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Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Year

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shanah , a repetition, like the Latin annus , "year." Literally, a circle, namely, of seasons, in which the same recur yearly. The 360 day year, 12 months of 30 days each, is indicated in Daniel 7:25; Daniel 12:7, time (i.e. one year) times and dividing of a time, or 3 1/2 years; the 42 months (Revelation 11:2), 1260 days (Revelation 5:3; Revelation 12:6). The Egyptian vague year was the same, without the five intercalary days. So the year of Noah in Genesis 7:11-24; Genesis 8:3-4; Genesis 8:13; the interval between the 17th day of the second month and the 17th of the seventh month being stated as 150 days, i.e. 30 days in each of the five months. Also between the tenth month, first day, and the first day of the first month, the second year, at least 54 days, namely, 40 + 7 + 7 (oxen. Genesis 8:5-6; Genesis 8:10; Genesis 8:12-13). Hence, we infer a year of 12 months. The Hebrew month at the time of the Exodus was lunar, but their year was solar.

(See WEIGHTS AND MEASURES, on P. Smyth's view of the year marked in the great pyramid). The Egyptian vague year is thought to be as old as the 12th dynasty. (See EGYPT.) The Hebrew religious year began in spring, the natural beginning when all nature revives; the season also of the beginning of Israel's national life, when the religious year's beginning was transferred from autumn to spring, the month Abib or Nisan (the name given by later Hebrew: Exodus 12:2; Exodus 13:4; Exodus 23:15-16; Exodus 34:18; Exodus 34:22). The civil year began at the close of autumn in the month Tisri, when, the fruits of the earth having been gathered in, the husbandman began his work again preparing for another year's harvest, analogous to the twofold beginning of day at sunrise and sunset. "The feast of ingathering in the end of the year" (Exodus 23:16) must refer to the civil or agrarian year.

The Egyptian year began in June at the rise of the Nile. Hebrew sabbatic years and Jubilees were counted from the beginning of Tisri (Leviticus 25:9-17). The Hebrew year was as nearly solar as was compatible with its commencement coinciding with the new moon or first day of the month. They began it with the new moon nearest to the equinox, yet late enough to allow of the firstfruits of barley harvest being offered about the middle of the first month. So Josephus (Ant. 3:10, section 5) states that the Passover was celebrated when the sun was in Aries. They may have determined their new year's day by observing the heliacal or other star risings or settings marking the right time of the solar year (compare Judges 5:20-21; Job 38:31). They certainly after the captivity, and probably ages before, added a 13th month whenever the 12th ended too long before the equinox for the offering of the firstfruits to be made at the time fixed. (See JUBILEE.)

In Exodus 23:10; Deuteronomy 31:10; Deuteronomy 15:1, the sabbatical year appears as a rest to the land (no sowing, reaping, planting, pruning, gathering) in which its ownership was in abeyance, and its chance produce at the service of all comers. Debtors were released from obligations for the year, except when they could repay without impoverishment (Deuteronomy 15:2-4). Trade, handicrafts, the chase, and the care of cattle occupied the people during the year. Education and the reading of the law at the feast of tabernacles characterized it (Deuteronomy 31:10-13). The soil lay fallow one year out of seven at a time when rotation of crops and manuring were unknown; the habit of economizing grain was fostered by the institution (Genesis 41:48-56).

Israel learned too that absolute ownership in the land was Jehovah's alone, and that the human owners held it in trust, to be made the most of for the good of every creature which dwelt upon it (Leviticus 25:23; Leviticus 25:1-7; Leviticus 25:11-17; Exodus 23:11, "that the poor may eat, and what they leave the beasts," etc.). The weekly sabbath witnessed the equality of the people as to the covenant with Jehovah. The Jubilee year witnessed that every Israelite had an equal claim to the Lord's land, and that the hired servant, the foreigner, the cattle, and even wild beasts, had a claim. The whole thus indicates what a blessed state would have followed the Sabbath of Paradise, had not sin disturbed all. During 70 Sabbath years, i.e. 490, the period of the monarchy, the Sabbath year was mainly slighted, and so 70 years' captivity was the retributive punishment (2 Chronicles 36:20-21; Leviticus 26:34-35; Leviticus 26:43).

Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar exempted the Jews from tribute on the sabbatical year (Josephus Ant. 11:8, section 6, 14:10, section 6; compare 16, Section 2; 15:1, section 2; compare also under Antiochus Epiphanes, 1 Maccabees 4:49); the institution has no parallel in the world's history, and would have been submitted to by no people except under a divine revelation. The day of atonement on which the sabbatical year was proclaimed stood in the same relation to the civil year that the Passover did to the religious year. The new moon festival of Tisri is the only one distinguished by peculiar observance, which confirms the view that the civil year began then. The Hebrew divided the year into "summer and winter "(Genesis 8:22; Psalms 74:17; Zechariah 14:8), and designated the earth's produce as the fruits of summer (Jeremiah 8:20; Jeremiah 40:10-12; Micah 7:1).

Abib "the month of green ears" commenced summer; and the seventh month, Ethanim, "the month of flowing streams," began winter. The 'atsereth or "concluding festival" of the feast of tabernacles closed the year (Leviticus 23:34). Both the spring feast in Abib and the autumn feast in Ethanim began at the full moon in their respective months. (See MONTH; SABBATICAL YEAR; JUBILEE.) The observances at the beginning festival of the religious year resemble those at the beginning festival of the civil year. The Passover lamb in the first month Abib corresponds to the atonement goats on the tenth of Tisri, the seventh month. The feast of unleavened bread from the 15th to the gist of Abib answers to the feast of tabernacles from the 15th to 22nd of Tisri. As there is a Sabbath attached to the first day as well as to the seventh, so the first and the seventh month begin respectively the religious and the civil year.


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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Year'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/fbd/y/year.html. 1949.

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Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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