The Lunar Sabbath Error

The Lunar Sabbath Doctrine is a teaching that has taken root among many in the Hebraic-Roots movement in the last fourteen years.  This false doctrine seeks to replace the repeating weekly seventh day Sabbath with a floating Lunar based Sabbath, which could occur any day of the week.  This Lunar Sabbath theory teaches that one begins counting the day after each new moon such that the 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th days are Sabbaths.

The Anti-Semitic Origin of the Lunar Sabbath Theory

The so-called “Lunar Sabbath” theory was an invention that came out of Anti-Semitic Groups with ties to the Ku Klux Klan.

Jonathan David Brown is credited with being the first so-called “sabbath keeper” in this century (actually ever) to begin the practice of counting the Sabbath from the New Moon day rather than using the modern seven day week.  Brown published the book Keeping Yahweh’s Appointments in 1998, which explained the practice, which has since spread like a virus.

Brown is a noted ant-Semite who has been convicted for his connection to a 1990 Synagogue shooting.  In 1992, Brown was sentenced to a 27-month federal prison term and fined $10,000 for accessory after the fact to a conspiracy to violate civil rights under 18 U.S.C. 3 and 241 (so-called Hate-Crimes), and for perjury under 18 U.S.C. 1623a. It was established in Court that Brown helped Damion Patton, described by Nashville police as a juvenile “skinhead”, and Leonard William Armstrong, the Grand Dragon of the Tennessee White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan hide from authorities and disguise their car after Patton and Armstrong carried out a pre-dawn drive-by shooting of a synagogue in Nashville, Tennessee on June 10, 1990.

Lunar Sabbath founder Jonathan David Brown at Nazi event, giving Nazi salute (seated on far left)

In court it was revealed that in the evening of June 9, 1990, Brown attended a meeting of an anti-Semitic white supremacists which Patton and Armstrong were also attending.  At 1:00 a.m. on June 10, Patton drove past the West End Synagogue in Nashville and Armstrong fired several shots through its windows with a TEC-9 assault pistol.  Fortunately the building was unoccupied so no one was injured.  Brown’s apartment was searched under warrant on June 15th as police looked for Patton.  As a result of this search, authorities seized items belonging to Mr. Brown, which indicated his membership in the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups. In the days following the shooting incident, Brown helped Patton evade authorities by lying to police regarding Patton’s whereabouts, by hiding him at his farm in Pleasantville, and by helping Patton change the color of his car from white to black with spray paint.  Brown gave Patton a license plate from one of his trucks and supplied Patton with enough money to drive to Las Vegas and stay there.  Some five months later, Brown allowed Patton to live again on his farm for a month. In September 1991, the FBI arrested Patton who plead guilty to his part in the synagogue shooting.

In 1994 Brown sought to overturn his convictions the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.  Brown argued that the synagogue was owned by a corporation and not by citizens, and thus could not be covered by 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1982 (1988) which he argued applied solely to the property rights of citizens.  Brown also challenged as unwarranted the seizure of his personal property. The three-judge court upheld Brown’s convictions on March 21, 1995.

Three years after these events Brown published his Lunar Sabbath theory which he claimed to have received by direct revelation, and it has spread like a virus.

The so-called floating “Lunar Sabbath” is a recent invention. There is no evidence that anyone ever followed it until recent times. To the contrary the historical evidence proves that the ancient Hebrews (Including Yeshua himself) kept the Seventh day of the week (“Saturday”) and not a so-called floating “Lunar Sabbath”.

An Unbelievable Conspiracy Theory

The Lunar Sabbath theory presupposes that at some point in time, the Sabbath was changed from a floating so-called Lunar Sabbath, to the weekly Sabbath.  So when did this alleged change take place?

 Yeshua and the Pharisees clearly agreed as to what day the Sabbath was.  While at times they disagreed, at times, over what activities were permitted on the Sabbath, but they never disagreed over what day the Sabbath was.

As a result most Lunar Sabbath Proponents maintain that their floating Lunar Sabbath was kept at least until the first century, and that the alleged “change” to the weekly Sabbath came after that time.

