[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  
Festivals." 
2.  No, the Hebrew New Year  Begins in the Fall 
"In the earliest times the Hebrew year began in autumn with the opening  of 
the
economic year." 
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  
first
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 
the autumn…." 
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.  
Jim Stinehart 
Evanston, Illinois



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