Christian Churches of God

No. 191




Jeroboam and the Hillel Calendar

(Edition 3.0 19970118-19990612-20070907)


This paper deals with King Jeroboam, first king of the ten tribes of Israel, and the taking of the kingship from the son of Solomon because of the idolatry of his father Solomon. It deals with the sins of Jeroboam regarding the Feasts and idols. It deals with the Quartodeciman and later Easter determinations of the ancient Church and the determination of the month of Nisan under the ancient rules. This is examined against the early practices of Judah which led to the formation of the so-called Hillel calendar.


Christian Churches of God

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(Copyright ã 1997, 1999, 2007 Wade Cox)


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Jeroboam and the Hillel Calendar


There are two kings of Israel named Jeroboam. The first is Jeroboam son of Nebat and Zeruah, from the town of Zeredah in Ephraim (Encyc. Judaica, Vol. 9, pp. 1371ff.). The second is Jeroboam son of Jehoash or Joash. The person we are concerned with here is Jeroboam son of Nebat. He was an Ephrathite, which is distinct from Bethlehem Ephrathah. His name means: He who fights the battles of the people or the people will contend (SHD 3379; from 7378, ruwbto grapple or defend and 5971, ’am or the people). Yerubbaal (Baal will contend) is also a symbolic name for Gideon (SHD 3378). Yeroboam or Jeroboam (there is no J in Hebrew) fled from Solomon and went to Egypt until his death.

1Kings 11:26-27  Jerobo'am the son of Nebat, an E'phraimite of Zer'edah, a servant of Solomon, whose mother's name was Zeru'ah, a widow, also lifted up his hand against the king. 27 And this was the reason why he lifted up his hand against the king. Solomon built the Millo, and closed up the breach of the city of David his father.


The word Millo is derived from a Hebrew verb meaning to fill, and comes from the Assyrian mulu, meaning terrasse or terrace. Shechem also had a house of the Millo (Jdg. 9:6). The Millo is mentioned in connection with the fortifications David undertook after the conquest of Jerusalem (2Sam. 5:9; 1Chr. 11:8). The construction is formally attributed to Solomon (1Kgs. 9:15,24; 11:27). It is referred to as the house of Millo in Judges 9:6 and also in the account of the death of Joash (2Kgs. 12:20 - H. 12:21). The location is held to be to the north-west of the city of David as a filling up between Jebus and Moriah. Hezekiah strengthened it (cf. also 2Chr. 32:54).


It appears that a fortification on a raised terrace is meant. There may have been an adverse connotation with this as Jeroboam took it to be a cause of offence. It may have been connected with the god of fortresses or war and hence idolatrous. The meaning is uncertain. The description puts one in mind of the temples erected on the platforms of the fortified walls of the city of Ur.


From the Aggadah, we see that Jeroboam rebuked Solomon for closing the breaches made in the walls of Jerusalem by David, so that all Israel could make pilgrimage to Jerusalem to attend the Feasts. Solomon appears to have filled in the breaches to exact a toll for the benefit of Pharoah’s daughter (Sanh. 101b). This situation is quite ironic in that Jeroboam was rewarded for fighting for the right of free worship for the people yet, when he was king, he attempted to stop this very pilgrimage for which he fought so hard (see also TJ. Av. Zar. 1:1, 39a; Sanh. 101b; cf. Encyc. Judaica, ibid.).


We continue in 1Kings 11.

1Kings 11:28-43  The man Jerobo'am was very able, and when Solomon saw that the young man was industrious he gave him charge over all the forced labor of the house of Joseph. 29 And at that time, when Jerobo'am went out of Jerusalem, the prophet Ahi'jah the Shi'lonite found him on the road. Now Ahi'jah had clad himself with a new garment; and the two of them were alone in the open country. 30 Then Ahi'jah laid hold of the new garment that was on him, and tore it into twelve pieces. 31 And he said to Jerobo'am, "Take for yourself ten pieces; for thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, `Behold, I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon, and will give you ten tribes 32 (but he shall have one tribe, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel), 33 because he has forsaken me, and worshiped Ash'toreth the goddess of the Sido'nians, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the Ammonites, and has not walked in my ways, doing what is right in my sight and keeping my statutes and my ordinances, as David his father did. 34 Nevertheless I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand; but I will make him ruler all the days of his life, for the sake of David my servant whom I chose, who kept my commandments and my statutes; 35 but I will take the kingdom out of his son's hand, and will give it to you, ten tribes. 36 Yet to his son I will give one tribe, that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I have chosen to put my name. [note: the lamp was a symbol of the permanence of the Davidic dynasty (2Sam. 21:17)] 37 And I will take you, and you shall reign over all that your soul desires, and you shall be king over Israel. 38 And if you will hearken to all that I command you, and will walk in my ways, and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did, I will be with you, and will build you a sure house, as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you. 39 And I will for this afflict the descendants of David, but not for ever.'" 40 Solomon sought therefore to kill Jerobo'am; but Jerobo'am arose, and fled into Egypt, to Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon. 41 Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, and all that he did, and his wisdom, are they not written in the book of the acts of Solomon? 42 And the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years. 43 And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father; and Rehobo'am his son reigned in his stead. (RSV)


We see here that Jeroboam fled because Solomon sought to kill him. This probably resulted from the rebellion. The Book of Kings is not as clear, but the Septuagint states that Jeroboam succeeded in conscripting 300 chariots and had his stronghold in the town of Zeredah (or Zererah). The rebellion failed and Jeroboam was forced to flee to Egypt (see also Encyc. Judaica, ibid.). The LXX also records that Shishak gave his sister-in-law to Jeroboam as wife, and Abijah came from this union.


