[b-hebrew] Biblical year lengths
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Tue Oct 20 09:52:39 EDT 2009
Thanks for sharing that interesting article. As to possible older meanings
of $NH/“year”, those might most likely appear in the Patriarchal
narratives (not in the first 10 chapters of Genesis, dealing with pre-Flood ages).
Many scholars see at least part of the Patriarchal narratives (especially
chapter 14 of Genesis) as perhaps being older than most of the rest of the
Ancient Canaan had two New Years, one in the fall, and one in the spring.
In Hebrew, $NH as a noun means “year”, and as a verb means either “to repeat
” or “to do a second time”. As to that second meaning, $NY, which has the
same root [$N] but a different ending, means “second”. Focusing first on
the concept of “to repeat”, a $NH/year would be a 12-month year, for it is
after 12 months that the seasons “repeat” (both in Canaan and elsewhere).
But when the focus shifts to the meaning of “to do a second time” or “second
”, a $NH/“year” would logically be a 6-month “year”, because in Canaan
every 6 months a New Year was observed a “second time”, during the 12-month
cycle. In the Old Biblical Hebrew of the Patriarchal narratives (but not
elsewhere in the Bible), $NH/year/“year” may originally have included both the
concept of a 12-month year, when the seasons “repeat”, and also a 6-month “
year” -- since a New Year was observed every 6 months in ancient Canaan, a
New Year was always observed a “second time” during each 12-month cycle.
In the Patriarchal narratives (beginning at Genesis 11: 26 with the first
mention of Abraham), (i) people’s ages, and periods of years in Canaan, are
always set forth in terms of 6-month “years”, whereas (ii) periods of years,
or year numbers, that do not deal exclusively with Canaan are by contrast
always set forth in terms of 12-month years. That’s the sophisticated,
bifurcated concept of $NH/year/“year” in the Patriarchal narratives.
Every single number in the Patriarchal narratives is perfect, and makes
perfect sense, on all levels. In particular, no one is unduly old in the
Patriarchal narratives, once one understands that everyone’s ages are set forth
in the text in terms of 6-month “years”, reflecting the two harvest seasons
and two New Years of ancient Canaan that occurred every 12 months.
Catch the pulsating excitement of the Patriarchal narratives!
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