The Gregorian calendar is the most commonly used calendar system worldwide given that it is also the international standard. The Biblical/Hebrew (Jewish) calendar, on the other hand, is still used today by Judeans for religious purposes. The Gregorian calendar is used for secular matter and civil purposes.
Unlike the months of the Gregorian solar year (the earth relative to the sun), the months of the Hebrew year reflect the phases of the moon (luni-solar calendar). This can be seen most clearly in the length of the months. Whereas the months of the Gregorian calendar vary in length between 28 and 31 days in order to make a solar year of 365 (or, in leap years, 366) days, the months of the Hebrew year are either 29 or 3o days long. This reflects the fact that a lunar month is 29.5 days in length, and the months always must begin with the new moon.
A few of the months of the Gregorian Calendar were named after Roman and Greek gods and two Roman emperors. The rest of the months were named for the season of the year the month occurred or their placement in the calendar, particularly October, November, and December.
One thing to note is the original Roman calendar had 10 months, March to December. In 713 B.C. the first Roman king – Romulus added the months of January and February to the calendar. However, March continued to be the first month of the year until around 450 B.C.
The first day of the week in the Hebrew calendar is on Yom Rishon which is Sunday in the Gregorian calendar. The last day of the week on the Hebrew calendar is the Yom Shabbat or Sabbath Day is on Saturday. The Hebrew calendar’s first month is Nissan which begins in either March or April. The Hebrew calendar only has 354 days but adds an additional month seven times in 19 years to keep in sync with the solar year.
The Hebrew calendar also dictates the age of the earth since its creation according to the Bible in the Book of Genesis. As of the Hebrew calendar today, it is year 5783 since the creation of the earth. The Judean holidays also follow the Hebrew calendar only since using the Gregorian calendar would result to a different date every year. The Three Pilgrimage Festivals (Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot) begins in the first month of the Hebrew calendar until the third month. The Hebrew calendar also remained the same since the Old Testament.
Months In The Hebrew Calendar
The months in the Jewish calendar are based on the moon phases. Each month begins during the crescent moon when the first sliver of moon is visible after the dark New Moon.
Here are the months in the Jewish calendar with their corresponding months in the Gregorian calendar:
|Biblical (Hebrew) Calendar||Gregorian Calendar|
|Nisan (30 days)||March – April|
|Iyar (29 days)||April-May|
|Sivan (30 days)||May-June|
|Tammuz (29 days)||June-July|
|Av (30 days)||July-August|
|Elul (29 days)||August-September|
|Tishrei (30 days)||September-October|
|Cheshvan (29 or 30 days)||October-November|
|Kislev (29 or 30 days)||November-December|
|Tevet (29 days)||December-January|
|Shevat (30 days)||January-February|
|Adar (29 days or 30 days on a leap year)||February-March|
|Adar II (added during leap years, with 29 days)|
Nisan, also known as Abib or Aviv is the first month of the Hebrew calendar. This month has 30 days and it corresponds to March or April of the Gregorian calendar. This month was named Abib or Aviv in the Bible and was called the “beginning of months” by God.
Exodus 12:2 – “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year for you.”
Exodus 23:15 – “You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in [a]that month you came out of Egypt. And [b]no one is to appear before Me empty-handed.”
- 1 Nisan – The floodwaters subsided from off the earth (Genesis 8: 13)
- 14 Nisan – the Passover is celebrated (Leviticus 23:5)
- 15 Nisan – Exodus from Egypt and the Feast of Unleavened Bread is celebrated (Exodus 12: 16 – 17, Leviticus 23: 6)
- First Fruits is celebrated (Leviticus 23: 9 – 16)
- Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, dies (Numbers 20: 1)
- Nehemiah talked to King Artaxerxes about returning to Israel to rebuild Jerusalem, (Nehemiah 2: 1 – 2
Iyar is the second month of the Hebrew calendar and its name means ”rosette” or “blossom”. It has 29 days and corresponds to April or May. Before the Babylonian captivity, this month was called Ziv, a Hebrew name meaning “light” or “glow” (1 Kings 6:1; 6:37).
The Second Passover is celebrated during this month. This is a day for people to celebrate the Passover who were either unclean or out on a journey during the first Passover observance in the month of Nisan (Numbers 9: 4 – 14).