Jeroboam was the Lord’s anointed. Solomon had become an idolater and his line was punished. From this text, it is unlikely the Egyptian Shishak is the father-in-law of Solomon. He is probably an unfriendly successor. We now proceed to view the way that the Eternal wrenched the kingdom from Solomon’s son Rehoboam.

1Kings 12:1-15  Rehobo'am went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. 2 And when Jerobo'am the son of Nebat heard of it (for he was still in Egypt, whither he had fled from King Solomon), then Jerobo'am returned from Egypt. 3 And they sent and called him; and Jerobo'am and all the assembly of Israel came and said to Rehobo'am, 4 "Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke upon us, and we will serve you." 5 He said to them, "Depart for three days, then come again to me." So the people went away. 6 Then King Rehobo'am took counsel with the old men, who had stood before Solomon his father while he was yet alive, saying, "How do you advise me to answer this people?" 7 And they said to him, "If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants for ever." 8 But he forsook the counsel which the old men gave him, and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him. 9 And he said to them, "What do you advise that we answer this people who have said to me, `Lighten the yoke that your father put upon us'?" 10 And the young men who had grown up with him said to him, "Thus shall you speak to this people who said to you, `Your father made our yoke heavy, but do you lighten it for us'; thus shall you say to them, `My little finger is thicker than my father's loins. 11 And now, whereas my father laid upon you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.'" 12 So Jerobo'am and all the people came to Rehobo'am the third day, as the king said, "Come to me again the third day." 13 And the king answered the people harshly, and forsaking the counsel which the old men had given him, 14 he spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, "My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions." 15 So the king did not hearken to the people; for it was a turn of affairs brought about by the LORD that he might fulfil his word, which the LORD spoke by Ahi'jah the Shi'lonite to Jerobo'am the son of Nebat.


Jeroboam was set in his position by God in order to split the kingdom and to spread the nation to a greater birthright – but this was not to be understood until much later. The stupidity of the counsel of the youth was quite incredible. The works and fortifications had been done under David and Solomon. He could have lightened the load and been king, but God did not want that to happen. The condition of Jeroboam’s kingship was loyalty to God and His Laws. This aspect assumes great significance as we see later.


1Kings 12:16-20  And when all Israel saw that the king did not hearken to them, the people answered the king, "What portion have we in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel! Look now to your own house, David." So Israel departed to their tents. 17 But Rehobo'am reigned over the people of Israel who dwelt in the cities of Judah. 18 Then King Rehobo'am sent Ador'am, who was taskmaster over the forced labor, and all Israel stoned him to death with stones. And King Rehobo'am made haste to mount his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day. 20 And when all Israel heard that Jerobo'am had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. There was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only.


God had set the activity in motion and His Plan was implemented. The people themselves did not realise what was happening. Jeroboam was the logical successor and the one to unite the tribes under Ephraim, but God knew he would fail. Nevertheless, He set him as king.


1Kings 12:21-24 When Rehobo'am came to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah, and the tribe of Benjamin, a hundred and eighty thousand chosen warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to restore the kingdom to Rehobo'am the son of Solomon. 22 But the word of God came to Shemai'ah the man of God: 23 "Say to Rehobo'am the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, 24 `Thus says the LORD, You shall not go up or fight against your kinsmen the people of Israel. Return every man to his home, for this thing is from me.'" So they hearkened to the word of the LORD, and went home again, according to the word of the LORD.

God also prevented unnecessary bloodshed by sending home Judah and Benjamin on one side, and the ten tribes on the other side.


Even though Jeroboam had been put in the kingship by God and was used to replace an idolatrous house under Solomon, he still did not have enough faith in God to protect him and keep him there.


1Kings 12:25-33  Then Jerobo'am built Shechem in the hill country of E'phraim, and dwelt there; and he went out from there and built Penu'el. 26 And Jerobo'am said in his heart, "Now the kingdom will turn back to the house of David; 27 if this people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn again to their lord, to Rehobo'am king of Judah, and they will kill me and return to Rehobo'am king of Judah." 28 So the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold. And he said to the people, "You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt." 29 And he set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. 30 And this thing became a sin, for the people went to the one at Bethel and to the other as far as Dan. 31 He also made houses on high places, and appointed priests from among all the people, who were not of the Levites. 32 And Jerobo'am appointed a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month like the feast that was in Judah, and he offered sacrifices upon the altar; so he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he had made. And he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places that he had made. 33 He went up to the altar which he had made in Bethel on the fifteenth day in the eighth month, in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and he ordained a feast for the people of Israel, and went up to the altar to burn incense. (RSV)

He built Shechem and then fortified Penuel in east Trans-Jordan (1Kgs. 12:25), and later he also seems to have gone to Tirzah (1Kgs. 14:17; cf. 1Kgs. 15:21).


