Though it is undeniable there are pagan peoples who worship the sun, the moon, and the
remainder of hosts of heaven, those who use these lights for time-keepers are
doing no more and no less than tasking them with their appointed
One cannot, in practical fact, tell time without recourse to one
pagan deity or another, because the sun is a pagan god, and the moon
is also. So are the 'hours,' for that matter, not to mention the
'dawn.' But aside from their 'off-hours' duties as pagan deities,
these luminaries were given to man for time-keeping: "...and let
them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years..."
(Genesis 1:14). Where is the offense in using them for their intended purpose?
Should Christians refrain from telling time, because the pagans have
already occupied that ground? We might as well shiver in the cold,
because the Persian Magi worship fire.
How simple life would be if twelve lunar months equalled just
exactly one solar year! But in reality neither months not years can be
reckoned by an exact count of days, as was realized early on: "But none
of these can be truly calculated by whole days, for neither the year nor
the months can be numbered by entire days." (Hippocrates, Works of
Hippocrates, p. 157, The Book of Prognostics, Chapter 20). Certainly twelve
months is about right: "And Solomon had
twelve officers over all Israel, which provided victuals for the king
and his household: each man his month in a year made provision." (1
Kings 4:7). This will not work out exactly, however, because as the redoubtable pagan Julius Caesar
realized, the solar year is approximately 365-1/4 days long. But
twelve lunar months make up only 354 days. For
that matter, mightn't it be nice if the solar year could be evenly
divided into seven-day weeks, as the sectarians who compiled the
Dead Sea scriptures insisted it was. That makes 364 days, a nice
round number but unfortunately 'off' by a day and a quarter. Is
there any larger cycle in which the month count comes out even with
the year count, with no fractional remainder?
In the fifth century B.C. the Athenian astronomer Meton noticed that
a period of nineteen years equals, very nearly, 235 lunar months. This
discovery provides a solid basis for lining up the lunar year with the
"In Athens Meton, the son of Pausanias, who had won fame
for his study of the stars, revealed to the public his nineteen-year
cycle, as it is called, the beginning of which he fixed on the
thirteenth day of the Athenian month of Scirophorion. In this number
of years the stars accomplish their return to the same place in the
heavens and conclude, as it were, the circuit of what may be called
a Great Year; consequently it is called by some the Year of Meton.
And we find that this man was astonishingly fortunate in this
prediction which he published; for the stars complete both their
movement and the effects they produce in accordance with his
reckoning. Consequently, even down to our own day, the larger number
of the Greeks use the nineteen-year cycle and are not cheated of the
(Siculus, Diodorus. Library of History, Book XII,
Chapter 36.2-3. Complete Works of Diodorus Siculus (Delphi Classics)
(Delphi Ancient Classics Book 32) (Kindle Locations 11259-11265).
Delphi Classics. Kindle Edition.
The Metonic cycle is the
basis for the ancient Babylonian calendar, which was adopted by the
Jews. Intercalating an 'extra' month into the year seven times
during the nineteen years will even out these two running time-pieces,
the moon and the sun.
The goal to be achieved, the goal God set after all, is just shy
of 365-1/4 days. The Egyptians were, reportedly, the first to count
365 days in the solar year:
"But as to those matters which concern men, the priests
agreed with one another in saying that the Egyptians were the first
of all men on earth to find out the course of the year, having
divided the seasons into twelve parts to make up the whole; and this
they said they found out from the stars: and they reckon to this
extent more wisely than the Hellenes, as it seems to me, inasmuch as
the Hellenes throw in an intercalated month every other year, to
make the seasons right, whereas the Egyptians, reckoning the twelve
months at thirty days each, bring in also every year five days
beyond the number, and thus the circle of their seasons is completed
and comes round to the same point whence it set out." (Herodotus,
Histories, Book II, Chapter 4).