Hebrew/Jewish Calendar

Hebrew/Jewish Calendar
of the Old Testament

 

Hebrew Month

Canaanite Name

Modern Equivalent

Farm Season

Climate

Festivals

Nisan (Religious New Year)

Abib

March/April

Barley Harvest

Latter rains

14- Passover
21- First Fruits

Iyyar

Ziv

April/May

General Harvest

 

Sivan

 

May/June

Wheat Harvest
Vine Dressing

Dry Season

6- Pentecost

Tammuz

 

June/July

Early Grape Harvest

 

Ab

 

July/August

Harvest: Grapes, Figs, Olives

9- Destruction of Temple

Elul

 

August/Sept

Summer Fruit

 

Tishri
(Civil New Year)

Ethanim

Sept/October

Plowing, Olive Harvest

1- New Year
10- Day of Atonement
15-21 Tabernacles

Marchesvan

Bul

Oct/Nov

Olive Harvest, Grain Planting

Early Rains

 

Chislev

 

Nov/Dec

Grain Planting

25- Dedication of Temple

Tebeth

 

Dec/January

Late Planting, Spring Growth

Rainy Season

 

Shebat

 

January/Feb

Late Planting, Winter Figs

 

Adar

 

Feb/March

Pulling Flax, Almonds Bloom

 

Adar Sheni (Second Adar)

 

Intercalate Month

 

 

 

 

 The Lunar Calendar

The system of keeping time in the Old Testament by the ancient Hebrews  was based on the cycles of the moon rather than a solar calendar not unlike what we use today. In fact, the Hebrew term for "month," chodesh, means "new [moon]," referring to the new moon that began the month. The lunar cycle played a significant role in the cultural and religious life in ancient Israel so that time could be counted by the cycles of the moon (Ex. 19:1). The New Moon was a festival day, observed by burnt offering and sacrifices as well as banquets (Num 29:6, 1 Sam 20:5, 1 Chron 23:31). The New Moon festival was often listed along with Sabbath as an important religious observance (2 Kings 4:23, Ezek 45:17). Like Sabbath and other rituals, it also came to symbolize empty and self-centered religion when not accompanied by faithfulness to God in other areas (Isa. 1:14, Amos 8:5). Likewise, the middle of the month or the Full Moon was an important marker of the passing of time. Two of Israel’s most important festivals fell in mid-month (Passover, Tabernacles; cf. Psa 81:3).

The Hebrew lunar calendar contained 12 months of 30 days, which was also the customary period of mourning (Deut 21:13, Num 20:29). Yet the actual lunar cycle is only about 29 ˝ days, which resulted in a year of only 354 (˝) days. Keeping the lunar calendar coordinated with the seasons of the year required adding a 13th month to the lunar calendar seven out of every nineteen years. This additional month was added to the end of the year following the last month Adar, and was simply called Second Adar.

Although the history of its development is not clear, the Israelites apparently adopted elements of marking time from both the ancient Canaanites and the Babylonians. Four months are known in the biblical text by older Canaanite names, while seven are mentioned in forms derived from Babylon. There are also preserved two New Years’ dates, one at the Spring equinox in the month of Nisan (Exod 12:1) and one at the Fall equinox in the month of Tishri (Exod 34:22). Some have suggested that this represents both a civil and a religious calendar, with the civil calendar adopted from the Babylonians during the exile and the religious calendar ordered around the events of the exodus. It may also represent a blending of elements of both lunar and solar time keeping. A tenth century BC inscription known as the Gezer Calendar begins in the Fall and lists the months according to what was harvested in that month.

Because of the differences between the solar and lunar systems of timekeeping, the Old Testament festivals that were linked to the New Moon fell at a general time, but the specific dates according to our solar calendar would vary.  They are called movable feasts because of this variance.  The Hebrew and later Jewish calendar established the time for the major festivals of the Old Testament. Since several of those Old Testament festivals figure prominently in the New Testament, the times they are observed were also adapted into Christian tradition. That explains why Easter (related to Old Testament Passover, since Holy Week occurred during the Passover Festival) and Pentecost (figured from the date of Passover) are movable feasts in Christian tradition; that is, they are calculated by the moon and not by the solar calendar, and so fall on different dates. The differences between Christian Easter and Jewish Passover are due to the development of different calendars during the last 2,000 years. Plus the fact that when the "Roman" calendar began there were 11 days left over that they just threw out since it did not fit into the typical 365 day year, 52 week solar event.  So in essence we have turned around and have adopted the Lunar Calendar as our own and the Hebrews now use the Solar Calendar for dating. Saturday or Saturnilia or satan's day, associated with Saturn. Sunday the worship of the sun god Amon, etc. The Hebrews later adopted the method of leaving the night time out of their calculations of days. Therefore sunrise to sunset was considered a day whereas the Roman calendar adopted the night and day and divided it into two sequential periods consisting of or making one day. 

For a great up to date Jewish Calendar click here