With modern astronomy one can reckon a year very precisely as being 365.24219879 days, or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, 45.975 seconds. However, in ancient times various systems were used. When one investigates the calendars of ancient India, Persia, Babylonia and Assyria, Egypt, Central and South America, and China it is interesting to notice that they uniformly had twelve thirty-day months (a few had eighteen twenty-day months) making a total of 360 days for the year and they had various methods of intercalating days so that the year would come out correctly. Although it may be strange to present-day thinking, it was common in those days to think of a 360-day year.1The more recent Jewish Calendar utilized a combination of the sun and moon:
It is called lunar-solar because it allowed the suns orbit to mark the years beginning but based the beginning of months on observation of the phases of the moon. The first appearance of the new moon would mark the new month. According to the Talmud, the priests would watch for this and proclaim it by sending messengers and blowing trumpets. The first problem is that the moons circuit is about 29 1/2 days, forcing a vacillation between a 30-day and a 29-day month; and second, that 12 of these moon/months equal 354 1/4 days, about 11 days short of the solar year. From the Babylonians the Hebrews learned to add an extra month every two or three years. In rabbinical times this intercalary month was inserted seven times in 19 years.2Yet we have evidence from the time of Noah that months did not alternate in length between 30 days and 29 days. The book of Genesis indicates a 5-month period as being exactly 150 days in length, or five 30-day months:
The time measurements encountered in Genesis chapters 7 and 8 are the result of a lunar calendar. Gen. Gen. 7:11 states the flood began on the seventeenth day of the second month, and it ended on the seventeenth day of the seventh month (Gen. Gen. 8:4), exactly five months. Both Gen. Gen. 7:24 and Gen. 8:3 declare the waters were upon the earth 150 days. Assuming each month is the same length, they would have 30 days apiece. Skeptics say that is a big assumption because the story does not cover an entire year, and thus doesnt take into account any days the ancients may have added on to their year.3It appears that the earlier Jewish calendar may have been simpler than the lunar-solar system. Ussher found that the ancient Jews and the Egyptians did not use a year based on the moon. Instead they had a year made up of 12 months, each 30 days long. At the end of the year they tacked on 5 days. Every 4 years they added 6 days.4 We also have indication in Scripture that a simpler 360-day calendar is found within prophetic passages:
- Daniel indicates a period of seven years as the final week of the seventy weeks, but which is divided in half (Dan. Dan. 9:24). The period of half of this final week of years is denoted by time, times, and half (Dan. Dan. 7:25; Dan. 12:7), or one, two, and one-half = 3.5 years.
- John records the duration of the period during which Jerusalem will be trampled by the Gentiles as forty-two months (Rev. Rev. 11:2+). If twelve 30-day months are used, this period corresponds exactly to 3.5 years of 360 days each.
- The two witnesses are said to prophesy for one thousand two hundred and sixty days (Rev. Rev. 11:3+) which is also exactly 42 months of 30 days each or 3.5 years of 360 days each.
- The woman who flees from the dragon is fed by God for one thousand two hundred and sixty days (Rev. Rev. 12:6+) which is also described as time and times and half a time (Rev. Rev. 12:14+). Thus 1,260 days = 3.5 years of 360 days each.
- The beast is given authority for forty-two months (Rev. Rev. 13:5+). This probably corresponds to the one thousand two hundred and sixty days during which the dragon persecutes the woman. It is also said to be time and times and half a time (Dan. Dan. 7:25). Thus 42 months of 30 days each = 3.5 years of 360 days each = 1,260 days.
- Daniels weeks are weeks of years.
- The prophetic year consists of 360 days.