Jeroboam decided to reintroduce a religious system that was in fact idolatrous. He set up a system which was very similar to that of the original Temple worship at Jerusalem, with the same Feasts; but the centre of the system of worship was based on the symbolism of the golden calf, which was the pedestal upon which God stood (Encyc. Judaica, ibid.). This system had been known to the Israelites since their days in the wilderness. From what we now know of the systems of worship at Ur, the calf was a symbol of the god of Ur – seen on bas-reliefs outside of the city of Alaca Huyuk (see Archaeological Diggings, Vol. 3, No. 6, Dec 96/Jan 97, p. 41). The Persians had reversed this iconography so that the bull represented Ahriman, the god of darkness. This cosmological view of the battle in the cosmos is undoubtedly the symbolism in the bull-slaying typology of the Mithras system, which is derived from the Zoroastrian and preceding cosmology (cf. the paper The Golden Calf (No. 222)).


Dan in the north and Bethel in the south were cultic holy places before the establishment of the kingdom (Encyc. Judaica, ibid.).


It appears that Jeroboam obtained the sanction of the Sanhedrin because all the actions he took, including the setting up of the places at Dan and Bethel, were based on the view of tolerance of religion implicit in the calf system as opposed to the Torah (TJ. Av. Zar. and Sanh, loc. cit., cf. Encyc. Judaica, ibid.). This is the same situation we are in today. However, the tribes were not deceived by this system except for Dan, which had worshipped Micah’s graven image in tribal times (Num. R. 2:10). The Levites seem to have resisted the idolatry and Jeroboam created a new priesthood which was disparaged by the Levites (TJ. Av. Zar., loc. cit.). The Levites recorded that Jeroboam posted guards to stop – on pain of death – the pilgrimages to Jerusalem (Tosef., Ta’an. 4:7; Sanh. 102a). The people, and even the king’s son, disobeyed the orders (MK 28b, cf. Encyc. Judaica, loc. cit.).


In the fifth year of Jeroboam’s reign, Shishak, king of Egypt, decided to invade Israel. The campaigns recorded in the Bible give an account of what happened to Judah (1Kgs. 14:25-28; 2Chr. 12:2-12). We must turn to the engravings on the walls of the temple of Karnak in Egypt to find out what towns were conquered by Shishak, and we see that Israel appears to have suffered most. Thus, this contemporary source not only corroborates the Bible but also expands on the information there. Shishak invaded the southern territory of the Kingdom of Israel through Gezer and Gibeon, penetrated the valley of Succoth and turned then to the Beth-Shean and Jezreel valleys, finally returning to Egypt by way of the coastal plain. The display of Egypt’s might ended in simple plunder. Archaeologists have discovered that Gezer, Beth-Shean, Taanach and Megiddo were destroyed during this campaign. Thus, Abijah’s success in conquering Israel’s territories must be seen not only in the light of the weakness induced by the Egyptian campaign, but also from pressure on it from Aram-Damascus in the north-east and the Philistines in the south-west. This may also have been accompanied by conflict with the Trans-Jordan states that may have become more independent (Encyc. Judaica, op. cit., p. 1373).


Jeroboam also decided to move the Feast from its original position in the Seventh month to a position in the Eighth month. This was for purposes of worship similar to, but not the same as, the original Temple system. This lesson has serious consequences for the modern-day Church in that God shows by His actions here that He does not condone systems of worship that have an idolatrous centre, or that change the Feasts to later times away from the set months He has determined from the signs in the heavens. God’s Calendar does not depend on human calculation or on human observation. It is set for all time in the creation, and the creation reflects the sequence of change in the seasons and in the tides. The New Moon is the conjunction of the sun, moon and Earth, and is able to be precisely measured to the second over centuries. This event, together with the full moon and first and last quarters, is measured in the tides.


We can make a very astute guess at exactly how this system was determined by turning to a very ancient record that still exists even today, and that is the record of the Samaritan calendar. It is far more ancient than the Hillel calendar and goes back into the Temple period before the time of Christ.


The Samaritan System


In the paper The Quartodeciman Disputes (No. 277), we noted the relevance of the Samaritan and Sadducean systems to the determination of the Temple calendar and the Passover in the Temple period and the days of the early Church. We repeat here some of that text.


The New Moon was the most important aspect of determining the months, and the New Moon of Nisan, not Tishri, determined the year as observed by Judaism from the third century of the current era. Rosh HaShanah, under its present system of determination, cannot be regarded as a correct biblical or Temple-period observance, nor as being a correct Judeo-Christian observance.


