Zadok Priestly Calendar Insights

April 8, 2024

Our small ministry is focused on equipping the saints for service. We are not concerned so much about how many visitors we get or how many subscribers we rack up on social media. We believe that if just one person is inspired to grow in their faith and sow spiritual seeds on behalf of the Kingdom then Yah be praised!

During the past few months, we have seen an explosion in  Zadok Priestly calendar downloads from our website. Visitors from Croatia, Norway, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada, Ethiopia, New Zealand, France, the United States, and others, have downloaded this remarkable calendar. We see this as evidence that the Most High is opening the eyes of faith brothers and sisters around the world who want to understand more about the Kingdom of Heaven and YHWH’s appointed times.

With this in mind, we will share insights and methodologies into how we designed and constructed this calendar based on Scripture. Shoutouts to Alan Pisarek, Ken Heidebrecht, Gina Sparks, and Sarah Davis who contributed to our understanding of the Zadok Priestly Calendar.

First Things First – The Creation Week

The Genesis account of the creation week sets the parameters. We are told that the first 6 creation days were dedicated to work. Day 7 was set apart for a Sabbath rest by YHWH. The week is based on a 7-day count, if you will. (Genesis 1-2:3)

  • Day 1: Light is separated from darkness
  • Day 2: Firmament created to separate the waters
  • Day 3: Dry land appears, seas gathered, vegetation springs forth
  • Day 4: Luminaries are placed in the firmament for time-keeping (seasons, days, years) and to give light
  • Day 5: Birds and sea creatures created
  • Day 6: Animals, creeping things, and man are created
  • Day 7: YHWH’s work is finished and He proclaims a day of rest

So the creation event establishes the parameters of a week as 7 days in terms of timekeeping and introduces the luminaries — sun, moon, and stars — on Day 4.

And on the fourth day He created the sun and the moon and the stars, and placed them in the expanse of the shamayim, to give light upon all the earth, and to rule over the day and the night, and divide the light from the darkness. And Elohim appointed the sun to be a great sign on the earth for days and for Shabbathoth and for months and for Festivals and for years and for Shabbathoth of years and for Yobelim and for all seasons of the years. And it divides the light from the darkness for good, that all matters may thrive sprout and grow on the earth. These three kinds He made on the fourth day.

The Book of Yobelim/Jubilees 2:8-10 – Halleluyah Scriptures

It was on the fourth day that the luminaries’ roles were established and their courses set. The Hebrew word for course is machaloqeth (#H4256). It can mean a division, company, course, or portion. The Greek word is taxis (#G5021) and can be defined as a regular arrangement, a fixed succession (of rank or character), or order.

4, 7, 52, and 364

It is well established and documented in the Scriptures that our Creator is fond of sevens. The number seven appears over 700 times in the First Covenant (Old Testament) and Renewed Covenant (New Covenant) writings. The theme of ‘sevens’ is also evidenced in the Book of Jubilees, 1 Enoch, and other so-called Apocryphal and Pseudipigraphal material. Here are a few examples:

  1. The Creation week consisted of 7 days
  2. The Menorah has 7 branches
  3. There are 7 firmament layers
  4. 7 assemblies are mentioned in Revelation
  5. The Feasts of Unleavened Bread and Sukkot lasts 7 days
  6. 7 spirits in Revelation
  7. 7 trumpets, seals, and bowl judgments

You get the drift. The number 7 speaks symbolically of completion. So, when we add up the number of days it takes for the sun and moon to complete the cycle of a year — through the 4 seasons — our count comes to 364 days. Or, 52 times 7.

From the beginning, the Father decreed that the sun, moon, and stars would move in orderly precision along predictable paths. Consequently, these luminaries were equipped to govern the yearly, monthly, and weekly feast observances.

And the sun and the stars bring in all the years exactly, so that they do not advance or delay their position by a single day unto everlasting; but complete the years with perfect justice in three hundred and sixty-four days.

The Book of Hanok/Enoch 74:12 – Halleluyah Scriptures

And the leaders of the heads of the thousands, who are placed over the whole creation and over all the stars, have also to do with the four intercalary days, being inseparable from their office, according to the reckoning of the year, and these render service on the four days which are not reckoned in the reckoning of the year.

The Book of Hanok/Enoch 75:1 – Halleluyah Scriptures

A Tale of Two Calendars

Most of the so-called “Jewish” calendars found online today are of Rabbinic construction and rely heavily on human observations of the moon.

