The Gezer calendar is a small inscribed limestone tablet discovered in by Irish archaeologist R. Stewart Macalister in the ancient Canaanite city of Gezer , 20 miles west of Jerusalem. It is commonly dated to the 10th century BCE, although the excavation was unstratified  and its identification during the excavations was not in a "secure archaeological context", presenting uncertainty around the dating. Scholars are divided as to whether the language is Phoenician or Hebrew and whether the script is Phoenician or Proto-Canaanite or paleo-Hebrew. The calendar is inscribed on a limestone plaque and describes monthly or bi-monthly periods and attributes to each a duty such as harvest, planting, or tending specific crops.
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No further explanation is given for the importance of the Day of Blasting, nor for why one would blast a shofar on that day. Tishrei, Nisan, and the standard Hebrew month names as we now know them do not appear in the Torah, but only in later books of the Tanakh, having been adopted from Mesopotamian civilization, and the Akkadian language, about years ago.
Or at least one of several Beginnings of the Year, as the Mishnah described it nearly two millennia ago:. In various cultures the existence of parallel and overlapping calendars is not unheard of.
This is certainly the case among the Maya in Mesoamerica. Was this perhaps only the result of borrowing from Mesopotamian pagan culture during the Babylonian and Persian Empires, alien to the authentic traditions of the Land of Israel? Then, in , when the Ottoman Empire still ruled the country, a small clay tablet was found at the archaeological excavations of Tel Gezer, an important biblical city in central Israel, bearing a Hebrew inscription from nearly three millennia ago, dated roughly to the 10 th century BCE.
Known as the Gezer Calendar , the tablet is on display at the Istanbul Museum of Archaeology to this day, and bears the following poetic inscription:.
Following writing conventions of that period most or all vowels are missing, and there are some linguistic phenomena that need explaining [ii] , but overall it can be understood and translated as follows:. And that cycle does appear to begin with Tishrei, in accordance with Jewish tradition:. So specifically, Tishrei was the month when primarily grain and wine harvests were brought from industrial facilities located in the fields into storage facilities.
Presumably the freshly pressed grape must would have been left in the basin to ferment before being transferred to storage. The cycle described in the Gezer Calendar can still be observed today: The last rains in Israel do indeed occur around April, so January-March would be a good time to sow seed intended to benefit from them.
The grain harvests take place in the late spring and early summer. I just spoke with a vintner based near Beit Shemesh who was finishing up the vintage in late Av late August this year , though in our day this is relatively early and grape harvesting can go on into October.
Wheat and spelt, on the other hand, were still young and flexible, and could bend to absorb the shock of the hailfall without damage. If by the end of Adar the barley is not mature enough, a second month of Adar is announced, and only the lunar month thereafter can be Nisan and have Pesa h begin at its full moon.
Is the vav itself a forgotten dual marker? Hebrew has only vestiges of the ancient Semitic noun case system with nominative, genitive and dative forms , still preserved in classical Arabic and detailed here. This archaic nominative plural construct form would then possibly be what the poet set down in the Gezer Calendar some three millennia ago. If H eshvan is the eighth month, that would mean that by this count as well Tishrei is the seventh month, despite the meaning of its name, and Nisan the first.
The z. Daniel Kennemer. Nowhere in the Five Books of Moses does it say that it is. David Walk. Great quotes from Jewish people in history and who they were. Yehuda Lave.
Rosh HaShanah and the mystery of the Gezer calendar