Calendars, Francesca Rochberg-Halton and James C. VanderKam, Anchor Bible Dictionary (ed. David Noel Freedman), Doubleday, New York 1992.


CALENDARS. A calendar is a system for arranging and calculating the standard divisions of time (days, months, years, etc.). The term is also used to refer to schedules of events such as festivals. This entry consists of two articles, one surveying the use of calendars in the ANE and the other surveying ancient Israelite and early Jewish calendars.



A. Introduction

1. The Lunisolar Calendar

2. Intercalation and the Babylonian 19-Year Cycle

B. The Babylonian Calendar

1. The Year (Akk šattu)

2. The Month (Akk arhu)

3. The Day (Akk ūmu)

C. The Assyrian Calendar

D. The Egyptian Calendar


A. Introduction

1. The Lunisolar Calendar. In most of the ancient Mediterranean, a civil calendar was developed to regulate the sacred and secular life of the state. The times for religious festivals, agricultural, fiscal, and legal activities were determined with reference to the natural intervals produced by the motion of the sun and the moon. This “lunisolar” calendar reckoned a year as the interval between successive returns of the seasons, usually beginning with spring. The month was defined as the interval between successive first appearances of the moon in its cyclical phases. The beginning of the lunar cycle is defined as the moment when, following the period of invisibility due to nearness to the sun, the lunar crescent appears again briefly on the western horizon just after sunset. The interval which constitutes the lunar month, also termed a lunation, varies in length from 29.26 to 29.80 days, and consequently is experienced as a period never less than 29 days or more than 30 days. The day, in accordance with the use of lunations, was reckoned as the interval between successive sunsets.

The lunar month was taken uniformly throughout the ANE and Mediterranean (by Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Hebrews, Arabs, and Greeks) to begin with the sighting of the first visible lunar crescent. Only the Egyptians (and later the Romans) did not conform, but instead disregarded the irregular natural time indications in favor of regular arbitrary measures, such as the fixed 30-day month or the 365-day year (see D).

2. Intercalation and the Babylonian 19-Year Cycle. Because the motions of sun and moon are not uniform with respect to one another, a lunisolar calendar, which by definition reckons months by the moon and years by the seasons, faces the problem of maintaining synchrony between the 12 lunar months and the solar year. The effect is that 12 lunations do not divide up the solar year evenly, nor do solar days divide the lunar month into equal parts. Twelve lunar months of an average 291/2-day length is 354 days, which is about 11 days less than the average length of the solar year (= 365.2492, or 3651/4 days). If no adjustment is made to compensate for the asynchrony, the months will fall 11 days behind each year, and after 3 years the sequence of months will be fully one month out of step with the season or with the activity designated to occur in a particular month, such as the barley or date harvest, or sheep shearing (discussion of seasonal activities reflected in month names may be found in Landsberger 1949- 260–65). The problem would be eminently perceptible, since after only 321/2 years a given month would pass through the entire cycle of seasons (as it did in the Middle Assyrian calendar until the time of Tiglath-pileser I; see Weidner 1935–36- 28–29).

To ensure stability in the correspondence between specific months and times of the year, whether defined agriculturally, religiously, or fiscally, an extra “intercalary” thirteenth month was added to the year, not regularly, but whenever necessary to maintain the proper “place” of a month within the solar year. In Mesopotamia, an extra sixth month (ITI.KIN.DIRI=Ulūlu arkû) or twelfth month (ITI.ŠE.DIRI=Addaru arkû) was intercalated, one or the other being preferred in various periods. Parker and Dubberstein (1942- 3) note that preference for a given intercalary month shifted from Ulūlu to Addaru, and suggest an early tradition placing the New Year in Tašrītu as an underlying reason. Intercalary Nisannu (ITI.BARA2.MIN.KAM) is occasionally attested, albeit rarely in economic texts (MUL.APIN 2.18; see also Landsberger 1915- 101; Langdon 1935- 10 and 46–47).
Intercalations were effected by royal decree. Documents from the reigns of Hammurapi, Nabonidus, Cyrus, and Cambyses attest to the procedure (Bickerman 1980- 22; RLA 5- 289; YOS- 3- 15 and 115, and 196, and further references for intercalary years in the reigns of Samsuiluna and Ammiṣaduqa). The ad hoc intercalation of months represented by the royal letters was the standard procedure for controlling the calendar throughout the ANE from approximately the 3d millennium B.C. until about the middle of the 1st (certainly until 525 B.C.).

Evidence from the 7th century B.C. shows that various procedures were developed for determining in advance whether a given year would be normal (ešret or kīnat, containing 12 lunar months) or intercalary (ezbet or atrat, containing 13 lunar months). One such procedure was based on the observation of the relation between the longitudes of the moon and the Pleiades throughout the year. The conjunction of moon and Pleiades (when they occupy the same position in the sky) on particular dates through the year indicated a normal year, while their “separation” (napalsuhu) indicated a leap year. Leap years attested in actual documents, however, indicate that the Pleiades intercalation rules were probably not implemented (Hunger and Reiner 1975). In the astronomical series MUL.APIN (Tablet 2.ii.1–6), other rules for predicting leap years using select fixed stars (Sirius, Arcturus, Pleiades) are given. Since the month in which certain fixed stars or constellations had their heliacal rising was known (e.g., Pleiades became visible on the first day of the second month, Aiaru—MUL.APIN 1.ii.38), the delayed appearance of the Pleiades in the third month instead of the second (MUL.APIN 2.Gap A.10–11) signaled the need to intercalate the year in question.

A mathematical scheme producing a regular intercalary cycle was finally introduced into the Babylonian calendar during the Achaemenid period, sometime after 500 B.C. This cycle was based on the good correspondence between the number of days in 19 solar years and 235 lunar months. When and how the nineteen-year cycle was recognized is not precisely known, although on the basis of dated documents from the reign of Artaxerxes II it clearly became the official rule from 380 B.C. Indeed, the exceptions to the rule during the preceding century, going back to 497 B.C. in the reign of Darius I, are rare (a mere two exceptions; see Neugebauer 1975- 354–55). On this basis it is argued that the establishment of the 19-year cycle is to be dated to the 5th century (see Parker and Dubberstein 1942- 1 for the possibility that it was a discovery of the reign of Nabonassar 747 B.C., and Kugler 1924- 362–71; 422–30 contra this date; Neugebauer 1975- 354–57). From 380 B.C. on, the 19-year cycle determined the intercalation of seven months every 19 years (19yr × 12m + 7m = 235m) spaced at conveniently fixed intervals, namely in years 1, 4, 7, 9, 12, 15, and 18. All intercalary years except year 18 had an extra twelfth month (Addaru arkû). The eighteenth year in the cycle had an extra sixth month (Ulūlu arkû). The 19-year cycle of intercalation, begun under the Achaemenids, remained standard for the succeeding Seleucid and Arsacid periods to the end of the cuneiform tradition.

B. The Babylonian Calendar

The Babylonian calendar was based on the three natural time intervals, the solar year (ultimately defined as the period of the return of the sun to the same fixed star, hence the sidereal year), the lunar month (from one new moon to another, defined above, A.1.), and the solar day (from one sunset to another). Further discussion of each calendaric unit follows.

