The Lunar Sabbath is a myth!
Many traditional and Messianic Jews and some Christians insist that the YHWH-commanded Seventh Day Sabbath is actually lunar - meaning that a weekly Shabbat can only occur on certain days of the Hebrew month. They suggest that the lunar portion of the Hebrew calendar is keyed to begin at the cycle of the New Moon. Author and Aramaic scholar Andrew Gabriel Roth reveals why this idea is a myth. (See also a video explanation by Andrew Gabriel Roth, courtesy, God's Learning Channel.)
If the "lunar Sabbath" idea is true, how can we reconcile this: YHWH started the Sabbath count on the first day of creation (Genesis 1:1-5); He rested on the seventh day (Genesis 2:1-3), and note, He didn't even create the moon until day four (Genesis 1:16-19)....If the moon wasn't around until the FOURTH Day, then how could the Seventh Day possibly be linked to the moon?
Genesis 2: 1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, along with everything in them. 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.
Leviticus 23: 3 "'Work is to be done on six days; but the seventh day is a Shabbat of complete rest, a holy convocation; you are not to do any kind of work; it is a Shabbat for ADONAI, even in your homes.
The SEVENTH day, according to the above, has nothing whatsoever to do with the moon!
Exodus 16: 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.
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.
This went on for forty years and it helps to disprove the lunar shabbat nonsense! Nowhere in the scriptures does YHWH ever suggest that His Seventh Day Shabbat is according to the moon cycles!
By Andrew Gabriel Roth, Copyright 2009
The order of my refutation by topic is:
- Shabbat means SEVEN.
- Shabbat is also a day of rest.
- There is more than one kind of Shabbat.
- Shabbat is eternal.
- The truth about who changed the Shabbat is a dirty secret in the West.
- "But we Gentiles are now grafted into Israel!"
- "Six Days Shall You Work!"
- Genesis 1:14-19 says the sun and the moon do not mark the week!
- Tanakh disproves Lunar Shabbat.
- Y'shua himself disproves Lunar Shabbat.
- The Christian Experience in trying to change Shabbat proves why the Lunar System
could not be the original one in Scripture.
With those thoughts in mind, let us proceed to the introduction of a previous article I
wrote on the subject....
Introduction: What About the Lunar Shabbat?
In recent years, much debate has surfaced in the Nazarene-Messianic community, as well
as certain Christian groups, about how we are to mark the weekly Sabbath. Is it a fixed
appointment that has remained intact every seventh day from creation itself, or is it ruled
by the cycles of the moon, as some others contend? If the latter, is it then true that more
than seven days can occur between Sabbaths? If the former, how do we wade through
mountains of scriptural information that sometimes seems ambiguous or contradictory at
The issue is no small one I can assure you, as just breaking the data down on the whole
Saturday vs. Sunday issue takes a fair amount of time. Fortunately however much of this
foundational material I have already made available in the Path to Life essay on my website. In the key section "The 18 Most Misunderstood New
Testament Terms" #18 is in fact the Sabbath so let's start there with its relationship to the
Christian world view and then we can work our way slowly to the "advanced class" of
absolute versus lunar reckoning of the sacred week.
And so, with these thoughts in mind, let us break this topic down, one concept at a time.
1) "Shabbat" means "seven":
The first misconception that we need to tackle is the idea that any day of the week will serve as a "Shabbat" if we seek "God" with all our hearts. Therefore, the Christians say,
since we pray on Sunday, this is all we need to do to please YHWH. Scripture, though,
paints a different picture:
On the seventh (shebayee) day Elohim finished the work that He had been doing, and He ceased on the seventh (shebayee) day and declared it holy,
because on it Elohim ceased from all the work of creation He had done. (Genesis 2:2-3)
So what we see here is that "Shabbat" is derived from shebayee or "seven", and the "seventh day" simply becomes a title. Therefore, we should accept no substitutes.
However, it is fair to look at how certain passages in B'rit Chadashah have been alleged
to say otherwise, such as this one:
Therefore, let no one judge you by what you eat or what you drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day--these things are a shadow of things to come--but the body is of Messiah. (Colossians 2:16-17
This is perhaps the most mistranslated passage in the New Testament on the Greek side.
The KJV reading has the phrase "but the body is of Christ" and the words the and is have
italics because they are not found in the Greek but is maliciously inserted by the
translators to change the meaning of the text.
The Aramaic can be read either as "but (by) the body of Messiah" meaning "except by the
assembly of believers in Messiah" or "these things are shadows of things to come (such
as) the body of Messiah", which would put the judgment directly in Messiah's hands.
Either way, the idea is that pagans should not judge Torah observant believers in how
they apply their keeping of the feasts in relation to their beliefs in Y'shua.
It has never been intended to mean, as Christianity alleges, that the Feasts and Sabbath are not required. In fact the phrase "shadows of things to come" clearly means that the
Torah observant Messianics continue in their ways until Messiah returns, at which time
we are also told that sacrifices will be reinstated in the New Temple and kosher laws will
still apply, (Isaiah 66:17-24).
Here's another one, and this time I will also use the footnote given by the translator,
And on the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to depart the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight. (Acts 20:7 (NASB))
20:7: on the first day of the week.
