SHEVAT (Heb. שְׁבָט), the post-Exilic name of the 11th month of the Jewish year. Occurring in Assyrian and other early Semitic inscriptions, in biblical and apocryphal records (Zech. 1:7; I Macc. 16:14), and frequent in rabbinic literature (e.g., Megillat Ta'anit), the name is held to be etymologically connected with the root sbt from which terms are derived for instruments used in "beating" and "striking" in Semitic and in some Indo-European languages. The zodiacal sign of Shevat is Aquarius. In the present fixed Jewish calendar it invariably consists of 30 days, the 1st of Shevat never falling on Sunday or Friday (see *Calendar). In the 20th century, Shevat in its earliest occurrence extended from January 1st to 30th and in its latest from January 31st to March 1st. Historic days in Shevat are feasts; (1) Second of Shevat, the anniversary of the death of *Alexander Yannai (Meg. Ta'an. 11); (2) 15th of Shevat, the New Year for trees (see *Tu bi-Shevat; RH 1:1); (3) 22nd of Shevat, the anniversary of the assassination of the emperor *Caligula and the abolition of his blasphemous decree to erect his statue in the Temple in Jerusalem (Meg. Ta'an. 11; January 24th, 41 C.E.); (4) 28th of Shevat, the anniversary of the death of *Antiochus IV Epiphanes (Meg. Ta'an., ibid.); fasts: 5th (or 8th) and 23rd of Shevat, once observed in memory of the death of righteous men in the generation of Joshua the son of Nun (ibid., 13; Jud. 2:10), and of Israel's battle against Benjamin and the idol of Micah (ibid., 17–21).
[Ephraim Jehudah Wiesenberg]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.