- 14 Iyar – Second Passover is celebrated (Numbers 9: 4 – 14)
- 27 Iyar – The rain started for the floodwaters (Genesis 7: 11)
- 27 Iyar – The earth was dry from the floodwaters and Noah and his family left the ark (Genesis 8: 14)
Sivan is the third month of the year, it has 30 days and occurs in May or June. The name Sivan means “season or time” was adopted during the Babylonian captivity. Lastly, the High Holiday of Shavuot occurs during this month.
- 6 / 7 Sivan – The High Holiday of Shavuot is celebrated commemorating the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai (Leviticus 23: 15 – 22; Exodus 33 – 34)
Tammuz is the fourth month of the Hebrew Calendar, it has 29 days, and occurs in June or July. The Babylonian name Tammuz is named after the Mesopotamian god Arah Dumuzid.
The Hebrews in Biblical times would fast four times in the year for significant events concerning the destruction of the first and second Temples and the destruction of Jerusalem. The first fast day occurs in the month of Tammuz. The 17th of Tammuz commemorates the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar. This day is referred to in the Bible as “the fast of the fourth month”.
The Prophet Zechariah prophesied that these fast days would turn from days of mourning and sadness to days of mirth and gladness.
Zechariah 8: 19 – “The Lord of armies says this: ‘The fast of the fourth, the fast of the fifth, the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth months will become joy, jubilation, and [a]cheerful festivals for the house of Judah; so love truth and peace.’
- 5 Tammuz – The prophet Ezekiel receives his chariot vision (Ezekiel 1)
- 9 Tammuz – The walls of Jerusalem were breached by Nebuchadnezzar II (Jeremiah 39: 2; 52: 6 – 7)
- 17 Tammuz – The golden calf was offered by the Hebrews following the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, and Moses smashing the first Ten Commandment tablets (Exodus 24; Exodus 32)
- 17 Tammuz – The walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Roman Empire
Av is the fifth month of the Hebrew Calendar, it has 30 days and occurs in July or August.
The name Av means ‘father’ in Hebrew, however, this month was named ‘the month of Abu’ or ‘Abu” which also means father in Akkadian language spoken in Ancient Mesopotamia during the Babylonian captivity.
During this month, the second of the mourning fast days of the Hebrews occurs. The 9th of Av is a fast day that remembers the destruction of Solomon’s Temple and the Second Temple. This day is referred to in the Bible as “the fast of the fifth month” (Zechariah 8: 19).
- 1 Av – The death of Aaron the High Priest (Numbers 33: 38 – 39)
- 7 / 10 Av – Solomon’s Temple was burned down and walls the Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians (2 Kings 25: 8 – 10; Jeremiah 52: 12 – 14)
- 9 Av – The Fast of the Fifth Month. The fast day to commemorate the destruction of the first and second Temples.
This is the sixth month of the Hebrew Calendar, it has 29 days and occurs in August or September. The name Elul comes from the Akkadian word for “harvest” and was adopted during the Babylonian captivity.
- 1 Elul – The Prophet Haggai commands the Hebrews to rebuild the Temple, following the return of the Hebrews from the Babylonian captivity (Haggai 1: 1 – 11)
- 24 Elul – The Lord stirred up the spirits of Zorobabel the son of Salathiel, Jesus the son of Josedec the high priest, and the remnant of the people to work on rebuilding the Temple (Haggai 1: 14 – 15)
Tishrei is the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar, it has 30 days and occurs in September or October. Its name comes from the Mesopotamian language Akkadian and it means “beginning or to begin”. The original Biblical name for this month was Ethanim or Athanin (1 Kings 8: 1 – 2).
Rosh HaShanah (the new year) was celebrated in the past during the month of Tishrei, however, this is not the Biblical new year that occurs in the month of Nisan in the spring.
The month of Ethanim or Tishrei holds the third fast day that the Hebrews observed during Biblical times. The fast of Gedaliah – honors the death of the righteous man Gedaliah, the governor placed by King Nebuchazzar over the people left in Israel following the destruction of Jerusalem. This day is called “the fast of the seventh month” (Zechariah 8: 19).
Tishrei also has the last three High Holidays – Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot.
