Is the New Moon A Crescent or a Full Moon?

Does each month of the Sacred Calendar begin with the moon's first visible crescent or does a new month begin with a full moon. Those who try to prove that the new moon is a full moon use evidence from the Hebrew language and scriptures, as well as various mythologies in an attempt to prove their position. However, the new moon is actually the crescent moon, which can be proven from history and Hebrew word definitions in reference to the sacred New Moon.

Paganism Versus Truth

Many believe that anything associated with pagan religions must be shunned and kept separate from the worship of the true God. This assumption is based on the following passage from Deuteronomy:

"When the Lord your God shall cut off the nations from before you, where you go to possess them, and you succeed them, and dwell in their land; Take heed to yourself that you be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before you; and that you inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. You shall not do so to the Lord your God: for every abomination to the Lord, which he hates, have they done to their gods" (Deut.12:29-31 Para.).

The Israelites were forbidden from allowing Canaanite practices into the worship of the Lord. These Canaanite practices included the burning of children as sacrifices to their gods, divination, sorcery, interpreting omens, witchcraft, casting spells, contacting spirits, and necromancy. See Deut.18:9-10.

It is important to note that nothing is recorded in the scriptures that condemns the use of the Canaanite or any other calendar.

Throughout the ancient Near East, months began with the first crescent moon. The fact that most cultures worshiped the moon as a god does not detract from the convenience of the use of the moon as an instrument for keeping time. It was God's intent that the moon be used by mankind for the purpose of marking time. See Gen.1:14-16; Psa.104:19.

The Canaanites of Ugarit worshiped the moon as Prince Yarih, which is cognate to the Hebrew 'yareah'. This word defines the moon as a thing that moves through the sky and goes through phases. Thus, the Canaanites of Ugarit appear to have worshiped the moon as a single entity throughout its phases. The same applied to the Egyptian moon-god, Thoth, and the Babylonian moon-god, Sin.

If the shape of the crescent moon is associated with one or all of the moon gods, this is only because the crescent is the most familiar and easily represented phase of the moon. It is also the most distinguishing element of the moon's character. If it were portrayed in its full form, it might be mistaken for the sun, which does not go through phases.

One clear fact is that the moon in all its phases was taken by these various groups to be a god. But this was not the intent of its creation. The moon and its phases existed before the pagan religions and their moon-gods. Thus, no phase of the moon can be taken to be more pagan than another.

Hebrew Language

Evidence about what the ancient Hebrews thought about the moon can be found in the Hebrew vocabulary relating to the moon and this evidence was preserved in the Hebrew Bible.

There are several Hebrew words for both the astral body we call the moon and the period of time we call a month. Although these are different words, the differences in their meanings reveal some of what the ancient Hebrews knew about the moon.

Every Hebrew word has a root, which has a basic meaning. The various Hebrew words for 'moon' and 'month' are built from five different Hebrew roots. One Hebrew word for 'moon' is 'ma'owr'. This word means 'illuminator' and is built from the root -'w.r.', which means 'to be light'. This is the word used for the moon in Genesis 1:16 ('the lesser light') and Psalms 74:16 ('the moon'). This word for the moon depicts it as a thing that gives light, just as the sun does.

Another word used for the moon is 'levanah', which comes from the root 'l.b.n.', which means 'to be white'. It is used in Isaiah 24:23 and 30:26, and in the Song of Songs 6:10. This word focuses on the moon's characteristic white color.

The following two Hebrew words for the moon also have the words for month built from the same root words.

The first of these is 'yareah'. This word appears to come from a root with the meaning of moving. Seventy-five percent of Hebrew roots with the elements of 'r' and 'h' connote movement of some sort. It has been suggested by the scholars Franz Buhl and P. de Lagarde that the meaning of 'yareah' is 'wanderer'. It comes from the root 'r.h.', which means 'to wander'. In this case the emphasis is placed on the moon as a thing that travels through the sky and goes through the cycle of its phases.

The word 'yerah' is built from the same root and is translated as 'month'. 'Yerah' is derived from the word 'yareah'. 'Yerah' is a full cycle of the moon that defines the length of a month in an observation-based lunar calendar. Therefore, the meaning of 'yerah' can be reconstructed as 'lunar cycle' or 'lunation'.

Another Hebrew word for the moon is a word for only one phase of the moon. This word is 'hodesh', which means 'New Moon' and it comes from the root '', which means 'to be new'. The homonym 'hodesh' means 'month' and is also derived from the root '' and its meaning of 'New Moon', because a lunar month begins with a new moon. This biblical Hebrew word 'hodesh' refers, as it does in later Hebrew, to the first visible crescent of the waxing moon, which is the starting point of the moon's visible changes throughout the sky.

