In part 21 of this series we discussed the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union as a key Jubilee event in their history. In this article, we move on from Genesis chapter 6 to Exodus, and land on a verse that raises a fundamental question about the Jewish calendar, and therefore the Jubilee year. When God instituted the Passover He introduced it like this:
Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. Exodus 12:1-2. NKJV.
The month discussed in these verses is the month which contains Passover, the month of Nissan, which begins in Spring.
Be Biblical in Spring, But Be Civil in Fall
This simple question has caused much confusion. Even today Jews understand that there are multiple “beginnings” to the year, and they consider that while the Biblical New Year occurs in Spring on the first day of Nissan, the standard Jewish calendar, a civil calendar, currently in the year 5776, begins on the first day of Tishrei in the Fall, a day generally referred to as Rosh Ha-shana. This phrase literally mean “the head of the year.”
In this article we will consider why the Jubilee year begins in the Fall, and in the next article we will consider why the Jubilee begins on the 10th day of the month, rather than the first day of the month.
To help us understand these things we recently met with Rabbi Yoel Bin Nun, who had published an article on the Jubilee, that helped us resolve much confusion on these topics.
Rabbi Bin Nun says that while the Torah is explicit that the year begins in Spring, it also contains verses which state that the year ends and begins in Fall. For instance
“And the festival of the harvest, the firstfruits of your labors, which you have sown in the field, and the festival of the ingathering, at the end of the year, when you gather in your labors from the field.” Leviticus 23:16
“And you shall observe the festival of weeks, of the first fruits of the wheat harvest, and the festival of the ingathering, at the end of the year.” Leviticus 34:22.
“At the end of every seven years, at the time of the year of the Shemitah, on the festival of Sukkot…” Deuteronomy 31:10.
So clearly, as the Rabbi explains, there are two beginnings to the year in the Torah.
But why should the counting of the years begin in the Fall, and not the Spring? To this question Rabbi Bin Nun refers us to the verses:
So long as the earth remains — sowing time and reaping time, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, will not cease. Genesis 8:22.
When this is connected with the verses for the counting of years:
And for six years shall you sow your land and gather in its produce, But the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat..” Leviticus 23:10-11.
By connecting these verses, the implication is quite clear that the counting of years is to begin in the time of sowing, which is in Fall.
Those of us who live in cities and are not as connected to the agricultural cycles may not realize the importance of Fall as the primary ingathering. But as the diagram shows, the ingathering is a process that begins with the Barley harvest, continues over the summer, and concludes in Fall.
To Rabbi Bin Nun, the real question is not whether there is a beginning to the year in Fall, but exactly when does it begin? The phrase “Rosh Ha-Shana” does not occur in the Bible. That first day of Tishrei is only referred to in the Bible by its other name “the day of the shofar blast” or Yom Teruah.
So why is the first day of Tishri referred to as Rosh HaShana, when the scriptures are so vague on the topic? And why would the Jubilee year begin on the 10th day of that same month rather than the first day of the month? That is exactly the subject of our next article.
Connect with Others
Why do you think God created two calendars to run concurrently — one that begins in the Spring and one that begins in the Fall?
If you need a hint, consider why God allowed history to be told twice: not only in Kings, but in Chronicles.
Join us next time as we continue to watch current events and examine all clues to the meaning and the Mystery of the Lost Jubilee.