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The New Moon Worship Day & The International Date Line

Keeping a worship day on a round world

As God's people dispersed around the world there would have to be somewhere a demarcation point for any worship day based in the Bible lands. For example, consider the Jews who keep the seventh-day sabbath around the world. Basically this is Saturday but the Jews living in Hawaii keep it on Friday due to this demarcation problem. Could this have a similar impact with the new moon worship day in these areas?

Thankfully we may not have to reinvent the wheel working out a method for this. The Jews have been investigating this sort of problem for a few centuries. Just how do you keep a worship day based in the Bible lands on a round world? It certainly may be a very good idea to have a look at their approach to this worship day problem. Well it definitely wouldn't hurt!

Before diving into this we need to be aware that the Jews actually have a few approaches to this problem. And some of it gets right into Jewish law. As Christians we don't need to go there so we are just going to look at the simplest approach they have. And with minimal adjustments this may do us just fine.

First we look at how ordinary days are handled in this world:

The International Date Line (IDL) is an imaginary line on the surface of the Earth, established by the International Meridian Conference of 1884, that runs from the north to the south pole and demarcates one calendar day from the next. It passes through the middle of the Pacific Ocean, roughly following the 180° longitude but it deviates to pass around some territories and island groups. ...
The IDL and the moving point of midnight separate the two calendar days that are current somewhere on Earth. ...
A traveler crossing the IDL eastbound subtracts one day, or 24 hours, so that the calendar date to the west of the line is repeated after the following midnight. Crossing the IDL westbound results in 24 hours being added, advancing the calendar date by one day. The IDL is necessary to have a fixed, albeit arbitrary, boundary on the globe where the calendar date advances in the westbound direction.

In October 1884 the Greenwich Meridian was selected by delegates (forty-one delegates representing twenty-five nations) to the International Meridian Conference held in Washington, D.C., United States to be the common zero of longitude and standard of time reckoning throughout the world.

And an introduction to the Jewish view on this follows:

In 1884 Greenwich, England, was chosen as the central point for time and date calculations (the prime meridian), and the International Date Line sits at exactly 180° longitude from there.

By using Greenwich as the prime meridian, the International Date Line falls conveniently in the Pacific Ocean. In those few areas where it should traverse a landmass, the line was slightly bent to avoid dividing countries.

The date line is not governed by international law, and it is up to the individual countries to choose which side of the line they wish to be on. Occasionally a country decides to switch sides, as the islands of Samoa and Tokelau did last week.

To determine the Jewish view on the date line and Sabbath observance, we must examine four major opinions in halachah, Jewish law.

Well this states that the Jews have four major opinions and they do make for a fascinating read—but we are only going to look at the simplest one. And this should be more than sufficient for us.

Slonimski's Meridian Line

Rabbi Yechiel Michel Tucazinsky says that the date line runs 180° east of Jerusalem. He explains that because Jerusalem is considered the center of the land given to the Jewish people, it is also considered the center of the world according to Jewish law. Therefore, the date line would be located exactly 180° opposite Jerusalem, which would also enable every Jew in the world to observe at least 12 hours of the Sabbath together with those who live in Jerusalem.

Since Jerusalem is 35° east of Greenwich, the date line would be 35° east of the current International Date Line, or 145° west of Greenwich. Accordingly, Hawaii and parts of Alaska would be on the western side of the date line, and the Sabbath in Hawaii would be on Friday.

However, it is possible that according to this opinion the line would zigzag around Alaska, in order that it follow the majority of the landmass.

So the proposal is that we use another date line. The standard date line is the International Date Line opposite the Prime Meridian at Greenwich, England. The Jewish date line mentioned above is also known as Slonimski's Meridian Line. We could also think of this as a worship day date line. So any Biblical worship days should be able to be handled using this date line.


Slonimski's Meridian Line
Map adjusted from

Just how does a sort of a date line like this work anyway? As mentioned above the Jews in Hawaii keep the seventh-day sabbath on Friday instead of Saturday. Why? Using the Slonimski Meridian let's see if we can get the answer they have.

