2005 Aviv-stage Barley Search Reports

Our Evaluation and Conclusion of the Evidences

by Brian Hoeck

     Each year, a search is made throughout the land of Israel. As the 12th month of the Biblical calendar year (akin to February/March of our Gregorian calendar) draws to a close, folks gather to examine the barley. They are searching for evidence that the barley would be harvestable for the Wavesheaf offering (Leviticus 23:10) in about two to three weeks after the soon-approaching New Moon that would begin the next Biblical month. If the barley is found to be aviv* (some say "abib"), that forthcoming New Moon would be pronounced as the New Moon of the Aviv---the head of the new year.

     Nehemia Gordon, a Karaite Jew (non-Messianic/non-Christian), set out for the aviv search with many others (fellow Karaites, as well as Christians and Messianics). With some members of this search party being new to the barley inspections, Nehemia set out early to teach them what to be looking for. During this educational field trip, on March 8, 2005, aviv-stage barley was found in Israel at Alon Junction and Ein Mabua near Jerusalem: "Large quantities of Aviv barley were found near Ein Mabua and smaller quantities near Alon Junction." Based on these initial findings, Nehemia Gordon and crew declared the New Moon of March 11, 2005 to be the 1st month of the Biblical year.

     A second search party however also set out that week to scour Israel for aviv barley. This smaller group consisted of three Christians from the U.S.A.

     Headed by Brian Convery of New York (who has participated in the aviv search with Nehemia Gordon the prior 4 years), this crew also included Angie Andrews (also a former participant with Gordon), and Angie's father, Rick Andrews (both of Michigan). Convery's initial report came from the same day as Gordon's, however Convery was coming to a differing conclusion on the New Year--for the most part, the barley wasn't ready. In the end of their search, as they prepared for return to the U.S., Convery's final report was that there would not be sufficient aviv barley, in the fields he deemed acceptable, to begin a harvest this month. Contrarily, Gordon's final report reaffirmed his initial report:

On March 11, 2005 Aviv barley was found in multiple locations in the Jordan valley including Naomi Junction and Fatzael Junction. The Aviv barley in the Alon and Ein Mabua regions were re-examined for the benefit of new Aviv searchers who had not been present on the previous occasion. One large field below the entrance of the town of Alon which had previously contained patches of Aviv barley had advanced to a uniform state of Aviv.

     In view of the seemingly conflicting reports coming in from March 8-12, 2005, we set our faces those days to pray, fast, and discuss the evidences. After sifting the testimonies, we came to the conclusion that there is admissible barley that qualifies for a wavesheaf offering in the state of aviv, and the major portion of the barley will likewise be harvestable about two weeks after Wavesheaf Day. This conclusion was based on both the witness of Nehemia Gordon and Brian Convery, as well as the Scriptures. [UPDATE March 27, 2005: See new photos taken on Wavesheaf Day that confirms the validity of this report]

     It is evident that we are now in the month of the Aviv, and the Passover and Feast of Unleavens will be upon us shortly. (see our Expected New Moons and Appointed Times for 2005 page for dates)

Evaluation of the Evidences

     Concerning the aviv declaration, we'd like for you to be able to consider all the evidence that we have considered. We have looked at Brian Convery's reports and Nehemia Gordon's reports. We have communicated with Convery for further clarification through our friend and brother in Christ Jesus, Steve Bruns (who talked with Brian by phone---Brian being yet in Israel at the time). We have also communicated with Nehemia via email for further clarification of the evidences. Another source we considered was an article written by a brother here in the U.S. in answer to Brian Convery's reports. It can be viewed offsite at: http://www.evkingdom.org/holydays.htm    

FACT:   Both Gordon & Convery agree there is aviv barley in Israel. Two witnesses---even though opposing declarations. Actually, there were about 16 witnesses to the barley at Ein Mabua and Alon Junction being aviv (all of the people in the 2 search parties).

     Brian contested Nehemia's acceptance of these two fields saying that although they may be aviv, they are livestock feed and not harvestable fields. (Take note in the photographic evidences provided below that there are rows of rocks placed along the hillsides. These are proof that these fields were indeed used by man for agriculture.)

     However, Convery did state: "We did find some sparse locations where the barley would meet the minimum standards for a wavesheaf offering by the middle of the next lunar month. [which would mean this current lunar month beginning March 11, 2005 `bh] However the quantities were light." (Brian Convery - March 8th, 2005 Abib Report)

     As evidenced above, Brian himself found some light quantities of barley that "would meet the minimum standards for a wavesheaf offering" in two weeks.

