top of page

THE "NEW MOON" MISTRANSLATION

In a number of places throughout the Scriptures we find mention of the "new moon". The context of these occurrences has created much confusion to many a Bible reader, as new moons appear to be presented in these passages as days of worship. This is in stark contrast with Leviticus chapter 23, where a full list of God's appointed days of assembly is provided, without any mention of new moons.

The term "new moon" or "new moons" is found 20 times in the King James Version of the Old Testament, all of which are translated from the Hebrew word "chodesh", or its plural "chodeshim".

However, the words "chodesh" and "chodeshim" are found in 252 other places in the Hebrew Scriptures where they are translated "month" or "months".

A very long list of examples could be given, but a handful will suffice to demonstrate the point:

* Genesis 7:11 "In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month ("chodesh"), the seventeenth day of the month ("chodesh") ...... ".

* Exodus 12:2 "This month ("chodesh") shall be unto you the beginning of months ("chodeshim"): it shall be the first month ("chodesh") of the year to you".

* Leviticus 23:5 "In the fourteenth day of the first month ("chodesh") at even is the Lord's passover".

* Judges 11:37 "Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months ("chodeshim"), that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity".

* I Kings 5:14 "And he sent them to Lebanon ten thousand a month ("chodesh") by courses: a month ("chodesh") they were in Lebanon, and two months ("chodeshim") at home".

* Ezekiel 1:1-3 "Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month ("chodesh"), as I was among the captives by the River Chebar, that the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. On the fifth day of the month ("chodesh"), which was in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, the word of the Lord came expressly to Ezekiel the priest .... "

As stated, the Scriptures use this Hebrew word more than 250 times, in connection with dates, timespans, commandments, etc. A perusal of Strong's Concordance will show the details.

Now let's look at the rare instances where "chodesh" has been translated as "new moon", instead of "month", in order to get an insight into what may have motivated translators to do so. There are nine such occurrences involving this Hebrew word in its singular form:

1) I Samuel 20:5 "And David said unto Jonathan, behold, tomorrow is the new moon ("chodesh"), and I should not fail to sit with the king at meat: but let me go, that I may hide myself in the field unto the third day at even".

It should be noted that there is no separate Hebrew word for "new" in this verse, rather "chodesh" is translated as two words, i.e. "new moon". This applies to all the examples given here.

If one were to translate "chodesh" as "month", the verse would say "tomorrow is the month", which sounds odd. Therefore the translators have interpreted this verse as speaking of a new moon. However, there are no observations of the moon mentioned in I Sam 20; all that's clear to us is that David and Jonathan have prior calendrical knowledge concerning the coming of a particular day.

2) I Samuel 20:18 "Then Jonathan said to David, tomorrow is the new moon ("chodesh"): and thou shalt be missed, because thy seat will be empty".

3) I Samuel 20:24 "So David hid himself in the field: and when the new moon ("chodesh") was come, the king sat him down to eat meat".

These two verses add a little more information to I Sam 20:5, and it is clear that a dinner is being held on the special day in question, which David is expected to attend, but which he is trying to avoid.

How do we identify this special day? Where in Scripture do we find particular days that are coupled with the Hebrew word for "month" and are also commanded assemblies? As stated in the introduction, they are all found in Leviticus 23. In all these cases the word "month" is translated from the Hebrew word "chodesh". This chapter lists six days of sacred assembly that fall in the first and seventh months, and a seventh, the day of Pentecost, which falls in the third month. Pentecost is counted from another specified day, the day of the Wavesheaf, which occurs during the feast of Unleavened Bread, held in the first month. Additionally, a special assembly is appointed for the 14th day of the first month, i.e. the day of Passover.

We find therefore that Lev 23 lists a total of ten designated days of sacred assembly. One being the weekly Sabbath, and nine being designated days of designated months, to be observed once a year. Seven of these nine days are commanded to be kept free of regular work and are each considered to be a "holy day" (Neh 10:31).

The 14th day of the first month is the day of Passover. Originally, God commanded this day to be kept as a memorial of the events in Egypt, when the firstborn male Israelites were spared while their Egyptian counterparts all died. Passover was kept in a family setting, with a lamb sacrificed and eaten in the evening at the start of the 14th day of the first month of the year.

This fits very well with what we find in I Samuel 20:6, where David says to Jonathan "If your father misses me at all, then say, ‘David earnestly asked permission of me that he might run over to Bethlehem, his city, for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the family".

