Lunar Shabbat - Not!
The Lunar Shabbat is the theory that the weekly Shabbat is determined by the New Moon each month, rather than by the continuous counting of seven days. Further, in this calendar, Shabbat always falls on the 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th of the month! Lunar Shabbatists claim that ALL instances in the Bible where a Shabbat can be dated or the date inferred, it is always the 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th of the month - and they claim it cannot be proven otherwise! Hold on to your hats, Lunar Shabbatists, because in the below, Lt. Col. (Ret) Bill Welker provides proof that the Lunar Shabbat is nonsense!
Lunar Shabbat – Not!
With a touch of irony, I begin this discussion to disprove the “Lunar Shabbat” idea. The reason I say “with irony”, is because I know, from my studies of the arguments of the “Lunar Shabbat” crowd, that they will accept NO proof that the “Lunar Shabbat” does not exist. Therefore, the following is actually not for “them”, rather it is for “you” so that you won’t be caught up in their trap! As I state later in this article, the “Lunar Shabbbatarian” or “LS”, will have a counterargument for everything, no matter how much they must twist the meaning of Scripture to make their argument. They even make an empty offer of a “$10,000 reward” to anyone who can prove the Lunar Shabbat is false. (See for example the insecure website: http://www.lunarsabbath.info/index.html). Well, on this date, the date on which this article was originally written, 20 Jun, 2011, I claim that reward, though I know it will remain forever unpaid.
Brief explanation of the Lunar Sabbath
The Lunar Shabbat is the (misguided) theory that the weekly Shabbat is determined by the New Moon each month rather than by the continuous counting of seven days. The follower of the Lunar Shabbat begins counting a “7 day week”, ending with Shabbat, by calling the 2nd day of the month (that is, the 1st day after a New Moon) the “1st day of the week”, so the “7th day of the week”, i.e. Shabbat, is actually the “8th day of the month”. Whew! (Though the day of the New Moon is still called the “1st day” of the month, it is NOT the first day of the week.) In this way, in the Lunar Shabbat calendar, “Shabbat” ALWAYS fall on the 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th of each month. The process then begins again as they wait for the next new moon, and the count of the weekly Sabbaths repeat. Here is the idea graphically:
In this depiction, do not confuse the numbered “workdays” with the common days of the week Sunday through Friday. “Work Day 1”, for example, is not necessarily a “Sunday” nor “Monday” nor any other named day. Same for “2” and “3” and so on, and the Shabbat is not Saturday. If Shabbat happens to fall on a Saturday, it is on a Saturday each Shabbat of the calendar month, but if it falls on a Tuesday, it is always on a Tuesday that calendar month. (Working out a Lunar Sabbath calendar demonstrating the common weekday names is left as an exercise for the reader.)
The astute reader will notice that in this calendar, there are 6 "work days" and there are days called "Shabbat" (the 7th day), and that neither the New moon day, nor the 30th day (if there is a 30th day) are "work days" or Shabbats. Never fear, the Lunar Sabbatarian has a LOT of explanation and justification for all of this, no matter how much they must twist scripture to substantiate it!
Lunar Sabbatarians claim the Bible provides for only “3 types of days”: They make this claim (as they make all their claims) by misreading Scripture such as Ezekiel 46:1 and providing a unique interpretation:
Ezekiel 46:1 "This is what YHWH ELOHIM says: 'The east gate of the inner courtyard is to be shut on the six working days, but on Shabbat it is to be opened, and on Rosh-Hodesh it is to be opened’” (CJB).
(In this version, from Stern’s Complete Jewish Bible, “Rosh Hodesh” is the Hebrew term for “the festival marking the beginning of the calendar month”. Many English translations simply insert “new moon” and ignore the meaning of Rosh Hodesh. The CJB translation is preferred as the term “Rosh Hodesh” means more than simply “new moon.”)
In this single scripture, the LS concludes there are only: “work days”, “new moon days”, and “Shabbats.” Period. They argue there are 6 “work days”, followed by a Shabbat, 6 more “work days” and the next Shabbat, and after the 4th Shabbat, there is the “New Moon day” (or days if there is a 30th day of the month). When the moon is not “new” on the next day after the 29th (meaning the crescent was not sighted at sunset the 29th, the next day can’t be the “1st” of the new month), they simply wait another day till the moon is “new” again.
This is illustrated graphically above where a “30th” day is required to account for the fact that the moon’s average synodic period is 29.53 days. (The necessity of a 30th day roughly every other month is common to all lunar calendars including the Hebrew calendar). However, in the Lunar Shabbat calendar, these last days of the month (day 30), waiting for the next New Moon, are neither “work days” nor “new moon days”, but instead they are “extended worship days” or “new moon festival” days (depending on which LS group you believe). (So much for their insistence on only “3 types of days” as this clearly defines a “4th type”. Strange we don’t see that 4th type defined in Ezekiel 46:1, or anywhere in scripture!)
As a typical example of the claims of the Lunar Sabbatarian, Life Raft Discoveries at creationcalendars.com says:
“The New Moon is neither a Sabbath, nor a common work day. A work/commerce day is not a worship day. The Sabbath and new moons are worship days. Do the math (it is an algebra problem) and you will discover that there are three separate categories of days in YHVH’s calendar: new moon days, work days, and Sabbaths. Since Scripture indicates that these days cannot take place at the same time, do not overlap or share the same space, we need to rework our understanding of YHVH’s calendar.”
(Really? “Since Scripture indicates that these days cannot take place at the same time”? Exactly where in Scripture is this “indicated”? I’ve read and studied the Bible beginning to end many times and have never found a single Scripture, in ANY version, which indicates the New Moon cannot fall on a work day or even on a Shabbat!)
