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How Do We Know When to Start the Year?

Updated: Dec 25, 2021

What does Scripture teach us about when to start the year and set all of the appointed times High days or Moedim?

As we will see, scripture teaches us that the beginning of the year has always been determined by examining the signs in the land. Almighty Father Yahweh shows us when the year starts.

The primary sign, is the state of the barley crop as the 12th month comes to an end. We look to see if the barley crop, which is planted before the last winter, lays dormant over winter and then sprouts at the beginning of the year to produce a crop.

In Exodus 12:2 Yahweh tells us that the first month of the year is Abib; אביב

We know that in the seventh plague the barley crop in Egypt was destroyed because it was Abib, or in a state that was close to ripening. Exodus 9:31. The Brown-Driver-Briggs Dictionary definition: 1) fresh, young barley ears, barley 2) month of ear-forming, of greening of crop, of growing green Abib, month of exodus and Passover (March or April).

Our examination of the barley is to determine if it is sufficiently mature to be able to prepare the grain offering of Leviticus 23:13 (2/10 ephah of fine flour) at least 15 days in the future. If the barley is sufficiently mature, or in a state of Abib we begin the year at the sighting of the new moon. If it is not, we intercalate a 13th month and begin the year at that time. Anciently, this determination was made by the Levitical priesthood. Today, we don't have a physical temple, most of us don't grow barley, we don't have a Levitical priesthood, so is this really that important?

It is important, because Yahweh doesn't have an ala carte menu of when to keep his appointed times. Just as we can't on our own determine which day is the Sabbath, we must follow the scriptures to determine His appointed times - His Moedim. These days are Kadosh - Holy, not because of what we do but because YAHWEH's presence is in them.

All of the Moedim, in fact the entire calendar of the year, is set in place by the determination of Abib barley.

Some would say, we're not farmers anymore and wouldn't it just be easier to use the equinox to determine the start of the year, that way we could have a predictable calendar? Or what will we do if we can't go and look for the barley? The simple answer is that's not what the Scriptures teach us. The deeper answer is we would miss the powerful spiritual lessons Almighty Yahweh gives us with this agricultural metaphor He uses with the Harvest cycles:

The agricultural harvest seasons in Israel are a metaphor for the spiritual harvests Almighty Yahweh is preparing for the future. The Moedim help us to see that. Israel has, even now, two harvest seasons. The first early harvest begins just after the end of winter (the latter rains) with the harvest of barley, which is a relatively small crop and then the wheat harvest comes and is completed during the summer. The latter harvest comes before winter begins, which is the grapes and figs and tree fruits - a much bigger harvest.

Let's look at the harvest in scripture. Each of these scriptures use agricultural harvest as a spiritual metaphor for the harvest of people into the Kingdom of Yahweh.

Mat 9:37-38 “Then He said to His taught ones, “The harvest truly is great, but the workers are few. (38) “Pray then that the Master of the harvest would send out workers to His harvest.”

Matt 13:36-40 “Then, having sent the crowds away, יהושע went into the house. And His taught ones came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the darnel of the field.” (37) And He answering, said to them, “He who is sowing the good seed is the Son of Adam, (38) and the field is the world. And the good seed, these are the sons of the reign, but the darnel are the sons of the wicked one, (39) and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. And the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the messengers. (40) “As the darnel, then, is gathered and burned in the fire, so it shall be at the end of this age.”

Mark 4:26-29 “And He said, “The reign of Elohim is as when a man scatters seed on the ground, (27) then sleeps by night and rises by day, while the seed sprouts and grows, he himself does not know how. (28) “For the soil yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the completed grain in the head. (29) “And when the crop is ready, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

Luke 10:2“Then He said to them, “The harvest indeed is great, but the workers are few, therefore pray the Master of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

John 4:35-38 “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months, and the harvest comes’? See, I say to you, lift up your eyes and see the fields, for they are white for harvest – already! (36) “He who is reaping receives a reward, and gathers fruit for everlasting life, so that both he who is sowing and he who is reaping rejoice together. (37) “For in this the word is true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ (38) “I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”

Rev 14:15“And another messenger came out of the Dwelling Place, crying with a loud voice to the One sitting on the cloud, “Send Your sickle and reap, because the hour has come for You to reap, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.”