1. The Year (Akk šattu). The Babylonian year began in the spring, with the month Nisannu (=March/April in the Julian calendar), and the first of the year fell approximately around the vernal equinox, but actually varied widely. During the Neo-Babylonian period (between years 626–536 B.C.), the first of Nisannu could fall between the 11th of March and 26th of April, according to the tables of Parker and Dubberstein (1942). Even after the institution of the 19-year cycle, the New Year could still vary within a 27-day range, but averaged about 14 days following vernal equinox (Kugler 1924- 333–34; RLA 5- 298–99).

Evidence is lacking from Babylonian administrative or economic documents for a civil year beginning in Tašrītu, whose name means “beginning” (see C.). Tašrītu, month 7 in the Babylonian calendar, is generally the month of the autumnal equinox. The possibility of a cultic New Year in Tašrītu, based on the performance of an akītu festival during that month (Thureau-Dangin 1921- 87; AO.6459 and 6465 contain the New Year’s ritual for Tašrītu, performed in Uruk), has found further support in letters from the Neo-Assyrian period (Parpola 1970, no. 190 r.2–10; 287 r.2–6; ABL 951 r.2; Thompson 1900, no. 16-5). The early preference for intercalary Ulūlu’s in the Babylonian calendar (noted by Parker and Dubberstein 1942- 3) is more plausibly explained by such a cultic autumn New Year, although this remains to be finally confirmed or refuted.

Before the articulation of a solar theory in the mathematical astronomy of the late Babylonian period, no value for the length of a year in days can be cited. As a consequence of the lunisolar character of the calendar, the length of the Babylonian civil year varied from year to year, depending on whether an extra lunar month was intercalated. The unit “year” was so defined for all periods of Mesopotamian history. With the development of mathematical astronomy and the derivation of number periods for cyclical phenomena (such as the return of the sun to a particular fixed star), diverse values for the length of the year are seen to underlie various computations (Neugebauer 1975- 528–29). For example, Seleucid astronomical texts from Uruk listing computed solar longitudes on consecutive dates (Neugebauer 1955, nos. 185, 186, 187) use as the value for the mean solar progress 0;59,9o/day. This produces a year of about 6,5;10,23d (Neugebauer 1975- 529). Such a year length (6,5;10d) has been identified in a procedure text from Babylon (Sachs and Neugebauer 1956- 132-3´ and 4´). Neugebauer 1955, no. 210 sec. 3-11–12 defines the year in terms of an 18-year solar cycle- [1,4]9,34,25,27,18 UD.MEŠ šá 18 MU šá dŠamaš [ana KI-š]ú GUR ina 18 BAL.MEŠ “[1,4]9,34;25,27,18 days of 18 years of the sun, returning [to] its [longitude] in 18 rotations,” meaning returns of the sun to the same fixed star (text quoted according to Neugebauer 1955- 272). This value produces a year length of 6,5;14,44,51 days. These and other year lengths (e.g., 6,5;15,36) are found as the periods of functions in Babylonian astronomy. Neugebauer has emphasized (1975- 528–29) that all the “years” underlying Babylonian astronomical computations refer to the so-called sidereal year, as no distinction was yet made between sidereal, tropical, and anomalistic years. Such distinctions presuppose recognition of precession, which has been conclusively shown to lie outside the knowledge of Babylonian astronomy.

2. The Month (Akk arhu). Although the Sum logogram ITI, “month,” is found in archaic texts from Šuruppak and from Ur, month names do not appear until the ED texts of Lagaš, Adab, and Nippur (RLA 5- 299–300; Langdon 1935- 157–58). The month names of the Ur III calendar at Nippur were eventually adopted as standard for all of Babylonia by the early OB (Isin-Larsa) and OB periods. Before this standardization, however, many Sumerian city-states had their own month name systems (Schneider 1936- 80–107). The following are the names that became standard- (1) BARA2.\LANG513 ZAG.GAR, (2) GU4.SI.SÁ, (3) SIG4.GA, (4) ŠU.NUMUN, (5) NE.NE.GAR.RA, (6) KIN.dINNIN, (7) DU6.KÙ, (8) APIN.DU8.A, (9) GAN.GAN.E, (10) AB.È, (11) ZÍZ.A, (12) ŠE.KIN.KUD. These Nippur months became the logographic writings for the following Babylonian month names- (1) Nisannu, (2) Aiaru, (3) Simanu, (4) Du˒ūzu, (5) Abu, (6) Ulūlu, (7) Tašrītu, (8) Arahsamna, (9) Kislīmu, (10) Ṭebētu, (11) Šabaṭu, (12) Addaru. In other areas of Mesopotamia (e.g., Diyala region, Chagar Bazar, Mari, and Assyria) different names were used, for which, see RLA 5- 301–2.
The Babylonian month seems to have been divided, for both fiscal and cultic purposes, into halves (designated as šapattu [written UD.15.KAM] mahrītu “first 15th day” and šapattu arkītu “second 15th day”), and into 7-day units, attested primarily in menologies and celestial omen texts, which make use of a schematic 30-day month (Langdon 1935- 83–84; 90–91).

The length of the true lunar month varied between 29 and 30 days, depending on the (variable) length of the period of the moon’s invisibility due to its nearness to the sun. The determination, in advance, of when a month will have 29 or 30 days is a complicated problem solved only in the Seleucid-period Babylonian mathematical astronomy. To predict when the new crescent moon would again appear depended not only on an ability to take into account the motion of the sun and the moon, but also on the recognition of factors affecting visibility, such as the seasonal variation in inclination of the ecliptic to the horizon.

3. The Day (Akk ūmu). Several ways of dividing the day may be identified in ancient Mesopotamia, each designed in response to a particular need. For astronomical computation with respect to the period from one sunset to the next, 12 equal intervals of 30° duration (or 120 minutes of time) termed bēru, “double-hour,” were used. For nonmathematical time reckoning, the periods of daylight and night were divided into 12 intervals termed simanu. These were not of equal duration throughout the year but varied seasonally, and so are the equivalent of the “seasonal hours” representing 1/12 of the actual period of daylight (or night) attested elsewhere in the ancient world (Rochberg-Halton fc.). Late Babylonian nonmathematical astronomical texts established another system which expressed time as the number of time degrees (UŠ, sometime bĕru and UŠ) with respect to four divisions of the day that made use of sunset and sunrise as fixed points of reference. Thus the number of UŠ were counted within the four periods (1) from sunset to midnight (GE6 GIN), (2) from midnight to sunrise (GE6 ana ZALÁG), (3) from sunrise to noon (ME NIM-a), and (4) from noon to sunset (ana ŠÚ ŠAMAŠ) (Neugebauer and Sachs 1967- 212–14; for the strictly astronomical midnight epoch, see Neugebauer 1955- 79–80).

