The month of Adar Aleph

On Friday 9th February, after sunset, we enter the month of Adar, the last month of the God’s biblical year, or if anyone is interested the 6th month of the civil year, But of course the most significant thing this year is that we are in another leap year, so we have two months of Adar – Adar Aleph and then Adar Bet.

So it is said that this month of Adar is the only month that comes back for seconds in the leap year, or שנה מעוברת (Shanah me’uberet), literally meaning a pregnant year or an enlarged year. Leap years occur approximately every three years, but in fact the last one was two years ago. I am sure you know it is to keep the first month of the year Aviv, now called Nissan, when we celebrate Pesach, First Fruits and Shavuot, in the spring, and the 7th month of Tishrei in the autumn when we celebrate the Feast of Trumpets, Yom Kippur and Succot.

This last month of the year probably acquired its man-made name, like most of the others, during the Babylonian Exile. Adar (אדר) is the root of the Hebrew adjective Adir (אדיר) meaning glorious, exalted and magnificent. It may also be a derivative of an Akkadian word Adura meaning heroism, which is connected to the story of Purim.

This word is used; Exodus 15:6: “Your right hand has become glorious in power.” Exodus 15: 11: “Who is like you glorious in holiness.” Isaiah 42: 21: “The Lord was pleased for his righteousness’ sake, to make the Torah great and glorious.”

So the present Hebrew calendar is the result of a process over many years, including Babylonian influence. Until what is called the Tannaitic period approx. in the years 70 – 250 after Yeshua. Before that each new month started with the new crescent moon, with an additional month normally added every two or three years, to correct the difference between the lunar year and the solar year, and was based on observation of the early barley harvest in ancient Israel. If the barley was not ripe, an extra month would be added.

It has to be said that when God re-set His calendar when He brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, as we know, He never said anything about 12 months in a year, and also He never gave names to the months, only referring to the first month as ‘in this month’ of Aviv, i.e. Spring.

Over the years this system was gradually displaced by the mathematical rules of what is called the Metonic cycle. This was discovered by Meton, who was an Athenian astronomer, in 432 before Yeshua.

But it was in the 4th century after Yeshua, that Hillel II eventually established a fixed calendar based on these mathematical and astronomical calculations. This calendar which, is still in use today, standarizes the length of months and the addition of months over the course of a 19 year cycle.

While in a regular 12th month we would be observing the fast of Hadassah, and celebrate the festival of Purim, in a leap year, the festivities are moved to Adar Bet. This was a rabbinical decision as stated in The Talmud in Tractate Megillah 6b, wanting to keep the reading of the Megillah of Esther, the redemption of Hadassah (Purim) and the Redemption from Egypt (Pesach) close together.

However, the small community of Karaite Jews in the world always celebrate Purim in Adar Aleph, as they reject the authority of the talmud, and do not accept that Purim should be celebrated in Adar II. The book of Esther says in 12th month, so they celebrate on what for most other Jews is called Purim Katan, when some may have a small festive meal to ‘increase one’s joy’!

The only other significant event is Shabbat Shekalim, the first of the four “Special Shabbats” that we have before Pesach. This will be on 29 Adar Aleph (9th March) when we read in Exodus 30: 11 – 15. the instructions for taking a census of the people of Israel. Each one to pay half a shekel, the rich giving no more, and the the poor no less.

So all in all there is not much else to say. We have an extra month when absolutely nothing happens! I could find nothing at all in the scriptures about anything that happened in this extra month. Quite a few references to Adar, and the twelfth month but no way of knowing if any of them referred to Adar Aleph during a Leap Year.

But of course I am happy to say, that in my opinion, that this is, I am sure, to keep us all on our toes. We could, in any year now, be a whole month out of cinque with God’s calendar. If ever I hear anyone proclaiming their ideas of exactly when Yeshua will return it makes me smile. I do believe, like many, that as Yeshua fulfilled the spring chageem, it is more than likely that he will return during the autumn chageem, but even Yeshua himself made it very clear only God knows when this will be.

In Matt: 24: 36: we have Yeshua clearly stating: “BUT, when that day and hour will come, no one knows, not the angels in heaven, not the Son, only the Father.” So in fact, as my late husband used to love telling people: “I know exactly when Yeshua will return – Like a thief in the night, WHEN WE LEAST EXPECT IT!”

If you are not living your life as if Yeshua died yesterday, rose today, and is coming back tomorrow, YOU ARE NOT READY!

So we pray during this month of Adar Aleph, that the name of our Heavenly Father will be exalted and magnified, and He will, for the sake of His People and Land, show His glorious power and holiness.

יהי רצון מלפנין יהוה אלהינו ואלהי אבותינו שתחדש עלינו חודש טוב

באדנינו ישוע המשיח

May it be Your will Lord our God, and God of our fathers, that you renew for us a good month in our Lord Yeshua the Messiah.

CHODESH TOV