The beginning of the harvest

Why does it matter when the barley harvest begins? Because it sets the entire year in motion and begins with the Wave Sheaf offering.

Lev 23:10-14 “Speak to the children of Yisra’el, and you shall say to them, ‘When you come into the land which I give you, and shall reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first-fruits of your harvest to the priest. (11) ‘And he shall wave the sheaf before YAHWEH, for your acceptance. On the morrow after the Sabbath the priest waves it. (12) ‘And on that day when you wave the sheaf, you shall prepare a male lamb a year old, a perfect one, as an ascending offering to YAHWEH, (13) and its grain offering: two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to YAHWEH, a sweet fragrance, and its drink offering: one-fourth of a hin of wine. (14) ‘And you do not eat bread or roasted grain or fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your Elohim – a law forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

The Wave Sheaf offering also begins the count to Shavuot.

Deut 16:9 "Count seven weeks for yourself. Begin to count seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain.

A priest then lifted or "waved" each sheaf before YAHWEH for acceptance. However, while the individual Israelite farmers did bring a first fruits offering to the priests, the standard recorded practice during the Second Temple period (the time of Messiah), was to perform only one official waving of a sheaf by a priest in Jerusalem. This one sheaf and its waving represented all the others brought by individual farmers.

In its setting in the Old Testament, the wave sheaf offering represents a thankful acknowledgment to YAHWEH as the Giver of the harvest, while dedicating or consecrating it to Him. Its waving set the stage for the rest of the harvest to proceed. In fact, the work of harvesting could not begin until the wave sheaf offering occurred.

It's important that we recognize when the barley is Abib, so the harvest can begin. If we get this wrong, a good portion of the barley crop could be lost. Barley is a "humble grain". It bends over and after it's ripe, the kernels in the head can be shaken off by the wind or rain, or just by drying out, falling to the ground and the crop is lost.

Though Scripture specifies the day the wave sheaf was to be cut, it gives no specific time of day to cut it. Jewish history from the Second Temple period gives an interesting insight. The second-century Mishnah affirms that, when the Sadducees controlled the Temple, the sickle was put to the grain just as the sun was going down on the weekly Sabbath (Menahot 10:1-4, Jacob Neusner translation, pp. 753-754). The book, Biblical Calendars, states, "The Boethusians [Temple priests] reaped [the first fruits sheaf] at the going out of the Sabbath" (p. 218. Additional information can be found in the section titled "Temple Service," p. 280, as well as in The Temple: Its Ministry and Services by Alfred Edersheim, 1994, pp. 203-205). The New Testament's silence on this Sadducean practice—along with its agreement with the ritual's fulfillment in Messiah—must be construed as acceptance of its validity.

The priests began to make the first cutting right at the end of the Sabbath, continuing over into the first day of the week, when the bulk of the work would be done. The ritual, however, was not complete until the sheaf was offered (waved) before YAHWEH the following morning, or more precisely, between 9:00 a.m. and noon. Some might object to the reaping of the sheaf in the closing minutes of the Sabbath because it is a day of rest when no work is to be done. After one understands the full reason for it, as well as Yahshua's direct statement that a priest is blameless in the performance of his required duties (Matthew 12:5), any objections to the practice disappear.

It is important to understand the timing of the offering to recognize its spiritual significance.

During the days of Unleavened Bread on the day after the weekly sabbath that falls during the festival - the wave sheaf was to be offered - Not Abib 16 as Jews observe but the day after the weekly Sabbath.

The one sign Yahshua gave to prove He was Messiah: Matt 12:39-40.

Consider the week when Yahshua was sacrificed:

Passover in AD 31 (Abib 14) fell on what we would call Wednesday - during the evening portion the night before He kept the Passover.

