[b-hebrew] Hebrew month names
Banyai at t-online.de
Wed Sep 1 15:29:00 EDT 2004
I adress the problems in the order of their recurrence in your mail.
> There is no evidence of any connection between the Hebrew "Abib" and the Akkadian Ab-bi.
It is a good question what one considers to be evidence. Once one collects evidence for the fact that both month were practically calendaristically the same, one could turn to your own statement: "And since the Hebrew's cultural background was Semitic rather than Egyptian, we should look to Mesopotamia for our model, even BEFORE the Exile.".
Whether for Akkadian or Sumerian Ab-bi there is a similar etimolgy like the one for Abib, I don´t know. In last case would this suit both the normal understanding of the month name as well as a Mesopotamian parallel.
It thus depends on the hypothesis one works with.
> As for the Passover - ALL Biblical references, direct and indirect, point to it's being observed during the early spring. The celebration of Shavuot, 50 days later, as a festival of firstfruits also points to this season. And Sukkot, as a fruit harvest festival "at the turning of the year" points to the fall season.
Yigal, this is a moot point. Should one state first fruits of what kind of plants, one could develop a theory on this. You see for example how good both quail migrations to and fro Africa suit the period short before Shavuot, however only the later one mid-August bears the risk of grave quail-intoxication. Coturnism is typical for the mid-August trail but is reported for the road on the Sinai short before Shavuot, both for the first year of the Exodus and an year later.
> As far as the 30-day month - yes, I agree that the "standard" month was referred to as being 30 days. This is why the "month" of mourning was 30 days, and also why the Flood story assumes 30 day months. But in "real life", the new moon (Xode$ or Yerax) was celebrated when the new moon came, and that sometimes happened a day "early". Read the Mishnah tractate Rosh Hashanah to see how this was dealt with during the late Second Temple Period and after - I'm not claiming that it reflects the actual practice in Iron Age Israel, but it certainly supplies a historical model.
Dear Yigal, I agree with you concerning this. There is however something different between the late-antique period known to the Mishnah, which conforms widely to these descriptions, and the early-biblical period. This is the result of the strong Babylonian influence in Exile and later Diaspora. Since Jerusalem had no influence (none) over the Diaspora till into the Hasmonean period, it had later either to impose over the Diaspora the old rhites or to adapt to the different customs. This last necesity has surely caused much turmoil in Judea itself, we see reflected in the rich Qumran literature dealing with the calendar (or in the book Enoch). Time was previously scarcely a matter of discussion in the biblical literature.
It is of course a sound question, what caused such an uproar:
a. a club of modernists trying to impose an unprecedented solar calendar, discovered suddenly by the founder of a sect or, with the incredible consequence that these otherwise traditionalistic jews were not anymore able to take part into the jewish feasts - since they hold them to be at a different date
b. a traditionalistic club trying to hold on to an ancient solar calendar (as well as possible) against tendencies to introduce the "Babylonian" calendar, already widely used for civilian purpose - to be compared with the penetration of aramean at the expense of hebrew during the same period.
It is relatively easy to decide between a and b. While it is obvious that Qumran mishmarot can not be taken as providing evidence for the current calendar practice it is utmost clear that they reflect a historical list of temple servants cca 62 BC (because of the reference to Aemilius Scaurus), which maybe was brought in a form coresponding the Qumranite calendar. It is a different question, whether the Jerusalemite original calendar it reflected was itself a solar calendar or not.
Well it maybe was. Because of its 6-(solar)year name-cyclicity of the mishmarots, which we can not blame on Qumran. This cyclicity is an original feature of the temple calendar, independent of the Qumran solar preferences.
This would however say something about calendar 62 BC and not later in our era. I very well agree with you on the later practices.
> You wrote:
> "Concerning the celebration or non-celebration of Succoth in the month Bul ought be said, that a celebration of Succoth in front of an unfinished temple is uncompatible with the religious beliefs in the ANE. A temple has to be the dwelling of the god to which it pertains. Is the temple not yet finished, that is clear, the god is most probably not yet dwelling in it. The celebration at this place is thus devoid of meaning."
