[b-hebrew] Gezer Calendar and the 6-Month "Year"
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Wed Oct 24 15:24:49 EDT 2007
Rev. Bryant J. Williams:
What your post clearly and unequivocally shows is that a Hebrew New Year
could begin in the fall, or it could begin in the spring.
I will restrict myself to citing from your own post.
1. The Hebrew New Year Begins in the Spring
"The New Year began in the Spring for the Israelites for the Sacred
2. No, the Hebrew New Year Begins in the Fall
"In the earliest times the Hebrew year began in autumn with the opening of
3. No, the Hebrew New Year Begins in the Spring
"It seems, however, to be now very generally accepted that this law in its
present form is not earlier than the sixth century and that it represents
post-exilic practise. According to this legislation, which henceforth prevailed,
the month Abib, or Nisan (March-April), became the first of the year."
4. No, the Hebrew New Year Begins in the Fall
"It appears, however, that the festival of the New-Year continued to be
observed in the autumn, perhaps originally on the tenth, and later on the
day of the seventh month, Tishri."
5. No, the Hebrew New Year Begins in the Spring
"Josephus asserts (l.c. i. 3, § 3) that…Moses appointed Nisan [in the
spring] to be the first month for the sacred festivals and other solemnities…."
6. No, the Hebrew New Year Begins in the Fall
"The Seleucidan calendar, from 312 B.C., placed the beginning of the year in
7. No, the Hebrew New Year Begins in the Spring
"[B]ut it appears that the Palestinian Jews still reckoned from the spring…
* * *
All of those quotations are taken verbatim from your own post (and are taken
only slightly out of context).
Given what you yourself posted, why would it have been difficult for the
author of the Patriarchal narratives to have envisioned a calendar in which one
New Year started in the fall, and another New Year started in the spring?
Even the post-exilic Jews seemed unclear whether the New Year should be in the
fall or in the spring, and that is very many centuries after the Patriarchal
Age. The current Jewish calendar enshrines that historical ambiguity. And
doesn't it make sense? Canaan has two annual harvests, of equal importance,
spaced 6 months apart. There's no way to argue that starting a New Year in the
fall makes more sense than starting a New Year in the spring, or vice versa,
if you're talking about ancient Canaan.
The author of the Patriarchal narratives was well aware of calendars that
started the New Year in the fall, and of calendars that started the New Year in
the spring. He was very well aware of the fact that most calendars were
12-month year calendars. But the calendar that the author chose to use in the
Patriarchal narratives, whether attested in secular history or not, had both a
New Year in the fall, and a New Year in the spring, and was a true 6-month
"year" calendar. Such a calendar fits ancient Canaan perfectly. Your post
shows that the Hebrews often thought of a New Year beginning in the fall, and
often thought of a New Year beginning in the spring.
All of the stated ages in the Patriarchal narratives make perfect sense when
viewed in terms of such a 6-month "year". Isaac isn't portrayed as dying at
the miraculous age of 180 years, in regular, 12-month years. Genesis 35:
28-29 No, Isaac was age 180 "years", in terms of 6-month "years", meaning that
Isaac died at the ripe old age of 90 regular years. Every single stated age
works just like that in the Patriarchal narratives, beginning at Genesis 11:
26. Every age in the Patriarchal narratives makes perfect sense in the
secular historical context.
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