The LS will go on to argue that “Everywhere in the Bible where the Shabbat can be identified with a day of the week, it is always the 8th, 15th, 22nd, or the 29th” (emphasis added). They claim they have “pinpointed” 72 times in the Bible where the date of the Sabbath is identified or inferred, it is always on the 8th, 15th, 22nd, or 29th. They almost always challenge anyone to prove Scripturally, otherwise. (I think it’s fair to note however, that though this claim is made on many if not all LS web sites and in many LS published documents, a list of the 72 “pinpointed” Shabbats has not been found in any searches this author has conducted. It appears they expect you to "find" the 72 in their ample writings.)
Problems, problems, problems...
One of the first problems is with THEM asking YOU to prove THEM wrong as THEY can always argue their interpretation of Scripture is better than yours and thus dismiss your counterargument no matter the validity!
Case in point: Return to Ezekiel 46:1, above. The statement: "[shut the gate] on the six working days, but on Shabbat it is to be opened, and on Rosh-Hodesh it is to be opened” can be interpreted two ways as follows:
- It strictly identifies 3 types of days: “working days”, “Rosh-Hodesh” (i.e. New Moon day), and the Shabbat, or
- It simply identifies there are 6 working days on which the gate is to be closed, but on the Shabbat and on the day of the New Moon the gate is to be opened.
Absolutely NOTHING in the verse REQUIRES interpretation #1! Interpretation #2 seems to make the most sense, that is, just the way it reads. Nothing in the grammar requires the New Moon day to be “its own day” that is, not a work day or a Shabbat. Further, there is no reason to read-into the grammar that the New Moon day cannot fall on one of the work days, or on a Shabbat!
(Indeed a simple reading of the context found here in Ezekiel demonstrates the purpose for opening the east gate is for the prince, and not for the common person. Go back to at least Ezekiel 40, and you find that the instructions in Ezekiel 46 are to accommodate the prince's presence at the Temple for his offerings.)
Shabbat, we know, is a very special day of its own, a set apart day given as the 4th Commandment (Exodus 20:10-11), and is very clearly identified as a weekly moed of its own in Leviticus 23. In fact, we see in Leviticus 23 that the weekly Shabbat is not even calendar dependent! So there is no question why Shabbat is cited separately in Ezekiel 46:1. The exception is why the Rosh-Chodesh is mentioned in Ezekiel 46:1. The answer is simple. Look at Ezekiel 44:1-3 and you find that the east gate is to be shut because only the prince uses it. So the gate is opened on Rosh-Chodesh for the prince and has nothing to do with Rosh-Chodesh being a non-working day!
Every month, with one exception, starting the month by the New Moon is only a celebratory day. It is not cited as a commanded day of rest, rather, the 1st day is cited as an appointed day each month! On that day there is the blowing of the trumpet, and sacrifices and offerings are made at the Temple. The moon has passed from “old” to “new”, and the calendar month changes. The new crescent is the sign the “new month” has already begun and the 1st day of each month is sanctified and celebrated. (See Numbers 10:10, 28:11, 28:14, and 29:6 as well as 1 Chronicles 23:31, Isaiah 66:23 and others). Ezekiel 46:1 only indicates that on the day of the New Moon, as on the Shabbat, the east gate to the Temple to be opened for the prince for worship. Commerce is not necessarily prohibited on the New Moon day(s), with the exception of the 1st of Tishri.
The LS, however, will often cite Amos 8:5 in support that the New Moon day is not a day of work! The verse reads: "When will Rosh-Hodesh be over, so we can market our grain? and Shabbat, so we can sell wheat?" The problem with that argument is that they have taken Amos 8:5 out of context. You see, in Amos 8:1, we learn it is the end of summer. A “basket of summer fruit” can mean nothing else. The new moon of Tishri falls - (in our Gregorian September) at the end of summer - and the new moon of Tishri, while it is a "Rosh-Chodesh" is a “more special” new moon than all other months. It is “1 Tishri”, Yom Teruah, Rosh Hashanah the beginning of the civil year, and it is celebrated – indeed commanded - as a special Shabbat – a day of complete rest – no work permitted. See Leviticus 23:24-25. This is the new moon of Amos 8:5 – it is a Rosh-Chodesh, yes, but it is Yom Teruah, the 1st of Tishri. This new moon is a day of no commerce, not an ordinary Rosh-Chodesh! On the day of all other new moons throughout the year, commerce is not forbidden, but worship is specifically called for in the Temple and the gates to the inner courtyard are therefore open.
To reiterate: Nothing in the phraseology of Ezekiel 46:1 requires the New Moon day to be identified as a different day from one of the 6 working days or even a different day than a Shabbat. When the LS says Ezekiel 46:1 “proves” there are only 3 types of days, they are absolutely and categorically wrong!
Alas, the LS will counter with what I call their famous “logic-bomb”. It goes like this (you will find this parroted on many LS web sites):
“Let’s say that the new moon fell on a Thursday. Let’s say the tabernacle was still here and I asked you, ‘Would the gate have been open or shut?’ How would you answer? If you say open because it is new moon day, I would respond that it is a work day, it must be shut. If you agreed, ‘Of course Thursday is a work day, it must be shut’, I’d reply, ‘But friend, it is new moon, it must be open.’”
Ponder this for a moment and see if you can pinpoint the logic error. I’ll wait....
Figure it out? If not, here it is: Their argument presupposes, with no proof, that the New Moon cannot fall on a work day. The logic flaw subversively traps you into the argument that the New moon day must be “its own” day by assuming the new moon day cannot be on a work day. They don’t want you to realize that if the New moon falls on a work day, the rule for a new moon would simply be applied even though it is a work day. The rule for the new moon is for observances at the Temple, not for all people to "halt work" and observe the day as special! The New Moon day is simply a “special day” with special rules where special sacrifices and offerings are made - therefore the gate must be opened for worship!
