Counting the Years

How the Jewish year is numbered.

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Establishment of the Mundane Era

The Seleucid and Mundane Eras coexisted for numerous centuries. Most often, Rav Sherira Gaon--the last Gaon, the head of the academies in Babylonia in the centuries following the editing of the Talmud--is given the credit for suggesting the use of BeHaRD as the basis for a chronological system, in the 10th century C.E.

Maimonides (1135-1204 C.E.) at times used multiple eras, giving a date first according to the years following the destruction of the Second Temple, then according to the Seleucid Era, and finally according to the Mundane Era. This suggests that no single system had achieved universal acceptance by the 13th century.

The Seleucid Era continued to be used in parts of the Arab world until quite late. Among Egyptian Jewry, it was the dominant system used until Rabbi David ibn Abi Zimra discontinued its use in the 16th century C.E.; in parts of the Arabian Peninsula, it was used alongside the Mundane Era as late as the 19th century.

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Rabbi Rachel Miller Solomin is an educator living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. She was ordained from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies of the University of Judaism (now American Jewish University) in 2001.