This became the regular day of worship for Christians in remembrance of Christ's
resurrection on Sunday. (The Ryrie Study Bible, p. 246)
This is my favorite, really, because it is so delicious in the way Ryrie ignores--or at the very least greatly simplifies--the facts of history. As we will see shortly, the process of
Sunday "becoming the regular day of worship" is a little vague here. The reason for that
ambiguity is simple however, because that evolution had nothing to do with the Bible or
the apostles, but took another three hundred years to develop. For now though, let us stay
focused on what we do know about this passage and the people involved in the "Sunday
service". First of all we know they were Jews, since Acts 20:6 clearly says that Rav Shaul
and his entourage sailed after the Feast of Passover. If they are marking time then based
on Jewish holidays, I think it is a pretty safe bet they are also observing Shabbat,
especially when we see references like these:
And going on from Perga, they arrived in Pisdian Antioch, and on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. And after the reading of the
Torah and the Prophets, the synagogue officials said to them, "Brothers, if you
have any word of exhortation for the people, say it." (Acts 13:14-15)
And as Paul and Barnabbas were going out, the people kept begging them that these things might be spoken to them the next Sabbath. Now when the meeting of
the synagogue had broken up, many of the Jews of the Elohim-fearing proselytes
followed Paul and Barnabbas, who, speaking to them, were urging them to
continue in the grace of Elohim. And the next Sabbath, nearly the whole city
assembled to hear the word of Elohim. (Acts 13:42-44)
And on the Sabbath day, we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began
speaking to the women who had assembled. (Acts 16:12)
And he (Paul) was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath, and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. (Acts 18:4)
The other thing to keep in mind is, by our western reckoning, the timing of the breaking of bread was not even on Sunday! It is only by sloppily reading Acts 20:7 that it appears
to be Sunday. The question is though, how can this be when the text clearly says "first
day of the week"?
The answer is that it was the first day of the week by Jewish standards, with the time
being reckoned from sunset to sunset. By our western calendar reckoning though it
would not be Sunday, but late Saturday night. "Sunday" would not officially begin
until midnight, the exact time that the text tells us Paul kept talking to his people!
And so, what does that fact have to do with today's Christians getting up on the following morning and going to "church"? Absolutely nothing! Do Christians gauge their days
sunset to sunset? Of course not! Do they have an after Shabbat meal and worship for the
most part on Saturday evening? Not in the least! Therefore, there is no linkage.
Instead, what is going on is a time-honored Jewish tradition, an after Shabbat meal
called havdilah, where people literally got together to break bread (Jeremiah 16:7). The
apostles then were not instituting a new day of rest, but were simply following the
ancient traditions of their ancestors.
Funny thing though, I don't see many rabbis claiming that the breaking of bread in
Jeremiah's day replaced Shabbat worship, do you?
Let's move on then to the next alleged agent of change:
Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own Master, he stands or falls; and stand he will, for the Master is able to make him stand. One man regards
one day above another, another regards every day alike. Let each man by fully
convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Master,
and he who eats, does so for the Master, for he gives thanks to Elohim. (Romans 14:4-6)
At first glance it sure sounds like we are not supposed to judge people who don't keep a special holy day like Shabbat. You know what? That is also the case on the second and
third glance as well, but having said that, the conclusions drawn from this verse by
Christians are totally absurd.
What the verse says is that YHWH judges each of us on our observance to His Torah, as
well as our attitude behind the observance. Furthermore, there may be reasons why a
brother is or is not doing a holy day that we do not know about. For example, the
preservation of life clearly suspends Shabbat.
Therefore, if a brother is not present at Shabbat and we do not know why, it is YHWH's
job to judge that reason's validity. Similarly, another person may appear to be
worshipping properly at Shabbat but, in his heart, he is thinking about all the shopping he
has to get done before sunset, the bacon he is going to cook up later, and so on. In that
case, we do not know if YHWH has ruled against him, even though that person may
physically be in our midst! Either way, this verse does not say it is okay to not have
Shabbat at all.
Finally, the verse talks about "he who observes, does so for the Master". In this case, the Aramaic clearly is referring to "Master Y'shua" as opposed to THE LORD YHWH, and it
is a horrendous problem that the Greek text makes no distinction between "Lord" and
"LORD". The reason though this verse reads the way it does is simple:
For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded
(poqadona) me what to say and how to say it. I know that His command
(poqadona) leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told
me to say. (John 12:49-50)
He who does not love me does not keep my words (miltha); and the word (miltha) that you hear is not mine, but the Father's who sent me. (John 14:24)
The world must learn that I love the Father, and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded (poqda) me. (John 14:31)
If you keep my commandments (poqadona), you will abide in my love; just as I have kept my Father's commandments (poqadona) and abide in His love. (John 15:10)
Therefore, to do something for Y'shua, is also to do something for YHWH. And let's now
look at the last candidate Christians use to invalidate Shabbat:
And I was in the spirit on the day of our Lord, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a shofar. (Revelation 1:10)
Wait a second---is something wrong? Isn't this verse supposed to read "Lord's Day", as in the day of Y'shua's resurrection? I'm sorry for this terrible mistake. I should have labeled
this better. Here goes:
And I was in the spirit on the day of our Master YHWH, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a shofar. (Aramaic Revelation 1:10)
There. That's better isn't it? Now let's look at this issue in a little more detail.
The phrase in Revelation (b'yaoma MaranaYah) is extremely rare in the
Aramaic Bible. It appears also in Nehemiah 10:29, which having been written in Persia
shows a clear Aramaic influence. On the Hebrew side it reads YHWH Adonenu, whereas in Aramaic mar is the synonym of choice for "master" rather than adon. As
a result, the Peshitta Aramaic Tanakh translates the Hebrew phrase as MarYah Maran.