If you are having difficulty seeing the trap, i.e., the “logic bomb” try this one:
Let's call the following a "commandment": “Buy gasoline on the six working days, but on Shabbat do not buy gasoline, and on Independence Day do not buy gasoline.”
“Let’s say Independence Day fell on a Wednesday. Let’s say I asked you, ‘Would you buy gas today or not?’ How would you answer? If you say “buy” because it is a work day, I would respond that it is Independence Day, you must not buy. If you agreed, ‘Of course Wednesday is Independence Day, I cannot buy gasoline’, I’d reply, ‘But friend, it is a work day, you are permitted to buy.’”
It is the exact same logic! The “commandment” did not require Independence Day to be “its own day” neither a work day nor a non-commerce day! In fact, we all KNOW that (in the USA) Independence Day falls on the 4th of July no matter what day-of-week it is! But the “logic bomb” traps you into the idea that “Independence Day” cannot be a regular week day. It is the same logic the LS uses on Ezekiel 46:1!
As you investigate the “Lunar Shabbat” you will find very polished, forceful, and sometimes well written arguments presented with many “prove us wrong” declarations. Here is a short list of Lunar Shabbat web sites where you will find this to be the case. (But be forewarned, their arguments are longgggggg and tedious, and you must know the Scriptures very well to not fall for their deception):
lunarsabbath.org; yourarmstoisrael.org; creationcalendar.com; lunarsabbath.info; lunarsabbath.com; ministersnewcovenant.org (to name a few).
When I first heard of the idea of a “Lunar Shabbat”, the concept struck me as very odd. I had seen this sort of argument before. Other theories have been presented with similar fervor, similar arrogance, similar forcefulness. These other theories have also been presented with such “soundness” and “logic” behind them that they gained popular credibility. But when you dig into them, you find they had a questionable background. Here are but two that immediately came to mind:
Eric von Daniken. Author of “Chariots of the Gods?” His hypothesis? The earth has been visited by “ancient astronauts”. His proof? Crop circles, UFOs, stone heads on Easter Island (which he could not explain). His motive? Probably money. You see, Mr. von Daniken, as you can confirm by simply doing some research, is a convicted criminal – a con man. He served prison time for fraud, tax evasion, and embezzlement. (See Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_von_D%C3%A4niken). I remember when I read “Chariots of the Gods?”, having the unmistakable and rather sickening feeling that Mr. von Daniken had simply found a “con” for which he could not be arrested!
L Ron Hubbard. “Founder” of “Dianetics” and “Scientology.” His hypothesis? “We are all little gods”. His motive? Probably money, or to mislead, or both. From Wikipedia: “Hubbard outlined plans for setting up a chain of ‘Spiritual Guidance Centers’ charging customers $500 for twenty-four hours of auditing (‘That is real money... Charge enough and we'd be swamped.’) He wrote: ‘I await your reaction on the religion angle. In my opinion, we couldn't get worse public opinion than we have had or have less [sic] customers with what we've got to sell. A religious charter would be necessary in Pennsylvania or NJ to make it stick. But I sure could make it stick.’” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L._Ron_Hubbard). I don’t know about you, but this smells like a con.
These two examples are strangely related bedfellows with the Lunar Shabbat and with one Mr. Jonathan David Brown.
Who, is “Jonathan David Brown?” you say? Well, it appears that he is the founder of the Lunar Shabbat theory!
In 1998 he wrote a book called “Keeping Yahweh’s Appointments”, where he described the practice of the Lunar Shabbat. In fact, he is credited with being the “first sabbath keeper in the 20th century to begin the practice of counting the Sabbath from the New Moon day rather than using the modern seven day week.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_David_Brown.
How can I dare compare JD Brown with the likes of Eric von Daniken, and L. Ron Hubbard? It is this: “In 1992, Brown was sentenced to a 27-month federal prison term and fined $10,000 for accessory after the fact to a conspiracy to violate civil rights under 18 U.S.C. 3 and 241 (two of the hate crime laws in the United States), and for perjury.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_David_Brown.
I cannot help but see the eerie similarities in the ideas of von Daniken, Hubbard, and Brown (with all due respect to Mr. Brown, whom I do not know.) All seem to have found cons for which they cannot be arrested - “sound good”, “feel good” ideas, which bring notoriety and potential wealth but are full of holes when push comes to shove.
And one other thing about cons. To work, they need hundreds if not thousands of clueless, unthinking people. (Look around you for a “current events” example. The “gay movement” comes to mind.)
(Even if Mr. Brown's motives were honorable, he has had a major role in misleading thousands, if not millions into this "Lunar Shabbat" theory, which, as shown below, is complete nonsense.)
I warn you not to simply fall for the trap, but to dig into the Lunar Sabbath topic. You will find their convictions are strong and if you question them, they will (verbally) attack you with the viciousness of a pit bull. You will also find that they will NOT accept ANY proof to the contrary! They can twist and manipulate Scripture to the point you will pull out your hair trying to show them their flaws. It’s actually another eerie similarity to wild theories summarized here by L Ron Hubbard himself:
“A few years later he [Mr. Hubbard] told Scientologists: ‘If attacked on some vulnerable point by anyone or anything or any organization, always find or manufacture enough threat against them to cause them to sue for peace ... Don't ever defend, always attack.’” (Hubbard, L. Ron. "The Scientologist: A Manual on the Dissemination of Material", 1955. Quoted in Attack, p. 139)
Well, rather than go through each Lunar Sabbatarian argument in a “point-counterpoint” style, which would literally result in hundreds and hundreds of pages of argument and discussion, I am going to instead apply the “scientific method”. That is, in science, any theory no matter how strong the evidence, is ENTIRELY disproven by a single counterexample.
