The Festivals of Israel...an Overview
Chart of Jewish Festivals
ABIB (Heb. abib, green ears),or NI-SAN
Thirty days; first of sacred, seventh of civil, year. (March-April)
After sunset sheaf of barley brought to temple.
16. First fruits, sheaf offered (Leviticus 23:10, sq.).
Beginning of harvest, fifty days to Pentecost (Leviticus 23:6).
15 and 21. Holy convocations (23:7).
26. Fast for death of Joshua.
ZIV (Heb. ziv, brightness), or IYYAR
Twenty-nine days; second of sacred, eighth of civil year. (April-May)
1. New moon (Numbers 1:18).
10. Fast for death of Eli and capture of ark (1 Samuel 4:11, sq.).
28. Feast for death of Samuel (1 Samuel 25:1).
SIVAN (Heb. Sivan)
Thirty days; third of sacred, ninth of civil, year. (May-June)
1. New moon
22. Fast in memory of Jeroboams forbidding subjects to carry first fruits to Jerusalem (1 Kings 12:27).
27. Fast, Chanina being burned with books of law.
TAMMUZ (Heb. Tammuz)
Twenty-nine days; fourth of sacred, tenth of civil, year. (June-July)
1. New moon.
14. Feast for abolition of a book of Sadducees and Bethusians, intended to subvert oral law and traditions.
17. Fast in memory of tables of law broken by Moses (Exodus 32:19); and taking of Jerusalem by Titus.
AB (Heb. ab, fruitful)
Thirty days; fifth of sacred, eleventh of civil, year. (July-Aug.)
1. New moon; fast for death of Aaron, commemorated by children of Jethuel, who furnished wood to temple after captivity.
9. Fast in memory of Gods declaration against murmerers entering Canaan (Numbers 14:29:31).
18. Fast, because in the time of Ahaz the evening lamp went out.
21. Feast when wood was stored in temple.
24. Feast in memory of law providing for sons and daughters alike inheriting estate of parents.
ELUL (Heb. elul, good for nothing)
Twenty-nine days; sixth of sacred, twelfth of civil, year. (Aug.-Sept.)
1. New moon.
7. Feast for dedication of Jerusalems walls by Nehemiah.
17. Fast, death of spies bringing ill reports (Numbers 14:26).
21. Feast, wood offering.
(Throughout the month the cornet is sounded to warn of approaching new civil year.)
ETHANIM (Heb. ethanim, permanent). or TISRI
Thirty days; seventh of sacred, first of civil, year. (Sept.-Oct.)
3. Fast for murder of Gedaliah (2 Kings 25:25; Jeremiah 41:2); high priest set apart for day of atonement.
10. Day of atonement (Yom Kippur), the fast (Acts 27:9), i.e., the only one enjoined by the law (Leviticus 16; 23:27-32; the first day of jubilee years.
22. Holy convocation, palms borne, prayer for rain. (Leviticus 23:36; Numbers 29:35).
23. Feast for law being finished; dedication of Solomons temple.
BUL (Heb. bul), or MARCHESH-VAN
Twenty-nine days; eighth of sacred, second of civil, year. (Oct.-Nov.)
1. New moon.
17. Prayers for rain.
19. Fast for faults committed during Feast of Tabernacles.
26. Feast in memory of recovery after the captivity of places occupied by the Cuthites.
KISLEV (Heb. Kisleu)
Thirty days; ninth of sacred, third of civil, year. (Nov.-Dec.)
1. New moon.
2. Fast (three days) if no rain falls.
6. Feast in memory of roll burned by Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 36:23).
14. Fast, absolute if no rain.
25. Feast of the dedication of the temple, or of Lights (eight days) in memory of restoration of temple by Judas Maccabaeus (cf. Jonah. 10:22).
TEBETH (Heb. Tebeth)
Twenty-nine days; tenth of sacred, fourth of civil, year. (Dec.-Jan.)
1. New moon.
8. Fast because the law was translated into Greek.
10. Fast on account of siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 25:1).
SHEBAT (Heb. shebat, or SEBAT
Thirty days; eleventh of sacred, fifth of civil, year. (Jan.-Feb.)
1. New Moon.
4 or 5. Fast in memory of death of elders, successors to Joshua.