The determination of the length of daylight through the year was a prominent part of the development both of the calendar and of astronomy. In the early period, before the 5th century B.C., the variation in the length of daylight was interpreted schematically and as a calendaric problem. The ratio of longest to shortest day was determined to be 2-1 (MUL.APIN 2.107, 111, 117, 121). The equinoxes and solstices were placed in schematic fashion in the middle of months 1, 4, 7, and 10, assuming perfect symmetry between the length of the seasons as well as the lengths of days. In fact, however, no symmetry exists in the lengths of the seasons or in the lengths of day and night. The inequality of the seasons due to the irregularity in the sun’s motion through the year was not taken into account until the Hellenistic period, at which point the length of daylight was perceived as a function of the sun’s longitude and connected with the rising times of the zodiac. The values for daylight length found in the mathematical ephemerides (“Column C”; see Neugebauer 1955- 47) and in the procedure texts (Neugebauer 1955- 187) show the ratio 3-2 for longest to shortest day, which is a useful approximation for the geographical latitude of Babylon (about 321/2o).

C. The Assyrian Calendar

The 2d-millennium Assyrian calendar has been reconstructed on the basis of texts from the reign of Šamši-Adad I (Larsen 1974- 16–17) as well as from the somewhat later archives from Kültepe (Larsen 1976- 192–93). In both periods, the New Year began in the autumn, in Šamši-Adad’s time earlier in autumn than in the OA texts from Kültepe level II (=1920–1840 B.C.; see RLA 5-299). Fall New Year was also established in the Ebla calendar (Pettinato 1974–77- 33–35). Although no intercalary month is attested in the Old Assyrian calendar, the naming of the year-eponym, by which “solar” years were identified, occurred always at the same time of year. In other words, the solar eponym-year was coordinated with the lunar months (for the exception to this in texts from Kültepe Ib, see Larsen 1976- 53, n. 18). The lack of intercalation and the consequent slipping of the seasons backward through the months in the Middle Assyrian lunar calendar has already been mentioned (above, A; Weidner 1935–36- 27–29). This changed with the Assyrian adoption of the Babylonian calendar in the 1st millennium.

An additional calendaric device was employed in the Old Assyrian calendar. This was the “week”-eponymy, in which the hamuštum period of 5 days was also designated by the names of officials. The hamuštum system is widely attested in OA commercial documents and is distinctive for the Assyrian calendar. Documents were dated by means of f4hamuštum, month, and year (=eponymy; see Larsen 1976- 354–65 with many references).

D. The Egyptian Calendar

Two developments of major importance in the history of the calendar are contributions from Egypt. These are the Egyptian civil year of 365 days (Parker 1950- 51–56) and the 24-hour division of the day (Neugebauer and Parker 1960- 116–21). The Egyptian civil year consisted of twelve 30-day months with 5 extra “epagomenal” days added at the end of each year. Because the 30-day month was divided into three 10-day “decades,” the year contained 36 such decades, plus the 5 epagomenal days. The three seasons of the Egyptian year, each four months long, were defined agriculturally, as is clear from their names- ˒ḫt, “inundation (of the Nile)”; prt, “emergence,” which was the season for farming; and šmw, “dryness.” As such, the Egyptian calendar was practical and constant, needing no intercalation of months (various lunar and cultic calendars were also used, for which, see Parker 1950- 13–50; Parker 1970; also Bickerman 1980- 41 with references).

The Egyptian civil calendar is unique in the ANE for its independence from the complicated astronomical problems endemic to the lunisolar calendars. In establishing a fixed unit for measuring time, the constant 365-day Egyptian civil year had a great advantage over the other ancient calendar years in application to astronomy. Its potential for use in astronomy, however, was not realized until the Hellenistic Greek astronomers adopted this calendar as the standard basis for computing astronomical tables. In this astronomical capacity, the Egyptian calendar remained in use during both the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

The 24-hour division of the day derives ultimately from the Egyptian practice of counting “hours” at night on the basis of the rising of certain stars called by the Greek term “decan(s).” Around 2400 B.C., Egyptians began to tell time at night by the rising of decanal stars. Originally the decans were defined by their relationship to the 36 decades of the Egyptian civil year, as each successive decade would bring the heliacal rising (first rising of a star just before sunrise after its period of invisibility) of a new decan. The decans indicated the time of night by their risings or, later, by their transits (crossing of the meridian) at 12 intervals during the night. Evidence for the use of rising stars to indicate night hours comes from 12 extant star clocks, which are diagonal diagrams of stars on the inside of coffin lids from the 9th to the 12th Dynasties (Neugebauer and Parker 1960). Although no traces remain of decans in modern astronomy, they continued to play a role in later Hellenistic and medieval astrology, defined as thirds of zodiacal signs (=10° segments of the ecliptic). The 12 intervals between the consecutive rising of one decan and the next, counted from sunset to sunrise, were a direct consequence of the 10-day spacing of the decans. Daylight hours were reckoned on a different basis, one which determined 10 “hours” for the time between sunrise and sunset, plus 2 additional hours for twilight. The resulting division of the day was 12 hours of daylight and 12 of night, or 24 hours whose length varied with the season of the year. Eventually the Hellenistic astronomers replaced these unequal seasonal hours with 24 hours of constant length (equinoctial hours) which were further subdivided, according to the Babylonian sexagesimal system, into 60 minutes. Our present system, in which one day contains 24 60-minute hours, is the historical survival of this development in Hellenistic astronomy.


Bickerman, E. J. 1980. Chronology of the Ancient World. London.

Charpin, D. 1982. Mari et le calendrier d’Ebla. RA 76- 1–6.

Hunger, H., and Reiner, E. 1975. A Scheme for Intercalary Months from Babylonia. WZKM 67- 21–28.

Kugler, F. X. 1924. Sternkunde und Sterndienst in Babel. Vol. 2. Münster.

Landsberger, B. 1915. Der kultische Kalender der Babylonier und Assyrer. LSS 6/1–2. Leipzig.

———. 1949. Jahreszeiten im Sumerisch-Akkadischen. JNES 8- 248–97.

Langdon, S. 1935. Babylonian Menologies and the Semitic Calendars. Schweich Lectures 1933. London.

Larsen, M. T. 1974. Unusual Eponymy-Datings from Mari and Assyria. RA 68- 15–24.

———. 1976. The Old Assyrian City-State and Its Colonies. Mesopotamia 4. Copenhagen.

Neugebauer, O. 1955. Astronomical Cuneiform Texts. 3 vols. London.

———. 1975. A History of Ancient Mathematical Astronomy. 3 vols. Berlin.

Neugebauer, O., and Parker, R. A. 1960. Egyptian Astronomical Texts. 1. The Early Decans. London.

Neugebauer, O., and Sachs, A. 1967. Some Atypical Astronomical Cuneiform Texts. 1. JCS 21- 183–218.

Parker, R. A. 1950. The Calendars of Ancient Egypt. SAOC 26. Chicago.

———. 1970. The Beginning of the Lunar Month in Ancient Egypt. JNES 29- 217–20.

Parker, R. A., and Dubberstein, W. 1942. Babylonian Chronology 626 B.C.–A.D. 45. SAOC 24. Chicago.

Parpola, S. 1970. Letters from Assyrian Scholars to the Kings Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal. AOAT 5/1. Kevelaer.

Pettinato, G. 1974–77. Il calendario di Ebla al tempo de re Ibbi-Sipis sulla base di TM . 75.G.427. AfO 25- 1–36.

Rochberg-Halton, F. fc. Babylonian Seasonal Hours.

Sachs, A., and Neugebauer, O. 1956. A Procedure Text concerning Solar and Lunar Motion- BM 36712. JCS 10- 131–36.

