(by Rabbi Eh'bed Baw'naw from Kehilat Melech Mashyach)
A recent trend in the Hebrew Roots is something I like to call "The Great Barley Hunt" (Because it is similar to The Great Muppet Caper) to mark the month of Nisan (originally known as the month of Abib). The question then becomes; "Is this method of marking the new year based in Scripture or have any history within Judaism?" First of all we must take this question to the midrashim level so that we can see if this method aligns with the Scripture in other mentions of calendar. Let us start with a clear marker in Revelation 12 which shows us exactly how long a year in the Biblical calendar is.
And the isha fled into the wilderness, where she has there a place having been prepared by Hashem, that there she can be nourished a thousand two hundred and sixty yamim (days). And there was milchamah (war) in Shomayim, Mikha’el and the malachim of him fought against the Dragon nacash; and the Dragon nacash and his malachim fought back. But the Dragon nacash was not strong enough nor was any place found for them any longer in Shomayim. And the great Dragon, that nacash HaKadmoni (Ancient Serpent) was thrown down, the one being called the
Malshin (Informer, Accuser) and Hasatan, the one deceiving the whole inhabited world. He was thrown to ha’aretz (the earth) and the malachim of him were thrown down with him And I heard a kol gadol (loud voice) in Shomayim, saying, “Now has come the Yeshu’at Eloheinu and the Gevurah (Power) and the Malchut of Hashem Eloheinu and the memshalah (government) of his Moshiach,
because the Malshin who is the accuser of our Achim b’Moshiach, the one accusing them before Hashem yomam valailah (day and night) was thrown down And they won the nitzachon (victory) over the Dragon nachash because of the dahm of the seh (Lamb) and because of the dvar of the
eidushaft (testimony) of them and because they did not have ahavah for their neshamot unto Mavet and were willing to die al kiddush ha-Shem. Therefore be glad, Shomayim, and the ones whose mishkan is there, but oy to ha’aretz (the earth) and to hayam (the sea), because Hasatan came down to you, having great ka’as (anger), having da’as that his time is short. And when the Dragon nachash saw that he was thrown down to ha’aretz, he brought redifah (persecution) on the isha who gave birth to the zachar. And two wings of the Nesher hagadol (great Eagle) were given to the isha that
she might fly to her place in the midbar, where she is nourished there for three and a half years, away from the presence of the nachash (Serpent) .
So clearly the Scripture aligns wit the jewish calendar showing that each year consists of 360 days, considering that 3.5x360=1,260. This is also an amazing passage to show that in the times of Revelation observation will still be of the jewish halaka and not of that of a gregorian calendar system. I will also show how this causes problems for the "Great Barley Hunt" as a calendar marker later on in this article. But let us also turn our attention to the calendar markers as prescribed by that of Hashem:
“And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day."
Oooops....no mention of the Barley? He says to use the sun moon and stars? Well, could he have meant something else? Let us also note these verses also crush the lunar sabbath argument considering that these things were made on DAY 4. Lets test this theory:
"And there will be otot (miraculous signs) in the shemesh (sun) and the levanah (moon) and the kochavim (stars), and upon the earth there will be dismay among the Goyim, in perplexity at the sound of the sea and the waves;"
Nope, seems Hashem meant exactly what he said given that our Melech Mashyach Yeshua also made note of the signs for marking events would be found in the sun, moon and stars. So where does this theory of the Barley being a marker originate and why is there a cult like following to this ideology?
They base the premise on Exodus 9:31 and Unleavened Bread occurring during the barley harvest. As well as the passages that state
"This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you,"
"This day came you out in the month Abib,"
These three passages are the citation of the entire ideology and can seem to be very convincing to the non-logical thinker, or the person young in their walk. But the question then has to be asked. "Where was Moshe during this time? And where were the Children of Israel?" The fact is they were in the land of Mishrayim (Egypt), yet the "Great Barley Hunt" of today is done in Jerusalem. Now don't you think that the Barley might be slightly different if not majorly different a few hundred miles away from one location to that of another? Common sense say "well duhhh". Also, if this were a calendar marker don't you think there would be an exact indicator as to where to look for this Barley? Well, if it were from the mouth of Hashem we can be confident in saying "well in Jerusalem of course" and you would be right. But Moshe is being told this in Egypt and not only that, anyone who has been to a barley field will see that the barley changes every 10 yards or so. It may be ripe in one area and not at all only a few feet away.
The passage mentioned above in Revelation and in jewish tradition causes a huge problem as well. Because the Barley would have to be abib on the dot every 360 days in order to align with the sun moon and stars. That would have to indicate that there was never a year if drought or extreme cold or extreme heat and that the temperature was always 72 degree and there is never any gusts of wind and it only rains just enough in Jerusalem for the barley to be watered but never enough for a flood and that any sort of atmospheric conditions or weather would ever affect the barley. If we have our head up in the clouds this would make sense but to the rational thinker the very notion is ridiculous at best.
Another issue would be, before the times of cell phones and landlines and internet how would people in the dispora and not in Jerusalem know when the Barley was abib? The fact is they wouldn't have been able to know until a few weeks to a few months and even possibly a few years later. And we still have to ask....what is the prescribed process in checking it and what portion of Barley? There is no instruction for this in the Scripture, nor in the volumes of talmudic literature, because it is not a jewish concept or a way of marking the calendar.
Bu you may be asking, "Rabbi it does mention the Barley and what is the reason in this?". The answer is very simple. Let me ask you this, in the northern states what is something that comes to mind immediately when you hear the word "winter"? The answer for most would be "snow". Now the first snow in your area during the times of winter, is the snow a marker or an attribute and indicator for winter? Does the snow mark the first day of winter or is it a product of the season to let you know that winter is now here? It is simply an attribute and indicator but not a marker. If it were then the calendar could never make mathematical nor astrological sense because it could never stay aligned with the rotation of the sun and moon around the sun nor the constellations of the stars.
Lets also look at the possibility of something happening to the Barley fields during a time of war and them being burnt up. Does the sun and moon cease to orbit? Of course not. It would then be several months to maybe even a year till the Barley would be abib if this were to happen. It would be like a series of bad B horror movies (Adar, Adar II: It's Back, Adar III: The Curse of Adar, Adar IV: The New Batch, Adar V: The Remnant of the Seed, Adar VI: The Beginning, Adar AD etc) because the month of Nisan would never come. But yet, you age, time is obviously still going forward. So the fact is the "Great Barley Hunt" is not based in the Scripture nor within Judaism.
Theological Insights from Rabbi Eved Banah the North American Rebbe of Ani Judaism