I don’t enjoy calendar debates or discussions, but the ‘crazy’ of the last couple years has forced me to ask some questions and search for some answers.
One such question is whether the annual hunt for aviv barley has gotten out of hand and for some, completely skews, their calendar advice.
Is there a commandment to search for aviv, or in any way set the calendar with it? I find none. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Maybe I missed it and someone can help me.
Let me share what I DO find and what my understanding is.
14¶Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and yearsGenesis 1:14
No mention of barley or aviv…
It is the lights in the expanse that set the seasons. Period. Nothing else sets the calendar. The calendar can be seen and set from anywhere on the planet. Recall Psalm 19.
1¶For the choir director. A Psalm of David.Psalm 19:1-4a
The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.2Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.3There is no speech, nor are there words;
Their voice is not heard.4Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their utterances to the end of the world.
Aviv is a condition that exists when the calendar gets to a certain place. It is not a sign by which the calendar is set. We look out the window and see the tree with buds and the daffodils pushing up. They do this because the sun has reached a particular position in its cycle. The condition that exists is Spring. We don’t declare it is Spring because we see buds. Spring is what we generally call a timeframe wherein everything is blooming.
‘Aviv’ is Spring.
So, what are some reasons why the aviv barley hunt can’t possibly be right? (Think like a Hebrew 3000 years ago…)
- Everyone had to bring a first fruits offering. Therefore, fields thoughout all Israel had be at or beyond the plumping, or the priests went hungry.
- All fields had to be very close to harvesting before a farmer could take 5-7 days off for a quick round trip to Jerusalem or the farmer went hungry. He could not go to Jerusalem in the middle of the harvest, else the crop would spoil in the field. He’d begin putting sickle to grain nearly immediately upon return from Jerusalem. (Deut. 16:9)
- The seventh month has to happen after the grape and wheat harvests. (Deut. 16:13 note: ‘after’) If the calendar is set too early, then the seventh month comes before the grape and wheat harvest is done.
Here are some additional thoughts:
- There is no command that prevents farmers with early ripening fields from harvesting and setting aside their firstfruits while other fields had not yet reached sufficient maturity. Elevation and latitude differences create enough of a microclimate variation that all Israelite fields do not ripen at the exact same time. Therefore, a later observance allows everyone to have an offering to bring.
- The current aviv barley search ‘competition’ incentivizes being the first to make the call and leads directly or indirectly to being a month early. Three thousand years ago, nobody had to search for anything. The fields around them were evidence of the season. And, one corner or section of a field was not enough! All fields had to be approaching the harvest.
- Calling the calendar too early, based on this incentivized search, leads to Sukkot happening in the middle of the wheat and grape harvest, a real problem.
- The singular identifiable sign from anywhere on the planet that is entirely dependent on the lights in the heavens is the equinox. While Scripture never says ‘equinox’ it does give us only one definition of what sets the seasons… the lights (sun, moon, stars/mazzeroth) in the heavens.
- Starting the year at (or after) the equinox easily fulfills all requirements in Scripture. (The question is whether the moon sets month, but that is something else I need to study. Where is that commanded?)
My conclusion at this point is that the aviv barley search is largely irrelevant. Either, it is all obviously close to ripening, or it is not. No search is needed. The state of the barley will parallel the rest of things around… it is all in the time of ‘spring’ and blooming. That’s why that time period was/is called ‘aviv.’
I’m interested in your thoughts. Have I missed something in Scripture? Or, is this something that bothers anyone else? Is the aviv barley and the search thereof overrated? Is it a tradition of men that is keeping us for the commandments of Elohim?