The NKJV, quoted above, says "a" yearly sacrifice, but Green's Interlinear Bible renders "a" as "the", as do at least ten other translations. Most translators, however, being by and large unaware of what "the yearly sacrifice" is, have opted to go for the more general "a yearly sacrifice".

The website Yeshiva.co, which specialises in Judaic studies, when approached by the author, asserted that the correct translation of I Sam 20:6 is "If your father is mindful of me, you shall say, 'David took leave of me to hasten home to Bethlehem, his city, for it is the yearly sacrifice there for the whole family".

Therefore, with verses 5 and 6 translated correctly, we can see which festival is being kept here in I Samuel 20.

"And David said to Jonathan, “Indeed tomorrow is the ("chodesh"), and I should not fail to sit with the king to eat. But let me go, that I may hide in the field until the third day at evening. If your father is mindful of me, you shall say, 'David took leave of me to hasten home to Bethlehem, his city, for it is the yearly sacrifice there for the whole family".

What was being commemorated that evening was not a "new moon", but rather "the yearly sacrifice".

There is only one yearly, family sacrifice commanded in Scripture, and that is Passover.

We can see now that in this particular context "chodesh" does not mean month, but rather a monthly appointment, i.e. a day of the month commanded by God to be kept as a special assembly.

Therefore I Sam 20:5 properly reads "And David said to Jonathan, “Indeed tomorrow is the monthly appointment, and I should not fail to sit with the king to eat. But let me go, that I may hide in the field until the third day at evening.

This interpretation is strengthened by verse 27 once it is correctly translated. The NKJV reads "And it happened the next day, the second day of the month, that David’s place was empty. And Saul said to Jonathan his son, “Why has the son of Jesse not come to eat, either yesterday or today". This follows on from the translators' belief that "chodesh" means new moon, and now for some unknown reason the second day of the month is being celebrated as well!

However, the text literally says "And it happened the next day, the "chodesh" the second, that David's place was empty". The customary Hebrew letter L indicating "of" does not appear here before "chodesh" for it to mean "of the month", as in the NKJV above. Nor does the Hebrew word for "day" occur connected with "second", as the NKJV translation renders it.

This verse should therefore be translated "And it happened the next day, the second monthly appointment, that David's place was empty".

This makes perfect sense, for Lev 23 shows, and every holy day keeping Christian knows, that the day after Passover is the first day of Unleavened Bread (ULB). This holy day commences with an evening dinner, and is called "a night to be much observed" (Ex 12:41-42). Hence we see King Saul and his entourage partaking of these two successive special evening meals.

David's mention of the third evening in verse 5 refers to the day following these two days, when the first holy day of ULB was over.

It appears that in the same way the commanded daily sacrifice over time came to be known simply as the "daily", as seen in Dan 8:11-13, 11:31 and 12:11, likewise each of the monthly appointments commanded by God came to be known simply as a "monthly". In the Churches of God, these days have over time developed the name "annual holy days", although this term is not derived from Scripture. It is easily conceivable that one could simply refer to each of such days as an "annual". Abbreviated terms are commonly coined to simplify communication.

Knowing what was being commemorated in I Samuel 20 helps us to understand the remaining passages of Scripture containing the phrase "new moon".

4) II Kings 4:23 "So he said, “Why are you going to him today? It is neither the New Moon ("chodesh") nor the Sabbath”".

This verse appears in the account of the Shunnamite woman and the prophet Elisha. The woman wanted to visit Elisha, leading to her husband making the above statement. From the information gathered from I Samuel 20, we can see that the last sentence should simply be rendered "It is neither Monthly appointment nor Sabbath". This makes sense as those were the days on which religious meetings were commanded.

5) Psalm 81:3 "Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon ("chodesh"), at the full moon, on our solemn feast day".

Various translations of this verse are found. The NKJV given above contradicts itself, as the new moon and the full moon are two different things. The Hebrew words for moon ("yareah") or month ("chodesh") do not appear in the phrase translated "at the full moon". Rather the Hebrew word just means "full" or "fullness", and refers back to "chodesh". The word "solemn" is also an addition.

 

The most likely interpretation is that "chodesh" in this verse means "Monthly appointment". Therefore the literal translation would be "Blow the trumpet in the Monthly appointment, when it has fully come, on our feast day".

This would fit well with the following verse which describes this as "a statute" and "a law".  Numbers 10:10 states that the blowing of the trumpet at the appointed Feasts is indeed God's law.

