The 12 Months of the Biblical Jewish Calendar

     The calendar was a lunar-solar calendar, meaning that the months were based upon the approximately 29½ days that it takes for the moon to orbit the earth, and the years were based upon the approximately 365¼ days that it takes for the earth to orbit the sun. Each month began on a new moon (thus the middle of each month was a full moon) and each year began on the new moon that occurred around (sometimes on) the 1st day of spring (the vernal equinox). Because 12 months came to 354 days, each 12-month lunar year was approximately 11¼ days short of an actual (solar) year. Therefore, a 13th month, a leap month, called Veadar, or 2nd Adar, was added about every 3rd year (approximately 7 times every 19 years) to keep the 1st of Nisan, the beginning of the year, as near as possible to the 1st day of spring. The Jewish calendar of today is NOT the same as the calendar that was used by the Jews and the people of the Bible.

     The names of these months are sometimes known as the “Babylonian names” because they were adopted by the Jews from the Babylonians during their 70-year captivity (605–535 B.C.) in the nation of Babylonia. Only four of the original ancient Hebrew names of the months are known today.


Babylonian Name


Pronunciation


Ancient Hebrew Name

Number of
Days in Month

1. Nisan

2. Ijar

3. Sivan

s
p
r
i
n
g

 NIY-sann

 IY-jahr

 SIY-vann

Abib (AY-bibb)

Zif (ZIFF)

?

30

29

30

4. Tammuz

5. Ab

6. Elul

s
u
m
m
e
r

 TAMM-uhz

 ABB

 EE-luhl

?

?

?

29

30

29

7. Tishri

8. Marcheshvan

9. Chislev

a
u
t
u
m
n

 TISH-ree

 mahr-KESH-vann

 KISS-levv

Ethanim (ETH-uh-nimm)

Bul (BUHL)

?

30

29

30

10. Tebeth

11. Shebat

12. Adar

w
i
n
t
e
r

 TEE-beth

 SHEE-batt

 AY-dahr

?

?

?

29

30

29

(if leap year)
13. Veadar (2nd Adar)


 vee-AY-dahr


?


29 or 30

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This page last updated May 8, 2016.