Schneider, N. 1936. Die Zeitbestimmungen der Wirtschaftsurkunden von Ur III. AnOr 13. Rome.

Thompson, R. C. 1900. Reports of the Magicians and Astrologers of Nineveh and Babylon. Vol. 1. London.

Thureau-Dangin, F. 1921. Rituels Accadiens. Osnabrück.

Weidner, E. 1935–36. Aus den Tagen eines assyrischen Schattenkönigs. AfO 10- 1–52.



One may assume that the ancestors of Israel and the early Israelites themselves followed some sort of calendar (or calendars), but the extant sources do not permit one to determine what its (their) nature may have been. No part of the Bible or even the Bible as a whole presents a full calendar; information about these matters must be gleaned from occasional, often incidental references to dates, days, months, seasons, and years. The largest amount of biblical calendrical data appears in documents that were written during the exilic or postexilic periods, while an explicit, complete calendar is not found in a Jewish text until approximately the 3d century B.C.E. when the Astronomical Book of Enoch (1 Enoch 72–82) was composed. The 362-day solar calendar which is described in it may, however, have been nonnormative. The NT has even less to offer in this regard than the Hebrew Bible- it mentions only a few dates and festivals and provides some details about when the day began. In this article the calendrical information in the Bible and in contemporary or nearly contemporary Jewish sources will be surveyed.


A. The Biblical Evidence

1. The Day

2. The Month

3. The Year

B. Sources Outside the Hebrew Bible

1. The Elephantine Papyri

2. The Wâdī ed-Dâliyeh Papyri

3. 1 Enoch 72–82

4. The Book of Jubilees

5. The Temple Scroll

6. Sectarian Texts

7. Solar and Lunar Calendars

8. The 364-Day Calendar and the Date of the Last Supper


A. The Biblical Evidence

Even though more facts about ancient Jewish calendary practices are known from extrabiblical than from biblical texts, it will be useful first to summarize the available scriptural data.

1. The Day. The word ỹm may be employed to express the general sense of “time,” but it was regularly used to refer to “day” in the stricter senses of a period of light and darkness or the time of light alone. In the Hebrew Bible one meets various terms for different parts of the day- šaḥar (dawn); bōqer (morning); ṣohŏrayim (noon); nešep (twilight); ˓ereb (evening); layl̯ (night); and ḥăṣı̂ laylâ (midnight). There are also references to the various watches of the night (e.g., Exod 14-24; Judg 7-19; 1 Sam 11-11; Lam 2-19; Matt 14-25; Mark 13-35), and Matt 20-1–16 and John 11-9 indicate that the daytime was divided into 12 hours.

Scholars have debated but not definitively settled the issue of when the day was thought to begin at various times in biblical history. Before examining the evidence, one should be aware that casual references to “day and night” and “night and day” should not be equated with official calendrical statements. R. de Vaux, for one, has maintained (AncIsr) that before the Exile the day was regarded as beginning in the morning while later the evening was considered the point when it began. He was able to adduce various earlier passages in which the order day-night occurs (e.g., Deut 28-67 [but see v 66]; 1 Sam 30-12; Isa 28-19; Jer 33-20) and later ones in which night is mentioned before day (Esth 4-16; Dan 8-14; Jdt 11-17). But texts of this nature are largely irrelevant to the question of when, technically speaking, the day began. Moreover, the order day-night also surfaces in postexilic texts (Neh 1-6). An interesting example is 2 Chr 6-20, which speaks of day and night, while its source (1 Kgs 8-29) displays the reversed order of the two.

A sounder approach is to examine passages which treat the issue more officially. All of them, as it happens, deal with cultic affairs. If there ever was an official, secular position regarding the inception of the day, the sources do not divulge it. (1) Exod 12-6, 8, 10, 18 indicate that the rituals of passover and unleavened bread are to begin the evening of 1/14 (that is, month 1, day 14) and conclude the evening of 1/21. (2) Lev 23-32 mandates that the day of atonement is to be observed “on the ninth day of the month beginning at evening, from evening to evening shall you keep your sabbath.” It is evident that the command envisages an evening–evening day, but the underlying calendar (the day of atonement is supposed to be 7/10 [23-27; cf. 16-29]) may have followed a morning–morning sequence. (3) The rules of purity (e.g., Lev 11-24–28; 15-1–12, 16–24; 22-1–9) state that the periods during which one is impure end in the evening. (4) Neh 13-19 relates that the sabbath was beginning as darkness fell. In later sources as well, this is clearly the understanding of when the day commenced (cf. CD 10-14–16; Josephus, JW 4 §9, 12; Mark 15-42; Luke 23-54–56; John 19-31–42).

For these texts, then, an evening–evening day is secure, and others are consistent with it (e.g., Gen 1-5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31; Esth 4-16; Acts 4-3). There are, however, some passages which may, if they are meant to convey exact calendrical information, entail a morning–morning pattern (e.g., Judg 19-4–9; 1 Sam 19-11; 28-19; Lev 7-15–16 [a cultic text]). Perhaps the most that can be said is that in the Second Temple period virtually all cultic texts imply that the day began in the evening. There is insufficient evidence for establishing what preexilic practices may have been. J. Baumgarten has argued that even the author of the book of Jubilees (ca. 150 B.C.), who was a staunch adherent of a solar calendar, used an evening–evening day (see 21-10; 32-16; 49-1).

The Hebrew Bible makes it clear that from early times in Israel seven days constituted a week. This week was divided into six days during which work could be performed, and it concluded with a seventh day on which labor was illegal (Exod 34-21; 23-12; 20-8–11; 35-1–3; Lev 23-3; Deut 5-12–15). The familiar creation story in Gen 1-3–2-4a lists the seven days of the first week and refers to them with ordinal numbers. In the Hebrew Bible, only the seventh day receives a special name—the sabbath—but in the New Testament the day before the sabbath is called the day of preparation (Matt 27-62; Mark 15-42; Luke 23-54; John 19-31, 42). Use of this term may, however, be related to the fact that the following sabbath was, on this occasion, also the day of Passover (see John 19-14). Units of seven days are mentioned in the legislation about the festival of weeks which was to be celebrated 50 days after the waving of the barley omer. This 50-day period is divided into seven weeks and one day (cf. Deut 16-9–10; Lev 23-15–16). It should be added that in some texts the word “week” refers to a period of seven years (e.g., Lev 25-8; Dan 9-24–27; and throughout the pseudepigraphic book of Jubilees).

