Philo and the Sabbath determined by the moon

The following is not my work but has been taken from this URL.

Here is an “eyewitness” account showing how the Messiah and the Judeans of his day kept the weeks and the 7th day of the week — the Sabbath. And it is NOT the way it is being observed today! Philo the “Jew” — a contemporary of the Messiah — left a record for all to see, a record that CLEARLY shows when the Messiah and the Judeans kept YAHUWAH’s holy Sabbath day. Truly, Lamentations 2:6 has been fulfilled, which says YAHUWAH’ “has caused the appointed feasts and Sabbaths to be forgotten on Zion.”

by HOIM Staff

In the quest for historical evidence to prove the lunar Sabbath, we have noticed that Philo is not mentioned very often by those who support Saturday Sabbaths. The writings of Philo are very important for establishing Judean practice and belief both before and during the Messiah’s time here on earth. Philo lived from approximately 20 BC until about 50 AD. Thus, his lifetime spanned not only the years prior to the Messiah’s birth, but also the years following his resurrection (not to mention the years in between).

The evidence reveals that Philo’s beliefs were representative of those of Judaism during that period of time. Philo, who was born and raised in Alexandria, Egypt, was one of more than 100,000 Judeans living in that city. When the prefect Flaccus initiated a massacre of the Judeans in the year 39 AD, Philo was selected to head the Judean delegation that went to Rome to plead their case before Gaius Caligula.

Now let’s pause for a moment and reflect on the significance of Philo having been chosen from among his peers for such a monumental task. Would Philo have been chosen for such a mission IF his practice and beliefs HAD NOT squared with those of normative Judaism? No, he would not have been chosen unless his views matched those of his peers. We know from Philo’s writings that he observed LUNAR SABBATHS. If normative Judaism had practiced SATURDAY SABBATHS while Philo rebelliously observed LUNAR WEEKS AND SABBATHS, don’t you think this detail would have affected their decision to select him to lead a delegation to Rome? Absolutely!

Sabbath observance is one of the most distinguishing marks of Judaism, or as author Dayan Grunfeld put it, the Sabbath “epitomizes the whole of Judaism.”

For Philo to have gone against the grain of Judaism with regard to Sabbath observance would have signaled a break with Judaism. We can thus discern that if Philo observed the lunar weeks and Sabbath by the phases of the moon each week, so did the rest of his fellow Judeans, including Yahushua the Messiah, because there was NO controversy between our savior and the Judeans concerning the weekly Sabbath. Many scriptures prove that he kept the SAME weekly Sabbath day as they did.

It is evident that Philo did a good job of explaining how the weeks are connected to the moon — which is covered in his book.

It is a major blow to Saturday-sabbatarian theology to realize that Philo LEFT OUT of his writings anything pertaining to Saturday Sabbaths. Not once did Philo mention another week other than the LUNAR cycle in determining the Sabbath day. In fact, the word SATURDAY or SATURN’S DAY isn’t mentioned even ONCE in Philo’s entire book. This is significant, as elsewhere in Philo’s writings, he devotes much space to discussing the cycle of the moon and the #7. In fact, the day of the New Moon is listed separate from the weeks as one of the major feasts, and he never counted the New Moon when counting the 28 days of the 4 weeks or 4 Sabbaths each month/moon.

It is very interesting that Philo mentioned the MOON and it’s phases of waxing and waning in his commentary regarding the Sabbath. In his writings, Philo distinguishes New Moon observance as a separate feast from the weekly Sabbath, and that is why he never includes the New Moon in counting out the weeks.

Study Philo carefully and prayerfully because Philo was an “eye witness” of how things were done by the Judeans in the Messiah’s day, including when a week begins and ends. We should not ignore the testimony of eye witnesses when searching for the truth. Here are a few of the many proofs of how the Judeans in Yahushua’s day understood weeks and Sabbaths.

In order to have a lunar Sabbath, you must have a lunar WEEK — did Philo link the Sabbath or the WEEK with the phases of the moon? The answer is YES — in fact the lunar week and lunar Sabbath is the only week or Sabbath mentioned in Philo’s entire writings. Let us begin in his writings.


“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 Yahuwah, 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…”

And in Philo, Special Laws II, The Fifth Festival, Section XXVIII (155) it says,

“And this feast is begun on the fifteenth day of the month, in the middle of the month, on the day on which the moon is full of light, in consequence on the providence of Elohim taking care that there shall be no darkness on that day.”

