[b-hebrew] Thera quote

Michael Banyai Banyai at t-online.de
Thu Aug 26 05:04:00 EDT 2004

Karl Randolph wrote:

> What did Josephus know about the Hebrew calandar? We have indication that it had ceased to be used 500 years before Josephus. Even in Tanakh, the post-exilic writings named the months according to Aramaic names, indicating that the Hebrew calandar was already then not being used, let alone centuries later. That will also explain why for your claim that most historical mentions of Hebrew religious feasts don’t coincide with the first and seventh months.
> As for the time of the year for the Exodus, we have numerous references that it was about the time of harvest in Egypt. But I think it would be hard to prove anything tighter.

Josephus knew only vaguely that the feasts of the 1-st and the 7-th month have pertained to the New Year celebrations of two different calendars. The first of the holly year (according to my opinion regulated first by the heliacal rising of Sothis, later on by the summer solstice, a couple of days apart), the second one to a business calendar (once corresponding according to my opinion to the Egyptian civil calendar - shorter by 1/4 day than the astronomic calendar). That´s all he knew. The rest was a combination of this knowledge with the contemporary calendaristic practice.


Take for example Zechariah 8.18 (prophecies made 520-518 BC):" The fast of the fourth month (Passover), and the fast of the fifth (destruction of the temple) and the fast of the seventh (Pentecost), and the fast of the tenth (Tabernacles)".

My assertion is easy to test on this and several other cases. 

The behaviour of the "business" calendar as previously described is to slip by 1 day every 4 years comparatively to the astronomical calendar, say to the "holly" observational (solar) calendar. On this scheme it is easy to roughly retrieve the date both calendars have superposed once one has a statement concerning with which month of the civil calendar did the first month of the solar calendar overlap. Here we have both: the statement that the month Abib in the period 520-518 BC was close to the babylonian (lunar) month Ab (with the similar name) July-August, and this permutated postion of the feasts.

One can make a rapid reckonning, that an overlap of the civil calendar and solar calendar ought according to Zechariah have occured roughly 9*120+20(the epagomenes)years before Zechariah. That is 1100+520=cca.1620 BC.

Take the example of Maccabees 2.1.19:"And now keep the festival of the booths in the month of Chislev" Macc. 2, 1,9
certainly a confusing statement for the Diaspora Jews, therefore corrected a couple of lines later by a later Alexandrine gloss:"on the twenty-fifth day of the same month, which was Chislev. They celebrated it for eight days in the manner of the festival of the booths, remembering how not long before, during the festival of the booths, they had been wandering in the mountains and caves like wild animals." Macc. 2, 10, 5-6. Of course, for the Diaspora calendar, the 7th month was Tishri, and it was hard to understand the fact, that according to the original Hebrew calendar the 7th month fell more than 2 months later. This is however a late Alexandrine gloss, trying to clear the apparent contradiction, since Maccabees 2,2 expands on this matter in length giving further examples, all concerning in fact the same festival in the 7th month of the old Hebrew calendar. These are two different festivals indeed, but what we have to retain is that 124 BC the festival of booths occured (partly) in Chislev.

Once more we can rapidly reckon the date before the writing of Macc. 2 (that is 124 BC). Because Chislev is a lunar month its position could vary by as much as a month and thus enhance the sliping effect of the calendars. Thus in the extreme 124+1460 (a full calendar cyclus)+ at least 9*4 years (as much as to achieve at least the last day of the booths to fall into the next  month) = this is at least 1620 BC. But probably even somewhat more depending on the month Chislev.


Take the celebration of Succoth at the time of Salomo and Jeroboam I in the 8-th month, Bul.

Thus, the Temple of Salomo should have been finished "In the month Bul, that is the eighth month..." I Kgs. 6: 37, whereas its inauguration was in the 7th month, at Succoth.This statement represents a problem, easily solved if - at least during the inauguration year of the temple - Succoth was held in the eighth month.The inauguration date of the Bethel temple by Jeroboam I shows the same anomaly: "For on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, Jeroboam instituted a feast like the feast kept in Judah" I Kgs. 12: 32. As no biblical high feast specific to the eighth month is known, one must, once again, to accept an unusual 8th month date for Succoth, at least for a while during the 10th century BC.

Rapidly reckoning once more: date of Jeroboam cca. 920 (I am assuming actualy a higher date than Thiele) + 5*120+20 years (the epagomenas)=1540 BC. The actual date we are looking for must be higher than 1540 since Jeroboam was towards the end of the 120 years cyclus as Succoth occured in the month Bul, this having happened already once previously in the reign of Salomon. So we would have actually at least 1540+40=1580 BC (if we take into acount the reign of Salomon).


This all coresponds to the timespan of the judges resulting from the addition of the data bringing a reconstructible datum for the Exodus to 1622 BC. Further similar reckonings are possible on basis of Esra, etc, but this becomes simply boring. It is most probable that the complete cyclus was fulfilled during the revolt of the Maccabees, about 162 BC, as one was expecting in Judea the End of Times. A complete cyclus takes 1460 years. Thus 1460+162=1622 BC. 

Desolated for so much calculus.

Best regards,

Bányai Michael

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