Articles on Rosh Hodesh
n Acts 3:-21 Kefa (Peter) teaches that "The Messiah...has to remain in heaven until the time comes for restoring everything, as God saild long ago, when he spoke through the holy prophets." We are in this time of restoration. We have witnessed Israel being restored to the land. Jewish believers are being restored to their place in the body of the Messsiah through Messianic Judaism. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are being reactivated in the body of the Messiah. And among Messianic Jews, the Holy Days of Leviticus 23 are being observed again.
"Rosh Hodesh" is Hebrew for the "Head of the Month." It is the first day of the month in the Biblical calendar. This appointed time of the New Moon is being restored by Messianic Judaism. Just exactly what is it? Why celebrate it? How should we observe it? What is the meaning of the time of the New Moon? Is there a special significance to it? These are questions to which the right answers are being found.
The scriptures are filled with warnings about worshiping the moon. Needless to say: we do not worship the moon. What we do is worship the Creator at the divinely appointed time of the New Moon.Celebrating Rosh Hodesh
God appointed the moon to be a what Hebrew calls a moadim, an appointed time (see Genesis 1:14 and Psalm 104:19). This is underscored by Amos 8:5 where the time of the New Moon is reflected as a Sabbath day wherein there is no buying nor selling: "You say, "When will the new moon be gone/ so we may market our grain?/ and the sabbath, so we can sell wheat..." How should this appointed time be observed? To answer this question, one can obtain cues from how it was observed in the past as revealed in the Tenach.
During the observance of the time of the New Moon there was the blowing of the shofar (ram's horn, or trumpet). Psalm 81:3 reveals to us that not only was it an appointed time and a solemn feast day, but that it was a time of the blowing of the trumpet. "Sound the shofar at the new moon..."
We learn also that it was a time dedicated to worshiping God. Ezekiel 46:3 tells us: "The people of the land are also to prostrate themselves in worship before the Lord at the entrance to that gate on the sabbaths and on the new moons." And in Ezekiel 40:44 we learn: "Outside the inner gate, in the inner courtyard, were rooms for the singers..." The people worshiped and the singers sang.
It was a time of burning sweet incense before the Lord as shown in II Chron. 2:4: "Behold, I will build an house to the name of the Lord my God, to dedicate it to him, and to burn before him sweet incense, and for the continual shewbread, and for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts of the Lord our God. This is an ordinance for ever to Israel."
It was also a time to give a free will offering. Ezra 3:5 tells us "And afterward offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the Lord that were consecrated, and of everyone that willingly offered a free will offering unto the Lord."
Let’s first define the phrase new moon. Modern scientists regard the new moon as beginning at the conjunction (when the moon is in its dark phase and is blocked from the sun’s light by the earth), while the ancient Israelites regarded it as beginning when it first appeared as a sliver or crescent. We have a clash of definitions here. The term new moon meant one thing to the ancient Jews as attested to by their writings, and it means something quite different to modern scientists. To properly understand Scripture, we must put ourselves in the proverbial moccasins of the ancient Jewish people and understand the concept of new moon from their perspective. To not do so is to violate Scripture and to take the chances of adding to the Word of Elohim and arriving at false conclusions regarding the truth of Scripture.The Bible and the New Moon
Let’s start with the Bible, the foundation of all spiritual knowledge. We are confronted with two options when determining truth: we can rely on the mind of man in an attempt to figure things out, or divinely revealed truth as recorded in the Word of יהוה. When we base our beliefs and actions on the latter, we are feeding from the tree of life; if on the former we are feeding from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. To rely on the mind of man (i.e., secular humanism) to determine what is good and evil is tantamount to seeking spiritual truth in Babylon, which is a confused mixture of good and evil. Let’s look to the Spirit of Elohim to lead and direct us into all truth as Yeshua promised ( John 16:13); let us begin searching the Word of Elohim for that truth.
