Semite Pentecontad Calendar
Calendars, with clusters of 7 weeks, can be found among ancient Semite groups. This type of calendar is called a pentecontad. Usage of such Pentecontad calendars containing seven seven-week periods can be found among Babylonian cultures; Jewish groups in exile; Christian groups such as the Nestorians, and some non-traditional Jewish groups. Jewish sects and non-traditional groups are reported to have continued the observance of a cycle of seven weeks (with a fiftieth day) as late as the first century C.E..
" the Babylonian sabattu and the Hebrew sabbath, sprang from a common [Semite] source. this calendar has been aptly designated as the pentecontad calendar because of the significant role which the number 50 played in it. Its basic unit of time-reckoning was the week of seven days. Its secondary time unit was the period of fifty days, consisting of seven weeks - i.e. seven times seven days - plus one additional day, a day which stood outside the week and which was known and celebrated as 'atsrah', a festival of conclusion or termination - termination, of course, of the pentecontad or fifty-day period. The year of this calendar consisted of seven pentecontads " (Interpreters Dictionary: Sabbaths).
The Dead Sea Scrolls, such as 4Q325, 4Q326, 4Q327, and 4Q394, contain a variety of calendar systems, some of which may represent a transition from the more ancient lunar phase week toward the modern fixed week. Among these various calendars can be found the fixed seven day week, in a calendar of fifty-two weeks, which includes seven-week cycles just like the ancient lunar phase calendars.
(1) On the twenty-sixth day of the first solar based month a barley harvest festival was observed.
(2) Seven calendar weeks past the barley harvest festival (occurring on the day immediately following the Sabbath Day on the fifteenth day of the third solar based month) a festival of first grain harvest was observed);
(3) Seven calendar weeks from the festival of the first grain harvest (occurring on the day immediately following the Sabbath Day on the third day of the fifth solar based month) a festival of new wine was observed);
(4) Seven calendar weeks from the festival of new wine (occurring on the day immediately following the Sabbath Day on the twenty-second day of the sixth solar month) a festival of new oil was observed).
Throughout this equinox based calendar of straight running weeks not one of the seventh-week festival days (or 'fiftieth' day) was skipped over as is required in a lunar based progression of weeks.
Ethiopian Pentecontad Traditions
The Falasha Jews - a tribe of Sabbath practicing peoples, from the African country of Ethiopia, still observe a continuous cycle of seven weeks within a strictly hebdomadal calendar. For century upon century these Falasha Jews have grouped their Sabbaths into seven-week cycles. Liturgies are crystalized for each of the respective Sabbaths, with the seventh Sabbath, called Legata Sanbat, being considered especially holy with special and additional prayers, festivities, and a sanctification service.
Biblical Pentecontad Traditions
Although full of false pericopes, the true seven week cycle (and fiftieth jubilee day) can still be found within the Bible. Most modern Jews, and many Christians, celebrate this Pentecost period of 7 weeks annually. The remaining 6 jubilee periods are not preserved in this text considered hopefully corrupt by original Nasorenes, but they are partially preserved in the Temple Scroll from Qumran and among other traditions. The Bible preservation is found in the Bible Book of Leviticus, Chapter 23:15,16 (and in the Bible Book of Numbers, Chapter 28:26):
" and you shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven sabbaths shall be complete: even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days ".
Apocryphal Pentecontad Traditions
In the Apocryphal Book of Tobit 1:21 directly mentions a date as occurring: "before '50' days" (refer to Chapter 1:21); and another passage of this book references: "the feast of the seven weeks" (refer to Chapter 2:1).
Also, the Apocryphal Book of Judith contains four extremely unique dates: "the day before the sabbaton and the sabbaton and the day before the new Moon and the new Moon" (refer to Chapter 8:6).
Possible additional evidence of this observance can be found in the words of Sirach: " the Moon gives the sign for the festival" (Chapter 43:7); and the first book of Maccabees states: "let all the festivals and sabbaths and new Moons .be days of exemption"(Chapter 10:34); while the second book of Maccabees references: "the festival of weeks" (Chapter 12:3).
Temple Scroll Pentecontad
The Temple Scroll reference says:
" You shall count-seven complete Sabbaths from the day of your bringing the sheaf of [the wave-offering. You shall c]ount until the morrow of the seventh Sabbath. You shall count [fifty] days. You shall bring a new grain-offering .it is the feast of Weeks and the feast of Firstfruits, an eterna[l] memorial.
