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As a word meaning "months," the word חדשים is used in Ber. 38:24 and then multiple locations after Sh'mot 12:2.

יְרָחִים appears in Sh'mot 2:2, then (possibly) in Dev 33:14 and twice in Iyov.

When they refer to "months" do they both refer to the same thing or is there a difference (in meaning or reference)? Why would these 3.5 instances choose Yerachim over Chodashim? I thought that maybe a yerach was a moon cycle (from whatever point the moon is at to the next instance of that same point) while a chodesh was based on the newness (so "new to new") but I have no basis for that.

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ירח has its name based on the rotation it follows, that the moon's light it renewed from each rotation to the next (מירח לירח). Therefore it says (Tehilim 104:19), He made the moon (ירח) to mark the seasons, saying the God established the time-cycle of the moon to the days of the month (חדש) so that mankind will have a signal to establish its correct time-cycle. Or that a person can say to his friend, in another month I will pay you, or I'll do X for you at X time.

It is written in (מדרש כת"י תימני), a חדש is the beginning of the month, and ירח is the end.

In the Talmud, Sanhedrin 11a, it says a חדש is 29 days. In Yebamot 48b it says ירח is 30 days.

Thus, Chodesh is a direct reference to a set amount of time, which is consistent, whilst Yareach is in correlation with activity of the moon (cf. Aderet Eliyahu on Dev 33:14)

Just as a personal rule I noticed, chodesh means month in the normal English sense of the word, when the word yareach is used, it is telling you something [see above, perhaps].


Select explanations above taken from ספר באור שמות הנרדפים by ורטהימר, שלמה אהרן בן יעקב, 1866-1935.

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