- Yom Teruah
- Yom HaKippurim
The word tekufah appears four times in Scripture
Most Christian and Jewish theologians postulate that tekufah refers specifically to the vernal equinox, which determines their timing of Pesach/Passover. The Christians celebrate Ishtar (Easter) on the first Sunday after the vernal equinox, the modern Orthodox Jewish calendar, set at Yavne in 120 CE (under the direction of Yochanan ben Zakkai) is also based on the equinox. For ease of reading, statements that support the tekufah/equinox scenario are in dark blue, my responses are in light blue.
1) “The equinox occurs when the sun “crosses” the equator. The Hebrew word is tekufah, and refers to the solstices as well as to the equinoxes. The four seasons in the year are called tekufot.
Although the Hebrew word tekufah bears no direct peshat (simple) reference to the equinox, it infers it by being a demarcation or end of a cycle. “Season” is derived from Hebrew words like yom, moed, malak, eth, layil, zeman, zaman. Tekufah is a word that could describe when you need to change the oil in your car, the old oil comes to the end (tekufah) of it’s cycle, and gets replaced. We imagine cycles to be round, and the root word of tekufah is naqaf, as:
You shall not naqaf (round) the corners of your heads,
neither shall you mar the corners of thy beard.
Vayikra / Leviticus 19:27
And ye shall naqaf (compass) the city, all you men of war,
and go round about the city once. Thus shall you do six days.
There are two periods in Rabbinical Jewish history when Jews began to adopt pagan or shall we say “modern” calendars; one was in Babylon, the other was at the counsel of Yavne in 120 CE. As the temple was being destroyed in Jerusalem Yochanan ben Zakkai was in Yavne trying to keep the Rabbinical boat afloat. It was at Yavne where the Rabbis ordered the canonization of the Tanakh, and where the modern Orthodox calendar was instituted to replace the Torah based calendar. That being said, here’s some interesting tidbits from the Talmud.
Shabbat 75a Rav Shmuel bar Nachmani says in the name of Rav Yochanan:
What is the source in the Torah that one is obligated to figure out the equinoxes and mazalot (zodiac)? It says “.. and you shall observe and do, for that is your wisdom and understanding before the eyes of the nations …”. What is wisdom and understanding before the eyes of the nations? Say that it is the calculation of equinoxes (tekufot) and mazalot.”
On first glance it might look like the Pharisees are striving to find ways to justify new traditions, but in reality YHWH says that the sun, moon and stars are provided for signs, seasons, days and years. Bereshet / Genesis 1:14 states that Elohim created lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night, but many people focus on only one element rather than all three.
Here’s an interesting conflict between Yochanan and Shmuel as to whether magushta (Persian astrologers) are sorcery or blasphemy.
One should not learn from a Magush on pain of death, and one who can calculate the tekufot u’mazalot (celestial cycles and Zodiac signs) should do it on pain of being shunned.
Clearly it was strictly prohibited to learn how to calculate the equinoxes or Mazalot (Wheel of Stars) from other cultures, but the reality is that Jews throughout history employed syncretistic elements of pagan culture to explain what YHWH revealed through His Prophets and Priests.
The Rabbis knew the calculations of the equinoxes were important in pagan sun worship culture, but the pressure was on the Jewish status quo to stay on top of their game and stay relevant. However, take a look at the names of the “Jewish” months, and compare them with the Babylonian months (in brackets) below:
Adar (Adaru) Nissan (Nisanu) Iyar (Ayaru) Sivan (Simanu) Tamuz (Du’uzu)
Av (Abu) Elul (Ululu) Tishrey (Tashritu) Cheshvan (Arach-Samna) Kislev (Kislimu)
Tevet (Tebetu) Shvat (Shabatu) Adaru (Adaru)
The names of the “Jewish” months aren’t Jewish, nor are they Torah based. When in Babylon, many Jews adopted Babylonian culture, but not all. Those with Torah consciousness knew not to follow pagan customs. But in Beit Alpha, Israel, there is synagogue with a 6th century mosaic on the floor with the zodiac wheel, a chariot of the Sun (Greek motif) in the middle, and four “tekufot” (turning points) of the year, solstices and equinoxes, each named for the month in which it occurs, tekufah of Tishrei, tekufah of Tevet, tekufah of Nissan, tekufah of Tamuz. So just because Rabbis of the past embraced pagan ideas, doesn’t mean we should follow!
We know there was a body of ancient Jewish knowledge about the Mazalot, these were signs in the stars that pertained to what YHWH revealed to the ancients, but as this synagogue shows, modern pagan ideas were overlaid on top of the original revelation YHWH gave.