However, in the rest of the Aramaic NT excluding Revelation 1:10, the title given to
Y'shua is either "Mari" (My Master) or "Maran" (Our Master). Similarly, YHWH is
always rendered as "MarYah", or "Master Yah". Only here though do we see this
contraction, which parses out as "Our Master YHWH", which would make this passage
referring to "the day of our Master YHWH".
Now Christianity has argued that this relates to the first day of the week, with the
"Master" being Y'shua, who rose from death on Sunday. Others point out that neither
Saturday nor Sunday are directly mentioned, and this is true.
Having said that though, I would argue that there is only one day that has clearly been set aside by YHWH for His special use, and that is the Sabbath (Genesis 2:2-3, Exodus 20:8-
11). And so, in terms of the prophetic use of "Day of YHWH", we should turn to
references like Joel 1:14-15, where a sacred assembly is called, since other Scripture tells
us a shofar is blown to do this, and this is also the case in Revelation 1:10, (Exodus
19:16-19, 20:18, Leviticus 23:24).
Furthermore, the Great Feasts like Passover and Tabernacles are also considered
Sabbaths, regardless as to the day of the week they actually fall. Finally, returning to the
usage of this phrase in Nehemiah, we find a parallel reference. Even though the word for
"day" does not appear there, the context of the set-apart days, which either are Sabbaths
directly or contain Sabbaths in them, is very much evident as we read:
The rest of the people--priests, Levites, gatekeepers, singers, temple servants and all who separated themselves from the neighboring peoples for the sake of the Torah of Elohim, together with their wives and all their sons and daughters who
were able to understand--all these now join their brothers the nobles and bind
themselves with a curse and an oath to follow the Torah of Elohim given by
Moses the servant of Elohim and to obey carefully all the commands, regulations
and decrees of YHWH our Master/ YHWH Adonenu...We assume
responsibility for carrying out the commands to give a third of a shekel each year
for the service of the house of Elohim, for the bread set out on the table; for the
regular grain offerings and burnt offerings; for offerings on the Sabbath, New
Moon Festivals and appointed feasts; for the holy offerings; for the sin offerings
to make atonement for Israel; and for all the duties of the house of Elohim. (Nehemiah 10:28-29, 32-33)
Therefore, whether the "day of YHWH" is a weekly or an annual Sabbath, by virtue of
it being set-apart, it remains a convocation wherein we are not to do any regular work.
As such, it retains the essential definition of Sabbath in terms of it being a day of rest.
(See next section.)
However, considering the near ubiquitous use of the number 7 in Revelation (I count 54
times), the primary imagery in the mind of the Jewish writer is most likely inextricably
tied to the seventh day of the week, whose regulations against work happen to also extend
to the appointed times.
2) Shabbat also means a day of rest.
And so, we come to the perfect transition for our next point, Shabbat as a day of rest
defined in Scripture.
Observe the Sabbath (tbv) day to keep it holy, as YHWH your Elohim has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh
(shebayee) is a Sabbath of YHWH your Elohim. You shall not do
any work--you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your ox or
your donkey, or any of your cattle, or the stranger in your settlements, so that your
male and female slave may rest as you do. (Deuteronomy 5:12-14)
And so we see the wordplay once again between "Shabbat" and "seventh". More
fundamentally to the point, Scripture also tells us certain occasions also are "Sabbaths",
regardless of the day of the week that they fall. The reason for this injunction: You are
not supposed to work on those special days either!
These are the set times of YHWH, the sacred occasions, which you shall celebrate each at its appointed time. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight, there shall be a Passover offering to YHWH, and on the fifteenth day
of that month YHWH's Feast of Unleavened Bread. You shall eat unleavened
bread for seven days. On the first day you shall celebrate a sacred occasion; you
shall not work at your occupations. Seven days you shall make offerings by fire to
YHWH. The seventh day shall be a sacred occasion; you shall not work at your
occupations. (Leviticus 23:4-8)
On that same day (Shavuot, Pentecost) you will hold a celebration; it shall be a sacred occasion for you; you shall not work at your occupations. This is a law for all time in your settlements throughout the ages. (Leviticus 23:21)
YHWH spoke to Moses saying, "Speak to the Israelite people thus: In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe complete rest, a sacred
occasion commemorated with loud (shofar) blasts. You shall not work at your
occupations; and you shall bring an offering by fire to YHWH. YHWH spoke to
Moses saying, "Mark, the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of
Atonement. It shall be a sacred occasion for you; you shall practice self-denial,
and you shall bring an offering by fire to YHWH; you shall do no work
throughout that day. For it is a Day of Atonement, on which expiation is made on
your behalf before YHWH your Elohim. (Leviticus 23:24-29)
Now I am going to pause here for just a moment. So far, we have seen simply that days
of rest in addition to Shabbat are required as a matter Torah. However, from this place,
what we will see is that this day of rest, even if falling on another day of the week, is still
called Shabbat. Let us continue then with the rest of this passage:
Indeed, any person who does not practice self-denial throughout that day shall be cut off from his kin, and whoever does any work throughout that day, I will cause that person to perish from among his people. Do no work whatever; it is a law for
all time, throughout the ages in all your settlements. It shall be a Sabbath of complete rest for you, and you shall practice self denial; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall observe this your Sabbath. (Leviticus 23:30-32)
Finally, as if the English text is not strong enough here, the Hebrew actually doubles the emphasis with a wordplay on the same root! And so what comes out to our ears as
"Sabbath of complete rest" actually reads in Hebrew as Shabbat shabbaton.
