The Israelites used a lunar calendar before


Aristeo Canlas Fernando
Peace Crusader and Echo of the Holy Spirit


A lunar calendar is based on the revolution of the moon around the earth which is 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 2.8 seconds or 29.5306 days in a month.  In a year or twelve months, this amounts to 354 or 355 days, short by about eleven days from a solar calendar, like the present Gregorian calendar or the proposed Aristean calendar.  A lunar calendar retrogresses through the seasons.  The first month, for example, would be in spring.  After a few years, the same first month would be in winter.  Then in autumn.  Then in summer.  And then back in spring again.  It takes about 33 lunar years for a month to be in about the same season it starts with.  For a particular day, say the first day of the first month, to be in the same location in the solar system, it takes 235 lunar months or 228 solar years + 1 day.

Since their exodus from Egypt, the Israelites had been using a lunar calendar.  Their festivals were in this calendar.  The fourteenth day of the first month was the Passover.  The fifteen to the twenty-first day was the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Pesach).  On the seventh month, they held the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) on the tenth and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkoth) from the fifteenth to the twenty-second of the month.

The Israelites first designated the months of the years as the first month, the second month, the third month, etc.  Later, during the time of Solomon, the months were named.  The Bible lists only three of these named months, namely: Zif, the second month (1 Kings 6:1, 37); Ethanim, the seventh month (1 Kings 8:2); and Bul, the eighth month (1 Kings 6:38).

The Holy Bible gives us proofs of this use of a lunar calendar.  These are in 1 Kings 4:7-19 and 1 Chronicle 27:1-15.  The first verses tell us that there were twelve months only in the year and the succeeding verses list the people assigned in each of the twelve months.  All the quoted verses herein are from the King James Version of the Bible.

1 Kings 4:7 – And Solomon had twelve officers over all Israel, which provided victuals for the king and his household: each man his month in a year made provision.

1 Kings 4:8-19 list the assigned officers.
8  And these are their names:  The son of Hur, in mount Ephraim:
9  The son of Dekar, in Makaz, and in Shaalbim, and Bethshemesh, and Elonbethhanan:
10  The son of Hesed, in Aruboth; to him pertained Sochoh, and all the land of Hepher:
11  The son of Abinadab, in all the region of Dor; which had Taphath the daughter of Solomon to wife:
12  Baana the son of Ahilud; to him pertained Taanach and Megiddo, and all Bethshean, which is by Zartanah beneath Jezreel, from Bethshean to Abelmeholah, even unto the place that is beyond Jokneam:
13  The son of Geber, in Ramothgilead; to him pertained the towns of Jair the son of Manasseh, which are in Gilead; to him also pertained the region of Argob, which is in Bashan, threescore great cities with walls and brazen bars;
14  Ahinadab the son of Iddo had Mahanaim:
15  Ahimaaz was in Naphtali; he also took Basmath the daughter of Solomon to wife:
16  Baanah the son of Hushai was in Asher and in Aloth:
17  Jehoshaphat the son of Paruah, in Issachar:
18  Shimei the son of Elah, in Benjamin:
19  Geber the son of Uri was in the country of Gilead, in the country of Sihon king of the Amorites, and of Og king of Bashan; and he was the only officer which was in the land.

1 Kings 4:27 repeats 1 Kings 4:7, to wit: And those officers provided victual for king Solomon, and for all that came unto king Solomon’s table, every man in his month: they lacked nothing.

1 Chronicle 27:1 – Now the children of Israel after their number, to wit, the chief fathers and captains of thousands and hundreds, and their officers that served the king in any matter of the courses, which came in and went out month by month throughout all the months of the year, of every course were twenty and four thousand.

The assigned captains of 24,000 people each are listed in 1 Chronicle 27:2-15.
2  Over the first course for the first month was Jashobeam the son of Zabdiel: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
3  Of the children of Perez was the chief of all the captains of the host for the first month.
4  And over the course of the second month was Dodai an Ahohite, and of his course was Mikloth also the ruler: in his course likewise were twenty and four thousand.
5  The third captain of the host for the third month was Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, a chief priest: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
6  This is that Benaiah, who was mighty among the thirty, and above the thirty: and in his course was Ammizabad his son.
7  The fourth captain for the fourth month was Asahel the brother of Joab, and Zebadiah his son after him: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
8  The fifth captain for the fifth month was Shamhuth the Izrahite: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
9  The sixth captain for the sixth month was Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
10  The seventh captain for the seventh month was Helez the Pelonite, of the children of Ephraim: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
11  The eighth captain for the eighth month was Sibbecai the Hushathite, of the Zarhites: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
12  The ninth captain for the ninth month was Abiezer the Anetothite, of the Benjamites: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
13  The tenth captain for the tenth month was Maharai the Netophathite, of the Zarhites; and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
14  The eleventh captain for the eleventh month was Benaiah the Pirathonite, of the children of Ephraim: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.
15  The twelfth captain for the twelfth month was Heldai the Netophathite, of Othniel: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.

The lunar calendar was used from the time of exodus until AD 358/359.  When Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians during the seventh century BC, the Israelites were exiled to Babylon.  At Babylon, they learned about the lunisolar calendar used by their conquerors.  They adopted this calendar when they returned to Jerusalem.  However, they continued to use their lunar calendar.  The lunar and lunisolar calendars were used until AD 358/359.  Hence, during the time of Jesus, the Israelites were using two calendars.

In the entire Bible, there is no mention of any thirteen month.  It only shows that it did not exist, especially important prior to the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians.  This only indicates that the calendar that the Israelites used was a purely lunar calendar.

In AD 358/359,  Hillel II reformed the Jewish calendar by merging the two calendars and came up with a form that is in use today.


File name:  lunarcalendar.htm                                      First uploaded:  2009-07-21
URL:                Revised:  2014-07-30      Rev. 1

Copyright © 2009 Aristeo Canlas Fernando
All rights reserved.


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by James clipper on 2013-11-09 at 3:00 pm

    Do the lunar and gregorian days fall on same day? Ex: if today is monday on gregorian is it monday on lunar or another?


    • 20131110T1800
      The Jewish calendar day begins its day when the sun sets, assumed to be 6pm. The Jewish calendar is a lunisolar calendar but technically, is still a lunar calendar. The Gregorian calendar date begins its day at midnight. It is a solar calendar. So from 6pm to midnight, on the Jewish calendar, it is already 2013-11-11, Monday, whereas it is still 2013-11-10, Sunday, in the Gregorian calendar. After midnight, both the Jewish calendar and the Gregorian calendar would be aligned until the sun sets or 6pm the following day.


  2. Posted by James clipper on 2013-11-09 at 3:05 pm

    Do lunar and gregorian days align? Ex: if today is monday on gregorian what day is it on lunar?


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