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Psalm 81:3 and the Covered Moon


The question of the biblical calendar is one that is not easily answered, particularly the question of how the first day of the month is determined, and how the first month of the year is determined.

We begin with Bere’shiyth (Genesis) 1:

14 And ELOHIYM said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs אות (oth) and for seasons (moediym), and for days (yomiym), and years (shanahiym):


15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. 16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

It is reasonable to conclude, then that the moediym – the feasts discussed in Viyaqra (Leviticus) 23 – are to be determined by the lights in the firmament which divide the day from the night, the greater light (the sun) for the day, and the lesser light (the moon) for the night.  The stars may also be used for signs and to determine the feasts. 

We note what is not described here – there is no discussion of barley, no discussion of sightings, just a plain statement that the sun, the moon and the stars should be used as signs and for the feasts, for days, and for years.

Let us see if we can find the first month. 

Shemot (Exodus) 12:

1 And YAHUAH spoke unto Moshe and Aharon in the land of Mitsrayim, saying, 2 This month (chodesh) shall be unto you the beginning (roshe) of months: it shall be the first (rishon) month (chodesh) of the year (shanah) to you.

Moshe then goes on to describe the feast of Passover, beginning on the 14th day of the month, and Matsah, beginning on the 15th day of the month. One wonders if the sun and the moon can be used to determine these moediym. 

Vayiqra (Leviticus) 23:

4 These are the feasts (moedi) of YAHUAH, even holy (qodesh) convocations (miqra), which ye shall proclaim in their seasons (eth moediym). In the fourteenth day of the first (rishon) month (chodesh) at even is YAHUAH’S pecach.

As you can see, the same word – moediym – is found both in Bere’shiyth 1:14 and Vayiqra 23:4, and Pecach (Passover) is proclaimed to occur in the first month.

Now, consider again a passage in Shemot 13:

1 And YAHUAH YAHUAH spoke unto Mosheh, saying, 2 Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever opens the womb among the children of Yisra’el, both of man and of beast: it is mine. 3 And Mosheh said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Mitsrayim, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand YAHUAH brought you out from this place: there shall no chametz be eaten. 4 This day came ye out in the month Aviyv.

5 And it shall be when YAHUAH shall bring you into the land of the Kena`aniym, and the Chittiym, and the Emoriym, and the Chivviym, and the Yevuciym, which he swore unto your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall keep this service in this month. 6 Seven days you shall eat matstsah, and in the seventh day shall be a feast (chag) to YAHUAH.

Now, there are some commentators who use this passage to say that the means by which the month is determined, is by finding the barley in aviv (meaning when the young ear of the grain is present), yet Bere’shiyth tells us that the days and years are determined by the signs of the sun, moon, and stars.

Note, that the seventh day of this feast is called a chag, not the first, putting the chag on the 21st day of the month, not the 15th.  Note, also, that there is no instruction to go and determine if the barley (or other grain) is showing the young ear of the grain.  The Levite is not instructed at any point in all of scripture to go and look for the barley to be in aviv (see Shemot 9:31; 13:4; 23:15; 34:18; Vayiqra 2:14; Devariym 16:1).  Instead, the call to go and look as to the barley being in aviv in order to make a determination as to the first month is extra-scriptural, and adds to the Torah.  Under this doctrine, we have no means of determining the first month until a Rabbi proclaims the barley to be in aviv.  A similar claim is made as to when we can declare the Messiah. 

Tehilliym (Psalm) 104:19

He appointed the moon for seasons (moediym): the sun knows his going down.

A quick review of the timing of the feasts is in order:

Pesach or Passover, the first of these mandated moediym (appointments), begins on the 14th day of the month.  This evening would be called Erev Pesach, or the evening of Passover.  The following day during Passover, the lamb without blemish would be slaughtered in preparation for the solemn feast called an atsarah עֲצָרָה or chag חָג which begins the feast of Matza on the 15th day of the month. 

Matza continues for seven days, and during the course of this chag there is necessarily a regular Sabbath.  The day after the Sabbath during Matza is an appointed assembly called First Fruits or Bikoor, which celebrates the harvesting of the barley and the end of the season of eating stored food.

