According to the chronology I cite here from Seder Olam Rabbah ch. 5,

ומאילם נסעו לאלוש, שנאמר ויסעו מאילם ויבאו כל עדת בני ישראל אל מדבר סין (שמות טז א) (הוא אלוש) בחמשה עשר יום לחדש השני לצאתם מארץ מצרים (שם), ואחד בשבת היה, הא למדנו שראש חדש אייר באחד בשבת היה, ועוד למדנו שהיו ישראל אוכלין מעוגה שהוציאו בידם ממצרים כל שלשים יום, ובו ביום כלתה, ולערב אכלו את השליו ולמשכים לקטו את המן, ובאלוש נתנה להם השבת, ושם עשו שבת ראשונה, שנאמר וישבתו העם ביום השבעי (שם טז ל), באחד בשבת בכ"ג באייר נסעו מאלוש ובאו להם לרפידים

From Eilim they traveled to Alush, as it says, "And they traveled from Eilim and the entire congregation of Bnei Yisrael came to Midbar Sin on the 15th of the second month from leaving Mitzraim" (Shemos 16:1). It was a Sunday; this teaches us that Rosh Chodesh Iyar was a Sunday. This also teaches us that they ate from the cakes which they brought in their hands from Mitzraim for thirty days, and on that day, it ran out. That evening, they ate the slav, and when they woke up, they collected the mann. In Alush they received Shabbos, and there they made their first Shabbos, as it says, "And the nation rested on the seventh day" (ibid. v. 30). On Sunday, 23 Iyar, they travelled from Alush and came to Refidim.

This seems to be self-contradictory: first it insists that 15 Iyar was a Sunday, then it says that the following Sunday was the 23 Iyar! Further, the Braisa proceeds to explain that the Torah was given on 6 Sivan on Shabbos; this fits with the 23 Iyar being a Sunday, but not with 15 Iyar being a Sunday.

Further, the Braisa insists that 15 Nissan is a Friday. This only works if 15 Iyar is a Sunday, assuming Nissan is 30 days, or Shabbos, if Nissan is 29 days.

Were the Braisa to say that 15 Iyar is a Sunday, 22 Iyar is a Sunday, and 29 Iyar is a Sunday, I'd have no problem; Seder Olam Rabbah agrees with the Chachamim in Shabbos 87b that the Torah was given on Shabbos, 6 Sivan, but argues on the Braisa there that Bnei Yisrael left Mitzraim on a Thursday. However, it does not say this.

Is this simply a typo in Seder Olam that crept in over the generations? Or am I missing something here?


R. Elijah of Vilna in his notes to this passage does indeed assume that it is a simple mistake:

באחד בשבת בכ"ב באייר כצ"ל

This is the approach taken by R. Chanoch Zundel as well in his commentary there.

However, none of the manuscripts I checked have the date as the 22nd of Iyar. The last one just has Iyar without a specific date and all of the other ones have the date as the 23rd of Iyar.

The Palatina Library, Parma, Italy Cod. Parm. 2787 (p. 9 in the file)

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The Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, Oxford, England Ms. Hunt. 487 (p. 22 in the file)

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Hebrew Union College Library, Cincinnati, OH, USA Ms. 852, Hebrew Union College Library, Cincinnati, OH, USA Ms. 853 (p. 7 in the file)

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Library at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA Ms. 13 (p. 7 in the file)

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The British Library, London, England Or. 10187 (p. 48 in the file)

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In any case, the number of days in Nissan is not up for debate, since it explicitly says that on the 15th of Iyar they had been eating the same cakes for 30 days.

Speaking of contradictory dating, though, I think you may have contradicted yourself as well. In your first paragraph (after the quote) you say that the 6th of Sivan on Shabbos fits with the 23rd of Iyar on Sunday (and not with the 22nd of Iyar on Sunday), but then two paragraphs later you say that the 22nd of Iyar on Sunday fits with the 6th of Sivan on Shabbos.

Getting back to the question at hand, according to the third manuscript above there is actually no contradiction. If you look closely you will see that though it has the date as the 23rd of Iyar, it leaves out that that day was Sunday. Thus according to this manuscript we are free to say that the 23rd of Iyar was Monday, which would allow the 15th and 22nd of Iyar to be Sunday. However, we can't quite say that for a different reason. This manuscript happens to also have a different text a little earlier. Instead of saying that the 15th and the 1st of Iyar were Sunday, it says that they were Shabbos.

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Thus, according to this manuscript the 15th of Iyar was Shabbos which would make the 23rd of Iyar actually Sunday! So the only manuscript which can uphold the chronology of the 23rd of Iyar being Sunday, is also the only manuscript that doesn't claim that the 23rd of Iyar was Sunday.

  • Some of the links to the manuscripts are finicky (at least for me). I replaced a couple of them, but it's possible that a couple of them won't work properly. – Alex Apr 2 '19 at 4:31

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