Updated: Jan 14, 2022
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As you likely know, this is one of several controversial matters between those who observe the rabbinic lunisolar calendar and those who observe one of many other different counting traditions.
The point that I am going to make here is that Sha’ul and his ministry companions were all following and observing the Zadok 364-day solar calendar related to the 50-Day and the 7-Sabbath Counting of the Omer.
Of course, for many, it remains much more straightforward to observe the Count of the Omer according to the pattern established nearly 20 centuries ago in Rabbinic Judaism. That established pattern is to count the days and sabbaths of the Omer based on Jewish halacha or the custom of Jewish law.
Jewish tradition teaches that the Count of the Omer begins with the Day after Unleavened Bread or the Festival of Matza. Since Unleavened Bread always starts on the Fifteenth (15th) of the First Month (referred to in Exodus 12:2 as the First Month of the New Year), Jewish tradition and custom begin the Counting of the Omer on the Sixteenth (16th) of the month. Why? Because the Fifteenth of the First Month is the First Day of Unleavened Bread or Matza, and that day is a Sabbath Day. Therefore, the “day after the Sabbath” means the Day after the First Day of Unleavened Bread. It’s pretty straightforward, and in Rabbinic Judaism, this is always how Leviticus 23:9-11 and Leviticus 23:15 is interpreted, at least, as Judaism understands it from the ancient written texts:
Leviticus 23:9-11. Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the First fruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before Yehovah, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.
However, the Qumran House of Tzadok priesthood of Yehovah did NOT interpret Leviticus 23:9-11 and 23:15 in the same way that the Pharisees of Judaism understood and interpreted the command. So, who is right? Who is more correct? The Zadok priesthood of the Qumran Dead Sea Scrolls? OR the Pharisees of the post-70 C.E. Second Temple period?
We’re going to look at a narrative from the Book of Acts (Sefer HaMa’asim) written by Sha’ul’s ministry companion Luke and see precisely how they observed and counted the 50-days, and 7 Sabbaths of First Fruits also called “The Counting of the Omer.”
Here is the Book of Acts (Sefer HaMa'asim) 20:2-7.
Acts 20:2-7. Now when he had gone over that region and encouraged them with many words, he came to Greece and stayed three months. And when the Jews plotted against him as he was about to sail to Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. And Sopater of Berea accompanied him to Asia—also Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia. These men, going ahead, waited for us at Troas. But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days. Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.
Let us break down two of its key verses into some important chronological time-stamps.
Acts 20:6 (a) –But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread.
Notice this narrative begins with a chronological time stamp that is according to
Exodus 12:1-2. Now Yehovah spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.”
Then, Yehovah goes on to say in
Exodus 12:15-18. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel…you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening (Hebrew: erev meaning “twilight” or the time between sunset and lailah or night).
Also, the divine commandment is repeated in
Leviticus 23:6. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to YHWH; seven days you must eat unleavened bread.
So, we learn here that Chag HaMatzot meaning the Festival of Matza (Unleavened Bread), always, without question, is observed on the Fifteenth Day of the First Month.
According to Judaism's officially recognized rabbinic calendar, the Festival of Matza will always begin on the 15th of the 1st month. It will always end on the 21st of the 1st month. However, the specific numbered day of the week when the Festival is celebrated was never of any concern.
I am assuming that when the Book of Acts 20:6 tells us they “sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread,” we should understand this to mean that they left Philippi on the 22nd Day of the First Month because that is the “day after” the last day of Unleavened Bread which is always on the 21st Day of the First Month.
According to the Qumran House of Tzadok solar calendar teaching, the Festival of Unleavened Bread observes the dates exactly the same as Judaism's officially recognized rabbinic calendar, with one exception. The only difference between the two calendars is that of the day of the week. The day of the week that the festival begins is very specific as also is the day of the week when the Festival ends. That s it.
Therefore, the First Day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread always starts on the 15th Day of the First Month, always on the Fourth Day of the Week or what is culturally called “Wednesday.” The Seventh Day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread always ends on the 21st Day of the First Month, always the Third Day of the Week or what is culturally called “Tuesday.” This pattern never deviates from the pre-exilic House of Zadok solar-only calendar teaching. Okay, I hope that you are following me. Let us now continue.
So, once again, the Book of Acts 20:6 tells us that Sha’ul and his companions left Philippi on the 22nd Day of the First Month because they left after the Festival of Unleavened Bread. Again, according to scripture, Unleavened Bread always ends on the 21st Day of the First Month. It’s pretty straightforward. But, what is important here is to note on What Day of the Week they left Philippi.
Now, you might ask, Who cares? and Why is this so important? I think that it is important because of the following statement that is written:
Acts 20:6 (b) – And in* five (5) days joined them at Troas.
*The Greek term ἄχρι for this little English word “in” has a Hebrew equivalent linked to the word עד “ahd.” This Hebrew term means “as far as;” “up to;” “until,” or even “as long as” and then fill in the blank with a time or event stamp.
