This was the seventh lunar month of the sacred calendar of the Israelites, but the first of the secular calendar. (1 Ki. 8:2) It corresponded to part of September and part of October. Following the Babylonian exile it was called Tishri, a name that does not appear in the Bible record but which is found in postexilic writings.
The name “Ethanim” is understood to mean “steady flowings” or “perennial streams.” The long hot summer now had ended and only those streams that were fed by springs had not dried up. In speaking of the festival that began on the fifteenth day of this month (or around the first part of October), the historian Josephus writes: “The season of the year is changing for winter, the law enjoins us to pitch tabernacles in every one of our houses, so that we preserve ourselves from the cold of that time of the year.”—Antiquities of the Jews, 1825, Book III, chap, X, par. 4, p. 147.
START OF AGRICULTURAL YEAR
Whereas Abib (or Nisan) became the first month of the year in the sacred Jewish calendar following the exodus from Egypt, Ethanim continued to be viewed as the first month in a secular or agricultural sense. With this month, almost all the harvesting had been completed, marking the conclusion of the agricultural year. The early rains that thereafter fell softened the ground for the plowing that would follow, and which would denote the initiation of new agricultural operations. Jehovah referred to Ethanim as the turning point of the year when speaking of the festival of ingathering as being “at the outgoing of the year,” and “at the turn of the year.” (Ex. 23:16; 34:22) It is also notable that it was not in the month of Abib but in this month of Ethanim that the Jubilee year began.—Lev. 25:8-12.
The later name applied to the month, Tishri, means “beginning” or “opening,” and Tishri 1 is still observed by the Jews as their New Year’s Day or Rosh Hashanah (“head of the year”).
Ethanim was also a month of festivals. The first day was the “day of the trumpet blast.” (Lev. 23:24; Num. 29:1) Since each new moon was normally announced with a trumpet blast, this day likely was one of additional or extensive trumpeting. (Num. 10:10) On the tenth of Ethanim the annual day of atonement was observed. (Lev. 16:29, 30; 23:27; Num. 29:7) From the fifteenth to the twenty-first occurred the festival of booths or festival of ingathering, followed on the twenty-second day by a solemn assembly. (Lev. 23:34-36) Thus, a large part of the month of Ethanim was taken up by these festival seasons.
EVENTS OCCURRING IN ETHANIM
Since the Bible, from its first book forward, presents chronological data, and since the first mention of years of life is in connection with the life of Adam, it would seem that the ancient use of the month called “Ethanim” as the initial month of the year would give some basis for believing that Adam’s start of life was in this month. (Gen. 5:1-5) It was on the first day of Ethanim that Noah, after having already spent over ten months within the ark, removed the ark’s covering and observed that the floodwaters had drained off the ground. (Gen. 8:13) Over 1,300 years later Solomon inaugurated the completed temple at Jerusalem in Ethanim. (1 Ki. 8:2; 2 Chron. 5:3) After Jerusalem’s destruction in 607 B.C.E., the killing of Governor Gedaliah and the subsequent flight to Egypt of the remaining Israelites in the month of Ethanim marked the full desolation of Judah. (2 Ki. 25:25, 26; Jer. 41:1, 2) These events were involved in the reasons for the “fast of the seventh month” mentioned at Zechariah 8:19. Seventy years later, by this very same month, the released Israelite exiles had returned from Babylon to begin the restoration of Jerusalem.—Ezra 3:1, 6.
The evidence also indicates that Jesus’ birth took place during this month, as well as his subsequent baptism and anointing.—See JESUS CHRIST.