The name of the month in which the building of Solomon's Temple was completed, as mentioned in I Kings vi. 38. It would seem that at the time of the writing of that passage the name was obsolete; for the writer found it necessary to define "Bul" as the eighth month. The name is Canaanitish, occurring in the Phenician inscriptions, on the Eshmunazar tablet ("C. I. S." i. 3, line 1), on an inscription from Cyprus (ib. 1. 10, line 1), and on one from Idalium (ib. i. 90, line 2). It was adopted by the Israelites on their entrance into Canaan, and was retained by them during preexilic days. In postexilic times , along with the names of three other months, "Ziv" (I Kings vi. 37), "Abib" (Ex. xiii. 4, xxiii. 15; Deut. xvi. 1), and "Etanim" (I Kings viii. 2), was supplanted by the names current in Babylonia, and "Bul" became "Ḥeshwan." This could only have been an approximation, however; for the old calendar of the Canaanites was solar and was adapted to an agricultural people, whereas the Assyrian calendar was lunar, with compensations to harmonize with the solar year.
The etymology of the word is still in doubt. The Septuagint simply transliterates Βαάλ. The Targum attempts an etymology in its translation ("destroying the crops"), pointing clearly to the root ("to destroy"). This derivation is also given by the Rabbis (Yer. R. H. i. 56d): "The month in which the leaf is destroyed and the earth becomes full of clods," referring to the great rains in that month. A somewhat fanciful explanation fastens on ("to provide"; Judges xix. 21). "It is the month in which they provide food for the cattle from the house" (Tan., Noaḥ, 11), the fields being waste.
- Jastrow, Dict. s.v.;
- Lidzbarski, Handbuch der Nordsemitischen Epigraphik, pp. 417, 420, 421;
- Nowack, Arch. p. 215;
- Benzinger, Arch. p. 201.