Do you think that maybe He is trying to tell us something with that phrase?
3) There is more than one kind of Shabbat.
As a result, what we see is that there are two types of days of rest, both called
Shabbat. The first of course is the weekly variety that comes every seventh day. The
second though is equally important, as special days of worship should never be
detracted from by us having to do any kind of regular work.
4) Shabbat is eternal.
These verses also, and contrary to what Christianity teaches, tell us that Shabbat, both weekly and annually, are eternal ordinances that apply to both Jews and Gentiles living
with them. However, many Gentiles counter that, since they do not live among Jews and
do not have that lineage themselves, that these rules do not apply to them. If so however,
how do they explain this:
Do not be arrogant, but be afraid, for if Elohim did not spare the natural branches (Jews who did not follow Torah), He will not spare you either. (Romans 11:21)
Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that is done in
the body by the hands of men)--remember that at that time you were separate
from Messiah, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants
of the promise, without hope and without Elohim in the world. But now in
Messiah Y'shua, you who were far away have been brought near through the
blood of Messiah. (Ephesians 2:11-13)
So, it seems logical then to suggest the radical idea that he who joins to Israel also becomes subject to the laws of Israel, and what can that be other than the Torah?
Furthermore, there are places in Scripture where Shabbat is listed as a future
observance, a fact that is made very inconvenient for us if the Christians are right and the
institution has passed away!
For as the new heavens and the new earth which I shall make shall endure by My will, declares YHWH, so shall your seed and your name endure, and new moon
after new moon, Sabbath after Sabbath (tbv), all flesh some come and worship
me, says YHWH. (Isaiah 66:22-23)
So there remains a Sabbath rest (lemeshabato) for the people of Elohim.
Can that be the same word/root meaning both "seven" and "rest"? The evidence would
seem to suggest that Shabbat is still going to be around for a while, at least from the
perspective of both the apostle Paul and the fact that the new heavens and new earth have
not arrived just yet.
5) The truth about who changed the Shabbat is a dirty secret in the West.
So, since the Scripture never once talks about changing the Sabbath from the seventh to
the first day of the week, the question that naturally arises is, how did it get changed for
Christians? For this section, I am simply going to quote from my friend Doug Trudell and
his book "Ancient Paths: The Sabbath":
We have learned that there is nothing in the Bible to support a change from the
Biblical seventh day Sabbath to a first day Sabbath. At best we have a couple of
ambiguous verses that might somehow be construed to support a change.
However, we have seen that the overwhelming evidence in the Bible supports a
seventh day from Genesis to Revelation. Yet almost all of Christianity celebrates
the first day of the week either recognizing Sunday as Sabbath or simply
dropping the Saturday Sabbath and replacing it with Sunday worship. Churches
are empty on Saturday for the most part but bustling on Sunday. Well, some aren't
exactly bustling but they are open. How did this happen?
This chapter and the next couple of chapters are filled with quotes. I can't say
please enough times when I ask you to read each of them thoughtfully and
carefully. Believe me, they convey the message as to what happened far better
than I ever could write it in my own words. I am certain that many of you may
find some of the quotes eye opening and amazing. Some of them may actually
stun you and some may shock you. Within them you will find the answers to who,
when and why the Sabbath was changed.
It must be confessed that there is no law in the New Testament concerning the first day. (McClintock and Strong, "Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and
Ecclesiastical Literature," Vol. 9, p. 196)
Until well into the second century (a hundred years after Christ) we do not find the slightest indication in our source that Christians marked Sunday
by any kind of abstention from work. (W. Rordorf, "Sunday," p. 157)
The ancient Sabbath (7th day) did remain and was observed, by the
Christians in the Eastern Church (in the area near Palestine) above three
hundred years after our Savior's death. ("A Learned Treatise of the Sabbath," p. 77)
The Festival of Sunday, like all other festivals, was always a human ordinance, and it was far from the intentions of the apostles to establish a
Divine command in this respect, far from them, and from the early
apostolic Church, to transfer the laws of Sabbath to Sunday. (Augustus Neander, "The History of the Christian Religion and Church," 1843, p. 186)
Unquestionably the first law, either ecclesiastical or civil, by which the Sabbath observance of that day (Sunday) is known to have been ordained, is the
edict of Constantine, 321 AD. (Chamber's Encyclopedia, article, "Sabbath")
This (Constantine's Sunday decree of March, 321) is the great "parent" Sunday law marking it a day of rest and release from labor. For from that
time to the present there have been decrees about the observance of
Sunday which have profoundly influenced European and American
society. When the Church became part of the State under the Christian
emperors, Sunday observance was enforced by civil statutes, and later
when the Empire was past, the Church, in the hands of the papacy,
enforced it by ecclesiastical and also by civil enactments. (Walter W. Hyde, "Paganism to Christianity in the Roman Empire," 1946, p. 261)
Constantine labored at this time untiringly to unite the worshippers of the old and new into one religion. All his laws and contrivances are aimed at
promoting this amalgamation of religions. He would by all lawful and
peaceable means melt together a purified heathenism and a moderated
Christianity…Of all his blending and melting together of Christianity and
heathenism, none was easier to see through than this making of his Sunday
law. The Christians worshipped their Christ, the heathen their Sun-
God....(so that they should now be combined.)" (H.G. Heggtveit, "Illustreet Kirkehistorie," 1895, p. 202)
Doug Trudell, "Ancient Paths: The Sabbath", p. 66-67
And so, in closing this section, let me say that I not only agree with Doug Trudell, I also go a bit further than he does when I say that the true situation is even worse than these
quotes make it out to be. The fact is, Christian argumentation cannot even stand the test
of scrutiny when asked not to contradict its own doctrine. Just follow along with me for a
moment, and I think you will see what I am talking about. The idea of Sunday worship as
a legitimate Biblical development is based on this argument:
- Y'shua rose from the dead on Sunday.
