Mo'edim and Holidays

Mo’edim: The Appointed Times of YHVH as Found in the Torah

Shalom, everyone! The mo’edim are appointed times YHVH (YAH) gave unto B’nei Yisrael to remember and observe as meetings between Yisrael and The Creator. The mo’edim were to be times of thanksgiving, worship, and praise unto YAH, and times of rest and reflection for B’nei Yisrael. Each mo’ed had specific instructions from YAH on how they were to be observed including, time of occurrence, sacrifices that were to be performed, and permissible activities during these very special seasons. The mo’edim are the times when YAH draws closest to His Creation; they are also times for us to stop and reflect upon our actions, repent of any wrongdoing, grow closer to YAH through worship and prayer, and praise and thank him for all that He has done.

The mo’edim are so special to YAH that He created a specific ecclesiastical calendar for their observance. In Exodus 12:1-2, YAH commands Yisrael to start their ecclesiastical and regnal year with the month of Aviv in the Spring. Psalm 104:19 states that YAH made the moon to mark the mo’edim. The ecclesiastical calendar was, therefore, a lunar calendar to be used by the priests, trained in astronomy, agriculture and the natural environment to determine when the annual and monthly mo’edim would occur during the lunar year. The only mo’ed not subject to this ecclesiastical lunar calendar was the weekly Sabbath, the last day of a seven-day weekly cycle reckoned according to a solar calendar.

This ecclesiastical lunar calendar would begin in the Spring usually with the sighting of the first full moon after the arrival of the Vernal (Spring) Equinox. The lunar year typically has twelve full moons/lunar months. There are exceptions to this rule, however, in that the lunar year may have 13 full moons. When this occurs, the next full moon after the 13th full moon is counted as the first full moon of the new ecclesiastical year. This is so that the planting and harvest seasons, specifically Spring and Fall, remain in sync. As a rule, the first full moon of the ecclesiastical year cannot be counted before the arrival of the Vernal (Spring) Equinox.

Ancient pre-exilic Yisrael utilized two calendars: An ecclesiastical lunar calendar for the annual and monthly mo’edim, and a civil solar calendar used by laymen to conduct their day-to-day affairs. Please note that the two calendars were concurrent to and complemented each other, they were never meant to be combined into one lunisolar calendar. Civil business was conducted according to a solar calendar, with each date based upon the Earth‘s rate of rotation measured relative to the fixed location of the sun and the 12 constellations (zodiacal signs) visible to the naked eye. A full year on the solar calendar has been scientifically proven to have 365.2425 days. Therefore, the solar calendar was used in ancient times to mark the numbering of the seasons, days, months and years, beginning in the Fall when the year number was incremented by one.

As a result of our exile to AssyriaBabylon, and Persia, the returning remnant of our people to the Land of Israel strayed from YAH‘s original ecclesiastical lunar calendar and separate civil solar calendar and created a single lunisolar calendar to track both the mo’edim and civil business. The returnees also adopted the Assyrian-Babylonian practice of using the dark moon to mark the start of each month, instead of the full moon when the moon was most visible and at its brightest as YAH originally intended. This undue foreign influence changed the times and the seasons, thereby allowing the remembrance and observance of the mo’edim to fall out of sync with YAH‘s original plan. This post-exilic lunisolar calendar forms the basis of the modern “Hebrew” calendar today. In these last days, however, the remembrance of YAH‘s ecclesiastical lunar calendar is being restored; please view the 2016 presentation called “Ancient Pre-Exilic Israelite Menology” by Brother Ron Shields of Kingdom Harbinger Ministries for more information.

