Ancient Hebrew New Year

The vernal equinox determines the start of the year. Therefore, the year starts in the Spring not in the Winter like with the Gregorian calendar or in the Fall like the present-day Jewish calendar.

We use the Spring equinox to start the New Year, the same as the ancient Hebrews, as stipulated in the Torah and the Old Testament Bibles, which tells us that the Pesach (Passover) Festival occurs during the year’s first new moon cycle.

The first new moon is the last new moon before Pesach. New Year’s Day is established by the new moon which occurs closest to the Spring equinox (before or after) when the day and night are of equal length, which ensures the full moon of Passover always occurs after the equinox.

In the Gregorian system, the equinox can occur from March 21-23. The earliest date for the Ancient Hebrew New Year’s Day can be only 14 days before March 21. Thus, the earliest date possible for New Year’s Day is March 8th, and the latest is April 6th. This makes it impossible for Pesach to occur prior to the vernal equinox or later than April 20/21. For example, in Georgia (USA) where I live, the 2021 vernal equinox is on March 20th and the closest new moon to that date is March 13th, making it the 2021 Rosh Chodashim (New Year’s) date.

Chodesh Rishon (First New Moon) has 2 secondary names. It was occasionally referred to as Rosh Chodashim, which literally means “head of all new moons”, which we refer to as New Year’s Day and to Chodesh Aviv, the New Moon of Spring.

Both Philon Yedidia (aka Philo Judaeus) and Yosef ben Matityahu (aka Flavius Josephus), two prominent historical Hebrew writers and contemporaries of Yahusha the Messiah, verify that the Spring equinox was used to establish the start of a New Year in their time.

Philo Yedidia (aka Philo Judaeus)

Philo, the Hebrew historian, says that Moses established the moon of the Spring equinox as the first month of the year.

(The Works of Philo, On the Life of Moses II, chapter XLI, Part 222 and 224)

Josephus the Jewish historian also confirms this and defines it as “when the sun was in Aries”

(Josephus, Ant. 3.201; IIIx5)
Yosef ben Matityahu (aka Flavius Josephus)

Relevant Scriptures

Exodus 12:1-4

And Yahweh spoke to Mosheh and Aharon in the land of Mitsrayim (Egypt), saying, (2) This new moon is the beginning of the new moons for you, it is the first new moon of the year for you. (3) Speak to all the congregation of Yisrael saying. On the tenth day of this new moon, each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household.

Click the image to enlarge

This chart provides a brief summary of the holy days, the Shabbats, the equinoxes, the harvest seasons, and other seasonal information.

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