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New Month Day under OT

How it was observed


                 From the book "The Temple -
                 its Ministry and Services"

                             by

                Alfred Edersheim D.D., Ph.D.



THE NEW MOONS: 

'Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in
respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath :
which are a shadow of things to come; but the body (is) of
Christ.'-Col.2:16,17.
(see this fully explained in my study "Col.2:16" - Keith Hunt)

SCARCELY any other festive season could have left so continuous
an impress on the religious life of Israel as the 'New Moons.'   
Recurring at the beginning of every month, and marking it, the
solemn proclamation of the day, by - 'It is sanctified,' was
intended to give a hallowed character to each month, while the
blowing of the priests' trumpets and the special sacrifices
brought, would summon, as it were, the Lord's host to offer their
tribute unto their exalted King, and thus bring themselves into
'remembrance' before Him. 

Besides, it was also a popular feast, when families, like that of
David, might celebrate their special annual sacrifice; (1
Sam.20:6,29) when the king gave a state-banquet; (1 Sam.20:5,24)
and those who sought for instruction and edification resorted to
religious meetings, such as Elisha seems to have held (2 Kings
4:23).

And so we trace its observance onwards through the history of
Israel; marking in Scripture a special Psalm for the New Moon (in
Tishri); (Psa.81:3) noting how from month to month the day was
kept as an outward ordinance, even in the decay of religious
life, (Isa.1:13; Hos.2:11) apparently all the more rigidly, with
abstinence from work, NOT enjoined in the law, that its spirit
was no longer understood; (Amos 8:5) and finally learning from
the prophecies of Isaiah  and Ezekiel that it also had a higher
meaning, and was destined to find a better fulfilment in another
dispensation, when the New Moon trumpet should summon 'all flesh
to worship before Jehovah,' (Isa.66:23) and the closed eastern
gate to the inner court of the new Temple be opened once more to
believing Israel (Ezek.46:1). And in New Testament times we still
find the 'New Moon' kept as an outward observance by Jews and
Judaising Christians, yet expressly characterised as 'a shadow of
things to come; but the body is of Christ' (Col.2:16)

(Col.2:16 has been very misunderstood by most of Christianity.
See my study on it for the contextual and true meaning of what
Paul was saying - Keith Hunt)

We have already shown of what importance the right determination
of the new moon was in fixing the various festivals of the year,
and with what care and anxiety its appearance was ascertained
from witnesses who had actually seen it; also how the tidings
afterwards communicated to those at a distance. For the new moon
was reckoned by actual personal observation, not by astronomical
calculation, with which, however, as we know, many of the Rabbis
must have been familiar, since we read of astronomical pictures,
by which they were wont to test the veracity of witnesses. So
important was it deemed to have faithful witnesses, that they
were even allowed, in order to reach Jerusalem in time, to travel
on the Sabbath, and, if necessary, to make use of horse or mule.
(Mish. rosh ha Sh.1.9; 3.2). While strict rules determined who
were not to be admitted as witnesses, every encouragement was
given to trustworthy persons, and the Sanhedrim provided for them
a banquet in a large building specially destined for that
purpose, and known as the Beth Yaazek.

In the law of God only these two things are enjoined in the
observance, of the 'New Moon' - the 'blowing trumpets'
(Numb.10:10) and special festive sacrifices (Numb.28:11-15)
Of old the 'blowing of trumpets' had been the signal for Israel's
host on their arch through the wilderness, as it afterwards
summoned them to warfare, and proclaimed or marked days of public
rejoicing, and feasts, as well as the 'beginnings of their
months.' 

The object of it is expressly stated to have been 'for a
memorial,' that they might 'be remembered before Jehovah,' it
being specially added: 'I am Jehovah your God.' It was, so to
speak, the host of God assembled, waiting for their Leader; the
people of God united to proclaim their King. At the blast of the
priests' trumpets they ranged themselves, as it were, under His
banner and before His throne, and this symbolical confession and
proclamation of Him as 'Jehovah their God,' brought them before
Him to be 'remembered' and 'saved.' And so every season of
'blowing the trumpets,' whether at New Moons, at the Feast of
Trumpets, at other festivals, in the Sabbatical and Year of
Jubilee, or in the time of war, was a public acknowledgment
of Jehovah as King. 

Accordingly we find the same symbols adopted in the figurative
language of the New Testament. As of old the sound of the trumpet
summoned the congregation before the Lord at the door of the
Tabernacle, so 'His elect' shall be summoned by the sound of the
trumpet in the day of Christ's coming,' (Matt.24:31) and not only
the living, but those also who had 'slept' (1 Cor.15:52) - 'the
dead in Christ.' (I Thes.4:16). Similarly, the heavenly hosts are
marshalled to the war of successive judgments, (Rev.7:2; 10:7)
till, as 'the seventh angel sounded,' Christ is proclaimed King
Universal: 'The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of
our Lord, and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and
ever' (Rev.11:15).

