What the scriptures say about the Jewish
Calendar: register of the year; list
Month: the twelfth part of the year
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  Genesis 7:11   |   Exodus 12:1  

MONTH [Easton's Bible Dictionary]

Among the Egyptians the month of thirty days each was in use long before the time of the Exodus, and formed the basis of their calculations. From the time of the institution of the Mosaic law the month among the Jews was lunar. The cycle of religious feasts depended on the moon. The commencement of a month was determined by the observation of the new moon. The number of months in the year was usually twelve (1 Kings 4:7; 1 Chronicles 27:1-15); but every third year an additional month (ve-Adar) was inserted, so as to make the months coincide with the seasons.

"The Hebrews and Phoenicians had no word for month save 'moon,' and only saved their calendar from becoming vague like that of the Moslems by the interpolation of an additional month. There is no evidence at all that they ever used a true solar year such as the Egyptians possessed. The latter had twelve months of thirty days and five epagomenac or odd days.", Palestine Quarterly, January 1889.

MONTH (also see New Moon)   [Smith's Bible Dictionary]

From the time of the institution of the Mosaic law downward the religious feasts commencing with the passover depended not simply on the month, but on the moon; the 14th of Abib was coincident with the full moon; and the new moons themselves were the occasions of regular festivals. (Numbers 10:10; 28:11-14) The commencement of the month was generally decided by observation of the new moon. The usual number of months in a year was twelve, as implied in (1 Kings 4:7; 1 Chronicles 27:1-15) but since twelve lunar months would make but 354 1/2 days, the years would be short twelve days of the short twelve days of the true year, and therefore it follows as a matter of course that an additional month must have been inserted about every third year, which would bring the number up to thirteen. No notice, however, is taken of this month in the Bible.

In the modern Jewish calendar the intercalary month is introduced seven times in every nineteen years. The usual method of designating the months was by their numerical order, e.g.

"the second month," (Genesis 7:11)
"the fourth month," (2 Kings 25:3)
and this was generally retained even when the names were given, e.g.
"in the month Zif, which is the second month." (1 Kings 6:1)

The names of the months belong to two distinct periods. In the first place we have those peculiar to the period of Jewish independence, of which four only, even including Abib, which we hardly regard as a proper name are mentioned, viz.:

Abib, in which the passover fell, (Exodus 13:4; 23:15; 34:18; 16:1) and which was established as the first month in commemoration of the exodus, (Exodus 12:2)

Zif, the second month, (1 Kings 6:1,37)

Bul, the eighth, (1 Kings 6:38) and

Ethanim, the seventh. (1 Kings 8:2)

In the second place we have the names which prevailed subsequent to the Babylonish captivity; of these the following seven appear in the Bible:
Nisan, the first, in which the passover was held, (Nehemiah 2:1; Esther 3:7)

Sivan, the third (Esther 8:9) Bar. 1:8;

Elul, the sixth, (Nehemiah 6:15) 1 Macc. 14:27;

Chisleu, the ninth, (Nehemiah 1:1; Zechariah 7:1) 1 Macc. 1:54;

Tebeth, the tenth, (Esther 2:16)

Sebat, the eleventh, (Zechariah 1:7) 1 Macc. 16:14; and

Adar, the twelfth. (Esther 3:7; 8:1) 2 Macc. 15:36.

The names of the remaining five occur in the Talmud and other works; they were,
Iyar, the second, Targum; (2 Chronicles 30:2)

Tammuz, the fourth;

Ab, the fifth;

Tisri, the seventh; and

Marcheshvan, the eighth.

The name of the intercalary month was Ve-adar, i.e. the additional Adar.

The identification of the Jewish months with our own cannot be effected with precision on account of the variations that must inevitably exist between the lunar and the solar month.

Nisan (or Abib) answers to March [April see Thompson's];
Zif or Iyar to May;
Sivan to June;
Tammuz to July;
Ab to August;
Elul to September;
Ethanim or Tisri to October;
Bul or Marcheshvan to November;
Chisleu to December;
Tebeth to January;
Sebat to February; and
Adar to March.

CALENDAR [International Standard Bible Encyclopedia]

kal'-en-dar (Latin calendarium, "an account book," from calendae, "day on which accounts were due"):

The Hebrew or Jewish calendar had three stages of development: the preexilic, or Biblical; the postexilic, or Talmudic; and the post-Talmudic. The first rested on observation merely, the second on observation coupled with calculation, and the third on calculation only.

In the first period the priests determined the beginning of each month by the appearance of the new moon and the recurrence of the prescribed feasts from the vernal and autumnal equinoxes. Thus, the month Abib ('abhibh), the first month of the year according to the Levitical law, in which the Passover was to be celebrated, was determined by observation (Exodus 12:2; Deuteronomy 16).

