Please see Part I, Part II, and Part III for the best context.
I do hope you that you have at least read Part III and have considered the significance of the number NINE in regard to the creation of LIFE. The following analogy will cover all seven of YHWH’s moedim and the two festivals of the people (Chanukah and Purim). I realize that some people will have a “problem” with me adding in the latter two festivals. My hope is that those that do will at least take the time to read the whole matter before making a judgment.
I’m obviously not the first person to compare the feast cycle with the human gestation. But in my research of this topic, I haven’t found one that includes all nine of the aforementioned festivals. Since the Biblical year begins in Nisan, all the resources I’ve inquired start the analogy with Pesach. Since human gestation is nine months, 280 days, or 40 weeks, one cannot begin with Passover and end with Sukkot because there are only about 25.3 weeks between these festivals. Thus, many resources extend their analogy to include Chanukah. But even then, there still isn’t a true nine month period as there are only about 10 weeks between Sukkot and Chanukah. (A total of 35.3 weeks)
But if we begin with Purim, a feast that begins exactly one month before Passover, and we walk through the moedim cycle all the way to Chanukah, we indeed end up right at 40 weeks or nine months. I personally don’t believe this is a coincidence. Since Purim technically falls toward the end of the Biblical year, this may seem to be a perplexing place to start. But when we consider what Purim commemorates, I believe things come into focus. Please join me through this exciting journey that chronicles both natural and spiritual life.
Purim and Conception
In the Book of Esther, we are given the history and story behind Purim. There are quite a few fascinating tidbits in Esther that I hope to write about soon. For this post, I will curb my fingers and give you the bare bones as to why I believe Purim is a picture of conception or the beginning of life. In the time of Esther, the Jewish people were living in exile under the rule of the Persian Empire. A highly anti-Semitic official (Haman) tricked the king into signing a decree to annihilate the Jewish people. But God chose a woman (Esther) to intercede and act on behalf of her people. As the new bride of the king of Persia, Esther was able to not only save her people, but also ensure their future.
This is overly simplified, but the point is that Esther became a “mother” to Israel and a builder of the House. Without her heroics, the Jewish people would have been annihilated and the Messiah wouldn’t have been born. During Purim, the people were “fertile” with potential. If Esther had refused to become YHWH’s vessel, salvation would have come from another. (Esther 4:14) Purim celebrates survival; something conceived babies’ need more than ever in today’s world.
Thus, Purim appropriately involves rejoicing through the physical pleasures (food, drink, etc.) because it was our physical bodies that were saved. Ahem… this also implies sex and the potential to receive seed (conception). The date of Purim is Adar 14th, which occurs at the full moon on the last Hebrew month of the year. In leap years, when there are two months of Adar, Purim is celebrated in the second month of Adar, so it is always one month before Passover.
If you will recall from Part II, when a woman is in menses at the new moon, she is fertile at the full moon. In our analogy, both Purim and ovulation occur on the 14th of the month when the moon is full. (Esther 9:17) To make things simple for our comparisons of the moedim and gestation, I will use the Jewish calendar beginning with the date for Purim this year, March 4th, 2015.
In our analogy, it is during the weeks between Purim and Passover that a woman’s body would make the crucial decision of whether or not the fertilized egg is viable enough to implant in the uterus. Likewise, those that are preparing for Passover begin a similar process of selection by eating up and removing any leaven in the home. Just as Israel had to experience several of the plagues of Egypt, a woman may experience some sickness at this point.
If conception occurred on the evening of March 4th, 2015, then by the time the Biblical New Year and Passover occurs, it will be April 3rd. Since exactly one full month would have passed, Passover will also occur during a full moon when there is more “light”. A woman would have just recently been made aware that she had conceived as her menses would have skipped its cycle at the new moon. At this point, she would be four weeks pregnant.
By the fourth week of pregnancy, the tiny baby has already made itself a “home” in the uterus. As you read the following quote, please keep spiritual birth at the forefront of your mind. What to Expect says this about the fourth week of gestation:
“Once there [in the uterus], it burrows into your uterine lining and implants — making that unbreakable connection to you that’ll last the next eight months (and a lifetime after that). As soon as that little ball of cells is settled in its new home, it will undergo the great divide — splitting into two groups. Half (now called the embryo) will become your son or daughter, while the other half forms the placenta, your baby’s lifeline…” [Bolding and brackets are mine.]
I don’t know about you, but I find this fascinating. Passover is the covenantal meal. It is what makes that “unbreakable” connection between YHWH and us – and it does last for a lifetime!