Philo of Alexandria [tr. by F. H. Colson, (Harvard University Press, Loeb Classical Library, Cambridge, MA, 1937), The Special Laws, II, XI, 41] tells us: “The third [feast] is the new moon which follows the conjunction of the moon with the sun”. And in II, XXVI, 140: “This is the New Moon, or beginning of the lunar month, namely the period between one conjunction and the next, the length of which has been accurately calculated in the astronomical schools”. It should be noted that the popular Hendrickson Publishers edition (1993) of C. D. Jonge’s 1854 translation does not have the same information that the Colson translation gives. The indications are that the conjunctions were determinative in deciding the first of the month.


The Samaritans and the Sadducees both determined the calendar according to the conjunction, and the New Moon festival was determined in accordance with the conjunction by all systems during the Temple period, except for the Essene who had a fixed calendar in which 14 Abib fell on a Tuesday each year with intercalation on a fixed cycle. The Samaritans still determine according to the conjunction to this day (cf. the paper God’s Calendar (No. 156)).


The Samaritans introduced an error into their calendar when determining the First month by stating that the New Moon always must fall on or after the equinox, which they determined as falling on 25 March. The calculations (1988-2163 CE), as noted by the priest Eleazar ben Tsedeka, are included in the prayer book for Passover and Mazzot, Knws tplwt hg hpsh whg hmswt (Holon, 1964, pp. 332-336; cf. Reinhard Pummer Samaritan Rituals and Customs, pp 681-682, fn. 201 in Alan D. Crown Ed. The Samaritans, 1989, J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck) Tübingen). This fact also indicates that we are looking at an ancient common source, which is based on a calendar in use when the equinox was at 25 March. This date long preceded the time of Christ and was standardised in the calendar of Julius Caesar (cf. David Ewing Duncan, The Calendar, 4th Estate London, 1998, p. 81).


This indicates the probable source of the error. The ancient time for determining the conjunction at 25 March is seemingly derived from the period of the First and early Second Temple and indicates that we are probably looking at the precise nature of the Calendar under Jeroboam. Thus the holding of the Feast in the Eighth month – condemned by the Bible – would have occurred from the practice of making the New Moon always occur on or after the equinox. This appears not to have been altered in the case of the Samaritans since the fall of Israel. For this reason they came under a curse and are still the only remnant of Israel not blessed with the birthright promise of Joseph. The Samaritan calculations were kept secret, perhaps for precisely this reason. However, they and the Sadducees always determined the calendar according to the conjunction, which was the original practice during the entire Temple period.


The Samaritan calendar thus retained the correct basis of the understanding of the New Moon and the Phasis, but had taken on board the error of fixing the start of the year incorrectly. In some years when the New Moon of the First month fell before the equinox, they determined the start of the year with the Second month and thus had the Feast in the Eight month instead of the Seventh month of the true lunar year. This is most probably the basis of the error made in Jeroboam’s system. Of course, to identify the error involves admitting that the Samaritans were in fact a leftover of the ancient system of Israel and not entirely comprised of Cutheans and Medes, as Judaic propaganda is at pains to assert. The fact is that they are comprised of both elements.


This man-made system of worship is important now, because the Jewish system of worship under the Hillel calendar has done exactly what Jeroboam did. For example, in 1997 – because of the effect of the man-made postponements – the Hillel calendar commenced in the true Second month and not the First month and, thus, the Feasts were all one month out. Under the Hillel system, the Feast of Tabernacles in 1997 was in the Eighth month and not the Seventh month. This error is effected by a system of postponements that has no validity in the Bible. The entire system of determining the Calendar is given in the papers God’s Calendar (No. 156) and also Tishri in Relation to the Equinox (No. 175).


The ancient rule is very simple. The month of Nisan is determined from the New Moon nearest the equinox. The first Holy Day of Unleavened Bread (15 Nisan) must always be past the equinox. 14 Nisan can fall on the equinox – 15 Nisan cannot. This is calculated while the sun is in the sign of Aries (see Schürer, History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, Calendar Appendix III, and also the papers above). Thus, Unleavened Bread cannot be on or before the equinox and cannot commence later than 20-21 April. No Passover is permitted after 20-21 April (cf. also the paper The Moon and the New Year (No. 213)).


This was known and kept by all branches of the Church from the time of Christ. From the second century and the Quartodeciman controversy (see the paper The Passover (No. 98)), the church at Rome began to keep Easter, but they still kept the ancient rules for the determination of Nisan, as Easter also fell in Nisan.


