How Many Days in a Biblical Year?

Scripture clearly tells us there are 12 months (H2320 “chodesh”) in a Biblical year and infers there are 30 days per Biblical month/chodesh. So does this mean there are 360 days in a Biblical year?

For years I thought that’s what Scripture was telling us. I knew that currently our years consist of 365.24 days, so I figured something must have gone out of whack since the time of Noah, and that it would likely be restored in the time of the end. But then, I came across something in the Book of Enoch.

The Book of Enoch (or 1 Enoch) was written and read prior to Yeshua’s (Jesus’) birth over 2,000 years ago. In fact this text was cited and quoted in the book/letter of Jude and many of the thoughts and ideas expressed in the New Testament seem to come from this book. This suggests to me (and others) that it was commonly read at the time of Yeshua.

It turns out that the Book of Enoch has been preserved through the centuries as a sacred Ethiopian text and is considered by many to be inspired. I was introduced to this book a few years ago, but I did not venture into it much right away. It wasn’t until the fall of 2012 while I was studying the Biblical calendar when I started looking deeper into it. 

The Book of Luminaries

Chapters 72-82 in 1 Enoch are referred to as the “Book of Luminaries” and it gives quite a bit of detail concerning the sun, moon and stars.

The book of the courses of the luminaries of the heaven, the relations of each, according to their classes, their dominion and their seasons, according to their names and places of origin, and according to their months, which Uriel, the holy angel, who was with me, who is their guide, showed me; and he showed me all their laws exactly as they are, and how it is with regard to all the years of the world and unto eternity, till the new creation is accomplished which dureth till eternity.

And this is the first law of the luminaries: the luminary the Sun has its rising in the eastern portals of the heaven, and its setting in the western portals of the heaven. And I saw six portals in which the sun rises, and six portals in which the sun sets and the moon rises and sets in these portals, and the leaders of the stars and those whom they lead: six in the east and six in the west, and all following each other in accurately corresponding order: also many windows to the right and left of these portals. (1 Enoch 72:1-4a)

This particular chapter goes on to speak of “the greater luminary” of Genesis 1, being the sun, and its rising and setting in different portals for so many days in a year. It speaks of rising and setting in one portal for 30 days, then switching to another portal and rising and setting for 30 days, then switching to another portal and rising and setting for 31 days. As the sun is rising and setting in these first portals, we’re told the lengths of the days are getting longer and the nights are getting shorter on a daily/nightly basis. On the 91st day, we are told the length of the day is twice as long as the length of the night.

And then the days start getting shorter and the nights start getting longer for another 30 days, 30 days and 31 days going back through the same portals in reverse order. On this next 91st day the lengths of day and night are equal. What I have just described are what most of us would consider the three months of spring, the summer solstice, the three months of summer and then the fall equinox.

1 Enoch 72 continues with the remainder of the year, explaining which portals the sun rises and sets, the number of days in each portal and the lengths of day/night on the 31st days of the next two quarters of the year, describing what most of us consider to be the three months of fall, the winter solstice, the three months of winter and then the spring equinox. The narrative concludes with the statement that a year is precisely 364 days.

On the surface this might seem to contradict what Scripture is telling us. However, if we look at the text in 1 Enoch it tells us how many days the sun rises and sets in each portal, but never tells us that these are the number of days in a “month”.

1 Enoch says a year is precisely 364 days and Scripture tells us there are 12 months (chodesh) in a year and infers there are 30 days per month/chodesh. This demonstrates a discrepancy of four days. According to 1 Enoch these four days are the solstices and equinoxes (or at least this is what they are most commonly referred to as) and they are not included in the “chodesh”. These days mark/signal the end of one quarter and the start of another.

Blessed are all the righteous, blessed are all those who walk In the way of righteousness and sin not as the sinners, in the reckoning of all their days in which the sun traverses the heaven, entering into and departing from the portals for thirty days with the heads of thousands of the order of the stars, together with the four which are intercalated which divide the four portions of the year, which lead them and enter with them four days. Owing to them men shall be at fault and not reckon them in the whole reckoning of the year: yea, men shall be at fault, and not recognize them accurately. For they belong to the reckoning of the year and are truly recorded (thereon) for ever, one in the first portal and one in the third, and one in the fourth and one in the sixth, and the year is completed in three hundred and sixty-four days. (1 Enoch 82:4-6)

What I find interesting is that a 364-day year is evenly divisible by seven, with four quarters of the year comprising 91 days or 13 “sevens”. This would mean a particular day of the year would fall on the same day of a repeating 7-day pattern (which we commonly refer to as a “week”) from year to year.

I’m a visual learner, and I needed to put this in a format that I could better understand. So I made a spreadsheet that consisted of 7 columns and 52 rows. My first thought was the first day of the year was also the first day of the 7-day pattern. So I counted out 30 days and highlighted that with a particular color to denote the first chodesh. Then I continued to count another 30 days starting where I left off and highlighted that section with a different color to denote the second chodesh. And again with the next 30 days, I did the same. Then on the 91st day of the year (which was on the 7th day in this rough draft), I X’d it out, indicating that this was a “Marker Day”—a day to signal the end of one quarter and the start of the next. (Here is what the first 13 “sevens” looks like.)

Interestingly enough the pattern repeats itself exactly the same for the next three quarters. When I finished laying it out like this, I began to look at the dates given in Torah to see where they fell out in the repeating 7-day pattern, but it didn’t seem right to me. For example, with this format Passover, which is the 14th day of the 1st chodesh, falls out on the Sabbath day. However, Passover with all of its mentions throughout Scripture is never referred to as a Sabbath day. That seemed odd to me.

So I began another spreadsheet starting the year on a different day of the 7-day pattern. In fact I laid out several of the possibilities to see what I could find. (Here are all the other possibilities.) But I was feeling a bit overwhelmed at the time and decided to set it aside for a while. The idea of a 364-day year certainly resonated with me better than simply a 360-day year, but at that time I didn’t have proof of it in Torah (or at least I didn’t think I did), so I wasn’t completely settled with what 1 Enoch was saying. I did take comfort however, in not finding anything in Torah that ruled it out as an option.

It wasn’t until February 2013, when I considered the possibility that the Day of Atonement, which is the 10th day of the 7th chodesh, was a 7th day Sabbath, that I discovered this calendar model actually works according to Torah! I encourage you to check it out for yourself. It still blows my mind.

So, as far as I can tell (with a little help from Enoch), there are 364 days in a Biblical year.

About Messyanic

Homesteading Wife, Homeschooling Mom and perpetual Bible student, continually taking the road less traveled. (@messyanic)
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