The story of Creation describes the moon and sun as natural timekeepers: “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens… and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years” (Genesis 1:14). In the Hebrew Bible and Jewish custom – as in many other cultural traditions – the new moon brings celebration (see Numbers 10:10).
In Biblical times the people of Israel observed this ראש חודש (rosh khodesh) “head of the month” with feasting (1 Samuel 20:18). We read that the new moon prompted משוש (masos) “rejoicing” (Hosea 2:11/13) and a break from business (Amos 8:5). Yet the significance of the new moon in Hebrew thought is even deeper.
The ancient prophet Yeshayahu/Isaiah wrote of the creation of “the new heavens and the new earth” in the context of a time generally understood as the Messianic age. In Hebrew the word for “new” is חדש (khadash), from the same root as חודש (khodesh) “month” or “new moon.” More importantly, the same passage from the Hebrew prophet says that people from “all nations” will come to worship Israel’s God on every sabbath and new moon. (Isaiah 66:18-23)
With this in mind, the Jewish synagogue liturgy adds special blessings for the new moon, including a prayer to “remember Messiah, son of David… and Your entire people, the House of Israel.” Another rabbinic custom is to go out under an open sky to see the new moon and recite Psalms of praise to God. The new moon is regarded as a symbol of ultimate redemption, a kind of “rebirth” signaling the prophesied restoration of Israel to a new era of peace and goodness.
The Jewish-Greek Book of Revelation also references these themes directly. This first-century apocalyptic vision pictures the new heavens, the new earth, and even a renewal of “all things.” The text continues by describing a “tree of life” that brings healing to the nations. Remarkably, it has twelve different fruits – specifically, one for each month or new moon! (Revelation 21:1-5, 22:2)
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