[b-hebrew] Hebrew calendar (was:Thera quote)

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Sat Aug 28 16:21:41 EDT 2004


Dear Michael,

While not new, I find most of your arguments for such a total change of
calendars between the pre- and post-exilic periods to be unproven. There is
no reason to think that the Hebrew calendar was NOT lunar-solar, that is,
based upon the appearances of the new moon, with an occasional intercalary
month in order to "keep up" with the solar seasons - just like most ANE
calendars (and unlike the Egyptian). The new moon (Xode$) is mentioned
enough times in the DH, in D and in P, not to mention in the pre-exilic
prophets, to convince me that it was an important event.
As for a few of your arguments:

1. "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)".

Says who? "The fast of the fourth month" is the 9th of Tammuz, which is the
fourth month as counted from Nisan. This was the date on which the walls of
Jerusalem were broken by Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 39:2; 52:6). "The fast of the
fifth" does indeed commemorate the destruction of the Temple - in Ab (Jer.
52:12; 2 Kings 25:8, although one says it was on the 7th of the 5th and the
other says it was the 10th). "The fast of the seventh" commemorates the
murder of Gedaliah and his group (Jer. 41:1 ff.) - in Tishri. "The fast of
the tenth", the tenth of Tebeth, was the day on which Nebuchadnezzar began
the siege (Jer. 39:1; 52:4, 2 Kings 25:1). All of these fasts were
instituted by the Judean exiles in commemoration of the cycle of events that
let to the final loss Judahite independence. Zechariah promises that in the
future, these days of mourning will become days of celebration.

2. Take the example of Maccabees 2.1.19:"And now keep the festival of the
booths in the month of Chislev".

Once again, you are ignoring the historical context. The writer of this
"letter" is talking about what was later called Hanukkah. In 164 BCE, the
festival of Sukkot was not celebrated in Tishri as it should have been,
because Jerusalem was under siege of the Maccabees. It was only celebrated
in Kislev, after the Temple had been "cleansed" - this "late Sukkot", which
later became Hanukkah, is what the writer of 2 Macc. is referring to.

3. "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."

But it wasn't. According to 1 Kings 8:2, it was held in the month of
Ethanim, on the Festival of the seventh month. So the building was completed
in Bul, the eighth month (Marheshvan). But then the whole next chapter and a
half tell of the additional preparations - what's so strange about all of
this having taken 11 month, until the following Tishri?

4. "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."

True. Jeroboam purposely chose to change the date of the Festival, as a part
of his break with the Jerusalem Temple. So?


Yigal
----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael Banyai" <Banyai at t-online.de>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Thursday, August 26, 2004 11:04 AM
Subject: [b-hebrew] Thera quote


> 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.
>
> 1.
>
> 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.
>
>
> 2.
> 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.
>
> 3.
>
> 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).
>
> 4.
>
> 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
> Stuttgart
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