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Browse Torah Articles: Sefer Beresheet: Parashat Beresheet: Names of the Months

Contributed by: Rabbi Haim Shaul

Where do the names of the months come from?

The midrash states that the names of the months of the year, Tishri, Heshvan, Kislev, etc., came with the Jewish people from Babylonia to Israel at the beginning of the 2nd Temple period, 5th century B.C.E.

The Ramban comments about that fact and the fact that the Torah doesn’t give names to the months or the days of the weeks. He answers that by not having names to the days of the weeks but instead count them from Shabbat, Yom Rishon, Yom Sheni, etc., we are really remembering the Shabbat and the creation of the world every time we mention the day of the week.

Similarly, by not having names of the months but instead counting the months, Hodesh Rishon, Hodesh Sheni, etc. we are counting them from the Exodus from Egypt and we therefore refer to the miracles of the Exodus every time we mention a month of the year.

Why did this change?

When the Jewish people returned from the exile of Babylonia, they considered this to be a great miracle, the fulfillment of God's promise to redeem his people and return them to the land of Israel. In order to remember this miraculous event, they gave the months Babaylonian and Persian names.
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