.You [shall count] seven seeks from the day when you bring the new grain-offering seven full Sabbaths [shall elapse un]til you have counted fifty days to the morrow of the seventh Sabbath. [You] shall [bring] new wine for a drink-offering
.[You sha]ll count from that day seven weeks, seven times (seven days), forty-nine days; there shall be seven full Sabbaths; until the morrow of the seventh Sabbath you shall count fifty days. You shall then offer new oil "(Temple Scroll - 11QT=11Q19, 20, 4Q365a - XVIII-XXI.).
The Jewish/Greek writer Philo, who lived in the first century AD during the time in which Nasarenes still observed the true calendar, graphically described the usage of a seven-weeks calendar (with fiftieth day) among the Therapeutae of Egypt whom Epiphanius reports to be Nasarenes. What Philo tells us of this movement comes from a treatise: de Vita Contemplativa (The Contemplative Life) written around 30 AD. It probably represents dietary customs prevelent during the season of Lent.
"They are Jewish recluses who reside in simple huts, at a short and suitable distance from one another. Each hut has a sacred chamber reserved for their sacred books by means of which religion and sound knowledge grow together into a perfect whole. After praying at dawn, they devote the day to meditation upon the Scriptures; these include writing or commentaries drawn up by the ancient founder of their sect Prayers at sunset close the day. Such is the life in each hut. On the seventh day the various members meet for common worship; they arrange themselves according to age, sitting on the ground with the right hand between the chest and the chin, but the left tucked down along the flank. The senior recluse then delivers an address to which all listen in silence, merely nodding assent. A partition, ten or twelve feet high, separates the men from the women, so that the latter can hear the speaker without being seen by the male recluses.
The seventh day is their day for relaxation. On the other days no one eats before sunset, and some go fasting almost entirely for three or even six days, in their contemplative raptures. But all use oil and on the seventh day all propitiate the mistresses hunger and thirst, which nature has set over mortal creatures; the diet is simply water and cheap bread, flavored with salt, and occasionally supplemented by hyssop.
Once every seven weeks they assemble for their supreme festival, which the number 50 has had assigned to it, robed in white and with looks of serious joy. At a given sign from one of their leaders they arrange themselves in ranks, raising eyes and hands to heaven ('their hands because they are pure from unjust gains, being stained by no pretense of money-making') and praying for a blessing on the festival. Then, the senior members recline, in order of seniority, upon their cheap, rough couches; on the left side of the room the women also recline. The younger novices wait upon the older members, for the Therapeutae decline to be served by slaves; they deem any possession of servants whatever to be contrary to nature, which makes all alike free at birth. It is not a banquet of luxuries; no wine, only cold water, heated for those who are delicate; no meat-for the Therapeutae are vegetarians, living on nothing but bread and salt, with hyssop for the more delicate palates, the hyssop being added out of reverence for the holy table of offering in the sacred vestibule of the Temple, to signify that the Therapeutae are too humble to emulate the unleavened bread reserved for the priests. But before this Spartan meal is eaten, a quiet president. The rest listen in breathless silence; but, if the speaker does not make his meaning clear, they are allowed to indicate their perplexity by a slight movement of the head and a right-hand finger. When he is considered to have spoken long enough, all clap their hands three times. A hymn then follows, sometimes composed in honor of God by the singer either a new one which he has made himself, or some old one of the poets that were long ago. Each member has to sing a hymn in rotation, while the rest join in the chorus. Only after this religious service of an address and praise - does the banquet proceed.
The final act of the festival is the famous 'all-night celebration' of a sacred singing dance by men and women in two choruses each headed by a chosen leader. Each of the choirs, the male and the female, begins by singing and dancing apart, partly in unison, partly in antiphonal measures of various metres, as if it were a Bacchic festival in which they had drunk deep of the divine love. Then, both unite to imitate the choral songs of Moses and Miriam at the Red Sea It is a thrilling performance, this choric dance and exulting symphony: but the end and aim of it all is holiness
Such says Philo, is the method of life practiced by these true citizens of heaven and of the universe." (From Therapeutae in Hastings Encyclopedia).
Nasarenes in Palestine likewise observed these Jubilee times. The Book Of Acts, Chapter 2, records a day of pentecost, or a '50th' day, when special miracles occurred.
The Nazarenes of Mount Carmel
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