Unleavened Bread and Early First Fruits
On the heels of Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread commence. In our analogy these festivals would fall from April 4th through April 10th. There is to be no leavened bread consumed for these seven days. This was to remind the children of Israel that they had to leave Egypt in haste. But Pharaoh pursued the Israelites as far as the Red Sea. This would have been about the time that the early first fruits festival would occur. Later as a fulfillment of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Early First Fruits, Messiah shed His blood in death as the Paschal Lamb, was buried during Unleavened Bread, and rose from the grave becoming our Firstfruits.
A lot happens throughout this fourth week of pregnancy as well. What to Expect continues:
“Your little embryo is busy setting up house. While the amniotic sac (also called the bag of waters) forms around it, so does the yolk sac which will later be incorporated into your baby’s developing digestive tract. And the embryo now has three distinct layers of cells that will grow into specialized parts of your baby’s body.” [Bolding mine.]
If you look carefully, you can see elements that are involved with Matzah and Early Firstfruits. Just as the children of Israel walked through the waters of the Red Sea during this time frame, the baby is surrounded (and yet protected) by the merciful waters of the womb. Moreover, its digestive tract begins to develop. This is indicative of our digestive tracts being “reprogrammed” each year by abstaining from leaven. I also cannot help but to notice that it is in this week that the baby (embryo) develops THREE distinct layers of cells that will build its little body. This whole process in the natural and the spiritual is about building the HOUSE.
The following points are labeled according to gestation weeks, not omer weeks. I have included SEVEN as we are told to count 7×7 weeks up to Shavuot (Pentecost). All of the following developmental stages were taken from What to Expect.
- Week 5: Baby has visible heartbeat.
- Week 6: Head and face takes shape.
- Week 7: Brain cells rapidly develop as do arm/leg buds.
- Week 8: Heart beats at 150 beats a minute. Lips, nose, and eyelids develop.
- Week 9: Baby hits milestone. (Notice this is in NINTH week.) Embryonic stage ends and fetal stage begins.
- Week 10: Bones and cartilage form.
- Week 11: Sex organs begin forming. Baby now has distinct human features such as hands, feet, nose, and ears.
Approximately seven weeks later on May 23rd, after the counting of the Omer, the second pilgrimage festival begins. The first fruits of wheat are brought in and baked into two leavened loaves that are then waved before YHWH. The children of Israel would have reached Mt. Sinai at this point and received the Ten Commandments. Later, the resurrected Messiah would send the Holy Spirit to appear as tongues of fire upon His disciples.
The developing baby would be at about 12 weeks gestation and nearing the end of the first trimester by Shavuot. This week marks a turning point for the developing baby much in the same way that experiencing Pentecost is a turning point in the life of a Believer. What to Expect says this about the 12th week of gestation:
“At 12 weeks pregnant, the herculean task of developing new bodily structures is nearing an end, as most of your baby’s systems are fully formed – though there’s still plenty of maturing to do. For one thing, the fetal digestive system is beginning to flex its digestive muscle — literally — as it starts beginning to practice contraction movements, a skill your baby will need after birth to push food through the digestive tract. The bone marrow is busy making white blood cells — weapons which will one day help your baby fight infection once he’s out of your safe haven. And the pituitary gland at the base of the brain has started producing the hormones that’ll enable him (or her) to make babies of his (or her) own in a couple of decades or so.” [Bolding mine]
I think it’s pretty easy to deduce that the Israelites weren’t quite “mature” by the time they reached the mountain to receive the Ten Words. The same could be said of those that received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Acts chapter 2 (we read in the epistles of their ongoing immaturity issues.) And if we are really honest, the same thing can be said of us! We are all like the little developing baby (spiritually speaking). Our systems might be fully formed, but we still have a lot of growing to do.
By this point in our spiritual development, we should have enough digestive power to receive the bread offering at Shavuot. The fact that the baby’s white blood cells are arming it against infection mirrors the spiritual armor given to us by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. But perhaps the most intriguing thing that begins to happen at this stage is the capacity to REPRODUCE. Just as the baby develops the ability to one day have children of its own, we become spiritually empowered to spread the Seed (Gospel) at Shavuot.
There are about 16 weeks between Shavuot and Rosh Hashanah. That’s close to half the gestation cycle! As you can imagine, a lot of development and maturity occurs during these months. This is true of the harvest and for us spiritually as well. The long, hot summer is meant to prepare and mature us for what is to come.