During the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes IV, the Aaronic High Priesthood was dethroned and a Hellenized priesthood took its place (175-159 BCE). In the midst of this transition, the Hasmoneans started a war which lasted from 167-164 BCE and resulted in a new Maccabean/Hasmonean priestly dynasty being formed. This new priesthood had nothing in common with the Biblical priesthood that began with Aaron.

The Gospel Worth Dying For, Chapter 8, page 128, 129

John the Immerser was born during the reign of Herod the Great and was a Levite descended from the line of Zadok. Zacharia, Joh’s father, served in the priesthood during the days of Herod, in the priestly division of Abijah. His wife was aslo a descendant of Aaron int he tribe of Levi. This is how Aaron’s descendants, the priests, were divided into groups for service — the sons of Aaron were Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. But Nadab and Ithamar were left to carry on as priests. With the help of Zadok, who was a descendant of Eleazar, and of Ahimelech, who was a descendant of Ithamar, David divided Aaron’s descendants into groups according to their vrious duties. (1 Chronicles 24:1-3)

The Gospel Worth Dying For, Chapter 8, page 129,130

However, before the Hasmonean period, ancient Yisrael marked time differently.1

  • Every date was anchored to a specific day of the week and did not change from year to year.
  • Each quarter would begin on day four — the day the timekeeping heavenly bodies were created.
  • Each quarter-year was identical: two months of 30 days followed by a month of 31 days.
  • All appointed times or feast days occurred on the same day of the same month each year.
  • This calendar did not rely on human observation of the moon and its phases.

And command thou the children of Israel that they observe the years according to this reckoning: three hundred and sixty-four days, and (these) will constitute a complete year, and they will not disturb its time from its days and from its feasts; for everything will fall out in them according to their testimony, and they will not leave out any day nor disturb any feasts.

Jubilees 6:32,33 R.H. Charles translation

To understand why the Zadok priests used the 4th Day as the “start” of the year – ALWAYS – just look to the retelling of the creation week. Day 4 provides the nexis for the start of the Zadok calendar yearly count with Day 3 being the last day of the year and Day 4 being the start of a new year. This serves as the blueprint for how the Zadok calendar will function during a 364 day-year, using a 7-day weekly count.

Zadokite vs. Gregorian Calendar Function

Function describes an activity or purpose that is natural to, or intended for, a person or thing. While both the Zadok and Gregorian calendars function as time-tracking mechanisms in the narrowest sense, this is where the comparisons end.

At its core, the calendar used by the Zadokites was agriculturally sensitive.2 It was in sync with the 4 seasons and effectively linked the luminaries with nature and time. The work of planting and sowing crops made the necessity of a reliable calendar a matter of supreme importance. Additionally, this calendar was designed to forecast with accuracy and consistency the days and months in which appointed times were to be acknowledged and celebrated by Covenant Torah believers in Messiah.3 Its annual day count was 364 days — 3 monthly quarters of 30 days with 1 intercalary day every 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th months. It is also based on the biblical creation model of the circular level plane on which we live — Earth. The spring and fall feasts will always align with the vernal or autumnal equinoxes. In essence, this calendar is both agriculturally and astronomically linked.

Compare this to the Gregorian calendar which is tied to a heliocentric model of the earth. The Gregorian solar year is based on the theory that it takes “planet” Earth 365.25 days to orbit the sun. (A total of 365 days in an average year, but 366 days in leap years.) By this calculation, dates fall on different days of the week each year. Additionally, the days of the week and months of the year are named in honor of pagan gods or dead Roman Caesars.

pagan months

The months of the year on the Zadok calendar are identified by their number. When you deep dive into the origins of the modern Gregorian calendar system, you will discover that this calendar played a profound role in the advent of globalism and is tied to merchandising.

What was perhaps most significant about Pope Gregory’s system was not its changes, but rather its role in the onset of the globalized era. In centuries prior, countries around the world had used a disjointed array of uncoordinated calendars, each adopted for local purposes and based primarily on local geographical factors. The Mayan calendar would not be easily aligned with the Egyptian, Greek, Chinese, or Julian calendars, and so forth. In addition to the pope’s far-reaching influence, the adoption of the Gregorian system was facilitated by the emergence of a globalized system marked by exploration and the development of long-distance trade networks and interconnectors between regions beginning in the late 1400s. The pope’s calendar was essentially the imposition of a true global interactive system and the acknowledgment of a new global reality.

“The History of the Gregorian Calendar”, January 1, 2020, stratfor.com

Pope Gregory’s calendar was an attempt by businessmen to track and predict a connection between the sun and regions of the earth to facilitate global commerce!

