The Biblical Standard of The Sighted New Moon
About-Torah offers many historical teaching designed to inform messianics of the life styles of the followers of Yeshua during the first century. On this web page you will find a teaching related to the historical significance of the new moon and how messianics observed the new moon during the second temple period.
The Introduction to the The Sighted New Moon
Rosh Hodesh (literally: head of the month) is important as the observable guide to the changing of the months and the seasons. The first month of each biblical year falls on the first New Moon after green Barley (AVIV) has been found this usually occurs around the time of the vernal equinox. All of the biblical feasts are dated from this date.
However, in the current traditional Jewish calendar the astronomical new moon closest to the spring equinox, whether or not AVIV has been found, is used to date all of the feasts. When an astronomical new moon is used the sighting of the new moon is not used to determine the beginning of the month. A scientific calculation is used to determine the exact timing of the new moon, resulting in the new moon being celebrated when there is no visible moon.
In the observance of Rosh Hodesh, some groups use the New Moon sighting to determine the beginning of the months. There is a discrepancy between the sighted New Moon Calendar and the Traditional Calendar. Sometimes this discrepancy can be as large as twenty-nine days. For historical accuracy and reference ABOUT Torah publishes a sighted New Moon Calendar on this web site. Therefore, our calendar may not coincide exactly with the traditional calendar.
There are many references to Rosh Hodesh in Scripture. At the end of this article you will find a listing of these references. While Scripture does not ever specifically address how to celebrate Rosh Hodesh, except the sacrificial offerings made in the Temple, it has been celebrated to varying degrees throughout the centuries.
At some point, Rosh Hodesh had been elevated to the status of Shabbat. No work or buying and selling were done on this day. We can see this by the references of Rosh Hodesh always being related in the same phrase as Shabbat. Also in Amos, written in the eighth-century B.C.E., the writer equates the attitude of the merchants of his day with immorality: "When will the New Moon be over so that we may sell grain? And Shabbat that we may trade wheat?" Rosh Hodesh was later viewed with less importance than Shabbat, the prohibition against ordinary work and trade being lifted.
Determining the beginning of the new month and proclaiming the time to all the land was always a problem. The following was extracted from The Language of Judaism by Simon Glustrom:
"During the existence of the Second Temple, the calendar was regulated by the testimony of witnesses. The Sanhedrin, the supreme court in Jerusalem, consisting of seventy-one members, sent witnesses for the specific purpose of observing the first appearance of the new moon. After the witnesses were examined, and their testimony accepted by the court, the judges would hold a special ceremony of announcing the new month. The president of the court would say: "The new month is proclaimed," and all present would repeat, "Proclaimed, proclaimed!"
On that evening fires were kindled on the highest peak near Jerusalem to signal nearby villages to notify those in more distant settlements. Thus the news was carried to all the residents of Palestine (Israel). Even the Jews of Babylonia were informed by relays of torches and bonfires. The following day was celebrated as Rosh Hodesh, the beginning of the month."
This method, however, was very susceptible to the whims of impostors who, for some reason, would light signal fires on nights that were not new moons. This created confusion and chaos in distant areas that did not have runners from Jerusalem.
Scientific rules for the computation of the calendar were set down by Hillel II in the middle of the fourth century C.E. based on the new moon sighting. This began the standardization of the Jewish calendar into what it is currently without the need for eye-witnesses and the involvement of the Sanhedrin.
Still remaining from the ancient proclamation of the New Moon is a prayer for the upcoming Rosh Hodesh said on the preceding Shabbat requesting blessings for the month and declaring when it will begin.
Rosh Hodesh is celebrated for either one or two days traditionally, reminiscent of the days when extra time was needed for runners and signal fires to reach distant areas. Traditionally, one day is observed when the previous month has only twenty-nine days. But when the previous month has thirty days, observance is for two days, the last day of the previous month as well as the first day of the new month. Some of the more orthodox treat the day before Rosh Hodesh as a day in which to fast and seek atonement.
In the synagogue selected Psalms and a portion of the Torah are read, allowing for four persons to be called up for the readings. And an additional "Musaf Amidah" is also in the service for Rosh Hodesh.
Rosh Hodesh in Scripture:
|Genesis 1:14-19||Moon Creation||6,000 years ago|
|Numbers 10:10||Trumpet Intro.||1400 B.C.E.|
|Numbers 28:11-15 Torah)||Additional Sacrifices||1400 B.C.E. Torah|
|1st Samuel 20:1-43||David and Jonathan||1020 B.C.E. Torah|
|1st Chronicle 23:25-32||Levites praise||1000 B.C.E.|
|2nd Chronicle 2:1-6||Solomon's house||950 B.C.E.|
|2nd Kings 4:8-37||Elisha and boy||850 B.C.E.|
|Isaiah 66:15-24||Future worship||780 B.C.E.|
|Amos 8:4-5||No buying or selling||770 B.C.E.|
|2nd Chronicle 31:2-10||Hezekiah||727 B.C.E.|
|Ezekiel 46:1-7||Future worship||570 B.C.E.|
|Ezra 3:1-6||1st day of 7th month||460 B.C.E.|
|Nehemiah 10:1, 29-40||Don't neglect the Temple||445 B.C.E.|
|Psalm 81:1-3||Blow the trumpet||570 B.C.E.|
|Colossians 2:16-17||Shadow of things to come||Millennial Reign|