Seven weeks following the feast of Bikoor (First Fruits), or 50 days following the Sabbath within the Feast of Matza, we arrive at the center of the feasts called Shevua or Shevuot (in the plural).  You may know this as Pentecost. 

Ma’aseh (Acts) 2:

1 And when the day of Shavuot was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the RUACH HAQODESH, and began to speak with other tongues, as the RUACH gave them utterance.

From Shevua, we proceed to the seventh month, on the first day of the month, which is Yom (the day) Teruah (of the Shofar blast).  This is the day that is celebrated as Rosh Hashanah within Judaism.  The sounding of the shofar in a particular way (a blast of nine short notes called the teruah) is a warning to the whole of the house of Yisra’el that there are 10 days to prepare the heart for repentance before YAHUAH.  Again, how does the moon signify this day?

Ten days later, on the 10th day of the seventh month, Yom (the day) Kippur (of Atonement) is honored.  The description of this appointed day affirms that in the Hebraic tradition, the day begins at sundown and continues to the following sundown.  The verse below begins with “on the tenth day of this seventh month”, but finishes with the command that “in the ninth day of the month at even (evening – i.e., sundown), from even to even.”  With this passage you can readily see that a day is from sundown to sundown, even though it begins on the “ninth” and is counted as the “tenth.”

Vayiqra (Leviticus) 23:

27 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month is Yom Kippur: it shall be a holy assembly unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto YAHUAH. 28 And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is Yom Kippur, to make an atonement for you before YAHUAH your ELOHIYM. 29 For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. 30 And whatsoever soul it be that does any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. 31 Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 32 It shall be unto you a Sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening unto evening, shall ye celebrate your Sabbath.

Finally, we arrive at Cukkah, or Cukkoth (in the plural).  This solemn feast begins on the 15th day of the seventh month and continues for seven days, through to the 21st.  However, it is part of the practice to celebrate on the eight day (the 22nd of the month) the completion of the reading of the Torah (simcha torah). Here is the command:

Vayiqra (Leviticus) 23:34-42

34 Speak unto the children of Yisra’el, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Cukkot for seven days unto YAHUAH. 35 On the first day shall be a holy assembly: ye shall do no servile work therein. 36 Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto YAHUAH: on the eighth day shall be a holy assembly unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto YAHUAH: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein. 37 These are the feasts of YAHUAH, which ye shall proclaim to be holy assemblies, to offer an offering made by fire unto YAHUAH, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, everything upon his day: 38 Beside the Sabbaths of YAHUAH, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which ye give unto YAHUAH. 39 Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep תא a feast unto YAHUAH seven days: on the first day shall be a Sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a Sabbath. 40 And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before YAHUAH your ELOHIYM seven days. 41 And ye shall keep it a feast unto YAHUAH seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 Ye shall dwell in cukkahs seven days; all that are Yisra’el born shall dwell in cukkahs:

Of the moediym (the feasts), Passover, Matsah, Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur and Cukkoth are on fixed dates.  For purposes of our discussion, Matsah, Yom Teruah and Cukkoth are the three that are marked clearly by the moon, because Matsah and Cukkoth are on the 15th day of the month, and Yom Teruah is on the first day of the month.  Since Yom Teruah is the only feast day that appears on the first day of the month, if it is possible to find how to determine Yom Teruah, it is also possible to determine the 1st day of every other month.

Enter Psalm 81:3, the only verse that has any capability of answering this issue.  Here is the Psalm in transliterated Hebrew:

Taqa b’chodesh shofar b’kasah l’yom chag.

Let’s take a look at that again: Taqa (blow) b’chodesh (in the month) shofar (shofar) b’kasah (in the covering) l’yom (our day) chag (solemn feast).  Chodesh however can mean also the new moon, because that is when the month (chodesh) starts.  That is to say that it does not start on the full moon or the waning moon, but on the new moon.  How do you calculate the new moon?