The Zadok Calendar & the Vernal Equinox

While the Gregorian calendar tracks dates, the Zadok calendar is designed to track days. This is how the Zadokite priests were able to have annual feast days ‘land’ on the same day each year. Remember…

  • YHWH designed the week to consist of seven days
  • Three days are manifested before Yah starts the “clock”
  • The time clock starts on day 4 — midweek

Other fascinating ties to the number 4:

  • Yeshua is the light of the world (lights were made on the 4th Day of creation week)
  • Yeshua is the door of the sheepfold. Dalet is the 4th letter of the Hebrew aleph-bet and translates as ‘door’
  • Yeshua came into the world around the 4,000th year from Creation (estimated to be 6-4 BC)

So, the Gregorian leap year (the addition of a day in February) is not an issue because this (act) changes the date and not the day. Days 4 and 7 act as vernal equinox ‘locks’ to keep all feast days and events fixed in place when trying to pinpoint the beginning of the year against the Gregorian calendar.

The Vernal equinox marks the beginning of the year on the Zadok calendar. The month of Abib4 is the first month of the year and is tied to the barley harvest.

Now the LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month is the beginning of months for you; it shall be the first month of your year.

Exodus 12:1 BSB

Observe the month of Abib and celebrate the Passover to the Lord your God, for in the month of Abib the Lord your God brought you out of Egypt by night.

Deuteronomy 16:1 Amplified Bible

So Moses told the people, “Remember this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; for the LORD brought you out of it by the strength of His hand. And nothing leavened shall be eaten. Today, in the month of Abib, you are leaving.

Exodus 13:3,4 BSB

How The Zadok Calendar Works

We will use the 7-branched menorah to represent the days of the week here so you can have a visual helper. The branches represent each of the 7 days of the week. The middle or 4th branch symbolizes the 4th creation day when the luminaries were created and given their assignments/courses. To determine the date of the Vernal equinox during a given year, you can utilize the seasons’ calculator on the Time & Date website. We will use 2024 as a model.

zadok 01

Using the calculator, we see that the date of the 2024 Vernal equinox is shown to be March 19th, which falls on day 3 of the week. Since day 3 on the Zadok calendar is day 364 of 2023 on the Gregorian calendar, then we have to move the day over to the 4th branch of the candlestick menorah (which represents day 4 of creation). This would place the start of year 2024 on the proper day of the week.

This places the start on the 2024 Zadok calendar on March 20th, the beginning of the year. Fourteen days later is Passover, with the Feast of Unleavened Bread starting the following day.

Because the Vernal equinox changes dates each year on the Gregorian calendar, the timeline of the yearly Zadok schedule may have to move to maintain the Feast days. So, think of branches 1 and 7 as ‘guardrails’ that maintain the integrity of the first day of the year. However, if the equinox lands on day 4 in any given year on the Gregorian, then nothing has to be moved on the Zadok calendar to keep the Feast days on track.

Another example: If the Gregorian Vernal equinox date falls on day 5, 6, or 7 of the candlestick, then the equinox would on the Zadok would move back to day 4. If the GVE Vernal equinox falls on day 1, 2, or 3 of the candlestick, then the equinox on the Zadok would move forward to day 4. Below is an example of what this adjustment looks like in different years.

gregorian zadok illustration

When this method is followed, the Zadok calendar will auto-adjust so that Yah’s festival days will always fall on the same day every year. Even if you use a peg calendar, which logs each quarter year as 3 months of thirty days with an extra intercalary day at the end of the third month, your feast days will always line up and the year will start on its proper day.

According to Alan Pisarek:

The Vernal Equinox will switch days of the week. If it happens on days 5, 6, or 7 — day 1 (the first day of the year) moves ‘back’ to day 4. During the 5th year, the Vernal Equinox drops into gate 4 of the firmament and sits there and waits. If it happens on days 1, 2, or 3 — we move it ‘forward’ to day 4 (the start of the year as day 1). This means the year will always end on day 3 and begin on day 4 (1st day). The Gregorian calendar is a mess of dates and is the main reason why people are confused by the Zadok calendar programming lens, which is a language of numbers. So, “names” of days of the week (i.e. Monday, Tuesday, etc) have no meaning. For example, on the Zadok calendar, day 7 is always 3 days from the 4th day (the start of the year). When the VE lands on Sunday on the Gregorian calendar (day 1) , the start of the year will move forward to the 4th day on the Zadok calendar.