For Jews living in Hawaii they are to the East of the International Date Line so would be keeping the same day as the U.S. Now let's see what happens as we approach Friday night and the beginning of the sabbath day. Remember, Bible days actually run from sunset to sunset. So though the seventh day sabbath is basically Saturday for most of the world, the Jews actually keep it from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. So considering this as part of Friday, what is it across the date line to the West? Well, since the world is rotating in an eastward direction it has to be the next day, or Saturday.

Now for the Jews they would next check where the Slonimski Meridian is with respect to their location.


Map of Hawaii

And for Hawaii their location is to the west of the Slonimski Meridian. The above map shows Hawaii at approximately 155° to 160° West. The Slonimski Meridian is at 145° West so Hawaii is clearly to the west of the SML. And for keeping a day based in the Bible lands this would place the Jews in the following day!

Important Note: we are only using the SML as a date line for worship days. For local days the Jews would still be in Friday or whatever day of the week the people in the same region are keeping. BUT for a worship day centrally located in the Bible regions they would need to keep this in accordance to their region being in the next day according to the SML!

So for Jews generally starting the sabbath day at Friday sunset, the Jews in Hawaii would need to actually start sabbath on Thursday sunset and close the day on Friday at sunset! This is just a more technical way of saying they would be keeping the sabbath in Hawaii on Friday instead of Saturday. And according to the SML this will place them in the correct day using Jerusalem as a zero point.

The New Moon Worship Day

Now, how does all this work with the New Moon Worship Day? The seventh-day sabbath the Jews, and some Christians keep, is on the seventh day of the week. This is usually Saturday except for regions like in the previous example where the Jews keep the day on Friday. And this worship day occurs on the same day each week. But the New Moon Worship Day wanders through the week nearly twice each year.*

So you could expect the New Moon Worship Day to occur on a different week day than the previous one as the months progress through the year. Would the SML have any affect on these days near the International Date Line as it has with the other worship day investigated above?

Suppose we pick a day at random, say 29 January. And let's just suppose this is a Wednesday. And let's use Hawaii again as our sample region. So the New Moon Worship Day will be Wednesday 29 January. But because of our location the SML will suggest we need to be in the previous day. OK this gets a little complicated. But try to follow the following...

As a date line is crossed going West we add a day. So if you are in Tuesday and you cross the International Date Line going West you just moved into Wednesday. This process works in reverse. If you travel East across the International Date Line from Wednesday you have moved back to Tuesday.


You shouldn't be. Remember the world is turning on its axis. As the world turns after 24 hours you must be in another day. And the world is rotating in an Eastward direction. Now consider yourself in a fixed position with the world rotating beneath your feet. [Yes I know the physicists will tell us this would shoot us off the planet as even the solar system we are part of is moving in relation to the surrounding galaxies].

But humour me—pretend its a fixed point and the world is moving beneath us. The world is rotating Eastwards. To our fixed position we would appear to be moving West. And in 24 hours we have traversed a day. But this should make the point a bit clearer. As we move West across the date line we have to add a day.

Now what we have stated here also works for the worship day date line. So if we travel West from the day before the New Moon Worship Day we move into the New Moon Worship Day. Similarly going East from the New Moon Worship Day we move into the day before the New Moon Worship Day.


Moving across the Slonimski Meridian Line


Now back to Hawaii. And the Jews keeping the sabbath day. And remember, at 155° to 160° West, Hawaii is clearly to the West of the 145° Slonimski Meridian Line. But being to the East of the International Date Line will place them in a different day with respect to the Slonimski Meridian. So what's what here?

It's like the International Date Line has displaced all the Jews in Hawaii to the previous day and the only way for them to get back to the right day is to move back West across the Slonimski Meridian Line back to the region of Hawaii. This means in Hawaii they have to consider themselves correctly in the next day. It may be Friday in Hawaii but because they theoretically have moved back across the SML they add a day and have moved into Saturday. So Friday in Hawaii is technically the seventh day of the week for the Jews because it changes at the Slonimski Meridian going East back to the sixth day of the week.

