular Karaite Jew, Nehemia Gordon, in fact ignored testimony that the barley had been found in Israel in the spring of 2016. There were two reasons this testimony might have been ignored, (1) The witnesses believed in Messiah Yeshua, and (2) The Rabbinic calendar added a month XIII in 2016, and despite being a Karaite, it may be that Nehemia was sensitive to disagreeing with the Rabbinic month XIII in such a major way. Following on Nehemia’s infamous decision to add a second Adar in 2016 (Jewish Year 5776) was his flip flop on the testimony of two witnesses who saw the moon on September 2, 2016. At first he put out the report as valid. Then he retracted the report. Again the witnesses were faithful in Messiah Yeshua. No one else saw this hard to see new moon. Nevertheless, the Israel New Moon Society (האגודה הישראלית לצפייה בירח החדש), which reports to the Sanhedrın, vetted the report and accepted it, and duly posted it on their Hebrew blog.

There are two issues. The first is the alleged biblical basis for observing barley to fix the calendar, and the second is which Karaites (or others of the Karaite persuasion) are actually honestly observing barley and giving an unbiased report. I will take up the second issue first. There are people in Israel who observe the barley and put out honest reports. Even though I disagree with the use of those reports to fix the calendar in disagreement with the spring equinox, I do not disagree with the searches or with other uses of the reports. I would rather that they go on even in the hope that those who do not understand the calendar will be encouraged to observe the times correctly even if the path by which they got to the correct date is incorrect. Invariably, it turns out that the barley is located before the spring equinox. Even in those years where the new moon of the decision month is very close to 15 days before the equinox, the barley is still found. The probabilities are that barley observers will make the correct decision if they are honest about the evidence in those cases where the Rabbinical calendar incorrectly calls for month XIII. There is a danger, however, that barley observers will decide the decision month is month I when Nisan 15 is still before the spring equinox. Thus 4 feasts will end up being observed in one year.

The Argument for Barley to fix the Calendar

The first argument is that the commandment to observe three feasts in a year is using a lunar definition of the year, and that Nisan 1 is the new year day. Second, the argument is that the sun effects the growth of the barley and the barley determines if the new year can start. So the sun is given a role, although it is secondary. The third argument is that the words in Deuteronomy 16:1, “Observe the month of the Aνıν” mean, “Keep the month of the green barley.” This is interpreted to mean that the observation of barley should be used to determine if the new moon of the decision month is month I or month XIII. The Karaites stake their argument on the definite article used with the Hebrew word Aνıν: האָבִ֔יב, ha-Aνıν. This they argue means that the meaning of the word Aνıν, which is “green ears” is specifically specified for observation. The Karaites have therefore developed a definition of what kind of barley qualifies as Aνıν, and also in which percentages it must be found in the field before determining that the decision month is Aνıν.

Disproving the argument: Outline.

1. There is already a perfectly sound and workable
   method for deciding when the decision month is
	 month XIII or month I.
2. The method supported in this paper depends only
   on the movements of the sun and moon as implied
   for appointed times in Genesis 1:14.
3. The method supported in the paper has the support
   of historical tradition in principle.
      a. It is favored by the current Rabbinic principles
      b. It is favored by traditional Judaism
      c. It is favored by Church calculations for Easter
4. The method supported in this paper has a 100% track
   record for doing historical biblical chronology work.
      a. It has never been necessary to propose that the
         calendar ran a month late or earlier than the
         method described.
5. The method supported in this paper confirms the 100%
   certain dates of Messiah’s birth, and death, and
6. The lack of certitude introduced by the Karaite argument
   into the historic calendar issue works to cast doubt on
   the times of Messiah’s redemptive work. Therefore, it has
   the backing and support of parties biased against it.
7. The month of “the-Aνıν” was named after an agricultural
   characteristic that is usual for the season in which the
   month falls. That green barley normally occurs in the month
   is the reason for the month name, and it is NOT THE REASON
   that determines IF the month is Aνıν.

Disproving the Barley Argument

If the last point (no. 7) can be proved, then the alleged biblical proof for the Karaite practice is eliminated, and points 1-6 show us which way to go. If we can show that another month is also named after a natural phenomenological characteristic of the season for which it is named, and which also uses the definite article, but which said month is clearly not determined when it is by the associated natural phenomenon, then it will be proved that it is allowed to similarly interpret Deut. 16:1. It will be shown that Deut. 16:1 may mean that the month is named after “the green ears,” and not that the month acquires the name “green ears” by being decided so by observation of green ears.