> I think that you misunderstood me (in your previous post as well). The way I read it, the construction of the Temple building was completed in "the month of Bul, which is the eighth month" (1 Kings 6:38) - Marheshvan. There is no ceremony mentioned here. The following chapter then tells of the completion of the Temple implements, bronzework, the altars etc. This took another 11 months. In 7:51 - "And all the work was finished", and then, in 8:1-2, Solomon brings everyone in for the dedication ceremony, "in the festival of the month of Ethanim, the seventh month." This is what we call Tishri (I admit that the identification of "the festival" with Sukkot is not explicit). So you are right - Solomon would not dedicate an unfinished Temple. I say that he didn't. But "the festival" was celebrated in Tishri.
Dear Yigal, I read your argument attentively and was quite impressed at first. But the following chapter deals not only with the terminating of the temple, but also with that of the palace etc, etc, for which he needed extra 13 years. Should we assume that 1 Kings 7.1-51 is just an insert disrupting the chronological organisation of the text or that the inauguration of the temple happened indeed in the chronological sequence offered by the text, thus after the building of the palace years later? I supppose whole Kings 7 is an insert using a different text source than 1Kings 6 which is contiguous with 1 Kings 8. So does 1Kings 8,65 use the year-formula, "at that time", which usualy in Assyrian inscriptions for example is a reference to a previous year-date in the text. The only year-date preceding it here is however "regnal year 11". There is nowhere a reference to a year 12.
An important question is also why the temple was inaugurated on occasion of Succoth and not Pasha which was probably the more important event and next to the month of Bul on your scheme (Abib being the New Year of kings while "Tishri" the civil New Year but also that opening the Sabbathic year). A further related question is why did the construction of the temple took 7 years.
A possible answer would be that while Salomon began counting his regnal years in Abib the works depended on the Sabathic year, which first made masses of workers free for this purpose. The people would have been working till to the end of the Sabathic year, returning to their fields at New Year on the eve of Succoth (that is the civil calendar beginning according to tradition on Succoth) thus the next big festival after beending of major public works which would require great masses of workers set free from agricultural work, would be indeed Succoth. On this reason is Succoth usually the festival as any renovation of the temple would take place.
On your model would the people wait full 11 months till to the inauguration of the temple - whithout making use of Pasha just 4 months later (and nota bene in a 12-th unmentioned regnal year - as I stated does 1 Kings 8-65 alude to an year-date in the text - and the 11-th year is the only one here).
> In your previous post, you pointed out that both the Egyptians and the Mesopotamians knew of both pure solar and lunar-solar calendars, but admitted that the lunar-solar was more common in Mesopotamia. I agree. And since the Hebrew's cultural background was Semitic rather than Egyptian, we should look to Mesopotamia for our model, even BEFORE the Exile.
Dear Yigal, since the Hebrews were apt to take Babylonian calendar customs following their comparatively short stay in Babylonia, why should they have been less to do the same with Egyptian customs previously?
Regarding to the objections of Peter Kirk: it is no doubt that what we posess is a late redaction of the ancient data, so it makes no wonder that the redactor made felt his problems with a feast of Succoth in the month Bul in the formulation of the sentence. Would you be a redactor of the bible you have manifested already an opinion concerning the data.
However this solved only partialy the problems because it created a new one. That is by letting Israelite pilgrims the possibility to visit the Jerusalem temple a month before. That only Basha´s building program stopped the Israelites visiting Jerusalem doesn´t result from the text. Quite on the contrary. The feast and the temple were created to this purpose and succeeded therein, according to 1Kings 12. Thus he created a festival in Israel instead of that in Juda and not a further one, which wouldn´t make any sense (once we read the ground of his action). We should make a difference between the commentary of the readactors and the bare information content.
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