2. The Month. The Hebrew Bible mentions months rather frequently but does not name them in a single manner throughout. In fact, it has been argued that there are three distinct systems of month names in the text.

a. The Canaanite Month Names. It is often claimed that the early Israelites used lunar months and called them by names which they borrowed from their Canaanite neighbors. There are indeed some Canaanite month names in the Bible, and the word for month that is found with them is regularly yeraḥ. It does not follow, however, that these months were lunar simply because this Hebrew word is etymologically related to the noun for moon (yārēăḥ) any more than it does that English-speaking people use lunar months because the term “month” is etymologically related to “moon.” It has been maintained that there are four Canaanite month names in the Hebrew Bible- Abib (Exod 13-4; 23-15; 34-18; Deut 16-1 [=the first month]), Ziv (1 Kgs 6-1, 37 [=the second month]), Ethanim (1 Kgs 8-2 [=the seventh month]), and Bul (1 Kgs 6-38 [=the eighth month]). The words “Abib” and “Ziv” have not been identified in Canaanite or Phoenician sources, but the other two have. It is of some interest that the word ḥōdeš is used with Abib (always) and with Ziv in one of its two occurrences (1 Kgs 6-1), but it is not found with the remaining two names, which always appear with yeraḥ. It is not clear, though, that the presence of two certain Canaanite month names in the Hebrew Bible indicates that the Israelites resorted to a full system of such names in an official calendar. The two undoubted Canaanite names and the name Ziv figure only in the account of Solomon’s building and dedication of the temple (which had noteworthy Canaanite connections), and even there the writer always tells the reader the corresponding number of the month. Consequently, one may be dealing with a special source at this point, and these month names may not have been in widespread or official use in Israel. In the parallel passages in 2 Chronicles the names are not given (for 1 Kgs 6-1 [Ziv], see 2 Chr 3-2; for 1 Kgs 8-2 [Ethanim], cf. 5-3). If the ordinals which are added to these months correspond with the time when they occurred in the year, these months would belong to a year which began in the spring.

b. The Numbered Months. Biblical literature which was written just before, during, and after the Exile provides many dates and calendrical hints but again offers no systematic statement about the nature of the calendar(s) employed in Judah. The most noteworthy feature of the calendrical notices in these sources is their use of ordinal numbers to designate the twelve months. References to numbered months are infrequent in 1–2 Kings but are present in the temple-building section discussed above and in the last chapter of 2 Kings which describes the Babylonian capture of Jerusalem (25-1, 3, 8, 25, 27). Some scholars have concluded from their presence in this chapter and in Jeremiah that this system came into use in Judah at approximately the time of the Babylonian Exile. The following works, many of which have undoubted priestly ties, use this nomenclature- the Priestly source; 1–2 Kings (with the exception of the Canaanite month names noted above); 1–2 Chronicles (where the Canaanite month names are eliminated from the temple section); Ezra (with one exception [6-15] in an Aramaic document in which the month when the Second Temple was completed is called Adar); Jeremiah; Ezekiel; Daniel (one example [10-4]); Haggai, and Zechariah (see 7-3–4; 8-19 for the fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh, and tenth months).

The schedules of holidays in these books are much more precise than in the earlier sources, which give only rather vague indications of dates for festivals. Ezekiel, in his blueprint for the restored temple and community (chaps. 40–48), elaborates a cultic calendar (45-18–25; cf. 46-1) which includes 1/1 (the sanctuary is cleansed through sacrifice of a young bull); 1/7 (the same procedure as for 1/1, but the sacrifice is for “anyone who has sinned through error or ignorance; so you shall make atonement for the temple” [45-20]); 1/14 (Passover, “and for seven days unleavened bread shall be eaten” [v 21]); 7/15 (a seven-day festival begins; it has the same sacrificial prescriptions as the days of unleavened bread [v 25]). Ezekiel also treats the sabbath (46-1–5) and mentions the day of the new moon (46-6; for the new moon celebration, see also 1 Sam 20-5, 18–19, 24–29; Hos 2-11; Amos 8-5). His remarkable calendar of holidays, which fails to mention the festival of weeks and proceeds from spring to autumn, draws no agricultural connections for any of the feasts.
The most detailed schedule of festivals surfaces in the priestly parts of the Pentateuch. In these sections the dates are expressed by numbered months and numbered days within the months, and the first month is in the spring. If one combines the data from the relevant priestly pericopes, one finds a full and precise list of festivals and observances-

1/1–12- a special offering is to be presented on the first of each month (Num 28-11–15);
1/14- Passover. Exod 12-2 specifies that the month of Passover is to be the first one of the year for the Israelites. The Passover lamb was to be selected on 1/10 and sacrificed on 1/14 (Exodus 12; Lev 23-5; Num 9-1–5; Num 28-16; cf. Josh 5-10).

1/15–21- Festival of Unleavened Bread (Exod 12-18–19; Lev 23-6–8; Num 28-17–25). One noteworthy ceremony which is mentioned just after the laws about this festival in Leviticus 23 is the waving of the omer by the priest (23-9–14). Lev 23-11 dates this ceremony to the “morrow of the sabbath”—a phrase whose ambiguity gave rise to disputes at a later time. The timing of the omer ceremony was especially significant because it determined the date of the festival of weeks.
2/14- The Second Passover. It was meant for those who had become impure through contact with a dead body or who were away on a journey at the time of the first Passover (Num 9-6–14; cf. 2 Chr 30-1–22).

3/?- The Festival of Weeks. Like Deut 16-9–12, Lev 23-15–16 provides for a 50-day count (“fifty days to the morrow after the seventh sabbath” [v 16]) in calculating the date for the festival of weeks; but it names as the starting point for the count “the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering [=the omer] . . .” (v 15). It is striking, however, that no date for either the omer ceremony or the festival of weeks is given. In fact, even the month in which this second pilgrim feast occurs must be inferred from other data (cf. also Num 28-26–31; Acts 2).

7/1- According to Lev 23-23–25, a “day of solemn rest” was to be observed on this date; it was to be “a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets” (v 24; see also Num 29-1–6). This observance was apparently in addition to what Num 28-11–15 requires for the first of each month. It is never called “New Year” (rō˒š haššānāh) in the Bible.

7/10- The Day of Atonement. Leviticus 16 provides the fullest description of the rites for this day; Lev 16-29; 23-27 and Num 29-7 furnish the date.

7/15–21- The Festival of Tabernacles. The date is given in Lev 23-34, 39; and Num 29-12–34. Both of these chapters also mention an eighth day (Lev 23-39; Num 29-35), though they indicate that the festival itself lasts just seven days (Lev 23-34, 36, 39, 42; Num 29-12–34). It was during this festival that Solomon dedicated the temple (1 Kgs 8-2, 65–66 [the eighth day is noted again]; 2 Chr 5-3; 7-8–10 [a “solemn assembly” was held on the eighth day]), and it was this celebration that Jeroboam redated to 8/15 (1 Kgs 12-32–33).

From these books which refer to months by ordinal numbers rather than names one can infer some additional information about them. First, that there were twelve months follows from lists such as those in 1 Kgs 4-7–19 and 1 Chr 27-1–15 and from the fact that no source ever mentions a higher number (2 Kgs 25-27 and Jer 52-31 mention the twenty-seventh or twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month as the date for King Jehoiachin’s release; cf. Ezek 32-1; the dates in the book of Esther are discussed below). That is, these texts never mention an intercalary month as nearly as one can tell. Second, the priestly chronological notes which dot the flood story suggest how long these months lasted. On 2/17 the waters begin to come (7-11); they then rise for 150 days (7-24; cf. 8-3). On 7/17 the ark comes to rest on a mountain (8-4), and on 10/1 the summits of the mountains become visible (8-5). By 1/1 the following year the water had disappeared, and on 2/27 the earth was completely dry (8-13–14). It appears that the 150 days of 7-24 and the five months from 2/17 to 7/17 refer to the same span of time. This would imply months of 30 days. It has also been argued that the length of the flood (one year and ten days) may be related to the fact that a solar year is approximately ten days longer than a lunar one, although in a lunar calendar five months would not total 150 days.

