God's Calendar and the Seven Day Week

How do we know Saturday is the "seventh day?" Let's check it out:

YHWH (Yahweh) said in Genesis that the sky is useful for a calendar.

Genesis 1: 14 "God said,'Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to divide the day from the night; let them be for signs, seasons, days and years; and let them be for lights in the dome of the sky to give light on the earth'".

This He did on the 4th day of the creation. The fourth Day? Yes the 4th day - Man was not created till the 6th day. So we can safely say that the calendar, the mechanism for determining seasons, days, and years has ALWAYS existed, since it existed before man. It was a gift of God. A gift to the man he had not yet even created.

Now look at Genesis 3:17. "To Adam he said, 'Because you listened to what your wife said and ate from the tree about which I gave you the order, 'You are not to eat from it,' the ground is cursed on your account; you will work hard to eat from it as long as you live. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat field plants. 19 You will eat bread by the sweat of your forehead till you return to the ground - ....'"

Now, verse 24: "So he drove the man out....", that is, out of the garden and into the unprepared fields.

Now, Chapter 5 verse 5: "In all, Adam lived 930 years, and then he died."

Before we go on here is just one scripture of several (other than Genesis 1) which reveals that God's "day" begins and ends at sunset:

Nehemiah 13: 19 So when the gates of Yerushalayim began to grow dark before Shabbat, I ordered that the doors be shut; and I ordered that they not be reopened until after Shabbat. I put some of my servants in charge of the gates, to see to it that no loads be brought in on Shabbat. 20 The merchants and sellers of all kinds of goods spent the night outside Yerushalayim once or twice, 21 until I warned them, "Why are you spending the night by the wall? Do it again, and I'll use force against you!" From then on they stopped coming on Shabbat. 22 Then I ordered the L'vi'im to purify themselves and come and guard the gates, in order to keep the day of Shabbat holy. My God, remember this too for me, and have mercy on me in keeping with the greatness of your grace!

Now YHWH does not tell us what Adam did during his life for the whole 930 years, nor does the Bible tell us if God simply told Adam everything he needed to know or if He required Adam to learn by trial and error - but I can tell you this: From Chapter 3 verse 24, Adam was no longer in the lush prepared-for-him garden where all he had to do was stroll with God and work the rich land which received its water from the river (Gen 2:10). And from Chapter 3, verse 17, Adam had to work hard to eat, and that means he had to gather and plant and harvest and clear the thorns and thistles and develop agriculture.

And I can tell you this: If God did not directly tell Adam what to do, Adam had to use his ingenuity and watch the stars and determine the seasons. Since he lived 930 years you can be sure after watching the stars for several years he KNEW how the stars reflected the seasons and how to tell when the seasons were changing and when to plant and harvest. If he got it wrong the first few seasons when he and Eve were on their own, you can bet he figured out enough afterward that he could look up at the night sky and know exactly how many weeks and days he had to prepare and sow his fields, and exactly when he needed to harvest. He had 900 or more opportunities to get it right!

Yes, Adam used the signs God created on day 4 of the creation as a calendar, and it is to Adam, no doubt, we owe the 12-month year because you can be sure that Adam recognized that the moon appeared in the evening sky almost exactly 12 times before the same stars appeared in the same place in the morning sky again. In fact, you can be sure, that after 900 some-odd years of observing the night sky, Adam knew that you could not count an exact number of days between observations of a new moon. Go observe the moon for yourself for a few years, and you'll be able to draw the same conclusion....

It is interesting to note that to use this calendar of the sky it does not have to be written down. You don't need a calendar on a piece of paper to tell you it is September or March (using our modern names for the months)! You only have to note the position of the stars at sunset and count days between the events in the sky, and the moon helped you know how many days had passed. And do you think for a moment that Adam kept this information to himself? I should think not! He taught what he learned to his sons and daughters. So they too knew the calendar! And they taught it to their offspring and so on.

Origin of the Week

Now let's turn for a moment back to the creation. Let's go back to Genesis 2, verse 2: "On the seventh day God was finished with his work which he had made, so he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3 God blessed the seventh day and separated it as holy; because on that day God rested from all his work which he had created, so that it itself could produce."

Here we have at least the origin of the number "seven" as important to God. Whether you accept that the "day" was a 24 hour day, or an epoch lasting a thousand years, or 10,000 years for each "day", the point is God created for 6 "days" and rested on the 7th. Then he blessed the 7th day and separated it as holy.

