The drama of the cosmic temple liturgy the purpose of which has not been understood by most Christian communities. Since temple scroll was originally was originally published in the Dead Sea Scrolls collection found in 1947. These liturgical texts often use dates and cosmic time sequences to show the action of Yahweh in His Temple which is in the realm of the Heavenly Spheres. The cycle begins on New Year’s Day and consists of 364 days in the solar year. The lunar was calculated at 354 days. The New Year begins with a priestly consecration which was a fixed calculation on a Wednesday. This practice followed Exodus 29:8 that celebrated the consecration of Aaron and his sons. (Ex 29 and Lev 8) After the consecration, on the next Sunday, the drama of Creation began to unfold. The glory of the sun was created on the fourth day. This coincides with the fact that the calendar was indeed solar and solar creative days were a part of the original temple cosmology.
“The fact that the biblical test demands that Passover be celebrated in the spring (requiring an adjustment of the lunar calendar to the solar year) and that the exodus be also commemorated during the agricultural fall festival (for which there is no historical basis at that time of the year) clearly indicates a close association between the two phases.” (p. 182, The Biblical and Historical Background of the Jewish Holy Days, Abraham P. Bloch, KTAV Publishing House, Inc, New York, 1978)
Following the priestly consecrations there was a series of First Fruits Festivals. Leviticus 23 announces new barley and wheat festivals which were 50 days apart. The barley was the first crop to ripen. The scripture shows the Festival of First Fruits was to be celebrated after the Paschal sacrifice which was the day after the Sabbath, hashshabbat Leviticus 23:11-15. The Pharisees believed the word Sabbath meant “festival” so the day after the beginning of the Passover Festival was what was meant in this case. The Sadducees did not hold this position. Now, the discovery of the Temple Scroll provides a third date which this scroll maintains is the Sunday after the Sunday designated by the Sadducees. The Pharisees would have begun the New Barley Festival even on a Monday in some cases and the Sadducean observation could fall as late as in the month of May.
The wheat harvest was followed by the Oil Festivals which would picture the eschatological temple and the pouring out of the New Wine from the teachings of the Messiah. The Rabbis believed when the Messiah would return, He would provide bread and wine and teach us the true interpretation of Torah in the New World. The First Fruits Festival calculation coincide precisely with the ripening of the barley and the wheat harvests in ancient Israel. The barley ripens in the early spring. Grapes in the middle of the summer and the olives in late the summer towards autumn. Coupled with the Feast of Tabernacles was the Festival of Wood which lasted six days. (Lev 19:1) In the Book of Judges, chapter 9, verse 7-27, the verses include the Parable of the Trees. Verse ten states “Then the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and reign over us.’ (NRSV) Didn’t Our Lord say to the fig tree near the temple mount, you shall bear no fruit? (Mat 21:18-21) The tree bore no fruit and as a symbolic result the Temple was destroyed in AD 70. The story in Judges 9:27 was the rebellion of Gaal son of Eded against Abimelech at the Shechem temple. The term hullulim contained in verse 27 may show the Wine Festival was also observed in the Shechem Temple. The Manual of Discipline (1QS 1:16-2:25) included a renewal of the covenant ceremony which would begin the cycle of renewal again.
As Jacob Milgrom correctly observes;
“According to the table, all Qumran’s first-fruits festival fall on a Sunday. Here lies one of their lasting contributions. Bearing in mind that they observed the day of rest on the Sabbath, we see that they now rested also on Sunday.” (p. 129, The Temple in Antiquity – Ancient Records and Modern Perspectives, ed., Truman G. Madsen, Volume Nine in the Religious Studies Monograph Series, Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 1984)
Therefore, the Wave Sheaf Offering has a great deal of support for being observed on a Sunday which would coincide with the tradition of First Fruits also being offered on the first day of the week providing a fulfillment in Christ’s resurrection, (1 Cor 15:20, Acts 20:6, Mark 16:1-2, John 20:11-22) followed by the glorious latter reign which would pave the way for Our Lord to reign over his people. Coptic expositors who believe the resurrection was on Sunday interpret Mat 28:1-7 showing patristic history which states the resurrection occurred after the Sabbath just as the First Day has fully come which, in the Coptic liturgical tradition, was approximately 10 PM after the Sabbath was finished. This position still allows for the witnesses to arrive while it was yet dark and see the dawning of the morning and the fact that He was risen. The transition is also noted in the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice;
