[b-hebrew] Ruth 1:12 "too old for a husband", cultic calendar, shanah

Will Parsons wbparsons at alum.mit.edu
Mon Jul 22 20:20:38 EDT 2013

Hi Jim,

Thank you for your quite intriguing posts on the matter of Rebekah's
age and cultic calendars.  I'd like to read more of Prof. Cohen's
work, but since it's listed by Amazon at $146 (used), I'll need to
find if I can access it through a library rather than purchasing it.

On Mon, 22 Jul 2013 17:53:04 -0400 (EDT), JimStinehart at aol.com wrote:
> ...
> I am guessing, without knowing, that you may think that the idea of
> shanah having an archaic meaning of “the turn of the year”, being a
> six-month concept, is not reasonable as my hypothesis as to how each
> person’s stated age is set forth in the Patriarchal narratives.
> Assuming that your reluctance to consider that shanah may have had
> an archaic meaning of a 6-month period is your main basis for
> claiming that my math is “off”, let me set forth here some of the
> relevant passages from the leading scholarly treatment of this
> subject, Mark E.  Cohen, “The Cultic Calendars of the Ancient Near
> East” (1993):

> p. 6: “In addition to the seasonal cycle and the lunar cycle, the
> Mesopotamians were affected by a third cycle -- the cycle between
> the equinoxes, a period when the sun and the moon vied with each
> other for time in the sky.  The ancient Hebrews recognized the
> significance of this cycle, referring to the equinoxes, the times
> when the year turns, as teqūfat haššānā (Exodus 34:22): ‘You shall
> observe the Feast of Weeks, of the first fruits of the wheat
> harvest; and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year’ (the
> autumnal equinox) and as tešūbat haššānā (2 Samuel 11:1): ‘At the
> turn of the year, the season when kings go out {to battle}’,
> (probably referring to the vernal equinox).  The Israelite
> incorporation of this six-month ‘ year’ into its ritual can further
> be detected in the duration and timing of the festival of the first
> month, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the festival of the
> seventh month, the Feast of Ingathering.  {footnote 4.  This six
> month year concept in ancient Israel may perhaps be detected in
> Ezekiel 45:18-20: ‘On the first day of the first month, you shall
> take a bull of the herd without blemish, and you shall cleanse the
> Sanctuary….  You shall do the same thing on the seventh day of the
> month to purge the Temple from uncleanness cause by unwitting or
> ignorant persons.’ The Septuagint, however, reads ‘in the seventh
> month’ instead of ‘on the seventh day of the month’.  Thus the
> Septuagint shows a clear parallelism between the first and seventh
> months.}

> “This concept of a six-month equinox year appears to have been a
> major factor in the establishment of the cultic calendar throughout
> the Near East.  [p. 7] In many locations there were parallel major
> festivals in the first and seventh month -- suggesting that rather
> than considering one of these festivals as marking the beginning and
> the other the half-way point of the year, the ancients viewed each
> as a beginning, the onset of this six-month equinox year.
> ...

Will Parsons

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