Pagan Names in the Calendar
Fundamental Rights of Israel are bestowed upon the children of Israel in their relation to YHVH for observing His appointed times, and appearing before Him three times a year: for the Festival of the Unleavened Bread, the Festival of the Weeks, and the Festival of the Tabernacles (Exo 23:14-17).
The festal rejoicing was a blessing accompanied with the rights of appearing before YHVH, to whom the children of Israel are indebted for everything He has done for the nation: rights that no other nation had ever enjoyed.
The laws relating to the rights, Heb. מִשְׁפָּטִים mishpatim, of the people for observing the Creator’s appointed times are clearly defined with the admonition enforcing their observance,
And in all that I have said to you take heed. And make no mention of the name of other gods, let it not be heard from your mouth. (Exo 23:13)
After the Creator bestowed the rights of the people to observe His appointed times (see Lev 23 for the full list of them), He said, “And in all that I have said to you take heed“, that is, “you diligently do all the bestowed rights which I have given you”.
And then the warning follows right after, “Make no mention of the name of other gods, let it not be heard from your mouth.”
This concluding formula of the Fundamental Rights of Israel: “make no mention and let it not be heard” is not meant to be understood as not to speak the names of the idols, otherwise how would the people know what not to speak, but that the Creator has set a clear boundary line between the way He wants to be worshiped and the way the heathens worship their worthless idols.
That not a mere mention of the pagan names of idols is meant here but something more is seen in the repetition of the same admonition Yehoshua (Joshua) gave to Israel.
And you shall be very strong to guard and to do all that is written in the Book of the Torah of Mosheh, so as not to turn aside from it right or left, so as not to go in among these nations, these who remain among you. And make no mention of the name of their gods, nor swear by them, nor serve them nor bow down to them. But cling to Yehovah your Elohim, as you have done to this day. (Jos 23:6-8)
Hence, we derive that “Make no mention of the name of other gods, let it not be heard from your mouth“ means not to swear by the names of the pagan idols, not to serve them, and not to bow down to them.
The creation week
The Word of YHVH begins with the creation of the first week in whose pattern we see a shadow picture of how the world will exist in the following 7,000 years.
Much can be said about the hidden meaning of YHVH’s first week in which He has given us the model to follow: six days work is to be done and the seventh day is a rest for YHVH (Exo 20:8-11)
There is a common understanding of the sages, found in Sanhedrin 97a, about the coming of the Messiah, regarding which R. Kattina said:
Six thousand years shall the world exist, and one [thousand, the seventh], it shall be desolate, as it is written, And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day [footnote: Isa. II, 11].
The Tanna debe Eliyyahu teaches likewise:
The world is to exist six thousand years. In the first two thousand there was desolation; two thousand years the Torah flourished; and the next two thousand years is the Messianic era [footnote: I.e., Messiah will come within that period], but through our many iniquities all these years have been lost [footnote: He should have come at the beginning of the last two thousand years; the delay is due to our sins].
The Sages describe the whole human history as a seven-millennium week, consisting of 6,000 years of human labor in developing the Creator’s world and a seventh millennium that is “wholly Shabbat and rest, for life everlasting” that is the Era of the Messiah.
As the Creator created the first week, He did not give proper names to the days, but he simply numbered them.
The beginning of months
The beginning of the months was given to the Israelites with the Law of Passover and the Unleavened bread,
This month shall be unto you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. (Exo 12:2 JPS)
In the Jewish tradition, Mechilta, Shab. 63a, the Creator showed Moses the moon in its renewal and said to him, “When the moon renews itself, you will have a new month”. This month (lit., this renewal) was called by the Creator “the month of the Aviv” in Exo 13:4.
Note: Aviv is not a proper name for the first month, as Shabbat is not a proper name for the seventh day of the week, but a stage in the development of the barley crops when it is ripe.
Likewise, the Creator did not give proper names to the months of the year but simply numbered them.
We should clearly state here that neither do the Biblical months have names, nor the days of the week.
