Psalm 107 – Jehovah Saves Out of Every Difficulty & The Gezer Calendar

1 O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever.

2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;

3 And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south.

4 They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in.

5 Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.

6 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.

7 And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.

8 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

9 For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.

10 Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron;

11 Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High:

The Gezer Calendar
The agricultural calendar of Israel shows itself clearly in an epigraph discovered in 1908 at Tel Gezer.

Called the “Gezer Calendar,” this limestone tablet represents our earliest example of Hebrew script, dating to the time of King Solomon in the 10th-century BC.

Some have suggested the inscription represents a schoolchild’s exercise or mnemonic device designed to assist in remembering the months of the year.

Today the Gezer Calendar is housed in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum.

An enlarged replica stands at Tel Gezer.

W. F. Albright translated the Gezer Calendar as follows:
“His two months are olive harvest,

His two months are planting grain,

His two months are late planting;

His month is hoeing up flax,

His month is harvest of barley,

His month is harvest and feasting;

His two months are vine-tending,

His month is summer fruit.”

The Gezer Calendar clearly delineates twelve months and matches the agricultural progression that occurs in the land of Israel beginning in Tishri, or September.

Priests would blow trumpets to announce the Sabbath and the start of festival days.

The Feast of Trumpets especially relates to this act: “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘In the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.

You shall not do any laborious work, but you shall present an offering by fire to the Lord’” (Lev 23:24–25; see also Num 29:1–6).

12 Therefore he brought down their heart with labor; they fell down, and there was none to help.

13 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses.

14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder.

15 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

16 For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder.

17 Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.

18 Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death.

19 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses.

20 He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.

21 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

22 And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.

23 They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;

24 These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.

25 For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.

26 They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.

27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end.

28 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.

29 He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.

30 Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.

31 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

32 Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

33 He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground;

34 A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.

35 He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings.

36 And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation;

37 And sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase.

38 He blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly; and suffereth not their cattle to decrease.

39 Again, they are monished and brought low through oppression, affliction, and sorrow.

40 He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way.

41 Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock.

42 The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth.

43 Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.

The prophet praises God for benefits received.  Learning to observe God’s providential hand and wonderful works in all the events and circumstances of our lives.

The Gezer Calendar

The Gezer Calendar
This is illustrated by a stone tablet from Gezer assumed to be part of a 10th century B.C. schoolboy’s exercise.

It is not an official calendar.

In seven lines, it lists the months and seasons as:

1: 2 months Olive Harvest (Sept/Oct or Oct/Nov), first the picking of the olives then the pressing for oil.

2: 2 months Sowing: The next two months (Nov./Dec or Dec/Jan) come, in Israel, after the first winter rains and, as a rule, after the ploughing, done at the end of October and early November. This was the grain-sowing season.

3: 2 months Late Planting: January to March was the time for sowing millet, sesame, lentils, chick peas, melons, cucumbers and so on.

4: 1 month Hoeing: This was especially the period for cutting the flax. This was done with a hoe as the plants must be cut close to the ground so that the full length of the stalk can be used, when dried and treated, to make thread and cloth.

5: 1 month Grain Harvest: Barley is harvested in April in the south and in May in the north. Wheat and spelt come later in May/June. The grain was cut by a sickle, made before the 10th century BC from flint chips set in a haft made of wood or bone. Later, a small curved wooden blade was affixed to a wooden handle. The grain was separated from the straw and husks by spreading the cut plants on a specially prepared threshing floor outside the village and then driving oxen round and round over it, pulling a threshing sledge which might be flat or on small rollers. The grain was then winnowed and sieved, and finally stored in large jars. Rooms full of such jars are not uncommon in excavations.

6: 1 month Festivals: Seven weeks from the beginning of the grain harvest (Dt. 16:9) or at about the time it was completed, a pilgrimage was made to the sanctuary bearing an offering of “first fruits” for the festival of Pentecost (Shavuoth). In later usage, the Hebrew terms for “early harvest” or “first fruits” have acquired the wider meaning of “choice” fruits or produce.

7: 2 months Vine Tending: During the hot summer months of June/July or July/August, after the grain harvest, vines were pruned and the vineyards weeded and cleaned in preparation for the grape harvest.

8: 1 month Summer Fruits: The last month of the agricultural calendar (August/Sept.) was devoted to harvesting summer fruit, especially grapes, figs and pomegranates.

According to the oldest liturgical calendars, (Ex. 23:14-17; 34:18-23), the first month, Nisan, during which the feast of Unleavened Bread was celebrated, began in the spring, approximately March-April in modern terms.

Gezer lies in the low hills that separated Philistia from Judah.  It had a strategic location, guarding access to the coastal trade route, known as the Via Maris (“Way of the Sea”), as well as to the overland route into the hill country.  The city was at various times under Egyptian, Philistine or Israelite control.

In 1908 a stone was found inscribed with what appears to be an agricultural calendar.  It dates to the 10th century B.C. and was probably written as a school boy’s exercise.  Rather than beginning in the spring, as does the festival calendar, the “Gezer calendar” commences in the fall, suggesting that the Israelite agricultural calendar began in the autumn. 

Scholars have used this brief text to try to better understand Israelite agricultural practices.  It suggests that the planting of grains began in October, after the rains had softened the soil to allow for plowing.  Grain sowing lasted for two months, followed by two months of vegetable sowing.  After a month of hoeing, the harvest began in the spring with first the barley, then the wheat, then the grapes, and finally the summer fruit.

The text of the calendar has also proved important in the study of early Hebrew spelling and the development of the shapes of letters.