The Gregorian calendar which we have used for the last 400 years is based on the earth’s cycle around the sun compared to the Jewish calendar which is based on the moon’s cycle around the earth. There are 12 or 13 months in a Jewish year with the start of each month beginning on the new moon. There are only 254 days in a 12 month lunar cycle, so to stop the months drifting further through the solar year, a leap month in added approximately every three years.

Today there is a predetermined 19 year cycle that the Jewish calendar follows with leap months added in the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th and 19th years to keep the beginning of year at the start of spring. In Jesus’ day leap months were added by the decision of the Jewish leaders at the end of the year around the end of March or beginning of April. If any of the following occurred a leap month was added to create a 13th month:

  • If the spring Equinox occurred after the 15th of Nisan
  • If the barley harvest had not ripened
  • If the roads and bridges that had been destroyed by the winter and early spring floods had not been repaired in time for the pilgrims to travel to Jerusalem.

The Hebrew Months

Month   Hebrew Months    Gregorian Months
  • 1      Nisan                 Mar/Apr/May
  • 2      Iyar                   Apr/May/Jun
  • 3      Sivan                 May/Jun/Jul
  • 4      Ammuz              Jun/Jul/Aug
  • 5      Av                      Jul/Aug/Sep
  • 6      Elul                    Aug/Sep/Oct
  • 7      Tishrei               Sept/Oct
  • 8      Marcheshvan      Oct/Nov
  • 9      Kislev                 Nov/Dec
  • 10    Tevet                  Dec/Jan
  • 11    Shevat               Jan/Feb
  • 12    Adar                   Feb/Mar
  • (13) Adar II                Mar/Apr

The Hebrew Week

The start of the week begins at sunset on the Saturday night. This mirrors Genesis chapter 1 with the start of the day beginning in the evening: ‘There was evening, and then there was morning…’ (Gen 1:5). The last day of the week was the Sabbath which begins on Friday night.

Days of the Week

  • Yom Rishon First Day (Sunday)
  • Yom Sheini Second Day (Monday)
  • Yom Shlishi Third Day (Tuesday)
  • Yom R’vi’i Fourth Day (Wednesday)
  • Yom Chamishi Fifth Day (Thursday)
  • Yom Shishi Sixth Day (Friday)
  • Yom Shabbat Sabbath Day (Saturday)