However, there are three Biblical months found in the Scripture with strange names attached to them:
(1) Ethanim, brooks, plural of ethan from an unused root meaning “to continue”, “permanence”, “permanent”. Ethanim is always used with the article the, hence the permanent brooks,
(2) Bul meaning “increase”, “produce”, is used for the eighth month, corresponding to November-December (1Ki 6:38),
(3) and Ziv, the second month of the year, corresponding to April-May found in 1Ki 6:1 and 1Ki 6:37. The word Ziv means “bloom” and it is called so, because in that month there is the bloom of the trees. Hence, Targum Jonathan translated Ziv “the bloom of the buds”.
These names, Ethanim, Bul, and Ziv are not mentioned anywhere in Leviticus 23 and, in fact, anywhere in the Torah. They appear four times and only in the Book of Kings to denote a historical account of using these names.
We should also state that all four references to these month names are in the account of King Solomon’s relation with the Phoenicians and their assistance with the construction of the Temple (1Ki 6:1, 1Ki 6:37-38, 1Ki 8:2).
Since, these names are mentioned only in Kings and only in relation to the building of the Temple, we may conclude that, most likely, they are of foreign, possibly, Phoenician origin.
In fact, in three of the four instances in which they appear, the author of Kings translates them into Torah month names with the formula: “in the month [foreign name], which is the [Torah designation] month.”
However, there is another possibility that these words might not have been of pagan origin, because the seventh month, corresponding to October-November, called Ethanim, brooks, is called so because the permanent streams in Israel still flowed in that season of the year.
Such relations can be found for the other two months.
It is interesting to note that these names cannot be found in the parallel accounts in 2Ch 5:3-7. Nor can they be found in the writings of Flavius Josephus, who, if they were in circulation at that time, would have mentioned them. His account of the same event in 1Ki 8 is recorded in Antiquities, Book 8, Chapter 4:1, but the name Ethanim is not there.
Also, it is worth mentioning that 1&2 Kings and their parallels 1&2 Chronicles are post-exilic writings of the history of Israel in pre-exilic period.
Therefore, it is plausible that these names had been already adopted from the pagan practice to name the months, and simply applied to the Biblical months.
In fact, after the Jews returned from Babylon, they brought not only foreign [unconverted] wives and the square Aramaic script of Babylon that replaced the ancient Hebrew script, but also foreign names of the months in the Jewish calendar named after Babylonian deities.
Reckoning of hours
The Torah, the Prophets and the Writings do not number specific Biblical hours of the day. Only the Messianic Scriptures number specific hours in Matthew, Mark, Luke and Acts.
The third hour of the day (beginning with the sun rise roughly at six in the morning) is referred to in Mat 20:3-4, Mar 15:25 and Act 2:15 and corresponds to what today is known as 9 am.
The sixth hour of the day is referred to in Mat 20:5, 27:45, Mar 15:33, Luk 23:44 and Act 10:9 and corresponds to noon.
The ninth hour of the day is referred to in Matthew 20:5, 27:45, 27:46, Mark 15:33, 15:34, Luke 23:44, Acts 3:1, Acts 10:3 and Acts 10:30-31 and corresponds to 3 pm.
The eleventh hour of the day is referred to in Matthew 20:6 and Matthew 20:9 and corresponds to 5 pm.
The third hour of the night is referred to in Act 23:23-24 and corresponds roughly to 9 pm (as the night begins at sunset).
Although, we do not find specific hours of the day defined in the Torah, we do find the term אַשְׁמוּרָה ashmurah, which means “watch”, feminine from שָׁמַר shamar, to guard, to protect, to watch. Hence we find the terms “night watch” or “morning watch” in Exo 14:24, Jdg 7:19, 1Sa 11:11, Psa 90:4, Psa 63:6, Psa 119:148, and Lam 2:19.
The Rabbinic calendar vs. the Creator’s calendar
For instance, in the parts of the Hebrew Scriptures written during or after the Babylonian exile, five months appear with their Babylonian names.
Nisan was a name given to the first Biblical month, but the seventh month in the Rabbinic calendar; falls in March and April (Neh_2:1, Est_3:7).
Sivan was a name for the third month, but the ninth month in the Rabbinic calendar; falls in May and June (Est_8:9).
Tammuz was a name given to the fourth Biblical month, but the tenth month in the Rabbinic calendar; falls in June and July.
Elul was a name for the sixth month, but the twelfth month in the Rabbinic calendar; falls in August and September (Neh_6:15).
