ROSH CHODESH by Mark Webb

I was sitting with a fellow congregant discussing the different Rosh Chodesh observances around the world and I stated that when the Messiah returns some of the groups would have to admit they were wrong and follow the way Yahushua would be observing it. After I made the statement, I realized that I had spoken presumptuously. I humbly thought, “What if we’re all wrong?” As soon as I said that, my mind literally began downloading a plethora of information. I began to realize that there was another way to declare the beginning of the month, one that I had never thought of.

For the past year I have been studying this topic and observing the Heavenly servants. It is my opinion that the way to declare the beginning of the month is by sighting the waning crescent in the East, early in the morning as the month ends. This writing will explain at a later time how such a sighting is made. It does require one to be diligent to rise early to witness His sign in the morning before the sun comes up! This is the beginning of a journey Yah has taken me through the last year and one that has transformed the way I, my family and our community have decided to observe and declare Rosh Chodesh. I hope you will enjoy the thoughts and conclusions that have been revealed; the glory goes to Yah, who illuminates the mind.

Witnesses

The topic for this study is to look at Scripture that has given clear examples of when things begin. This is not a topic or study of darkness or light, good or evil, it is simply a study of when things begin. I can find no Scripture that states how to declare Rosh Chodesh. Looking elsewhere at evidences where Yah has determined beginnings helped me define the beginning of the month.

In Gen 1:14 Yah tells us that He has put the sun, moon, and stars in the heavens to determine the day, month, year, and season or appointed time. Yah has given us witnesses to help us determine these times, and His witnesses never fail or cease. They never lie and we can depend upon them no matter where we are on the globe, even if we no longer have a Gregorian calendar, a laptop or any of the fancy instruments man has made to help him calculate time. Yah has given us the ability and it is time we stop giving man the glory for the reckoning of time and use the servants Yah has created for His glory.

The Creator has declared in Gen 1:16-18 that these servants were placed in the heavens to “Rule and Govern,” I want to refrain from giving anything else the authority, I don’t want to change what He has declared.

Yah has told us in Gen. 1:5 that day one begins in the evening followed by morning. Lev 23:32 confirms that Shabbat begins at evening and ends before the beginning of the next evening. To better understand when this evening occurs, Neh.13:19 states that the gates of Jerusalem had grown dark before the Shabbat began. By looking at these witnesses, I can see Yah is showing me that the cycle of a day begins in darkness. Looking for more proof I looked further and saw a list of other examples in Scripture that help me determine when things began.

1. When did the Israelites set out in the Exodus? Scripture tells us it was during the night, redemption began in darkness.

2. When Yah descended onto Mt. Sinai, it was not in the light of day. He was covered with a thick cloud of fire and smoke.

3. When Aaron went into the Holy of Holies, it was not in light but in the covering of smoke.

4. When Yah appeared at the front of the tent of meeting. He was in the covering of a cloud.

5. When Yahushua was born it was in the covering of night.

6. Matt. 27:45 says that when Yahushua died, darkness had fallen upon the land until the ninth hour.

7. Yahushua says that when He returns to claim His bride, He will be as a thief in the night.

How about Yah’s signature in nature?

1. Life begins under the covering of the womb, not when the baby emerges into the light.

2. Life begins in a seed when it sprouts under the covering of the soil, not when it sprouts in the light.

The Covering

Let’s talk about some things that have been discovered concerning the announcement of the head of the month. I would like to point out that most of the Islamic nations declare the beginning of the month with the sighting of the crescent moon in the West.

Islam also has a crescent moon sometimes with a star on their flags. It’s interesting though that Egypt may be the only Islamic nation that sights the new month with the waning crescent in the East. With that being said, I would like to share my thoughts on this. If Israel was declaring the new month by the waning crescent, could it be possible that Joseph influenced the Egyptians to declare it this way when he was ruler of Egypt? This may explain why Egypt, an Islamic nation, is declaring the month this way. It is a possibility that the way Israel declared the new moon may have been changed when they were taken into captivity in Babylon. It is believed, they did assume some of the Babylonian month names.

