The postexilic name of the fifth lunar month of the Jewish sacred calendar, but the eleventh of the secular calendar. It corresponds to part of July and part of August. The meaning of the name “Ab” is uncertain. In the Bible it is mentioned, not directly by name, but only as the “fifth month.” The name does appear, however, in the Jewish Talmud and their postexilic writings.
Ab was a month of summer heat, a time when the olives ripened on the trees in the lowlands of Palestine.
It was on the first day of Ab that Aaron died on Mount Hor. (Num. 33:38) Second Kings 25:8 says that it was on the seventh day of this month that Nebuzar-adan, the servant of the king of Babylon, “came to Jerusalem.” However, Jeremiah 52:12 tells us that it was on the tenth day of this month that Nebuzar-adan “came into Jerusalem.” The Soncino Books of the Bible (1949) (Volume of Jeremiah, p. 353) comments on this, saying: “The interval of three days may be accounted for as representing the date of Nebuzaradan’s arrival on the scene and the commencement of operations.” It would appear, then, that Nebuzar-adan arrived at Jerusalem on the seventh day, made his survey from his camp outside the city walls, directed the demolition of the city fortifications, the plundering of its treasures, and, finally, on the tenth day of the month, entered the city and its holy temple. According to Josephus (Wars of the Jews, Book VI, chap. IV, pars. 5 and 8), Herod’s temple was burned by the Romans on the tenth day of the fifth month (70 C.E.), and Josephus makes note of the precise correspondency of this date with the burning of the first temple on the same day by the Babylonians.
During the following seventy-year Babylonian exile, this fifth month was a time of fastings and wailings by the Jews in memory of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. (Zech. 7:3, 5; 8:19) It was also in the month Ab that Ezra returned to the restored Jerusalem to instruct the Jews in the law of Jehovah.—Ezra 7:8, 9, 25; see CALENDAR.