Now, it is plainly obvious that our seven day week came from the creation, and is so intuitively obvious there really needs be no further analysis of the origin of the 7-day week, but there are countless people out there who simply can't see this, and try to argue all sorts of "mystical" or pagan origins of the 7-day week so we are simply forced to study this further.

We've already been shown that God blessed the 7th day. In Genesis chapter 7, verse 4, God tells Noah that in "seven more days" he would cause it to begin to rain. In Genesis chapter 8, Noah, after waiting for the waters to recede, sent out a dove which returned to him because there was no place to land. So Noah waited another 7 days to send out the dove again (verse 10). The dove still came back, albeit with an olive branch, so Noah waited another 7 days (verse 12) before he sent the dove out again. Can anyone question that Noah was observing a seven day period that was quite normal for him? In chapter 7, verse 4 we find God Himself telling Noah that in "7 more days" he would begin the rains. Clearly, intuitively, we see that God referred to 7 days because Noah understood seven days. The seven-day period was already established with man!

Many argue that the patriarchs did not have to obey the Sabbath, and did not have the seven day week since neither is specifically cited in Genesis. But examine Genesis for yourself. It is a book describing man's revolt against God and the consequences. It is not a book of instruction and it was not given to the patriarchs to "live by". Genesis is only a record of events, written long after their occurrence, written by Moses some 2,500 years after the events described in Genesis (in fact, the patriarchs were long dead by the time it was written) and it was not intended to provide the commandments. (Interestingly, the commandments - God's teaching and instruction - are not written until Moses reaches his own time in the book of Exodus.)

Genesis provides enough history to set the stage and establish the foundation on which the path to the Messiah begins. It is not a complete history book, and it is not a "history of creation." It does not describe the origins of all things human; it does not record the exact "hows" and "whys" man did what he did; and, indeed, it does not specifically identify the origin of the 7-day week nor does it clearly reveal that the Patriarchs were given the Sabbath and that they observed the Sabbath (though Adam was clearly present when God declared the seventh day holy). It simply can't include all aspects of human life at the time, and we therefore are forced to realize that some things in the behavior of man in this era were given by God, and not written down. The fact that man, very likely, always observed the seven day week is hinted at (i.e. the discussion of Noah above). That a seven day week would be observed and not include the Sabbath - the very day by which a week is defined - is an unlikely outcome.

It is quite comical the lengths to which some authors will try to "prove" that the seven day week originated in the Babylonian Empire circa 600 B.C. citing "astrology", linking the fact that there were only seven visible objects in the sky that were clearly not "fixed stars" (i.e., Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter), and naming the days of the week after the "gods" of these planets. Curiously, these same authors don't discover that Byzantine historian Anna Comnena (1083-1153AD) said in her writings that: "The art of divination is a rather recent discovery, unknown to the ancient world [emphasis added]. In the time of Eudoxus [c.408-355 BC], the distinguished astronomer, the rules for it did not exist, and Plato had no knowledge of the science; even Manetho the astrologer [c.280 BC] had no accurate information on the subject. In their attempts to prophesy they lacked the horoscope and the fixing of cardinal points; they did not know how to observe the position of the stars at one's nativity and all the other things that the inventor of this system has bequeathed to posterity, things intelligible to the devotees of such nonsense." [The Alexiad of Anna Comnena, translated by E.R.A. Sewter, Penguin Classics, 1969, pp.193-194]. And even more curious is that these same authors don't question the idea of a "seven day week" in the first place, they simply try to fit astrology and paganism into the names of the days of the seven day week that was already well entrenched in and observed in the ancient world! A few authors recognize there is no astronomical correlation to explain a 7 day week, yet they fail to see the obvious and conclude that the pagan names of the days of the week were given to the days of a 7 day week that already was in use!

Still another group, the "Lunar Sabbatarians", will try to force the 7th day Sabbath to fit with the cycle of the moon. They base their argument on defining "types of days". Scripture says there are 6 days in which to work, and the 7th is a Shabbat. So far so good. So the Lunar Sabbatarian says scripture defines two types of days "work days" and "the Sabbath day". But the Lunar Sabbatarian goes on to insist there are two additional "types of days" which are not counted in the 7-day "week" ending in a Sabbath.

They argue that the day of the new moon is a set-apart day, a holy day, also not counted as a "day". It is instead "New Moon Day". So the 1st day of the month is not a work day or a Sabbath, it is rather, "New Moon Day". Thus, every 7th day Sabbath is always the 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th of the month. Then to make the Lunar Shabbat calendar work, they make the 30th day of the month, if it is needed, a "New Moon Feast Day", also not counted in the day-count of the week.

