Defining Biblical Years
The purpose of this article is to show that Biblical Years are either 360 days or 390 days, 12 or 13 months. The long years fall on the Sabbath and Jubilee years within a 50 year cycle. Read on to understand why.
Common Years
Like months, ideally there should be a Bible reference that gives either the number of days or number of months in a year. From this the Bible Calendar could be reconstructed.
No such direct reference exists, though, like month lengths, there are several references that pair a number of years with both a number of days and a number of months. These references, in effect, give the year length of the Bible Calendar.
In Revelation chapter 12 a "woman" is taken to a place of protection for 1260 days. ^{[1]} Who this woman is or what she is being protected from is not important here. At the end of the passage this time of being protected is given again, only different words are used. This time it lasts for a "time, times and half a time".^{[2]}
The expression "time" is a period of time, either a "day" or a "year". The context must be used to determine which. In this case since the passage pairs with a long number of days, so "time" must mean year.
The plural form "times" means 2 times and is a function of the underlying language grammar. Plurals, alone, are not always an indefinite number of times. Some translations just convert the expression "times" for their reader, factoring this issue into the translation itself.
So, the expression "time, times, and half a time" means 1 time + 2 times + .5 times or 3.5 times. Since a "time" is a year, we can easily set up an equation and solve for the number of days in a year.
3.5 years = 1260 days 1 year = 360 days
By inspection it should be obvious that a biblical year contains 12 months.
Were all years this long? No.
Just like the modern calendar, the Biblical calendar also contains leap years.
Sabbath Years
When God spoke to Moses, and told him to establish the government, tabernacle and laws of the people, God told Moses that the calendar was to have special years. 6 years were to be common, the 7th was to be a Sabbath.^{[3]} Like the Sabbath day of the week, the Sabbath year was to be a year of rest.^{[4]} No crops were to be planted, food stored from previous years would suffice, provided the country had obeyed God.
Contracts involving slaves were to expire on the Sabbath year and slaves where then to go free.^{[5]} Contracts involving land where to run through the year after the 7th Sabbath year. This 50th year was to be called a year of Jubilee.^{[6]}
Length of Leap Years
There are two places where scripture suggests that these Sabbath and Jubilee years were longer than the normal common year. Daniel chapter 12 links the expression "time, times and half a time" ^{[7]} to 1290 days^{[8]} unlike Revelation where the same expression is linked to 1260 days.
This suggests that certain three and a half year intervals were 30 days longer and contained an extra month. How could this be? Since only Sabbath and Jubilee years are indicated as being special these must be the years of the extra month. Most 3.5 year intervals would be 1260 days long, while some 3.5 year intervals would include the leap month and be 1290 days long. Since both Sabbath and Jubilee years are special in this way both must contain this 13th month.
A 13 month long year would be 390 days in length and there is a reference that seems to support the existence of these long years. That reference is found in Ezekiel. The Prophet Ezekiel was told to lie on his side 390 days followed by 40 days.^{[9]} This was to depict the sins of northern and southern kingdoms in turn. Ezekiel was told these days were for each of the years of sin in the nations of Joseph and Judah respectively.
What was Ezekiel doing for these 390 days? Laying on his side, eating pre-measured portions of food, as a witness to the people who saw him. He was to do nothing else. This is as close to the annual Sabbath year of rest as is found anywhere in the Bible. Since the northern kingdom did not exist as an independent nation from Judah for 390 years, this story must mean something else. The total number of days Ezekiel lays on his side means something different than the historical record shows. What does it mean? That the nation did not have a Sabbath is one possible meaning.
Other Confirmation
A curious feature of the modern Jewish calendar is that it includes an entire extra month on leap years. Though the calendar itself does not conform to the Bible’s other references to time, it may have gained this feature of its structure from knowledge of the Bible’s true structure.
Jubilee Years
Is the Jubilee year only 13 months long, or does it have a 14th month and come out at 420 days?
The simple answer: Jubilee years are 13 months long.
Confirmation that this is right involves looking at the time from the Exodus to 70 Jubilees after the Exodus. These 70 Jubilees form 3500 years and are prophetically in view in both the 70 years that Jerusalem lay desolate and in the 70 weeks of Daniel, echoed several places by Jesus. These 3500 years are the time when God waits patiently for the people brought out of Egypt to grow up and to come into full relationship with Him.
How many days are in 3500 Biblical years? Given the definitions used so far:
360 days in common years. 390 days in Sabbath and Jubilee years. (6 * 360) + 390 = 2550 days in Sabbath periods. (7 * 2550) + 390 = 18240 days in Jubilee periods. 70 * 18240 = 1,276,800 days in 3500 Biblical years.
