, the mean interval between conjunctions of the Moon and Sun, corresponds to the cycle of lunarphases Any particular phase cycle may vary from the mean by up to seven hours. A calendar year do not form anintegral number of months or of days to synchronize with the tropical year. The Solar year is 365.242199 days and thelunar month is 29.53059 days. Here was the basic problem. It would have made life easier if the number of days in amonth was an exact integer and the number of months in an year was an exact integer. But unfortunately it is not so. Sowe get the complications of calendar. This therefore required experts to keep calendars. By traditions it was the priestsin all cultures who maintained this calendar science.The Gregorian calendar with which we are familiar with is a solar calendar. To do so, days are intercalated (with leapyears) to increase the average length of the calendar year. Islamic calendar is a
, and follows the lunarphase cycle without regard for the tropical year. This is essentially desert calendar where solar seasonal variations arenot reflected accurately. The Hebrew calendar on the other hand is a
, has a sequence of monthsbased on the lunar phase cycle; but every few years a whole month is intercalated to bring the calendar back in phasewith the solar year. This reflects the agricultural and nomadic animal husbandry cultures in coexistence.In 1967, the definition of a second was officially divorced from the Earth's rotation, motion of the moon and of the sunand of the position of the stars. That year, the 13th General Conference of Weights and Measures redefined the secondas "9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the groundstate of the cesium-133 atom when free from all external fields." It is now defined in terms of the basic nature of light asa wave motion. However scientists had to identifiy the particular light in objective terms tied to matter (Isolated Cesium133 atom)
The Hebrew calendar as we know today was codified into a cogent system and given to all men by Rabi Hillel II in AD359 The science of calendar calculations were a secret science and were known only to the priestly class. Thispublication was forced upon the Jewish authorities because of historic reasons."Up to the middle of the 4th century C.E., the Palestinian patriarchate retained the prerogative of determining thecalendar, and guarded the secrets of its calculation against the attempts of the rapidly advancing communities inBabylonia to have a voice in its determination. It was not until after [false] Christianity had become dominant in theRoman Empire [under Constantine], and the Christian rulers forbade the Jewish religious leadership to proclaim leapyears or to communicate with the Jews outside the empire, that it was determined to abandon the method of officialproclamation of months and years and to fix the calendar in permanent form. The patriarch Hillel II, in 359, decided topublish the rules for the calculation of the calendar, so that all Jews everywhere might be able to determine forthemselves and to observe the festivals on the same day. From that time on the Jewish calendar has been stabilized."
Universal Jewish Encyclopedia
In most cultures (as in Egypt and India) this was used as a tool of asserting the superiority of Priestly class over laymen.This practice must have been a carry over from the Egyptian tradition for the Hebrews. Egyptian agricultural calendarbased on the Nile's annual flooding and consequential delta agriculture evidently influenced Hebrew calendar. Duringthe nomadic period when animal husbandry was the method of livelihood, the cycle of mating and breeding wereimportant and these also influenced the Hebrew calendar. Levitical calendar of the festivals therefore included all these.Later during the Babylonian exile, Israel came in contact with sophisticated Calendars and Astronomical Clocks (sixthcentury B.C) which again influenced the Hebrew calendar as is known today. .During the pre-exilic period the Temple Sanhedrin was in charge of the declaration of months and intercalations. Thesightings of lunar crescent was the beginning of the month in the same style as it is practiced in the Islamic world .
Molad (plural, moladot): "birth" of the Moon, is the birth of the month. Decisions on intercalation were influenced, if notdetermined entirely, by the state of vegetation and animal life which in turn are determined by the sun's motion.Dehiyyah( plural, dehiyyot) is the "postponement" rule by which the beginning of year is delayed until after the moladwhen required. Initially the month started strictly on sighting of the new moon. However as the science progressed someamount of interpolations by calculations were inevitable.Based on the lunar sightings an ordinary (non-leap) year may contain 353, 354, or 355 days. A leap year with anadditonal month may contain 383, 384, or 385 days. The three lengths of the years are termed, "deficient", "regular",and "complete", respectively. Deficient month (
) has 29 days. Full (
) month has 30 days. If the sightings onnew moon were not hindered by clouds then the defient and full months alternated in order.