There are a few Scriptures that are keys to the puzzle of Rosh Chodesh. One of them is 1 Sam 20:5, when David tells Jonathan in the daytime before sunset that “tomorrow will be the new moon.” How would David know that tomorrow would be the new moon if he has not witnessed it in the evening yet? This proposes an interesting situation; either David is gifted in predicting new moons or he had already seen the witness that morning. One might say, “How do you know it’s not past evening yet?” The answer is that if he had seen the waxing crescent that evening, why would he say that tomorrow will be the new moon? He should say that today is the new moon. Another interesting part of this Scripture is the phrase “the third evening.” I will get into that later, but the third evening plays a big part in this.

Let’s look at another Scripture. 1 Sam. 20:27 & 34 says that there is a “second day of the new moon.” What? A second day of the new moon; how could this be so? Once you have understood that from the time the light disappears from the surface of the moon there are two days of the new moon while it’s covered and unseen. Obviously a second day of the new moon would be hard to squeeze into the waxing crescent sighting. But once you get to the end of this writing, I think you will see how this fits in.

Another Scripture that helped me understand this concept is Amos 8:5 which states, “When will the new moon be over, so that we may sell grain.” This Scripture alludes to the thought that the new moon celebration is longer than one day, otherwise why would they be wondering when it would end. Furthermore this passage leads to believe that it’s a Shabbat of no selling, and pairs the new moon with the Shabbat as if they have something in common. The more I am looking at Scripture the more I am seeing that no selling was taking place during the new moon, a topic of study for another time.

Psalm 81:3

It is my belief that this next Scripture is a pivotal piece to understanding the covered moon. I have devoted more to this Scripture than to any of the others. Psalm 81:3 could be the only Scripture that tells me how to declare Rosh Chodesh; this passage really helped shape my thoughts on Rosh Chodesh. The verse tells us to “blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our feast day.

I used to get into lengthy discussions with people on the Hebrew word for “full,” but later I came to understand that it does not matter how I choose to interpret the word or verse. I can interpret it as “covered,” “full” or “appointed.” I don’t think that “appointed” fits in the context with the chapter, so that leaves the other two. The point is, regardless of which choice I make, it still takes me back to the covered phase of the moon at conjunction.

Let’s look at how this is possible; if I render the word as “full” then on which feast day do I blow the trumpet when the moon is full? One possibility is Tabernacles, so if I start at the full moon and count backwards fifteen days, ending on the day of Yom Teruah, I then reach the covered phase of the moon, when it’s absolutely at its conjunction. If I choose to render it as “covered,” then the only phase the moon is covered is at the conjunction.

Some have heard about Mark Biltz’s discovery of the tetrad(4 consecutive) red blood moons that will be appearing on biblical holy days in 2014 and 2015. I have advanced the moon calendar forward to those days and made parallels between the evening of the Passover meal and Erev Sukkot for both years. I believe that the red blood moon is a sign for Israel and if I back up 15 days from those days of the red blood moon, I come to the covered phase of the moon at its conjunction.

Evidences

There are other passages that give further witness to the covered moon. I recall the story of Gideon, who had defeated an enemy who wore crescent shaped necklaces on their bodies and camels. When I think of this passage, I remember that Yah has asked us not to make any carved image of the sun or moon so we do not worship them.

There are several passages that pair the new moon and the Shabbat together, and I have wondered what these two events have in common since they are put together so many times. There is a passage that gives greater detail that led me to believe I look to the East for the new moon. That passage is Ezek. 46:1 and 12, which states in verse 1, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “The gate of the inner court facing east shall be shut the six working days; but it shall be opened on the sabbath day and opened on the day of the new moon. 12 “When the Prince provides a freewill offering or peace offerings as a freewill offering to the LORD, the gate facing east shall be opened for him. And he shall provide his burnt offering and his peace offerings as he does on the Sabbath day. Then he shall go out, and the gate shall be shut after he goes out.” I wonder if He is looking to the East to declare Rosh Chodesh. Furthermore are these two events linked together because the common thread is they are both a Shabbat?

The last passage here is the one in Psalm 130:6, which states “my soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen for the morning; indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.” I have not been able to find a Scripture that points to watchmen in the evening, when I would see the waxing sliver in the West. I have found verses that speak of watchmen in the night but that would not be the time of the crescent sighting. This verse tells me that there were watchmen in the morning, which is when you will see the witness of the waning crescent the day before the moon is covered for two days.

Another witness is that it is said that Yom Teruah is the longest day of the year. It’s also said that this feast is celebrated for two days. Is it possible that this longest day, a two-day event, was during the covered stage of the moon?

