[b-hebrew] Gezer Calendar and 6-Month "Year"

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Tue Oct 23 17:26:56 EDT 2007

Thank you for that important  clarification. 
1.  You wrote:  "Even if we were  to take /kl/ in line 5 in the sense of "to 
as Lemaire does  by assuming a base /klh/…." 
That reading is even better for my point of  view than Albright's reading of 
"feasting".  Both readings fit my theory perfectly  that one 6-month "year" 
would end at the beginning of May, as the first 6-month  "year" was "complete".  
That would  be the occasion for "feasting" in honor of the new New Year, 
which begins in  early May and ends in September or so. 
So "complete" or "to terminate" or "to end"  or "feasting" or "festival" are 
all wonderful translations for  me. 
It's the 1909 translation of "two measure"  that causes me some concern. 
2.  You continued:  "…you still  would have no  
support for a 6-month year in the 10th century  BCE." 
We've got the Gezer Calendar starting the  New Year in the fall.  We have the 
 Qumran Calendar, that S. Talmon views as relating truly ancient knowledge,  
starting the New Year in the spring.  And we have the Hebrew calendar, which 
though heavily influenced later by  the Babylonians regarding the names of the 
months and some other issues,  nevertheless has some truly ancient roots in 
Canaan.  The Hebrew calendar starts the New Year  in the fall, with the first 
day of the New Year, and 6 months later the Hebrew  calendar starts the New Year 
in the spring, with the first month of the New  Year. 
All of that is redolent of a 6-month "year"  concept in my book.  The New 
Year  starts in the spring, and/or in the fall, in  Canaan. 
3.  You wrote:  "Albright may  have  
rejected a 1909 proposal from Ronzevalle, but new data coming  to  
light since Albright's time suggests Ronzevalle was right all  along  
and line 5 should be read /kl/ from a base /kyl/ ("measuring"),  a  
reduction of the diphthong /ay/ to /e/ (see Gibson, Textbook  of  
Syrian Semitic Inscriptions I [Oxford, 1973], p. 2). The "month  of  
harvest and measuring" (yrh qsr  wkl)…." 
If the 1909 translation is correct, then a  lot would depend on how one 
interprets "two measure" or "harvest and  measuring".  Is the word "measuring"  
there referring solely to counting how much barley and wheat had been  harvested? 
Or does "measure" have a calendar meaning  there, meaning that the "measure" 
of one 6-month "year" has now been taken and  completed, and it's time to 
begin "measuring" another 6-month "year"?   
What would 'two measure' mean?  Would it mean that the first 6-month  "year" 
has now been measured, and now it's time to start measuring a second  6-month 
"year" in this 12-month period:  a "two measure"?  Or is "two  measure" 
limited to having a specific agricultural meaning of some  sort? 
4.  You continued:  "…or  Albright's "harvest and  
feasting" (he restored a gimmel to /wgl/ and  rejected kaph /wkl/), is  
the 9th month enumerated in the  GC." 
Of course, a translation of "harvest and  feasting" would be great for my 
theory of the 6-month "year".  One New Year starts in the fall, at the  beginning 
of the Gezer Calendar, and another New Year starts in the late spring,  at 
the time of "harvest and feasting", with "feasting" meaning a New Year  festival 
and each such "year"/New Year being a 6-month  "year". 
5.  You wrote:  "Regardless of  the precise season  
month 9 corresponds to in Israel the GC is a  calendar which measures  
time using more than 6 months. For your theory  you need to bring  
forward evidence of a calendar with 6 and only 6  months in it. That  
just can't be done with the  GC." 
But that is not my theory of the case at  all.  The calendars of ancient Ur  
had 12 different month names.  But  they celebrated a multi-day New Year/Akitu 
festival every 6 months.  That's a 6-month "year"  concept. 
The Gezer Calendar probably is describing  the agricultural activities 
throughout the course of the year.  I agree with S. Talmon's suggestion that  the 
Gezer Calendar probably does not list any formal names of any months.  Rather, 
the Gezer Calendar chronicles 8  agricultural seasons. 
Nobody would have a calendar of six 30-day  months, and then start another 
year with six more months having the very same  names.  That would make no sense 
at  all, since the winter is very different from the summer in Canaan.  So 
the names of the winter months will  not be the same as the names of the summer 
months.  But the question is whether the winter  months are in one 6-month 
"year", and the summer months are in a different  6-month "year". 
I do not see the number of the names of  months as being a key factor at all, 
one way or the  other. 
No, what counts is whether a New Year is  celebrated both in the fall and in 
the spring.  From the Gezer Calendar a New Year must  have been celebrated in 
the fall, because the Gezer Calendar starts in the  fall.  The question then 
becomes  whether there was a "festival" or a "feasting" or a "termination" or 
an "end" or  "to be complete" that occurred in early May.  If so, that sure 
sounds like a 6-month  "year" concept to me.  But if what  happened in May was a 
'two measure", per that old 1909 translation, then it  would all depend on 
what "two measure" means.  If "two measure" means to take the  measure of two 
6-month "years", the one that is ending and the one that is just  beginning, that 
of course would be great.  The only bad translation I can see for my view is 
if "two measure" has  some very specific agricultural meaning, such as 
measuring both barley and  wheat, or measuring barley or wheat in accordance with two 
different measures,  etc.  Otherwise, all the other  translations I have seen 
fit my view nicely. 
6.  You cannot realize how greatly I appreciate the fact that you have raised 
 these issues concerning the Gezer Calendar.  All such issues are very 
important in  trying to decide if the author of the Patriarchal narratives could 
possibly have  had a 6-month "year" concept in mind in setting forth all the ages 
of everyone  in the text.  If so, then every such  age makes perfect sense, 
as is, with not a single age being  miraculous. 
7.  I myself see nothing in the Patriarchal narratives as being  nonsensical. 
 In particular, no age  of any person in the text is nonsensically too old to 
be believed.   
Moreover, many people knew the "secret" of  how the ages of people were being 
expressed in the Patriarchal narratives, in  ancient times and through the 
Middle Ages.  It is only modern analysts who have lost the knowledge of how each 
 person's age is set forth in the Patriarchal  narratives. 
The Gezer Calendar is one good clue to help  us on our way to understanding 
the ages of all persons in the Patriarchal  narratives. 
Thanks so much for raising these issues  concerning the Gezer Calendar.  I  
myself have found the Talmon article to be particularly helpful in 
understanding  the Gezer Calendar. 
Jim  Stinehart 
Evanston, Illinois 

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