The church at Rome, however, made an alteration to the rule. Friday was held to be the day of the crucifixion and not 14 Nisan (a Wednesday when Christ was crucified; see the paper Timing of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection (No. 159)). The earliest known calendar of the mainstream church to survive is probably the one owned by Willibrord, the English apostle to the Frisians (consecrated bishop 695 CE, noted in the text). That calendar places the crucifixion of Christ on 25 March and James his brother on the same date (following Tertullian). 25 March was the accepted date for centuries, but had to be denied by the Roman Church because it destroys the Friday crucifixion argument. 25 March was a Sunday in 31 CE and was probably derived by calculating back to 31 CE as the assumed year of the crucifixion. 25 March, 31 CE was 14 Nisan based on the New Moons as a true conjunction of the old system before the Hillel calendar. Of itself, this shows that the postponements were not in force. The error by Tertullian was probably based on the text in Josephus that made him come up with 31 CE instead of 30 CE. In 30 CE, 14 Nisan was on a Wednesday, and again based on the true conjunction of the New Moon with no postponements. Tertullian probably made the error from the calculation of the fifteenth year of Tiberius (examined in the paper Timing of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection (No. 159)) (see also Cath. Encyc., Vol. III, art. ‘Calendar’, p. 163 for dates, although the Syriac Martyriology places John and James on 27 December, ibid., p. 162).


Tertullian’s dating demonstrates two things. The first was that he did not accept a Friday crucifixion in the years in question (14 Nisan fell on 25 March only in 31 CE). However, 25 March 31 CE was on a Sunday. Such a timing cannot square with the Gospel accounts (see the paper Timing of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, ibid.). Secondly, as Tertullian was writing long before 358 CE, we know the postponements were not taken into consideration prior to the Hillel calendar in the calculations from the solution. The date of 25 March also has significance from the worship of the god Attis, and entered Christianity through the mysteries (cf. the paper The Origins of Christmas and Easter (No. 235)).


The Church based in Rome changed from determining the Passover from the first Holy Day of Unleavened Bread as succeeding the equinox to the time-frame where Easter was the first Sunday following the Paschal Moon (i.e. the Full Moon of 15 Nisan). The New Moon could occur before the equinox, but the Full Moon could not fall before the equinox. Thus, 14 Nisan might fall on the equinox but 15 Nisan could not fall on the equinox.


In the second century the Church entered into dispute over the transfer of the Passover from 14-15 Nisan to Easter, being determined as we see above. This was essentially the Quartodeciman controversy. The controversy erupted between Anicetus bishop of Rome (succeeding Pius ca. 157 CE) and Polycarp, disciple of John and bishop of Smyrna. He came to Rome (ca. 160-162) in his old age to confer with Anicetus about the introduction of the Easter heresy. The Eastern Church always commenced the Passover from 14 Nisan no matter on what day of the week it fell. In Rome it had begun to be recognised on the Friday and the Sunday, which was the pagan Easter or Ishtar festival (cf. Cath. Encyc., art. ‘Anicetus’, Vol. I, p. 514). Polycarp was unsuccessful in persuading Anicetus to give up this pagan idea and returned, but communion between them was maintained (ibid.). This situation continued until circa 190 CE. Eusebius records (Eccl. Hist., V, xxiii) that at the time of Pope Victor:

A question of no small importance arose at that time. The diocese of all Asia, as from an older tradition, held that the fourteenth day of the moon, on which day the Jews were commanded to sacrifice the lamb, should always be observed as the feast of the life-giving Pasch [epi tes tou sõterion Pascha eotes], contending that the fast ought to end on that day, whatever day of the week it might happen to be (Cath. Encyc., Vol. V, art. ‘Easter’, p. 228).


The churches of Asia ended the fast on 14 Nisan with the Lord’s Supper so that the Feast of Unleavened Bread could commence from the day of the Lord’s Supper. The preparation meal could be had and the meal of Exodus 12 could be prepared for 15 Nisan. The Roman system, however, introduced the practice of breaking the fast on Sunday (see Eusebius, ibid.; cf. Cath. Encyc., ibid.) which is in accordance with the Easter or Astarte/Ishtar system.


This diversity of practice of keeping Easter instead of the Passover at Rome seems to have commenced from the time of Sixtus, bishop of Rome circa 120 CE (see letter of Irenaeus on this; cf. Cath. Encyc., ibid.). Irenaeus states that Polycarp came to Rome on this question circa 150.


It is at this point that Irenaeus denies the Quartodeciman system but nevertheless reproaches Victor (ca. 189-199) for having excommunicated the Asiatics and not having followed the moderation of his predecessors. The facts here are obvious. Irenaeus did not want to be excommunicated and so allegedly accepted Easter over the Passover because Rome stood between him and the East. Like many in the Church today, he was able to accept external persecution but could not withstand internal apostasy.


After Victor’s repression, the Quartodecimans dwindled away. Origen (Philosphumena, VIII, xviii) seems to have regarded them as a mere handful of wrong-headed nonconformists (cf. Cath. Encyc., op. cit.).