After the exile more accurate methods of determining the months and seasons came into vogue, and calculation was employed to supplement and correct observations and the calendar was regulated according to the Babylonian system, as is evidenced by the names of the months which are derived from it. In later times the calendar was fixed by mathematical methods (see the article "Calendar" in the Jewish Encyclopedia). The difficulty of ascertaining the first day of the new moon by observation, in the early period, led to the celebration of two days, as seems to be indicated in 1 Samuel 20:27.

We have only four names of months belonging to the pre-exilic period, and they are Phoenician. Of these Abib ('abhibh) was the first month, as already indicated, and it corresponded to Nis (nican) in the later calendar. It was the month in which the Exodus occurred and the month of the Passover (Exodus 13:4; 23:15; 34:18; Deuteronomy 16:1).

The 2nd month of this calendar was Ziv (ziw) (1 Kings 6:1,37); Ethanim ('ethanim) was the 7th (1 Kings 8:2), corresponding to Tishri of the later calendar, and Bul (bul) the 8th, corresponded to Marchesvan (marcheshwan) (1 Kings 6:38). There were course other month names in this old calendar, but they have not come down to us. These names refer to the aspects of the seasons: thus Abib ('abhibh) means grain in the ear, just ripening (Leviticus 2:14; Exodus 9:31); Ziv (ziw) refers to the beauty and splendor of the flowers in the spring; Ethanim ('ethanim) means perennial, probably referring to living fountains; and Bul (bul) means rain or showers, being the month when the rainy season commenced. The full calendar of months used in the postexilic period is given in a table accompanying this article. The names given in the table are not all found in the Bible, as the months are usually referred to by number, but we find Nican in Nehemiah 2:1 and Esther 3:7; Siwan in Esther 8:9; Tammuz in Ezekiel 8:4, although the term as here used refers to a Phoenician god after whom the month was named; 'Elul occurs in Nehemiah 6:15; Kiclew (the American Standard Revised Version "chislev") in Nehemiah 1:1 and Zechariah 7:1; Tebheth in Esther 2:16; ShebhaT in Zechariah 1:7 and 'Adhar in Ezra 6:15 and several times in Est. These months were lunar and began with the new moon, but their position in regard to the seasons varied somewhat because of the intercalary month about every three years.

The year (shanah) originally began in the autumn, as appears from Exodus 23:16 and Exodus 34:22, where it is stated that the feast of Ingathering should be at the end of the year; the Sabbatic year began, also, in the Exodus 7th month of the calendar year (Leviticus 25:8-10), indicating that this had been the beginning of the year. This seems to have been a reckoning for civil purposes, while the year beginning with Nican was for ritual and sacred purposes. This resulted from the fact that the great feast of the Passover occurred in this month and the other feasts were regulated by this, as we see from such passages as Exodus 23:14-16 and Deuteronomy 16:1-17. Josephus (Ant., I, iii, 3) says: "Moses appointed that Nican, which is the same with Xanthicus, should be the first month of their festivals, because he brought them out of Egypt in that month; so that this month began the year as to all solemnities they observed to the honor of God, although he preserved the original order of the months as to selling and buying and other ordinary affairs." A similar custom is still followed in Turkey, where the Mohammedan year is observed for feasts, the pilgrimage to Mecca and other sacred purposes, while the civil year begins in March O.S.

The year was composed of 12 or 13 months according as to whether it was ordinary or leap year. Intercalation is not mentioned in Scripture, but it was employed to make the lunar correspond approximately to the solar year, a month being added whenever the discrepancy of the seasons rendered it necessary. This was regulated by the priests, who had to see that the feasts were duly observed at the proper season. The intercalary month was added after the month of 'Adhar and was called the second 'Adhar (sheni, wa-'adhar, "and Adar"), and, as already indicated, was added about once in 3 years. More exactly, 4 years out of every 11 were leap years of 13 months (Jewish Encyclopedia, article "Calendar"), this being derived from the Babylonian calendar. If, on the 16th of the month Nican, the sun had not reached the vernal equinox, that month was declared to be the second 'Adhar and the following one Nican. This method, of course, was not exact and about the 4th century of our era the mathematical method was adopted. The number of days in each month was fixed, seven having 30 days, and the rest 29. When the intercalary month was added, the first 'Adhar had 30 and the second 29 days.

H. Porter

MONTHS [Thompson Chain Reference]
 # 1. Abib, or Nisan, April

    * Exodus 13:4

# 2. Zif, May

    * 1 Kings 6:1

# 3. Sivan, June

    * Esther 8:9

# 4. Tammuz, July

    * Jeremiah 39:2
    * Zechariah 8:19

# 5. Ab, August

    * Numbers 33:38
    * Zechariah 7:3

# 6. Elul, September

    * Nehemiah 6:15

# 7. Ethanim, or Tisri, October

    * 1 Kings 8:2

# 8. Bul, November

    * 1 Kings 6:38

# 9. Chisleu, December

    * Ezra 10:9

# 10. Tebeth, January

    * Esther 2:16

# 11. Sebat, February

    * Zechariah 1:7

# 12. Adar, March

    * Esther 3:7

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