The New Moon

From a Hebraic perspective, the moon and the month are directly related.  The first time we see the Hebrew word for moon is in this verse:

Genesis 37:9 And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon (yareach) and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.

The Hebrew word used for moon here is yareach (Ya – Rey – Ach) H3394.  It is used 26 times in the Hebrew Scriptures and is translated as moon every time it is used.  Yareach derives from the root word yerach (yeh-rahk) H3391.  This word is translated as month 11 times and is also translated as moon 2 times.  We see it used for the first time in the following verse about the birth or Moses:

Exodus 2:2 And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he [was a] goodly [child], she hid him three months (yerach).

The correlation between the month and the moon is demonstrated in the fact that the word for moon derives from the word for month.  Yet this is not the only word for month.  The other Hebrew word for month, chodesh (khoe-desh) H2320, is seen below:

Exo 12:2 KJV This month (Chodesh) [shall be] unto you the beginning (Rosh) of months (Chodesh): it [shall be] the first (Roshown) month (Chodesh) of the year to you.

We can see in this verse that the “beginning of the month” is the Hebrew term Rosh Chodesh.  It is also important to note that the word chodesh derives from the Hebrew root word chadash which means to renew, repair, or restore.  In this sense we can see that Rosh Chodesh, the first of the month, also represents a repaired or restored beginning from the Hebraic perspective.  This also explains why chodesh is translated as “New Moon” 20 times out of the 276 times it is used in the Hebrew Scriptures. 

The question now remains, when do we declare the new biblical month?  When is the new moon?  There is much debate over this with some claiming the full moon, other claiming the darkened moon, and others still the waxing crescent.  While opinions may differ drastically, what does the bible say about it?  We must go all the way back to when the moon was new:

Genesis 1:14 And God 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, and for days, and years:

16 And God made two great (GADOWL) lights; the greater(GADOWL) light to rule the day, and the lesser(qatan) light to rule the night: [he made] the stars also.

The Hebrew word gadowl (h1419) means to be great, large or greater.  Both the Sun and the Moon (though not referred to as such in the verse) are considered gadowl, but one would be greater than the other.  In fact the greater light would always be seen as gadowl, never changing in brilliance or illumination.  The key to understanding the ‘New Moon” lies in the word translated as “lesser”.

The Moon varies in brilliance throughout the month, but even at the pinnacle of it’s brilliance it is always “lesser” than the Sun.  It is this cycle that allows us to use it for seasons, days and years.  The question again is what part of the cycle do we start counting?  The Hebrew word translated as “lesser” is qatan (ka-tan) H6996:  Smallest, unimportant, insignificant, or youngest.

Qatan not only means lesser, it means the least amount you can have.  In terms of children you can think of it this way:  Your oldest child will always be the oldest. Each sibling will only be the youngest (qatan) until the next one is born.  In the same way, your youngest children are not the ones you didn’t have, they must exist to be considered.  So when the moon was created, its light was qatan.  This means that there had to be light, this disqualifies the darkened moon.   The light also had to be the least amount, this disqualifies the full moon.  Therefore, we can see the bible demonstrates that the waxing crescent, the least amount of light on the third day after darkness, can be considered Rosh Chodesh.

Rosh Chodesh, aside from being important for discerning God’s appointed feast days and seasons, has significant meaning for the Christian.  Rosh Chodesh represents the repaired, renewed relationship of covenant restored by Meshiach Yeshua.  It comes back to our root word for Chodesh, Chadash.  In fact, Gesenius states this about chadash:

Etymologists have well observed that chadash’s primary sense lies in that of cutting or polishing.  The signification of newness appears as that of a sharp, polished splendid sword. 

The idea of a new sharp edge on an old sword.  We see this type of renewal in the verse below:

Jeremiah 31:31 "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new (Chadash) covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—“

Not new as different or unprecedented, but new as in repaired, restored, and renewed.  The Greek equivalent of chadash used in the Septuagint for Jeremiah 31:31 is kainos G2357.  This word is also used by Yeshua in speaking of the same subject:

Mat 26:28 NKJV "For this is My blood of the new (KAINOS) covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”

Rosh chodesh is a time of renewal and signifies the renewing of covenant with all people who receive Yeshua.  It is also a reminder that as Yahweh grants us a new month, we also have been given a new chance to improve our walk and dedication to him.