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Ab is the Jewish name for the fifth month in the religious calendar and the eleventh month of the civil calendar. This non-biblical name began to be used during the Babylonian captivity. The Bible simply calls this month the “fifth month.” This designation is found ten times in the Bible: Numbers 33:38; 2Kings 25:8; 1Chronicles 27:8; Ezra 7:8, 9; Jeremiah 1:3; 28:1; 52:12; Ezekiel 20:1; Zechariah 7:3. Some of the events of the fifth month include:

  1. Aaron died on Mount Hor on the first day of the fifth month in 1423BC [Reese] (Numbers 33:38).
  2. The false prophet Hananiah prophesied the defeat of Babylon and was rebuked by Jeremiah in the fifth month in 594BC [Reese] (Jeremiah 28:1).
  3. Ezekiel prophesied of the coming judgment of God on Israel and the mercy to follow on the tenth day of the fifth month in 591 BC [Reese] (Ezekiel 20:1). This chapter closes with a prophecy of fire on the land.
  4. The Babylonian general Nebuzaradan burned Jerusalem on the seventh day of the fifth month in 586BC [Reese] (2Kings 25:8-9).
  5. Jerusalem was carried away captive in the fifth month (Jeremiah 1:3). This occurred on the tenth day of the fifth month in 586BC [Reese] after the destruction of Jerusalem by fire (Jeremiah 52:12-16).
  6. Zechariah was asked as to the propriety of continuing the fast of the fifth month in 519BC [Reese] (Zechariah 7:3-5). The fast was established to mourn the destruction of Jerusalem, but now Jerusalem was being restored.
  7. Ezra arrived at Jerusalem from Babylon on the first day of the fifth month in 458BC [Reese] (Ezra 7:8-9).

The month of Ab begins with the new moon of August and always has thirty days. According to Jewish tradition, the Israelites were excluded from entering the Promised Land (Numbers 14:30) on the ninth day of the fifth month. The fifteenth day of the month was the festival of the bringing of wood into the Temple (compare Nehemiah 11:34; 13:31). On the eighteenth day of the month was a fast in memory of the extinction of the western lamp of the Temple during the wicked reign of Ahaz (2 Chronicles 29:7). Agriculturally, the month of Ab is known in Israel as the time for the ripening of grapes, figs, and olives.