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Bible History

The Jewish Year

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A.       Sacred or Ceremonial Year 

1.     Begins with Abib (Nisan) which runs roughly from March to April

2.     Established when Israel was brought out of Egypt (Ex.12:1-2; Lev.23:5)

3.     The calendar by which the Jewish feasts are determined 

B.       Secular or Civil Year 

1.     Begins with Ethanim which runs roughly from September to October

2.     The Feast of Trumpets (Lev.23:23-25) , called Rosh Hashanah, is the Jewish New Year (see Ex.34:22; 23:16; Lev.23:39)

3.     The first month of the secular year is the same as the seventh month of the sacred year and visa versa  

C.       Growing Seasons 

1.     Israel averages from 2 to 22 inches of rain per year with more rain as you go north.  From 10 to 12 inches of rain is the minimum needed to have a harvest each year.  In much of the south, rain-watered crops are not possible.

2.     Israelís main growing season is during the winter when most of the rain comes.  The summer is so dry that very little can grow.  Barley and wheat are sown at the beginning of the rainy season (Oct.-Nov.) and harvested at the end (Apr.-May).  These rains are called the former and the latter rains in scripture (Deut.11:14; Job 29:23; Prov.16:15; Jer.3:3; 5:24; Hos.6:3; Joel 2:23; Zech.10:1; Jas.5:7) 

D.       Months of the Jewish Year 

1.     Abib or Nisan

a.       1st sacred; 7th secular

b.       March-April

c.       Exodus 12:2; 13:4; 23:15; 34:18; Deuteronomy 16:1; Nehemiah 2:1; Esther 3:7

d.       Time of the latter rain; beginning of barley and flax harvest

e.       Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits 

2.     Ziv or Iyyar (non-biblical name)

a.       2nd sacred; 8th secular

b.       April-May

c.       I Kings 6:1,27

d.       Barley harvest; beginning of dry season 

3.     Sivan

a.       3rd sacred; 9th secular

b.       May-June

c.       Esther 8:9

d.       Wheat harvest

e.       Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) 

4.     Tammuz (non-biblical name)

a.       4th sacred; 10th secular

b.       June-July

c.       Time of tending vines 

5.     Ab (non-biblical name)

a.       5th sacred; 11th secular

b.       July-August

c.       Ripening of grapes, figs and olives 

6.     Elul

a.       6th sacred; 12th secular

b.       August-September

c.       Nehemiah 6:15

d.       Processing grapes, figs and olives 

7.     Ethanim or Tishri (non-biblical name)

a.       7th sacred; 1st secular

b.       September-October

c.       I Kings 8:2

d.       Early rains begin; time of plowing

e.       Feasts of Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles 

8.     Bul

a.       8th sacred; 2nd secular

b.       October-November

c.       I Kings 6:38

d.       Sowing of wheat and barley 

9.     Kislev

a.       9th sacred; 3rd secular

b.       November-December

c.       Nehemiah 1:1; Zechariah 7:1

d.       Time of winter rains

e.       Feast of Hanukkah (Dedication) 

10. Tebeth

a.       10th sacred; 4th secular

b.       December-January

c.       Esther 2:16 

11. Shebat

a.       11th sacred; 5th secular

b.       January-February

c.       Zechariah 1:7 

12. Adar

a.       12th sacred; 6th secular

b.       February- March

c.       Ezra 6:15; Esther 3:7,13; 8:12; 9:1,15,16,19,21

d.       Almond trees bloom; citrus fruit harvest

e.       Feast of Purim 

13. Second Adar

a.       A calendar correction

b.       Added about every three years so the lunar calendar would correspond to the solar year 