This creates certain problems, because it means that Lunar Sabbatarians must place this change well within recorded history, and this created several problems.

To begin with this alleged change would have to have been made without any historical record of the change itself taking place.  This “change” also would have to have been somehow agreed to by both Jews, Christians, and even Samaritans, all over the world.  These groups who were at odds with one another, would have to have agreed to make this change together, without making any historical record of the change, and without leaving behind any dissident sects in any of these movements that rejected the change.  This would include Jews and Christians all over the world, as far south as Ethipoia, as far east as Japan, as far north as Armenia,  to institute this change worldwide without the benefit of modern methods of rapid communication.  Any gradual change would even more certainly have left historical footprints and dissident groups behind.  This is simply unbelievable.

Another problem this creates for the Lunar Sabbath Theory is that by placing this supposed change well within the reach of history, it is a simple matter to reach beyond this period, to show that a Lunar Sabbath was not used in or before the first century.

Authors of Confusion

Many Lunar Sabbath proponents use loaded terminology and misleading claims intended to confuse the real issue.

For example many will refer to the weekly Sabbath with the term “Gregorian” so as to wrongly imply that the seven day week is somehow unique to the rather late Gregorian calendar, or to wrongly imply that the long count of days of the week was disrupted in the change from the Julian to the Gregorian Calendar.  In fact there was no disruption in the count of the days of the week in this calendar change.  Others will refer to the Weekly Sabbath and the long count of the days of the week as “Roman” as if to wrongly imply that these were unique to the Roman calendar.  Others will seek to create confusion based on other Roman methods of long counting weeks, none of which impact the actual long count of weeks going from the present, back into antiquity.    Yet others will seek to create confusion with references to the changes of the Hillel II calendar.  The Hillel II calendar included no revisions in relation to the weekly Sabbath, and only impacted Rabbinic Judaism.  The changes of the Hillel II calendar are only brought up by Lunar Sabbatarians to confuse the real issue.

Six Days of Work

There are always more than seven days between the twenty-nineth day of a lunar month and the eighth day of the next lunar month.  As a result the lunar sabbath teaching violates the mitzvah often repeated in Scripture, and indeed even referenced in the Ketuvim Netzarim:

Six days you shall labor and do all your work,
but the seventh day is a sabbath of YHWH your Elohim.

The Essenes and the Dead Sea Scrolls

There are a multitude of calendar texts which have been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls and which demonstrate clearly that the Essenes did not keep a so-called floating Lunar Sabbath.  The material is far to extensive to present here, and totally unnecessary, since I do not know of any Lunar Sabbath proponents who take issue with this fact.

I will add that Josephus writes of the Essenes:

Moreover, they are stricter than any other of the Jews in resting from their labors on the seventh day; for they not only get their food ready the day before, that they may not be obliged to kindle a fire on that day, but they will not move any vessel out of its place, nor go to stool thereon.
(Wars 2:8:9)  

If the Essenes kept a different Sabbath from the other Jews, it would seem very odd for Josephus not to mention that here.  This would certainly lead us to the conclusion that the Jews of the Second Temple Era did not keep the so-called Lunar Sabbath.

Back to Back Sabbaths

Under the Lunar Sabbath Theory, back-to-back Sabbath’s are impossible.  This is because all of the annual Sabbaths under this theory, would occur on days that would already be Sabbaths. However in the Second Temple Era, back-to-back Sabbaths were very much a possibility and there was much debate on just how to deal with these occasions.