The practice of numbering months continued for a long time and is attested in some Jewish writings which postdate the Hebrew Bible. Some examples are Judith (2-1; cf. 4-13); 1–2 Maccabees; Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs; the Assumption of Moses; 1 Esdras (14-22, 48); 2 Baruch (77-18); Jubilees; 1 Enoch (72–82); 2 Enoch (1-1); Pseudo-Philo (23-1–3, 14); and the Dead Sea Scrolls (on which see below).

c. The Babylonian Month Names. Yet another practice which appears in the latest OT literature is to employ the Hebrew equivalents of the Babylonian month names. One finds this custom in Ezra (once), Nehemiah, Esther, and Zechariah—all of which are postexilic books. It is well known from later sources that the names which Jewish people gave to the months were borrowed from the Babylonian language- As j. Roš Haš. 1.56d says, “They carried the names of the months back with them from Babylonia.” These names are used alone at times but they also figure in combination with numbered months. The practice of using the Babylonian month names was a product of the Judeans’ exilic and perhaps postexilic contact with the Babylonians and Persians (who borrowed the names from the Babylonians). The Babylonian months were lunar, and the year began in the spring. It is obvious that the Jewish use of the month names entailed that the same features were transferred to the Jewish calendar. The following Babylonian names appear in the biblical sources-

Babylonian Names Hebrew Equivalents

1. Nisanu 1. Nisan (Neh 2-1; Esth 3-7 [=first])

2. Aiaru 2.

3. Simanu 3. Sivan (Esth 8-9 [=third])

4. Duzu 4.

5. Abu 5.

6. Ululu 6. Elul (Neh 6-15)

7. Tashritu 7.

8. Arahsamnu 8.

9. Kislimu 9. Chislev (Neh 1-1; Zech 7-1 [=ninth])

10. Tebutu 10. Tebet (Esth 2-16 [=tenth])

11. Shabatu 11. Shebat (Zech 1-7 [=eleventh])

12. Addaru 12. Adar (Ezra 6-15; Esth 3-7, 13; 8-12; 9-1, 15, 17, 19, 21 [=twelfth])

The twelfth month occurs so frequently in the book of Esther because it was during that month that the events which gave rise to the annual festival of Purim took place. According to Esth 9-21, Mordecai gave orders that all the Jews in the Persian Empire were to “keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar and also the fifteenth day of the same, year by year. . . .”

The Hebrew Bible, then, exhibits at least traces of three methods for naming months- with names, some of which are attested in Canaanite sources; by ordinal numbers; and by Babylonian month names. But in no case does one learn the lengths of all the months, nor is intercalary procedure ever described. It has been held that 1 Kgs 12-32 (Jeroboam dated a festival to 8/15, not 7/15 as in Jerusalem), 2 Chr 30-1–4 (Hezekiah’s Passover was celebrated on 2/14 rather than 1/14), and Ezek 4-5 (the prophet lies on his left side for 390 days) point toward intercalation of one month in some years; but these passages are far from making the case even plausible, much less compelling. One also learns nothing about the methods used for determining the beginning of a month.

3. The Year. There is no statement in the Bible about how long a year lasted, and the data about its beginning are confusing. Scholars have argued from different sets of facts that the year was thought to begin in either spring or autumn. A widely held position has been that an autumnal New Year was observed in preexilic times, while a vernal New Year came into vogue in the postexilic age. Some have also maintained (e.g., Thiele) that the kingdom of Judah began the year in autumn but the realm of Israel placed it in the spring. In treating a question of this sort, for which the evidence is sparse and difficult, it is important to remember that simultaneously there could be different inceptions for different sorts of New Years. This point is made abundantly clear by the famous passage in m. Roš Haš. 1-1- “There are four ‘New Year’ days- on the 1st of Nisan is the New Year for kings and feasts; on the 1st of Elul is the New Year for the Tithe of Cattle (R. Eleazar and R. Simeon say- The 1st of Tishri); on the 1st of Tishri is the New Year for [the reckoning of] the years [of foreign kings], of the Years of Release and Jubilee years, for the planting [of trees] and for vegetables; and the 1st of Shebat is the New Year for [fruit] trees (so the School of Shammai; and the School of Hillel say- On the 15th thereof)” (trans. Danby).

a. The Earlier Evidence. As one might expect, there is inconclusive evidence from the earlier biblical literature. The festival calendars of the sources J and E are often cited in this context as indications that the year began in the autumn in preexilic times. The J material is found in Exod 34-18–24. There the first holiday (unleavened bread) is dated to the month of Abib (i.e., the first spring month); the festival of weeks is not dated other than by its association with the wheat harvest; but the “feast of ingathering” is to be observed at the “year’s end” (tĕqûpat haššānāh [v 22]). The phrase here more literally means the “turn of the year” and clearly expresses the fact that at this point (this must be in autumn) the year has reached a significant juncture. In E (Exod 23-10–17) similar information appears, but the “feast of ingathering” is located “at the end of the year” (bĕṣē˒t haššānāh [v 16]). Hence, in the two “epic” sources, the list begins with a vernal and concludes with an autumnal holiday (cf. also Deut 16-1–17). From the two Hebrew expressions just quoted, a number of scholars have inferred that the year ended in the autumn. Here, however, it should be observed that one is dealing with an agricultural cycle which is not necessarily the same as a calendar year. It is obvious that the agricultural year concludes with the fall harvest, but whether one may deduce from that fact that a calendrical year did as well is quite another question. It seems safer to say with D. J. A. Clines- “. . . references to the ‘end’ (ṣē˒t) or the ‘turn’ (tĕqûpāh) of the year in the autumn invariably have to do with the cycle of the agricultural year or of the festival calendar insofar as it is based on the agricultural seasons, and therefore they are irrelevant to the question of the beginning of the calendar year of months” (1974- 29).

In this connection it is interesting to compare the so-called Gezer calendar which undoubtedly dates from preexilic times (ca. 925 B.C. according to Albright). It reads as follows (ANET 320 [trans. Albright])-

His two months are (olive) harvest [˒sp],

His two months are planting (grain),

His two months are late planting;

His month is hoeing up of flax.

His month is harvest of barley,

His month is harvest and feasting;

His two months are vine-tending,

His month is summer fruit.

