How does the Biblical calendar WORK?
What are NEW MOONS?
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Hebrew (Biblical) days begin at sunset, with the weekly Sabbath occuring from Friday sunset to Sunday sunset. Our present system of time divides a day into 24 hours, with each hour composed of 60 minutes, and each minute further divided into 60 seconds. The Hebrew day also has 24 hours, but each hour is divided into 1,080 parts (3,600 of our modern seconds). This means that a Hebrew 'part' is roughly equivelant to 3 1/3 seconds.
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Hebrew civil years, which begin in the Spring, consist (usually) of twelve months. These months are Abib (Nisan) with 30 days, Iyar (29 days), Sivan (30 days), Tammuz (29 days), Ab (30 days), Elul (29 days), Tishri (30 days), Heshvan (29 or 30 days), Kislev 29 or 30 (29 or 30 days), Tebeth (29 days), Shebat (30 days) and Adar (29 days).
There are several types of years in the Hebrew (Biblical) calendar. A deficient common year contains 353 days, a regular common year contains 354 days and a perfect common year contains 355 days. An intercalary or leap year is one where a thirteenth month, called Adar 1, is added. Leap years can be composed of 383, 384 or 385 days.
Why New Moons were important in Biblical times
Some ancient Israelites observed something called New Moons. When a New Moon occurred (roughly every 29 days) the people used the day not only to mark time but also to rejoice before God. King Saul, the first human king over a united Israel, held special meals or banquets on these days (1Samuel 20). New moons featured prominently in the Old Testament and even in the New Testament.
In today's world we are not likely to lose our calendars. With computers, the Internet, cable and broadcast television, radio, newspapers, watches, cell phones, iPads and so on we can know (whenever we wish) the year, month, date and time with incredible accuracy. In biblical times, however, this was not so. Faithful observance of each new moon was required so that the calendar would never become corrupted. To people in the Bible new moons were their calendars.