    Convery also noted:

All of our traditional locations which we have established over the last four years were looked at as well as many others as far west as Ashkelon and as far south as Beersheba. In every circumstance the barley was immature. The vast majority was between the 6th and beginning of the 7th stages of development. This puts the state of "aviv" for them 4 weeks or more away. (Brian Convery - March 9th, 2005 Abib Report)

     Putting this information together, we conclude that barley was in the stage of aviv before the crescent was sighted (qualifying that crescent as the New moon of the aviv). Further, there is currently light quantities of barley that "would meet the minimum standards for a wavesheaf offering" by the middle of the current lunar month. And two weeks after that (that is, "four weeks" from Brian Convery's 2nd report), the "vast majority" of the barley in Israel will be harvestable (and there are seven weeks to the harvest).

     If the harvest starts Sunday March 27th (wavesheaf) and, as Convery states, by April 5th (4 weeks from March 9th when he reported the comment directly above) the rest is fully harvestable, it stands to reason that there will indeed be harvestable barley along the way until that point.

     All of these facts corroborate the fact that the month of the Aviv is here!

Personal Email Correspondence from Nehemia Gordon to Ken Hoeck -- Thursday, March 10, 2005 3:40 PM

     I spoke to Brian [Convery] and he said he examined the fields by Ein Mabua and admits they are Aviv. However, he believes that these fields of Aviv do not count because they are rocky. You would need to ask Brian why rocky fields in a country full of rocks are not valid. I will be returning to Ein Mabua tomorrow and collecting more evidence which will help clarify this situation.

     Ruthanne Koch will also be issuing a letter in the next few days about barley growing directly off the road which is in an artificial micro-environment and not admissible for Aviv. Ruthanne explained this to myself and Brian several years ago and since then I have not accepted roadside barley as valid evidence for Aviv.


Personal Email Correspondence from Nehemia Gordon to Brian Hoeck -- 3/11/2005 8:37:19 AM Central Standard Time

     Upon receiving Brian Convery's March 10th report, I wrote to Nehemia Gordon to inquire about some of Convery's statements. Here are some excerpts of Nehemia's reply:

     Brian could not possibly have looked at all of the same fields we looked at or he would not describe them as being directly on the roadside. In fact, I do not consider barley growing directly on the roadside as valid. This is something Ruthanne Koch taught me (and Brian) about several years ago. I will give more details of the fields we saw in the full Aviv Report which will be written up early next week. I have been going non-stop since early in the AM and will just make it in time for the New Moon sighting, so I have not had a chance to prepare the final Aviv Report.

     I asked him of Brian's latest report wherein Brian stated:

Side of road, Alon Junction

We have checked this area each year and have only used it as an indicator of barley which has experienced abnormal conditions for growth. It is not to be used to declare the start of the barley harvest in Israel.

     I asked:

Is it a fact that every year you (the abib searchers) have only considered Alon Junction as "an indicator of barley which has experienced abnormal conditions for growth" and that "It is not to be used to declare the start of the barley harvest in Israel"?

     To which, Nehemia replied: "This is the first I have heard of this fact. That would only be true of the stalks directly off the asphalt."


Karaite Korner Newsletter #194

Aviv Found!

     On Tuesday March 8, 2005 Aviv was found in Israel at Alon Junction and Ein Mabua near Jerusalem. Large quantities of Aviv barley were found near Ein Mabua and smaller quantities near Alon Junction. Ein Mabua is located 15km east of Jerusalem. The Aviv examination on March 8, 2005 started out as a field trip to teach Aviv Searchers about what to look for during the main Aviv Search on Thursday-Friday March 10-11, 2005. During this preliminary examination we immediately found that the barley in the region was in an advanced stage of ripening. The main Aviv Search, which will cover the Northern Negev and Jordan Valley regions, will still be carried out on March 10-11. However, the vast quantities of Aviv Barley already located east of Jerusalem are enough to establish the coming month as the Month of the Aviv. In light of this discovery, the New Moon on Friday March 11, 2005 will be the beginning of the coming biblical year. Chag HaMatzot (Feast of Unleavened Bread) will fall out on Saturday March 26, 2005 and Shavuot (Feast of Weeks) will fall out on May 15, 2005. The following people participated in the Aviv examination on March 8, 2005: Nehemia Gordon, Ruthanne Koch, Devorah Gordon, Glen Cain, Karl Bloodworth, Ferenc Illesy, Avi Marcus, Dina Marcus, Avi Gold, Terry Fehr, and Yosef Ruach.

