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Chodesh Iyyar - The Month of Iyyar

Chodesh Iyyar

A Month Anticipating Revelation...

Spring: Chodesh Bet

The second month of the traditional Jewish calendar (as reckoned from the month of Nisan) is called Iyyar (אִיָּיר). In the Torah, this month is simply called "the second month" (i.e., chodesh sheni: חדֶשׁ הַשֵּׁנִי), though later it was called Ziv (זִו), a Canaanite loan word that means "glow" or "blossom," perhaps suggesting the growing season of early spring (1 Kings 6:1). The word Ziv may be related to the word zuv (זוּב), meaning a flow or gush of fluid. Like most other Hebrew months, the name was later changed some time after the Babylonian captivity. Iyyar usually falls in April–May on the Gregorian calendar. The month always lasts 29 days and Rosh Chodesh is therefore observed for two days (i.e., the last day of Nisan and the first day of the new month). It was during this month that those who were unable to observe Passover were allowed to celebrate a "second Passover" exactly 30 days later, on Iyyar 14-15 (Num. 9:9-12).

On the Torah's calendar, the month of Iyyar falls between the great month of redemption (i.e., Nisan) and the great month of revelation (Sivan), and is therefore primarily commemorated as a "month of passage" leading up to the awesome revelation given at Sinai (mattan Torah). Later, the agricultural aspect of this "passage" was enshrined in terms of Sefirat HaOmer (סְפִירַת הָעוֹמֶר), or the "counting the sheaves," when a sheaf of barley was waved before the altar each day for 49 days before the arrival of the climactic holiday of Shavuot (Lev. 23:15-16). Indeed, Rabbinical (and mystical) traditions associate each passing day of the month of Iyyar with a heightened spiritual status wherein a different level of (tumah) impurity is "purged" from the soul, thereby implying that the Israelites' journey from Egypt to Sinai represented a spiritual transformation.

Recall that exactly one month after the Exodus (i.e., Iyyar 15) God led the Israelites from the oasis and palm trees at Elim into the deeper part of the desert, to midbar Sin (מִדְבַּר־סִין), a desolate region that was about midway to Sinai going southeast (Exod. 16:1). About this time, the food provisions the people had brought with them ran out, and the Israelites began grumbling against Moses and Aaron, saying: "If only we had died by the hand of God in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to our fill, for you have brought us out into this desert to starve to death!" (Exod. 16:3). God then said to Moses, "'Look I am going to rain down bread from heaven (לֶחֶם מִן־הַשָּׁמָיִם) for you. The people will go out and gather a portion for that day so that I might test whether they will walk in my Torah (תּוֹרָה) or not" (Exod. 16:4). Each Friday the people received a double portion that was to last them through Shabbat, and the test centered on whether the people would refrain from seeking manna on God's appointed day of rest. Note that the Ten Commandments had not yet been given to Israel at this time, so it is likely that the law of manna was meant to prepare them for the law of the Sabbath that would be given at Sinai the following month (i.e., on Sivan 6, or Shavuot). According to Jewish tradition, it was also during the month of Iyyar that the "Well of Miriam" began to flow (zuv) to provide fresh water for the people. The war with Amalek - Israel's first national enemy - also took place during the month of Iyyar just before the revelation was given at Sinai.

It was also during the month of Iyyar - during the second year after the Exodus - that the Israelites began their travels through the desert with the newly completed Mishkan (Tabernacle) in their midst (Exod. 40:17). The Torah relates that  it was on Iyyar 1 that the first "census" (i.e., שְׂאוּ אֶת־ראשׁ, lit. "counting of heads") of the Jewish people was taken, so that each person could find his or her place in the fourfold formation of tribes that made up the camp of Israel that surrounded the Tabernacle in the desert (Num. 1:1-4). In other words, Iyyar represented the first month that the Shekhinah Glory began leading the tribes to the promised land of Zion.


This was prophetic, of course, since the Scriptures later reveal that it was during this same month that King Solomon began to build the Holy Temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings 6:1).

Holidays in Iyyar

Finally, the month of Iyyar is important in more recent Jewish history and tradition. On the modern Jewish calendar, a number of newer holidays are observed, including Yom HaZikaron (Iyyar 4), Yom Ha'atzmaut (Iyyar 5), Lag B'Omer (Iyyar 18), and Yom Yerushalayim (Iyyar 28). By far the greatest of these modern holidays is Yom Ha'atzmaut, or Israel's Independence Day, which was originally announced on before sunset on Friday, May 14th (i.e., Iyyar 5, 5708). And of course the liberation of the Temple Mount on June 7th, 1967 (i.e., Iyyar 28, 5727) is also highly prophetic.

Special Dates for the Month of Iyyar:

About Jerusalem Day - יום ירושלים

In Israel, "Jerusalem Day" (Yom Yerushalayim) commemorates the re-unification of old city of Jerusalem on June 7th, 1967 during the Six Day War. In 1968 the Chief Rabbinate of Israel declared Iyyar 28 to be a minor holiday to thank God for answering the 2,000-year-old prayer of "Next Year in Jerusalem." On March 23, 1998, the Knesset passed the Jerusalem Day Law, making it a national holiday. Click here to learn 25 reasons why Jerusalem matters...

Rosh Chodesh Blessing

The following (simplified) blessing can be recited to ask the LORD to help you for the coming new month of Iyyar:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֵיךָ יהוה אֱלהֵינוּ וֵאלהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ
שֶׁתְּחַדֵּשׁ עָלֵינוּ חדֶשׁ טוֹב בַּאֲדנֵינוּ יֵשׁוּעַ הַמָּשִׁיחַ אָמֵן

ye·hi · ra·tzon · mil·fa·ne·kha · Adonai · E·lo·hei·nu · ve·lo·hei · a·vo·tei·nu
she·te·cha·desh · a·lei·nu · cho·desh · tov · ba'a·do·nei·nu · Ye·shu·a · ha·ma·shi·ach · A·men

"May it be Your will, LORD our God and God of our fathers,
that you renew for us a good month in our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. Amen."

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