In Nehemiah 2:1 we read:

"And it came to pass in the month of Nissan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes..."

What did the Jews in the postexilic era mean when they only mentioned the month of an event but not the specific day of that month? In Neh. 2:1, for example, only "month of Nissan" is mentioned (without a specific day). For the Jews during that time, did that mean something like "the event occurred in any day of Nisan" or did they implicitly mean the 1st or some other day?

Compared to us today: If we say that something happend in the month of March, it could be any day in March. Was that the same for Jews like Nehemiah?

In summary: What is the semantic of "in the month of Nissan" for the postexilic Jews? Thanks!

  • judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/17810/… there's no way to prove it of course
    – Double AA
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 20:29
  • I feel like it should be April instead of March, for continuity some how
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 22:26
  • From a class that I had, I was told that an unspecified month reference means the first of the month. Since I did not have the sources, I can only use it as a comment rather than an answer. Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 3:14
  • @sabbahillel It would be nice if you had a source for that :-)
    – to_sam
    Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 18:56

1 Answer 1


If you want to know what this specific example meant, perhaps it can be explained, but this will not work for all cases at all, whatsoever.

Rabbi Chisda in the Talmud, Rosh Hashana 3a[-b] asks from which month the reign of a new non-Jew king is counted. It links the verse of Nehemiah 1:1 to Nehemiah 2:1, in that they both make mention of twenty years.

It can be deduced, that because of the choosing of this verse, it must be referring to the first of the month. For kings’ reigns begin on the first, see ibid. 2a-b.

Additionally, based on context the date of the month seems to be irrelevant and not what they were concerned with with regards to keeping certain records of dates. For comparison, just look at the many other times dates of the month are recorded.

And so it could be any day in March

  • Thank you Dr. Shmuel - so you are saying that in this specific example of Nehemiah, the date must refer to the 1st of Nissan in the 20th year of the king?
    – to_sam
    Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 4:54
  • @to_sam that is correct
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 8:01

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