If I give barley the authority, stating that it declares the first month, my question is this: how did Noah know what month it was when he stepped of the ark? This was a high mountain where barley would not have been growing. I doubt that the ground was dry enough to support barley.

Exodus 9:18 – 32 states, the barley was “Abib” in the seventh plague in Egypt and was destroyed by hail, yet they didn’t even leave Egypt until after the tenth plague, three plagues after “Abib.” This is very important for when Yah told Moses, “This will be the first of your months.” He declared this while still in Egypt! Most believe it has to be based on the barley in Israel but Moses never entered the land. Thus it was the first of months and beginning of the year; three plagues after the barley was “Abib” in Egypt.

There are several reasons it is important to wait until after the sun has crossed the equator and completed a full cycle before declaring the beginning of a new cycle. I must wait well into “Abib” so that there will be plenty of barley for all the tribes. This year in 2010, barley was declared Abib in mid-March; however, that was only one field and it had to be search for. This year, would all twelve tribes have enough barley in their own tribal territory in just two weeks after March 16th to present it to Yah as prescribed by Torah for Unleavened Bread? I think not. That is why I wait for the Heavenly servants to call out the appointed time to begin the year.

When Israel crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land with Joshua, Scripture says that the banks of the Jordan were overflowing. After crossing, they found barley. With little study, one can find that it takes heat from the sun to melt the snow that causes the river to swell, another small witness to when the year begins. It would not be wise to begin counting a new year while still in the old year. By waiting until the sun crosses the equator and returns, then I am able to begin the counting of a new yearly cycle.

The word Tel-Aviv is found in the Scriptures; however even though Strong’s says it means fresh or in the ear, one can google the name and find that most people and dictionaries interpret this name to mean the “mountain spring.” Could it be that Strong’s definition of fresh and the common interpretation of spring are actually the same thing? So when Yah says, “This is the month of Abib,” He could have meant the month of spring, when things are in the ear or beginning.

Shabbat

It is interesting to me that we have been given a Shabbat every seven days that Yah says is a sign. We see other Shabbats, ones for festivals, one for the ground every seven years, and one every fifty years. It seems as though everything gets a Shabbat; the trees get a season of renewing or refreshing where they don’t provide fruit. We see many things that Yah has created have a time of ceasing.

We even get to do this every night; we rest and refresh ourselves in the night under a covering. Likewise, the moon gets to have a Shabbat approximately every 29.5 days it gets to take a rest from reflecting the light of the sun. It is refreshing or renewing itself once every month. The interesting thing is that during the conjunction the moon, sun and earth are in a total alignment, like the hour, minute and second hand on the clock, which resets itself at that moment. So too, the moon resets itself at the conjunction and starts keeping time all over again for twenty nine and a half more days.

Yah has given us a sign from heaven that we are keeping this time of Rosh Chodesh accurately, that happens some times at the conjunction when we get a solar eclipse and we get to actually see the new moon. The only time you will actually see the new moon is when it is totally covered at an eclipse. I believe that this solar eclipse is our sign that we are on track; its another witness to the event of Rosh Chodesh; after all you need two witnesses. I have not found two witnesses in the waxing crescent, so this is very crucial.

Yah’s Covering

Scripture shows us many times that Yah is actually in a covering or surrounded by darkness. We will briefly examine a few of these witnesses.

Gen 15:17 – “It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces.”

Deut. 4:11 – “You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the very heart of the heavens: darkness, cloud and thick gloom.”

2Sam. 22:10 – “He bowed the heavens also, and came down With thick darkness under His feet.”

2Sam. 22:12 – “And He made darkness canopies around Him, A mass of waters, thick clouds of the sky.”

Job 12:22 – “He reveals mysteries from the darkness And brings the deep darkness into light.”

Psa. 97:2 – “Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.”

Eccl. 12:2 – “Before the sun and the light, the moon and the stars are darkened, and clouds return after the rain;”

We also have a Scripture that says Jacob wrestled with the angel until daybreak; it seemed as though the angel had to leave before the light of day!

Gen. 32:24 – Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.

Gen. 32:25 – When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. 26 – Then he said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

How to Declare

I would like to take time here to break down the sequence of how I declare Rosh Chodesh based on the waning crescent moon and the conjunction. I am still using the light of the moon, just not the waxing, I use the waning to declare.