2) Tekufot is the beginning of the four seasons. … tekufah stands for the true, not the mean, equinox.
Tekufah is only mentioned four times in the Tanakh referring to the end of a period, or an expanse, here are the occurrences:
A) “And you shall observe chag shavuot (the feast of weeks), of the bikkur (firstfruits) of wheat harvest, and the Chag ha’Asif (feast of ingathering which is Succoth or Feast of Tabernacles) at the shaneh (year’s) tekufah (end). Shemot/Exodus 34:22
Here tekufah is translated in most Bibles as end, but we know that the Feast of Tabernacles is in the seventh month NOT at the end of the year. What’s the answer? Tekufah refers to the end or part of another cycle, therefore equinox is inferred perhaps, Spring and Fall Festivals both fall on equinoxes.
B) “Yom (time) tekufah (wherefore it came to pass) about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of YHWH. 1 Samuel 1:20
Clearly tekufah here refers to the end of Hannah’s nine month pregnancy, NOT an equinox.
C) “Tekufah (and it came to pass at the end of the) shaneh (year), that the host of Syria came up against him: and they came to Judah and Jerusalem, and destroyed all the princes of the people from among the people, and sent all the spoil of them unto the king of Damascus. 2 Chronicles 24:23.
Tekufah here refers to the end of the annual cycle, more often the Hebrew teshuva (which means to “turn to” or “return”) is uses, we can also clearly see in several similar passages in the Tanakh that refers to the springtime also inferring the spring equinox.
D) “His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his tekufah (circuit) unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.” Psalm 19:6
Here, “the end” and “circuit” (tekufah) of the sun refer to the same ideas, that the sun has an orbit or path.
1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.
The heavens declare the glory of Elohim; and the firmament (spread) shows his handiwork.
2 Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night shows knowledge.
3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
4 Their measuring line (line) is gone out through all the eretz (earth), and their words to the border (end) of the tevel (world). In them has he set a home (tabernacle) for the sun,
5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chuppah (wedding canopy), and rejoices as a strong man to guard a path.
6 His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his tekufah (circuit) unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.
The EARTH revolves around the sun**, the sun is the center of our solar system, and only one of the components that set our seasons:
And Elohim said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky
to separate the day from the night,
and let them be for signs, seasons, days and years,
and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.”
And it was so.
Elohim made two great lights the greater light to govern the day
and the lesser light to govern the night.
He also made the stars.
Elohim set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth,
to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness.
And Elohim saw that it was good.
And there was evening, and there was morning
the fourth day.
Another component to the equation is, if the sun governs the day, and the moon governs the night, then what do the stars govern?
They fought from heaven; the stars in their paths fought against Sisera. Judges 5:20
Which makes Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the private chambers of the south. Job 9:9
“Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? Can you bring forth the wheel of stars into its seasons and stand in the path of Ayish/Iyutha (Aldeberan) and her satellites (Hyades). Do you know the laws of the heavens and can you establish their rule over the earth? Have you given wisdom to the Lance Star (Antares) or intelligence to the Bow Star?” Job 38:31-33, 36
Compare the literal Hebrew Aramaic translation above, with the KJV below.
“Can you bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons? 33 Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth? 36 Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart? Job 38:31-33, 36
He tells the number of the stars; he calls them all by their names. Psalms 147:4
Thus says YHWH, which gives the sun for a light by day, and the chuqqah (statutes) of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divides the sea when the waves thereof roar; Jeremiah 31:35
You who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth, Seek him that makes the seven stars and Orion, and turns the shadow of death into the morning, and makes the day dark with night: that calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out upon the face of the earth: YHWH is his name.” Amos 5:7-8
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Luke 21:25
Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him… When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star , which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. Matthew 2:2, 9, 10.
Clearly Scripture tells us that there was a rich knowledge base in ancient times that included the Mazalot (stars) along with the sun and moon for reckoning. This is a subject that is far beyond the scope of this paper, however, for more information on the Ancient Biblical calendar please visit www.wheelofstars.com
YHWH be with you,
Baruch Ben Daniel
**A 1999 Gallup poll found that 18% of Americans believe that the sun revolves around the earth.
The question: “As far as you know, does the earth revolve around the sun or does the sun revolve around the earth?”
About four out of five Americans (79%) responded that the earth revolves around the sun, while 18% say it is the other way around.
In Germany 16% believe the sun revolves around the earth, 10% said they didn’t know.
In Great Britain, 67% said the earth revolves around the sun, 19% said the sun revolves around the earth, and 14% didn’t know for sure.
The results from America are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,016 adults, 18 years and older, conducted June 25-27, 1999. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.