The 1st and 7th days are when the Zadok priests would get the sundials out to make sure they knew if the Vernal Equinox is on ‘that’ day, because after the 7th day, the whole thing resets. The luminaries have been programmed to follow this sequence. Because they are sentient, those luminaries that strayed were imprisoned for 10,000 years. There is no intercalation necessary because we are dealing with days and not dates. There are overages to each annual cycle. We are to count 364 days to keep the weeks unbroken.

Zadok Priestly Rotations

Zadok was a Levitical High Priest during King David’s reign over the whole nation of Israel. Zadok whose very name (Strong’s #H6659 tsaw-doke) means “righteous”, was the 11th in descent from Aaron and joined King David after Saul’s death and supported King David during trying family times with Absalom and Adonijah. He also anointed David’s son, Solomon as king over the whole nation of Israel. (See Sherry Sanders’ detailed explanation which answers the question “Who is Zadok and why is this calendar the one to follow?” here on our calendar Q & A page.)

The calendars discovered in the Qumran scrolls were not just based on months, but also the rotation of the priestly courses (mishmarot). These courses would take turns coming to Jerusalem to serve at the temple for one week before rotating out for the next group. The Qumran texts used this continuous cycle not only for their calendar system but also for chronology and historical events.

Each Sabbath, month, year, and feast was associated with a specific priestly family. It took six years for a particular group to serve during the same week of the year again. The order of the priestly courses was originally determined by casting lots, as detailed in 1 Chronicles 24:7-18.

Dead Sea Scrolls Calendric Signs (Otot)

In the Otot or ‘signs’ document (4Q319) found in the Dead Sea Scrolls cache, we learn…

…it represents a calendrical system based on the weekly rotation of the twenty-four priestly courses during a six-year period and constructed into six consecutive Jubilees, i.e. 294 years. The ‘sign’ which recurs in every three years probably identifies the year in which the shorter lunar year of 354 days is supplemented by means of the intercalation of an extra month of 30 days (3x354x+30=1,092) to equal the length of three ‘solar’ years of 364 days each (3×364-1,092). Paleographically the manuscript is dated to the first half of the first century BCE.

The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, translated with an introduction by Geza Vermes, p.365.

Pages 365-369 of The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, lists the Zadok priestly sabbatical cycles. Here is an excerpt:

…on the fourth (day) of the wee[k]…its light on the fourth (day) of the week[k] of the creation in (the week of ) G[amul. The sign of Shecaniah: in the fourth (year). The sign of Gamul: in the (year of Release (i.e. the first sabbatical year). (second sabbatical cycle): [The sign of Shecaniah: in the this]rd (year). The sign of [G]amul: in the sixth (year). (Third sabbatical cycle): The sign [of Shecaniah: in the second (year). The sign of G]amul” [in the fifth (year).

As always, we encourage you to do your research. This article represents our level of understanding as of this writing. As are you, we are still growing and adapting as our understanding of the Scriptures and the calendar increases. If you have further questions or need clarity, please get in touch with us by completing the form on this page or by commenting below. We believe the calendar should NEVER divide believers in Yeshua as we all strive to be obedient followers of the Torah.

Ken Heidebrecht features excellent calendar interviews with George Nuber of GeoTruth and Alan Pisarek his YouTube channel Hanging On His Words.


FOOTNOTES

1 See The Gospel Worth Dying For, Chapter 8, pages 125,126

2 Likewise, the Egyptian calendar, for example, was established in part to predict the annual rise of the Nile, which was a critical component in the Egyptian agricultural system.

3 The first month of the year always starts with the barley harvest in the Spring. This was the beginning of the agricultural year for the Hebrew nation. The feasts of YHWH mark both the beginning and the end of a harvest season. The barley harvest for example lasted from Passover to Shavuot. The wheat harvest fell around Shavuot. The grape, fig, pomegranate, and olive crops were harvested in time for Sukkot in Autumn.

4 The Hebrew word abib (#H24) means “month of ear-forming, or of growing green. Abib, the month of Exodus & passover.” [Brown-Driver-Briggs] This month is NOT Nisan, which is a Babylonian corruption. The month names of the modern “Jewish” calendar were derived from the Babylonian calendar dating back to the 6th Century BC during the Babylonian exile.

Brenda Ross
Brenda Ross

Brenda Ross is a co-author of the book, “The Gospel Worth Dying For.” She is a former major market radio and television broadcaster who has served as Single’s Ministry Director at one of Houston’s Memorial Drive-area churches, a Jews for Jesus staff volunteer, and participated in mission outreach activities in Costa Rica, Mexico, and China. Urban mission experience includes volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity and catering to the homeless in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district.

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