15. Beginning of the year of Trees (q.v.)
23. Fast for war of the Ten Tribes against Benjamin (Judges 20); also idol of Micah (18:11,sq.).
29. Memorial of death of Antiochus Epiphanes, enemy of Jews.
ADAR (Heb. adar, fire)
Twenty-nine days; twelfth of sacred, sixth of civil, year. (ADAR SHENI. c. 7 times in 19 years.) (Feb.-March)
1. New moon.
7. Fast because of Moses death (Deuteronomy 34:5).
8,9. Trumpet sounded in thanksgiving for rain, and prayer for future rain.
13. Fast of Esther (Esther 4:16). Feast in memory of Nicanor, enemy the Jews (1 Maccabees 7:44).
15. The great Feast of Purim.
20. Feast for rain obtained in time of drought, in time of Alexander Jannaeus.
23. Feast for dedication of Zerubbabels temple (Ezra 6:16).
28. Feast to commemorate the repeal of decree of Grecian kings forbidding Jews to circumcise their children.
In addition to the annual festivals, the celebration of the weekly 3Sabbath (shabbat) and the sabbatical feast days are also called holy convocations (miqrae qodesh) in Leviticus 23:2 ff. During the wilderness wanderings a holy convocation appears to have been a religious convocation of all males at the tabernacle.
The Sabbath was to be a perpetual covenant between God and Israel as his gift of refreshing rest; as such it served as a memorial of his rest from creative activity and was not specifically a memorial of the Exodus.
The reference to the Exodus event in Deuteronomy is for the express purpose of reminding Israel that out of gratitude for their freedom and rest after a long period of servile labor, they ought also to allow rest for their servants who now were in a similar situation to their former condition in Egypt as slaves (cf. Exodus 5:14-15).Thus both passages connect the Sabbath with rest.
Character And Observance
The Sabbath was to be observed by abstaining from all physical labor, whether done by man or beast. But the Sabbath was not intended for selfish use in idleness; it was a divinely given opportunity, in freedom from ones secular labors, to strengthen and refresh the whole man, physically and spiritually.
Monthly New Moon
The first day of each month was designated as rosh hodesh, the first of head of the month, or simply as hodesh, new moon (Numbers 10:10; 1 Samuel 20:5).
The moon occupied an important place in the life of the Hebrews, since it was the guide to their calendar based upon the lunar month or period of the moons circuit. Because of this, and the importance of the uniform celebration of the various periodic religious festivals by Jews everywhere, it was extremely important to determine the exact time of the appearance of the new moon. Thus the appearance of the smallest crescent signified the beginning of a new month and was announced with the blowing of the shofar or rams horn.
The shenat 5shabbaton, year of rest or sabbatical year, like the weekly Sabbath, was designed by God with a benevolent purpose in view. Every seventh year debts were to be canceled and the land was to lie fallow, the uncultivated increase to be left to the poor Israelite.
After the land had been sown and harvested for six successive years it was to rest or remain fallow on the seventh year. This included the vineyards and olive yards also (Exodus 23:10). This provision insured greater productivity for the soil by the periodic interruption of the incessant sowing, plowing, and reaping.
Debts were to be canceled (Deuteronomy 15:1-6). Each creditor was to cancel the debts of a brother Israelite at the end of every seven years, for it was called also the year of release (Deuteronomy 15:9; 31:10). This did not apply to a foreigner from whom the debt could be collected (Deuteronomy 15:3). The release was so that absolute poverty and permanent debt would not exist among the Israelites. In addition, they were not to disregard the need of their poorer brethren by refusing to lend merely because the year or release was near (Deuteronomy 15:7-11).
In the sabbatical year the law was to be read for the instruction of the people at the Feast of Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 31:10-13).
Seven 6sabbatic cycles of the year (i.e., 49) terminated in the year of jubilee (shenat hayyobel), lit., the year of the rams horn, the fiftieth year being designated thus from the custom of sounding the rams horn (yobel) announcing its arrival (Leviticus 25:8-17). The fiftieth year is called the year of liberty (deror) in Ezekiel 46:17 (cf. Jeremiah 34:8,15,17) on the basis of Leviticus 25:10: And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land...it shall be a jubilee unto you.
There were several divine purposes in these regulations and provisions for the year jubilee.
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