The following is a list of the appointed times (mo’edim) commanded by YAH) to B’nei Yisrael to observe as found in the Torah given to Moshe. Each of these mo’edim will be discussed in greater detail in later posts:


Mo’ed
(English Translation)
Torah Reference Description
Mo’edim Subject to the Civil Solar Calendar
Shabbat
(The weekly Sabbath)
A weekly day of rest from creative work (melachah) observed on the seventh and last day of the seven-day weekly cycle. The weekly Shabbat occurs from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday, a period of 24 hours. This commandment was given in commemoration of YAH‘s day of rest after six days of creating the heavens of the earth; and also as a memorial of the deliverance of B’nei Yisrael from slavery in Mizraim (Egypt) where they were not permitted a day of rest.
Mo’edim Subject to the Ecclesiastical Lunar Calendar
Rosh Chodesh
(New Moon)
In pre-exilic Yisrael, the new moon was the full moon, when the light of the moon was at its brightest. This corresponds to the Creation narrative when YAH created the moon as the lesser light to govern the night. B’nei Yisrael are commanded to observe the sighting of the new moon (full moon) as a joyous celebration with the blast of trumpets/horns. It was the nations who took Yisrael captive, Assyria, Babylon, and Persia who used the sighting of the dark moon as the start of a new month. This foreign practice of using of the dark moon as the “new moon” for the beginning of months was later adopted by the post-exilic Judean community due to the influence of AssyrianBabylonian and Persian culture. 
Pesach
(Passover)
Observed annually on the 14th day of the First Month (Aviv), or the 14th day of the second month if one could not observe it on the 14th day of the first month. This day is the last preparation day for the seven-day Chag HaMatzot (Feast of Unleavened Bread). On this day, all leaven is removed from among B’nei Yisrael in all our habitations, the Pesach lamb/kid offering is sacrificed in the afternoon, but eaten later that evening after sunset, corresponding to the 15th day of the First Month (Aviv).
Chag HaMatzot
(Feast of Unleavened Bread)
Observed annually from the 15th to the 21st day of the First Month (Aviv). During this seven-day festival, B’nei Yisrael are commanded to eat unleavened bread and abstain from consuming any and all products containing leaven. The first day (15th of Aviv) and seventh day (21st of Aviv) of this festival are days of rest (Sabbaths) on which B’nei Yisrael are commanded to abstain from creative work (melachah) and hold a sacred celebration.
Sefirat HaOmer
(Counting of the Omer)
The counting of the Omer begins on the day after the first Shabbat after the conclusion of Chag HaMatzot in the First Month, and lasts for 50 days, seven complete weeks until Shavuot, usually in the third week of Third Month.
Shavuot/Yom Ha-Bikkurim
(Feast of Weeks/Day of First Fruits)
Observed in the third week of the Third Month, the 50th day of the counting of the Omer. It is a day of rest (sabbath) on which B’nei Yisrael are commanded to abstain from creative work (melachah) and hold a sacred convocation.
Yom Teruah
(Day of Trumpets, Day of Blasts)
Observed annually on first (1st) day of the Seventh Month (Ethanim) commemorated with a sacred convocation with the loud blasts of trumpets/horns and/or beating of drums. This is a day of rest (sabbath) on which B’nei Yisrael are forbidden to do any creative work (melachah).

Also known as “Rosh HaShanah” (“Head of the Year”) and celebrated as the civil new year in Jewish communities.

Yom Ha-Kippurim
(Day of Atonement)
A complete abstention from work, food, and drink observed annually from before sunset of the 9th day through the 10th day of the Seventh Month, a period of about 25 hours.
Sukkot
(Feast of Booths, Feast of Tabernacles, Feast of Ingathering)
A seven-day festival observed annually from the 15th day to the 21st day of the Seventh Month. For seven days, B’nei Yisrael were commanded to live in booths/tents as a reminder of the sojourning of the ancestors in the wilderness after the exodus from Mizraim (Egypt). On the 15th day, B’nei Yisrael were commanded to abstain from work and hold a sacred convocation. During this convocation, we are commanded to bring the four species (product of hadar trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook) and rejoice before YAH.
Shemini Atzeret
(Eighth Day of Assembly)
Observed annually on the 22nd day of the Seventh Month, immediately after Sukkot. Sometimes referred to as the eighth day of SukkotB’nei Yisrael are commanded to abstain from work and hold a sacred convocation.
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