Rosh Chodesh – New Month

New Moon

New Moon

“So David said, “Look, tomorrow is the New Moon feast, and I am supposed to dine with the king…. Then Jonathan said to David, “Tomorrow is the New Moon feast. You will be missed, because your seat will be empty” (1 Samuel 20:5, 18).

New Moon celebrations are mentioned throughout the Scriptures.  In Hebrew, the New Moon is called the Rosh Chodesh. According to Vine’s Dictionary of Biblical Terms, the Hebrew word rosh means ‘head’;  chadash means to ‘renew’ in the sense of ‘refresh’.  The noun form of chodesh means ‘moon’ and so the Rosh Chodesh is literally the ‘renewing of the moon’ at the beginning of each month.

Using the calendar God gave to the Israelites, there are 12 months of 28 days.  Each month is based on the lunar cycle and begins with the new moon; 14 days after the new moon, there is a full moon.

Sighting the New Moon

According to Rabbinical tradition during the Temple period, the Rosh Chodesh was determined by people in Jerusalem who separately witnessed the ‘horns of the new moon’.  Fires were lit and then two witnesses from the Sanhedrin who had seen the fires went to the high priest.  With the agreement of the arrival of the new moon,  the shofar would blow and the New Moon festival would begin.   Up until that moment, no one knew when the ‘appointed time’ began. 

There is no command in the Scriptures for ‘sighting of the new moon’ whether it’s a conjunction, sliver or crescent.  There is no command that a ‘sighting’ must come from Jerusalem, South Africa or Antarctica.  There is no  Biblical provision that any one person, rabbi, prophet high priest, king or best friend of any of those people, has the authority to determine the sighting of new moon for anyone else in any other part of the world.

Because of  traditions created by men, there are many interpretations about when the New Moon celebration actually begins. With these misunderstandings comes division within the Body of Messiah to the point where people condemn others because they are celebrating holy days on the ‘wrong day’.   To be sure, there is a right interpretation and we are to use the Scriptures and the Spirit’s wisdom to discern the truth.    Believers are to be in unity because God is not the author of this confusion.

According to the command given in Leviticus 23,  the ‘appointed times’ of Passover and Sukkot must begin on the full moon as they begin on the 15th day of the month.   With this knowlege, 14 days earlier has to be a new moon.  Using astronomical calculations, this would make the new moon a conjunction.  Had the Israelites counted from a sliver or crescent moon, they would not have put the blood on their doorposts on the night that God passed over Egypt.  Yeshua was crucified at Passover on the 14th day of the month.    Counting 14 days from a crescent moon would have placed his crucifixion several days after God’s  ‘appointed time’.

The Crescent Moon

The crescent moon has roots in pagan cultures and cannot be the new moon.  Crescents were hanging on the camels’ necks of the two Arab men that Gideon killed.  Jeremiah warned about worshipping The Queen of Heaven who is depicted with a crescent moon.  Paul talks about Artemis (aka Diana) in Athens, Greece.  She is also depicted with a crescent moon.  Islam derives its ideology from the moon-god, Allah,  and a crescent moon sits on top of every mosque. Isaiah 3:18 issues a warning for those who attach themselves to the crescent moon, “In that day the LORD will snatch away their finery: the bangles, the headbands and their crescent necklaces.”

David and Jonathan

“So David said, “Look, tomorrow is the New Moon festival, and I am supposed to dine with the king; but let me go and hide in the field until the evening of the day after tomorrow” (1 Samuel 20:5).

How did David know that the next day was the new moon?  Did he see a sliver and know?  Did he mention a crescent?  Did he say anything about the blowing of the shofar from Jerusalem?  No, to all of the above.  He and Jonathan were at Ramah which is a short distance from Jerusalem.  If there had been a shofar blast, he could have heard it if that is what he was listening for, but there was no Temple at this time.  It was his son Solomon who was going to build the first Temple.  So, how did he know that the next day was the new moon?

David would probably have done one of two things.  Either he counted 14 days from the previous, obvious full moon or he understood looking at the final sliver of the old waning moon that the ‘concealed’ dark moon to follow was the new moon.   The later can been seen in David’s own writings.

Psalm 81 written by King David

“Sound the ram’s horn at the New Moon, and when the moon is full on the day of our feast.” This verse is taken from the NIV.  It would seem from this version that the shofar is to be blown at the New Moon and the full moon.

“Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.” This is from the KJV.  This version doesn’t mention the full moon, but says ‘appointed time’.

Now to read the verse from the Psalm 81 in Hebrew.  Note that it only has six words:

תקעו בחדש שופר בכסה ליום חגנו

The words are taqa (blow) b’chodesh (in the moon) shofar (trumpet) b’kese (in appointed) yom (day) hachag (the festival).

This is pretty straightforward except that kese doesn’t mean ‘appointed’ as translated in the KJV or ‘full moon’ as translated in the NIV.  The root word for kese is kacah. Kacah means ‘to cover, to conceal, to hide, to clothe.’  This means that kese cannot mean ‘full moon’ as a full moon isn’t hiding nor is it concealed.  Kese must then refer to when the moon cannot be seen at all or the dark moon.

A more proper translation from the original Hebrew would be: “Blow the shofar on the concealed, hidden moon on the festival day.”

Feast of Trumpets is the only Feast of the LORD that occurs on a New Moon.  It is also known as Yom HaKeseh or ‘the day of our concealment.‘    Feast of Trumpets begins the 10 days of awe leading up to Yom Kippur and the Day of Judgment that has been kept ‘hidden’ from the enemy’.  (It is an interesting type and shadow that  David hid from his enemy, King Saul, on a concealed new moon.)

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36).

There are two interesting Hebrew idioms for the New Moon festival.   The first is ‘the day or the hour is not known’.   This is has special significance for the Feast of Trumpets because it does fall on a new moon when ‘no one ever knew the day or the hour’ that the festival began until the moon was sighted. This is still true today and will continue to be true until Yeshua returns.

“Twinkling of an eye’ also finds its roots in the conjunction of the moon.  It is an ancient reference to when the sun, moon and Earth are aligned for a ‘twinkling of an eye’.  It is at this moment, on a New Moon celebration  that transformation of the saints from mortal to immortality will occur.

“In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52).

An Amazing Water Coincidence

Tides are created because the Earth and the moon are attracted to each other.  The moon tries to pull at anything on the Earth to bring it closer.  The Earth’s gravity is able to hold tightly onto everything except water.  Since water isn’t solid, the moon is able to pull and move large bodies of water.  This periodic rise and fall of the oceans is is known as the tides.

There are two high tides and two low tides during a 24 hour period.  When the sun and moon are aligned, there are strong gravitational forces causing very high and very low tides.  These are called spring tides.  When the sun and moon are not aligned, the gravitational forces cancel each other out and the tides are not as dramatically high and low.  These are called neap tides.

Spring tides, which have nothing to do with the season, occur during the full moon and the new moon.  What is interesting from tide charts is how the spring tide of the new moon falls on a concealed moon.  Also, the actual spring tide, in the springtime of the year at the concealed new moon, when the months of God’s year begin, is stronger than any other tide of the year.

We should not take it upon ourselves to determine the new moon apart from the information given in Scripture. The Creator of the Universe gave us everything we need to correctly establish His appointed times and either we use them or wait until Messiah returns and there will be no question. 

©2005 Tent Stake Ministries (Chapter from Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive.)

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