Given the meaning of the Greek and Hebrew term for the English word “in,” where it says, “and in five (5) days joined them at Troas,” we should understand this to mean, “and ‘as far as;’ ‘up to;’ ‘until,’ or ‘as long as'" five days, we joined them in Troas.
So, this begs a few questions: For what purpose or to what end are we told this detail that they joined the believing community in Troas in five days? I would ask, Joined them for what? What event was supposed to happen in five days in Troas? I would like to explain my answer from scripture. Again,
Leviticus 23:9-11; v15. Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the First fruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before Yehovah, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it…And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed.
When Paul and his companions left Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, which was on the 22nd of the First Month of the New Year, they joined the believing community in Troas on the 26th Day of the First Month in the New Year. What is so important about the 26th Day of the First Month of the New Year? The 26th Day of the First Month on the Zadok solar calendar is the First Day of the Counting of the 50-Days of the Omer, which is how the House of Tzadok priesthood interpreted and understood Leviticus 23:15.
Leviticus 23:15. And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed.
Paul and his companions observed two festival Sabbaths of Unleavened Bread – the 15th Day and the 21st Day of the First Month. BUT THEN, after this, there was yet another Sabbath following the end of Unleavened Bread, and that Sabbath was and always will be the 25th Day of the First Month of the New Year – always. Therefore, according to the priesthood of the House of Tzadok who gave us some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the meaning of “the day after the Sabbath” when the Count of the Omer is to begin, it must always start on the 26th Day of the First Month according to the biblical scriptural New Year which begins as Day 1 on the Fourth Day of the week following the 1st t'qufah ("equinox"). This is why Paul and his companions wanted to be in Troas with the believing community there in five (5) days after leaving Philippi. They wanted to be in Troas for Day 1 of the Count of the Omer on the 26th of the First Month of the New Year, which will always be a “Sunday” or the “First Day of the Week” as it is called, which is also the day after the weekly Sabbath of the 25th Day of the First Month in the New Year.
Acts 20:6 (c) – And we stayed seven (7) days.
Again, they left Philippi on the 22nd Day of the First Month – “Wednesday.” In five (5) days, they joined the community in Troas on the 26th Day – “Sunday” – the “day after the Sabbath” of the 25th of the First Month. On the 26th, they celebrated the beginning of the Count of the Omer – the First Day of the “First Fruits Wave Offering” according to Leviticus 23:15. Then, we are told that Paul and his companions stayed on with the community for an additional seven (7) days based on Acts 20:6 (c).
Acts 20:7 (a) –Now on the [number] One day* of the Sabbaths, when* the disciples came together to break bread. * = Does not appear in Greek manuscripts.
Here, in this statement of Acts 20:7 (a), we learn that it was on “the first of the weeks” that the disciples came together to break bread.
The term “first” is μιᾷ (eis) and is the numeral “one” in Greek. What follows is then the statement “of the weeks,” which is the plural word σαββάτων (sabbaton) in Greek. Translated to English, this unambiguously refers to number one of the seven Sabbaths in the 50-Day Count the Omer according to Leviticus 23:15. This event is the first Sabbath of the Second Month AND the Second Day of the Second Month (chodesh), also the Seventh Day in the Count of the Omer.
Summarizing, the number one Sabbath of the Seven Sabbaths in the Count of the Omer is always linked back to the start of the counting of the Sabbaths beginning with the Second Day of the Second Month (chodesh), in which Jewish tradition calls the month of “Iyar.”
When Paul, his companions, and the community at Troas came together again, they did so on Day 7, which was also one week (one shavu’a) or one Sabbath of seven in the 50-Day and Seven-Sabbaths Count of the Omer, which ends with Shavu’ot or “Pentecost” in Jerusalem.
Acts 20:7 (b) – Paul [was] ready to depart the next day….
This statement in Acts 20:7 is made concerning Day 7 of the Count of the Omer, which is one shavu’a or one week on the number one Sabbath of seven Sabbaths which falls on the Second Day of the Second Month in the Jewish New Year.
As you can see on the pictured calendar above, the First Month of the Jewish New Year has four (4) Sabbaths, and they fall on 4-11-18-25.
Then, in the Second Month of the Jewish New Year, there are five (5) Sabbaths, and they always fall on 2-9-16-23-30 (calendar not pictured here).
The text of Acts 20:7 tells us that Paul and his companions were “to depart the next day,” meaning the following morning – “Sunday” – the 3rd Day of the Second Month, which is always 8 days and one shavu’a or one week in the Count of the Omer. It also shows us that they were observing a sunrise-to-sunrise reckoning of the days and NOT following the sunset-to-sunset official Jewish rabbinic reckoning system.
This is just the chronological framework for the narrative. Some additional and important spiritual lessons are going on in the text, and you don't want to miss those. I will address the lessons in my Dead Sea Scrolls podcast series, beginning with Episode 105 and Part 9.