As in J and E, the times of the year are identified by agricultural phenomena. The order of the twelve months is from autumn to summer, and the list begins with the process (˒sp) that marks the end of the cycle in J and E. Unfortunately, one does not know what the status of this “calendar” was and what purpose it served.

b. The Later Evidence. The dating systems in which the months are numbered or given Babylonian names place the first month (=Nisan) in the spring as the Babylonians did. It is difficult to determine when the numbered system was first introduced, but there is no clear evidence that it preceded the time immediately before the Babylonian Exile. Jer 36-9, 22 indicate that the ninth month occurred during the winter; this would be true only in a system which began in the spring. But there is other evidence of a conflicting nature. For example, if one pairs the dates in Neh 1-1 (Chislev [=the ninth month] in the twentieth year, apparently of King Artaxerxes) and 2-1 (Nisan [=the first month] in the king’s twentieth year) it is apparent that the monarch’s regnal years were calculated from some time other than a Nisan inception of the year. If the year began with Nisan 1, this Chislev and Nisan would be in different years. These dates are consistent with a fall inception of the year. But as one is here dealing with the regnal years of a Persian king, it is not clear that these dates indicate anything about a Jewish calendar. It is well known, of course, that in later Judaism 7/1 became the day of New Year, although Nisan continued to be regarded as the first month. To add to the puzzle, Lev 25-8–9 prescribes that the jubilee years were to begin on 7/10. Thus, the practice or practices before the Exile remain unclear, while there is evidence later for both a vernal and an autumnal inception of the year. Depending upon the topic under consideration, the autumnal New Year may have been calculated from different dates.

B. Sources Outside the Hebrew Bible

One encounters fuller calendrical details in Jewish documents which were not included in the Hebrew Bible.

1. The Elephantine Papyri. The earliest of these extrabiblical sources are the Aramaic papyri of the Jewish military colony in Elephantine on the Nile River. There are some 38 papyri that bear dates, and 22 of these have double or synchronized dates (Egyptian and Persian/Jewish). In the papyri one finds all twelve of the Babylonian/Persian month names-

Nisan (A. E. Cowley, Aramaic Papyri 21)

Iyyar (Kraeling, The Brooklyn Museum Aramaic Papyri 14)

Sivan (Kraeling 1; 5)

Tammuz (Arammic Papyri 30; Kraeling 6)

Ab (Arammic Papyri 14)

Elul (Arammic Papyri 5; 20; Kraeling 3)

Tishri (Arammic Papyri 15; Kraeling 4; 7; 8)

Marcheshvan (Arammic Papyri 17; 30; 31; Kraeling 9)

Chislev (Arammic Papyri 6; 8; 10; 13; 25)

Tebeth (Arammic Papyri 26)

Shebat (Arammic Papyri 28)

Adar (Arammic Papyre 61; 67; Kraeling 10)

Horn and Wood (1954) were able to draw no certain conclusions about whether the Jews of Elephantine had fashioned a precalculated, fixed calendar but noted strong similarities with the Babylonian system. There is no evidence among the Elephantine documents for intercalation. Horn and Wood argued that Kraeling’s text (BMAP 6) implied a civil year that ran from fall to fall, but this has been disputed.

2. The Wâdī ed-Dâliyeh Papyri. Though these mid-4th-century B.C.E. Samaritan papyri have not yet been published in full, the available evidence indicates that the authors used the Babylonian month names. Papyrus 1 reads- “on the twentieth day of Adar, year 2 (the same being) the accession year of Darius the king, in the province of Samaria” (Cross 1974- 19).

3. 1 Enoch 72–82. The next book in chronological order is the Astronomical Book of Enoch (1 Enoch 72–82), a work which appears to date from no later than the 3d century B.C.E. It is preserved in Ethiopic, but fragments of the work in the original Aramaic have been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. These indicate that the original text was probably much longer than the Ethiopic version of it. Here for the first time an extant Jewish document describes a full calendar; or, more precisely, the angel Uriel reveals its details to Enoch. In fact, it sketches two systems- a solar calendar of 364 days (72-32; 74-10, 12; 75-2; 82-4–6) and a lunar one of 354 days (73-1–17; 78-6–17). The solar year of 364 days takes a schematic form (the months are again numbered, not named)- months 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, and 11 have 30 days, while months 3, 6, 9, and 12 have 31 (72-6–32). From statements in the book about the relative lengths of day and night at different times in the year, it is obvious that the author thought the year began just after the vernal equinox (which is in the twelfth month). The summer solstice then falls in the third month, the autumnal equinox in the sixth, and the winter solstice in the ninth. Nothing is said about intercalary months, but this calendar, in which each date falls on the same day of the week every year (since 364 is exactly divisible by 7), is compared with a 354-day lunar arrangement (74-12–16; in 74-10–11 a 360-day solar calendar is compared to a 354-day lunar one—that is, the epagomenal days are not considered in these calculations). It is not clear why the author extends the comparison to eight years since in each year the lunar is ten days shorter than the solar year. But for neither the solar nor the lunar year does the writer mention intercalation; every year has the same number of days (cf. also 78-15–17; 79-3–5 where the lunar year is divided into twelve months- 1–3, 7–9 have 30 days; 4–6, 10–12 have 29 [but 78-9 mentions a month with 28 days]).

4. The Book of Jubilees. The intriguing solar calendar of 1 Enoch 72–82 was later advocated by other writers. The most vigorous of these would be the author of the book of Jubilees (ca. 150 B.C.) who strongly defended this solar arrangement against any sort of lunar calendar. In it an angel of the divine presence (thus here too it comes by revelation) tells Moses- “Now you command the Israelites to keep the years in this number—364 days. Then the year will be complete and it will not disturb its time from its days or from its festivals because everything will happen in harmony with their testimony. They will neither omit a day nor disturb a festival” (6-32). In the sequel the same angel predicts- “There will be people who carefully observe the moon with lunar observations because it is corrupt (with respect to) the seasons and is early from year to year by ten days” (6-36 [both passages are from Charles’ translation]). In other words, the author does not simply compare calendars as in 1 Enoch; he is decidedly for the solar one and implacably against the lunar arrangement which entails that sacred days are profaned and profane ones are sanctified (6-34, 37). It would be interesting to know the historical background against which the author wrote (see Dan 7-25 for a hint about a change of calendars), but it was apparently a time of calendrical dispute—at least for this writer, who was convinced that the 364-day solar calendar was the divine and anciently revealed system. It seems that Jubilees, too, does not deal with the problem of intercalation, although it has been claimed that 6-31, 33, which prohibit “transgressing” the proper year, originally read “intercalate” (the two words would be identical in a Hebrew consonantal text). In whichever way these verses are read, the result is the same- there is no intercalation, so that festivals, which had agricultural ties, would soon be celebrated at the wrong time relative to the agricultural cycle.

Jubilees, with its special calendar (months are again numbered), is able to provide a precise date for the festival of weeks—something not found in any earlier source. The author dates it to 3/15 (15-1 [“in the third month, in the middle of the month”]; 44-4–5) and associates this date with the covenants made with Noah (6-17–22), Abram (14-20), and Moses (cf. 1-1). Though Jubilees does not mention the ceremony of waving the omer, its calendar implies that it occurred on 1/26 (that is, the day after the sabbath [= the morrow of the sabbath] which follows the festival of unleavened bread). The book also mentions that the first days of months 1, 4, 7, and 10 were special memorial days (each recalls an incident during the flood [6-23–29]); and it speaks rather vaguely about times for the second tithe of “seed,” wine, and oil (32-10–14). Finally, Jubilees claims that the day of atonement was instituted to mark the time when Jacob learned of Joseph’s “death” (34-17–19); and it, like several biblical works, notes an additional eighth day for the festival of tabernacles (32-4–29).

