Category: Calendar and Feasts

Articles about the biblical calendar and feast days

Samaritan Calendar 3659/60

Samaritan Calendar 3659/60

The Samaritans count years according to when they entered the land of Israel in the days of Joshua. According to Samaritan tradition, entry was made in the sixth month of the Hebrew calendar. As of today, April 21st, 2021, the Samaritan year is 3659, and will change to 3660 in the sixth month.

The feast days for the current Hebrew calendar cycle are as follows (per my calculation which I will explain afterward):

Month BeginsFeast Dates
Month 1 (Sundown April 11 2021)Pesach (Twilight April 24 2021)
Chag HaMatzot (Sundown April 24 2021, 7 days)
Month 2 (Sundown May 11 2021)
Month 3 (Sundown June 9 2021)Chag Shavuot (Sundown June 19 2021 *)
Month 4 (Sundown July 9 2021)
Month 5 (Sundown August 7 2021)
Month 6 (Sundown September 6 2021)
Month 7 (Sundown October 5 2021)Yom Teruah (Sundown October 5 2021)
Yom HaKippurim (Sundown October 14 2021)
Chag Sukkot (Sundown October 19 2021, 7 days)
Shemini Atseret (Sundown October 26 2021)
Month 8 (Sundown November 4 2021)
Month 9 (Sundown December 3 2021)
Month 10 (Sundown January 2 2022)
Month 11 (Sundown January 31 2022)
Month 12 (Sundown March 2 2022)
* While Shavuot is a single day in the Torah, because both Chag HaMatzot and Chag Sukkot are 7 or more days, the Samaritans have turned Shavuot into a 7 day feast as well.

Calendar Calculation

The Samaritan calendar is simple and straightforward. In my opinion it is the closest to the original Hebrew calendar as exists today. I do suspect a flaw crept into the calculation somewhere around the time the Julian calendar came into being which causes the year to be unnecessary delayed, which happens only certain years.

Here’s how anyone can calculate the Samaritan calendar. One should use Nablus (the modern name for Shechem) as the geographical location for calculation. I use the lunar cycle data for Nablus available at timeanddate.com.

  1. Determine the first day of the year by finding the first new moon after the vernal equinox (March 20/21). If the first new moon falls anywhere on or before March 25 on the Gregorian calendar, the second new moon after the vernal equinox will be used.
  2. The Hebrew day (from sundown to sundown) containing the new moon (according to its conjunction) is the first day of the month. Thus, once you have determined the Gregorian date using the lunar cycle data, you must then determine whether the time listed for the new moon is before sundown (meaning the Hebrew day begins the prior evening), or after sundown, meaning the Hebrew day begins at sundown on the same Gregorian date as the new moon.

    Example: The first new moon after the 2021 vernal equinox, in Shechem, occurs on April 12th at 5:30 a.m. Without having to even check the sundown time for April 12th 2021, you know 5:30 a.m. is well before sundown. Thus, the day containing the conjunction actually begins at sundown on April 11th, and this is the first day of the Samaritan year.
  3. Calculate the first days of all subsequent months for the year, all the way to the new moon after the vernal equinox of the following year. If the first new moon after the vernal equinox of the following year happens on or before March 25th, add a 13 month to this years calendar base on that new moon. If you are unsure whether the time given for the new moon is before or after sundown, you can look up the corresponding sundown times here.
  4. Once you have the months laid out, simply apply the instruction from Leviticus 23 to determine the dates for the feasts as follows:

    Pesach (Passover): 14th day of the 1st month at twilight.
    Chag HaMatzot (Unleavened Bread): 14th day of the 1st month, continuing 7 days.
    Chag Shavuot (Weeks): Find the first Sabbath that happens during Unleavened bread, count seven additional sabbaths, and the Sunday after the seventh shabbat is Shavuot.
    Yom Teruah (Trumpets/Noise): 1st day of the 7th month.
    Yom HaKippuim (Atonement): 10th day of the 7th month.
    Yom Sukkot (Booths): 15th day of the 7th month, continuing 8 days.
    Shemini Atseret: 8th day of Sukkot.
The Hebrew Calendar

The Hebrew Calendar

For people who have embraced Torah observance later in life rather than having been born into it, the Hebrew calendar can be confusing, and even a point of contention. We want to observe the appointed times correctly, but the Torah does not provide calendar calculation specifics.

Established Israelite communities today (the various flavors of Judaism and the Samaritans) generally do not question the calendars they follow, as they have been in place for centuries. But are they correct?

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What about the Lunar Sabbath?

What about the Lunar Sabbath?

A number of people seem to be convinced that the Sabbath (Hebrew: Shabbat) cycle must be based on the cycle of the moon, rather than repeating seven day weeks. The lunar Sabbath theory seems to be driven by the fact that most of the other appointed times (Hebrew: mo’edim) such as Pesach, Chag HaMatzot, Yom Teruah, Yom HaKippurim and Sukkot are all set on specific days of specific months.Lunar Sabbath proponents hold that the first day of the new month is “New Moon Day”, (a rest day but not a Sabbath), and the weekly cycle for the month begins on the second day of the month. This makes the 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th days of the month the Sabbath rest days. This type of Sabbath cycle has the Sabbath falling on different days of our modern Julian calendar week each month. One month the Sabbaths might all begin on Tuesday while the following month they begin on Thursday.

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