[20] A Biblical Month is a Whole Number of Days

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A cycle of the moon around the earth is about 44 minutes more than 29.5 days, but in this chapter we shall see from some verses using both of the Hebrew words for month, namely chodesh and yerach, that biblically speaking, a month is a whole number of days, with no fraction remaining. In Judea in the first century the Jewish culture did use a common term for hour, but earlier in ancient Israel’s history, there is no small subdivision of time such as hours or minutes. However, by some unknown means, the night was apparently split into three “watches” (Ex 13:34; Judg 7:19; Ps 63:6; 90:4; 119:148; Lam 2:19).

If there is always clear weather for good visibility, and the sighting of the new crescent is made from Israel, then every month should have 29 or 30, days. This is not true for all places on the earth. For example, with good visibility from southern Australia, on rare occasions there can be a 31-day month.

The literal expression a month of days as seen in several verses below, is idiomatically translated a full month in almost all translations. These examples show that a biblical month is a whole number of days.

Gen 29:14, “And he dwelt with him a month [2320 chodesh] of days.”
Num 11:19, “You shall not eat one day, or two days, or five days, or 10 days, or 20 days,”
Num 11:20, “[but] until a month [2320 chodesh] of days, until it comes out from your nostrils, and it will be loathsome to you because you have rejected YHWH who is among you, and you have wept before Him saying, Why did we go out of Egypt?”
Num 11:21, “And Moses said, the people [are] 600,000 on foot among whom I am, and You said, I will give them flesh that they may eat a month [2320 chodesh] of days.”
Deut 21:13, “and she shall put off her captive's clothing and remain in your house, and grieve for her father and mother a month [3391 yerach] of days. And after that you may go in to her and be her husband and she will be your wife.”
II Ki 15:13, “Shallum the son of Jabesh reigned in the 39th year of Uzziah, king of Judah, and he reigned a month [3391 yerach] of days in Samaria.”