     Pictures of Aviv Barley fields found on Tuesday March 8, 2005 are posted at: http://www.Karaite-Korner.org/aviv/2005/ [sic] -- the correct address is http://www.karaite-korner.org/abib/2005/ as seen below ~bh]

Happy New Year!

Nehemia Gordon


Karaite Korner Newsletter #195

Update to Holiday Dates and Aviv Pictures

     Now that the Aviv has been found, the final dates of the coming biblical holidays are now posted at: http://www.karaite-korner.org/holiday_dates.shtml

     The Aviv pictures have also been updated and posted at: http://www.karaite-korner.org/abib/2005/

Nehemia Gordon

Jerusalem, Israel


Aviv Report 2005, Part 2

by Nehemia Gordon

     On March 11, 2005 Aviv barley was found in multiple locations in the Jordan valley including Naomi Junction and Fatzael Junction. The Aviv barley in the Alon and Ein Mabua regions were re-examined for the benefit of new Aviv searchers who had not been present on the previous occasion. One large field below the entrance of the town of Alon which had previously contained patches of Aviv barley had advanced to a uniform state of Aviv. On the March 11 Aviv Search the following people participated: Nehemia Gordon, Ruthanne Koch, Devorah Gordon, Melekh Ben Ya'aqov, Rivkah Michaeli, Glen Cain, Karl Bloodworth, Ferenc Illesy, Uri Marcus, Avi Marcus, Terry Fehr, Shlomoh Gaber, and Yosi Gaber. Aviv barley was not found in the northern Negev on March 10.

Nehemia Gordon

Jerusalem, Israel


Aviv Search: Artificial Micro-Environments and Herbicide

by Nehemia Gordon

     I have been involved in searching for Aviv Barley for more than 10 years. The first modern Aviv Search was carried out in 1988. The early years entailed a great deal of study and experimentation, searching for areas in which barley was cultivated and grew voluntarily, identifying the various stages in its ripening, and carrying out detailed observations and experiments on barley in all its stages to identify the biblical Aviv. By 1997, after almost 10 years of modern Karaite Aviv Searches, a clear and solid understanding of the agricultural state of Aviv had been restored.

     I often write about the two days of Aviv Search at the end of the 12th Month. These two days are the last chance for the barley to be Aviv. If Aviv is not found by the end of the 12th Month, then the following month must be counted as the 13th Month (and not as the 1st Month of the following year). While these two final days of the 12th Month are key in determining the beginning of the biblical year, in reality the Aviv Search spans more than a month, tracking the barley from its early stages of ripening before Aviv all the way through its harvest-ripe stage after Aviv. It is only by doing this every year on an ongoing basis that we can hone and refine our understanding of Aviv barley.

     While the basic definition of Aviv Barley was recovered by 1997, there have been a number of major issues in recent years that have helped us make better and more accurate readings. Several years ago Ruthanne Koch, a certified crop advisor from Colorado with 23 years of hands-on experience, was invited to join the annual Aviv Search. Ruthanne has brought to light two crucial issues which I had not known about, making the Aviv Search much more accurate.

     The first issue is what Ruthanne has coined "artificial micro-environments". An artificial micro-environment is caused by modern man-made factors which can cause the barley to ripen earlier than it would have under Biblical growing conditions. For example, barley that grows alongside an asphalt road is in an artificial micro-environment. The heat radiating off the asphalt causes the barley to ripen much earlier than it would have under normal conditions. Obviously they did not have asphalt roads in Biblical times so we cannot consider this artificially early barley as relevant for determining the Aviv.

     Another type of artificial micro-environment is created by a steep mountainside with a thin layer of soil held in place by wire mesh. This type of icro-environment can be found above roads cut into the sides of mountains; the wire-mesh prevents the soil from eroding onto the road below. In this type of artificial micro-environment, the thin layer of soil will dry out very quickly which stresses the barley causing it to ripen prematurely. Again, barley on a mountainside of this sort is not valid for the Aviv because it is growing under artificial man-made conditions that did not exist in Biblical times.

