Ancient Shawui Observance
by David Clark
Yeshua (Jesus) and other ancient B'nai-Amen Essenes observed a a special liturgical calendar, or lunar almanac, based upon the dance of heavenly orbs. The name, and number of seasons, of this ancient liturgical almanac has been preserved for us by the Aramaic speaking Syrian church (Aramaic is the same dialect of Hebrew which Yeshua spoke). They called this special almanac a Shawui (shah woo EEE). The word means "a week of shawuahs" (A Shawuah is any one of the 7 seasons within a Shawui year). This is not the same calendar used by modern Jews, but it has some similarities.
The Shawui Calendar was used by all the original disciples of Yeshua . This original Nasarene lunar-solar calendar was suplanted by a Roman "planetary week" and calendar in 135 C.E. when the "Bishops of the Circumcision" (i.e. legitimate Nasarene sucessors to Yeshua) were displaced from Jerusalem. This began a three hundred year controversy concerning the true calendar and correct Sabbath:
"This [calendar] controversy arose after the exodus of the bishops of the circumcision and has continued until our time." Epiphanius HE4,6,4
The groundwork for this supplanting of the true calendar, suggests the ancient historian Iranaeus, begun in Roman with a Bishop Sixtus (c.a. A.D. 116-c.a. 126). According to Iraneus, Sixtus was the first to celebrate a Sunday Easter in Rome instead of the traditional Nisan 15 [full moon] date on the lunar [Shawui] calendar. This change from the lun-i-solar to a fixed solar calendar occured in Rome during the repressive measures which were enacted against all Jewish customs and practices, including the lunar calendar, during Emperor Hadrian's reign. With the fall of the Nasarene headquarters in the Essene Temple at Jerusalem, this new Roman calendar quickly spread thruout "Christiandom". This new calendar not only replaced yearly festival dates such as Passover, but it also revamped the concept of the week and its seventh day.
Shawui Week & Sabbath
A correct understanding and orientation to this ancient divine calendar begins with a proper understanding of the Sabbath. The Shawui Sabbath, and the Sabbath observed by Yeshua and His Family, was on neither a Saturday nor a Sunday, and is calculated in a manner all together different than the modern custom of weekday observance. To learn more about the history of the Nasarene Sabbath and Sabbaton, go to: The True Essene Sabbath and to Sunday.
The method of calculating weekdays on Yeshua's calendar is at variance with the modern fixed week system. According to the Shawui system, each week begins on either the New, First Quarter, Full Moon, or Last Quarter of the Moon (Moon Phase).
After the fourth lunar week of the month ends on the 28th, the next day or two is a Dark Moon day which is not part of any lunar week. (A new week does not begin until the following New Moon occurance.) This may seem odd to one used to using the modern fixed week, but to the ancients it made perfect sense to pause and prepare themselves before entering and beginning a new month and a new cycle of weeks.
This Shawui calendar also contains 12 lunar months observed according to the phases of the moon. They begin on the New Moon and end on the Dark Moon, with the Full Moon half way inbetween.
Although the Shawui contains 12 months, they are not the same as the modern western months. They begin on the New Moon, just like the Jewish, Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist calendars and consist of either 29 or 30 days each. (7 times in 19 years there is also a double month, similar to the Jewish Second-Adar, called a "blue moon".) To learn more about the true Essene Month, go to: The True Essene Month.
The Syrian church also preserved for us the fact that the Shawui consisted of seven distinct seasons which were called Shawuahs. Each of these seasons, with one exception, contain 7 weeks. At the end of the seven weeks there is a 50th day jubilee which overlaps with the first day of the next season. The observance of 50 day seasons is an ancient Nasarene custom which is partially adhered to, even in our day, among Catholic and Orthodox churches with roots in antiquity. Calendars containing 50 day seasons are called Pentecontad Calendars.
Dead Sea Scroll Calendars
Several calendar systems have been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, including solar and lunar methods of reckoning. Before very many of the Scrolls were translated, there was much talk of a solar calendar used by Essenes at Qumran. Once more scrolls became available, with their many references to lunar and other methods of reckoning, scholars have corrected the earlier misinformation about a sole use of a solar 364 day calendar among Essenes. All serious scholars now concede that a lunar calendar system is also documented by the scrolls.
It is likely that the many types of calendar systems represented at Qumran are indicative of the general transition, from lunar phase to fixed week calendars, which became popular among some sects and in the dominant Roman church.
Although some Dead Sea Scrolls do have a relationship to Yeshua's Nasarene Essenes, the 364 day solar calendars of Qumran do not seem to among them. (Qumran was probably an Osseaen Camp, rather than a Nasarene community. According to Epiphanius, these two sects were related, but not identical. They probably represent the two Essene sects spoken of by Josephus. They differed in such basic areas as marriage, and perhaps Calendar observance. They both shared a vegetarian diet and a disdain for Pharisee sacrifices and scriptures.)
The Shawui Calendar has a Sabbath, or seventh day, that differs from either Saturday or Sunday on the modern fixed planetary week. This Sabbath is a fast day which occurs on the day before each lunar quarter. The following day, falling on the quarter moon, is a feast day and always occurs on the first day of a lunar week.
In addition to weekly fast and feast days, the Shawui calendar also has daily prayer times, new and full moon days, 50 day Jubilee celebrations, and four eight day Octave Festivals each year.
Observance of this ancient reckoning of time allows us to walk in greater harmony with the ancient Essene teachings as taught by Yeshua.
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