- 1 Tishrei – Yom Teruah or the Feast of Trumpets (Leviticus 23: 23 – 25)
- 10 Tishrei – Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23: 26 – 32)
- 15 – 22 Tishrei – Sukkot or the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23: 33 – 44)
- 15 – 22 Tishrei – King Solomon dedicated the Temple and celebrated Sukkot (2 Chronicles 5:1 -3; 7:1 – 11)
- 21 Tishrei – The Lord tells Haggai to encourage the people who were sad because the Second Temple wasn’t as glorious as the First (Haggai 2: 1 – 10)
- 27 Tishrei – Noah’s Ark rested on Mount Ararat (Genesis 8: 3)
Cheshvan or Marcheshvan is the eighth month of the Hebrew calendar, its name means “eighth month” in Akkadian. The original Biblical name for this month was Bul (1 Kings 6: 38). This month is between 29 – 30 days long and occurs in October or November.
- 15 Cheshvan – King Jeroboam in an attempt to keep his kingdom appointed an alternative feast to Sukkot which was celebrated on the 15th of the eighth month (1 Kings 12: 32 – 33).
Kislev is the ninth month of the Hebrew Calendar, it has 29 – 30 days, and it occurs in November or December. The name of the month is from the Akkadian word “kislimu”. In the Bible this month is referred to as Chaseleu (Zechariah 7: 1).
The Hebrew festival of Hanukkah occurs during this month on the 25th. This festival commemorates the rededication of the Temple after it had been defiled by the Greeks during the Maccabean period. This is not a commanded High Holiday by God, but it is a wonderful time of celebration to remember this day in our history.
- 4 Kislev – The Lord spoke to the prophet Zechariah (Zechariah 7: 1 – 3)
- 15 Kislev – The Greeks set up the Abomination of Desolation in the Temple (1 Maccabees 1: 54)
- 24 Kislev – Lord spoke to Haggai to tell the people that they were defiled and calls them to live holy (Haggai 2: 11 – 24)
- 25 Kislev – The Greeks desolate the Temple by offering pagan sacrifices (1 Maccabees 1:59; 2 Maccabees 10: 5)
- 25 Kislev – 3 Tevet – The Temple is rededicated to the Lord and Hanukkah is celebrated (2 Maccabees 10: 1 – 9)
- Nehemiah was in distress at the state of Jerusalem before the Babylonian Captivity returned (Nehemiah 1: 1 – 4)
Tevet is the tenth month of the Hebrew Calendar, it has 29 days and occurs in December or January. The month of Tevet in the Babylonian calendar was called Tebetum meaning the “muddy month”.
Hanukkah celebrations continue into the month of Tevet. Tevet also holds the last fast day of the Hebrews in Biblical times. The Tenth of Tevet or “the fast of the tenth month” observes the siege of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar (Zechariah 8: 19; 2 Kings 25: 1).
- 1 Tevet – The heads of the mountains were seen as the floodwaters subsided (Genesis 8: 5).
- 25 Kislev – 3 Tevet – Hanukkah celebrations continue (2 Maccabees 10: 1 – 9).
- 10 Tevet – the Tenth of Tevet, a fast day to remember the siege of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 25: 1).
Shevat is the eleventh month of the Hebrew Calendar, it has 30 days and occurs in January or February. The name of this month is derived from the Hebrew name Sabat (Zechariah 1: 7).
- 1 Shevat – Moses repeats the Torah to the Hebrews (Deuteronomy 1: 3)
- 24 Shevat – The prophet Zechariah receives a prophecy from the Lord (Zechariah 1: 7)
Adar is the twelfth and final month of the Hebrew Calendar, it has 29 days and occurs in February or March. The name of this month was adopted during the Babylonian Captivity from the name “addaru or Adar”.
A leap month is sometimes added to the Hebrew Calendar. Adar I is the added leap month and Adar II is the original Adar. During leap years, the festival of Purim is celebrated in Adar II.
Purim or the Festival of Lots commemorates the time when the Hebrews were almost destroyed by Haman by the command of the Persian King Artaxerxes, but the Lord delivered us. This holiday is not commanded by God, but it is a wonderful time to remember our deliverance.
- Esther becomes the queen in the month of Adar (Esther 2: 16 – 18).
- 14 – 15 Adar – Purim or the Festival of Lots is observed (Esther 9: 19 – 22).
Throughout the Bible, God wanted his people to set up markers or to do things in remembrance of something he did for us. A few examples of this would be: wearing tzitzits (Deuteronomy 22: 12; Numbers 15: 37 – 41) – to remind us of God’s laws and commandments, having scripture on our walls and doorposts to remind us of his commandments (Deuteronomy 6: 6 – 9), and the setting up of the rock altar in the Jordan river to remember the crossing (Joshua 4: 1 – 11).