     A second issue that Ruthanne brought to light is related to herbicides. When barley is sprayed by certain types of herbicides it will send the barley into stress causing it to ripen prematurely. Ruthanne and her husband run a crop-dusting business so identifying areas that have been sprayed with herbicide is something she does with great expertise. Why would someone spray barley with herbicide? Firstly, barley grows wild in Israel and many farmers view it a weed. Secondly, it is common in Israel to spray roadside ditches and the clouds of herbicide often float over the ditches into nearby fields. Only a trained eye can discern this herbicide damage.

     I thank and praise YHWH for sending us this dedicated crop consultant who gives of her precious time to come and help those who want to uncover the precise times YHWH has appointed for His feasts. Ruthanne Koch is a Torah-keeping believer in Yeshua, and I want to thank her for coming and joining the annual Karaite Aviv Search over the last few years and hopefully for many years to come.


Aviv and Agricultural Terraces

by Nehemia Gordon and Ruthanne Koch

     This year we found Aviv in a new area, near the spring of Ein Mabua, 15km east of Jerusalem. The vast quantities of lush healthy Aviv were unexpected and require further comment. I have asked Ruthanne Koch to co-author this article with him [sic] to help explain some of the agronomic conditions that made this area ideal for barley growth and determining Aviv.

     One thing we immediately noticed in this area was that much of the barley was growing on an ancient agricultural terrace. Pictures of this agricultural terrace are posted at: http://www.karaite-korner.org/abib/2005/ (pictures 23, 27, 28, 30, 32, 33) [I've posted these photos below for your convenience, along with photo #31 ~bh]

     Agricultural terraces are found throughout the mountains of central Israel. The ancient Canaanites and later the Israelites built stepped terraces along the mountain slopes in order to grow crops on every available inch of land. Agricultural terraces consist of a stone wall built without mortar that holds back soil against the mountain slope. The terrace wall prevents the soil from eroding away into the valley below and maintains a deep nutrient-dense level seedbed. Joshua 17:15 mentions that the Children of Joseph did not have enough farmland so they were told to cut down the forests from the mountains. The Children of Joseph built many of the agricultural terraces still found all over Israel in order to utilize the de-forested bare mountainsides.

     The fact that many of the terraces were built by the early Israelites has been confirmed by the excavations at Malcha, the site of the Jerusalem Mall. Before the mall was built, archaeologists excavated the agricultural terraces on the proposed site and found the remains of a Canaanite village under the terraces; it was clear from the excavations that the village had been buried by the terraces shortly after it was destroyed, apparently by the ancient Israelite invaders. Agricultural terraces would have been exactly the environment in which ancient barley was grown on the mountainsides of biblical Israel.

     In the area of Ein Mabua, the ancient agricultural terraces on the southern slope of the mountain comprise a naturally occurring micro-environment, free from modern artificial interferences. This type of natural micro-environment is found all over the Judean hills. The only artificial influence at this location were the ancient agricultural terraces, which was the typical mode of agriculture in this region in ancient Israel.

     This natural micro-environment combined a number of different elements which resulted in above average growing conditions. These elements included the canyon walls which provided additional heat units to the crop as well as protection from adverse environmental factors such as high wind. The canyon also contained fertile ground as evidenced by the lush conditions of the barley with long heads, healthy stalks, and large plump Aviv kernels. All of the above elements are naturally occurring and common throughout this region making this type of micro-environment ideal for growing barley and determining Aviv.

     Orthodox Jew, Roy Hoffman, also sent out a report on the New Moon and the potential New Year. Hoffman heads up the Israeli New Moon Society, a group of Jews who have been collecting New Moon data for years in preparation for the re-establishment of an observation calendar in Israel by a new Sanhedrin. While their parameters for the New Year are not all in Scripture, Hoffman's insights below are interesting:


New Moon seen Friday 11th March 2005


Dear All,

     The New Moon was seen clearly from Israel last night (Friday 11th March 2005). Rina Hoffman and I saw it at 18:07 and Baruch Ben Yosef at 18:11 from Maale Adumim. Despite thin high-level clouds, the Moon was easily visible. The Moon was already easily visible when we first saw it.

     Now, an update on last month (Thursday 10th February 2005). Ehud Urieli saw the Moon briefly through a gap in the clouds from Hertzliya. This is in addition to Eli Slavin’s report from Kibbutz Saad that I posted a couple of weeks ago bringing the total of positive sightings from Israel last month to two.

