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.
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 1 Kings 6:37 ) Bul, the eighth, ( 1 Kings 6:38 ) and Ethanim, the seventh. ( 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 int he 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; 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.
munth (chodhesh, yerach; men):
Chodhesh is strictly the "new moon," the appearance of which marked the beginning of the month, commonly indicated by ro'sh ha-chodhesh. Yerach is derived from yareach, "moon," which comes from the verb that means "to wander," "to make a circuit." Thus the month was lunar, the period of the moon's circuit. The Greek men also meant "moon," from the Sanskrit ma, "to measure," the Latin mensis and our "moon" being derived from the same root.
See CALENDAR; TIME; ASTRONOMY.
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