Thus, if the Lunar Sabbath theory is correct, there cannot be even ONE example where it can be shown the Lunar Sabbath is incorrect. If one counterexample can be demonstrated, the entire Lunar Sabbath idea is disproven. The Lunar Sabbath would then be simply dismissed.
I will provide that counterexample – a single example, from Scripture which proves the Lunar Shabbat is not valid. Here we go:
In their on-line book “PROOF: Weekly Sabbath Days Are Determined by the Moon”, Arnold Bowen and Matthew Janzen say on page 21:
To further confirm what we have stated thus far, we can know that the weekly Sabbath was indeed on the 15th day of the second month because of the raining of the bread. Remember, the bread was first given in the morning, the morning of the 16th (Exodus 16:1, 4-5, 13). We also know that it came for six consecutive days from verses 4-5. When we count consecutively, this is what we come up with.
- 16th = first day of manna
- 17th = second day of manna
- 18th = third day of manna
- 19th = fourth day of manna
- 20th = fifth day of manna
- 21st = sixth day of manna
- 22nd = Sabbath day
Knowing that the bread began on the 16th and lasted for six days causes us to know for sure that the Sabbath day occurred on the 22nd of the month, which in turn would have to meant that the 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th days were Sabbaths as well. We now begin to see why YHWH specifically mentioned the 15th day of the month at the very beginning of the narrative.
This would be all well and good if they had not missed a couple of key scriptures! Oddly, most people miss this.
Here is why they are so wrong, and it is proof beyond a shadow of doubt that the Lunar Sabbath is nonsense:
Let’s look at Exodus 16, line-by-line, (all verses from the Complete Jewish Bible):
Exodus 16:1 They traveled on from Eilim, and the whole community of the people of Isra'el arrived at the Seen Desert, between Eilim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after leaving the land of Egypt.
So we know it was the 15th they arrived at the Seen Desert. (We have about two million people arriving to make camp, so assuming all the events in Exodus 16:1-9 took place in a single night is a bit ridiculous, but to humor the Lunar Sabbatarians, we will assume this is the case.
Exodus 16:2 There in the desert the whole community of the people of Isra'el grumbled against Moshe and Aharon.
Here in verse 2, there is no indication whatsoever that this grumbling of the people took place the same day, the 15th, but let’s continue to assume it did. (The LS will be quick to point out that the English translation of the Greek LXX [Septuagent] for Exodus 16:1-2 actually says: "And they departed from Ælim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Ælim and Sina; and on the fifteenth day, in the second month after their departure from the land of Egypt, all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron" No other English translation inserts the semicolon causing the meaning of the verse to shift such that it says "the grumbling was on the 15th". However, ancient Greek HAS NO PUNCTUATION so it appears the English LXX contains a bit of bias! However, it turns out, as we shall see, it does not matter whether or not the grumbling was on the 15th, so whether the LXX is right or wrong for verses 1-2, the analysis which follows still holds.)
Exodus 16:3 The people of Isra'el said to them, "We wish ADONAI had used his own hand to kill us off in Egypt! There we used to sit around the pots with the meat boiling, and we had as much food as we wanted. But you have taken us out into this desert to let this whole assembly starve to death!"
This verse is only a statement of just what the people were grumbling about. It contains no time or date information.
Exodus 16:4-5 ADONAI said to Moshe, "Here, I will cause bread to rain down from heaven for you. The people are to go out and gather a day's ration every day. By this I will test whether they will observe my Torah or not. 5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they have brought in, it will turn out to be twice as much as they gather on the other days."
In these verses we have ADONAI talking to Moshe, telling Moshe what He is going to do. This is just a discussion of what is going to happen.
Exodus 16:6-8 Moshe and Aharon said to all the people of Isra'el, "This evening, you will realize that it has been ADONAI who brought you out of Egypt; 7 and in the morning, you will see ADONAI's glory. For he has listened to your grumblings against ADONAI - what are we that you should grumble against us?" 8 Moshe added, "What I have said will happen when ADONAI gives you meat to eat this evening and your fill of bread tomorrow morning. ADONAI has listened to your complaints and grumblings against him - what are we? Your grumblings are not against us but against ADONAI."
Now, we have Moshe back at camp, talking to Aharon and the people. But we know that all the events in verses 6-8 are not happening the same night because Moshe because in verse 7, Moshe says “in the morning, you will see ADONAI's glory”. (For an understanding of ADONAI's glory see Glory of ADONAI). In verse 8, what is happening is this: Moshe is giving Aharon instructions on what to tell the people. You see, verse 9, which we read next, confirms that Moshe was giving instructions to Aharon. So now, we have assumed it is still the 15th, So let’s see what happens:
Exodus 16:9 Moshe said to Aharon, "Say to the whole community of Isra'el, 'Come close, into the presence of ADONAI, for he has heard your grumblings.'"
So here in verse 9, Moshe is still talking to Aharon, telling Aharon to go gather the people, for ADONAI has heard their grumblings. Notice that while Moshe tells Aharon to "go gather the people", there is no time information in the statement to determine WHEN Aharon is to do this. But, the timing is immediately cleared up in the next verse:
Exodus 16:10 As Aharon spoke to the whole community of the people of Isra'el, they looked toward the desert; and there before them the glory of ADONAI appeared in the cloud;
Now we know it is the next morning! Aharon has gathered the people, and here is the glory of ADONAI appearing in a cloud, just as Moshe had said in verse 7 would happen the next morning! So this is the morning of the 16th (according to our assumption that the people made camp, grumbled, Moshe spoke to ADONAI, then to Aharon, then to the people all the same night of the 15th).