- The apostles met to break bread (perhaps have a broiled fish) also on Sunday.
- The "Lord's Day" is meant to commemorate each Sunday, in honor of these events.
- We are also not to judge someone in which day they esteem.
- Therefore, all Christians should worship on Sunday.
Now each of these statements, except for the last one, has been discredited. Nevertheless, I am willing to take Christians at their word. We will suppose, just for the sake of
argument now, that it is perfectly fine to transfer the Sabbath to the first day of the week.
Now the whole Gentile world can go to Church on Sunday without guilt, okay?
Not quite, because here is the one place where "Replacement Theology" bites Gentiles on
the behind! Let's go further then and see why:
6) "But we Gentiles are now grafted in to Israel."
In a word: OOPS! See the huge error that remains even then? No? Well, the problem is
this: The Gentiles are still supposed to keep a Shabbat, so if they are right that Sunday is
the day to do this, then they still have to rest! Now, if you are a Gentile Christian and are
reading this, ask yourself honestly, do you really rest on Church-day or do you rush back
to the office to get a handle on Monday's challenges? Do you abstain from transacting
business, or do you run to the supermarket, dash home and then fry up some back bacon
before the big game? How about this: Do you even engage in business on your Sabbath
day in church? How are those bingo games and bake sales going, my friend? Is the
DVD player you won in the raffle working out for you? Did you get enough money on
the Sabbath day to spread your ideas around the world through missionaries replete with
your same sense of "wisdom"? If Sunday is your Sabbath, then why in the world don't
you use it as such? And please, whatever you say, don't blame the Holy Spirit, because
that could be major trouble for you (Mark 3:29)!
Having dispensed then with the lie of first day Shabbat observance as valid, we now
come to the first section that begins to deal with WHICH seventh day is the real one:
7) The Mechanics of the Heresy:
So what is Lunar Shabbat exactly? Well, put simply, Lunar Shabbat is the belief that a
weekly Shabbat can only occur on certain days of the Hebrew month. The lunar portion
of the Hebrew calendar is keyed, for example, to begin at the cycle of the New Moon. In
Jewish tradition this is called Rosh Chodesh, or "head of the month", and even in English
this linkage exists as "month" comes from "moon".
And so, to make each Hebrew month begin with a New Moon, each unit has to be either
29 or 30 days long. However, since the lunar year is only 354 days, it is necessary to
synchronize the months to the solar cycle to keep Spring and Fall Festivals occurring at
their intended times. While the Rabbinic versus Karaite calendar issues are beyond the
scope of this essay however, I will go on the record as saying that the current Jewish
calendar, following ancient Middle Eastern customs in places like Babylon, uses
intercalculary months as a direct interpretation of Genesis 1:14, which says:
And Elohim said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and
As the passage continues, these two lights are revealed to be the sun and the moon, and
we will be returning to another aspect of this very line shortly. For now, let me just say
that the key point here is the BOTH the sun AND the moon are used to mark the
seasons, days and--most critically--the years! That means we MUST somehow reconcile
between the lunar and solar systems or this key commandment is not done. We can argue
for years as to how to do this, but the fact that we have to do it somehow cannot be
denied. At the end of the yom the biblical year has the lunar yield to the solar. How that
happened though in biblical times has been a mystery--until now--but that is a topic to get
into further down the line.
But, of course, Lunar Shabbat proponents ignore the fact that both the sun and the
moon mark time together, pointing instead to places in the Psalms where the moon is
called a faithful witness and so on. But again, it's just a witness, not a judge!
Continuing though, these same advocates go further and point to verses of Scripture that
list the day of the month a given Shabbat occurs. The result of their study is that they
claim a Shabbat can only happen on the 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd or 29th of the month. If then
a "Shabbat" occurs at a certain juncture, these folks claim it is possible to have eight or
even nine days pass between the "weekly" occasions!
Now, if we go through Tanakh, it is true, every Shabbat with a date falls on one of
these days. But, if that seems airtight for their viewpoint then the opposite must also be
true. What I mean is, if I can then show absolute proof of a biblical Shabbat NOT
occurring on one of these days, that situation would invalidate the whole system. But
wait, I just said the Tanakh put all Sabbaths under the lunar-proposed dates so how does
The answer, as we will see later, comes from the Aramaic New Testament.
For now, let me make this observation. The significance of Genesis 1:14-19 is two
fold: First, it tells us clearly that BOTH the sun AND the moon mark time generally
speaking. Job 38:31-34 tells us clearly also that YHWH has set the rules of heavens
above the earth and Revelation tells us of the lady who has the sun in her crown and
the moon at her feet, meaning the sun rules over the moon. This idea is also supported
in Ecclesiastes where judgment is UNDER THE SUN, not under the moon and in
Hebrew judgment and power are expressed in the same word.