Mishna Besah 2:1-2 deals with halachah surrounding what to do when back-to-back sabbaths occur due to a festival Sabbath falling the day before or the day after a weekly Sabbath (which can never happen in the Lunar Sabbath system):

2:1 “On a festival which coinsides with the eve of the Sabbath [Friday]- a person should not do cooking to begin with the festival day [Friday] for the purpose of the Sabbath.
But he prepares food for the festival day, and he leaves something over, he has lefts it over for use on the Sabbath.
And he prepares a cooked dish on the eve of the festival day [Thursday] and relies on it [to prepare food on Friday] for the Sabbath as well.
The House of Shammai says, “Two dishes.”
And the House of Hillel says, “A single dish.”
But they concur in the case of fish and the egg [cooked] on it, that they constitute two dishes.
[If] one ate [the dish intended for the Sabbath] or it was lost, one should not cook another in its stead in the first instance.
But if he left over any amount at all of it, he relies on it for the Sabbath.
2:2  [If the festival day] coincided with the day after the Sabbath [Sunday],
The House of Shammai says, “The immerse everything before the Sabbath.”
The House of Hillel says, “Utensils [are to be immersed] before the Sabbath.
But man [may immerse] on the Sabbath [itself].”
(m.Besa 2:1-2)

Hillel and Shammai taught when Yeshua was a child, and the Mishna was codified around 250 CE.

Another example of back-to-back Sabbaths is found in the Mishna discussion about how to deal with a Sabbath that falls on the sixteenth of Nisan (the fifteenth being an annual Sabbath):

The bones, and the sinews, and the nothar of the paschal lamb are to be burnt on the sixteenth. If the sixteenth falls on the Sabbath, they are to be burnt on the seventeenth, because they do not override either the Sabbath or the festival.
(m. Pesachim 7:10)

Of course the sixteenth of Nisan could never be a Sabbath under the Lunar Sabbath theory.

A Sabbath that Falls on the First Day of Tabernacles

The Mishna also discusses how mal offerings were handled when the First Day of Tabernacles (the 15th of Tishri) falls on a Sabbath:

A man may offer a meal-offering consisting of sixty tenths and bring them in one vessel if a man said, I take upon myself to offer sixty tenths, he may bring them in one vessel. But if he said, I take upon myself to offer sixty-one tenths, he must bring sixty in one vessel and the one in another vessel; for since the congregation bring on the first day of the feast of tabernacles when it falls on a Sabbath sixty-one tenths as a meal-offering, it is enough for an individual that his meal-offering be less by one tenth than that of the congregation.
(m.Menachot 12:4)

Of course this passage must be speaking of events that took place prior to 70 CE (when the Temple still stood).  Of course under the Lunar Sabbath theory the Sabbath always falls on the 15th of the month, making this discussion meaningless.

The Ninth of Av

The Ninth of Av is a fast which commemorates the destruction of both the First Temple and Second Temple in Jerusalem, which occurred about 655 years apart, but on the same Hebrew calendar date.  According to the Lunar Sabbath theory, the ninth of Av could never fall on a Sabbath, yet the Talmud discusses the issue of what to do when a Sabbath falls on the Ninth of Av as follows:

It was in fact taught: If the Ninth of Av fell on a Sabbath and, similarly, if the eve of the Ninth of Av fell on a Sabbath a man may eat and drink as much as he requires and lay on his table a meal as big as that of Solomon in his time. If the Ninth of Av fell on the Sabbath eve [food] of the size of an egg must be brought and eaten [before the conclusion of the day] so that one does not approach the Sabbath in a state of affliction’.
(b.Eruvin 41a)

New Moon on a Sabbath

The Talmud also discusses the issue of what to do when a New Moon falls on a Sabbath, and records a debate which took place between the House of Hillel and the House of Shammai on the issue:

R. Zera replied: The New Moon is different from a festival – Since its mention is included in the benediction on the sanctity of the day in the morning and evening prayers it is also included in that of the additional prayer. But do Beth Shammai uphold the view that the mention of the New Moon is to be included? Was it not in fact taught: If a New Moon falls on a Sabbath, Beth Shammai ruled: One recites in his additional prayer eight benedictions and Beth Hillel ruled: Seven? This is indeed a difficulty.
(b.Eruvin 40b)

However with the Lunar Sabbath theory, such a debate would not have occurred at all.
Yeshua’s Last Days

One of the biggest gaping holes in the Lunar Sabbath system is Yeshua’s final week on earth… his crucifixion was on the eve of a Sabbath and his resurrection was on the first day “when the sabbath had passed” (Mk. 16:1) and he was in the grave three days…

Now there is much debate over how these days are laid out.  Some argue that Yeshua was crucified on a Wednesday and resurrected at the very end of the Sabbath (Saturday night).  Others (myself included) argue that Yeshua was crucified on a Thursday, and resurrected the morning after the Sabbath (Sunday morning).