Another word that refers to only one phase of the moon is 'kese' (as spelled in Pro.7:20) or 'keseh' (as spelled in Psa.81:3). This is apparently a borrowed Assyrian word. In Assyrian, it is 'kuse^u', which means 'headdress', 'cap', and 'full moon' (as the tiara of the moon-god).

The various Hebrew words relating to the moon, its phases, and the month are clearly tied together. Those words that relate to the month are clearly dependent on the primary meanings as they relate to the moon. Those words that describe lunar phases simply do that; they describe the moon in its two most distinctive forms: new, crescent, and full. The following table should assist in this understanding.


    • mah-or "Illuminator" - the moon as a light-giver
    • l-vah-nah "White" - the moon's color
    • keh-seh "Full Moon" - (loan word from Assyrian)
    • Ch-oh-desh "New Moon" - the first visible phase of the moon's cycle
    • Ch-oh-desh "Month" - begins with the "new moon" phase
    • yah-ray-ach "Wanderer" - the moon throughout its cycle of moon's phases
    • yeg-rach "Lunation" - month based on the length of the cycle of the moon's phases

Psalm 81 And The New Moon

"Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day" (Psa.81:3, KJV).

Some people assume that verse 3 of Psalms 81 is proof that the 'New Moon' is a full moon, and that this Psalm refers to the Festival of Trumpets, which should therefore fall on the full moon instead of a crescent moon. Moreover, they assume the beginning of every lunar month should be on the full moon. As we will see, these are false assumptions.

From the linguistic evidence, the "new moon" of Psalms 81 is not a full moon and in no way makes the new moon and full moon to be the same lunar phase.

Verse 3 is literally translated as follows:

"Sound on the new moon the ram's horn, on the full moon for the day of our festival."

To what period of the year (to what festival) does this Psalm refer? The answer is not found merely in the fact that the ram's horn (the shofar) was blown, because this instrument was generally blown during rejoicing (see 1.Chron.15:28; 2.Chron.15:14; Psa.98:6). This question is answered by the rest of Psalms 81. Verses 3 through 7 show the time of year to which this psalm refers:

"Sound the ram's horn on the new moon, and on the full moon for the day of our feast. For it is a statute for Israel, a judgment of the God of Jacob. He appointed it as a witness in Joseph, when he went out against Egypt. I heard a language I didn't know. I removed his shoulder from labor and his hands were freed from the basket. In trouble you called and I delivered you; I answered you in a covering of thundercloud; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Selah" (Para.).

When did God go out in battle against Egypt? When were Israel's shoulders removed from forced labor? When did Israel cry out, and when did God deliver them? When did he answer out of thunder clouds? When was Israel tested at the waters of Meribah? See Ex.14:25; 1:1; 13:3; 3:7-8; 19:16; 17:7.

All these events occurred in the Spring of the year and are connected with the Exodus of Israel from Egypt. The central event of that period was the Passover, which was the night on which the Creator brought about the release of Israel from Egypt. The Israelites left Egypt on the night of the 15th day of the first month—the night of a full moon. The New Moon before the Passover is also special because it is the first New Moon of the year (see Ex. 12:2).

Another connection between the Passover season and the events mentioned in Psalms 81 is found in verse 10. This is a direct quote from God as he gave the Ten Commandments. In Exodus 20:2, God specifically says that he brought Israel out of Egypt; thus, he ties the Ten Commandments to the Passover season just as the Festival of Weeks (Pentecost, the day of the giving of the Ten Commandments) is tied to Passover (the count toward Pentecost during the Festival of Unleavened Bread).

The new moon and full moon mentioned in Psalms 81:3 were part of the month Abib/Nisan, the first month of the Sacred Calendar. This new moon is the one that begins the year (Ex.12:2), and this full moon is the one on the Passover night during which Israel left Egypt (Ex.12:29,31,42).

The evidence of Psalms 81 does not support the hypothesis that the new moon and full moon are the same; moreover, this Psalm cannot be related to the fall festival season.


It is actually a simple task to determine whether the biblical New Moon is a full moon or the first visible crescent. The problem is not with the facts or documentation, it is with what some people have tried to do with these facts and documentation.

The following questions and facts are critical to determining whether it is the full moon or the first visible crescent that is the beginning of the sacred month.


1) Should pagan religions be used as a criteria to determine biblical truth and worship practices?

2) Because pagan religions have some aspects of their worship systems which are similar to God's worship system does this make these aspects of God's system pagan?