The second key point in Genesis 1:14-19 has to do with what is MISSING. The text
says the sun and the moon mark SIGNS, SEASONS, DAYS AND YEARS, IN THAT
ORDER. Where is the WEEK listed? It is NOWHERE! Why? We will see....
7) "Six Days Shall You Work"
As I mentioned earlier, sometimes in the Lunar Shabbat system more than seven days can
pass in a "week". However, this idea is directly contradicted in Scripture:
Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people. For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to
YHWH. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death. The
Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as
a lasting covenant. It ill be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days YHWH made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he
abstained from work and rested.'" When YHWH finished speaking to Moses on
Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the Testimony, the tablets of stone
inscribed by the finger of Elohim. (Exodus 31:14-18)
There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a
Sabbath to YHWH. (Leviticus 23:3)
And so, we see Torah clearly stating that there are always 6 days of work to one day of
rest, mirroring the creative and resting periods of YHWH Himself.
8) Genesis 1:14-19 says the sun and the moon does NOT mark the week!
Returning once again to Genesis 1:14, both the sun and the moon once again are
supposed to mark "seasons, days and years"--but the week is nowhere mentioned for
either of them! The reasons for this reading then are obvious. The day is marked by the
rising and setting of both the sun and the moon. The "seasons" are marked by the month
beginning with the new moon, as we mentioned before, because it is from the New Moon
that we also reckon the days of the festivals, such as Passover on 14 Nisan, which must
be a full moon. The "years" are actually marked by the sun however, but that is a topic
for later. Suffice to say for now that the lunar year ends up bowing down to the solar
year, having the sun bring it into synchronization for the start of the year.
So where is the week in all this? The answer is that the week is an absolute cycle, meaning it again references the six days of creation and the one day that YHWH rested.
It is then literally above the lunar calculation, an absolute rendering from the beginning
of time until now that has not lost a single day.
But if we think about it deeply it makes more sense, in that no month or year ends with
the exact amount of weeks completed. There is always a remainder. Here’s what I
mean. Let’s say this year ends on a Tuesday and the next must begin on a Wednesday.
When the year recycles, we do NOT start counting towards Shabbat from zero. We
RESUME count from the third day until Friday night. That is what YHWH did and
what He commanded us to do.
We must also bear in mind that YHWH did NOT count from when the sun and moon
were created but when He began creation itself. The sun and the moon are not made
until day FOUR, so why isn’t the third day from the sun and moon’s creation honored
as Shabbat? Furthermore, as you know, this cessation of work on the
SEVENTH/SHABBAT day is the reason YHWH told us to ALSO rest every seventh
day, so obviously we must count the way YHWH did, INDEPENDENTLY FROM THE
SUN AND MOON AND FROM ABSOLUTE COUNT SINCE CREATION DAY ONE.
Again Exodus 31 says:
Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his
people. For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest,
holy to YHWH. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to
death. The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the
generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between me and the
Israelites forever, for in six days YHWH made the heavens and the earth, and
on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested.
9) Tanakh disproves Lunar Shabbat
Again, going from the main Lunar Shabbat argument, it most certainly does seem like a
ton of Shabbats with their days recorded happen on the 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th days of
the month. But, does that mean all such Shabbats do? Even if all recorded instances fit
the Lunar Shabbat model, we must bear in mind that we are dealing with a few dozen
recorded instances over a 3,000+ year period, so extrapolating those few times in an area
like biblical chronology that is open to much speculation is simplistic at best and leads to
error in the worst case scenario.
It is for these reasons stated then that I have sought to find one example of the LS system being flawed which will put the entire structure in jeopardy and the reality is I have found
two, one in each part of the Bible. Let’s start with the first one.
The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after
they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against
Moses and Aaron.-Exodus 16:1-2 (NIV)
For the moment, let’s just start with the day given by Scripture, the 15th day of the second month, now called Iyar. This month, like all in the Hebrew system, is measured from
New Moon to New Moon, but it is important to point out that we are commanded to
schedule rituals when the New Moon is as opposed to when it may be sighted. That
difference, as modern astronomy has proved time and time again, can fluctuate as much
as 24 hours, but I think it’s safe to say YHWH our Creator knows when the moon is
really new. Whether we see it at that moment, or if the sky is too cloudy, is why we need
both counting and observational systems to ensure we worship on time.
The lunar cycle, or Synodic as it is now called, runs 29 days, 12 hours and about 8
minutes. As a result, the months must alternate always between 29 and 30 days. With
Abib/Nisan being 30 days, Iyar must be 29 and so on. Without getting into massive
detail however, the bottom line is I accept the idea that the month is governed by the New
Moon to New Moon cycle, but I contend that the week never was under that cycle
because, as I said, Shabbat is an absolute count from beginning to the end of Creation,
initiated before our sun and moon were created. Let’s continue though with the
Then YHWH said to Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will
test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they
are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather
on the other days." (Exodus 12:45 (NIV))
So we see a double portion on the sixth day to make up for no portion on the next,
seventh day, Shabbat. No indication of the period being longer than six days between
Shabbats. The question is, was there ever a time when we could reconstruct the calendar
and prove the Shabbat happened on non-LS days? Let’s take a look:
On the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, while camped at Gilgal on
the plains of Jericho, the Israelites celebrated the Passover. The day after the
Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened
bread and roasted grain. The manna stopped the day after they ate this food
from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they
ate of the produce of Canaan.-Joshua 5:10-12 (NIV)
Let’s break this clear chronology down:
- Passover-14th of Nisan.
