[b-hebrew] Genesis 41: 1: "Two Years of Days"

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Jul 16 17:32:59 EDT 2009


Karl:
 
Let me set forth some more evidence now for the Hebrews celebrating a 
spring New Year.  (I believe that you and I do agree that from ancient times, the 
Hebrews celebrated a fall New Year.  So the next question then is whether 
the Hebrews also, or alternatively, celebrated a spring New Year as well.)
 
1.  As to the antiquity of a spring New Year for the Hebrews, consider 
Exodus 12: 1-2, concerning the Passover.  Passover occurs in the spring.  Here 
is Exodus 12: 1-2:
 
“And the LORD spoke unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying:  
'This month shall be unto you the beginning of months;  it shall be the first 
month of the year to you.’”
 
Thus as of the composition of the Book of Exodus, the Hebrews had the 
tradition that March was the first month of the Hebrew year.  That is a spring 
New Year.  
 
For people like yourself who view the Book of Exodus as being very old, 
that shows that the tradition of the Hebrews celebrating a New Year in the 
spring is very old.  At least, the first month of the Hebrews’ year was in the 
spring.  That is a type of spring New Year.
 
For modern scholars who claim that the Book of Exodus is very late, 
consider #2 below.   
 
2.  Some may recall that on October 24, 2007, Rev. Bryant J. Williams 
posted some interesting facts about calendars in ancient Canaan.  Here are a few 
brief excerpts, where Rev. Bryant J. Williams quoted jewishencyclopedia.com:
 
 “There is much difference of opinion as to whether or not there was in 
preexilic times a second mode of reckoning from the vernal [spring] equinox [as 
opposed to the Hebrews only celebrating a New Year in the fall].  This 
inference [that there was a spring New Year for the Hebrews] has been drawn from 
such passages as II Sam. xi. 1, I Kings xx. 22, 26, and II Chron. xxxvi. 
10. The expression used here, "at the return of the year," is, however, 
sufficiently explained as "the time when kings go out"; that is to say, the usual 
time for opening a military campaign. Of course if the law of the Passover 
(Ex. xii. 1;  Lev. xxiii. 5; Num. ix. 1-5, xxviii. 16-17) is pre-exilic, the 
question admits of no further argument. 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. It is possible that this change was due, in part at least, to 
the
influence of the Babylonian sacred year, which likewise began with the month
Nisan. 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. 
 
[Note the following in particular:]  Josephus asserts (l.c. i. 3, § 3) that 
while
Moses appointed Nisan to be the first month for the sacred festivals and 
other
Solemnities [per Exodus 12: 2 above], he preserved the original order of 
the months for buying and selling and for the transaction of other business. 
The Seleucidan calendar, from 312 B.C., placed the beginning of the year in 
the autumn; but it appears that
the Palestinian Jews still reckoned from the spring and dated the 
Seleucidan era
according to that reckoning (see Schürer, "The Jewish People in the Time of
Jesus Christ," 2d ed., Eng. transl., I. i 36-46, on the dates in the Books 
of
Maccabees; comp. Esth. iii. 7)."
_www.jewishencyclopedia.com_ (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/) .
 
*       *       *
 
We see that amid a sea of contradictory evidence, the one thing that is 
clear is that the Hebrews were very familiar with both a fall New Year and a 
spring New Year.  From the above, it seems clear that scholars cannot agree 
among themselves which New Year was more important to the Hebrews in which 
exact time periods.
 
3.  Karl, how do you interpret II Samuel 11: 1 and Exodus 12: 1-2?  Aren’t 
they showing that a spring New Year was an ancient practice among the 
Hebrews?
 
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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