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Frank W. Nelte

July 1996

The Origin of the Present Jewish Calendar

The starting date of the Jewish calendar is 3761 B.C., and that starting date is supposed to be the molad of Tishri BEFORE the creation of Adam and Eve! The Jewish scholar Moses Maimonides, who died in 1204 A.D., discusses the calendar at great length in his work "Kiddusch hachodesch". Maimonides explains the starting molad as follows:

"For God gathered together the earth out of which He formed the first man during the first (thirteenth) hour. Since, therefore, from the time of the first foundation of the world to that of the perfected man there had elapsed five whole days and fourteen hours of the sixth day, we must make it our business to know both the month to which those days and hours belong, and also the first New Moon of that year to which the month belongs. From the time therefore of that New Moon, which occurred when the second (fourteenth) hour of the sixth day was ending, there must be subtracted four days, eight hours and 876 chalakim (4d. 8h. 876 ch.), which is the excess of a Common Lunar year of twelve months above an exact number of weeks; and WE FIND THAT THE FIRST NEW MOON OF THE YEAR WHICH PRECEDED THE CREATION OF MAN OCCURRED ON the second day of the week, when five hours and 204 chalakim of its night had elapsed. {Maimonides here means: D6 H14 P0 MINUS 4D 8H 876P = D2 H5 P204, or Sunday evening, just after 11:00 p.m..} Its character [molad] is therefore 2d. 5h. 204 ch. And certainly, by computing those years which have elapsed since the creation of the world, THIS ANTICIPATIVE YEAR may be determined."

This is quoted from page 43 of Burnaby's "Jewish and Muhammadan Calendars", and Burnaby himself has translated a quotation from the Latin version of Maimonides by L. de Compiegne de Veil, which was published in London in 1683 under the title "Tractatus de Consecratione Calendarum, et de Ratione Intercalandi".

Maimonides' explanation is obviously not historically factual! Adam and Eve were created by God more than 200 years before 3760 B.C.. Now since the calendar Maimonides is commenting on is the present one, which can be traced back to Hillel II, the question is: WHERE did Hillel II get this date of 3760 B.C. for the creation of Adam and Eve from?

The answer is: there is ONLY ONE document in all Jewish literature from which this wrong date can come, and that is a work known as "The Seder Olam Rabbah" (or "The Greater Seder Olam"), a second century A.D. midrashic chronological work, generally regarded as a work of the tanna Jose b. Halafta. [The "tannaim" were the masters of the "oral law", i.e. the men who wrote the Talmud.]

The Seder Olam is a chronological record extending from Adam to the revolt of Bar Kokba in the reign of emperor Hadrian in the 130's A.D.. It is terribly flawed in the chronology it presents; thus the claim that Adam was only created in 3760 B.C..

But there is a very specific reason why the Seder Olam is so flawed. It is not as if the Jewish historians suddenly "lost all knowledge" of the Persian period. Not at all. Rather, the Seder Olam is evidence of a Jewish attempt to DELIBERATELY SUPPRESS THE FACT THAT THE DATING OF CHRIST'S MINISTRY FULFILLED THE 70 WEEKS PROPHECY OF DANIEL 9! In the Seder Olam the history of the Persian period was deliberately shortened so that the 70 weeks prophecy of Daniel 9 would point to Simon Bar Kokba, instead of pointing directly to Jesus Christ. The Seder Olam was a direct attempt to divert attention away from Christ's ministry.

HOWEVER, what this flawed date, originating after the second Roman destruction of Jerusalem, proves is the following:


Since the starting date of the calendar is based on a document that could not have been written before 130 A.D., as it records the Bar Kokba revolt, therefore the whole calendar calculation had to originate after 130 A.D..

[Comment: For those who are not familiar with the calendar calculations: the starting date is the vital key to the whole calculations. Without it you don't have a calendar! Initially the molad for the starting year was obtained by calculating backwards from other known molads. From then onwards your starting date is absolutely essential to the whole calculations.]

So we need to acknowledge that we are dealing with a calendar that was NOT around during the ministry of Jesus Christ and during the lifetime of the original apostles. It originated at some point AFTER the destruction of Jerusalem in the 130's A.D., and was then preserved by the so-called "calendar reform" of Hillel II in the late 350's A.D..

The explanation provided by Maimonides was clearly invented to provide a plausible justification for such an unusual starting date, which starting date is in reality totally without any significance.

Frank W. Nelte