5. The Temple Scroll. The Temple Scroll found at Qumran (11QTemple) offers more extrabiblical information about the same calendar of twelve numbered months, the total of whose days was 364. The date of the document is uncertain. The editor Y. Yadin (1983) thought it came from the time of John Hyrcanus (135–104 B.C.E.) or slightly earlier, while others argue that it was written closer to 200 B.C.E. As Yadin has unraveled the cultic calendar (especially in columns 12–29) found in this long but still fragmentary scroll, it can be sketched as follows-

1/1–8 Days of Ordination for Priests

1/14 Passover

1/26 Waving of the Omer (=The Festival of Firstfruits of Barley)

[2/14 The second Passover (perhaps in a lost part of a column)]

3/15 The Festival of Weeks (=The Festival of Firstfruits of Wheat)

5/3 Festival of New Wine

6/22 Festival of Oil

6/23–29? Festival of the Offering of Wood (cf. Neh 10-34)

7/1 Day of Rememberance

7/10 Day of Atonement

7/15 Festival of Booths

A matter of special interest is the series of firstfruits festivals which the author describes and dates. In this system, as understood by Yadin, the day of the waving of the omer (1/26) and the festival of weeks (3/15) are separated, as the Bible prescribes, by seven full weeks. The count begins and ends on a Sunday. The same temporal span separates the festival of weeks (3/15) from the festival of new wine (5/3), and the latter occurs seven full weeks before the festival of oil (6/22). That is, the biblical prescriptions for calculating the date of the festival of weeks from the day the omer was waved have been extended to these other three firstfruits festivals. Indeed, very similar language is used in each case (see 18-10–13; 19-11–13; 21-12–14; compare Jubilees 32-10–14). In calculating these exact dates, Yadin was dependent on several bits of data, an important one of which is a fragmentary statement from an unpublished Qumran ms which gives the date 6/22 for a festival of oil (the Hebrew word used for oil—hšmn—is not the same as the one in the Temple Scroll for this festival—yṣhr). If one accepts this date as relevant for the festival of oil in the Temple Scroll, and if the last day of one count (i.e., the holiday itself) is also regarded as the first of the next count, every date mentioned fits the Enoch/Jubilees 364-day solar calendar.

6. Sectarian Texts. 1 Enoch, Jubilees, and the Temple Scroll may have been written before the Qumran community settled on the shores of the Dead Sea, but the presence of copies of each testifies to the fact that they were used and studied at the Essene settlement. Hence it is not surprising to discover that the 364-day calendar is also attested among the sectarian documents. Indeed, it has been surmised that a calendrical dispute with the priestly establishment in Jerusalem was a precipitating factor in the exodus of the Essenes from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea. Evidence that the group followed a calendar that differed from the mainline one appears in 1QpHab 11-4–9 which indicates that the Wicked Priest—the archvillain for the covenanters and apparently the reigning high priest—appeared (at Qumran?) on the day of atonement. Since the ritual for this solemn day required that the high priest be at the temple, it is highly unlikely that he would have chosen this day for settling accounts with the Teacher of Righteousness. A reasonable inference is that the day of atonement fell on different days for the two protagonists because they lived by different cultic calendars.

It was clear when scholars began studying the scrolls that observance of the festivals at the proper time was a point that the authors considered worthy of emphasis (1QS 1-13–15), but the precise nature of the Qumran calendar was not demonstrated until several other texts were published. The only text which simply states that the year contains 364 days is “David’s Compositions”—part of the Cave 11 Psalms Scroll which the editor has dated paleographically to the 1st century A.D. It asserts, as it enumerates David’s literary output- “And he wrote 3,600 psalms; and songs to sing before the altar over the whole-burnt tamid offering every day, for all the days of the year, 364; and for the qorban [offering] of the Sabbaths, 52 songs; and for the qorban of the New Moons [the phrase should be translated “firsts of the months”] and for all the Solemn Assemblies and for the Day of Atonement, 30 songs” (11QPsª 27.4–8; Sanders’ translation). The last line (1.11) adds that David spoke all these “through prophecy which was given him from before the Most High.”

There are several other indications in the scrolls that the same calendar was known and used. A text named Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifices (11QShirShabb) appears to employ it, and the War Scroll refers to 26 priestly “heads of courses” (1QM 2.1), whereas 1 Chr 24-7–18 lists just 24 such courses or shifts of temple duty. If there were 26 priestly groups who rotated temple service (and it is known from other sources that each served for two weeks during a year—one week in the first part, one in the second), then the number fits a 52-week year (note the 52 “fathers of the congregation” in 1.1) exactly, unlike the number 24. Further information about the priestly courses comes from an unpublished document, parts of which J. T. Milik quoted in 1957. This text (4QMišmārôt [the term for the priestly shifts]) gives the name of the priestly family which was serving in the temple on the various holidays and also the number of the day within its week on which the festival fell. By using the list of priestly courses in 1 Chr 24-7–18, one can calculate exactly when the feasts were celebrated and every feast fits the dates known from Jubilees and the Temple Scroll. The available part of the text reads-

The first year, its festivals

On the third (day)in Maoziah—Passover [= 1/14]

[On the first (day) in Jeda[iah]—the waving of the [omer] [= 1/26]

On the fifth (day) in Seorim—the [Second] Passover [= 2/14]

On the first (day) in Jeshua—the Festival of Weeks [= 3/15]

[On] the fourth (day) in Maoziah—the Day of Rememberance [= 7/1]

[On] the sixth (day) in Joiarib—the Day of Atonement [= 7/10]

[On the fourth (day) in Jeda]iah—the Festival of Booths [= 7/15]

One interesting feature of this list is that only names found in 1 Chr 24-7–18 are used. That is, though the year is divided into 26 periods of service, they are filled by 24 groups. Consequently, the time of service for each group would vary from year to year. This appears to be the meaning of the reference to the “first year” in the initial line of the mišmārôt text.

Milik has also discussed some texts which evidence a concern to synchronize this 364-day system with a lunisolar calendar which had 354 days in a year, with one 30-day month added every third year. He has mentioned a line from the mišmārôt text which reads- “in the sixth (day) in Jehezkel, on the 29th in the 22nd of the eleventh (month).” He has interpreted the extra date (the 29th) as a reference to the same date in a lunisolar calendar, while 11/22 would be its equivalent in the 364-day system. He has also alluded to a six-year priestly roster which he thinks reflects the sect’s interest in synchronizing its calendar with this schematic lunisolar one. The two would synchronize every three years, but it would take six years for the time of duty of one’s course to return to its original period in the year.

7. Solar and Lunar Calendars. The 364-day calendar was known and perhaps practiced from at least the 3d century B.C.E. to the 1st century A.D. If it was used over such a span of time, the issue of intercalation would have become acute as each year the calendar would deviate another 1/41 days from the true solar year. The earlier sources (1 Enoch, Jubilees [though see the comment on 6-31, 33 above], and the Temple Scroll) fail to deal with the problem, while some of the scrolls appear to show interest in synchronizing this arrangement with a schematic lunisolar calendar. It should be noted that this dearth of information about intercalation within the 364-day calendar is more than balanced by the complete lack of information in the sources about what may have been the calendar of the “mainline” Jewish community during these centuries. About this no contemporary or near contemporary source supplies any details. It may be that the 364-day calendar was followed only by fringe groups; even so, much more is known about it than about what might have been the calendar of the Jerusalem authorities in diffe

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