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eBook Tractate Rosh Hashana
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Publisher:  Varda Books
Original Publisher:  Torah Lishmah Institute
Published:  2009
Language:  English
Pages:   488


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ISBN: 1590459059

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About the Book -- Tractate Rosh Hashana

Major topics covered in this Tractate are the Devine Judgment as well as the events that occurred during the months of Nisan and Tishri. In addition, it deals also with the laws of:

  • Rosh haShana

  • Pledges: Bal T'acher

  • Agriculture: Yovel, Sh'mita, Ma'aser and Orlah

  • Sanctification of the New Moon

  • Shofar



About the Book

Contents

 

An Excerpt from the Book -- Tractate Rosh Hashana

The Dating of Kings

We turn now to a most difficult problem: The dating of the kings of Judea and Israel. When one studies the verses of Tanach, there appear to be many seeming discrepancies in the dating of kings.

In several places Rashi comments that there is no simple explanation for the manner in which the kings are dated. It is beyond the scope of this work to investigate all of the approaches taken to explain the difficulties. Yet, one item is of significance: To the best of my knowledge, no one takes the G'mara's criteria for dating kings into account when making an analysis. This is somewhat startling given that there were no Jewish kings in Talmudic times.

Therefore, the laws set down in the G'mara clearly must have referred to Biblical times. As such, it would appear that to unravel the dating system used in the Tanach, one must follow the rules set down by our G'mara.

It is to this that we now turn.

Rules for dating kings

1. All rules mentioned in I-[3]. (See text.)

2. The reigns of the Kings of Judah are dated from Nisan.

3. The reigns of the Kings of Israel are dated from Tishri —

because they are assumed to be wicked — as per R. Avuhu.

4. When a King of Judah becomes wicked his reign is counted

from Tishri.

5. When a King of Israel becomes righteous, his reign is

counted from Nisan — as per R. Avuhu.

Nisan and Tishri

In listing the above rules, I expanded upon the rule which R. Avuhu explicitly stated in the G'mara. R. Avuhu merely mentions that when non-Jewish kings are righteous they are counted from Nisan, and when they are not righteous they are counted from Tishri. I expanded this rule to Jewish kings, as well. The reason for this is as follows: Nisan and Tishri are not arbitrary dates. They represent very different ways in which God runs the world. Tishri, the time of creation, represents God's running the world through the laws of nature. Nisan, the time the Jewish nation was redeemed from Egypt, represents God's running the world through Divine Providence ( השגחה פרטית ). Thus, I believe, a king— be he Jewish or non-Jewish — is counted based upon his beliefs. If he believes in Divine Providence, he is counted from Nisan. If not, he is counted from Tishri.

Re: Converting the count from one system to another

If a King of Israel becomes righteous —

a. Before Nisan: When Nisan arrives, the year of his reign is moved ahead;

b. Before Tishri: The present year of his reign continues until Nisan;

c. Very close after 1 Tishri: The count can revert back to that of the past year — in which case, as per (my interpretation of) [J2], documents contained both the reign of the King of Judah and the King of Israel so as to clarify any questions concerning the date. (See below.)

If a King of Judah becomes wicked —

a. Before Tishri: The year of his reign is moved ahead at the arrival of Tishri;

b. Before Nisan: The year of his reign remains unchanged until the next Tishri;

c. Immediately after 1 Tishri: The year of his reign may be rolled ahead, retroactive to Tishri.

The following chart is based upon the aforementioned rules: —

Kings of Israel

 Kings of Judah

(Note: r. = reigned ; T = Tishri; N = Nisan)

Yeravam (r. 22 yrs)
(I:14:20)

Rechavam (r. 17 yrs)
 (I:14:21)
Both ascended
 the same year

Aviyam ascended in the 18th year of Yeravam, whereas his father died in the 17th year of Yeravam. Unless Rechavam died at the last minute of Yeravam's calendar year, this proves that even for a king who is the son of a king, the year of ascension begins after the son begins his reign. Otherwise, Aviyam's ascension would have been reckoned from the 17th year of Yeravam.

Yeravam (r. 41 yrs.) Aviyam (r. 3 yrs: I:15:1)
18 1
19 2
20 3/Asa 1
(I:15:9)

Asa was crowned within the same year of Yeravam's reign in which his father, Aviyam, died. Hence, this year is attributed to both of them.

Now comes the first problem: I:15:25 records that Nadav, Yeravam's son, ascended in the 2nd year of Asa. Based on the above, it should have said that he ascended in the 3rd year of Asa, as follows:

 


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