When does the New Year begin?

Often our calendar appears to be one month later than the rest of the world. Why? Here is the Bible evidence.

God has a preference as to when to begin and end the yearly calendar. After years of prayer and careful study on our part, and simple and direct answers revealed on God’s part, we base the year on the definition of God’s calendar outlined in the Bible.

The New Year

God has a preference as to when to begin the year. 

“This month shall be your beginning of months; It shall be the first month of the year to you.” Exodus 12:2

The Moon

The Moon, and not the sun, is the light in the heavens that marks the timing of God’s calendar. The Bible says,

“He appointed the moon for seasons [moed.]” Psalm 104:19

The first day of the month is marked by the first visible crescent of the moon at twilight in the western sky. The visual sighting of the moon is specified in Deuteronomy 16:1 which says,

“Observe the new moon …” Deuteronomy 16:1

This word “observe” is a compound Hebrew word, shamar eth. Shamar means to observe, keep, watch, take heed. The added superlative “eth” gives it a more serious and in-depth importance. In English this is as if saying, “observe with certainty” or “be sure to observe.” 

The Month

The month of the year is also specified in this verse.

“Observe the new moon in Abib …” Deuteronomy 16:1

The month of Abib was specifically pointed out by God as the first month of the year.

“This month shall be your beginning of months; It shall be the first month of the year to you.” Exodus 12:2

“On this day you are going out, in the month Abib.” Exodus 13:4

“Observe the new moon in Abib, and keep the Passover to the Lord your God, for in the month of Abib the Lord your God brought you out of Egypt by night.” Deuteronomy 16:1

“The Feast of Unleavened Bread you shall keep. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, in the appointed time of the month of Abib; for in the month of Abib you came out from Egypt.” Exodus 34:18

The Barley

The month of Abib is identified by the condition of the barley crop. Barley was the only crop that was in the state of “abib” at the time the Lord brought the people out of Egypt.

“Now the flax and the barley were struck, for the barley was abib, and the flax was in bud.” Exodus 9:31

There are many opinions as to the condition of the barley when it is called “abib.” But the Bible defines this too. In the month of Abib, within one week of the date when they went out of Egypt, the barley was ready for harvest. The Bible says,

“…from the time that you begin to put the sickle to the grain.” Deuteronomy 16:9

 

“Okay,” you say, “some people are looking at the barley in Jerusalem and you are still a month later. Why?”

The answer to this question is found in both the timing of the end of the year and in the growing conditions in the Mediterranean

The End of the Year

God defines both the beginning and end of the year. God says that the Feast of Ingathering comes at the end of the year,

“And you shall observe …the Feast of Ingathering at year’s end.” Exodus 34:22 

And this Feast is to be observed after all the processing of the late summer fruit and grains has been finished and you have completely withdrawn from the winepress and from the threshing floor.

“You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress.” Deuteronomy 16:13

In the Hebrew, the words translated as “gathered from” are asaph minnee which mean “gathered from, take away from, or withdrawn from.” Even the word “winepress” means “evacuated or withdrawn.” This verse literally reads, You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles … when you have gathered in your harvest and withdrawn from the threshing floor and withdrawn from the winepress.

Even logically we can understand that the men and families could not leave their fields unharvested at the end of summer in order to go celebrate the harvest in Jerusalem. The work of gathering and processing the grains and grapes needed to be completed before celebrating the Feast. If the year begins too early, then there would still be harvesting and processing left to do when you return from the harvest celebration. This alone shows that the new year does not begin in March or early April.

Mediterranean Barley and Climate—A Little More Information About Modern Conditions

The climate in Jerusalem has been drastically changed since Biblical times. It is no longer the fertile land “flowing with milk and honey” that it once was. The same is true for the Nile River Delta where God brought about the Exodus. So these are no longer acurate examples of the growing conditions at the time of the Exodus. 

In response to these climactic changes, there has been an adaptation in the barley that grows wild in the Mediterranean region of the world. This barley no longer contains the genetic code that tells it to hold off from flowering until after the cold temperatures have passed. The barley currently growing in the Jerusalem area has been genetically modified, probably by natural selection, to acclimate to the climate changes in the region.

Barley that is dry farmed in fertile areas of North America more accurately reflects the growing conditions in Bible times. Whether these crops are planted in October or February, or from the Canadian border to Mexico, any barley that is able to grow with natural sunlight and rainfall will come ripe in the month of May. The last week of April and the first couple of weeks of May represent the time of year that God called Abib–the first month of the year.

Summary:

    • God defined His new year as beginning in the month Abib when the barley that grew in fertile, rich and well-watered soil was in the state of abib.
    • The Bible defines the state of abib as when the grain is ready for harvest.
    • This beginning of the harvest falls within 7 days after the Passover which is on the 14th day of the first month. This places the first day of the New Year no sooner than 21 days before the harvest is ready to be reaped.
    • Dry-farmed barley in the fertile regions of North America ripens in May.
    • The Bible New year begins with the first sighting of the new moon crescent in the last 2 weeks of April or the first week of May.

For references and more details, see “New Year in Late April, Early May” and “The Biblical Calendar.”

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