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Jewish and Christian authorities are divided on matters of the Biblical calendar and prophetic events.  Wheel of stars does not deal with all the variables between religious ideologies, but, rather, provides references and access to primary resources enabling the reader to verify information and do further research as desired.  However, there are plenty of references in Wheel of Stars that explain how and when religious authorities shaped the modern calendar according to their traditions, for example the Sanhedrin.

 

     The Sanhedrin is the name for the High Jewish Council that functioned as a kind of spiritual Supreme Court in ancient Israel.  Tradition puts their origin back to the time of Moses, when his father in-law Jethro recommended that seventy elders be appointed to deliberate on difficult legal cases so that Moses wouldn’t have to rule on every matter from dawn to dusk.  From there it is said to have passed in an unbroken chain from Joshua through the restoration of Israel after the Babylonian captivity under Ezra (also known as “The Great Assembly”).  It was this same body that eventually condemned Y’shua (Jesus) the Mashiyach (Messiah) and turned him over to the Romans to be crucified under Roman civil law.

 

     The Sanhedrin continued unabated for several centuries after Israel and her Temple were destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.  Most of the nation was scattered at the end of the Second Revolt 65 years later, therefore, the Sanhedrin’s job was to maintain Jewish law and identity during the dispersion, one of the most important ways of doing this was through a unified calendar.

 

     Two thousand years ago, as well as today, there were difficult and protracted arguments about the timing of the Biblical festivals, such as Passover, Pentecost and Feast of Tabernacles.  Ancient Israel could not have survived without having knowledge and unity on their calendar and they would not have been able to function as a nation.  The Sanhedrin was responsible with providing the “final call” on when years and months began that could not be overridden by dissenting viewpoints, and even those who disagreed had little choice but to go along if they wanted to celebrate in unity with the rest of Israel.

 

 

     In addition to understanding the natural and spiritual laws that the calendar is based on, there were also plenty of separate political and monetary components that influenced people.  There was misinformation being strewn about because during the Second Temple period.  There were two politically based religious factions vying for power:  The Sadducees and the Pharisees.  The historian Josephus tells us though that just before the Common Era began—about 10 BCE—the Pharisees were declared the winner.  At that time, according to the Talmud, the greatest teacher in Israel got everyone together and persuaded them to accept one calendar system.  This system was also endorsed by Josephus and by Y’shua himself, since Y’shua never disagreed with the timing of a Great Feast and taught that the Pharisees had permission to rule on matters of the written Torah of Moses (Matthew 23:1).  From that time and forward, they continued their deliberations in secret, as we see here:

 

The Jewish calendar was put in its present form over 1600 years ago. Until 359 CE the Sanhedrin functioned in Jerusalem as the supreme judicial body in Jewish life. It was the Sanhedrin, through a special calendar council called Sod Ha-Ibur (literally “secret of calendar intercalation”), that decided when a leap year would occur and whether the month Hesvan and Kislev should have 29 or 30 days.

 

The process of intercalating (adding to the calendar extra days or months) was necessary in order to harmonize the Jewish calendar with the civil Gregorian calendar. The Jewish calendar being a lunar calendar with 354 days in its lunar year, and the civil calendar being a solar calendar in which there were approximately 365 days, there is an 11 day discrepancy.

 

The Calendar Council of the Sanhedrin, headed by its president, Patriarch Hillel the Second, was concerned with synchronizing the two calendars for the simple reason that the Jewish holidays were based on the solar cycle and had to be observed at their “appointed times” as specified in the Bible.  Passover, for example, had to be celebrated in the spring. If adjustments in the calendar were not made, the biblical command to observe the holiday at that time of year would be violated, for if allowed to fall behind by 11 days each year, in a short time Passover would be observed in the winter months.

 

The annual 11 day discrepancy between the Jewish and civil calendar was reconciled by adding an extra month (Adar 2) every two or three years (seven times in 19 years). In addition, each year a day was added or subtracted from the months Hesvan and Kislev, as required. These were the “swing” months; in some years they would have 29 days, in some years 30 days.

 

Exactly how the calendar calculations were arrived at was a closely guarded secret of the Sanhedrin. This was one of the ways in which the Sanhedrin managed to hold on to its power, which it did until the year 359, after which its influence waned and the Jewish community in Babylonia (where the great Babylonian Talmud was being composed) became dominant.

 

Up until the year 359 the arrival of the New Moon was announced by the Sanhedrin each month based on the testimony of two eyewitnesses who appeared before the Sanhedrin and were questioned about the crescents of the New Moon that they reported having observed. If the Sanhedrin was satisfied with the integrity of the witnesses and their testimony it then checked that testimony against its own (secret) calculations, which had been worked out in advance using mathematical and astrological knowledge. If everything harmonized, the Sanhedrin would send torch signals from mountaintop to mountaintop to notify all communities that the New Moon had officially been sighted. At a later date the Sanhedrin decided to relay the information by messenger rather than by signaling with torches because this had been such as the Samaritans, who did not accept the authority of the Patriarch and his Sanhedrin, were known to send up false flares in order to confuse the message being transmitted.

 

When the Romans who ruled Palestine had begun to deny the Patriarch some of the freedom he and his court had enjoyed for many years, and the situation had become generally grave for the Jewish community in Palestine, Hillel the Second decided to publish the calendar for distribution to all communities. By this action, the official day(s) of Rosh Chodesh (beginning of the new month) each of the Jewish holidays was fixed; the testimony of witnesses was no longer required.  Alfred J. Kolatch, The First Jewish Book of Why, p. 9 (1981)

 

     However, these same sources allege that the Sanhedrin released all its secrets when it made the Rabbinic calendar public, then it dissolved shortly thereafter as a ruling body.  My contention is no, there is much more to this.  Wheel of Stars presents evidence that the Sanhedrin kept their solar year/Mazzaroth calculations  a closely guarded secret, for fear that if revealed, their countrymen might lapse back into paganism!  In fact, the Talmud records exactly such a debate!  This was one of the reasons that modern Bible students have not seen the Wheel of Stars revealed in their Bibles, for many it is a religious taboo, the forbidden fruit, even though dozens of verses in the Bible speak about the names of constellations and their importance!

 

     At the end of the day, Wheel of Stars is the majestic and beautiful story of what that secret body of knowledge was, how it was maintained, and how it has a direct bearing on revealing ancient mysteries as well as future events.

 

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