Exodus 16:11 and ADONAI said to Moshe,
This is ADONAI speaking to Moshe from the cloud that morning. He says:
Exodus 16:12 "I have heard the grumblings of the people of Isra'el. Say to them: 'At dusk you will be eating meat, and in the morning you will have your fill of bread. Then you will realize that I am ADONAI your God.'"
Notice that ADONAI says THIS evening ("at dusk") they will have meat, and the NEXT morning they will have bread! Sure enough:
Exodus 16:13 That evening, quails came up and covered the camp; while in the morning there was a layer of dew all around the camp.
I’ll be darned! Not only did Moshe tell the people the next morning they would experience the glory of ADONAI, but this time, when ADONAI arrived in a cloud the next morning, the 16th, His glory (not just as a cloud) was visible to all! Then ADONAI Himself (through Moshe) told the people they would have bread the NEXT morning, and sure enough, the quails came the evening of the 16th-17th, and the next morning, the 17th, the first manna arrived! This is NOT the 16th as the LS would have you believe!
Sidebar: Some people read Exodus 16:7 and 16:10 and conclude that the "glory of ADONAI" is the manna which appeared in the morning, which they therefore assume was the morning of the 16th. Now I ask you, if the "glory of ADONAI" is the manna, which in Hebrew is 'man-hu' meanigng "what is this?" In English, why didn't the people exclaim instead: "Look! - This flaky stuff remaining after the dew evaporated - it's the glory of ADONAI! It's just as Moshe said!"? No, what happened is clear. Moshe told the people the next morning they would see the "glory of ADONAI" (which was usually only reserved for himself), and that is exactly what happened - the next morning the glory of ADONAI appeared to ALL who were present, not just as the cloud which guided them by day, and they got to witness ADONAI talking to Moshe about what would happen that evening (the quails) and the following morning - the bread (manna).
You see, the crowning event was that ADONAI Himself came among the people (verse 10 - an event usually reserved only for Moshe!) to say that He, ADONAI, had personally heard their complaints (grumblings), and that He, Himself, would provide! It's a covenant! The crowning event was not the manna! The manna was only the result of the covenant!
Lunar Sabbatarians Bowen and Janzen said the manna fell on the morning of the 16th! They further point out that it fell for 6 continuous days from that point. (On this point they are correct, see verse 5.) But a line-by-line review of Exodus 16:1-13, as we have just demonstrated, reveals the manna fell no earlier than the 17th so:
- 15th = first day at the Seen Desert
- 16th = the morning Adonai declared He would show up and be seen. the quails came that evening
- 17th = first day of manna
- 18th = second day of manna
- 19th = third day of manna
- 20th = fourth day of manna
- 21st = fifth day of manna
- 22nd = sixth day of manna
- 23rd = 7th day, Sabbath day, no manna
Oops! The 23rd comes out to be the Sabbath, which makes the 16th a Shabbat, not the 15th, and the Lunar Shabbat idea, which requires the Shabbat to be the 15th, is completely busted!
I hereby claim the $10,000 reward that Lunar Sabbatarians offer to anyone who can show the Lunar Shabbat is false! (Yes, they make this reward offer, see above).
The Real Deal
Truth be had, in the analysis above, I only agreed to go along with the assumption that all the events of Exodus 16:1-8 took place the same day the people arrived in the Seen Desert (on the 15th), as do the Lunar Sabbatarians, to make the point that the 17th was the earliest possible date on which the manna could have fallen, not the 16th. You CANNOT have Moshe and Aharon telling the people that “TOMORROW MORNING you will see the GLORY OF ADONAI” and the ADONAI Himself arriving the next morning to say “TOMORROW you will have bread” and the manna fall any earlier than the 17th! Therefore the neither the 15th nor the 22nd were Shabbats! QED. I’ll take my $10,000!
The more reasonable timeline:
(The Lunar Shabbat has been disproven but if you are still interested in this, the following provides a more reasonable timeline of Exodus 16.)
In reality, a much more reasonable timetable is in order and can be defended! This timetable is one which not only fits Scripture amazingly well, but also fits with history! By examining the events of Exodus 16, and applying reasonable estimates for the passing of time between Exodus 16 verse 1 and verse 13, I was in for an amazing discovery!
Let’s look at this more reasonable timeline:
Please follow along carefully as I refer again to the verses in Exodus 16.
In this chapter of Exodus, we find the entire populous of the exiles, Moshe plus 600,000 men; plus the women and children, plus a “mixed multitude” – a total number of about 2,000,000 - arrive at the Seen Desert on the “15th of the 2nd month” after leaving Egypt. Now, remember, the 15th of the month, any month, in the Lunar Shabbatarian calendar, is ALWAYS a Shabbat!
In verse 1, we are told “…the whole community of the people of Isra'el arrived at the Seen Desert, between Eilim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after leaving the land of Egypt.”
What we know so far: The date is the 15th of the second month.
Verse 2: “There in the desert the whole community of the people of Isra'el grumbled against Moshe and Aharon.”
Let’s think about this a minute. How much time has passed between verse 1 and verse 2? The Scripture certainly does not tell us! It most certainly could be 1 day, 2 days, or several days! But we can make a very sound and reasonable estimate!
We know from Exodus 12:37-38, the total number of people we are considering here is something like 2 million! We know they were on foot – Scripture says so! - so let's say they traveled, five families abreast, and that they could all walk briskly, 3 miles an hour. (Four miles per hour is a very fast pace, considerably faster than a normal walking speed, so 3 miles per hour is a more reasonable, yet “brisk” pace to use in our estimate.) Further, let's say the families are clustered together, rows of families 10 feet apart. So we have a line, 5 families wide, 120,000 families long, which stretches 227 miles! (Do the math!)