No writer before Justin Martyr (ca. 140) mentions the Sunday as the focal point of the Passover festival of the Church (Cath. Encyc., ibid., p. 159). The Paschal fast of preparation was also not forty days in duration as it now is. It was a system of preparation that led up to the Passover (Cath. Encyc., ibid.). The Apostolic Canons and the Apostolic Constitutions give the Passover or Easter pre-eminence among the Feasts. According to Tertullian, the crucifixion and the resurrection were treated equally and the word Pascha (or Passover) designated both days or the period from the crucifixion to the Sunday (which was the Wave-Sheaf offering and from which Pentecost was determined) (ibid., p. 159).


The fixing of the calculations of the Easter system are accorded to the Council of Nicaea, but there is no record in the Canons of such a decision (Cath. Encyc., ibid., p. 160; cf. Turner, Monumenta Nicaeana 152; cf. Vol. V, art. ‘Easter’, p. 228). The record is derived from a fragment inserted in Eusebius’ Life of Constantine (III, xviii, et. seq.). Constantine sought from this document to make the observance uniform and to distance the system from the Jews saying:

And first of all it appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this most holy feast we should follow the practice of the Jews, who have impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin ... for we have received from our Saviour a different way ...


The majority (from Rome into Italy and to Egypt and Africa) were coerced into conformity with the Easter system, but the churches of Syria and Mesopotamia, with the principal centre at Antioch, still would not abandon the Quartodeciman system. This law is recorded in the early letters concerning this dispute that under the ancient Jewish system 14 Nisan must never precede the equinox. Thus, 14 Nisan can fall on the equinox and 15 Nisan must always fall after the equinox. Another point to note is that Constantine, in his letter regarding the Easter/Quartodeciman dispute mentioned above, refers in horror to the fact that the Jews "sometimes kept two Paschas in one year, meaning that two Paschas sometimes fell between one equinox and the next" (Cath. Encyc., Vol. V, op. cit.).


This observation seems to indicate that the rabbinical system had commenced playing with the intercalations. The only reason this would be done was to enable the traditions to be kept and avoid back-to-back Sabbaths. The Hillel calendar did not commence until 358 CE, or 344 in Babylon. Thus it must be concluded that the Hillel system of calculations was not in operation as late as 325 CE. The Samaritans always began the year from the New Moon after 25 March.


The decision, as held to be determined from that council, was that "Easter was to be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon which follows the spring equinox" (Vol. III, op. cit.). This reckoning makes the Easter system fall at the earliest time on 22 March and the latest on 25 April (taking into account the latest possible date for Sunday during the Feast, which may be up to seven days after Passover). This is at variance with the Passover rules and hence there is a slight divergence between the two regarding the latest date. The Hillel system, of course, places the two systems out by as much as a month (as in 1997). The Canons of Nicaea were reconstructed from Constantinople (381) but the letters of Constantine obviously precede that conference. Canon I of the Council of Antioch in 341 indicates that the Syrian bishops from this time accepted the Roman system, which was in fact to be determined from Alexandria. The rules were identified as being:

1.    Easter must be celebrated by all throughout the world on the same Sunday;

2.    This Sunday must follow the fourteenth day of the Paschal moon;

3.    That the moon was to be accounted the paschal [or Passover] moon whose fourteenth day followed the spring equinox [from the ancient rules 14 Nisan could fall on the spring equinox but not before; this is therefore the meaning of following the spring equinox];

4.    That some provision should be made – probably by the church in Alexandria as best skilled in astronomical calculations – for determining the proper date of Easter and communicating it to the rest of the world (see Leo to the Emperor Marcian in Migne, P. L., LIV, 1055).


Thus the determination of Easter by the mainstream system was based on the ancient system for calculating Nisan, and preceded the Hillel system. The comments regarding its determination show that the Hillel system was not in operation even in a de facto way, other than by ad hoc postponements and sometimes even to the extent of ignoring intercalation, which was in fact correct.


Certainly, the Church was reckoning the Passover correctly up until the time of Polycarp and the Quartodeciman dispute which almost tore the Church in half. Half of the Church kept it correctly until 190 CE at least.


Thus, based on these rules from Nicaea, the mainstream churches held their festival of Easter in 1997 on the last two days of Unleavened Bread and not the first days as they did originally. However, they still calculate Nisan under the same rules as they did anciently. They were doing this for some 200 years before the Hillel calendar was invented. They did not adopt the Hillel calendar when it was produced in 358 CE because it was considered to be a recent innovation and broke the rules for the determination of the Feasts.


No church, either Trinitarian or Unitarian, adopted the later Jewish or Hillel system. It was not until the twentieth century that this false system of determining the calendar was adopted by the Church, and then only in one branch. At no time did the Church follow the Samaritan determination of the year from 25 March. However, we will see in the paper The Moon and the New Year (No. 213) that it became the New Year among the Anglo-Saxons for many centuries.


The False System of the Eighth Month


We will now examine how God dealt with Jeroboam for this setting up of the false system in the Eighth month.

1Kings 13:1-3 And behold, a man of God came out of Judah by the word of the LORD to Bethel. Jerobo'am was standing by the altar to burn incense. 2 And the man cried against the altar by the word of the LORD, and said, "O altar, altar, thus says the LORD: `Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josi'ah by name; and he shall sacrifice upon you the priests of the high places who burn incense upon you, and men's bones shall be burned upon you.'" 3 And he gave a sign the same day, saying, "This is the sign that the LORD has spoken: `Behold, the altar shall be torn down, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out.'"


