[b-hebrew] Aviv and Exodus 9:31
kwrandolph at gmail.com
Wed Jan 20 12:02:39 EST 2010
Your examples from Arabic still follow the pattern of a) the adoption of a
new calendar and with that calendar, the names that came with it as a reason
for taking new names for the months. What your examples also show is which
languages were used as the medium through which the adoption of the
international Latin based calendar was effected. Yet some of the examples
also follow the Ukrainian example mentioned earlier where old names were
simply shifted to the newly adopted calendar.
The single claimed exception is still Hebrew, where we have four pre-Exilic
names preserved in Tanakh, but they were replaced with Aramaic names in
> So, Karl, month-names, being more an administrative feature that an emic
> linguistic one, do not really reflect which language is actually spoken.
> Returning to the biblical period, since the pre-exilic Judahites did not
> names but simply numbered the months, when the administration of exilic and
> post exilic Judah was integrated into that of the Empire, the "Imperial"
> month-names were also adopted (and even before that, probably, by the Jews
> in Babylonia). What made the process all that easier, was that it was NOT
> really a "new" calendar, just new month-names.
Years ago, when I first noticed that some month names were preserved in
Tanakh, I then made a small study to see if those names were preserved
elsewhere. First, only four month names were preserved, not from the whole
year (even the numbers of only a few months are used in Tanakh, not the
whole year). I looked to see if the same months were used in other, nearby
lands, and found that there was too little surviving literature to give an
answer. What survives from the Phoenicians makes it appear that the
Phoenicians used a calendar that was similar, but not the same, as the
My conclusion: the pre-Exile Hebrews used a calendar that had names, but
they also used numbers. The names of most of the months have been lost,
forever unless some archaeological discovery recovers them.
> BTW, my teacher Aaron Demsky has pointed out that in Ezra-Nehemiah, those
> parts that are associated with Ezra the "scribe"/religious leader, use only
> ordinal numbers (e.g. Ezra 7:8-9). However, in those parts connected to
> Nehemiah, an officer of the Persian court, the "secular" names are used
> (such as Neh. 1:1).
Interesting. I wonder if the same pattern holds in other, post-Exilic
> Yigal Levin
Karl W. Randolph.
Ps: In English we use both numbers and names; spoken English uses the names
more than the numbers, while written English the numbers predominate. Just
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