The first question we need to ask is what is the biblical Hebrew word for new moon? It is the Hebrew word Xdx/chodesh (Strong’s H2320/TWOT 613b) meaning “the new moon, month, monthly, the first day of the month, the lunar month.” It is found in the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures or Old Testament) 276 times and is translated in the King James Version as “month” 254 times, “new moon” (20 times), and “monthly” (1 time). We see that from these definitions that the terms “month” and “new moon” are synonymous. It has been understood for millennia that ancient Israelites began their month with the new moon.
Why was it important for the Israelites to know when the new moon occurred and when the month began? The dates of the annual biblical festivals that יהוה gave to Israel and instructed them to observe were deter- mined based on when the new moon occurred (Lev 23:5,6,24,27,34).
The next question to answer is this: when does the biblical month begin? As we noted above, for modern astronomers the term “new moon” means something different than it did to the ancients, including those who יהוה inspired to write the Bible. Ancient calendars were determined by the moon, while modern ones are not. Some biblical expositors teach that the new moon begins when the moon is in conjunction or in line with the earth and the sun and is in its dark phase. Others believe that the month begins just after the moon has moved out of its dark phase and begins to show a sliver of light, which is called the visible or crescent new moon. Who is right?
Some Bible teachers claim that there is no place in the Scriptures that specifically states that the new moon begins at the first visible sliver after being dark for several days. Therefore, they reason, it is an assumption to say that it does (even though, as we will see below, this was the understanding of the ancient Israelites), and therefore, the new moon should be determined from its conjunction with the earth and sun while it is in its dark phase. While on the surface, this may seem like a valid argument, one important verse in the Scriptures, however, and some simple logic quickly disproves this notion. It is Genesis 1:14.
And Elohim said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons [moedim/biblical festivals], and for days, and years.”
In this verse we see that the sun and the moon are “signs” for seasons, days and years. The word “sign” is the Hebrew word owt/ twa (Strong’s H226; TWOT 41a) meaning “sign, signal, mark, token, emblem, signboard, standard.” In the Tanakh, owt describes such visible (not invisible) signs as Noah’s rainbow (Gen 9:12–13,17), Cain’s mark (Gen 4:15), circumcision (Gen 17:11), and the Sabbath (Exod 31:13,17; Ezek 20:12). In addition, owt is used some 80 times in the Tanakh to refer to miraculous signs. These include the plagues of Egypt (Exod 7:3; Deut 4:34, etc.), the sign of the virgin birth of the Messiah (Isa 7:11,14); יהוה miraculous signs to Gideon ( Judg 6:17) and King Hezekiah (2 Kgs 20:9; Isa 38:7). In addition, Aaron’s rod that budded was a sign or token (Num 17:25). Many more examples could be given.
A s more and more Christians begin to return to the Hebrew roots of their faith they find themselves having to make difficult choices. Whose Hebraic traditions are we to follow? Which choice lines up with the truth revealed in the Word of Elohim? What do we do when different “experts” claim biblical authority for what they do and teach, yet hold opposing viewpoints? Many Believers feel they have been lied to in traditional Christianity ( Jer 16:19) as they begin to learn about the unbiblical and even pagan roots of many “sacred cow” Christian traditions. Many are turning to the Jewish rabbis for the answer. After all, they have remained immovably faithful to the Torah-law of Elohim for thousands of years, right?
The subject of the biblical calendar is of great concern to many Believers who are first learning about יהוה’s appointed times (moedim) or set-apart feast days including the weekly seventh-day Sabbath (Shabbat). After all, how can one properly observe these commanded assemblies, which are central to properly understanding יהוה’s plan of salvation (or redemption), of which the work of Yeshua the Messiah is a central part, if one cannot even determine when to keep them?
The calendar issue can be a very technically involved subject and a daunting task to understand for even the most astute students of Scripture. Yet did יהוה intend this to be the case? Didn’t Yeshua teach that the basic Gospel message and plan of salvation should be so simple that even a child could comprehend it (Matt 18:1-5)? Shouldn’t even the children among us easily understand something so crucial to the basic Gospel message and plan of salvation as the feast days and Sabbath of יהוה including when to observe them?
