Astronomy and Calendars at Qumran

  • Jonathan Ben-DovEmail author
Reference work entry


A corpus of ca. 20 calendrical texts dated mostly to the first century BCE was found among the Dead Sea scrolls. These documents attest to a year of 364 days, which was adopted from earlier Jewish Pseudepigrapha like the Books of Enoch and Jubilees. The 364-day year was the main time frame used by the sectarian community represented in the scrolls. It is not a solar year, as often stated, but rather a schematic-sabbatical year. Its main characteristic in the DSS is the absorption of many various calendrical frameworks. The 364-day calendar tradition is strongly based on the calculation of full creational weeks and of weeks of years (Shemitah). It incorporates the service cycles of the 24 priestly families in the temple, while in addition, it encompasses an additional cycle of lunar phenomena. This cycle is related to the Mesopotamian concept of “the Lunar Three”. Finally, an awareness of the cycle of the Jubilee (49 years) produced a megacycle of 294 years. It remains unknown how and whether at all the 364-day year was intercalated to fit the tropical year of 365.25 days approximately.


Sectarian Community Lunar Phasis Service Cycle Lunar Calendar Jewish Sect 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BibleUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael

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