But no matter how you slice it you have here either back to back Sabbaths (Friday being the first day of Unleavened Bread and thus an annual Sabbath)  or two Sabbaths with a non-sabbath in between (Thursday being the first day of Unleavened Bread and thus an annual Sabbath).  Neither of these possibilities is possible with a Lunar Sabbath System. With a Lunar Sabbath system, if Yeshua was crucified on the eve of the the sabbath [i.e. the first day of Unleavened Bread- an annual Sabbath] and resurrected on the morning after the Sabbath [since following the Lunar Sabbath System those are the same day] he would have only been in the grave for one day, not three.
Which Sabbath was the Firstfruits Offering?

The well known debate between Pharisees and Sadducees over which day was the first fruits  offering (As recorded in b.Men. 65a-66a) also disproves the Lunar Sabbath System .  It is impossible to debate whether firstfruits is the day after the weekly Sabbath of the day after the annual sabbath if those are the same day.  The Pharisees and Sadducees disagreed on that point, and since there were no Sadducees after the first century, during the first century the Jews of Yeshua’s day definitely recognized these as different days, and therefore could not have been keeping the Lunar Sabbath system.

The Reward Offer

Lunar Sabbath proponent Arnold Bowen has for many years offered “a $10,000 reward to anyone who can pinpoint a weekly Sabbath on any other day than by the moon.”  Specifically “on the 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th.”

On August 16th, 2012 I laid claim to this reward when I was able to pinpoint the 14th of Nisan (Abib) in 30 BCE (Saturday, March 28th, 30 BC) as a Sabbath. Bowen never paid the reward.

Hillel the Great became Nasi if the Sanhedrin one hundred years before the destruction of the Temple (b.Shabbat 15a).  The Temple was destroyed in 70 CE, so this means Hillel became Nasi in 30 BCE.

Hillel’s ascension to the office of Nasi took place in a year which the 14th of Nisan (Passover) occurred on a Sabbath.  This situation did in fact occur in 30 BCE.  At the time there was a controversy as to whether the Passover lamb should be slaughtered on the Sabbath or not. Thereupon Hillel proved by argument and tradition that it was permissible, upon which the Bene Bathyra (Sons of Bathyra), the then heads of the Jews of Judea, voluntarily resigned their leadership in his favor.  The account appears in the Talmud in tractate Pessachim on page 66a.  The discussion begins with a section of Mishnah (Pessachim 6:1-2) which states that many Passover duties override the Sabbath.  The Gemara then recounts the story of the problem that Hillel resolved which led to his being made Nasi (president of the Sanhedrin):


GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught: This halachah was hidden from [i.e., forgotten by] the Bene Bathyra. On one occasion the fourteenth [of Nisan] fell on the Sabbath, [and] they forgot and Passover, R. Akiba holds that the haza’ah must not be performed, though the man is thereby prevented from joining in the Passover sacrifice. did not know whether the Passover overrides the Sabbath or not. Said they, ‘Is there any man who knows whether the Passover overrides the Sabbath or not?’ They were told, ‘There is a certain man who has come up from  Babylonia, Hillel the Babylonian by name, who served the two greatest men of the time, and he knows whether the Passover overrides the Sabbath or not [Thereupon] they summoned him and said to him, ‘Do you know whether the Passover overrides the Sabbath or not?’ ‘Have we then [only] one Passover during the year which overrides the Sabbath?’ replied he to them, ‘Surely we have many more than two hundred Passovers during the year which override the Sabbath! Said they to him, ‘How do you know it?’ He answered them, ‘In its appointed time’ is stated in connection with the Passover, and ‘In its appointed time’ is stated in connection with the tamid; just as ‘Its appointed time’ which is said in connection with the tamid overrides the Sabbath, so ‘Its appointed time’ which is said in connection with the Passover overrides the Sabbath. Moreover, it follows a minori, if the tamid, [the omission of] which is not punished by kareth, overrides the Sabbath, then the Passover,[neglect of] which is punished by kareth, is it not logical that it overrides the Sabbath! They immediately set him at their head and appointed him Nasi [Patriarch] over them, and he was sitting and lecturing the whole day on the laws of Passover. He began rebuking them with words. Said he to them, ‘What caused it for you that I should come up from Babylonia to be a Nasi over you? It was your indolence, because you did not serve the two greatest men of the time, Shemaiah and Abtalyon.’ Said they to him, ‘Master, what if a man forgot and did not bring a knife on the eve of the Sabbath?’ ‘I have heard this law,’ he answered, ‘but have forgotten it. But leave it to Israel: if they are not prophets, yet they are the children of prophets!’ On the morrow, he whose Passover was a lamb stuck it [the knife] in its wool; he whose Passover was a goat stuck it between its horns. He saw the incident and recollected the halachah and said, ‘Thus have I received the tradition from the mouth[s] of Shemaiah and Abtalyon.’
(b.Pesachim 66a)