There is such a month. In 1 Kings 8:2 it says, “Then all the men of Israel were assembled unto King Solomon in the moon of the-Ethanım, in the feast. It is the seventh new moon.” The key words here are: בְּיֶ֥רַח הָאֵֽתָנִ֖ים, be-yeraɦ ha-ɛtanım. The date of this great feast began on Yom Teruah in the 12th year of Solomon. It started on the first day of the week, October 7, 1012 BC. That year the Sabbatical year began. In the second week of Tishri the king sent the people away on the 8th of the month, and the first division of priests served their week from Sabbath unto Sabbath. On the 15th of the month the people returned for the feast of Sukkot. On the 22nd day of the month they held a great assembly on the last great day, and on the 23rd of the month the people departed.

Now it so happens that the month carries the definite article because it is named by a phenomenon that occurs in this month, the-Ethanım, ha-ɛtanım. The Hebrew word is plural: אֵתָנִים, ɛtanım. It means, “ever flowing ones,” pertaining to the flowing of a naɦal or wady. It is used of ever flowing streams in Psalm 74:15. Holladay states, “7th month, Sept/Oct., when only the permanent streams are still flowing.” TWOT defines, “Perennial, everflowing, permanent, enduring....It refers to the continual existence of a phenomenon of nature as the perennial running water in a stream (Deut. 21:4); such a stream is especially valuable in Palestine where the majority of wadies are dry much of the year. The seventh month bears the name, the month of the steady flow, perhaps in relationship to the time when these are the only streams with water (1Kings 8:2).” Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon defines, “(1) perennial, constant, especially used of water. נַחַל אֵיתָן "a perennial stream," constantly flowing, Deut. 21:4; Am. 5:24; and without נַחַל 1 Ki. 8:2, יֶרַח הָאֵיתָנִים "the month of perennial streams" (elsewhere called Tishri, the seventh month of the Hebrew year;”

The season of the 7th month is correct for the greatest number of wadies to dry up leaving only the permanent streams flowing. Rainfall in Jerusalem is:

Month     Month                 mm       inches
Jan      XI Sheνat              143.4    5.65
Feb     XII Adar                113.3    4.5
Mar       I Nisan                97.9    3.9
Apr      II Ziv                  31.5    1.2
May     III Sivan                 2      0.1
Jun      IV Shoshanım             0      0
Jul       V Aν                    0      0
Aug      VI Elul                  0      0
Sep     VII Ethanım/Tishri        0.2    0
Oct    VIII Bul/Ӈeshvan          23.6    0.9
Nov      IX Kislev               67.8    2.7
Dec       X Teνet               110.3    4.3

                       Annual:  590     23.2"
Compiled From:

Notice that rainfall is insignificant in the 7th month, but then it returns again in the 8th month. There is a cumulative effect of the summer drought in Israel which peaks in September. So the month is appropriately named to the season, “the month of the everflowing streams.” Now these are rainfall averages. It is clear that the name characterizes the season. But do we get to decide whether the new moon occurring about September is the seventh month by running an inspection of all the streams in Israel and calculating what the percentage of dried up streams or wadies is compared to streams that keep flowing? The year might not be normal. We might have to decide that the driest season in a given year is in October, or the rains may come fast and furious in September, and we may have to decide that the driest part of the year is in August.

Of course we are not going to decide if the seventh month gets to be called Ethanım based on an inspection of water sources. The month gets its name from the average natural phenomenon. Which month is to be month VII is already set in the spring with the determination of month I. And this proves that the month name “the Ethanım” for the seventh month is applied to the month regardless of the point in fact that the average natural phenomenon cooperates with the seventh month in a given year. Since this is the case, it is a proven precedent for the meaning of “the green ears” for month I.

For month I, it says “Keep the month of The Green Ears.” It does not say, “Look for the Green Ears.” The word “Keep” (שָׁמוֹר) does not pertain to watching for barley. It says to keep the “month,” and this is a shorthand way of saying all the observances in the month. Ha-Aνıν הָֽאָבִ֔יב simply identifies the month in question as having a normal natural characteristic. It is the best month or the month in which the first barley becomes consumable under normal conditions. We should also consider that in the seventh month a maximum number of streams may not dry up until the end of the month just before the rains renew. Yet the name of the month is not disowned because of this. It may be that in the first week of Tishri there are still some wadies to go dry. And it may be that month VIII in the first week becomes the maximum for dry wadies. Is the month name therefore transferred to month VIII? So also, the Aνıν might not show in quantity until the middle of the first or second week of Aνıν. Do we disown the month because Aνiν is not found meeting a definition in every day at the beginning of the month or in the days before the new moon occurs?

Now in fact, observers cannot predict the future when it comes to how fast barley will ripen, or how fast streams may dry up. I have shown that the construction for the seventh month does not require only ever flowing streams for the whole of the month. If just one more stream dries up on day 2 of the 7th month then a Karaite might be compelled to disqualify the 7th month. But it is obviously not disqualified. And so clearly if Aνıν is not found on day -1, 1, 2, or 3 of the decision month we should not disqualify it from being Nisan. It may show up 12 days later. In fact, it probably will according to the averages if it hasn’t been found already.