      Next month's New Moon might be visible from Israel, on Saturday 9th April 2005 but will be very difficult or impossible to see with the naked eye. (The New Moon will not be visible to the naked eye from India, South Africa or Australia until the next day – Sunday 10th April 2005). If the Moon is not visible then please look again on Sunday 10th April.

     The Jewish calendar is a lunar-solar calendar. This means that in addition to fixing the start of each month, a decision has to be made for the start of each year in order to match the solar year. The calendar is kept in step by adding an extra month of Adar to make a 13th month. In the calculated calendar that we use today, this is done seven times in each 19-year cycle; on the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th and 19th years. This year is the 8th year of the cycle and this New Moon is the start of the second month of Adar.

      However, when the Sanhedrin fixes the calendar by observation (which is not the case today) it also decides each year if to add an extra month. It is interesting to consider what their decision might have been be especially as in the 19 year cycle, the 8th year is also the year that ends the latest relative to the solar year. There are three major criteria that may be used and it turns out that all three may be relevant this year. 1) If the 16th of Nissan would fall before the vernal equinox then a month is added. This year 16th Adar II (March 27th) is a few days after the equinox (March 20th) so we continue to the next criterion. 2) Will there be enough barley ripe to reap on the eve of Nissan 16th, grind into flour and sacrifice on the next day? For this, three regions are taken into consideration: Judea, Samaria and the East Bank of the Jordan. I have received reports that there are a few pockets of barley in Judea that will be ripe enough a few days before 16th Adar II. However, this is so marginal that it is unlikely that there will be ripe barley in Samaria which is cooler and wetter and it is questionable also on the East Bank of the Jordan because it is wetter than in Judea. If ripe barley is not available in Judea then an extra month is added. If barley is available in Judea and at least one of the other regions then no extra month is added. If barley is available only in Judea, as might be the case this year, then the third criterion comes into play. 3) Are the fruit trees that normally blossom in Nissan in flower by the end of Adar in order to provide first-fruits in time for Shavuot. Unfortunately, I am not an expert on this but it does seem quite possible that they are beginning to bloom.

     It appears that this year the addition of an extra Adar would be an extremely marginal decision if the Sanhedrin were ruling the case. My best guess is that they would not have made this a leap year. In any case this is purely hypothetical as we add a second month of Adar this year according to our calculated calendar.




Karaite Korner Newsletter #205

Counting the Omer and the Wave-Sheaf Offering

     Today, March 27, 2005 is Yom Hanfat Ha'omer, the Day of the Waving of the Omer, which begins the counting of the Omer, the 50-day countdown to Chag Ha-Shavuot (Feast of Weeks). To make the countdown easier, a list of the day and week numbers for each day is available at: http://www.karaite-korner.org/omer.shtml

     Today (March 27, 2005) a followup examination of the barley was carried out. We found vast quantities of barley that was fully harvest-ripe at all the locations where Aviv was previously reported. We cut many sheaves of barley with our sickles (see pictures). Based on the biblical timing (Lev 23:10; Dt 16:9) the Day of the Wave-Sheaf Offering marks the beginning of the barley harvest, when "the sickle begins upon the standing grain" (Dt 16:9). The Wave-Sheaf Offering itself consists of the first sheaf harvested with a sickle from the barley harvest. Pictures of the fully ripe barley are posted at: http://www.karaite-korner.org/abib/2005/ (pics #35-50)

     The following people participated in the followup examination: Nehemia Gordon, Devorah Gordon, Ferenc Illesy, and Andrew Jackson.

     Yom Hanafat Ha'omer Sameach! Happy Wave-Sheaf Offering Day!

Nehemia Gordon

Jerusalem, Israel

Fatzael Junction ripened barley -- wavesheaf day

1). The Scriptures declare the New Year to begin with the New Moon of the abib--which is the stage of barley growth wherein the barley is in the ear (Exodus 9:31) and its seed remains when parched (Leviticus 2:14). This is a stage of growth which occurs about two or three weeks prior to full ripeness. Once the barley reaches this acceptable state, the next crescent moon sighted begins the year. BACK

Email: Brian Hoeck

©2005 Truth On The Web Ministries: All the articles originated by Kenneth Hoeck and/or Brian Hoeck may be freely distributed or mirrored as long as presented in their entirety (including this statement), attributed to Truth on The Web, and proper author credit given.

See also Projected Appointed Times for 2001-2010

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