3) Did the Calendar court that existed during Christ's lifetime use the full moon or the first visible crescent to calculate the beginning of sacred months?

4) Did Hillel II have the authority to publish the secret method of sacred calendar calculations used by the Calendar Court and establish a fixed sacred calendar for future generations?


1) The method of intercalation was in use by the Calendar Court to calculate the sacred calendar from 516 B.C to 70 A.D.

2) The care of the sacred calendar does not lie within the authority or responsibility of any Christian; the authority and responsibility of the Calendar Court has never been rescinded, it still belongs to the Calender Court because the authority and responsibility to perform animal sacrifice still belongs to the Levitical priesthood.

3) History clearly shows that Jesus obeyed the whole law of God, which included the observance of the New Moon. Therefore, if we can establish that the sacred calendar was in use during his lifetime, we can establish with certainty whether the sacred month begins with a full moon or the first visible crescent of the moon.


In reality, there are only two religions--the worship system of the Sovereign God of all that exists and Satan's worship system, which has many different variations.

Many religions throughout history have copied and appropriated aspects of the worship system that the Creator God gave to the Patriarchs and to national Israel. However, nothing that these religions do or do not do affects the validity of God's worship system.


The general agreement between biblical and rabbinical scholars, astronomers, historians, and mathematicians who have done in-depth research into the dates and events surrounding Jesus' life is that Jesus' life covered a period of no earlier than 7 B.C. and no later than 33 A.D.. Therefore, it is within this time frame that we must find proof concerning whether the sacred months begin with a full moon or the first visible crescent of the moon. Because Jesus kept the law perfectly, whether or not he acknowledged the authority of the Calendar Court's decisions about what constituted a new moon is crucial. Moreover, Christ set the example for us to follow in everything including the observance of the first day of the sacred month.

More Facts

A. When the patriarch Hillel assumed leadership of the Calendar Court in 30 A.D., he would have been obliged to continue the method of calculation used from 516 B.C. It is apparent that he did continue this method of calculation because there is no Jewish or secular historical evidence to the contrary.

B. The Bible clearly shows Jesus observing the Passover and festivals at 12 years old and that he continued to observe them on the same days as the Jews right up to his last Passover with his disciples. It is important to note that Jesus never challenged the authority of the Calendar Court to set the dates of God's observances and festivals; he confirmed their authority by observing these days on dates that the Court had sanctioned.

C. The Bible shows the early church observing the Passover and the festivals on the same days as the Jews.

D. Neither the Bible nor history shows any change in the beginning of the sacred months prior to or after the life of Jesus.

These facts only indicate that no change occurred to the beginning of the sacred month during Christ's lifetime or during the early church and the writing of the New Testament. So, what does this prove? This proves nothing unless one is willing to believe the volumes of calculations and historical documentation by biblical and rabbinical scholars, astronomers, historians, and mathematicians who have done in-depth research into the dates and events surrounding Jesus' life. Their research clearly shows that the Hillel II calendar in use today is the same type of calendar used in 30 A.D.. And we know for sure that the Hillel II calendar uses the visible new crescent as the beginning of the sacred months.

Using the Hillel II calendar calculations and astronomy, it can easily be shown that the sequence of events according to the biblical record of Christ's crucifixion could have only transpired on a full moon during the years 27, 30, and 33 A.D.. No other years are even remotely possible for Christ's crucifixion according to the biblical record of events.

Not only does astronomy confirm the Hillel II calendar, but Jewish history easily confirms the unbroken succession of festivals calculated by using the visible new crescent as the first day of the month all the way back to the Day of Atonement in 30 A.D..

The 9th of Ab

The Hillel II calculates the month of Ab to begin with the first new crescent of the moon. Therefore, the 9th day of Ab would be close to the first quarter moon.

On the 9th of Ab in 70 A.D., the Romans marched into Jerusalem and destroyed the temple and the city. When this historically documented benchmark is used to establish whether the month of Ab began with the first visible crescent of the moon or a full moon, the following data confirms that Ab of 70 A.D. began with the first crescent of the moon.

There are many dates noted by Flavius Josephus in his history of the destruction of Jerusalem. In The Wars of the Jews, Book 6 he notes that, on the eighth day of the of the Roman month Lous (Jewish month Ab), the ramps were finished and Titus ordered the battering-rams brought up and made ready for an assault on the temple. He also mentions that the fires in Jerusalem were still burning on the eighth day of the Roman month Gorpieus (Jewish month Elul).

Because the months of the Roman Julian calendar were calculated to begin with the new moon (i.e., the first new crescent), the Julian and the Hebrew calendar were in close agreement much of the time.