Or another way to look at this...

Suppose we are in Saturday to the West of the International Date Line. The Jews in this region of course would be keeping the sabbath. But now we cross the International Date Line heading East to Hawaii. For the world we have moved back one day to Friday. But for the Jews they are still in Saturday because they are still to the West of the Slonimski Meridian. And though it is Friday in Hawaii they would keep sabbath because they still consider it to be Saturday.

Still confused? Try the following...

We have two date lines: the International Date Line at the 180° Meridian, and the Slonimski Meridian Line at 145° West. These two date lines are not that far apart. And the large common region to the East shares the same day. Now consider Friday in this common region. And it is Friday all the way back to the International Date Line. But as we cross the Slonimski Meridian at 145°, guess what? For the Jews in Hawaii we just moved from Friday forward one day to Saturday. So though it's still Friday in Hawaii, the Jews actually recognize it as Saturday and keep the sabbath. This is why the Jews keep the sabbath day on Friday in Hawaii.

Now back to the New Moon Worship Day. Similarly as above. If the New Moon Worship Day is on Wednesday 29 January we would keep it in Hawaii on Tuesday 28 January because being to the West of the Slonimski Meridian Line will technically put us in the next worship day. Though the rest of Hawaii will be keeping the day as Tuesday 28 January we would be keeping the day as Wednesday 29 January, the New Moon Worship Day. So for Hawaii, the SML has had an impact on how we keep the day.

Very Important Point: the above keeping of Wednesday 29 January on Tuesday 28 January in Hawaii for the New Moon Worship Day is only from a worship day perspective. For secular activity interacting with other people in the same region we would of course be still treating the day as Tuesday 28 January. Just that we would recognize this is the New Moon Worship Day because of our location with respect to the Slonimski Meridian.

OK we're done here. Let's move on!

A Worship Day Date Line

Can we make any adjustments in the worship day date line? One of the previous quotations suggests that it is possible that a zigzag path could be taken around Alaska. This can get messy especially if you include the Aleutian Islands which extend beyond the 180° International Date Line!

Actually, maps show that the International Date Line is already bent so that the Aleutian Islands are in the same day as Alaska.

The Aleutian Islands ; possibly from Chukchi aliat, "island") are a chain of 14 large volcanic islands and 57 smaller ones, forming part of the Aleutian Arc in the Northern Pacific Ocean, occupying an area of 6,821 sq mi (17,666 km²) and extending about 1,200 mi (1,900 km) westward from the Alaska Peninsula toward the Kamchatka Peninsula, marking a line between the Bering Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Crossing longitude 180°, they are the westernmost part of the United States (and by one definition the easternmost; see Extreme points of the United States).

From the north, the IDL first deviates to the east of 180° to pass to the east of Russia's Wrangel Island and the Chukchi Peninsula, the easternmost part of Russian Siberia. It passes through the Bering Strait between the Diomede Islands at a distance of 1.5 km (1 mi) from each island. It bends considerably southwest, passing west of St. Lawrence Island and St. Matthew Island. It then passes midway between Alaska's Aleutian Islands and Russia's Commander Islands before returning southeast to 180°. Thus all of Siberia is to the west of the IDL and all of Alaska is to the east.

Alternatively, a far smaller deviation could be taken by instead bending the worship day date line to the East around the territorial border of Alaska! A far simpler solution but this puts Alaska in a different day than the rest of the U.S.
Well there is no easy answer here and most Jewish Date Line maps just use a straight line with no bends.

Still, are there any other spots that could be worth looking at? There does appear to be one main spot of interest: French Polynesia. And like Alaska, the worship day date line goes just about straight through the middle of the region.