At a brisk 3 miles per hour, when they stop for camp, the last row of families arrive at the camp a full 3 days after the first! So when we read in Exodus 16:1, that "the whole community of people arrived at the Seen Desert on the 15th", we must allow for a considerable range for the arrival of the entire community. It makes sense in verse 1 to say the “people arrived”, based on the date when the first of them arrived, (i.e. the 15th), but we simply must allow time for all the others to arrive. So Exodus 16:1 is really saying the people arrived on the 15th, and they trickled in likely over the next 3 days to set up camp. Even if the LS argues that they arrived as the “15th dawned”, meaning they arrived on or before sunset the 14th, the entire population needs 2-3 days to arrive and make camp! Drawing this conclusion in no way “adds to or subtracts from Scripture” as we are forbidden to do in both the Tanach (Old Testament) and the Brit Chadasha (New Testament)!
What we know so far: Camp is made in the Seen Desert probably between the 15th and 17th. You see, it is entirely reasonable that when the “whole community of the people of Isra'el arrived... on the fifteenth day of the second month”, it still fits with Scripture that it is a period of about the 15th to the 17th and it is during this time, they make camp.
Now when we read verse 2 & 3 about the “grumbling” from the unhappy, hungry campers, we can very strongly argue that it not only took time for the entire community to make camp, but also for the entire community’s grumblings to reach a “crescendo” which would finally be brought to the attention of Moshe! After all, would Moshe go to ADONAI if only a few were grumbling? Likely not. Rather, the scripture says the “whole community” grumbled. We are not out-of-line expecting this “grumbling” to take time to build to spread through the whole community.
What we know so far: Moshe is made aware of the grumbling probably sometime on the 18th or 19th after camp of 2,000,000 is established and for the people to become disgruntled.
In Verse 4, we find ADONAI talking to Moshe and Moshe receiving instructions. Now Moshe does not simply stand there, in the middle of camp, talking to ADONAI! It is reasonable to expect that Moshe must head out, usually to a high place, but far away from the 2 million. So it takes time for Moshe to go and talk to ADONAI. Let’s reasonably allow a day.
What we know so far: Moshe goes to talk to ADONAI, probably no earlier than the 20th of the month.
In verse 6-7, Moshe has now returned from talking with ADONAI, has clearly conferred with Aharon, and look carefully what Moshe and Aharon tell the people: “…and in the morning, you will see ADONAI's glory.”
(Note: In studying verses 6-10, it is a bit difficult to follow how this is all happening. In verse 6 it sounds as though Moshe and Aharon are already addressing the crowd, but it is more likely that Moshe is talking to Aharon giving Aharon instructions, and some information is being given to the people as well. Ultimately, Moshe clearly advises Aharon to assemble the people (verse 9), and clearly the only possible interpretation is that the people are addressed at least twice – once before the evening of one day (verse 6) and once the next morning (verse 10)).
What we know so far: Moshe has talked to ADONAI and returned and both he and Aharon have told the people that TOMORROW morning they would SEE ADONAI’s GLORY. (This is what “in the morning” means. “Tomorrow” will therefore be the 21st.)
In verses 8-9, the sequence of events is a bit hard to follow because where it says “Moshe added” it sounds like Moshe is already talking to the people, but Moshe is only giving Aharon more instructions on what he, Aharon, will be telling the people about the next day when Aharon is to assemble the people.
In verse 10 we find: “As Aharon spoke to the whole community of the people of Isra'el, they looked toward the desert; and there before them the glory of ADONAI appeared in the cloud.”
What we know so far: Here from verse 10, we know we are now in the next morning that Moshe spoke about in verse 7! Here the GLORY OF ADONAI is seen just as Moshe had said would happen! It is morning, Aharon has assembled the people, per Moshe’s instructions (verse 9) the night before. Verse 9 was on the 20th, they told the people that “in the morning” (verse 7) they would see ADONAI’s glory. Now it is the morning of the 21st and ADONAI appears to the whole community in a cloud.
Now in verse 11, ADONAI, present in the cloud, gives instructions to Moshe. ADONAI says for Moshe to relay to the people that at dusk (that same day) they will be eating meat, and that IN THE MORNING (i.e., the next morning), they would have bread.
In verse 13, we find: “That evening, quails came up and covered the camp; while in the morning there was a layer of dew all around the camp.”
What we know so far: The glory of ADONAI appeared just as Moshe said, and ADONAI arrives in a cloud that morning to tell the people that the next day they would have bread. Indeed, using these reasonable estimates of the passing of time, we have concluded that ADONAI arrives on the 21st. That evening, quails arrived and the people had their fill of meat, and the next morning, the 22nd, manna fell.
BONUS!: We have found the manna began on the 22nd, and in verses 4-5, since ADONAI Himself tells Moshe that manna would come for six consecutive days, we have identified that the 22nd was the 1st day of the week! Therefore, we know the day before, the 21st, was SHABBAT! The GLORY OF ADONAI appeared to the people on SHABBAT! How profound is that!
In verses 16-19, Moshe gives further instruction on the collection and retention of the manna.
In verse 21, we find the people gathered the manna “morning after morning”.
What we know so far: Though the number of mornings is not specified in verse 21, it is clear that several days are passing after the first day of manna, likely the remainder of the whole week.
In verse 22, we know they are gathering manna on the 6th day. Scripture says it is the 6th day! Therefore, the time span (morning after morning) referred to in verse 21, must have been a whole 5 days!
In verse 23, we see Moshe, on the last day of the week, telling the people that “tomorrow is a holy Shabbat”, while providing instructions on keeping a portion of the manna from that day’s collection for the Shabbat.
And finally, in verse 25, it is now the next day, the Shabbat, so the date, by reasonable estimate, was the 28th of the month.