If Jerusalem fell on 9 Ab in 70 A.D., this would be the Jewish year 3830 AM, 9 Lous (i.e., 4 August on the Julian calendar), and Julian Day Number 1746841. Therefore the 9th day of Ab would be slightly after the First Quarter Moon (with First Quarter being close to the 7th day of the month). Astronomical calculations show that this was indeed the case for Julian Day Number 1746841. Therefore, Ab must have begun with the first crescent of the moon (i.e., the new moon). The full moon appeared around 9 August (14 Ab), which is about mid-month.

The historical record of the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. clearly shows that Jewish months at that time were calculated to begin with the first crescent of the new moon.

Jesus' crucifixion

The biblical record of the events surrounding Jesus' crucifixion shows the day of his crucifixion to be in the middle of the month of Nisan, which is on a full moon. astronomical data confirms that indeed the middle of the month of Nisan was a full moon.

Using the Hillel II calendar calculations and astronomical data it can easily be shown that the sequence of events according to the biblical record of Christ's crucifixion could have only transpired on a full moon during the years 27, 30, and 33 A.D. and that all of these dates are within one day of a full moon.

The Watchmen

Although the Calendar Court used astronomical calculations to determine the first day of the new year and the New Moon, the first day of each month was always confirmed by a physical observation of the new moon to make sure there were no mistakes in the calculations.

At the end of each month, several watchman were placed at high points around Jerusalem to watch the sky for the new crescent. As soon as the new crescent was sighted, each watchman went to the house called "Beth Yazek" to be examined by the president of the Calendar Court. When the evidence for the appearance of the New Moon was deemed satisfactory, the president rose up and formally announced it by uttering, "Mekuddash" (i.e., "it is consecrated or sanctified").

It makes no sense at all for specially trained men to be sent out to watch for the new moon and determine if it had indeed occurred on the date calculated if a new moon is a full moon. A full moon is easily seen anywhere in Israel and can easily be determined days before it occurs.

If the full moon begins the sacred month, there would be no need for a Calendar Court or for calculation, because anyone anywhere in Israel could easily determine the first day of the sacred month by observation. Whereas, the first visible crescent of the moon is extremely difficult to determine by observation at certain times of the year in Israel.

The only time period and religious practices of the Jews that are relevant to the validity of Hillel II's sacred calendar occurred between 7 B.C. and 70 A.D.. Moreover, all biblical and secular events concerning the Jews and the early church during this period confirm the validity Hillel II's calculations and its use of the visible new crescent as the beginning of the sacred month.


The patriarch Hillel of the tribe of Judah and his descendants presided as presidents of the Pharisaic Sanhedrin (the Calendar Court) for 15 generations in an unbroken succession from 30 A.D. to 425 A.D.

Hillel II's authority to publish the Calendar Court's secret method of calculating the sacred calendar was challenged, but his authority was found to be valid.

Hillel II's authority to fix a sacred calendar for future generations was never challenged by the Jewish scholars and the Jewish community of his time and has not been questioned by rabbinical scholars or historians since that time.

Hillel II did not institute a new method of calculating the sacred calendar, he merely published the secret method of calculations used by the Calendar Court to calculate the days on which to observe God's observances and festivals and he established a fixed sacred calendar for future generations.

There are volumes of in-depth studies and historical documentation which confirm that God's sacred months begin with the visible crescent of the new moon and that Hillel II's calendar is a continuation of what has been used since at least 516 B.C. to calculate and set the dates on which to observe God's commanded observances and festivals.


This study shows that the months of God's lunar calendar must begin with the new moon, which is the first crescent of the waxing moon. The fact that the new moon was used by pagans as a time-keeper and an object of worship does not affect the Sacred Calendar that the Creator God sanctioned and instructed the ancient Israelites to use as a time keeping device.

A further proof that the Jews have preserved the proper beginning for the lunar months is that Jesus celebrated the annual festivals at the same time that the Jews did. He celebrated the Passover as a child (Lk.2:41), the Feast of Tabernacles and the feast of dedication during his ministry (Jn.7:1-10; 10:22), and at the end of his life, he kept the Passover as required by the law (Matt.26:17; Lk.22:15; Jn.chp.13).

Could Jesus Christ have kept the Passover or any of the festivals at the wrong time and still have been sinless (See Num. 9:13)? Jesus kept the Passover (and presumably all of the Festivals) at the same time as the Jews did. Therefore, the Jews must also have been keeping the feasts and observing the beginning of the lunar months at the right time.

By B. L. Cocherell b5w19