SEASONS (See Calendar; Time)

At the Exodus, it was provided that Israel should measure time from the Passover month, which became the first month of the year (Exod 12:2), and the other fixed occasions were measured from this starting point, e.g., the three times in the year when all the men of Israel were commanded to come together for the great religious festivals. However, once the people settled in the Promised Land and became cultivators rather than pastoralists, the rhythm of the farmer’s year asserted itself, and the religious festivals came to acquire a new significance as marking the seasons.

Agriculturally, the year began with the “early” rains in October, when the sun-baked earth became sufficiently workable for plowing and sowing to take place. The crops grew through the wet season and in April the harvest began, the first ripe crop being barley. In June the main harvest occurred, followed by the gathering of grapes and olives, and it was not until late September or early October that the cycle of the farm year was completed.

The festivals of Israel marked the progression of these seasons. The Passover occurred at the time of gathering the first fruits in April; the Feast of Weeks coincided with the main wheat harvest, and involved loaves of bread to underline the connection; the Feast of Tabernacles marked the “harvest home” and the start of the new crop year. Baly sees in the water poured out at the Feast of Tabernacles a form of symbol of “the desperate need for rain,” as the farmers began the labors of a new season. See Calendar.


A. Edersheim, The Temple, Its Ministry and Services (1874); D. Baly, The Geography of The Bible (1957), ch. VIII.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(summer: qayits, Chaldaic qayiT (Da 2:35); (theros; winter: cethaw) (So 2:11), (choreph; cheimon): The four seasons in Palestine are not so marked as in more northern countries, summer gradually fading into winter and winter into summer. The range of temperature is not great. In the Bible we have no reference to spring or autumn; the only seasons mentioned are "summer and winter" (Ge 8:22; Ps 74:17; Zec 14:8).

Winter is the season of rain lasting from November to May. "The winter is past; the rain is over" (So 2:11). See Rain. The temperature at sealevel in Palestine reaches freezing-point occasionally, but seldom is less than 40ø F. On the hills and mountains it is colder, depending on the height. The people have no means of heating their houses, and suffer much with the cold. They wrap up their necks and heads and keep inside the houses out of the wind as much as possible. "The sluggard will not plow by reason of the winter" (Pr 20:4). Jesus in speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem says, "Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter" (Mt 24:20). Paul asks Timothy to "come before winter" (2Ti 4:21) as navigation closed then and travel was virtually impossible.

Summer is very hot and rainless. "(When) the fig tree .... putteth forth its leaves, ye know that the summer is nigh" (Mr 13:28); "The harvest is past, the summer is ended" (Jer 8:20). It is the season of harvesting and threshing (Da 2:35). "He that gathereth in summer is a wise son" (Pr 10:5).

See Cold; Heat; ASTRONOMY, sec. I, 5.

Alfred H. Joy