[b-hebrew] Aviv and Exodus 9:31
leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Fri Jan 15 05:04:08 EST 2010
The "original" meaning of the word "Aviv" seems to be "ripened", perhaps
referring to the hollowness of the stalks. From this, "Aviv" came to mean
the designation of the beginning of spring - the time of the barley harvest.
In the Bible, it does note seem that "aviv" was actually the proper name of
the month, but simply a designation - "the month of the barley harvest". It
was the rabbis who first understood "Aviv" as being the actual "biblical"
name of the month which they called Nisan (taken, like all of the "Hebrew"
month-names, from the Babylonians). And the use of "Aviv" as referring to
the spring "season" (as in the name of my fourth child, who was actually
born in Adar) is, as far as I know, modern.
After the Passover was set, the Torah commands that it be celebrated in "the
month of aviv" - as I wrote, probably not referring to the name of the month
but rather to its agricultural status. The fact is, that we have absolutely
no information about how and if this was observed in the biblical period.
The rabbis of the Talmud (for example Bab. Tal. Sanhedrin 10-12) described
two conditions for adding an extra intercalary month of Adar (the month
before Nisan/Aviv). The first is if without such a month Passover would fall
before the vernal equinox (March 21), which is the beginning of the spring
according to the Roman solar calendar (and ours as well). The second is
agricultural: if the lambs born the previous year were not yet ready for
sacrifice, if the barley was not ripe enough for the firstfruits ceremony,
or if the roads to Jerusalem were not yet dry enough for the pilgrims to
come for the Passover, an extra month would be declared. The rabbis seem to
assume that this was also the practice in the First and Second Temples, but
that's very hard to prove historically.
From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of James Christian
Sent: Thursday, January 14, 2010 6:05 PM
Subject: [b-hebrew] Aviv and Exodus 9:31
some time last year (about the time of Passover) I was interested in
researching how the Hebrews went about deciding the start of the year each
year. Obviously, this was a crucial task to determining the date of the
festival of Passover. In the course of my research I remember reading an
unsubstantiated claim that before the implementation of the various
mathematical systems of the Hebrew calendar the ancient Hebrews quite simply
looked each year for when the Barley was ripe. If it was not yet ripe then
they added another month to the year. If it was ripe it was declared that
the month of Aviv had started (at the new moon, of course). I remember
finding this proposition interesting and a good agriculturally based claim
but noted that the claim was not referenced in any way. Just today while
reading through Exodus I noticed verse 31 of chapter 9.
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