When the month is ending, you will notice each morning before the sun rises that the moon keeps waning until one morning it is barely seen. The moon looks like the waxing crescent in the west at sunset. The next morning you will not see the sliver at all in the East, you then have 12 hours until the new day begins that evening to declare Rosh Chodesh. From that evening or Rosh Chodesh, there will be approximately two evenings most of the time, before you see the waxing crescent in the west at sundown. That is your two days of Rosh Chodesh; I will post an example of this on a lunar calendar for you to see.

I always wondered when I used to declare Rosh Chodesh with the waxing crescent in the West, how was there enough time to gather the nation that same evening to declare Rosh Chodesh? The riders who would be on a nearby mountain would be rushing in to say they had seen the sliver or would light fires. Where is the time? You would have to gather during the daytime before sundown the next evening. So with the witness being seen in the morning in the East, you have twelve hours to gather the nation and have a Rosh Chodesh celebration at the time it should be, in the evening.

This answers the question about King David saying tomorrow would be Rosh Chodesh. It could be the reason he knew tomorrow would be Rosh Chodesh. Perhaps his watchmen had seen the witness that morning when no sliver was visible, thus he knew tomorrow would be the new moon.

This also lines up with the Scripture that talks about the second day of the new moon. Remember after declaring Rosh Chodesh there are two evenings most of the time, before the sliver is seen again.

Calendar

The Year

This is a short explanation of how to declare the first month. I have already discussed how to declare each month but I need to cover how to declare the first of the months.

Remember that Genesis tells us that the sun, moon, and stars; declare the day, month, year, and season or moed. When I look at the festival of First Fruits, I know that barley must be ready in order to wave the first sheaves of barley grain to Yah. Something tells the barley that it’s time to get ready; I believe it’s the return of the sun crossing the equator which is called the spring equinox.

Deut. 16:13 states, “You shall celebrate the Feast of Booths seven days after you have gathered in from your threshing floor and your wine vat.” This verse tells us that we are to celebrate Tabernacles after we have harvested, we have to harvest in order to bring our offerings to Him. If I begin the first month too early I will encroach upon the festival of booths with the fruit harvest and not have anything to bring.

By using the return of spring declared by the sun at the equinox and not barley or anything else, lest I give the glory to anything other than what Yah has declared, I will always be in alignment with His creation. After the spring equinox occurs the day is longer than the night and thus the ground starts warming up calling the seed to order. There are evidences of cultures using the equinox to tell them when harvest time was nearing. A simple equatorial calendar will tell the observer when the equinox is happening. Once the equinox is determined, which is either March 20th or 21st on the Gregorian calendar, then the first covered moon after that date is the first month or the return of spring.

Just like the moon, the sun is also a faithful witness. There are equatorial sundials all over the planet; just here in Phoenix, there are some the native Indians made on the stones in Scottsdale. In New Mexico, they are everywhere. It’s as though they knew that the sun called everything into order for the planting and harvesting, just like Yah said.

When you Google equatorial sundial you will find all kinds of types and styles. What they have in common is they tell the day the sun is over the equator, indicating it has returned and a new season has begun. There are biblical implications all over that statement, but for now we will stick to the declaration of the first month. In the winter, the sun shines on the south side of the dial. After the spring equinox, the sun shines on the north side of the dial. I believe that men on the earth before the Babylonian exile knew how to observe the equinox and this sign told them when harvest was returning. This form of determining the first month can be done anywhere on earth without the aid of the Gregorian calendar or any other technological aid. That’s why its crucial if we are in the wilderness, we might not have barley or know if it’s ripe in Israel. Maybe that’s why Yah declared the sun and moon, for they are always available over the entire earth.

Conclusion

In summary, the purpose for sharing my thoughts on this subject is to share my observations concerning beginnings and the heavenly servants.

First, I see Yah’s beginnings are consistently in darkness or in a covered state.

Secondly, I acknowledge the authority of the servants Yah has placed in the heavens to divide day from night and to call out signs, moeds, days and years. Looking to any other source to declare any of these times is placing authority on something that was not given the responsibility.

A barley crop is a second witness that the servants of Yah have indeed called out a new season and new year. But no where in Scripture do I see Yah giving authority to a barley crop to make this initial declaration.

May Yah’s blessings be upon you as you consider these thoughts.

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