The concept of a week

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The concept of a week

Postby Jayan » Sun 26 Apr 2009 9:15 pm

I was chatting with my Latin tutor the other day, and we were wondering how many ancient cultures had the concept of a week. The classical Romans (at least to our knowledge) did not. We came to the tentative conclusion that it was the Ancient Hebrews who first showed evidence of the concept of a week. What have you found?
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Re: The concept of a week

Postby linguoboy » Mon 27 Apr 2009 1:51 am

Jayan wrote:We came to the tentative conclusion that it was the Ancient Hebrews who first showed evidence of the concept of a week. What have you found?

The Jews only adopted the seven-day week as a consequence of the Babylonian captivity, which implies that it may have already been in use there even if we don't have direct evidence of this.

In ancient China, each month of 29 or 30 days was divided into three ten-day periods called 旬 xún, a system that was adopted in Korea and Japan as well. It remained in use in all three countries until the adoption of the seven-day week from the West in modern times. I believe a nearly identical system is also attested for ancient Egypt.
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Re: The concept of a week

Postby Jayan » Mon 27 Apr 2009 2:20 am

linguoboy wrote:
Jayan wrote:We came to the tentative conclusion that it was the Ancient Hebrews who first showed evidence of the concept of a week. What have you found?

The Jews only adopted the seven-day week as a consequence of the Babylonian captivity, which implies that it may have already been in use there even if we don't have direct evidence of this.

In ancient China, each month of 29 or 30 days was divided into three ten-day periods called 旬 xún, a system that was adopted in Korea and Japan as well. It remained in use in all three countries until the adoption of the seven-day week from the West in modern times. I believe a nearly identical system is also attested for ancient Egypt.


That's interesting about China, but I think you're wrong about the Jews.

The seven day week was ordained in the Torah, looooooooooong before the Captivity. The only calendar change I'm aware of that resulted from the Babylonian Captivity is the renaming of the months. Possibly the Babylonians came up with it concurrently, or the Jews gave it to them?
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Re: The concept of a week

Postby linguoboy » Mon 27 Apr 2009 4:12 am

Jayan wrote:The seven day week was ordained in the Torah, looooooooooong before the Captivity.

Prove it. Sure, the seven-day week appears in Genesis, but this didn't achieve its present form until 500 BCE or so, or about a century after the Captivity. It could well be a late addition.
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Re: The concept of a week

Postby telal » Mon 27 Apr 2009 8:45 pm

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Re: The concept of a week

Postby Sobekhotep » Mon 27 Apr 2009 10:26 pm

Jayan wrote:The only calendar change I'm aware of that resulted from the Babylonian Captivity is the renaming of the months. Possibly the Babylonians came up with it concurrently, or the Jews gave it to them?

No, the Jews definitely borrowed the month names from the Babylonian calendar. The Hebrew names are clearly taken from Akkadian.
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Re: The concept of a week

Postby Stosis » Tue 28 Apr 2009 12:26 am

Just out of curiosity what is a week? Is it just the seven day week or do other systems count? The Romans had nine day system. 8 days in a row were work days, then the ninth day was market day. This day was somewhat like a really shitty weekend for all but the farmers; kids had school off, men didn't normally do business and women did whatever it was they did back then. I guess it was nice for the farmers, instead of toiling in the hot sun they got easier work :lol:
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Re: The concept of a week

Postby Jayan » Tue 28 Apr 2009 1:23 am

linguoboy wrote:
Jayan wrote:The seven day week was ordained in the Torah, looooooooooong before the Captivity.

Prove it. Sure, the seven-day week appears in Genesis, but this didn't achieve its present form until 500 BCE or so, or about a century after the Captivity. It could well be a late addition.


I cannot, with my current resources/fund of knowledge, prove that the seven-day week appears in a pre-Captivity manuscript of the Torah. However, you, in order to be fair, must hold yourself to the same standard you're holding me to. Therefore, the onus of proof is still on you. Because I hold the position that (though I personally cannot prove) has been widely accepted and has no evidence to contradict it as far as I know. So, you must show me that Babylon had the seven-day week before any contact with the Jews for your hypothesis to be correct.

Sobekhotep wrote:
Jayan wrote:The only calendar change I'm aware of that resulted from the Babylonian Captivity is the renaming of the months. Possibly the Babylonians came up with it concurrently, or the Jews gave it to them?

No, the Jews definitely borrowed the month names from the Babylonian calendar. The Hebrew names are clearly taken from Akkadian.


Yeah, I think that was some misordered sentences on my part. The second sentence should be before the first one. I agree that the current Hebrew month names are clearly Akkadian.

Stosis wrote:Just out of curiosity what is a week? Is it just the seven day week or do other systems count? The Romans had nine day system. 8 days in a row were work days, then the ninth day was market day. This day was somewhat like a really shitty weekend for all but the farmers; kids had school off, men didn't normally do business and women did whatever it was they did back then. I guess it was nice for the farmers, instead of toiling in the hot sun they got easier work :lol:


Nah, the week doesn't have to be seven-day. How do we know that the Romans had a nine day system? I'd like to see for myself.
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Re: The concept of a week

Postby Stosis » Tue 28 Apr 2009 1:52 am

Jayan wrote:
linguoboy wrote:
Jayan wrote:
I cannot, with my current resources/fund of knowledge, prove that the seven-day week appears in a pre-Captivity manuscript of the Torah. However, you, in order to be fair, must hold yourself to the same standard you're holding me to. Therefore, the onus of proof is still on you. Because I hold the position that (though I personally cannot prove) has been widely accepted and has no evidence to contradict it as far as I know. So, you must show me that Babylon had the seven-day week before any contact with the Jews for your hypothesis to be correct.


Actually, your position is not the default so the onus of proof is equally shared between both of you. But that's with your logic.

Your the one trying to prove the positive. That the ancient Hebrews had a 7 day week is a positive claim and you must always prove the positive.

Remember that when dealing with texts like the bible, we don't have the original copy. We only have a copy of a copy of a copy... You see that is why contemporary texts (ie: tablets or papyrus found in archaeological digs) are more reliable than edited editions like: the bible, the koran, the illiad, beowolf and other texts.
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Re: The concept of a week

Postby Talib » Tue 28 Apr 2009 2:25 am

Regarding this stuff about the history of the week, it's pretty vague, but my understanding is that China received the seven-day week from the Persians which suggests it originated somewhere around Mesopotamia. Beyond that I can't say.
Jayan wrote:The seven day week was ordained in the Torah, looooooooooong before the Captivity.
The thing is that the Torah is not a single document and it wasn't written down at one specific time. It's a compendium of different sources, which we can identify, and the dates of certain additions aren't completely certain.
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