[b-hebrew] Hebrew calender?

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Sat Jul 23 18:07:52 EDT 2005

This is only a partial explanation. The calendar used by the Israelites was
the same as that used throughout the near east - a lunar calendar, in which
the new month was set by the appearance of the new moon (about 29.5 days on
the average). Since twelve such months make up only 354 day (average), the
calendar "loses" about 11 days, compared to the 365-day solar calendar.
Originally, the extra month was added "ad-hoc", when the authorities
(usually the temple) decided that the month were falling out of sync with
the seasons. Much later, this intercalary month was pre-calculated, falling
in 7 out of every 19 years.
The names Nisan, Iyyar, Sivan, Tammuz, Ab, Elul, Tishri, Maeheshvan (often
shortened to Heshvan), Kislev, Tebeth, Shebat, Adar are, indeed, Babylonian,
and were adopted by the Jews during the Babylonian Exile. The pre-exilic
books of the Bible use numbers (first month, second month etc.). The names
Ziv, Ethanim and Bul are used ONLY in the context of Solomon's building of
the Temple with the help of Sidonian workmen, so they might be
Canaanite/Phoenician, or they might be the pre-exilic Hebrew names. We just
don't know.
"Bib" is not properly the name of a month. It means "ripened barley", and so
"the month of Abib" means "the month of ripened barley". According to
Exodus, the Passover must be held during "the month of ripened barley". This
month is later identified with Nisan.
"Veadar" is not a name. It means "and Adar". At some point, it became the
standard to add a second Adar in intercalary ("leap") years, because Adar
was considered to be the last month of the year.
Some neareastern cultures celebrated the new year in Nisan, in the spring,
others in Tishri, in the fall. Ex. 12 commands the Israelites to clebrate
"this month" (of the redemption from Egypt, later identified with Nisan) as
the first month, and all subsequent dates comply with this. Actually,
though, the Bible does not spell out a New Year holiday, and there is much
debate over whether the Israelites actually celebrated one. There is,
however, a holiday on the first day of the seventh month (later Tishri),
which, during the Second Temple period, became know (as it still is) as
"Rosh Hashanah", the New Year (at some point it was expanded into a two-day
holiday, though Reform Jews have gone back to one).
(Some Jews during the Second Temple Period used a solar calendar. This has
lead some scholars to speculate that the "original" biblical calendar was
actually solar, and that they adopted the lunar calendar along with the
Babylonian month names.)
In practice, it would seem that Israel and Judah counted at least their
regal years from either Nisan or Tishri at different times. This dissonance
exists in the Jewish calendar to this day. The Mishnah actually counts four
"new years" (think of a different tax year, school year etc.). In general,
Jews today count years from Tishri, and holidays from Passover (Nisan).
At some point in the early Middle Ages, Jews "calculated" that the world was
created in 3760 BCE, and began using that date as "year one". So the present
year is 2005+3760=5765. But you should remember that the Jewish new year (1
Tishri) falls in September or October, so that the first 3-4 month of 5765
were still in 2004. Yes, 1 Tishri 5765 was on 16 Sept. 2004. Since 5765 was
a "leap year", it "gained" 19 days (that is, it gained the 30 days of second
Adar and lost the usual 11 days), so that 1 Tishri 5766 will be on 4 October


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Read, James C" <K0434995 at kingston.ac.uk>
To: "Stephen" <stephen4yeshua at yahoo.com>
Cc: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Friday, July 22, 2005 11:04 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Hebrew calender?

> As far as I know the months were Nisan (Abib), Ivyar (Ziv), Sivan, Tammuz,
>  Ab, Elul, Tishri (Ethanim), Heshvan (Bul), Chislev, Tebeth, Shebat, Adar
> Veadar.Each month was 29/30 days and thus a 12 month year
> fell approx 11 days short of a complete solar cycle (ie year).
> Additional days were added to pad out the year. In post times
> the 13th month veadar (or 2nd adar) was introduced to make the year fit
> a solar cycle.
> You are right in thinking that Nisan was the first month of the year
> established by Yah and this is logical really because spring is when
> everything springs to life and so is a logical way to start the year.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org on behalf of Stephen
> Sent: Fri 7/22/2005 9:19 PM
> To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> Subject: [b-hebrew] Hebrew calender?
> I am curious about the original Hebrew calender.
> The gregorian calender, used by most western nations today, was
established by pope gregory VII in 1582. It is a solar calender.
> In Jewish calender the months are determined by the moon, and year by the
sun, as far as I can tell?
> In think there are 12 months with 29 or 30 days, in the Jewish calender?
> Over the years it is clear the names of the months and the process of
establishing the calender has changed, following babylonian exile in 586 to
516 BC, and now the Jewish calender refelcts babylonian names, as these
names still appear in the Jewish calender.
> I am curious if first, I am off base on these predicates, and second, if I
am not off,  then what are the original Hebrew Jewish names for the
> I know today the new moon is called Rosh Hodesh (head of months) and is
marked in the synagogue with prayers, Torah readings, and special greetings.
> I know in Exodus Elohiym established the order of months. This, as I
believe, was the first calender used to determine the holy days.
> Could (Nisan) be the original Hebrew name of the first month and marks the
redemption of Yisrael from Egypt?
> By the time of Y'shua, there was a second calender used for civil affairs.
This calender began with the month Tishri. The first Tishri was the civil
new year, Rosh HaShanah. The second calender I believe is still in use?
> If these predicates are true, then what was the first calender?
> Is it true, in determing the Jewish calender year, add 3761 to western
calender year?
> The Jewish year  5765 begins on Sept 16 of the gregorian year 2004?
> Answers would be much appreciated.
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