Understanding the Hebrew Calendar

In Numbers 10:11, the Bible says the Hebrews began their great journey “in the second year, on the twentieth day of the second month.” If you happen to know that Rosh Hashanah is often referred to as the Jewish New Year, you would naturally assume that the “second month” would be in the autumn. But you would be wrong.

To our eyes, the Hebrew calendar is very odd. Tishri 1, (aka, Rosh Hashanah), is the civil New Year (i.e., when the year number goes up one), but it is considered the seventh month; I marked it in green above. The first month is Nisan, which is the beginning of the liturgical year; I marked it in blue above. I also included the major feast days; God has fulfilled the first four. I believe He will fulfill the last four during the End Times.

So when the Bible refers to the “second month“, as in Numbers 10, it is referring to the month now known as Iyar, which usually falls around May on the Roman calendar. You can verify this in Leviticus 23, when the Lord establishes the Feast of Rosh Hashanah on “the first day of the seventh month” which is now known as Tishri. You can also CLICK http://www.cgsf.org/dbeattie/calendar/?hebrew=5783 and look down the left side to see how the months are numbered 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

As for how the two calendars interact, you have to remember that the Hebrew is lunar, while the Roman is solar. Where ours are 365/366 days long; theirs can be as short as 353 or as long as 385 days.

During the past 3 centuries, Good Friday fell on Friday, April 3, and Easter was on April 5, like they were when Jesus died in 33 AD, during the following years: 1711, 1722, 1733, 1744, 1795, 1801, 1863, 1874, 1885, 1896, 1931, 1942, 1953 and 2015. The years when the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of First Fruits also fell on Friday and Sunday were 1711, 1795, 1863, and 2015. IOW, the two calendars rarely line up.

If you understand how the Jewish calendar and feast days work, you can actually plot Jesus’ birth and ministry on the calendar. For example, John 2:1 tells us that Jesus’ first miracle happened “on the third day.” That means Nisan 3. John 2 continues to say that, after the wedding, He went to Capernaum for a few days, then went to Jerusalem for Passover. The route He likely took was the longer one, down the Jordan Valley, which was known as the Jericho Road (approximately 120 miles). Outdoor Command (link below) says that, if you’re young and fit, you could walk between 18 and 28 miles per day. So walking from Capernaum to Jerusalem from Nisan 7-13, possibly stopping for a full day for Sabbath, is definitely doable. John says this was the Passover when He turned over the tables of the money changers in the Temple.

In John 3 and 4, we learn He then went into Judea, then returned to Galilee via the shorter (90 mile) route through Samaria. The Jews disliked this route, because it was mountainous and they hated the Samaritans. But Jesus had work there. This is when He encountered the woman at the well, then stayed with the people of that town for two days. He then went back to Cana and healed the Roman official’s son from a distance.

In John 5, it says “After this there there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.” (On the map, Jerusalem is south of Galilee, so we tend to think “down”, but IRL, Jerusalem is at a higher elevation, so it’s “up.”) It’s not clear what feast this was, but it seems unlikely He would have walked all the way back to Galilee if he was going to go to Jerusalem for the Feast of Weeks (aka, Pentecost), which is only 50 days after Passover. I’m guessing it was the Days of Awe (Tishri 1, Rosh Hashanah, to Tishri 10 Yom Kippur). This is the visit to Jerusalem when He got into trouble with the Pharisees for healing the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath.

John 6-10 says Jesus spent the second Passover of His ministry years in Galilee, then went to Jerusalem for Sukkot. He stayed in Jerusalem, teaching, preaching, healing (and greatly annoying the Jewish Poobahs) through the Feast of Dedication (aka, Chanukkah), which is a period of about 11 weeks, then went back to Bethany Across the Jordan, the place where John first baptized. He returned to Bethany (near Jerusalem) to raise Lazarus from the dead, then went to Ephraim to avoid the Jews who wanted to kill Him, because it was not His time.

John 12 says he returned to Bethany (near Jerusalem) “six days before Passover; it’s unclear to me if this Nisan 8 or 9, but it’s when Mary anointed Jesus for the second time. The remainder of the First Coming – Jesus’ Passion, Death, Resurrection through the Ascension 40 days later – went from approximately March 28 to May 14, 33 AD.


Filed under Loose Pollen

3 responses to “Understanding the Hebrew Calendar

  1. chrissythehyphenated

    8/31: I found some goobers I made yesterday, so fixed them.


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