In Yechezkel 33:21:

וַיְהִי בִּשְׁתֵּי עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה בָּעֲשִׂרִי בַּחֲמִשָּׁה לַחֹדֶשׁ לְגָלוּתֵנוּ בָּא אֵלַי הַפָּלִיט מִירוּשָׁלַ‍ִם לֵאמֹר הֻכְּתָה הָעִיר

That is, on the Fifth of Teves of the twelfth year of Yechezkel's (Yehoyachin's) exile, the messenger came to Yechezkel, telling him of the destruction of Jerusalem.

Radak is puzzled:

מ"מ יש לתמוה איך לא הגיע השמועה עד חמשה חדשים מן החורבן

Abarbanel as well:

הנה העיר הוכתה בחדש החמישי שהוא חודש אב בתשיעי ובעשירי בו ואיך יתכן שלא שמעו בבבל ראש מלכות נבוכד נצר הצלחתו ונצחונו עד החדש העשירי מהשנה האחרת שהוא זמן חמשה חדשים בקירוב כי הנה מירושלם עד בבל ילכו צירים רצים בחדש ימים ובפחות מזה להגיד בשורה טובה לכשדיים כזאת ואיך נתעכבה חמשה חדשים

So Radak gives an answer that maybe the army with the exiles took a detour through another country to capture it before heading back to Bavel. Abarbanel gives his answer that the months are counted "לְגָלוּתֵנוּ", which was in Kislev, so it really was only a month after the churban.

But wait a second...Five months? Nevuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem in the eleventh year of Tzidkiyahu's reign, which would be the eleventh year of Yehoyachin's exile. If so, then this episode, which is "בִּשְׁתֵּי עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה ... לְגָלוּתֵנוּ" is actually seventeen months after the destruction of Jerusalem, in which case Abarbanel's answer won't work and Radak's is extremely far-fetched.

The question is: How is my timeline off and really the messenger was just five months late, like Radak concludes and like Abarbanel originally assumes. [And according to Abarbanel's conclusion, why was the messenger just one month late and not thirteen?] And if my timeline is not off, how do we answer the question of why the messenger came 17 months later?

2 Answers 2


On 40:1 (where Yechezkel's prophecy is dated "the 25th year of our exile, on Rosh Hashanah, the tenth of the month, in the 14th year after the city was destroyed"), Abarbanel argues that "Rosh Hashanah" can mean anniversary of the exile. So according to him, at least, not only the months but also the years לגלותנו may indeed be counted consistently from Kislev. (In fact, if we were to assume that the years of this era are counted from Nissan, we would have a problem: that exile occurred in 3327, and the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed on Tisha B'Av 3338. If Year 1 לגלותנו runs from Nissan 3326-Adar 3327, then the twelfth year of that era would end in Adar 3338 - five months before the Destruction. That said, it would work out equally well if this era's years begin with Tishrei.)

On the other hand, the Gemara (Erachin 12a) understands 40:1 to be talking about the 10th of Tishrei, and on this basis identifies it as a Yovel year, whose observances take effect on Yom Kippur. Rambam (Hil. Shemittah VeYovel 10:3), on the basis of the discussion in the Gemara there, places the Destruction in the 36th year of the Yovel period, meaning that the last Yovel before the Destruction was in 3302; since a Yovel occurs (according to the Sages) every 50 years, then Yechezkel received this prophecy on 10 Tishrei 3352. Let's take both possibilities, then:

  • If the years לגלותנו run from Tishrei to Elul, then 3352 = 25, making 3328 the first year of that era. 3338, the year of the Destruction, would be the 11th year; the following 5 Teves would be already in the 12th year. There's your five months. (The problem with this is that Yehoyachin's exile was in 3327, so why isn't that year counted as part of this era?)

  • If they run from Nissan to Adar, then year 25 began on 1 Nissan 3351, so year 1 began on 1 Nissan 3327. (We would have to assume, contrary to Abarbanel, that Yehoyachin's exile was sometime between Nissan and Elul.) Year 12 would run from 1 Nissan 3338 to 29 Adar 3339; again, 5 Teves of the 12th year comes out five months after the Destruction.

Either way, though, that still leaves us with the problem of dating Tzidkiyahu's reign. The Destruction occurred in his 11th year (Jer. 39:2 and 52:5); since this corresponds to 3338, then his first year would have had to begin in Nissan 3328 (or Tishrei of that year, if for some reason his regnal years were counted from Tishrei). If Yehoyachin was exiled sometime in 3327, what happened during the interim?

  • Thanks, Alex. I like the Nissan-Adar scheme, and start counting years from Yehoyachin's exile instead of Tzidkiyahu's reign. I just assumed that they both happened at the same time. It works out pretty well for Radak, but I still can't work out Abarbanel's timeline.
    – jake
    Nov 18, 2011 at 19:41

The year changes on the 1st of Tishrei as that is the new year for counting years. (Mishna, Rosh Hashana 1:1) It doesn't matter if you start an event on the 30th of Elul, when Tishrei comes around its the next "year". Av was the 11th year, Elul was the 11th year, Tishrei is the 12th year, Cheshvan is the 12th year, Kislev was the 12th year, and then Tevet was the 12th year.

That's 5 months later.

  • Nissan starts the new year for kings, not Tishrei.
    – jake
    Nov 18, 2011 at 10:06
  • I knew somethign was wrong with my answers, because the year given in Yechezkal is the year of the exile not the year of the king. Thankfully, I just remembered my 4 new years incorrectly and have fixed it.
    – avi
    Nov 18, 2011 at 10:13
  • I think not. Read Abarbanel there; he's very clear that these years are counted from Nissan. Something funny is going on here.
    – jake
    Nov 18, 2011 at 10:22
  • Looks to me like he is just explaining the switch from years of the king to year of the galut. One is based on nisan, the other on tishrei.
    – avi
    Nov 18, 2011 at 10:31
  • No. One is based on Nissan; the other on Kislev. But that's not the point. He is explaining how the count is different for the years than for the months. The last line sums it up pretty clearly: "יען השנים נמנו מניסן כשנות המלכים כולם והחדשים נמנו כולם לגלותם".
    – jake
    Nov 18, 2011 at 10:36

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