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Gezer Calendar


GEZER CALENDAR , a Hebrew inscription of seven lines, engraved on a limestone tablet written in ancient Hebrew script; discovered in Gezer by R.A.S. *Macalister in 1908. The Gezer Calendar is dated by its script to the tenth century b.c.e. and cites an annual cycle of agricultural activities that seem to begin with the month of Tishri. The word yrḥ ("month") or yrḥw ("two months") precedes the name of each month. According to an accepted view, the inscription first lists two months of fruit picking, particularly olives (Tishri–Ḥeshvan). Then follow two months of grain sowing (Kislev–Tevet), two months concerned with the late sowing (Shevat–Adar), one month of flax harvest (by uprooting with a mattock; Nisan), one month of barley harvest (Iyyar), a month of wheat harvest (Sivan), two months of vine pruning or of vintage (Tammuz–Av), and, at the end, the month of qayiẓ, i.e., the picking or drying of figs (Elul). In the left lower edge of the inscription "Aby[…]" is written vertically. It is possible that the name indicates the owner of the inscription or its author. The nature and purpose of the calendar are not clear, and many different explanations have been proposed. According to some scholars, the calendar was written as a schoolboy exercise in writing. This view derives from the fact that the script is rather crude. Another view holds that the Gezer Calendar was designated for the collection of taxes from farmers. It is also possible that the content of the inscription is a popular folk song, listing the months of the year according to the agricultural seasons. The original is in the Istanbul archeological museum.


R.A.S. Macalister, Excavation of Gezer, 2 (1912), 24–28; Albright, in: basor, 92 (1943), 16–26; L. Finkelstein, ibid., 94 (1944), 28–29; Wright, in: ba, 18 (1955), 50–56; Segal, in: jss, 7 (1962), 212–21; Talmon, in: jaos, 83 (1963), 177–87; Wirgin, in: Eretz Israel, 6 (1960), 9–12 (Eng. section); Rathjen, in: pwq, 93 (1961), 70–72; Honeyman, in: jras (1953), 53–58; Pritchard, Texts, 320; Pritchard, Pictures, 272; em, 2 (1965), 471–4 (incl. bibl.). add. bibliography: S. Ahituv, Handbook of Ancient Hebrew Inscriptions (1992), 149–52.

[Bustanay Oded]

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