French Polynesia

As you can see from the above map, the Slonimski Meridian Line at 145° would go straight through the very middle of this region. As above we could actually take a zigzag path to simplify this. Though this is not really a small region, it should be possible to bend the date line to accomodate it. And the original date line does go right through the centre of this region so the path could easily be chosen either side. So which way should we take?

There are some pretty good reasons for going either way. But the following is a list of 5 reasons for bending the date line to the west:

1. The connection with France.

Politics of French Polynesia takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic French overseas collectivity, ...
As a French overseas collectivity, the local government has no competence in justice, education, security and defense, directly provided and administered by the Government of France, the Gendarmerie, and French military forces. ...
French Polynesia also sends three deputies to the French National Assembly, one representing the Leeward Islands administrative subdivision and the south-western suburbs of Papeete, another one representing Papeete and its north-eastern suburbs, plus the commune (municipality) of Mo'orea-Mai'ao, the Tuamotu-Gambier administrative division, and the Marquesas Islands administrative division, and the last one representing the rest of Tahiti and the Austral Islands administrative subdivision. French Polynesia also sends two senators to the French Senate.
French Polynesians vote in the French presidential elections ...

Having a difference in the worship day should not be a problem as the political framework and allegiance is also different from the surrounding regions.

2. Being East of the International Date Line. This means that they should have the same day as the general surrounding area. Considering the Slonimski Meridian cuts right through the centre of their region this point is not without merit. That is, the division could easily be done either way. This way keeps the same worship day.
Note: some of the region obviously doesn't have the same day. This is mentioned in point 4.

3. Geographically their region is closer to France than it is to Jerusalem [Bible lands region]. France is in the Western division to the Slonimski Meridian. If the worship day date line is zigzagged to the East it will place the region in a different day. Bending the date line to the West keeps the region and France in the same day and division from Jerusalem.

4. This is a negative point. The International Date Line is actually bent around some of the close region and as such these areas are in a different day. This is a valid point but completely useless as these regions are in a different day anyway. Bending the worship day date line to the West puts the worship days for these regions on different days also.

5. Another negative point. Except for a few islands there is a vast empty ocean to the East so why not bend the date line east and keep the same worship day as the region to the west? An interesting point but this is pretty much over-ruled by points 1 and 3.

Important Point: By themselves points 1 and 3 may not be enough to bend the date line. Though Alaska is an interesting point. If they were, then Hawaii could be included in a bend as one of the states of the U.S. The only reason they have any weight here is because the date line goes right through the centre of the region. This is not the case with Hawaii. But for French Polynesia the bend could easily go either way. So we would consider all possible reasons and certainly look at any political allegiance.

So that's it. Considering these 5 points, bending the worship day date line to the West around French Polynesia does make some sense.


Worship Day Date Line first attempt
Map adjusted from

So is this our suggested Worship Day Date Line? I believe it's a pretty good first attempt. However the line running through the middle of French Polynesia does cause some difficulty with the bend possibly going either way. Then there is the problem of Alaska. And some of the above documentation does suggest bending the line around Alaska as a possible solution.

But from where the Slonimski line is running through Alaska I was very reticent to try this. I have since given this all a bit more thought and feel that I am now in a better position to resolve these difficulties. And I am also now going to walk away from a lot of what I have written above and suggest something completely different. So here we go...

And now from a completely different direction...

The problem with the date line cutting through populated regions is rather vexing. And perhaps God had something else in mind? Consider the following quotation about the International Date Line:

The International Date Line (IDL) is an imaginary line on the surface of the Earth, established by the International Meridian Conference of 1884, that runs from the north to the south pole and demarcates one calendar day from the next. It passes through the middle of the Pacific Ocean, roughly following the 180° longitude but it deviates to pass around some territories and island groups. ...
For parts of its length, the IDL follows the meridian of 180° longitude, roughly down the middle of the Pacific Ocean. To avoid crossing nations internally it deviates around the far east of Russia and around various island groups in the Pacific.