Besides the 'blowing of trumpets,' certain festive sacrifices
were ordered to be offered on the New Moon (Num.28:11-15). These
most appropriately mark' the beginnings of months' (Num.28:11).  
For it is a universal principle in the Old Testament, that New 
'the first' always stands for the whole - the firstfruits for the
whole harvest, the firstborn and the firstlings for all the rest;
and that 'if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy.'     
And so the burnt-offerings and the sin-offering at 'the
beginning' of each month consecrated the whole. 

These festive sacrifices consisted of two young bullocks, one
ram, and seven lambs of the first year for a burnt-offering, with
their appropriate meat - and drink-offerings, and also of 'one
kid of the goats for a sin-offering unto Jehovah' 

When we pass from these simple Scriptural directions to what
tradition records of the actual observance of 'New Moons' in the
Temple, our difficulties increase. For this and New Year's Day
are just such feasts, in connection with which superstition would
most readily grow up, from the notions which the Rabbis had, that
at changes of seasons Divine judgments were initiated, modified,
or finally fixed.

***Modern critics have not been sufficiently careful in
distinguishing what had been done in the Temple from what was
introduced into the synagogue, gradually and at much later
periods. Thus, prayers which date long after the destruction of
Jerusalem have been represented as offered in the Temple, and the
custom of chanting the 'Hallel' on New Moons in the synagogue has
been erroneously traced to Biblical times.***

So far as we can gather, the following was the order of service
on New Moon's Day. 

The Council sat from early morning to just before the evening
sacrifice, to determine the appearance of the new moon. The
proclamation of the Council - 'It is sanctified!' - and not the
actual appearance of the new moon, determined the commencement
of the feast. Immediately afterwards, the priests blew the
trumpets which marked the feast. After the ordinary morning
sacrifice, the prescribed festive offerings were brought, the
blood of the burnt-offerings being thrown round the base of the
altar below the red line, and the rest poured out into the
channel at the south side of the altar; while the blood of the
sin-offering was sprinkled or dropped from the finger on the
horns of the altar of burnt-offering, beginning from the east,
the rest being poured out, as that of the burnt-offerings. The
two bullocks of the burnt-offerings were hung up and flayed on
the uppermost of the three rows of hooks in the court, the rams
on the middle, and the lambs on the lowest hooks. In all no less
than 107 priests officiated at this burnt-offering - 20 with
every bullock, 11 with every ram, and 8 with every lamb,
including, of course, those who carried the appropriate meat -
and drink-offerings.

At the offering of these sacrifices the trumpets were again
blown. All of them were slain at the north side of the altar,
while the peace - and freewill-offerings, which private
Israelites were wont at such seasons to bring, were sacrificed at
the south side. The flesh of the sin-offering and what of the
meat-offering came to them, was eaten by the priests in the
Temple itself; their portion of the private thank-offerings might
be taken by them to their homes in Jerusalem, and there eaten
with their households.

If any special prayers were said in the Temple on New Moons Days,
tradition has not preserved them, the only formula dating from
that period being that used on first seeing the moon - 'Blessed
be He who reneweth the months.' To this the synagogue, towards
the close of the third century, added the following:

     "Blessed be He by whose word the heavens were created, and
     by the breath of whose mouth all the hosts thereof were
     formed! He appointed them a law and time, that they should
     not overstep their course. They rejoice and are glad to
     perform the will of their Creator, Author of truth; their
     operations are truth! He spoke to the moon, Be thou renewed,
     and be the beautiful diadem (i.e. the hope) of man (i.e.
     Israel), who shall one day be quickened again like the moon
     (i.e. at the coming of Messiah), and praise their Creator
     for His glorious kingdom. Blessed be He who reneweth the
     moons." 

At a yet much later period, a very superstitious prayer was next
inserted, its repetition being accompanied by leaping towards the
moon! New Moon's Day, though apparently observed in the time of
Amos as a day of rest, is not so kept by the Jews in our days,
nor, indeed, was abstinence from work enjoined in the Divine Law.

END QUOTES from Edersheim            

                             ................

Edersheim has correctly stated - the New Month or Moon day was
NOT a SABBATH! Nothing in the Laws of Moses (first five books)
ever state that the New Month day should be a Sabbath day. What
Israel may have done at a later date in the time of Amos, by
observing it as a Sabbath, is then only what they did as an added
custom, not something that God's laws taught or demanded.

But on the other hand, the New Month day is recognized by God as
different from other days, by the special sacrifices performed on
that day. For an overview and for some suggestions how it might
be observed today, see my study  called "New Month Days" - Keith
Hunt.

Entered on this Website, October 2003


 
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