He was arrested during the hours of darkness and tried in secret by Annais and Qayapha, then taken to Pilate in the early daylight hours - He was sentenced to death which was carried out during the daylight portion of Abib 14 and He died and was placed in the tomb before sundown on Wednesday (Also known as the preparation day) - 1 Night

First day of Unleavened Bread - High Holy Day - Thursday - 1 Day - 2 Nights

Weekly Preparation Day - Friday - Women buy spices - 2 Days - 3 Nights

Weekly Sabbath - Saturday - Yahshua is resurrected before the end of the Sabbath - 3 days

Women go to the tomb while it's still dark on the First day - (Sunday) and Yahshua is already resurrected - the morrow after the weekly sabbath during the Days of Unleavened Bread.

Miryam is the first one to see the resurrected Yahshua.

John 20:16-17 יהושע said to her, “Miryam!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). (17) יהושע said to her, “Do not hold on to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father. But go to My brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My Elohim and your Elohim.’ ”

Yahshua tells Miryam not to touch Him because He is about ascend into heaven and present Himself as the wave sheaf offering - to His Father YAHWEH to be accepted.

Do we truly understand how important Wavesheaf Day is to the calendar of YAHWEH which we keep? It is vital to our walk at this time, and the end of the age calling of the Bride. Without it, nothing starts or is completed. Let’s tie this together today to see why it is given first position in the start of a new year cycle and the appointed times of meeting with our Creator.

Our opportunity to be part of the Bride, the second Eve, and completing the count to internalize the Lamb of the Father’s household is all attributed to our Savior/Husband, the second Adam enduring a terrible crushing on our behalf, so that we could be acceptable to the Father We are now able to be grafted into Israel because of what our Messiah Yahshua did for us. He healed us!

Because it is part of the Key to unlock the door to understanding when to worship YAHWEH on the exact dates of the month and year that YAHWEH requires us to do so. Passover and Unleavened Bread teach us so much about this. We need to do so in sincerity and truth.

To be our Wavesheaf - our Savior/Husband, He needed to be threshed, winnowed, and crushed, prior to being accepted on our behalf before our Father. He could not have fulfilled or qualified for that function without it. He needed to represent fine flour of the first of the firstfruits. It is obvious that could not happen after His death so it had to happen prior to it. He was crushed and beaten to fulfill His role as the Wavesheaf prior to undergoing the activities of shedding His blood as the Lamb of the Father’s household.

What we need to recognize in all of this is the fact that the lamb was to be without blemish to qualify for the Passover sacrifice. Under the terms and conditions of the First Covenant, a physical lamb was used to represent the spiritual application and reality to come. It was symbolic of not having sin in it. A physical lamb can’t qualify to be without blemish, sin free, in its mind, its thinking. Animals are not designed to have a spirit in them which can determine moral equivalents, for they have been given instinct at creation. So, the representation of this was achieved through physical perfection, as visually being without blemish. This is all very important to our understanding and awareness of the significance of the Wavesheaf offering on Wavesheaf Day.

Once the Wavesheaf is completed, then the barley harvest can begin. Deut 16:9. As we have just seen, Yahshua is the first of the first fruits and has set in motion this process for our salvation or harvest into Yahweh's Kingdom.

1 Co 15:20-23 “But now Messiah has been raised from the dead, and has become the first-fruits of those having fallen asleep. (21) For since death is through a man, resurrection of the dead is also through a Man. (22) For as all die in Adam, so also all shall be made alive in Messiah. (23) And each in his own order: Messiah the first-fruits, then those who are of Messiah at His coming.”

Jas 1:18 Having purposed it, He brought us forth by the Word of truth, for us to be a kind of first-fruits of His creatures. (that early harvest of barley and wheat)

Rom 8:23 And not only so, but even we ourselves who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, we ourselves also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

Rev 14:4 They are those who were not defiled with women, for they are maidens. They are those following the Lamb wherever He leads them on. They were redeemed from among men, being first-fruits to Elohim and to the Lamb.

If we have the beginning of the year correct, we will also have the rest of the appointed times on the dates that Almighty Yahweh has commanded us to meet with him.


~ by Elder John Illgen

c Green Bay Sabbath Fellowship/2019 ---

- (02/09/2020)

- (12/26/2021)

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