I find the comment about the middle of the Pacific Ocean rather fascinating, along with bending to avoid crossing nations internally. Is there any mention of this sort of division or boundaries in the Bible? Consider the following verses:

And God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." And it was so.
God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:9,10.
for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.
Exodus 20:11.
For the western boundary, you shall have the Great Sea and its coast; this shall be your western boundary.
Numbers 34:6.
Your borders are in the midst of the seas. Your builders have perfected your beauty.
Ezekiel 27:4 NKJV. A lamentation for Tyre.
For thou didst cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood was round about me; all thy waves and thy billows passed over me.
Jonah 2:3.
For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.
Jonah 2:3 KJV.

Genesis mentions a division between the land and the seas. In Numbers the Sea is mentioned as a boundary. Though Ezekiel is a lamentation for Tyre, nevertheless it does mention the thought of the border being in the midst of the sea. It is possible middle is inferred here as who would want a border at the very bottom of the sea?

The heart or midst of the sea is mentioned with Jonah though no doubt he was definitely in the very depths. But again the thought is conveyed that the heart or depth or midst or middle of the sea is probably as far as you would want a border to be or in this case definitely where you would not want to be. And from these verses we could probably infer that the middle of a sea would make a very good boundary.

And what about Exodus where the sabbath worship day of the Old Testament is mentioned? It states that the Lord made heaven and earth and the sea. These are all very separate and distinct and very different. And the fact that these are all mentioned in relation to a day of worship is also very interesting.

OK so what can we make of all of this with respect to a worship day date line approach? Well the above IDL quote about the line passing through the middle of the Pacific Ocean sounds like a pretty good idea for our worship day date line. And considering the above verses I really see no reason why we could not extend this thought to finding a middle path approximately between any large areas of population as the line continues southward. If you are not seeing where I am going with this, I am proposing more of a curvilinear approach than a straight vertical line.

No wait! someone will say, you can't do that—what about the map? The IDL is basically a straight vertical line [with some bends], and the Slonimski line is likewise the same. How can you propose a line that isn't vertical?

Well here's something to think about. The map. It's a pretty good map and I most likely am going to continue to use it. But a vertical straight line? Just what do you mean by a vertical line? With respect to what? Well the map of course I can imagine someone saying. But what about the world? The map is fine but it just doesn't look like that for all of the year. So you want a vertical line. Which one? The Earth has an axial tilt of 23.4° so the following vertical lines are quite valid!

Do you mean this vertical line?

Vertical line with axial tilt of Earth

Or this one?

Vertical line with axial tilt of Earth

The above two views would occur at the equinoxes.

An equinox occurs twice a year (around 20 March and 22 September), when the plane of the Earth's equator passes the center of the Sun. At this time the tilt of the Earth's axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun.

Though maybe extreme, the above two vertical lines are quite valid. And it gets even better... [depending on your view of all of this of course].

We are proposing a worship day date line. This is definitely something different to the ordinary IDL which demarcates days which are considered to start and end at midnight. It may be a surprise to many people that a Bible based worship day will start and end at sunset. And just what possible difference could this make to our view of a possible dateline? Well look at the next picture for the December Solstice and enjoy!


December Solstice

Can't see the sunset curve very clearly? I couldn't either but adding a dashed line makes it a bit clearer:


December Solstice with dashed line

Anyone see a nice dead straight vertical line from pole to pole demarcating day and night in this rectangular world picture? You can't? Well isn't that interesting. Is a dead straight vertical line likely to be a good worship day date line for this pic? What do you think? Do you think I am worried about bending our worship day date line around Alaska any more?

Now someone may say, Stephen, you are making a mountain out of a mole-hill. Sure the sunset line is curved here—but that's simply because this map is a distorted view of the world globe because it is being forced into a rectangular shape. The day/night line on the globe will look vertical and straight but because of the axis tilt you have this translating to this weird shaped curve on this rectangular representation.

All correct—but this is really the whole point I am trying to make here! We are using a rectangular map—that's generally the one we look at with the International Date Line! The point I am trying to make is that in consideration of a possible worship day date line in view of the above sunset curve in the rectangular world view we are in no way whatsoever locked into making our date line vertical or straight on a rectangular map!