Now this section of Mishnah and Talmud makes it clear that the 14th of Nisan (Passover) could occur on a Sabbath, and in fact did occur on the Sabbath as early as the days of Hillel the Great, who was elderly in the days of Yeshua’s youth.

Now as I have said before, Yeshua and the Pharisees clearly agreed as to what day the Sabbath was.  They disagreed, at times, over what activities were permitted on the Sabbath, but they never disagreed over what day the Sabbath was.  So if we can demonstrate that the first century Phraisees kept the weekly “Saturday” Sabbath, we would also be demonstrating that Yeshua kept the weekly “Saturday” Sabbath. And if we could show that the first century Pharisees did not keep a so-called floating lunar Sabbath, we would be showing also that Yeshua did not keep such a lunar Sabbath, and thus that such a lunar Sabbath was not valid.

Now this section of Mishnah and Talmud reveal that on occasion the 14th of Nisan could and did happen to fall on the Sabbath as reckoned by the first century Pharisees, and therefore by Yeshua as well.  This is impossible with the so-called Lunar Sabbath System, in which the 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th of a Lunar Month were Sabbaths and the 14th could NEVER be a Sabbath.

Philo of Alexandria

The Lunar Sabbatarians have looked far and wide for ancient support for their theory. The problem is that there is none. However in their zealousness they have misappropriated certain quotations from Philo which they wrongly claim support a Lunar Sabbath. The fact is that not only does Philo not teach a Lunar Sabbath, but Philo makes statements that plainly conflict with the Lunar Sabbath Theory, and makes one of the oldest, clearest description of the  Sabbath as the seventh day of a continuous repeating seven day week.

The first quotation Lunar Sabbatarians appropriate from Philo is as follows:

“For it is said in the Scripture: On the tenth day of this month let each of them take a sheep according to his house; in order that from the tenth, there may be consecrated to the tenth, that is to God, the sacrifices which have been preserved in the soul, which is illuminated in two portions out of the three, until it is entirely changed in every part, and becomes a heavenly brilliancy like a full moon, at the height of its increase at the end of the second “week”…

The fact is that this passage simply refers to a fourteen day period as “two weeks” just as we do today. A fourteen day period may be called “two weeks” regardless of which day it begins and ends, even if it actually is made up of one complete week and parts of two other weeks.

The next quote often used is as follows:

“9. (Ex. xii. 6a) Why does He command (them) to keep the sacrifice until the fourteenth (day of the month)? (Consisting of) two Sabbaths, it has in its nature a (special) honour because in this time the moon is adorned. For when it has become full on the fourteenth (day), it becomes full of light in the perception of the people. And again through (another) fourteen (days) it recedes from its fullness of light to its conjunction, and it wanes as much in comparison with the preceding Sabbath as the second (waxes) in comparison with the first. For this reason the fourteenth (day) is pre-festive, as though (it were) a road leading to festive rejoicings, during which it is incumbent upon us to meditate”.
(On page 17 of Ralph Marcus’ translation of Philo’s work entitled “Questions and Answers, Exodus, Book 1”)