- The day after Passover, or first day of Feast of Unleavened Bread-15th of
- The day after that, the 16th, the manna stops.
Now, when is the only day the manna stops? Again we are told:
On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much--two omers for each person--and
the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. He said to them,
"This is what the YHWH commanded: 'Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy
Sabbath to YHWH....' Eat it today," Moses said, "because today is a Sabbath
to YHWH. You will not find any of it on the ground today.
Exodus 16:22-23, 25 (NIV)
So the only day that the manna does not fall is after the double portion that falls on the sixth day.
But, as we just saw with Joshua 5:10-12 the manna stopped on the 16th day of the
month. That means the 16th is a Shabbat and that also means a Shabbat has happened
on a day other than the 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd or 29th day!
[Editor's note: It has been pointed out that in Joshua 5:10-12 says nothing of whether manna fell on either the 15th or the 16th days of that month. This is an absolutely valid point. But it is also valid that the man began on the morning after a Shabbat (see Exodus 16:8-12), did not fall on a Shabbat (Exodus 16:26), and that this weekly process continued for 40 years (Exodus 16:35). We also find that when the Israelis began the exodus, when Yahweh described to Moshe what became Pesach, Moshe said (Exodus 13:3): "Remember this day, on which you left Egypt, the abode of slavery; because ADONAI, by the strength of his hand, has brought you out of this place. Do not eat hametz. 4 You are leaving today, in the month of Aviv. 5 When ADONAI brings you into the land of the Kena'ani, Hitti, Emori, Hivi and Y'vusi, which he swore to your ancestors to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, you are to observe this ceremony in this month. 6 For seven days you are to eat matzah, and the seventh day is to be a festival for ADONAI. 7 Matzah is to be eaten throughout the seven days; neither hametz nor leavening agents are to be seen with you throughout your territory."
Now, recognizing that the descendants of the children of Israel, i.e, the descendants of those who were participants in the exodus, were the ones now poised to enter into the promised land, this Pesach of Joshua 5, was a special Pesach, for in Exodus 12, verse 25 Yahweh says "When you come to the land which ADONAI will give you, as he has promised, you are to observe this ceremony". Therefore this day, this special Pesach, the people of Israel were fulfilling this very commandment to Moshe, 40 years earlier - they were the ones fulfilling Exodus 12:25. So it should come as no surprise in Joshua 5, verse 11-12, that they chose the grain of the promised land to make their matzah, and did not use the manna which, no doubt, had been provided that day of Pesach and the morning after. Therefore, in Joshua 5, verse 12, when scripture tells us the man ended, it should come as no surprise that that morning, i.e., the 2nd day after Pesach, the very day the man ended, would have been a Shabbat.]
10) Y'shua himself disproves Lunar Shabbat!
The vast majority of Biblical scholars now agree that Y'shua ("Jesus") was a native
Aramaic speaker who could also speak Hebrew in synagogue and perhaps knew a little
Greek to get by in business. Furthermore, regardless as to the level of Greek fluency
amongst first century Jews, their Torah scrolls have always been in Hebrew. There is a
difference between secular fluency and sacred choice for language.
Josephus describes how not many of his countrymen encouraged Greek learning
(Antiquities 20.9.11) and this sentiment in echoes 200 years later in the Talmud with the
saying, "Better to feed your son swine flesh than have him learn Greek wisdom." In this
same time period, the rabbis instituted a fast day to mourn the time of the Septuagint’s
creation. There is a lot more documentation that can be offered on this, but I am
summarizing for sake of speed and to keep this essay to a manageable length.
Furthermore, 75% of the Gospels contain ORAL TEACHINGS of Y'shua that almost
everyone agrees had to be delivered in Aramaic. The Aramaic words that survive even in
the Greek NT prove this. Talitha qumi (Mark 5:41) is Aramaic and not Hebrew. Same
can be said of other words like Epatha, Corban, and so on. I have a much more detailed
list of these, along with grammatical peculiarities in the Gospels that only make sense in
Aramaic. Again, this is a summary only.
It should come as no surprise then that an ancient Aramaic version of the NT (from which I can show the Greek has been consistently translated) is at least as old if not older in many cases than the Greek that got the meanings wrong. For example, Matt 26:6-7 says a
leper had a dinner party that Jews attended. It’s not that he used to be a leper and was
cured and had that dinner. If he was cured, he would not allow others to call him a leper
because then he couldn’t make a living in Israel. Instead, cured lepers are pronounced
clean by the priests and lepers themselves can’t own property or come into contact with
Jews (Lev 13:45-46). The reason for the confusion is that in Aramaic-and only in
Aramaic - the words for leper and jar maker are spelled the same, but pronounced
differently (ancient Aramaic had no full vowels). Only from a WRITTEN version where
the difference was NOT SPOKEN could the Greek get this wrong, and since the Greek
goes to the 2nd century, the Aramaic must be older, and this is proved also in statements
by the Church Fathers. This is but ONE example; there are hundreds.
For now, my main point is this: Y'shua himself disproved lunar shabbat, and this is
easily demonstrated from his own native dialect of Aramaic!
[Editor's note: In John 7 we find Yeshua teaching in the Temple in the middle of Sukkot. In verse 14 we learn the festival was half way through when He went to the temple to teach. In verse 21, Yeshua makes reference to a miracle He had just done, and in verse 23 we find Yeshua admitting that He had just done this miracle on the Shabbat.]