God gives a number of lessons here in this text. He says that He is to appoint another, and prophesies the restoration under Josiah. Thus, through the prophets He establishes who His next anointed would be. This happens while the king and his system are still in power.


Jeroboam thought he could kill this prophet of God. He did not understand that God alone deals with the prophets, and they can only be killed when He decides they have served His purpose and when their death can be an example or witness against that system to which they are sent.


1Kings 13:4-10  And when the king heard the saying of the man of God, which he cried against the altar at Bethel, Jerobo'am stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, "Lay hold of him." And his hand, which he stretched out against him, dried up, so that he could not draw it back to himself. 5 The altar also was torn down, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the LORD. 6 And the king said to the man of God, "Entreat now the favour of the LORD your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me." And the man of God entreated the LORD; and the king's hand was restored to him, and became as it was before. 7 And the king said to the man of God, "Come home with me, and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward." 8 And the man of God said to the king, "If you give me half your house, I will not go in with you. And I will not eat bread or drink water in this place; 9 for so was it commanded me by the word of the LORD, saying, `You shall neither eat bread, nor drink water, nor return by the way that you came.'" 10 So he went another way, and did not return by the way that he came to Bethel.


This lesson in dealing with the prophets is important. God gives His servants the prophets instructions and they are required to obey. This entire sequence is set up as a lesson to us in obedience to God. The offender can only be restored through the Lord’s anointed spokesmen. Job was the example of that, and Jeroboam understood that fact as we see by his request for healing.


1Kings 13:11-32  Now there dwelt an old prophet in Bethel. And his sons came and told him all that the man of God had done that day in Bethel; the words also which he had spoken to the king, they told to their father. 12 And their father said to them, "Which way did he go?" And his sons showed him the way which the man of God who came from Judah had gone. 13 And he said to his sons, "Saddle the ass for me." So they saddled the ass for him and he mounted it. 14 And he went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak; and he said to him, "Are you the man of God who came from Judah?" And he said, "I am." 15 Then he said to him, "Come home with me and eat bread." 16 And he said, "I may not return with you, or go in with you; neither will I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place; 17 for it was said to me by the word of the LORD, `You shall neither eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by the way that you came.'" 18 And he said to him, "I also am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, `Bring him back with you into your house that he may eat bread and drink water.'" But he lied to him. 19 So he went back with him, and ate bread in his house, and drank water. 20 And as they sat at the table, the word of the LORD came to the prophet who had brought him back; 21 and he cried to the man of God who came from Judah, "Thus says the LORD, `Because you have disobeyed the word of the LORD, and have not kept the commandment which the LORD your God commanded you, 22 but have come back, and have eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which he said to you, "Eat no bread, and drink no water"; your body shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.'" 23 And after he had eaten bread and drunk, he saddled the ass for the prophet whom he had brought back. 24 And as he went away a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his body was thrown in the road, and the ass stood beside it; the lion also stood beside the body. 25 And behold, men passed by, and saw the body thrown in the road, and the lion standing by the body. And they came and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt. 26 And when the prophet who had brought him back from the way heard of it, he said, "It is the man of God, who disobeyed the word of the LORD; therefore the LORD has given him to the lion, which has torn him and slain him, according to the word which the LORD spoke to him." 27 And he said to his sons, "Saddle the ass for me." And they saddled it. 28 And he went and found his body thrown in the road, and the ass and the lion standing beside the body. The lion had not eaten the body or torn the ass. 29 And the prophet took up the body of the man of God and laid it upon the ass, and brought it back to the city, to mourn and to bury him. 30 And he laid the body in his own grave; and they mourned over him, saying, "Alas, my brother!" 31 And after he had buried him, he said to his sons, "When I die, bury me in the grave in which the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones. 32 For the saying which he cried by the word of the LORD against the altar in Bethel, and against all the houses of the high places which are in the cities of Sama'ria, shall surely come to pass."


The prophet was tested as to his obedience. The other prophet lied to him. He was allowed to do this as an example of false witness. The first prophet had an example of the word of the Lord and saw the power of His actions. Yet when he was faced with another prophet who spoke contrary to the express word of God, he believed the other man and not the word of God he knew to be true. He paid for this with his life. In order that he fulfill the prophecy that he would not be buried in the tomb of his fathers, the prophet buried him in his own grave, which he would then share with him as he caused his death. This view applies to our own times and our own circumstances. We have seen the express word of God. We have experienced the calling and the power of God, yet we follow the precepts of men and not the word of God. This has been the case now for decades in this century, and God is dealing with the Church. The people of the Church of God must not be as Jeroboam was, otherwise or each and every one, high or low, will forfeit their place in the Kingdom of God.