Book of Numbers Census is the Same
The Census recorded in Numbers counted the male heads of households old enough to serve in the army. The tribe of Levi was counted separately and included every male one month old or more. This was done two times. The first, near the beginning of the 40 years in the wilderness, recorded 603,550^{[10]}^{[11]} men plus 22,000^{[12]} for Levi. Numbers also tells us about Korah’s Rebellion, where 252 non-priest tribal leaders were killed.(2 from Reuben^{[13]} and 250 from other tribes.^{[14]})
Shortly before the Second Census, near the end of the 40 years in the wilderness, 24,000^{[15]} are killed in a plague, the Second Census records 601,730^{[16]} men plus 23,000^{[17]} for Levi, and interestingly enough Korah’s Rebellion is mentioned carefully again.^{[18]} Numbers is also careful to show that each leader was worth 5 shekels^{[19]} from each common man. Using a principle of one per day, the Census in Numbers is revealing the number of days in 3500 years. The following is the math:
Source | Count | Total |
---|---|---|
Census 1: All Tribes | 603,550 | 603,550 |
Census 1: Levites | 22,000 | 625,550 |
Korah's followers: | 252 leaders * 5 shekels/leader = 1260 | 626,810 |
Plague near end of wandering. | 24,000 | 650,810 |
Korah's followers, mentioned carefully again: | 252 leaders * 5 shekels/leader = 1260 | 652,070 |
Census 2: All Tribes | 601,730 | 1,253,800 |
Census 2: Levites | 23,000 | 1,276,800 |
Grand Total: | 1,276,800 |
Note carefully, 1,276,800 is the number of days as in 70 full Jubilee cycles, and 1,276,800 is the number of people in the census counts while the children of Jacob were wandering in the wilderness.
This is in agreement with the number of days suggested for the full structure of the Bible’s 30 day/month Calendar run 70 years as we did above. This view of the census affirms that our calendar structure is right.
If there was a different length, especially a different length in the Jubilee years, say they were 30 days longer, the total days across 3500 years would be 70 months, or 2100 days longer. But these counts from Numbers give the same counts as computed directly from the calendar.
Affirmation
Revelation chapter 7 contains a very strange reference to 144,000 people, set in groups of 12,000 from 12 of the 14 tribes.^{[20]} This set of 12 groups of 12,000 might also be suggesting a person per day strategy. If it is, we should note that when we use the calendar we have constructed here, 12,000 days is exactly the number of days in 33 biblical years. (33 * 360) + (30 * 4) = 12,000. There being 4 leap years, with extra 30 days each, in a 33 year period. This also serves to affirm that we have the calendar correct.
Confirmation
In another reference in Daniel, close to the 1290 day reference, there is yet another reference to a long day interval. This reference is to a 1335 day period, 45 days longer than 1290 days. "Blessed are those who wait for and reach the end of 1335 days."^{[21]} This reference is a remarkably elegant confirmation of the pattern covered here.
The normal date to wait for is the day after Passover, the 15th day of the first month. The first Passover date, and any future date of a similar nature aligned on Jubilee boundaries will happen 15 days into a year where the 2 previous years were 390 days long.
1335 days before this date is in the exact middle of a common year 4 years before. 1290 days from there is at the start of the 13th month of the Jubilee year and counts the leap month of the last Sabbath. This is remarkably elegant and suggests all the structural elements discussed so far are correct.
Extra Credit question: Can Daniel’s 1335 day pattern, when aligned with the calendar, occur at any other place than the last 3.5 years of a 50 year Jubilee Cycle?
The correct answer is No.
There is no other place in the 50 year Jubilee cycle where Daniel’s 1335 days can occur and both align with full year related intervals at end on a known holiday related to waiting.
Summary
The Bible's calendar has 30 days/month. The same calendar has 12 months in each common year. It has 13 months in the Sabbath and Jubilee years. Sabbaths are every 7th year through the 49th year. The 50th year is the Jubilee.
After the Jubilee, the cycle begins again.
The periodicity of this calendar is 50 years, or 18,240 days.
Note that 10 Jubilee cycles are 500 years, 1/2 of a millennium, and that 20 Jubilee cycles fit exactly in a full 1000 year long millennium. The fact that the Jubilee cycle fits tight allows for the Jubilee cycle to extend into the various millennium cycles.
1. Revelation 12:6
2. Revelation 12:14
3. Exodus 23:10
4. Exodus 23:12
5. Exodus 21:2
6. Leviticus 25:11
7. Daniel 12:7
8. Daniel 12:11
9. Ezekiel 4:4
10. Numbers 1:46
11. Numbers 2:32
12. Numbers 2:32
13. Numbers 16:1
14. Numbers 16:2
15. Numbers 25:9
16. Numbers 26:51
17. Numbers 26:62
18. Numbers 26:9
19. Numbers 2:47
20. Revelation 7:4
21. Daniel 12:12