This simple stream of logic can easily get lost in the flurry of controversy surrounding the calendar forcing many to throw up their hands in confusion defaulting to the concept that “if it’s good enough for the Jews then it must be okay.” To back this notion up some will even quote (out of context, to boot) Paul in Romans 3:2, which says, “[U]nto [the Jews] were committed the oracles of Elohim” (Greek: logion, from logos meaning the Word of Elohim), so therefore, it is reasoned, whatever calendar the Jews use today must be the divinely inspired one. The concept that ignorance is bliss never helped the proverbial ostrich who buried his head in the sand, and it is doubtful that such a mentality will help anyone to uncover the truth of Scripture, and hence the perfect will of the Creator for their lives.
Perhaps the major flaw in the argument that the Jews must be right is this: Is what the Jews do today the same as in Paul’s day—especially regarding the calendar? Furthermore, can we carte blanche accept what they say if it does not line up with the Word of Elohim? After all, most religious Jews deny the deity and Messiahship of Yeshua. Are we to follow them in this? Obviously not, unless our model to follow in returning to our Hebrew roots is Rabbinic Judaism, and not Scripture. After all, if Yeshua accused the Jewish religious establishment of his day of making of none effect the Word of Elohim through various man-made laws and traditions (Matt 15:6-9; Mark 7:7-9), then, one must logically ask, how much more is this the case 2000 years later? Furthermore, it may be reasoned, if Christianity has strayed from its Hebraic roots over the millennia perhaps the same has happened with our rabbinic Jewish brothers. Indeed, this is the case. History and the writings of the Jews prove it and the unchanging and infallible Word of Elohim undeniably confirms it.
With the restoration of Yisrael in these last days 1, Believers in Yeshua are once again beginning to observe the Feast of the New Moon or Rosh Chodesh. Yahweh commanded Yisrael to observe the Renewed Moon in the Tanach 2. Many have questions as to how they are to calculate and observe this command from the Torah. Hopefully some answers will be found in this teaching. The purpose of the Moon in Yahweh’s Creation
“ And Elohim said,” Let the lights come to be in the expanse of the heavens to SEPARATE (badal-to divide, distinguish, sever) the day from the night, and let them be for SIGNS (‘ot- a signal, flag, beacon, monument, evidence) and appointed times (mo’ed, mo’adah-apointments, a fixed time, season, festival, an assembly, am assembly called for a definite purpose), and for DAYS (yom- to be hot, heat of the day, from sunrise to sunset, a full year) and YEARS (shaneh, shanah- a whole year, age), and let them be for LIGHTS (ma’or,me’orah- brightness,cheerfulness,luyminary) in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth.” And it came to be so. And Elohim made two great lights: the greater to rule the day and the lesser (qatan –diminutive, small, least, younger) LIGHT to RULE (memshalah- to have dominion, power, to rule FEMALE) the night and the stars.” Genesis 1:14-16
In the book of Beginnings we can see in the Scripture that Elohim made the moon (yareach-yerach) with a PURPOSE in His creation. The moon was to divide, to be a sign, an appointed time of meeting (Leviticus 23 for rest of Yahweh’s mo’edim), to number days and years, and to rule over the night and stars. It was called the lesser LIGHT, in comparison to the sun, the greater LIGHT.
In this Psalm we can understand that the moon was to be used to set Yahweh’s mo’edim or the SCRIPTURAL HOLYDAYS (Leviticus 23). All the Feasts 3 are related to the NEW MOON. But when the Torah of Mosheh was written, Psalm 104 was not yet written. We must then ask ourselves, “How did the ancient Israelites know this?” The answer is that the Hebrew word for MONTH (CHODESH) itself indicates a connection to the moon. The word is used interchangeably with the word YERAH (moon) in the Scriptures. For example:
“In the month (YERAH) of Ziw, which is the second month (CHODESH)...” 1 Kings 6:1
Br “In the month (YERAH) of Bul, which is the eighth month (CHODESH)...” 1 Kings 6:38
Also see “A CHODESH (month) of days” Genesis 29:14; Exodus 11:20-21 [meaning a period of 29-30 days], which corresponds to the phrase “A YERAH (month/moon) of days” Numbers 21:13; 2 Kings 15:13. So, clearly Chodesh is related to YERAH, which means moon!