Stop for a moment and let what Philo just said sink in. His readers and fellow Judeans of that era, or in those days, understood that the weeks were by the moon, and that at the end of the second week there would be a full moon. This statement needs no interpretation. The people understood that the weeks were by the moon, same as in the Bible. If this is so, then the sacred seventh day of the week, which comes at the end of the second week must be a FULL MOON SABBATH (Psalms 81:3-6). Why? Because in many places Philo speaks of the weekly seventh day, and we all know that the seventh day comes at the end of the week. Many uninformed people would like for us to believe that the months were originally by the moon but the weeks were not!

Philo was making an observation of how a person can be spiritually illuminated to a full brilliance just like a full moon at the height of its increase at the END of the second week.

Philo did not count the New Moon when counting out the weeks — like some churches do today. This statement is very easily proven from Philo’s writings because he states in other places throughout his book that THE FULL MOON IS ON THE 15th EACH MONTH! He also separates the New Moon from the weeks. Unfortunately, many writers today would include the New Moon day in counting their weeks, but it is obvious from Philo that he DID NOT count the New Moon day when counting out the weeks. If the New Moon was included in the count, the full moon at the end of the second week would fall on the 14th instead of the 15th as Philo plainly declares many times. In other words you have your New Moon worship day, then six workdays and then the weekly Sabbath on the 8th day of the moon (Ezekiel 46:1). You then have six more workdays and a full moon on day 15 or at the end of the second week or second seven, i.e. at the end of 14 days after the New Moon worship day.

This proves the New Moon was not included when counting out the weeks. In a similar fashion, YAHUWAH Elohim did not count it in Exodus the 16th chapter when He made the Sabbath known to Moses. If the New Moon was ever included when counting out the weeks in Scripture, the weekly Sabbaths would fall on the 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th etc. Yet, you cannot find these days mentioned anywhere in Scripture because these days are ALWAYS PREPARATION DAYS FOR THE WEEKLY SABBATH. When Philo spoke of the 10th or 15th day of the month, he was including the New Moon day in his count, but it is an absolute fact that when he counted out the week, he DID NOT include the New Moon — which in itself proves lunar weeks. Remember, Philo is just stating HOW things were done in his day.

Getting back to the main thrust of this article, we must remember that the works of Philo are very significant in that he walked the earth before, at the same time, and twenty years after the resurrection of Yahushua the Messiah. He was one of the most influential men of that time, living as a Judean in Alexandria, Egypt, and read from the Septuagint Bible. The Septuagint was quoted often by our Yeshua and his apostles.

With this in mind, did Philo ever mention that the weekly Sabbath could be found by counting from the New Moon?

The answer is YES. Philo’s writings about such things as the Priesthood, festivals etc. are in complete harmony with the Bible as we read it today. At one point in his writings he did make mention that some states or provinces were keeping only one Sabbath per month counting from the New Moon, whereas we know all four should be observed. Here is Philo on this issue:

THE DECALOGUE, XX (96) It says,

”The fourth commandment has reference to the sacred seventh day that it may be passed in a sacred and holy manner. Some states keep the holy festival [the Sabbath] only once in the moon, COUNTING FROM THE NEW MOON, as a day sacred to YAHUWAH; but the nation of the Jews KEEP EVERY SEVENTH DAY REGULARLY, after each interval of six days”.

Notice carefully what Philo wrote above. First, one must realize that Philo understood that the New Moon was a festival ALL BY ITSELF and was not one of the six ordinary working days (Ezekiel 46:1-3). The gate of the inner court was to be shut on the six working days and opened on the Sabbath and New Moon. Philo here says that some provinces were observing the holy Sabbath day festival only once in the month. Notice how he centers in on ONLY ONCE in the month. He also mentions that they were keeping it by COUNTING FROM THE NEW MOON and recognizing it as a day sacred to YAHUWAH Now, if counting from the New Moon to find the weekly Sabbath is erroneous, how did these states keep the holy festival once a month? Think about this. Philo DID NOT say they kept A Sabbath or THEIR Sabbath or a BOGUS Sabbath, but rather he said they kept the holy festival sacred to YAHUWAH! This has to mean that the proper way to find the holy festival of the Sabbath is TO COUNT FROM THE NEW MOON!

Philo continues by saying that the Judean nation kept every seventh day holy after each interval of six days. This poses no problem at all to lunar sabbatarians as we too do what Philo did. Philo has already given us the proof that counting from the New Moon was the proper way to find the holy festival of the weekly Sabbath. Therefore, when he says the Judeans kept every seventh day holy, he is speaking of every seventh day after each interval of six working days periods from New Moon to New Moon. This is the only logical way to understand this particular passage in Philo.

If Saturday keepers were to say that “some churches keep the holy Sabbath only once a month counting on today’s calendar, but we keep every seventh day after six workdays,” the only possible way to construe what they’re saying is that their (and “some churches”) holy Sabbath day was found by counting on the same calendar — today’s Gregorian calendar.