Now to be fair we are looking at extreme points in the year. And the June Solstice would give us the following view for a sunset path:


June Solstice

And you can see that the path is bent in the opposite direction traveling in a North-Eastward direction. And I can imagine someone saying, there it is Stephen, a vertical straight line will probably give a reasonable average for the year. And that is a reasonable point.

But remember that because of the orbit of the Earth about the Sun, the sunset line on a rectangular map representation will only appear close to vertical for only a small part of the year. The rest of the year the line will be curved. So give the following some reasonable thought. We have a problem with a straight vertical line passing through populated regions.

A curvilinear approach definitely solves this problem. We can very easily take a curve around Alaska and through the middle of the Pacific Ocean easily separating any populated regions. And the above images clearly show that we definitely have some leeway in how we can take our line. It doesn't have to be dead straight or vertical. And that by now should be abundantly clear.

Note that the second vertical line [axial tilt view] and the first sunset curve just about cut through the Pacific Ocean on a path dividing the populated regions reasonably efficiently—though the curve may be a little more extreme than we need. But as extremes they do give a good guide as to the flexibilty we are allowed in our deciding where we can place our line.

And the inference from the Bible is that we can safely position our line anywhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to resolve any populated region difficulties. So without any further hesitation I propose the following line as a reasonable Worship Day Date Line for a Bible-based worship day:


Worship Day Date Line
Map adjusted from

And this is our final proposed Worship Day Date Line for a Bible-based worship day. Note that this line resolves the problem with Alaska and French Polynesia and the Jews in Hawaii can still happily keep the sabbath on Friday.

The WDDL follows the 169° West Meridian from the North Pole south to meet the IDL in Bering Strait. It then follows the IDL bending between Russia and Alaska and follows the IDL as it bends again from the Aleutian Islands but continues on a curvilinear path south eastward through the Pacific Ocean till it reaches the 120° West Meridian approximately half way between French Polynesia and Easter Island. From here the WDDL follows the 120° West Meridian to the South Pole.

Adjustments or minor amendments
There may be some minor modification needed if any small populated areas not clearly seen on this map fall near the line. For the middle of the Pacific region if this happens the line could easily be moved just a little Eastward to make the small populated region part of the larger populated region to the West.

Strange observations
The main map being used here follows the Mercator projection approach. This is basically an attempt to represent the world globe on a rectangular grid. It's a standard map that most people would be familiar with but as you move further away from the Equator, the regions near the poles are stretched more to make the map fit properly. As a result the shapes of countries are not exactly correct but distorted as you approach the poles. All verticle lines would theoretically start and end at the poles. So the IDL and the WDDL shown as parallel lines at the top of this map would theoretically meet at the North pole. Similarly for the IDL and the WDDL at the bottom of the map. As two parallel lines they would again theoretically meet at the South pole!
As such this sort of map cannot be to scale and if you look at the bottom left corner it states this.


Isaiah 66:22,23


Bible verses from Revised Standard Version unless otherwise referenced.

The Sabbath, the International Date Line and Jewish Law
How does the change in Samoa affect Sabbath for the local Jews?
By Yehuda Shurpin

Slonimski's Meridian Line. see

Map of Hawaii from

Map of French Polynesia from

Day and Night maps from


* Maybe more than twice. The NT Bible model for 2013 gave the following days:
That's 18 days. The bracketed days are for those months having two chodesh days due to the numerical value falling near a sunset.
Note: if you remove the bracketed extra day we are left with 13 days. Just under 2 weeks. Though this may not be the case every year!

The maps from the Day and Night site are not Pacific region centred. I just cut the maps down the centre and swapped the halves to obtain this view. If you look carefully at these maps you may be able to see the central cut I used to paste the two halves together to centre the Pacific region.




Stephen Buckley
Last revised: 28 May 2016.
Started construction:20 Nov 2013.


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