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

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Tue Oct 23 22:25:48 EDT 2007


 
Tory Thorpe: 
    1.  You wrote:   “Where are you getting "TWO measure"  from?”
Well. of course I am getting that from footnote 48 you cited in the S.  
Talmon article that you cited.  Where else would I get such an unusual 1909 
translation? 
    1.  You wrote:  “It does not matter when the Gezer  
Calendar  starts. It does not matter when the Qumran community started  
their  364-day solar calendar. It does not matter when the Torah  
starts its  calendar.”
How can you say such things?  The question is whether the author of  the 
Patriarchal narratives could have envisioned a 6-month “year”.  The key to that 
would be whether he was  familiar with a New Year festival in the fall and 
another New Year festival 6  months later, in the spring.  If so,  then it would 
be a short step from there to imagine a true 6-month “year”.  It is thus very 
relevant that (i) the  Gezer Calendar certainly has a New Year event in the 
fall, and may have a New  Year festival in the spring as well, (ii) the Qumran 
calendar has a New Year  event in the spring, and (iii) the Hebrew calendar has 
a New Year event in both  the fall and the spring.  That is  all very 
relevant.  Given those  ancient calendars, it would be easy for the author of the 
Patriarchal narratives  to envision a true 6-month “year” calendar, even if none 
of these historical  calendars actually increased the year number every 6  
months. 
    1.  You wrote:   “All of these calendars measure "years" in 12  
month  increments, not 6.”
That is not actually true.  The Gezer Calendar has 8 named periods,  not 12 
or 6.  The Qumran calendar  has only 4 named periods, not 12 or 6.  Neither 
calendar has 12 named months. 
I fear you are placing far too much emphasis on the 12  Babylonian month 
names that the Hebrews adopted after the Babylonian  Captivity.  Certainly you 
would  agree that the Hebrews had calendars before the Babylonian Captivity.  It 
is the pre-exilic calendars that are  relevant to the Patriarchal narratives.  
The Babylonian month names are irrelevant for our purposes here.   
    1.  You wrote:   “In any 12-month calendar a New Year that  
begins in the fall  will not end until the next fall, and a New Year  
that begins in  spring will not end until the next  spring.”
Yes, and it’s equally true that in any 6-month “year”  calendar, the New 
Year that begins in the fall ends in spring, and the New Year  that begins in the 
spring ends in the fall. 
In order to imagine a 6-month “year” calendar and use it  for setting forth 
people’s ages in the Patriarchal narratives, what is needed is  some 
familiarity with the idea of a New Year festival being held in either the  fall or the 
spring, and hence possibly in both the fall and the spring.   
    1.  You wrote:   “The Jewish  
calendar has several New Year dates.  None of these "years" are   
shorter than 12 months.”
The Hebrew calendar has a New Year event in the fall, and  a New Year event 
in the spring (the first month of the New Year).  Isn’t that a 6-month “year”  
concept?  I realize that the year  number is only increased every 12 months, 
and that there are 12 or 13 names for  different months.  But there’s still  a 
type of 6-month “year” concept embodied in any calendar that, like the 
Hebrew  calendar, has the first day of the New Year in fall, and the first month of 
the  New Year in the spring. 
    1.  You wrote:   “If you want to consider the 9th month in the  
Gezer Calendar  the start of a New Year that "year" does not end until  
month 8  twelve months later. There is no evidence within GC that it's  
"year"  is 6-months.”
We are certain that a New Year starts in the fall in the  Gezer Calendar, 
because that is when that calendar starts.  The question is whether there was  
another New Year festival in the spring.  Did a 6-month “year” came to an “end”
 or “termination” or was “complete”  in the spring, so that another 6-month 
“year” started in the spring?  If so, then that second new year would  have 
ended in the fall. 
    1.  Why are you so resistant to the thought of a 6-month  “year” concept 
in ancient Canaan?   Why not have each of the two harvest seasons be the 
start of a New  Year?  It makes sense to me, since  the fall harvest and the 
spring harvest were of equal importance.  Look at when the important Jewish  
holidays fall.  About half are in  the spring, and about half are in the fall.  
Those are the two critical time  periods in Canaan.  Why not start  a New Year in 
each such time period?
The issue is whether the author of the Patriarchal  narratives could fairly 
easily have conceptualized a true 6-month “year”  calendar, which he would use 
in setting forth the stated ages of all people in  his composition.  It is 
not  necessary to show that there actually was such a calendar in secular  
history.  The question, rather, is  whether there is a 6-month “year” concept in 
ancient Canaan, on which the author  could have drawn to come up with the idea 
of a true 6-month  “year”. 
The answer is that it would have been relatively easy for  the author of the 
Patriarchal narratives to imagine a true 6-month “year” in  Canaan, given (i) 
the historical calendars we have from ancient Canaan, and (ii)  the inherent 
6-month nature of Canaan, which features a critically important  annual 
harvest season every 6 months.  On that basis, we see that no ages in the 
Patriarchal narratives are  miraculously old.  Rather, all ages  are set forth in terms 
of a 6-month “year”. 
The author of the Patriarchal narratives was easily  brilliant enough to come 
up with the concept of a true 6-month “year”, and to  use that concept to 
set forth the stated ages of all persons in his  composition. 
Jim Stinehart 
Evanston, Illinois



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