Topics from Sanders, Judaism, Chapter Eight: The Festival Calendar

The Pharisaic Calendar:

Month = Full cycle of moon: 29.5 days [in practice: 29 or 30 days] as determined by court on the basis of testimony of witnesses.
Year = 12 months [12 x 29.5 = 354 days].
Because holidays are defined by solar agricultural seasons [e.g., Passover must be in "spring"] lunar years must be synchronized to solar, by periodic addition of extra month at end of year [before Passover] , as decreed by court.
24 Priestly courses
Fragment of Calendar Text (Mishmarot list) from Qumran

Jubilees Calendar

[as followed by Book of Jubilees, Enoch, Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, Community Rule, Damascus Covenant, War Scroll, etc.]:
Advocates of this calendar were aware that most Jews were using an "erroneous" reckoning.
Jubilees calendar ascribed (in Damascus Covenant) to Teacher of Righteousness.
364 days [7 x 52]
26 Priestly courses (instead of 24)
Months and festivals fall on same day of week every year!
Passover begins and ends on Tuesdays (14-21 of first month).
The "'omer" is brought on Sunday (26 of first month).

Exegetical roots of dispute:

Leviticus 23

[...after description of Passover...]:
And you shall count from the morrow after the sabbath , from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering ['omer]; seven full weeks shall they be, counting fifty days to the morrow after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a cereal offering of new grain to the Lord . (Leviticus 23:15-16).

...[Description of Pentecost]

Pharisees understood "sabbath" as referring to first festival of Passover. Hence count began on 16th day of first month, but not on a specific day of week.
Samaritans understood the "sabbath" to be the Saturday within the Passover week.
Jubilees calendar understood "sabbath" to refer to first Saturday after Passover (25th of first month). The fifty-day count began on Sunday , the 26th and Pentecost turned out on Sunday, the 15th day of third month.

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