Rosh Chodesh or the new moon determines when all the High Holidays occur. There is much confusion over it. Is the new moon a Sabbath- rest day? Is looking for the new moon or observing this day mean that we are worshiping the moon? How do we determine a new moon? Why is it important? Let’s look into the Scriptures to see what a New moon is.
What is a New Moon and how does it determine the High Holidays?
The New moon signals the beginning of a new month according to the Biblical calendar. The word month in many English Bible translations is the word for a new moon and is the Hebrew word Chodesh חֹדֶשׁ. Rosh Chodesh is literally translated as “head of the month” (BibleHub “Chodesh“).
Leviticus 23 is the chapter in the Bible that explains the weekly Sabbath and all the High Holidays. These holidays are all on different days and are described in relation to the new moon. Knowing when the New moon starts is important to be able to celebrate the feast days of the Lord.
Wayyiqra ( Leviticus) 23: 5 – 6; 24;
5 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, between the evening times is the Lord’s Passover. 6 And on the fifteenth day of this month is the feast of unleavened bread to the Lord; seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread.
24 Speak to the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have a rest, a memorial of trumpets: it shall be to you a holy convocation.
What is a New Moon?
A New moon in Biblical times meant the crescent sliver of moon that is seen on the right-hand side of the moon. This usually occurs following a period of darkness following the waning moon phase.
In Biblical times watchers would look for this sliver of the moon and report their sightings to the Sanhedrin – an assembly of governing leaders in Israel. The Sanhedrin would then quiz the watchers to make sure their reports were true. If they were, reports would be sent out to all of Israel alerting Israel of the sighting of the New moon, this would then signal a new month (Wikipedia “Hebrew Calendar”).
Are We Commanded to Observe the New Moon?
Does observing the New moon mean that we are worshiping it? No, we are looking for the new moon to know when the feast days are occurring. We are commanded to blow trumpets to signal the beginning of a new month.
The sun and the moon were given to us to help us to know and understand the times and seasons.
Bereshith (Genesis) 1: 14
“And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, to divide between day and night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and for years.”
Elohim told Moses when the calendar would begin, in the month of Abib or Nisan in the Spring.
From this month we can calculate when the rest of the feast days and festivals will occur.
Shemoth (Exodus) 12: 2
“This month [shall be] to you the beginning of months: it is the first to you among the months of the year.”
Elohim commanded that trumpets would be blown on all the feast days and on the new moon days.
Numbers 10: 10
“And in the days of your gladness, and in your feasts, and in your new moons, ye shall sound with the trumpets at your whole-burnt-offerings, and at the sacrifices of your peace-offerings; and there shall be a memorial for you before your God: I [am] the Lord your God.”
Tehillim 81: 3 – 4
“3 Blow the trumpet at the new moon, in the glorious day of your feast. 4 For [this] is an ordinance for Israel, and a statute of the God of Jacob.”
Is Rosh Chodesh a Sabbath – rest day?
Rosh Chodesh is not a commanded rest day. However, from Scripture, it seems like it was regarded as such.
Amos 8: 4- 6
4 Hear now this, ye that oppress the poor in the morning, and drive the needy ones by tyranny from the earth, 5 saying, When will the month pass away, and we shall sell, and the sabbath, and we shall open the treasure, to make the measure small, and to enlarge the weight, and make the balance unfair? 6 That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for shoes; and we will trade in every kind of fruit.
2 Kings 4: 22 – 23
22 And she called her husband, and said, Send now for me one of the young men, and one of the asses, and I will ride quickly to the man of God, and return. 23 And he said, Why art thou going to him to-day? It is neither new moon, nor the Sabbath. And she said, [It is] well.
This is the story of the Shunammite woman whose son had died and she went to inquire of the Prophet Elisha. Her husband is confused about why she would be going to the Prophet, not on a New moon or Sabbath day, which seems like these were special days set aside for such inquiries.
1 Samuel 20: 5; 18
5 And David said to Jonathan, Behold, to-morrow [is] the new moon, and I shall not on any account sit down to eat, but thou shalt let me go, and I will hide in the plain till the evening.
18 And Jonathan said, To-morrow [is] the new moon, and thou wilt be enquired for, because thy seat will be observed as vacant.
A Set-Apart day
Rosh Chodesh is frequently mentioned by God when He talks about the Sabbath and the Festivals. It is a special and set apart day, where different sacrifices, customs, and celebrations are held but it is not a commanded a sabbath rest day by Elohim.
Ezekiel 46: 1; 3; 6;
1 Thus saith the Lord God; The gate that is in the inner court, that looks eastward, shall be shut the six working days; [but] let it be opened on the sabbath-day, and it shall be opened on the day of the new moon.
3 And the people of the land shall worship at the entrance of that gate, both on the sabbaths and at the new moons, before the Lord.
6 And on the day of the new moon a calf without blemish, and six lambs, and there shall be a ram without blemish;
Hosea 2: 11
And I will take away all her gladness, her feasts, and her festivals at the new moon, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn assemblies.
Ezra 3: 5
And after this the perpetual whole-burnt-offering, and [offering] for the season of new moon, and for all the hallowed feasts to the Lord, and for every one that offered a free-will-offering to the Lord.
How to know when is the New Moon?
There are a couple of different methods you could use for determining when the New moon will occur.
Firstly, the New Moon is usually indicated in Hebrew roots/ Torah Observant/ Messianic calendars. These calendars are usually precalculated for the entire year.
Secondly, a website called Renewedmoon.com shows when the new moon will occur based on the sighting of the previous months.
Lastly, you could go outside to see if you can spot the new moon. It should be a sliver of the crescent moon in the Eastern sky. My family and I went outside many times and saw it. It’s really fun to see once you spot it!
How should we observe the New Moon?
We see from Scripture that we are to blow trumpets on the new moon.
- You could blow a shofar. If you have a shofar, try to blow it! Or you could find a video of someone blowing a shofar on Youtube and listen to that.
- You could light candles. I like candles and I think it makes the day a little bit more special and set apart from the rest of the days of the month.
- You could have a simple dinner. It can be as simple or as fancy as you want.
- Lastly, you could read Scriptures that pertain to Rosh Chodesh!
I hope this helps you to understand Rosh Chodesh a little bit better! Have a wonderful Rosh Chodesh. Shalom!