So you see, if you followed this short description of the Lunar Shabbat calendar, that on some months, after the last Shabbat of the month, there is a "New Moon Feast Day", followed by a "New Moon Day", both of which are before the 1st day of the new week begins!

Needless to say, the Lunar Shabbat calendar is complete nonsense. But don't dare try to explain to them what is wrong with their calendar! Doing so will bring upon you the wrath of their adherents who will accuse you of "ignorance", "indoctrination", and a number of other adjectives to demean your understanding of scripture!

Back to the Calendar

Now lets return to the calendar. Adam could see that the moon appeared in the evening sky pretty close to 12 times, before the same stars would again appear in the same place in the evening sky. Even if Adam did not know what "12" was, that is, even if he did not understand the concept of "counting", he could put notches on a stick, or mark the walls of a cave each time he saw the moon and see that he had the "same number" of notches for the appearance of the moon each "year". But there is no doubt that he would have noticed that that 12th time he saw the moon, the stars that same night weren't quite in the same place as they were the last time he saw the moon's 12th appearance. He probably did not understand why this was so, but he probably did notice that all he had to do was wait a few more days and the stars were back in the same place as they were the year before. That is, he may not have been able to discern the tropical year, i.e., 365.25 days, rather, he would have simply accommodated according to what the stars revealed.

So whether or not Adam could count does not matter. He would have known that sometimes after observing "12" appearances of the moon, the stars would be in the same place many days later than they appeared the year before. What did Adam need to do about this! Nothing! Since he did not rely on a written calendar, the fact that the stars were "late" did not matter, he simply watched, and sure enough, a few days later, they were in the right place and he knew when to plant. The monthly appearance of the moon helped him "count" days, but the stars reappeared in the same place in the sky, like clockwork, whether or not the moon made exactly 12 appearances.

Why am I spending so much time describing what Adam knew about the moon and the stars? Because later in this treatise we are going to discuss the calendar in some detail and the concepts as understood by Adam will be important. But for now, let's turn back to Noah.

In Genesis chapter 7, verse 11, we find the following statement: "On the seventeenth day of the second month of the 600th year of Noah's life...." By this statement we know that God told Moses - who penned these words which became the book of Genesis - that in Noah's time, a definite calendar existed, complete with identified months and specific days. Here we have evidence that a complete calendar existed in Noah's time.

Knowing also that Adam must have known the concept of a "month", and that he also understood there was not an exact, integral relationship between the appearance of the moon and the number of days in a year, then in the intervening centuries between Adam and Noah, there was much development in the establishment of a calendar! It would not be a stretch to conclude that by the time of Noah, Adam and his descendants had established enough observation and refinement that the calendar had been written down, and Noah was certainly aware of how to use it! Notice that Moses, in Genesis, did not need to spend time describing what a "month" was, nor how many days were in each month, nor how it came about. The calendar was already as common as eating, drinking, sleeping, and any other human activity!

Now let us go to the time of the Babylonian Empire, around 600 BC. Note that Moses lived around 1500 to 1400 BC, and though Moses did not describe the calendar, early societies just before the Babylonians certainly did. We see in these ancient societies attempts to bring the lunar year (about 354 days) into line with the solar (agricultural) year of approximately 365 days. They did this by crudely adding months to the year when they thought they were needed to maintain a division of the year into two seasons, basically summer, and winter.

Given that the moon did not make exactly 12 appearances in a year, then the calendar, (which was quite naturally based on the moon in that age of man), would get "out of sync" with the sun, which completed a "year" some 11 days later than the period of time the moon completed 12 "appearances" or "months". The beginning of summer for example would "drift" into another month, and it became impossible to figure out when to plant! To account for this changing summer, they had to make the lunar calendar "sync up" once again with the "solar" calendar by adding extra months! The details of this are beyond the scope of this text but it is an interesting study in itself, and you are encouraged dig into it.

Babylon is of interest because they used a calendar of months based on a curious observation of the moon. They knew that the appearance of the moon, compared to the background of stars, not only made monthly reappearances which they fit into months of 29 or 30 days, but the moon also made an interesting repeated, long-term cycle. That repeated long-term cycle was that the moon made almost exactly 235 "appearances" before it, once again, "appeared" in front of exactly the same group of stars on the same day the sun was back, once again, in the same place relative to its annual cycle.