The Saturday keepers just acknowledged that “some churches” kept the holy Sabbath day “only once” a month and that they found it by using today’s calendar that Julius Caesar introduced and was later modified by Pope Gregory. But that obviously means that they used the SAME calendar, now doesn’t it? The same is true with Philo. Both parties counted from the New Moon, but some were keeping it only once each month/moon. It is common knowledge most people today use the calendar of today, but when Philo made the very same statement, the weeks and holy Sabbath days were BY THE MOON — that too was common knowledge.

When Philo made the statement that “some states keep the Holy Sabbath/festival only once a month/moon counting from the new moon” and follows it up by saying that the Judeans keep every Sabbath day after six days clearly means that both parties counted the holy Sabbath/festival in the SAME WAY, i.e. FROM THE NEW MOON!

The same thing applies today if you said that some people keep the holy Sabbath/Saturday only once a month by the calendar but you keep every Sabbath after six workdays. (That DOESN’T MEAN that you counted a different way or had a different calendar than they).

I know a Baptist Church that has a service every third Sunday counting on today’s calendar, and I know another Baptist church that keeps every Sunday after six workdays. Are we to suppose that there are not counting by the same calendar? Of course not!

Notice how Philo acknowledges that some states were finding the sacred holy Sabbath by counting from the NEW MOON but were keeping it “only once” EVERY MOON. He didn’t use the word “month,” which proves that the weekly Sabbaths were by the moon. You have to acknowledge that some people were keeping all of the weekly Sabbaths by the moon, (not month) and that others kept at least one of the holy Sabbaths each moon (not month).

Philo used the word “intervals” and we know that there are approximately 12 monthly “intervals” each year, and each month has four Sabbaths with “intervals” of six work days between each with a Sabbath at the end of each. Philo kept every one of them — not just one per moon.

Speaking of INTERVALS or after six work day LUNAR intervals Philo, in The Special Laws 1. (178), writes,

(178) “…there is one principle of reason by which the moon waxes and wanes in equal INTERVALS, both as it increases and diminishes in illumination; the seven lambs because it receives the perfect shapes in PERIODS OF SEVEN DAYS — the HALF-MOON in the first seven day period AFTER its conjunction with the sun, FULL MOON in the second; and when it makes its return again, the first is to HALF-MOON, then it ceases at its conjunction with the sun.”

Let’s continue with Philo’s writings:


”Again, the PERIODICAL CHANGES OF THE MOON, take place according to the number seven, that star having the greatest sympathy with the things on earth. And the changes which the MOON works in the air, it perfects chiefly in accordance with its own configurations on each “seventh day”. At all events, all mortal things, as I have said before, drawing their more divine nature from the heaven, are moved in a manner which tends to their preservation in accordance with this number seven….Accordingly, on the seventh day, God caused to rest from all his works which he had made….”

Had a Hebrew speaking Judean wrote this he would have said “it perfects chiefly in accordance with its own configurations on each ‘Sabbath’ day” instead of each “seventh” day. This is because elsewhere in his writings Philo clearly states that when he mentions the seventh day he is speaking of the Sabbath day. Above, he tells us that the moon perfects its own configurations on each seventh day. It was understood that at the end of each period of six work days there would be a weekly Sabbath. The Greek speaking Judeans referred to the Sabbath as the seventh day or the sacred seventh day, while in the language of the Hebrews it was termed Shabbat, or the Sabbath. Continuing on with Philo:


”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”…

Let’s look carefully at what Philo is saying here. “But to the seventh day of the week He [YEHOVAH God] has assigned the greatest festivals.” In other words, the greatest (longest) festivals (the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Tabernacles) have been assigned to the seventh day of the week (the 15th — Sabbath) which begins the Festival and lasts for seven days. We know both of these seven day feasts begin on the 15th (Sabbath). Each of them lasts for seven days, and each one of these events begins on the seventh day of the week (15th) or weekly Sabbath and lasts for seven days. Philo goes on to say that each month (Nisan and Tishri) should receive an especial honor of one sacred day of festival, for the purpose of refreshing and clearing the mind with its holiday.

Notice he DID NOT say they would receive two holy days of festivals, but one, the 15th. To prove the seventh day of the week is the same as the 15th, Philo elsewhere states, “Again the beginning of this feast is appointed for the fifteenth day of the month (or seventh day of the week) on account of the reason which has already been mentioned respecting the Spring season might receive special honor of one sacred day of festival.”

In other words, Philo is saying the WEEKLY SABBATH BEGINS THESE TWO FEASTS, and is on the 15th. This proves that the Sabbaths are kept by the lunar calendar because there is no way the weekly Sabbath (15th) can begin these two festivals on the 15th of Nisan and the 15th of Tishri each year, on a continuous seven day cycle by the calendar of today.

