Joe Baker
Mon Jan 7, 2019 06:44

Hi Marianne

Actually, to be more precise, (ḫdš) means "month"--the course of the phases of the moon

The normal Semitic word for month derives from the root wrḫ, hence Akkadian (w)arḫa and Hebrew yrḫ (with the common Hebrew replacement of initial w by y). The biblical noun ḥdš derives from the Semitic verb stem ḥdṯ meaning, “to be new”, “renew”, from which also derives the Hebrew adjective ḥdš meaning “new”, “fresh”.

In early Hebrew the word for month was yrḫ whereas ḫdš was associated with first crescent sighting as this was when the moon was renewed. Thus in 1 Sam 20:5 Jonathan says to David, “Look, ḥdš is tomorrow and I am to sit with the king at the meal”. In later times the word ḥdš expanded to mean the entire month thereby effectively replacing the original yrḫ, possibly on religious grounds, since using the word yrḫ could be taken as a reference to Yrḫ, the Canaanite moon god. Early monarchy Israel used “indigenous” month names and a calendar that began in the autumn. By mid monarchy times the use of ordinal numbers to name months replaced these “indigenous” month names. Later under Assyrian//Babylonian influence they adopted a spring based calendar the ordinal months were reallocated so the 1st month began in the spring rather than the autumn. Thus by late monarchy times there arose a need to update earlier documents. So for example at 2 Kings 6: 38, part of the updated account of Solomon’s building of the temple reads (with later insertion in red), “in the yrḫ bwl, which is the eighth ḥdš. (It was only in post-exilic times that the Judaheans changed to using Babylonian month names).

However the early monarchy Hebrews seem to have used the Egyptian method of beginning the day at dawn. Of course, this is never explicitly said to be so because the Bible is not a record on calendrics. Now occasionally lengthy court stories do provide time references but they are ambiguous,. These refer to “today” and “tomorrow” but most references concern events during daylight hours, so one can not decide if tomorrow begins with the evening (day begins at sunset) or with the following morning (day begins at dawn). To decide between the alternatives one requires a reference to today and tomorrow made during the night.

One such example is 1 Sam 19:9-1. Saul attacked David with a spear but David escaped that night (lylh) and returned to his home. So Saul sent messengers to watch David and kill him in the morning bqr. However Michel told David to escape or else he would be killed tomorrow (mḥr). So here, a day began in the morning since during (and not before) the night, the coming morning is equated with tomorrow (and not with today, if that day had began in the evening).

Let‘s return to Jonathan’s statement that “ḥdš is tomorrow and I am to sit with the king at the meal”. How did he know ḥdš would be tomorrow? Seems obvious that the new crescent moon had been seen that evening. That is it was nighttime, after the evening, when David secretly came to meet Jonathan. So here Day 1 would begin on the morrow, that is on the morning after the new crescent sighting and the meal would have happened during the daylight hours of Day 1. After David missed this first meal he also missed the second meal on the next day (Day 2) - a day the text names as “on the morrow (mḥr), the second day of the ḥds”. The following morning (bqr), which previous statements refer to as the “third (day)”, Jonathan met David in a field outside the city and informed him that Saul still intended to harm him.

If, on the other hand, a new day (Day 1) had begun at the evening, then, when Jonathan and David met, tomorrow would start on the following evening (Day 2) and the first meal would happened during the daylight hours of Day 2 and the second meal would have happened, in contradiction to the text, during the daylight hours of Day 3 (not Day 2) and Jonathan would inform David of the outcome, in contradiction to the text, on the morning of Day 4. (not Day 3).

Regards Joe

  • Re: Egyptian Leap YearMarianne Luban, Wed Dec 5 16:19
    Actually, to be more precise, (ḫdš) means "month"--the course of the phases of the moon.
    • ḥdš — Joe Baker, Mon Jan 7 06:44
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