1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Calendar/Hebrew Calendar
In the construction of the Jewish calendar numerous details require attention. The calendar is dated from the Creation, which is considered to have taken place 3760 years and 3 months before the commencement of the Christian era. The year is luni-solar, and, according as it is ordinary or embolismic, consists of twelve or thirteen lunar months, each of which has 29 or 30 days. Thus the duration of the ordinary year is 354 days, and that of the embolismic is 384 days. In either case, it is sometimes made a day more, and sometimes a day less, in order that certain festivals may fall on proper days of the week for their due observance. The distribution of the embolismic years, in each cycle of 19 years, is determined according to the following rule:—
The number of the Hebrew year (Y) which has its commencement in a Gregorian year (x) is obtained by the addition of 3761 years; that is, Y = x + 3761. Divide the Hebrew year by 19; then the quotient is the number of the last completed cycle, and the remainder is the year of the current cycle. If the remainder be 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17 or 19 (0), the year is embolismic; if any other number, it is ordinary. Or, otherwise, if we find the remainder
- R =
the year is embolismic when R < 7.
The calendar is constructed on the assumptions that the mean lunation is 29 days 12 hours 44 min. 3⅓ sec., and that the year commences on, or immediately after, the new moon following the autumnal equinox. The mean solar year is also assumed to be 365 days 5 hours 55 min. 25 sec., so that a cycle of nineteen of such years, containing 6939 days 16 hours 33 min. 3⅓ sec., is the exact measure of 235 of the assumed lunations. The year 5606 was the first of a cycle, and the mean new moon, appertaining to the 1st of Tisri for that year, was 1845, October 1, 15 hours 42 min. 43⅓ sec., as computed by Lindo, and adopting the civil mode of reckoning from the previous midnight. The times of all future new moons may consequently be deduced by successively adding 29 days 12 hours 44 min. 3⅓ sec. to this date.
To compute the times of the new moons which determine the commencement of successive years, it must be observed that in passing from an ordinary year the new moon of the following year is deduced by subtracting the interval that twelve lunations fall short of the corresponding Gregorian year of 365 or 366 days; and that, in passing from an embolismic year, it is to be found by adding the excess of thirteen lunations over the Gregorian year. Thus to deduce the new moon of Tisri, for the year immediately following any given year (Y), when Y is
- ordinary, subtract days 15 hours 11 min. 20 sec.,
- embolismic, add days 21 hours 32 min. 43⅓ sec.
the second-mentioned number of days being used, in each case, whenever the following or new Gregorian year is bissextile.
Hence, knowing which of the years are embolismic, from their ordinal position in the cycle, according to the rule before stated, the times of the commencement of successive years may be thus carried on indefinitely without any difficulty. But some slight adjustments will occasionally be needed for the reasons before assigned, viz. to avoid certain festivals falling on incompatible days of the week. Whenever the computed conjunction falls on a Sunday, Wednesday or Friday, the new year is in such case to be fixed on the day after. It will also be requisite to attend to the following conditions:—
If the computed new moon be after 18 hours, the following day is to be taken, and if that happen to be Sunday, Wednesday or Friday, it must be further postponed one day. If, for an ordinary year, the new moon falls on a Tuesday, as late as 9 hours 11 min. 20 sec., it is not to be observed thereon; and as it may not be held on a Wednesday, it is in such case to be postponed to Thursday. If, for a year immediately following an embolismic year, the computed new moon is on Monday, as late as 15 hours 30 min. 52 sec., the new year is to be fixed on Tuesday.
After the dates of commencement of the successive Hebrew years are finally adjusted, conformably with the foregoing directions, an estimation of the consecutive intervals, by taking the differences, will show the duration and character of the years that respectively intervene. According to the number of days thus found to be comprised in the different years, the days of the several months are distributed as in Table VI.
The signs + and - are respectively annexed to Hesvan and Kislev to indicate that the former of these months may sometimes require to have one day more, and the latter sometimes one day less, than the number of days shown in the table—the result, in every case, being at once determined by the total number of days that the year may happen to contain. An ordinary year may comprise 353, 354 or 355 days; and an embolismic year 383, 384 or 385 days. In these cases respectively the year is said to be imperfect, common or perfect. The intercalary month, Veadar, is introduced in embolismic years in order that Passover, the 15th day of Nisan, may be kept at its proper season, which is the full moon of the vernal equinox, or that which takes place after the sun has entered the sign Aries. It always precedes the following new year by 163 days, or 23 weeks and 2 days; and Pentecost always precedes the new year by 113 days, or 16 weeks and 1 day.
The Gregorian epact being the age of the moon of Tebet at the beginning of the Gregorian year, it represents the day of Tebet which corresponds to January 1; and thus the approximate date of Tisri 1, the commencement of the Hebrew year, may be otherwise deduced by subtracting the epact from
- Sept. 24 after an ordinary Hebrew year.
- Oct. 24 after an embolismic Hebrew year.
The result so obtained would in general be more accurate than the Jewish calculation, from which it may differ a day, as fractions of a day do not enter alike in these computations. Such difference may also in part be accounted for by the fact that the assumed duration of the solar year is 6 min. 39 sec. in excess of the true astronomical value, which will cause the dates of commencement of future Jewish years, so calculated, to advance forward from the equinox a day in error in 216 years. The lunations are estimated with much greater precision.
The following table is extracted from Woolhouse's Measures, Weights and Moneys of all Nations:—
|Tisri 1,||New Year, Feast of Trumpets.|
|" 3, ||Fast of Guedaliah.|
|" 10,||Fast of Expiation.|
|" 15,||Feast of Tabernacles.|
|" 21,||Last Day of the Festival.|
|" 22,||Feast of the 8th Day.|
|" 23,||Rejoicing of the Law.|
|Kislev 25,||Dedication of the Temple.|
|Tebet 10,||Fast, Siege of Jerusalem.|
|Adar 13, ||Fast of Esther,||} In embolismic|
|" 14,||Purim,||} years. Veadar.|
|Tamuz 17, ||Fast, Taking of Jerusalem.|
|Ab 9, ||Fast, Destruction of the Temple.|
^ If Saturday, substitute Sunday immediately following.
^ If Saturday, substitute Thursday immediately preceding.