“Christ also is seen during the church age (the New Pentecost – the re-giving of the Law through the Spirit (Acts 2:1-4) and the new harvest of Rev 14:14-20) through the anointed times of God’s Holy Day patterns which are revealed through the opening of the seals and through the blowing of the trumpets until the seventh trumpet, the final shofar, sounds and the kingdoms of this world become the Kingdoms of Our Lord. (Rev 11:5) At that time, creation shall break forth with a new song, an antitype of the Song of Moses (Rev 15:3), the Hallelujah Chorus. This is drawn from the Qumram caves of the Dead Sea found in the Sabbath Scroll, 4Q 400, the sixth and last manuscript, 4Q 405, which corresponds to Revelation 19:1-2, picturing the new creation.” (p. 14, Systematic Theology Addendum – The Law, Sabbath and Redemption, Tom Roberts, PhD, Church of God Publishing House, Meridian, Idaho, 2003
For example, 4Q 403 line 30 is when the Sabbath falls on the 16th day of the second month. Line 32 deals with the glory of His Kingdom. In line 34, the title Kings of Kings is found (1 Tim 6:16, Rev 7:14, 9:16, 1 Enoch 9:4). 4 Qumram 405 deals with the term Head or Chief. Line 41 deals with the contrast of God’s temple in Heaven and the Temple of Solomon (1 Kings 7:15-22, 2 Chron 3:15-17, cf Ezek 40:49) and the Pillars of Heaven which depict pillars of smoke (Job 26:11, 1 Enoch 18:3-11). The word “abode” appears 4 Q 405 81 verse 2. Finally, line 45 pictures raiment and adornment used in descriptions of the heavenly realm. (p. 124-126, Liturgical Works, James R. Davila, William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2000) Can anyone miss this correlation to imagery contained in the Book of Revelation which even includes the architecture of the Heavenly Temple and the angels making announcements? (Rev 14:1-6)
We often assume there was but one calendrical calculation used by the New Testament corpus of writers. Therefore, all of the authors would have had to have utilized similar lunar and solar calculations to end up exactly on the same events and eschatological fulfillments. There is simply no evidence of this practice. Just look at Christ’s own use of the Passover in Matthew 26:17-18 which was at least a day before Israel’s national Passover observance. This is not to mention the Apostle John’s statement that before the Festival of the Passover Jesus observed the feast and Our Lord’s arrest and trail took place during the season of the Passover which included the Days of Unleavened Bread as well as the Passover event itself. (John 13:1-30) The lengthening of these liturgical practices during the Season of the Passover was due to the fact that 70 sacrifices had to be fulfilled on behalf of all nations and righteousness from the Messiah through the bread and the wine (John 6:22-40) were followed by Days of Unleavened Bread to fulfill Old Testament types and shadows. The Galilean Passover was fixed on a Thursday observation. The Qumran Passover from the Temple Scroll was always on a Wednesday.
“If the interval between this April 10 new moon and the first visibility of the crescent moon at Jerusalem was a very long 3.19 days, as it could have been, or if it was shorter but was obscured the first night, the crescent was observed at sunset on Friday, April 13.
With the observation of the crescent, the month of Nisan commenced at once and Nisan 1 should be dated in our Julian-Gregorian calendar as the Saturday, April 14, which followed at midnight. The fourteenth night thereafter, counting the evening of the crescent (inclusive reckoning), brought Jerusalem to the commencement of Nisan 14 at sunset on April 26, a Thursday. Thus April 27, the Passover day on which Jesus dies, was a Friday – Friday, Nisan 14, A.D. 31.” (p. 255, God and His Sanctuary, C. Mervyn Maxwell, Pacific Press Publishing Association, Mountain View, California, 1980)
It should be noted that modern scholars such as Jonathan Goldstein and many other commentators such as Roy Blizzard have moved to the A.D. 30 date for Nisan 14. Modern recalculations do seem to support moving the date back one year. The debate is over the area of the Fertile Crescent and what calculations would be necessary for the proper adjustments, postponements and priestly proclamations which began with the calculations of Adar II in Babylon to apply to the Diaspora. These Gospel events occurred in and around Bethlehem and Jerusalem and Our Lord came out of the region of Galilee where he began his ministry and where the Galilean Passover was observed. (Mat 4:15-16)
The question still remains, how closely did the New Testament writers follow the Temple Scroll? The evidence seem to suggest they followed similar liturgical patterns for the redefinitions and types and shadows surrounding the Christ event and His future reign with his saints. These patternisms can be found in the structure in 4Q 400 to 4Q 405 ending with the visions of the Heavenly and earthly Sanctuary corresponding with the Kingdom of God where land is once again possessed by covenanters and ruled with the righteousness of God, his angels and emissaries. The New Testament writers seem, therefore, to converge in an eschatological fulfillment of these events which are passed and completed in Israel’s history and yet to be fulfilled in the future of God’s Creation.
The Rev. Father Tom Roberts holds a bachelor’s degree in theology from Triune Biblical University, a M.Th. from Covenant Bible College and Seminary, Federal Way, Washington as well as an M. Div. and Ph.D. in Theology from the Hellenic Orthodox University in Athens, Greece and a DD awarded by St Mark Seminary in Sharon, PA. He believes that his mission is to make biblical knowledge more widely known among the general public. Formerly, Tom has been a professional singer, a lay pastor and a D.J. He is currently an ordained Priest for Christ’s Catholic Church and Academic Dean of St Elias Seminary and Graduate School. Tom resides with his wife and son in Weiser, Idaho.