Further proof of this found in John 19:31 which states “for that SABBATH was a HIGH DAY.” My New King James Bible refers the phrase “high day” to Exodus 12:16, which explains: “On the FIRST DAY [of the Feast of Unleavened Bread] there shall be a holy convocation….No manner of work shall be done…” So here, just like Philo says, the first day of the Feast (whether of Unleavened Bread or Tabernacles) ALWAYS falls on the weekly Sabbath at the end of the second week, that is the 15th of the lunar month.

Let’s continue:

F.H. Colson’s translation of THE DECALOGUE XXX (159) reads,

”The fourth [commandment], which treats of the SEVENTH DAY, must be regarded as nothing less than a gathering under ONE HEAD of the feasts and the purifications ordained for each feasts, the proper lustrations and the acceptable prayers and flawless sacrifices with which the ritual was carried out. By the seventh I mean both the seventh which INCLUDES the most creative of numbers, six, and that which does NOT INCLUDE it but takes precedence of IT and RESEMBLES the unit. BOTH these are employed by Him in reckoning the feast-times.” (Colson’s translation of Philo.)

What can be plainer than that? Let’s analyze it. “The fourth, which treats of THE SEVENTH DAY, must be regarded as nothing less than a gathering under one HEAD of the feasts.” How can the weekly Sabbath day be regarded as a gathering under one head of the feasts unless it heads these feast — i.e. begins them each year? This proves lunar Sabbaths. Philo continues by saying,

“By the seventh I mean BOTH the seventh which INCLUDES the most creative of numbers, six, and that which does NOT INCLUDE it but takes precedence of it and RESEMBLES the unit.”

The word precedence means it comes BEFORE the number six during the feasts, i.e. one of the sevenths comes before the number six during the 7 day feast and the other seventh comes after it and is combined with it. This is IMPOSSIBLE if he used the count for the Sabbath as the people of today do. The word precedence also has a footnote that has the actual Greek word and states, “the verb, derived from the adverb…, seem to be used as a thing which gets in front of something else and obscures it so here the idea may be that the unit or monad does not need six to make it equivalent to seven.” (Spec. Leg. Iv.52).

This seventh is the weekly seventh and is in front of the six days during the feasts because to the weekly seventh day He has assigned these feasts. The footnote that says “…here the idea may be that the unit or monad does not need six to make it equivalent to seven…” is because this single unit or monad does not need six to make it equivalent to seven because it is a seventh, and both Yonge’s and Colson’s translation say it is made to resemble the unit/first or number one. Last but not least it says, “BOTH these are EMPLOYED by Him [YEHOVAH God] in reckoning the feast-times.” You cannot reckon feast-times with a seventh that jumps around during the 7 day feast, on a man-made calendar. Both the sevens have to be fixed — not just the one that is on the 21st because He employed both sevens in reckoning the feast-times. If one of the sevenths could move it would also fall on the 21st at times and would also be combined with the number six and there would be only one seventh.

To close we will place the facts from Philo from both the Yonge and Colson translations.

FACT #1: Both translations state that the full moon is at the end of the second week, whereas it has been argued by those determined to oppose YEHOVAH’s truth that the weeks have nothing to do with the moon.

FACT #2: They both state that the full moon is on the 15th.

FACT #3: They both teach that the 15th begins both of the 7-day feasts/festivals each year (Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Tabernacles), which is the same 15th/full moon that is at the end of the second week. (This is impossible with the Roman or Gregorian calendar we keep today).

The question is, could this same 15th be the weekly seventh day that the festivals are assigned to? Philo clearly says both of these festivals have been assigned to the seventh day of the week Yes, it is the 15th that is at the end of the second week and it is the 7th day of the lunar week and the same seventh day that begins these feasts. They were keeping lunar weeks. Let’s examine fact number four and see.

FACT #4: Both translations conclusively teach that there are two sevenths in each of these festivals and both are connected in some way with the number six.

When Philo states that there are two sevenths in both the Festival of Unleavened Bread and the Festival of Booths (Tabernacles) is he somehow missing the point Saturday sabbatarians would bring up today — that there is a third seventh that will hit in between the 15th and the 21st the majority of years that the feasts come around? Why does Philo not mention this third seventh? It is because none exists. Philo only mention two sevenths in relation to the feast and the first of these two sevenths is none other than the weekly seventh day Sabbath that leads the feasts and is considered the first day of the feast — the 15th.

Does Philo speak about the Sabbaths in connection with the waxing and waning of the moon?

On page 17 of Ralph Marcus’ translation of Philo’s work entitled “Questions and Answers, Exodus, Book 1”: it says,

“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”.

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