The Jewish Year

As we begin our study of Leviticus 23 and the feasts God directed the Israelites to celebrate each year, it is important to note that the Jewish calendar differs from the one most countries of the world use today. Unlike our Gregorian calendar that calculates a year by 365 (or 366) rotations around the sun, the Jewish calendar follows the cycles of the moon. However, its 29- and 30-day months aren’t enough to keep up with the solar year, so an extra month is added to this lunisolar Jewish calendar seven times in a 19-year cycle. We are currently in that added month, which is inserted between the Jewish months of Adar and and Nisan. Here’s how the calendars compare and where the Jewish months are mentioned by name in the Old Testament:

Jewish Month in OrderJewish Month by Name(s) & Feast(s)Corresponding Months & Days for 2022Scripture Reference
The Jewish 24-hour day begins at sunset. Each new month is timed with the new moon.**See note below concerning the dating of these feasts.
First
*Jewish religious new year, marking Israelites’ exodus from Egypt
Nisan (Abib)

14: Passover
15-22: Unleavened Bread
16**: Firstfruits
March-April

April 15 (Good Friday)
April 16-23
April 17 (Easter)
Exodus 12:2, 13:4, 23:15, 34:18, Deuteronomy 16:1
SecondIyar (Ziv)April-May
Christ’s ascension
I Kings 6:1, 4, 37
ThirdSivan
6**: Feast of Weeks (Shavuot)
May-June
June 5 (Pentecost)
Esther 8:9
FourthTammuzJune-July
FifthAvJuly-August
SixthElulAugust-SeptemberNehemiah 6:15
Seventh
*secular Jewish new year
Tishri (Ethanim)
1: Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah*)
10: Atonement (Yom Kippur)
15-22: Booths (Sukkot)
September-October
September 26-27
October 5
October 10-16
I Kings 8:2
EighthCheshvan (Bul)October-NovemberI Kings 6:38
NinthKislev
Hanukkah (not one of the feasts of Leviticus 23)
November-December
Dec. 19-26
Zechariah 7:1, Nehemiah 1:1
TenthTebethDecember-JanuaryEsther 2:16
EleventhShebatJanuary-FebruaryZechariah 1:7
TwelfthAdar I
13: Fast of Esther & 14: Purim (not from Leviticus 23)
February-March
Esther 2:7, and 7 other times in book
Adar II
(extra month added 7 times in 19-year cycle)
March 16 & 17 (2022)

**In Leviticus 23, God was specific about the days on which five of the seven feasts were celebrated:

  • Passover: 14th day of 1st month
  • Feast of Unleavened Bread: 15th day of 1st month (7 days)
  • Feast of Trumpets: 1st day of 7th month
  • Day of Atonement: 10th day of 7th month
  • Feast of Booths: 15th day of 7th month (7 days)

The timing of the other two feasts was determined by when the first barley of the field was ripe in the ear for harvest. The Feast of Firstfruits was celebrated the day after the Sabbath following the harvest, and the Feast of Weeks came seven full weeks from that day, or 50 days from that sabbath. In Second Temple times, the first grain offering was set for the second day of Passover with the Feast of Weeks falling 50 days later, thus it was named Pentecost in New Testament times when God’s Spirit fell upon the believers gathered in the upper room.

Two well-known Jewish holidays — Hanukkah and Purim — are not found in Leviticus 23 but were celebrated from early times by the Jewish people. Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the second century B.C. Syrian soldiers massacred thousands and desecrated the temple by erecting an altar to Zeus, but with Judah Macabee leading the charge, the Jews drove out the Syrians and rededicated the temple to God.

The feast of Purim commemorates the time when Queen Esther went unbidden before the king of Persia to rescue her people from the prime minister Haman’s evil plan to annihilate them. The king welcomed her, and through her, God worked deliverance for His people.

We won’t be studying the feasts exactly when they are celebrated in the year, but by the time we reach the actual Passover celebration for 2022, we’ll have a better understanding of how the seven feasts of Leviticus 23 fit together and point to the death, resurrection, and second coming of Jesus Christ.

— Jaime Sherman