Exodus 12:1 - 2
ESV - 1 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt. 2 This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you.
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The Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar, based on the phases of the moon as it orbits around the earth (which takes approximately 27.32 days for each orbit), rather than a solar calendar (like the Gregorian calendar, which is based on the year-long orbit of the earth around the sun). As a result, although the days of Jewish festivals and other religious observances may occur on the same day of the same month every year according to the Hebrew calendar, they take place on varying days and months in the Gregorian calendar from year to year. The date of the Gregorian calendar corresponding to the date of the Hebrew calendar referenced in the question can thus fall on multiple possible dates in either March or April. (By my calculation, for the years from 2000 to 2040, the first day of the first month of the Hebrew calendar can range from 6 March through 6 April of the Gregorian calendar.)
The "first month" in Exodus correlates to the modern March/April. Many ancient calendars started in the early spring. Since cultures were so tightly linked to the agricultural seasons the beginning of the year would correlate with the beginning of spring. At one point, the Roman calendar system also started in March. The Roman calendar consisted of 10 months and did not include months in the winter season. Julius Caesar enacted calendar reforms which gives us the Julian calendar. Many of the names for our modern month names still reflect the ten month cycle: September - was the 7th month October - 8th November - 9th December - the 10th month.
In Exodus 12:1-2, God changed the calendar for the people of Israel when they came out of Egypt at the Passover. Before this, the first month was six months earlier. The old calendar was based on the creation of the world. The occasion of the new calendar was the deliverance of the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt. God signified a new beginning, a new relationship of His people with Him. It was marked by the Passover and the application of the blood of a lamb. It celebrated the great deliverance and liberation of Israel from bondage. This first month was in springtime, which appropriately pictures life emerging after the deadness of winter. Spiritually, it compares to new life of those who believe in Christ. Being saved, they have a new start in life, the season of new beginnings, Romans 6:4, II Corinthians 5:17. In Israel, both calendars were in effect. The year starting on Tishri would be the civil year, when kings marked a new year of their reign. Tishri also marked the official Jewish New Year and it was the time when Sabbath and Jubilee years began. On the other hand, the year starting on Abib/Nisan was the sacred year which marked the religious feasts and holidays. After the exodus, the new calendar was the primary one Israel used. Often the months are numbered rather than named. But, in certain places in the Scriptures, the numbered months are designated a name as well, which confirms the new calendar is being used, as for example, I Kings 6:1, 37, 8:2, Esther 8:9. The Hebrew months are given here in the sacred order (all the references are given): - SPRING - 1. Abib (March-April), Exodus 13:4, 23:15, 34:18, Deuteronomy 16:1, Ezekiel 3:15; also called Nisan, Nehemiah 2:1, Esther 3:7; beginning of the sacred year. 2. Ziv (April-May), I Kings 6:1, 37; also called Iyyar. 3. Sivan (May-June), Esther 8:9. - SUMMER - 4. Tammuz (June-July). 5. Av (July-August). 6. Elul (August-September), Nehemiah 6:15. - FALL - 7. Ethanim (September-October), I Kings 8:2; also called Tishri; beginning of the civil year. 8. Bul (October-November), I Kings 6:38; also called Heshvan. 9. Chislev (November-December), Nehemiah 1:1, Zechariah 7:1. - WINTER - 10. Tebeth (December-January), Esther 2:16. 11. Shebat (January-February), Zechariah 1:7. 12. Adar (February-March), Joshua 15:3, Ezra 6:15, Esther 3:7, 13, 8:12, 9:1, 15, 17, 19, 21. When God changed the calendar, the seventh month of the old calendar became the first month of the new. Additional note: Originally, the twelve months were 30 days each and the year was 360 days, confirmed by chronological details of the Flood in Genesis 7-8. Because of the Flood, conditions changed in that the earth began to spin faster, causing a shorter day and creating a longer year of about 365 days. Thus, calendars had to be adjusted. For that reason, in modern Jewish calendars the months are not all the same length, and an additional month is added in leap years.
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