One month before the fall feasts (Elul), the shofar is blasted every day to call us to repentance. Judgment and the harvest are near. The entire second trimester passed in the hot summer months. One of the most notable things to occur before the Feast of Trumpets is the baby’s development of hearing. Read the following amazing quote about the 17th week of gestation from What to Expect.
“Baby’s Startled By Noise. Your baby is almost certainly listening up by now. In fact, loud noises — the dog barking, the doorbell ringing — will actually startle your baby…”
Obviously, you know that the “loud noise” could certainly include the blast of the shofar!
Rosh Hashanah or Feast of Trumpets
The trials and struggles of the long hot summer have produced ears that can hear when the heavenly shofar sounds aloud. By the time Rosh Hashanah arrives on September 13th, our ears are fully open. We know the sound of our Master’s voice and are willing to heed His call.
The shofar is meant to call the sleeper from the grave. Those that slumber must “wake up”! Notice that it is at this stage of development (about 28 weeks) that the baby has the ability to sleep and dream. Moreover, the baby has now moved into the “proper” position for birth — which is with its head facing downward. Is this not also the proper posture for us during the High Holy Days? Again from What to Expect:
“Your baby is settling into the proper position for birth, with his head facing downward (toward your body’s nearest exit!). Brain wave activity measured in a developing fetus shows different sleep cycles, including the rapid eye movement phase — the stage when dreaming occurs.” [Bolding mine]
Ten days after Rosh Hashanah the most Holy day of the year is upon us. In our analogy, it is Sept. 22nd. The baby enters into the third trimester of development and is almost at 30 weeks gestation. At this stage, the baby’s eyes are just starting to open.
The people fast as the High Priest makes atonement for the entire nation at Yom Kippur. This day is the only day of the year that the High Priest can enter the Most Holy Place and he doesn’t enter without changing his garments and offering blood. Once again from What to Expect:
“Another big change at 30 weeks pregnant: Your baby’s bone marrow has taken over production of red blood cells (before, tissue groups and then the spleen took care of producing the blood cells). This is an important step for your baby, because it means he or she is better able to thrive on his or her own once born. [Bolding mine.]
When the blood is offered for atonement, the baby’s bones (frame/building) can now produce blood (where life is found).
In our analogy, the dates for Sukkot are September 27th –October 4th. Judgment has passed and the party begins under the sukkah. The baby is now at about 30-31 weeks into development. All of YHWH’s festivals are meant to engage our senses. But Sukkot seems to invoke these sensations a little more than all the others. Perhaps, it is because Sukkot (as the SEVENTH moed) is a picture of the culmination of the entire festal calendar. At Sukkot, we see the stars and the neatly decorated sukkah, we feel the wind and the embrace of the brethren, we hear the sounds of the shofar, dancing, and rejoicing, we taste the sumptuous foods in the sukkah, and we smell the fire, food, and four species waved at the four corners of the earth. Not surprisingly, it is at this stage that the baby can now perceive from all five senses. Again from What to Expect:
He’s now processing information, tracking light and perceiving signals from all five senses. [Bolding mine.]
Throughout the following ten weeks, many more changes begin to happen in the development of the baby. Perhaps, two are most notable. First, the baby begins to practice breathing. Its little lungs are now prepared to take in its first breath. Second, its pupils can constrict, dilate and detect light entering his or her eyes.
Chanukah in our analogy is Dec. 6th – Dec. 14th. As the festival of lights, it is not surprising that the baby’s eyes can now fully detect light. After all, it will be during this festival that our little baby will make its way from the darkness of the womb into the bright light of the new world. It is fully developed and ready to meet its maker.
Chanukah is actually a late Sukkot festival. Although we celebrate with Light, we can still sense all the wonder and joy we experienced during the eight days of Tabernacles. I actually like to think of Purim and Chanukah as standing outside the seven festivals of YHWH on either end as a picture of the olam haba. Obviously, that is my opinion; you are free to have your own.
Life in cycles of nine speaks to mankind (adam), covenant, light, and TRUTH. The Gospel is spoken in the stars, in our flesh, and in the moedim. Natural human gestation is a picture of our spiritual gestation as we grow, mature, and develop in order to meet our Maker. I do hope this analogy has given you some food for thought as we are quickly approaching a new year! Purim is this week! Part V should wrap all these concepts up and offer a conclusion to Moonbeams and the Moedim. I hope you’ll join me.
John 3:3-8 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (4) Nicodemus *said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” (5) Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (6) “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (7) “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ (8) “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
 I gleaned the various stages of fetal development in my analogies from the website: What to Expect.