Kislev was a name for the ninth month, but the third month in the Rabbinic calendar; falls in November and December (Neh_1:1-2, Zec_7:1-3).
Adar was a name for the twelfth month, but the sixth month in the Rabbinic calendar; falls in February and March (Ezr_6:15, Est_3:7, 3:13, 8:11-12, 9:1, 9:15, 9:17, 9:19, 9:20-22).
But the worst thing that the Rabbis did was to name the fourth Biblical month (in June and July) after the name of the Sumerian and Babylonian deity Tammuz, a god of pastures and vegetation; consort of Inanna, another pagan deity.
Tammuz is mentioned only once in Eze 8:14: The worship of Tammuz.
The prophet Ezekiel was taken to the entrance of the gate of the Temple of YHVH, to see the women sitting there weeping for Tammuz, while the elders were secretly carrying on their idolatrous worship.
YHVH asked him,
Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each one in the room of his idols? For they say, ‘Yehovah does not see us, Yehovah has forsaken the land’.
And if that was not evil enough, YHVH said to Ezekiel,
You are to see still greater abominations which they are doing.
And He brought him to the door of the north gate of the Temple, and the prophet saw women sitting there, weeping for Tammuz.
Then YHVH asked him again,
Have you seen this, O son of man? You are to see still greater abominations than these.
And He brought him into the inner court of the Temple, where were about twenty-five men turned their backs to the Temple of YHVH, but their faces toward the east, and they were bowing themselves eastward to worship the sun. (Eze 8:12-16)
The man-made traditions do not stop here. In the Rabbinic literature, there are four “new” years, despite the establishment of the Creator’s New Year and the Law of Passover in Exo 12:2.
For instance, in Mishnah Rosh Hashanah 1:1 (literally “heads of the year”), we read about them:
(1) On the first of Nisan (the first Biblical month), the new year for the kings and for the festivals;
(2) On the first of Elul, the new year for the tithing of animals; but, Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Shimon say, it is on the first of Tishrei (the seventh Biblical month);
(3) On the first of Tishrei, the new year for the reckoning of the Sabbatical and Jubilee years and for the planting and for the vegetables;
(4) On the first of Shevat, the new year for the trees.
Pagan names for the months in the Christian tradition
On the Christian side of the man-made traditions, we find the names of the months given after pagan deities:
January is named after the Roman deity Janus. (Roman mythology) the Roman god of doorways and passages; is depicted with two faces on opposite sides of his head. It was originally the 11th month.
February is named for the pagan Roman festival of purification after the female idol February. It was originally the 12th month.
March is named after the Roman deity Mars; in the Roman mythology, Mars was a god of war and agriculture; father of Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome; Mars is a counterpart of Greek Ares. After this Roman deity the small reddish planet that is the 4th from the sun was named. It was originally the first month.
April comes from Apru, a Truscan form of Aphrodite, a goddess of love and beauty and daughter of Zeus in the Greek mythology; identified with Roman Venus (the second nearest planet to the sun). The Latin aprilis indicates a time of fertility.
May is named after Maius, the Roman goddess of fertility, growth, and increase; a counterpart of the Greek goddess Maia, who was identified with the Roman goddess Bona Dea, whose festival was held in that month; hence May.
June is named for Juno. In the Roman mythology, June was the queen of the Olympian gods who protected marriage; she was wife and sister of Jupiter, the major Roman deity. In the Greek mythology, the counterpart of June was Hera, the queen of the Olympian gods, also sister and wife of Zeus, the chief Greek deity, and is remembered for her jealousy of the many mortal women Zeus fell in love with.
The following two months are named after Roman emperors, who were also considered gods in the ancient Rome:
July is named in honor of Julius Caesar, conqueror of Gaul and master of Italy (100-44 BC).
August is named in honor of Augustus Caesar (Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus), who established the Roman Empire and became emperor in 27 BC. He defeated Mark Antony and Cleopatra in 31 BC at Actium (63 BC – AD 14).
And the last months of the Roman-Christian calendar are numerical:
September comes from the Latin root septem meaning “seven”, it was once the seventh month, hence September.
The original Roman republican calendar September was the seventh month of the year and had only ten months—Martius, Aprilis, Maius, Junius, Quintilis, Sextilis, September, October, November, and December. The last six months were assigned names according to their ordinal numbers—Quintilis is the fifth month, Sextilis is the sixth month, and so on.
October is named for eight (octo for eight); now it is the tenth month, but it was once the eighth month in the Julian calendar, hence October.
November likewise means nine (nove for nine); now it is the eleventh month, but it was once the ninth month in the Julian calendar, hence November.
December means ten (deci for ten); now it is the twelfth month, but it was once the tenth month in the Julian calendar, hence December.
While the pagan names of the months appear almost universally, the pagan names of the week days appear only in English.
Pagan names for the days of the week
The Christianity has also adopted foreign names for the day of the week.
As we know, the Creator YHVH never calls the days of the creation week with proper names, not even the day in which He rested from all His work in the creation: the seventh day Shabbat.
And because the Creator completed the work of creation on the seventh day (not on the sixth, as the Septuagint erroneously rendered it), the Hebrew word Shabbat simply means “cessation”, a stopping, from all work; Shabbat is not a proper name of a day that could be “reassigned” to the first day of the week erroneously taught in the Church.
Regarding the seventh day Sabbath, Apostle Shaul could not have been more assertive to the believers in Yeshua to observe it. He wrote,
So there remains a Sabbath observance for the people of Elohim. For the one, having entered into His rest, has himself also rested from his works, as Elohim from His own. Let us therefore do our utmost to enter into that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience. (Heb 4:9-11)
Note: the Greek word behind “Sabbath observance” is σαββατισμός sabattismos (not translated, perhaps, intentionally in KJV), the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew shabbat or shabbaton. Read more about the Creator’s day Shabbat Shabbaton.
Despite Shaul’s words in Heb 4:9-11, the Christian Church has embraced foreign practices and traditions of naming the days of the Creator’s week by giving them pagan names and thus having created its own Roman-Christian calendar.
The following names of the weeks (as they appear in English) are:
Sunday, the first day of the week, but in some Christian traditions, it is the seventh day. It is known as a day for worshipping the sun-god, hence the day of the Sun-god: Sunday. In the Egyptian mythology, the sun-god was Amon-ra; interestingly, ra in Hebrew means “evil”.
Monday is celebrated by worshipping Artemis who was associated with the moon, hence moon-day: Monday. In the Greek mythology, Artemis was the virgin goddess of the hunt and the Moon-god; daughter of Leto and twin sister of Apollo; identified with Roman Diana.
Tuesday is the day of Tiu, a god of war and sky; counterpart of Norse Tyra, also Teutonic Druid deity, that entered into English as Tuesday or Tiu-day.
“Teutonic” pertains to the ancient Teutons or their languages; Teutonic peoples are Germans, Scandinavians, and British. “Druid” comes from a pre-Christian priest among the Celts of ancient Gaul and Britain and Ireland.
Wednesday is Woden’s day. Woden is also known as Odin, a Celtic deity. That was a chief god; counterpart of Norse Odin and Teutonic Wotan.
Thursday is Thor’s day. In the Norse mythology, Thor was a god of thunder and rain and farming; pictured as wielding a hammer emblematic of the thunderbolt; identified with Teutonic Donar.
The Norse mythology is the mythology of Scandinavia (shared in part by Britain and Germany) until the establishment of Christianity.
Friday is Frigga’s day. In the Norse mythology, Frigga was a goddess of the heavens and married love; wife of Odin/Woden, hence Fri-day.
Saturday is Saturn’s day (or Saturnalia). In the Roman mythology, Saturn was a god of agriculture and vegetation; counterpart of Greek Cronus. To honor this pagan god, science named the giant planet that is surrounded by three planar concentric rings of ice particles, the 6th planet from the sun.
Note: It will be interesting for the reader to learn that the Hebrew word Shabbat is preserved in over 100 languages, but [perhaps] only in English a name of a pagan deity is given to the day of YHVH.
Pagan reckoning of the hours
The changes of the Creator’s reckoning of time unfortunately do not stop here, but continue to the recounting of the hours of the day. Today, the Gregorian calendar counts hours from midnight to midnight similarly to the way the Romans did.
As the Torah observant believer knows the day is clearly defined in the creation week as a period of twenty-four hours from sunset to sunset. Therefore, we may conclude with an absolute certainty that at 0:01 on the 1st of January nothing begins not an year, not a month, not even a day.
Speaking of the 1st of January, Christianity adopted the 25th of December as the birthday of “Jesus” and the 1st of January as the seventh day after his birth and therefore the day of his circumcision. And the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE formally ratified that day as the supersession of “the Church” over Israel as a chosen people, and the Replacement theology began. Thence, the adversary took the matter in his own hands and the rest is the present.
Setting Elohim aside
We have been warned by the messenger of the Almighty who spoke to Daniel concerning the ten-horned beast and his reign–the last empire of this world. The messenger warns that,
It speaks words against the Most High, and it wears out the set-apart ones of the Most High, and it intends to change appointed times and law, and they are given into its hand for a time and times and half a time. But the Judgment shall sit, and they shall take away its rule, to cut off and to destroy, until the end. (Dan 7:24-26)
Dan 7:25 refers to the last ruler of this world and says that he will speak against the Most High. Here the Hebrew word לְצַד means properly against or at the side of. It denotes that he will speak in such a manner that he both will set aside and make people set aside the laws of YHVH, and by doing this he will set the Most High aside.
The word דָּת dat is Aramaic for the Hebrew מִצְוָה mitsvah, a command, a law and points to arrangements of laws and ordinances; and זְמָן zeman is Aramaic for the Hebrew מִקְרָא mikra, an appointed time, a rehearsal, in Lev 23, and means an appointed occasion.
Note: This part of Daniel and others were written in Aramaic, a language close to Hebrew.
These appointed times and commands are the foundations and main conditions, emanating from YHVH, of the life and actions of men in the world. YHVH commands us to do them, because by them we shall live.
The sin of the wicked ruler in speaking against YHVH thus setting Him aside, or replacing Him with an image of Him, therefore, consists in this, that in these ordinances and laws he does not regard the fundamental conditions given by the Creator, but so changes the laws by which humans must live that he puts his own “laws” in the place of the Torah.
Thus, he does away with the commandments of life, not only of YHVH’s people, but of all men, changing even the secular laws, so that they could suit him better.
But, the people of YHVH are most affected by these changes, because they hold the commandments of life according to the will of the Creator, and therefore, are the first victims of the adversary who will enact his own “laws of observance”.
Sadly, the mainstream Christian Church (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and the countless Protestant denominations) has blindly followed the deception of the one who speaks against the Most High and has set aside, not set apart, the Torah of YHVH.
Thus, we witness today counterfeit “holidays”, which are either altered beyond recognition Biblical holidays, such as the Festival of the Tabernacles and the birth of Yeshua the Messiah to the winter solstice “Christmas”, the Passover and the Festival of First-fruits to “”Good Friday” and the spring equinox of the pagan goddess Easter, and probably the best counterfeit Pentecost for the Festival of the Weeks; or, blunt satanic days, such as “Halloween”.
The adversary knows that his time is running out and his end is rapidly coming. He knows that he does not have time to fight non-combatants; they are already loss. His primary target in the remaining allotted time will be the Torah-observant believers in Yeshua the Messiah, whom the Father has called “set-apart” and “remnant” in Rev 12:17 and Rev 14:12.
The faith in both Torah and the Messiah is necessary for salvation and those who guard them will be called the set-apart and the remnant. The rest of no concern to the dragon. This we studied in “Two things one needs to get saved” and “We are not under the Law of God exposed“, and in other articles of Time of Reckoning Ministry (TORM).
With all that being said, we may conclude that these are just a few examples of paganism that changed the faith, or as the present author says,
“Faith did not change Rome, Rome changed the faith.”
Much can be written about this ongoing issue in the faith today, yet we need to conclude with the wisdom of the wisest man,
And besides these, my son, be warned. Making of many books has no end, and much study is a wearying of the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the entire matter: Fear Elohim and guard His commands, for this is for all mankind! For Elohim shall bring every work into judgment , including all that is hidden, whether good or whether evil. (Ecc 12:12-14)
His son according to the flesh said it likewise:
But if you wish to enter into life, guard the commands. (Mat 19:17)
Whoever, then, breaks one of the least of these commands, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 5:19)
To learn more about the set-apart days of the Creator and how His Messiah Yeshua has fulfilled them, please, visit The Appointed Times of YHVH series of Time of Reckoning Ministry (TORM).
May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days.