Summary of the "Reasonable Timeline of Exodus 16:
- 15th = first travelers arrive at the Seen Desert to establish camp
- 16th-17th = people continued to set up camp and the gumbling began
- 18th-19th = grumbling reaches Moshe and Moshe leave camp to talk to Adonai
- 20th = Moshe talks to Adonai and returns to tell Aharon to gather the people in the morning
- 21st = this morning as promised the Glory of Adonai is witnessed, quails arrive that evening and the people are told they will be fed bread the next morning
- 22nd = first day of manna
- 23rd = second day of manna
- 24th = third day of manna
- 25th = fourth day of manna
- 26th = fifth day of manna
- 27th = sixth day of manna
- 28th = 7th day, Sabbath day, no manna
Note the Lunar Shabbat calendar expects and requires that the weekly Sabbaths are always the 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th of every month. Here it has been shown that in Exodus Chapter 16, the weekly Sabbaths were the 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th of the month.
Let's look at what we have discovered.
Making rational and reasonable estimates of the time which must elapse between the events of Exodus 16 verse 1 to verse 25, we have found that the 28th and the 21st would have been Shabbats. That means that the 14th was also a Shabbat, and therefore the 15th was NOT a Shabbat and the Lunar Shabbat theory is completely and utterly destroyed.
So I have shown that by two calculations the 15th of the month in Exodus 16 was not a Shabbat; that by both estimates, i.e., that even if all events of Exodus 16:1-8 took place in one evening, the 15th, which requires the Shabbat to be the 16th, or by a more reasonable estimate wherein reasonable times are assessed, in which the Shabbat is found to be the 14th, THE LUNAR SHABBAT theory that the the 15th of the 2nd month of the Exodus 16:1 was a Shabbat is DISPROVEN!
So either way one looks at it, using “The Reasonable Interpretation” or “The Least Time Interpretation”, the 15th of the second month found in Exodus 16 cannot be a Shabbat and the Lunar Shabbat theory is disproven. The absolute bottom line is this: Under anyone’s timeline of the events of Exodus 16:1-25, they cannot, repeat, cannot happen in the 2 days of the 15th and 16th compelling the 15th to be a Shabbat! I reiterate: the Lunar Shabbat theory is disproven! Need I say it again? THE LUNAR SHABBAT IS DISPROVEN!
Oh dear! It seems that the Lunar Sabbatarians have attempted to circumvent this proof! “Bro. Arnold Bowen”, in his on-line book, “The Lunar Sabbath Book”, says on page 13, “... Israel had come to the wilderness of sin and made camp by the beginning of the fifteenth day. When the fifteenth day arrived, Israel complained to Moses that ADONAI had brought them to the desert to die. Thus there is no basis for the claim that Israel was traveling on the 15th day.”
Let’s discuss this before we close. "Bro Bowen" is attempting to say that the entire community of Israel arrived at the Seen Desert by sunset the 14th - at which time it became the 15th. He is assuming that the entire camp had to be made by the time the sun set on the 14th because he (and most other Lunar Sabbatarians) assume no travel was done on the Sabbath. But even if “Israel had come to the wilderness of sin and made camp by the beginning of the fifteenth day”, that is, by sunset the 14th, it means that at least for the period from the evening of the 14th, through 15th and the 16th, the 2,000,000 were moving into the camp, and some would have been traveling on the 15th, which “Bro Bowen" insists is the Shabbat! Mr. Bro. Bowen then ignores reality and implies that while most of the community was still finding their way to the camp, “when the fifteenth day arrived, [the whole community of] Israel complained to Moses that ADONAI had brought them to the desert to die.”
Aside: About traveling on the Shabbat during the exodus years. It seems clear to me that since ADONAI is with them, if He moved THEY would move! After all, if ADONAI says to Moshe: "MOVE!", is Moshe going to say "But my Elohim, it is the Shabbat!" Look back at Exodus 12:51 - you find that ADONAI brought them out of Egypt. What day was that? The Exodus began on the 15th! We don't see anyone saying "Hey, it's the Shabbat, we can't travel yet!" Again, if HE moves, we move! See also Exodus 13:21-22. ADONAI led them as a cloud by day, and fire by night. So please don't assume the people would not travel on a Shabbat. Note that in the analysis given here, the 14th of the 2nd month is found to have been a Shabbat, while Exodus 16:1-2 says they had arrived at the Seen Desert on the 15th, the implication being that they were traveling on the Shabbat and did not stop to camp till the 15th (or sunset the 14th)! So? One more time: Nothing in the story of the Exodus mandates that the people would not travel on the Shabbat if ADONAI was moving the people simple moved!
So let’s say Bro. Bowen is right! Let’s go with “On the 15th the people complain”. Moshe still must go talk to ADONAI, where he learns that ADONAI Himself will come the next day to reveal His glory to the people. This still requires that ADONAI appear the NEXT morning (the 16th), and ADONAI Himself, on which is now the 16th, says that TOMORROW the manna would come! And, “tomorrow” must be the 17th! The 15th is NOT the Shabbat! Can this be any clearer???
“Bro. Bowen” plays many games with the meaning of words such as the Hebrew for “between the evenings”, but the fact is in Exodus 16:12, when ADONAI says “in the morning you will have your fill of bread, it is CLEAR that He means at SUNRISE the next morning, not “shortly after sunset” when the Hebrew day has now incremented by day count, and by anyone's determination it would have been the 17th! So all of Bro. Bowen’s arguments put together still requires the manna to be first delivered at the SUNRISE no earlier than the 17th, in which case the 16th would be the Shabbat, not the 15th, and the LUNAR SABBATH IS STILL DISPROVEN.
I repeat, I hereby claim Bro Bowen’s $10,000 reward that: “The author [Bro Bowen] offers a $10,000 reward to anyone who can pinpoint a weekly Sabbath on any other day than by the moon.”