This cycle of 235 lunar appearances happened in "exactly" 19 years. This cycle, even today is still called the "Metonic cycle" named after the Greek philosopher, Meton, of Athens, around 440 B.C. who first understood the mathematical concept behind the 19 year cycle of the moon. The 19 year cycle is off by only 0.09 days, or 2 hours, which is why the word "exact" is in quotes above. It is not astronomically "exact", but to ancient man, without modern time keeping, it is phenomenally "exact". Suffice it to say that the Babylonians added an extra "month" to a year every once in a while making some years contain 13 months, the same as their ancestors, but on a well-prescribed plan. The years with thirteen months were the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th, and 19th of the 19 year lunar cycle! This is an even mathematical distribution, which, interestingly, adds 7 months every 19 years, and keeps the lunar and solar calendars in sync!

Now, back to our discussion of Adam. Adam made observations of the moon, no doubt. Adam had to plant and reap, no doubt. Adam had to understand the seasons, and when to plant and reap. Adam passed this knowledge to his offspring, no doubt. His offspring continued to observe the moon, sun, and stars and refine the observations, no doubt. Mankind continued to refine these observations, no doubt. Now, when the Babylonians began to establish their society, some 3,400 years after Adam, there seems no doubt that much of what the Babylonians knew about the lunar and solar calendar was already very well known!

Case in point: The beginning of the month in the Babylonian calendar was determined by the direct observation of the "young" crescent moon at sunset when it was known the moon would reappear as a "new moon". This custom, clearly taken from the ancient Israelites, is in line with the idea that the new day begins at sunset, as originated in Genesis.

Now the scoffer reading this text might say, "But I don't believe in Adam, so I don't buy what you are saying". It doesn't matter if you believe in Adam or not. It is well documented in many historical writings and manuscripts from the period around 1450 B.C. that refer to Moses as a real person, and all these calendar observations are from his time which still precede Babylon by a 1000 years! Babylon simply used/modified the concept of a calendar already established in society! Babylon eventually fell and Rome took over and the calendar continued to be modified to suit the empire of the moment. More about this in the following paragraphs.

Significance of "7 days"

The Babylonian calendar, even though it kept the moon and the sun "in sync", had problems. It seems the seasons drifted by days over hundreds of years. By the time the Roman Empire was in control, the seasons were still seriously messed up. Julius Caesar attempted to fix the problem of the seasonal drift by creating a new calendar.

In the year 46 BC, Julius Caesar reformed the Roman calendar to what he hoped would be a more manageable form. By this time, astronomers understood the solar year was really not astronomically connected to the moon, so Julius changed the number of days in the months to achieve a 365 day year and separated the solar calendar from the lunar calendar. To "catch up" with the seasons, Julius Caesar also added 90 days to the year 46 BC between November and February.

Before we go on, another interesting study is the influence Emperors and Rulers have had on the calendar. In 8 BC, emperor Augustus renamed the 6th month of the Roman calendar from "Sextilus" to "August". Julius Caesar in 44 B.C. renamed the 5th month from "Quintilis" to "July". In 45 B.C., Julius Caesar made 1 January the start of the year.

However, the church didn't like the wild parties that took place at the start of the new year, and in AD 567 declared that having the year start on 1 January was an "ancient mistake" that should be abolished. Various New Year dates were used; there are at least 7 documented periods where the start of the new year was changed to 1 Mar, 1 Jan, 25 Mar, 25 Dec, or the Saturday before Easter, or some variation. The Byzantine Empire used a year starting on 1 Sep.

Continuing, the Julian calendar consisted of cycles of three 365-day years followed by a 366-day "leap" the fourth year. Around 9 B.C., it was determined that the priests in charge of computing the calendar had been adding leap years every three years instead of four! Consequently, to correct the error, no leap years were added from 9 B.C. to 8 A.D. Leap years were therefore 45 BC, 42 BC, 39 BC, 36 BC, 33 BC, 30 BC, 27 BC, 24 BC, 21 BC, 18 BC, 15 BC, 12 BC, 9 BC, 8 AD, 12 AD, and every fourth year thereafter.

The details of the calendar and its changes and problems are extraordinarily interesting, but this text is already quite long so recognizing that the Julian calendar introduces an error of 1 day every 128 years, by the mid 1500's A.D., the Julian calendar was off "season" by 10 days and the calendar, once again, needed to be corrected. The "Gregorian" calendar proposed by Aloysius Lilius, a physician from Naples, was adopted by Pope Gregory XIII to correct the errors of the Julian Calendar.

