Although Leviticus 23 distinguishes each of the seven mô‘ădîm (מוֹעְַדִים), the Scriptures frequently subsume the seven under the three major festivals: the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles. In fact, the Torah commanded all Jewish males to present themselves before Yahweh in Jerusalem with a gift during these three festivals. Deuteronomy 16:16 declares: “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed.” According to the Jewish lunisolar calendar, the first four feasts (i.e. Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Pentecost) occur during the spring months and correspond with the barley and wheat harvests. The final three feasts (i.e. Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Tabernacles) occur during the fall season and correspond to the olive and grape harvests. Five of the feasts constitute or include special Sabbath days. For example, the Feast of Pentecost, the Feast of Trumpets, and the Day of Atonement (all of which only last one day) are special Sabbath days; the first and last days of both the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Tabernacles (both of which last seven days) are special Sabbaths as well. However, the feasts of Passover and Firstfruits do not constitute special Sabbath days. Furthermore, the Feast of Trumpets is the only feast which occurs on a new moon, specifically the new moon of the seventh month, Tishri.
Leslie McFall, “Sacred Meals,” in New Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Exploring the Unity & Diversity of Scripture, ed. T. Desmond Alexander, Brian S. Rosner, Donald A. Carson, and Graeme Goldsworthy (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 750-1. See also Howard and Rosenthal, The Feasts of the Lord, 90-1; McQuaid, The Outpouring, 12; and Bruce Scott, The Feasts of Israel: Seasons of the Messiah (Bellmawr, NJ: The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, 1997), 58.
Bruce Scott describes the Jewish lunisolar calendar: “It has both lunar and solar components. The months are determined by the moon, the years by the sun.” Scott, Feasts of Israel, 10. See also Ernest L. Martin, The Star that Astonished the World (Portland, Oregon: ASK Publications, 1998), 71. Rosenthal similarly writes: “…the timing of these seven feasts is based on the Jewish lunar (moon) calendar of approximately 354-day years. Periodically (seven times every nineteen years), the modern Jewish calendar literally has a thirteenth month to make up for its shorter year. If such were not the case, winter months on the Jewish calendar would soon occur in the summer, and summer months in the winter. It is for this reason that these holidays do not fall on the same day on the Gregorian calendar (the calendar commonly used today) each year.” Howard and Rosenthal, Feasts of the Lord, 14.
The term “special,” when used in conjunction with the Sabbath, serves to indicate Sabbaths that are in addition to the weekly Sabbath.