A.       Established at Creation (Gen.2:1-3) 

B.       Given to Israel (Ex.31:12-17) 

C.       Not Given to the Gentiles as a Law 

1.     Only one of the ten commandments not repeated in the New Testament

2.     No man to be judged for not keeping it (Col.2:16-17) 

D.       A Day of Rest (Ex.20:8-11; 35:1-3; Lev.23:3) 


A.       Feast of the Passover (Lev.23:4-5) 

1.     The 14th day of the 1st month

2.     Passover meal eaten at even

3.     Established at the time of the 10th plague as a remembrance to the deliverance from Egypt (Ex.11:1-10; 12:1-20)

4.     A type of the crucifixion (I Cor.5:7; I Pet.2:24; 3:18)

5.     The day of the crucifixion Ė from 6PM to 6PM

a.       Passover meal eaten

b.       Lordís Supper instituted

c.       Prayer and arrest in Gethsemane

d.       Trial before High Priest

e.       Appearance before Herod

f.         Trial before Pilate

g.       Crucifixion

h.       Burial 

B.       Feast of Unleavened Bread (Lev.23:6-8) 

1.     The 15th day of the 1st month lasting through the 21st day

2.     Unleavened bread eaten throughout

3.     No work to be done on the 1st and 7th days of the feast

4.     A burnt offering made every day

5.     A type of the holy sacrifice of Christ (Num.28:17-19; Lev.1:1-3 with II Cor.5:21; I Pet.2:22; I John 3:5) 

C.       Feast of the Firstfruits (Lev.23:9-14) 

1.     On the morrow after the sabbath following the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  This would always be a Sunday.

2.     The Feast of Unleavened Bread is on a particular day of the month and therefore the day of the week will change from year to year (as a birthday).  Since the Feast of Firstfruits is on a particular day of the week (Sunday), the gap between the two feasts will not be the same each year.  On the year Christ died, the Feast of the Passover occurred on the day of His crucifixion and the Feast of Firstfruits occurred on the day of His resurrection.

3.     A sheaf of firstfruits is waved before the Lord

4.     A type of the resurrection of Christ (I Cor.15:19-23) 

D.       Feast of Weeks or Pentecost (Lev.23:15-22) 

1.     Fifty days from the Feast of Firstfruits (inclusive of both feast days)

2.     A new meat offering made

3.     A type of the New Testament Day of Pentecost when the believers were baptized with the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:1-4; Rom.8:9) 

E.       Feast of Trumpets (Lev.23:23-25) 

1.     The 1st day of the 7th month

2.     The Jewish New Year

3.     No work to be done

4.     Commemorated by the blowing of trumpets

5.     A type of the coming of Christ (I Cor.15:51-52; I Thes.4:16-17; Rev.8:2,6; Matt.24:30-31) 

F.        Day of Atonement (Lev.23:26-32) 

1.     The 10th day of the 7th month

2.     No work to be done

3.     A day to afflict their souls (v.27,29)

4.     The day of the annual offering by the high priest in the most holy place (Leviticus 16)

5.     A type of the coming redemption:

a.       Of Israel (Isa.66:5-9; Rom.11:25-29)

b.       Of creation (Rom.8:19-23) 

G.       Feast of Tabernacles (Lev.23:33-44) 

1.     The 15th day of the 7th month until the 22 day

2.     No work to be done on the 1st and 8th day of the feast

3.     To live in roughly constructed booths for seven days (v.40-42)

4.     Commemorates the time Israel wandered in the wilderness (v.43)

5.     A type of the future time when God will make His dwelling place with man (Rev.21:3-6) 

IV.                SPECIAL YEARS 

A.       Sabbath Year (Lev.25:1-7) 

1.     Every 7th year

2.     A year of rest for the land

3.     Israel disobedient to this command (Lev.26:34-35; II Chron.36:21) 

B.       Year of Jubilee (Lev.25:8-55) 

1.     Every 50th year after the 7th sabbath year

2.     Land to be returned to original family owners

3.     Slaves to be freed

4.     Debts to be forgiven

5.     Land to rest (v.11)

6.     Godís provision promised (v.20-22)


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