There is a teaching that discusses the famous phrase “But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only,” declaring it as a license to predict the day and the hour, given that the phrase refers to Yom Teruah and the finding of the 1st day of the month, since no man knows the day or the hour when the moon would be sighted. 

First, we must review the verse in question.

Mattithyahu (Matthew) 24:

35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. 36 But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

Let us then ask the question: What day is it that no man knows, but the Father only? Is it the day of YAHUAH, discussed in Yo’el (Joel) 2?  No, it is not.  It is the day when heaven and earth pass away.  Compare with Chizayon (Revelation) 20, where it is clear that a thousand years pass following the second advent of HaMashiach. 

Scriptures are replete with references concerning the coming of the Son of Man, however, and Yo’el 2 points to Yom Teruah as well:

1 Blow ye the shofar in Tsyion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of YAHUAH comes, for it is nigh at hand; 2 A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there has not been ever the like, neither shall be anymore after it, even to the years of many generations.

The blowing of the shofar, compared to the blowing of the silver trumpet, is a blast of warning and alarm, not the signaling of a high feast.  The blast itself is called the teruah, and the first day of the seventh month is known as Yom Teruah – the day of the warning blast of the shofar.  

Consider the words of Sha’ul (Paul) given to the Thessalonians and the Corinthians:

Cepher Tasloniqiym Echad 4:

16 For ADONAI himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the shofar of ELOHIYM: and the dead in MASHIACH shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet ADONAI in the air: and so shall we ever be with ADONAI.

Cepher Qorintiym Echad 15:

52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last shofar: for the shofar shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

The practice of the feast of Yom Teruah includes the blowing of one hundred shofar blasts, the 100th being the last shofar (last trump).  Therefore, it is possible for every man to know and to understand that the coming day of YAHUAH is the day of the last shofar, the blowing of the shofar in Tziyon, i.e., Yom Teruah.  Consider again:

 Blow the shofar in the new moon, at the covering, on our solemn feast day.

The word that appears in the Masoretic text here for covering is (כסה) kasah, not keseh (כסא).  There are 149 other passages in the bible where the word kasah is interpreted as "covered," "cover," "covereth," "concealed," or "clad".  The word keseh is actually a misspelling and means in its application as found in 124 other places in the text as כִּסֵּא kicce' kis-say' or kicceh {kis-say'}; from 3680; properly, covered, i.e. a throne (as  canopied):--seat, stool, throne.  Whether spelled kof samek heh (149 times), kof samek alef (124 times), or kof shin heh, it means the same thing, - covered - except for Psalm 81:3 and Proverbs 7:20 where it has been construed (suddenly and inordinately) as "appointed."

The direction in Psalm 81:3 is not to look at the moon - just to blow the shofar at the new moon, at the covering.  The diatribe about observing the new moon has little to do with actually watching it; rather it means to simply take note of it and . . . calculate its return.  Without such calculations, an overcast sky completely upsets the apple cart, no matter your point of view.  If there is no visible moon marker – no sighting of the moon at all, then there is no month.

Bear in mind that Psalm 81:3 is the only scripture that may reveal how to find the first day of the month in the entire text - there is nothing else, and what do we find when we get there?  An anomalous interpretation.  When we convert it to be consistent with the hundreds of other uses of that word in scripture, we find "blow the shofar on the new moon, at the covering, on our solemn feast day."  This is not done with any agenda other than to correct the text to read as the original Hebrew.  And when corrected, what do we find?  The day of the new moon is the day of its covering, not the day a Rabbi sights it over Jerusalem. 

The proclamation that the first day can only be found based upon a Rabbinical determination, and that the first month can only be found based upon a Rabbinical proclamation that the barley will be in aviv, strikes me as consistent with the concept that the Messiah can only be determined by a Rabbinical proclamation as well.  Nothing in scripture justifies this conclusion.  Instead, we get one leading; that the day of the new moon (roshe chodesh) is the day of the covering (or covered, zero) moon.

It strikes me that the moon is particularly consistent with its delivery of zero moons and full moons, which are much easier to predict than when a Rabbi happens to see the sliver moon over Jerusalem. 



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