[17] Appointed-times and Years are known from Lights in the Sky

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Gen 1:14-15 will now be examined to show that appointed-times and years are determined from lights in the sky.

Gen 1:14, “And the Almighty said: Let there be lights [3974 mahohr] in the expanse of the heavens to separate between the daytime and between the night, and let them be for signs, and for appointed-times [4150 moed], and for days and years.”
Gen 1:15, “And let them be for lights [3974 mahohr] in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and it was so.”

In verse 15 the word “them” refers back to the subject in verse 14, namely the lights. Thus verse 15 is saying in essence, “let the lights be for lights ... to give light on the earth”. Even the names of the heavenly bodies are absent to put emphasis on the “light bringing” purpose and mission of these heavenly bodies to fulfill the need to determine “signs, appointed-times, days, and years”. The triply emphasized mission of light from the heavenly bodies to supply light to determine appointed-times and years must be given its appropriate place in thought and use.

The word “signs” [226 oht] in Gen 1:14 is used for the rainbow in Gen 9:12-13, for the ten plagues in Egypt, for the Sabbath in Ex 31:13, 17, for a miracle in Judg 6:17, for the prediction of two deaths in I Sam 2:34, and in other ways. Gen 1:14 is saying that the lights in the heavens are examples of signs. Carefully reread Gen 1:14 to note that it is not saying that signs [226 oht] are to determine the appointed-times and years. The subject of the sentence is the lights in the sky, not the signs. The lights in the sky determine signs. The lights in the sky determine appointed- times.

The lights in the sky determine days. The lights in the sky determine years. Verse 15 shows that it is some aspect of the light from these lights in the sky that cause the determination. For the sake of completeness and to continue to show the use of the light from these heavenly lights, here is a literal translation of Gen 1:16-18.

Gen 1:16, “And the Almighty made the two great lights [3974 mahohr], the greater light [3974 mahohr] to rule the daytime and the lesser light [3974 mahohr] to rule the night, and [He made] the stars [to rule the night].”
Gen 1:17, “And the Almighty set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth”
Gen 1:18 “and to rule by daytime and by night, and to separate between the light and between the darkness.”

The nature of the rulership of the heavenly lights mentioned in verses 16-18 is the dominance of their light, which again puts emphasis on the light from these lights. At the end of verse 16, concerning the stars, I added in brackets “to rule the night” because that is exactly what is mentioned about the heavenly lights, including the stars, in verse 18.

There are people who teach that the biblical month begins at the sundown of a day when the moon cannot be seen at all. Some people will use the time of the conjunction (astronomical new moon). I will call this theory the invisible moon theory or the conjunction theory. This is contrary to the biblical emphasis and stress on the use of light to determine the appointed times.

On various occasions I have heard advocates of the conjunction theory claim that before the Babylonian captivity under Nebuchadnezzar, ancient Israel (specifically the House of Judah) determined the start of a month with the sundown that began a day, but the moon was invisible near that sundown.

These people go on to claim that after the return from captivity under Ezra and Nehemiah, Israel, under the influence of the Babylonian calendar and Persian political dominance, no longer continued the alleged original practice since the time of Moses. To judge the rationality of this view, let us read a couple of verses from Neh 8.

Neh 8:2, “And Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month.”
Neh 8:9, “And Nehemiah who [was] the governor, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites who taught the people, said to all the people: Today is holy to YHWH your Almighty.”

Since the day that is stated to be the first day of the seventh month is definitely declared to be holy, it must have been determined correctly, and this was after the return from the captivity under Ezra and Nehemiah. Hence they could not have adopted a pagan practice contrary to what was correct under the law as taught by Moses. The Levitical priesthood had the proper pattern to determine the start of a month set in motion from this day onward down through the later centuries until the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE, and there is no known time during which the priesthood is thought to have had any significant doctrinal upheaval in its own ranks during this period.