It was decreed by Pope Gregory XIII in a "papal bull" (a charter bearing an official seal) on 24 February 1582. By the stroke of a pen, 4 October 1582 was followed by 15 October 1582. This corrected the 10 days accumulated error of the Julian Calendar, and established a far more accurate handling of "leap years", so that it takes about 3,300 years to accumulate an error of 1 day (compared to the 1 day error every 128 in the Julian calendar).

The careful reader will make note of the following: Considering all of the above, the development of and changes to the calendar; the addition of months; the addition or subtraction of days due to calendar errors; the addition of "leap years"; the complete change from one calendar to another; changes to the beginning of the year; and many other changes noted in the historical record leads to one inescapable discovery: There is no historical record suggesting the steady, 7-day week, has ever been broken! When Julius Caesar added his 90 days to correct for errors in the Babylonian/Roman calendar, the date changed, not the day of the week. When the Gregorian calendar came into effect in 1582, the date changed, not the day of the week. Considering the supreme power emperors, kings, and rulers have had over the millennia, none have changed the day of the week. Since at least the days of Moses, the 7 day cycle has run completely uninterrupted - whether we call it a "week" or call the days Saturday, Sunday, Monday, etc, or simply day 1, 2, 3, etc., it has been that way as far back as mankind has records!

We have seen above, that Noah was well familiar with the 7-day period (whether or not it was called a "week"), such that it was his chosen period to wait for sending out a bird to determine if the flood waters had receded. So there is evidence that the seven day week has progressed unbroken since the time of Noah, and since the lives of Adam, and Lamech, the father of Noah, overlapped and Lamech lived till Shem (son of Noah) was 93 years old, the 7-day week was most certainly passed from generation to generation from Adam to the present day! If you don't find that fascinating, and if you don't find something quite substantial in this, you need to re-read this section till it sinks in!

The seven day week has never been broken!

As far as we can tell from all available historical records, the earliest accounting for days was simply numbered. The seventh day was the last day of the cycle, and was the Sabbath set aside for God. Despite a long history since the resurrection of the Messiah where the "Christian Church" has foolishly attempted to change the day of rest to the first day, Sunday, the seven day cycle still has not been broken. Those who wish to obey God, Exodus 20:10-11, and observe the Sabbath and keep it holy may be comforted to know that if you can determine the number of years which have passed since Adam, and divide the number of total days since then by 7, you will know exactly the number of weeks that have passed and know that the Sabbath you are observing is the same Sabbath observed since the beginning! The fact is that since the dawn of man, by the hand of God, the seven day period was established, the 7th day declared "set aside" and "holy", a day of rest, and despite the many opportunities by man to alter it (even still today), it has never been altered!

How we know that God's "day" begins and ends at sunset? There are several scriptures that reveal this fact, including the following:

Genesis 1: 5 So there was evening and there was morning, one day.

Notice "evening" was mentioned first, then morning....This was repeated throughout Genesis 1 and reiterated throughout the Torah.

Leviticus 23: 27 "The tenth day of this seventh month is Yom-Kippur; you are to have a holy convocation, you are to deny yourselves, and you are to bring an offering made by fire to ADONAI. 28 You are not to do any kind of work on that day, because it is Yom-Kippur, to make atonement for you before ADONAI your God. 29 Anyone who does not deny himself on that day is to be cut off from his people; 30 and anyone who does any kind of work on that day, I will destroy from among his people. 31 You are not to do any kind of work; it is a permanent regulation through all your generations, no matter where you live. 32 It will be for you a Shabbat of complete rest, and you are to deny yourselves; you are to rest on your Shabbat from evening the ninth day of the month until the following evening.

Nehemiah 13: 19 So when the gates of Yerushalayim began to grow dark before Shabbat, I ordered that the doors be shut; and I ordered that they not be reopened until after Shabbat. I put some of my servants in charge of the gates, to see to it that no loads be brought in on Shabbat. 20 The merchants and sellers of all kinds of goods spent the night outside Yerushalayim once or twice, 21 until I warned them, "Why are you spending the night by the wall? Do it again, and I'll use force against you!" From then on they stopped coming on Shabbat. 22 Then I ordered the L'vi'im to purify themselves and come and guard the gates, in order to keep the day of Shabbat holy. My God, remember this too for me, and have mercy on me in keeping with the greatness of your grace!