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Question:

I'm confused by the Hebrew names of the months in the Bible. Can you make some sense of their calendar?

Answer:

Good question! Most people don't even notice that the Hebrew months are called by different names, as we read the Scriptures.

The Strange Hebrew Calendar

Before Exodus 12:2, the Children of Israel used the Hebrew "numbers" 1 through 12 for the "names" of the months. ( the First month, the Second month etc).

In Exodus 12:2, as the Children of Israel were preparing to leave Egypt, God gave Israel a new calendar.

The Children of Israel used the names of their God-Given Calendar for hundreds of years, until their Babylonian captivity, around 586 BC, but, during their Babylonian Captivity, they slowly began to use the calendar names of Babylon.

So, this is why we find the first month named "Abib" by God as stated in Ex 13:4 and 23:15, and 34:18, and Deut 16:1, but, during, and after the Babylonian captivity, the Children of Israel called the first month "Nisan", as in Neh 2:1 and Esth 3:7.

To add to the confusion, both the God-Given and Babylonian Calendar names are spelled differently in commentaries and different Bible Versions.

Amazingly, today the Jews only use the Babylonian calendar names in their "Sacred Calendar", and it is very difficult to find any information on the original calendar names that God gave Moses and the Children of Israel.

The only reason the Jews use the Babylonian calendar names, that I have found, is that God told them "not to look back", when they were leaving Egypt! Another reason I have read is that the Jewish people want to "commemorate being freed from their Babylonian captivity"!

Unbelievably the name of the Babylonian 4th month is "Tammuz", the pagan counterfeit of our Lord Jesus Christ!

I would think it would be more important to "commemorate" God giving them "names" for the months of their calendar!

The Hebrew Calendar Names in our King James Bible:

1. Only 4 of the original God-given names are used in the Bible:

1st Month, "Abib" in the KJV: Exodus 13:4, 23:15, 34:18, Deuteronomy 16:1.

2nd Month, "Zif" in the KJV: 1 Kings 6:1, 6:37.

7th Month, "Ethanim" in the KJV: 1 Kings 8:2.

8th Month, "Bul" in the KJV : 1 Kings 6:38.

2. Only 7 of the Babylonian Calendar names occur in our Old Testament, during, and after the Babylonian captivity:

1st Month, "Nisan" KJV Esther 3:7, Nehemiah 2:1.

3rd Month, "Sivan" KJV Esther 8:9.

6th Month, "Elul" KJV Nehemiah 6:15

9th Month, "Chisleu" KJV" Nehemiah 1:1, Zechariah 7:1.

10th Month, "Tebeth" KJV Esther 2:16.

11th Month, "Sebat" KJV Zechariah 1:7.

12th Month, "Adar" KJV Ezra 6:15, Esther 3:7, 3:13, 8:12, 9:1, 9:15, 9:17, 9:19, and 9:21.

3. The tenth and eleventh Babylonian months are mysteriously swapped in the Post-Exilic (and the modern) Hebrew calendar.

God-Given Hebrew Month Names

Month Number

Babylonian Month Name

Month Number

Post-Exilic Month Names in Hebrew

- 'aviyv / Aviv (Pre-Exilic) "Abib" KJV Exodus 13:4, 23:15, 34:18, Deuteronomy 16:1

1

Nisanu

1

Nissan / Niyan "Nisan" KJV Esther 3:7, Nehemiah 2:1

- Ziv (Pre-Exilic) "Zif" KJV 1 Kings 6:1, 6:37

2

Ayaru

2

- Iyar / Iyyar. No mention in the Hebrew Bible

 

3

Simanu

3

iyvan / Si'-van "Sivan" KJV Esther 8:9

 

4

Du'uzu

4

Tammuz, Tamuz, Thammuz, or Thamuz No mention in the Hebrew Bible

 

5

Abu

5

Av - No mention in the Hebrew Bible

 

6

Ululu

6

Eluwl "Elul" (KJV) Nehemiah 6:15


- Eisanim / 'Eythaniym (Pre-Exilic) "Ethanim" KJV 1 Kings 8:2

7

Tashritu

7

No mention of Tishrei, Tishri, Tisrei, or Tisri in the Hebrew Bible


- Buwl (Pre-Exilic) "Bul" KJV 1 Kings 6:38

8

Arach-Samna / Arakhsamna / Arachsamna

8

No mention of Cheshvan, Marcheshvan, Heshvan, Marheshvan, Heshwan, or keswan in the Hebrew Bible

 

9

Kislimu

9

Kislev / Kiclev / "Chisleu" KJV" Nehemiah 1:1, Zechariah 7:1

 

10

Tebetu

11

Tevet / Teveth / tava' / taval - "Tebeth" KJV Esther 2:16

 

11

Shabatu

10

Shevat / "Sebat" KJV Zechariah 1:7

 

12

Adaru

12

Addar / Ataroth-"Adar" KJV Ezra 6:15, and Esther 3:7, 3:13, 8:12, 9:1, 9:15, 9:17, 9:19, and 9:21

Strange, isn't it!

At least, this should help us understand the "strange Hebrew month names" when we find them in the Scriptures!

Bob