In John 7:21, Y'shua says, "I did one miracle and you are all astonished." The word for
"do/perform" in Greek is poeio, and it is in Active Participial form. The Aramaic
equivalent is also in Active Participial form. On the Aramaic side, which is admittedly
much more rigid than the Greek but the Greek doesn’t contradict it, Active Participial
means "an event in the immediate past that unfolds into the present." That is my
definition, but any good Syriac Grammar like Thackston’s will bear this out. You can
also find out more on Peshitta.org.
What that means is this: The miracle, by direct mention, happened on Shabbat, and that Shabbat was the FOURTH DAY OF TABERNACLES - 19th of Tishri. A Shabbat on
the 19th day of the month disproves Lunar Shabbat, which must happen on the 1st, 8th,
15th, 22nd and 29th days. This one instance, from Y'shua’s own mouth, puts "their" entire
theory in jeopardy!
More proof of this is found here:
A Critical Note on the Aramaic Indefinite Plural of the Verb , James G.
Williams Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 83, No. 2 (Jun., 1964), pp. 180-182
(article consists of 3 pages), Published by: The Society of Biblical Literature
Please note that every Aramaic instance of Active Participial they give from the Aramaic portions of Tanakh fits my description of an event in the immediate past unfolding in to
the present: Daniel 2:18, 30; 4:22, 28, conf. in 30; 5:29; 6:17; 7:13; Ezra 6:1.
Edward Lipinski in his work, Semitic Languages: Outline of Comparative Grammar, p. 433 says:
"To express present" the present tense in (Biblical) Hebrew used the active
participial in the normative clause, e.g., "the ark, Israel and Judah are
abiding in booths (2 Sam 11:11)."
This means they had just started abiding in booths (past) with the start of Sukkot
and were STILL in booths, the two parts are in the same event (again Sukkot). The
same is true of Y'shua’s Aramaic.
Please also see how this relates within the same cycle. The note properly points out:
The Hebrew text has a perfect verbal form, but it should probably be amended to
the participial form, which occurs in the last line of the verse. Note as well the
use of participles in vv. 4-7 to describe what typically takes place in the natural
world. The participle (zoreakh, "to rise") emphasizes continual, durative,
uninterrupted action (present universal use of participle): the sun is continually
rising (and continually setting) day after day.
In this case, the cycle in question is the Shabbat since the start of Tabernacles, therefore "performed" takes place in that confined circumstance and not prior to the start of that
feast! Therefore, there can be no doubt, either to the Hebrew speakers present or
Aramaic speakers like Y'shua, that the Shabbat is rooted in the time stated: the fourth
day of the Feast, 19 Tishri.
11) The Christian Experience in trying to change Shabbat proves why the Lunar
System could not be the original one in Scripture.
This point requires a brief review of Section 5, on how Constantine changed the Shabbat
for worshippers in his empire to Sunday. If Constantine changed it TO SUNDAY, then it
means it wasn’t Sunday originally, not even in apostolic times.
Now when Constantine did this, Roman records admit there were thousands of people put
to the sword or excommunicated from the Church because their Shabbat was changed.
Persecutions and/or pogroms continued long after Constantine’s time and many
Easterners fled to the Persian Empire as a result. For more on this please see Dr. Asahel
Grant’s book "The Nestorians or Lost Tribes", which can be obtained for free.
Here is my main point: If there were Christians who opposed Constantine
when he tried to change the Shabbat to Sunday in 321 CE as the record says, where is
there any record of the Jews who protested the changing of "original" Lunar Shabbat
to the Seventh Day of the Week?
The Talmud, which records arguments on every possible point of Tanakh, is silent on this issue. So is the archaeological record. Furthermore, if Christianity is right, where
are their arguments on this matter, i.e. that the Jews themselves don’t even agree on
when Shabbat is, so why bother us? Wouldn’t they have USED that argument if it was
The fact is, there is no way, if the Lunar Shabbat was original and Scriptural, that the early Jews would have accepted the current "rabbinic" Seventh day Shabbat without
SOME ARGUMENTATION appearing SOMEWHERE, as it did in the case of the
Eastern Christian church fighting Constantine. Instead, there is not a whisper in either Talmud of this ever being a controversy.
Here is the bottom line: YHWH 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 so, in closing, it must be reiterated that the Shabbat always has meant the seventh day of the week and is the only day of the week with a proper name. YHWH
blessed this day and ordered us to observe it as He did, counting from DAY ONE of
creation to its end. Since the sun and the moon were made day FOUR, they cannot be
used to track the week and Genesis 1:14-19 excludes the week for this reason. We even
keep counting to the next Shabbat when the years change, proving Shabbat is OUTSIDE
of the year tracked by the sun and the moon.
There is no question that many Shabbats mentioned in Tanakh happen on the 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th days of the month. But that means it only takes ONE time for a Shabbat to
happen on another day to disprove this theory, which Joshua 5:10-12 and John 7:21
clearly do. Finally, there is no mention in any historical record, Jewish or Christian, of
the Lunar Shabbat being changed and creating arguments among the "original" adherents.
But we have plenty of evidence that when the Gentile Church thought they could change
Shabbat many protested. Therefore, there is no way Lunar Shabbat could have been
anciently supported and then abandoned without a whisper of controversy. All other
references must be put in this proper historical context, or it simply will not
match the facts.