1Kings 13:33-34  After this thing Jerobo'am did not turn from his evil way, but made priests for the high places again from among all the people; any who would, he consecrated to be priests of the high places. 34 And this thing became sin to the house of Jerobo'am, so as to cut it off and to destroy it from the face of the earth. (RSV)

Just as Jeroboam appointed false teachers who produced idolatrous doctrines, so too has the Church polluted itself by false doctrine, rendering the word of God as nothing by teaching the precepts of men. People who teach for hire have followed false systems. False premises are advanced to justify false doctrine. One such example concerns the oracles of God (see the paper The Oracles of God (No. 184)). The premise is advanced that the Jews have the oracles of God and that concerns the Calendar. If that is true, why do these same people observe the New Testament which is rejected by Judaism? Why do they keep Pentecost on Sunday when the Jews keep it on 6 Sivan?


These same teachers of false doctrine say what is convenient and not what is true.


Jeroboam still did not repent of his evil.

1Kings 14:1-5 At that time Abi'jah the son of Jerobo'am fell sick. 2 And Jerobo'am said to his wife, "Arise, and disguise yourself, that it be not known that you are the wife of Jerobo'am, and go to Shiloh; behold, Ahi'jah the prophet is there, who said of me that I should be king over this people. 3 Take with you ten loaves, some cakes, and a jar of honey, and go to him; he will tell you what shall happen to the child." 4 Jerobo'am's wife did so; she arose, and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahi'jah. Now Ahi'jah could not see, for his eyes were dim because of his age. 5 And the LORD said to Ahi'jah, "Behold, the wife of Jerobo'am is coming to inquire of you concerning her son; for he is sick. Thus and thus shall you say to her."


These people did not fear God. The power of God and the relationship of God with His servants the prophets were not understood. Jeroboam sought to consult the prophets, but did not believe that they were in direct relationship with God. Only the consecrated priests were considered to be of any longstanding importance. That is why the prophets have been killed. They obey God and not men.


1Kings 14:5-16  When she came, she pretended to be another woman. 6 But when Ahi'jah heard the sound of her feet, as she came in at the door, he said, "Come in, wife of Jerobo'am; why do you pretend to be another? For I am charged with heavy tidings for you. 7 Go, tell Jerobo'am, `Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: "Because I exalted you from among the people, and made you leader over my people Israel, 8 and tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you; and yet you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commandments, and followed me with all his heart, doing only that which was right in my eyes, 9 but you have done evil above all that were before you and have gone and made for yourself other gods, and molten images, provoking me to anger, and have cast me behind your back; 10 therefore behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jerobo'am, and will cut off from Jerobo'am every male, both bond and free in Israel, and will utterly consume the house of Jerobo'am, as a man burns up dung until it is all gone. 11 Any one belonging to Jerobo'am who dies in the city the dogs shall eat; and any one who dies in the open country the birds of the air shall eat; for the LORD has spoken it."' 12 Arise therefore, go to your house. When your feet enter the city, the child shall die. 13 And all Israel shall mourn for him, and bury him; for he only of Jerobo'am shall come to the grave, because in him there is found something pleasing to the LORD, the God of Israel, in the house of Jerobo'am. 14 Moreover the LORD will raise up for himself a king over Israel, who shall cut off the house of Jerobo'am today. And henceforth 15 the LORD will smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and root up Israel out of this good land which he gave to their fathers, and scatter them beyond the Euphra'tes, because they have made their Ashe'rim, provoking the LORD to anger. 16 And he will give Israel up because of the sins of Jerobo'am, which he sinned and which he made Israel to sin."


The sins of the leadership of the people were visited on the people. Jeroboam’s sins were twofold. The first was altering the Feasts from the Seventh to the Eighth month. He was punished for that fact. However, he did not give up his false gods and for that fact and for the Asherah Israel was sent into captivity. Jeroboam’s house was punished and there was war with Judah all the days of his life, both with Rehoboam and with Abijam (1Kgs. 15:6-7).


1Kings 14:17-20  Then Jerobo'am's wife arose, and departed, and came to Tirzah. And as she came to the threshold of the house, the child died. 18 And all Israel buried him and mourned for him, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by his servant Ahi'jah the prophet. 19 Now the rest of the acts of Jerobo'am, how he warred and how he reigned, behold, they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. 20 And the time that Jerobo'am reigned was twenty-two years; and he slept with his fathers, and Nadab his son reigned in his stead. (RSV)


Jeroboam caused Israel to be sent into captivity through his poor leadership and his false religious system. Judah was not any better; and the remnant of the Samaritans is a minority so small that they are a standing indictment of the system and a direct contradiction of the birthright promise to Ephraim, from whom they claim descent. Ephraim is a fruitful bough. His seed shall become a multitude of nations (Gen. 48:19; 49:26). Soon Messiah will return and the Samaritans and the Jews will be made to understand their errors in this most important aspect of the worship of the One True God.


Israel inherits the promises given to them regardless of the merits and correctness of their devotion. God will open their eyes to their errors in these Last Days.