The Essene calendar, the calendar attested in I Enoch and the Book of Jubilees, consisted of a solar calendar of 364 days divided into seven-day weeks, twelve months of thirty days each except for one extra day in the last month of each quarter (Jaubert 1965:27; Pfeiffer 1969:64-65; Vanderkam 1998:55; Finegan 1998:44). The Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Trumpets, Feast of Tabernacles, and Feast of the Great Day (often seen as the eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles), always began on Wednesday, actually on Tuesday evening as the Jews began days at evening not midnight (Jaubert 1965:10; Simon 1967:73). Trumpets, Tabernacles, and the Great Day always occurred in the seventh month as set forth in the Law of Moses (Leviticus 23:24-44). As Nisan 15, the annual Sabbath, or Passover Sabbath, marking the start of the seven-day Feast of Unleavened bread began at sunset Tuesday night, the Essene observance of the Passover Seder was always on a Tuesday night (Finegan 1998:43, 48).
Jaubert set forth in a simple chart her understanding of the calendar (Jaubert 1965:27) shown below.
David Flusser suggests that the Essene calendar differed significantly from that of the priests in order for the Essenes to distance themselves from the Jerusalem establishment. He wrote:
One of the elements leading to Jaubert's research dealt with the dating of the Last Supper and the day of the Crucifixion. She writes:
Benedictine scholar and archaeologist Bargil Pixner, who lived on Mt. Sion in the Dormition Abby, agreed holding that Jesus' Last Supper occurred on a Tuesday night but adding that it took place in the guesthouse of the Essene community on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem. "To my mind" writes Pixner "this took place in the Essene guesthouse on Mount Zion on the Tuesday night" (Pixner 1992:64; see also Pixner 1976, 1990, 1997).
Richard Mackowski, concurring, held that this "must have been a very simple dining hall in keeping with the simple life of the Essenes" (Mackowski 1980:141). In his thinking, the "site, therefore, must be secure, for it has been the only candidate for the Cenacle (Coenaculum or dining hall) from primitive Christianity until today" (Mackowski 1980:145).
Mackowski concluded, from his topographical study of the site of the Upper Room, that the Last Supper did indeed take place in the Essene dining hall on Mt. Sion from where Jesus and his followers "walked down from the Upper City’s Essene quarter, using the steps still visible beside the Chapel of Peter-in-Gallicantu on the eastern slope of Mt. Zion (Mackowski 1980:164). Moreover, he stated that:
Mackowski, independently of Bargil Pixner’s study of the area (Pixner 1976), concluded that the material evidence on Mt. Zion, in the light of textual analysis, was not only the mahaneh (the camp) of the Essenes during the time of Jesus but also the birthplace of this sect in Jerusalem (Mackowski 1980:63).
While Jaubert and Pixner saw the Last Supper, a Passover ceremony, on a Tuesday night they held that the Crucifixion occurred the following Friday. This would not only accommodate the Sunday resurrection tradition but would allow three days for the incarceration and trial of Jesus of Nazareth. There are major problems with that theory and a remarkable solution to the Passion Week chronology (see The Last Seder: Unscrambling Its Baffling Chronology).
The Essene Solar Calendar
Dates in bold indicate weekly Sabbaths, annual Sabbaths, and the new moons of the first, fourth, seventh and tenth month. Roman numerals indicate the month beginning with the first month. The months had no names and were known by number only. The seven annual Sabbaths appear in the black cells. The first day on the first month always begins at sunset (Jerusalem time) on the Tuesday evening following the vernal equinox (I Enoch; Finegan 1998:46). The calendar had a year of 364 days. As Jubilees set the Festival of Weeks (Pentecost) on III 15 the offering of the wave sheaf (Leviticus 23:11), the omer-waving ceremony from which it is dated, always fell on Sunday the 26th day of the first month (Jaubert 1965:27; Finegan 1998:42).
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