In the interest of keeping you abreast of current events, I report that the new barley crop in Israel is “abib” or ripe. On March 30, 2011 ripe barley was found in the Jordan Valley. The significance of the earth-shattering news is that the barley is ripe enough to present as a wave offering (Leviticus 23:9-11) on the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
If the barley is ripe, then the next new moon marks the beginning of the Hebrew calendar, which is a lunar-based calendar. Our Gregorian calendar, instituted by Pope Gregory in 1582, is a solar-based calendar.
Ancient cultures considered the fall harvest as the culmination of the year, and as a result considered it to be the beginning of the new year. This was so in the Hebrew culture until the time of Moses. The Lord instructed Moses that the year would begin in the spring (Exodus 12:1). To this day the Jews recognize the secular New Year in the fall (Rosh Hashanah) and the sacred New Year (Nisan 1) in the spring.
The first month of the Hebrew calendar is named Nisan. The name does not appear in the Bible until the Books of Nehemiah and Esther which were written after the Babylonian Captivity. Prior to the Captivity the first month was named Abib, or Aviv, which simply means “ripe.”
Because the barley has been found to be ripe enough to present as a wave offering, Nisan 1 began on the next New Moon, or April 3rd. The Hebrew calendar marks Nisan 1 to be on April 4th. If the barley had not been ripe, then technically the beginning of the sacred year should be delayed until it was found to be ripe, presumably by the next New Moon, or May 3, 2011. In such a case, technically, an extra or intercalary month should be inserted. This is usually named Adar II. Adar is the twelfth month of the Hebrew calendar.
But the barley was ripe and so the Hebrew calendar commences as scheduled. If it were not found ripe, I suspect the “official” calendar would just continue. This year Passover, Nisan 15, falls on April 19th causing the Feast of Firstfruits to be on Sunday, April 24th.
Jesus was the Firstfruits of the grave (First Corinthians 15:20) and He was raised from the dead on the Feast of Firstfruits. This is the day Biblically recognized as Resurrection Sunday, or Easter as the world commonly calls it.
I praise the Lord for the Hope that we have because of the Resurrection of Jesus!