And there is one more point to make. It is the amazing discovery I made during this analysis. Aramaic scholar Andrew Roth had determined the date of the Exodus to be March 22, 1447 BCE (using the Gregorian proleptic calendar). Mr. Roth, in his determination that the exodus happened in 1447 BCE, had no idea that I had just determined that the 15th of Iyar in the 2nd month of the exodus could not be a Shabbat! By Roth's calculations, that date, March 22nd, which was the 14th of Abib, was a Friday. We can validate that the 14th of Abib was on that Friday, by looking at the date of the preceding New Moon in March, 1447 BCE. We find that new moon was on March 8th, making Abib 1 on March 9th, a Saturday, so the 14th was indeed a Friday.
Now we can go look at the New Moon of the NEXT month, the 2nd month of the month of exodus, Exodus chapter 16! In 1447 BCE, the 2nd month of the Exodus, we find that the 1st day of that month (what is now modern Iyar) was April 7th, a Sunday. The 15th day of the 2nd month of 1447 BCE fell on a Sunday as well, and ... wait for it ... the Shabbats in the 2nd month were thus the 7th, 14th, 21st and the 28th – EXACTLY as the “The Reasonable Interpretation” of Exodus 16 presented above revealed!
So in this analysis, not only did we prove what we set out to prove, i.e., that the “Lunar Shabbat” theory to be completely bogus, but we got a bonus that validates the Exodus in the year 1447 BCE! An assessment of Exodus Chapter 16 exactly fits the actual calendar for March and April, 1447 BCE as determined by Mr. Roth!
Still not convinced? There is one more thing for you to think about. In Revelation, chapters 21 and 22, You will find that in the Kingdom of ADONAI, the sun and moon are unnecessary, as light is provided by ADONAI Himself, and there is no darkness! Nevertheless, John in Revelation tells us there are STILL both “days” and “months”!
So in the Kingdom, there is no reason to count days by the moon (or the sun), so the “Lunar Shabbat” is not even possible! So please ask yourself: If there is no reason to involve the moon in the counting of the days to each Shabbat in the Kingdom, what makes us think we should do anything differently here on earth? Instead, counting the days continuously, seven days for each week, Shabbat to Shabbat, is not only in-line with Revelation, but with Genesis as well, where ADONAI rested the 7th day, blessed the 7th day, gave the 7th day to mankind, and commanded us to keep it as a SIGN between Him and us. Never did He even so much as HINT that while on the earth, we should wait for the new moon and then count the days to the Shabbats.
You now see that the practice of the Lunar Shabbat is completely inconsistent with Scripture from the beginning to the end – Genesis to Revelation. For what was true in the beginning, and is true in the end, would surely be true in the middle where we dwell today. In ADONAI’s presence, in the Kingdom, we will observe His Shabbats with Him and we will know Shabbat by the continuous counting of seven days all the while basking in His Light.
To close: I have demonstrated there is an instance in the Bible where a Shabbat is not on the 15th of the month. A requirement for the Lunar Shabbat theory is that one of the 4 Shabbats each month is always on the 15th. A Shabbat of Exodus 16, in the 2nd month of the exodus, has been demonstrated to fall on the 14th or the 16th, but most decidedly NOT on the 15th. Indeed, the 14th is more likely given the findings that the Exodus was in 1447 BCE. Again I claim the Lunar Shabbat is disproven.
Here is the bottom line: ADONAI told us to count six days, and the Seventh would be the Sabbath. Otherwise, the following passage would not be in the Bible:
Exodus 16:16 Here is what ADONAI has ordered: each man is to gather according to his appetite - each is to take an 'omer [two quarts] per person for everyone in his tent." 17 The people of Isra'el did this. Some gathered more, some less; 18 but when they put it in an 'omer-measure, whoever had gathered much had no excess; and whoever had gathered little had no shortage; nevertheless each person had gathered according to his appetite. 19 Moshe told them, "No one is to leave any of it till morning." 20 But they didn't pay attention to Moshe, and some kept the leftovers until morning. It bred worms and rotted, which made Moshe angry at them. 21 So they gathered it morning after morning, each person according to his appetite; but as the sun grew hot, it melted.
22 On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two 'omers per person; and all the community leaders came and reported to Moshe. 23 He told them, "This is what ADONAI has said: 'Tomorrow is a holy Shabbat for ADONAI. Bake what you want to bake; boil what you want to boil; and whatever is left over, set aside and keep for the morning.'" 24 They set it aside till morning, as Moshe had ordered; and it didn't rot or have worms. 25 Moshe said, "Today, eat that; because today is a Shabbat for ADONAI - today you won't find it in the field. 26 Gather it six days, but the seventh day is the Shabbat - on that day there won't be any." 27 However, on the seventh day, some of the people went out to gather and found none. 28 ADONAI said to Moshe, "How long will you refuse to observe my mitzvot and teachings? 29 Look, ADONAI has given you the Shabbat. This is why he is providing bread for two days on the sixth day. Each of you, stay where you are; no one is to leave his place on the seventh day."
The above scripture makes it abundantly clear that something happened to the manna every day except on the sixth day: It would stink and breed worms if it was kept longer than a day! However, on the sixth day, whenever a double portion was gathered to last them through Shabbat (the Seventh Day) the manna did not spoil. On Shabbat Israel was instructed to remain in their tents and not attempt to gather manna because there would be none. Those who tried to gather on the seventh day were admonished.
The "seventh day" on the Gregorian calendar falls on Saturday and it's the same 7th day observed since at least the time of Moshe.
Originally posted Jun, 2011 revised for grammar and clarification Jan 6, 2020 and on Nov 9, 2020.