This parallels Younge’s translation in The Decalogue:

“The fourth commandment has reference to the sacred seventh day, that it may be passed in a sacred and holy manner. Now some states keep the holy festival only once in the month, counting from the new moon, as a day sacred to God; but the nation of the Jews keep every seventh day regularly, after each interval of six days; and there is an account of events recorded in the history of the creation of the world, comprising a sufficient relation of the cause of this ordinance; for the sacred historian says, that the world was created in six days, and that on the seventh day God desisted from his works, and began to contemplate what he had so beautifully created; therefore, he commanded the beings also who were destined to live in this state, to imitate God in this particular also, as well as in all others, applying themselves to their works for six days, but desisting from them and philosophising on the seventh day,”
(The Decalogue ch. 26)

The wording here is obscure. Philo may be referring to the fact that any fourteen day period will contain two Sabbaths, or he may be referring to the fact that the first and last days of Unleavened Bread are annual Sabbaths.

The final two passages Lunar Sabbatarians cite from Philo is as follows:

(161) But to the seventh day of the week he has assigned the greatest festivals, those of the longest duration, at the periods of the equinox both vernal and autumnal in each year; appointing two festivals for these two epochs, each lasting seven days; the one which takes place in the spring being for the perfection of what is being sown, and the one which falls in autumn being a feast of thanksgiving for the bringing home of all the fruits which the trees have produced. And seven days have very appropriately been appointed to the seventh month of each equinox, so that each month might receive an especial honour of one sacred day of festival, for the purpose of refreshing and cheering the mind with its holiday.
(Philo; Decalogue 30, 161)

And the next refers back to this one:

“Again the beginning of this feast is appointed for the fifteenth day of the month on account of the reason which has already been mentioned respecting the Spring season might receive special honor of one sacred day of festival.”

Now while some have tried to use this to support the Lunar Sabbath, to the contrary this statement conflicts with the Lunar Sabbath Theory. Philo here says that the two longest Torah feasts (Unleavened Bread and Tabernacles) differ from all other festivals because, being seven days long, they always include a weekly sabbath (any seven day period will include a weekly Sabbath). However if one follows the Lunar Sabbath theory, virtually all annual Feasts coincide with Sabbaths, which would render Philo’s statement meaningless. Philo makes the nature of the Sabbath clear when he writes:

(56) But after this continued and uninterrupted festival which thus lasts through all time, there is another celebrated, namely, that of the sacred seventh day after each recurring interval of six days, which some have denominated the virgin, looking at its exceeding sanctity and purity…
(Special Laws 2, 56)

Philo clearly did not teach the so-called Lunar Sabbath Theory, but instead taught the repeating weekly Sabbath based on a continuous count of seven day “weeks” going back to the first Sabbath at creation.


Well when I began writing this blog, it was my intent to write an exhaustive treatment of the Lunar Sabbath doctrine and its errors.  However the evidence against the Lunar Sabbath is so overwhelming, it has become clear to me that if I ever write an exhaustive treatment, it will fill a book, not just a blog.  None-the-less I believe enough information has been documented in this short treatment to completely disprove the Lunar Sabbath theory.

As you know we have been digging ourselves out of a budget shortfall.  As I have said to you many times, I look on this work as a co-operative one with me, and all of you combining our resources together in order to get the job done of helping to teach this great truth to all in the world who will listen. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for your continued support, you are the ones who make it all possible by your contributions and your prayers for our work. I truly appreciate your help in every way.

If you can make a one time donation of $500 or $1,000 dollars to support this work.

Donations can be sent by paypal to

Donations can also be made out to “Nazarene Judaism” and sent to:

Nazarene Judaism
PO Box 471
Hurst, TX 76053

And don’t forget to join the conversations at the NazareneSpace Social Network

One thought on “The Lunar Sabbath Error”

  1. Thanks for speaking to this. I have seen videos from some who I agree with in some things but not this thing not feeling I had a good reason to agree with the lunar sabbath ,feeling it was a later idea.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *