The Eighth Month

New Moon Day Bible Study

John Plunkett

Just a short study this evening, as there are only four scriptures referring to this Eighth Month; and they're all in the Old Testament.

The Hebrew word for “month” – as we’ve seen many times before – is “chodesh”.  The Hebrew word for “eighth” is “shᵉmiyniy,” which only seems to mean eight or eighth.  But I find it interesting:

Firstly, because we used to have a church member back in our WCG days in Victoria by the name of Gabor Simony.

And secondly because the word is very similar to the Hebrew names for Simeon or Shimeon which means “heard” and stems from the Hebrew verb Shama which means to listen or to obey.

Some of you might be familiar with the well-known BBC TV historian, Simon Schama, who happens to be a Jew and who hosted BBC’s “The History of Britain,” “The Power of Art,” “The American Future” and, perhaps most notably, “The Story of the Jews.”  Simon Schama is an excellent name because, transliterated literally, it means, "Heard-Listen-Obey".

Let’s get right into our four "Eighth Month" scriptures; moving along in our usual time order, and beginning with:

970 BC: David’s Royal Guard

Yes, beginning in the year 970 BC (approximately) with yet another member of King David’s royal guard:

I Chronicles 27:11:
The eighth captain for the eighth month was Sibbecai the Hushathite, of the Zarhites: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.

Let’s look up the words "Sibbecai" and "Hushathite."

We won’t spend too much time on the word "Zarhite" tonight because, as I’m sure you’ll all remember (smile!), we looked it up last January when we read about another of David’s royal guard generals – another Zarhite one who served in the Tenth Month. 

But just as a reminder, the Zarhites were descendants of Zerah who was one of the sons of Judah and was the twin brother of Pharez.

So, what about Sibbecai?

Strong’s 5444 and pronounced Sib-bek-ah’- ee… the name has a couple of different spellings and appears in three other verses: first in another listing of David’s “mighty men”:

I Chronicles 11:29:
Sibbecai the Hushathite, Ilai the Ahohite.

Also, in two parallel scriptures that mention one of the frequent wars with those pesky Philistines: 

I Chronicles 20:4:
And it came to pass after this, that there arose war at Gezer with the Philistines; at which time Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Sippai, that was of the children of the giant: and they were subdued.

And its parallel verse, which gives different renditions of the battlefield place-name Gezer and the enemy warrior’s name Sippai:

II Samuel 21:18:
And it came to pass after this, that there was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob: then Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Saph, which was of the sons of the giant.

The name Sibbecai means weaver and it stems from the verb cabak (Strong’s 5440), which means folded together, wrapped, interweave or interwoven.

I’m not sure if there’s any significance here; but perhaps his Jewish family were interwoven or intermarried with one of the other Israelite tribes.

Now, what about the word Hushathite?

The Hebrew word is Chushathiy (Strong’s 2843) and is pronounced Khoo-shaw-thee.  It simply means Descendant of Hushah or Inhabitant of Hushah.

Hushah (Hebrew Chuwshah) which means Haste – was the son of Ezer who in turn was a son of Hur of the tribe of Judah.

It is thought that Hushah was also a place name.  According to Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible:

Hushah was a place in the hill country of Judah founded by a son of Ezer.  It is generally identified with Husan, 9 kilometres south-west of Bethlehem. 

The prophet Samuel also mentions another of David’s “mighty men” who also happened to be a Hushathite.  His name was Mebunnai.

959 BC: Solomon’s Temple Completed

I Kings 6:38: 
And in the eleventh year, in the month Bul, which is the eighth month, was the house finished throughout all the parts thereof, and according to all the fashion of it.  So was he seven years in building it.

This “eleventh year” is believed to be the eleventh year of Solomon’s reign.  So, if he came to the throne in the year 970 BC, as is commonly believed, then the year referred to here would be 959 BC.  But, as always, let’s not get too hung up on the accuracy of the dates.  I just want to give you a rough idea of when these things happened and their approximate relationship to each other.

What is interesting in the verse and date, however, other than the fact that the temple was completed then, is the month name – given in most Bible translations as “Bul”; but the transliterated Hebrew is actually “Buwl” (Strong’s 945).

In this form and sense of a month name, it only appears this once in the Old Testament.  It can mean “Rainy,” which is quite an apt name if we consider the fact that Israel’s “Main Rains’ kick into high gear at this time.  The November rainfall in Jerusalem skyrockets to 106 mm from October’s 15.4 mm and September’s 0.3 mm.  Yet another proof of the significance of the Autumnal Equinox, which falls on September 22nd or 23rd.

Bul can also mean the increase of produce.  In this regard, the agricultural activities of this eighth month were the completion of the main olive harvest and the final ploughing of the fields in readiness for the planting of the following year's grain crops.

As well as the month name, the word Buwl also appears in two other verses in the KJV as food or stock – the stock meaning being as in the trunk of a tree or a stout block of wood.

Just for your interest, here are those two verses:

Job 40:20:
Surely the mountains bring him
{the behemoth (verse 15) -- whatever kind of huge animal that was!} forth food {buwl}, where all the beasts of the field play.

Isaiah 44:19:
And none considers in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, “I have burned part of it in the fire; yes, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten it: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination?  Shall I fall down to the stock
{buwl} of a tree?”

The idea here is “Shall I fall down and worship a dumb block of wood?”

After the Jewish exile, the month name was changed to the Akkadian/Mesopotamian name Marcheshvan, which, in modern times, is commonly shortened by the Jews to Cheshvan.
Marcheshvan simply means “eighth month.”

930 BC: Jeroboam’s Alternate Feast

Speeding through the years now: 

• Solomon gets "naughty," 

• As a result, the LORD prophesies of His punishment via the division of Israel; but after Solomon's death,

• Solomon goes "the way of all flesh," 

• Solomon is succeeded by his son, Rehoboam, 

• Rehoboam makes some unwise decisions, 

• As a result of those decisions, the people get riled up – to the point where ten of the twelve tribes split off under the leadership of Jeroboam – who became the new king of the northern House of Israel – leaving two tribes for Rehoboam to look after.

• And so, the prophecy is fulfilled, 

But!... a big conundrum immediately arose.  The people of the northern ten tribes knew that they were supposed to keep God’s holy days – including the Feast of Tabernacles.  And they also knew that the holy days were to be kept at the temple – which, of course, was located in Jerusalem – which was now in enemy territory – Rehoboam’s territory!  So, Jeroboam came up this dumb idea for a solution:

1 Kings 12: 
26: And Jeroboam said in his heart, “Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David:
27: If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah.”
28: Whereupon the king
{Jeroboam} took counsel
{unwise counsel - just as Rehoboam had done!}, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them {the people – not the golden calves!}, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold your gods, O Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt”...

A direct quotation from Aaron his forefather Aaron in one of his dumbest moments!

29: And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.
30: And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.
31: And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.
32: And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar.  So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.
33: So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.

So Jeroboam’s decisions turned out to be just as dumb as Rehoboam’s!  This one was a sin!  A big one!  And he paid the penalty!

Now, I’m sure that, last year in 2015, there might be some people out there who might have accused us of committing this same serious sin as Jeroboam committed nearly 3,000 years ago.  But their accusations would be unfounded.  We didn’t keep the Feast in the eighth month.  We didn’t postpone it!  We kept it at what we fervently believe to have been the correct time – in the correct seventh month.

520 BC: Post-Exile Warning to the House of Judah

The years fly by.  The unrepentant northern House of Israel is taken into captivity by the Assyrians.  The southern House of Judah fails to learn their brothers’ lesson and is taken into seventy years of captivity by Nebuchadnezzar.  Upon their release, the LORD warns the Jews to learn from this punishment:

Zechariah 1:
1: In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, 
2: “The LORD has been sore displeased with your fathers…

Not Zechariah’s fathers specifically, of course; but the fathers of the House of Judah generally – the ones who had committed the sins that resulted in their punishment by exile and captivity.

3: Therefore say you {Zechariah} unto them {the people generally the children of the fathers}, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts; “Turn you unto me,” says the LORD of hosts, “and I will turn unto you,” says the LORD of hosts.
4: “Be you not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts; “Turn you now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings”: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me,’ says the LORD…

They were unrepentant!

5: Your fathers, where are they?  And the prophets?  Do they live forever? …

The unwritten answer is “No”!  The fathers who had committed the sins and even the prophets through whom God had sent His warnings to the fathers; most – or even all – of them were now dead!

6: But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers?  And they returned and said, “Like as the LORD of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so has He dealt with us.”

The human beings went the way of all flesh.  They died.  But the results of their sins – the LORD’s just penalty for those sins – did not perish with them.  The full seventy years’ punishment was fulfilled and carried out – just as prophesied.

This short – but specific – prophecy ends here in verse 6; but the message to its recipients is obvious.  Paraphrasing: 

"Those seventy miserable years of captivity were the LORD’s just punishment for your many sins which, despite numerous warnings, you refused to repent of.  Don’t do it again!  Because, if you do, He will repeat that same penalty of scattering, exile and captivity."

Did the Jews heed?  To some extent, yes, they did.  But, as we’ve been discussing in recent episodes of our "ABC of Scattering" series, the mode of their sins took a different turn and resulted in another period of captivity – initially in their own land; but later – after 70 AD – with more scattering.