No doubt “Guard the month of the-Aνıν” is like saying “Keep the month of the-Ethanım.” There is a calendar element in the keeping, but the month name is not definitive in the calendar method chosen because the month name does not define when the month is. The month name is only preserving an observation about the natural phenomenon that usually occurs when the month occurs. Therefore the principle object of the phrase is “month,” i.e. “Guard the month (+ month name).” The name does not define a method of guarding it. Rather the calendar element of guarding it has already been given by the three rules set forth in this paper:

The first rule is: “Then you shall have kept this statute at its appointed time from days to days” (Exodus 13:10). The second rule is: “Your bounty and your pressings you shall not delay to offer” (Exodus 22:29).1 The third rule is, “Three feasts by foot you shall keep for me in the year” (Exodus 23:14).

The Karaite method is bound to break these commandments. By starting the year with Nisan 1, the definition of the year in terms of “days” is violated. And this breaks the command to use a number of days as the definition instead of months. The sun is the sign for the year, and not the moon. If Aνiν should not be found before the new moon of the decision month and the 15th day is after the start of the year, then the Karaite method will add month XIII and break the command not to delay the offerings. And if Aνıν is found before the new moon of a decision month in which the 15th day is before the start of the year, then the Karaite method will become guilty of placing four feasts in one year violating the third commandment. Anyone who teaches the Karaite method is in danger of leading Israel astray and causing guilt to fall on Israel.


I hope I have shown here that the dogmatic point of the Karaite argument based on Deut. 16:1 has been proven to be fallible. And I would warrant and warn that the other reasons for not following the Karaite method are more than sufficient to dismiss what is now clearly a speculative interpretation that cannot pass muster with a comparative passage where a very similar usage is found. I do not think I need to prove the other points in this paper. Most of them are self-evident, and if some are not, I have written other papers that prove the points. I should only remark here that there is quite a number of additional passages proving the “days to days” definition of the year and that there is a point on the circuit of the year where the cycle “turns” or “returns.” A very large number of these passages have been misunderstood and mistranslated in common versions. Finally, I should mention that the principle source of information and calendar declarations from Karaites has come from those following Nehemia Gordon whose err this year discredits him and discredits the Karaite doctrine. I should point out that the Karaite err has spread much further because many Christians have put up with or overlooked Nehemia’s unbelief in Messiah Yeshua and yet have yoked themselves together with him in spite of this. It was not like we are not warned that his doctrine might prove fallible when he is already fallible on the main point.


1. The Jewish Version (JPS) reads, “Thou shalt not delay to offer of the fulness of thy harvest, and of the outflow of thy presses.” The TNK Jewish version appears to misunderstand the Hebrew, “You shall not put off the skimming of the first yield of your vats.” The word fullness, מְלֵאַה, melɛah is used like our English word “bounty,” or “increase” to refer to the harvest. The Hebrew word דֶּמַע, dema means trickling or weeping of juice. The proper English equivalent is “pressings,” of any juice product.

2. I say Exodus feast so that the reader will understand that Nisan 15 is the memorial of the Exodus from Egypt. There are two Passover offerings. The first is on Nisan 14 and is a memorial of the Passover in Egypt. The second is on Nisan 15 and memorializes the Exodus from Egypt. It is the night of eating the second offering that must be in the new year. For this reason, Nisan 14 may occur on the last day of the old year, but Nisan 15 must occur on the same day as the new year, and in no case may the new year be after sunset at the end of Nisan 15. On a sunset to sunset basis, the entire day of Nisan 16 must be in the new year. Only part of Nisan 15 need be in the new year. For example, if the year begins at 5 p.m. on the 15th of the month, then that month is month I. But if the new year begins after sunset, then it will be month XIII.

3. Predicting whether a year would be a leap year or not was never more uncertain than 1 of 2 days. In the spring the sun moves 1 whole diameter along the line of the horizon every day. The sun is 1/2 degree wide. Therefore instrumentation or markers of due west needed to be accurate enough to determine which side of due west the top of the sun would disappear on. In ancient times, stone structures were built or set up so that the sun would shine down them or at a certain point only when it set due west or rose due east. Ancient observers knew that a year would be at least 365 days. They tended to err on the side of not adding a 366th day unless they were absolutely certain that the sun had not reached due east or due west. It seems probable that the rule not to give cause for a delay of offerings would arbitrate a case of uncertainty on the length of the year. The decision would be made for 365 days instead of 366. Also in this direction is the fact that only 1/4 of the time was a leap year expected. Now we know that they would have sometimes up to 4-365 day years in a string since 365.25 days is above the long term average of 365.2422 days.

4. The decision month was always the month following month XII of the old year. Month XII was Adar I. The decision to be made was whether the next month would be Nisan or II Adar (Month XIII). The decision would be made on the new moon day based on the day count of the old year.