6) Isa 66:23 "And it shall come to pass that from one New Moon ("chodesh") to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the Lord".

This quote from the last chapter of the book of Isaiah has always been problematic for the people of God. The fact that people in God's Kingdom will congregate before God every Sabbath is of course logical, because God's fourth commandment tells us to do that. However, to do likewise on new moons is not found in any commandment. What is commanded of course is the keeping of God's annual holy days.

Therefore logic dictates that, as we saw above, "chodesh" should be translated as "monthly" or "monthly appointment", rendering the verse "And it shall come to pass that from one Monthly appointment to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the Lord".

Note that all capitalisation in the Hebrew Scriptures is at the discretion of translators, as the original text contains only one case. Therefore for the sake of consistency, Monthly and Sabbath should both appear in the same case, be it lower or upper case.

7) Ezekiel 46:1 "Thus says the Lord God: “The gateway of the inner court that faces toward the east shall be shut the six working days; but on the Sabbath it shall be opened, and on the day of the New Moon ("chodesh") it shall be opened".

This is a passage concerning the "Ezekiel Temple", a vision given to the prophet to show the Jewish captives in Babylon the temple they could build upon their return, after their 70 years in Babylon had been completed. See the page "GOG IN EZEKIEL 38 AND 39" for more on this.

This verse should read "Thus says the Lord God: “The gateway of the inner court that faces toward the east shall be shut the six working days; but on the Sabbath it shall be opened, and on the day of the Monthly appointment it shall be opened".

8) Ezekiel 46:6 "On the day of the New Moon ("chodesh") it shall be a young bull without blemish, six lambs, and a ram; they shall be without blemish".

Ezekiel 46:4-5 details offerings that were to be made on Sabbaths at the "Ezekiel Temple", while verses 6 and 7 list the offerings for the monthly appointments.

Therefore Eze 46:6 should be translated "On the day of the Monthly appointment it shall be a young bull without blemish, six lambs, and a ram; they shall be without blemish".

9) Amos 8:5 "Saying: “When will the New Moon be past, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may trade wheat? Making the ephah small and the shekel large, falsifying the scales by deceit".

Here we find dishonest traders being rebuked because they can't wait for God's holy days to be over, so they can do their business. God's weekly Sabbath command prohibits work on that day, and Nehemiah 10:28-31 makes it clear that God applies the same principle to holy days.

However, there is no Biblical command against trading on a new moon day.

That being the case, these traders would have been the first to point this out to the authorities trying to prevent them doing business.

Therefore the logical conclusion is that the traders were saying "When will the Monthly appointment be past, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may trade wheat?".

They would have been referring to the seven annual holy days, but not to Passover or the day of the Wavesheaf, when business was permitted.

In addition to the above nine occurrences of the singular "chodesh" being translated "new moon", there are eleven occurrences of the plural form "new moons". A closer look at the Hebrew words used in Lev 23 to describe God's appointed days will help our understanding of these passages. I have quoted certain verses from this chapter below. The first four verses are from the Amplified Bible, which consistently and correctly translates the Hebrew word "moedim" as "appointed times".

Lev 23:1 The Lord spoke again to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The appointed times ("moedim") of the Lord which you shall proclaim as holy convocations—My appointed times ("moedim") are these: 3 ‘For six days work may be done, but the seventh day is the Sabbath ("shabbat") of complete rest, a holy convocation . You shall not do any work; it is the Sabbath ("shabbat") of the Lord wherever you may be. 4 ‘These are the appointed times ("moedim") of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times ("moedim"): 5 On the fourteenth day of the first month ("chodesh") at twilight is the Lord’s Passover. 6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month ("chodesh") is the Feast ("chag") of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days you must eat unleavened bread".

15 "And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath ("shabbat"), from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths ("shabbatot") shall be completed".

24 "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month ("chodesh"), on the first day of the month ("chodesh"), you shall have a sabbath-rest ("shabbat"), a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation".

27 "Also the tenth day of this seventh month ("chodesh") shall be the Day of Atonement".

34 "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month ("chodesh") shall be the Feast ("chag") of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord".

When looking at the Hebrew words in Leviticus 23 we see the regular use of different forms of four words:

1) Moed/Moedim - "appointed time(s)"

2) Shabbat/Shabbatot - "Sabbath(s)"

3) Chodesh/Chodeshim - "Month(s)"

4) Chag/Chagim - "Feast(s)"

And where we see these same four words together in the passages quoted below, we repeatedly see that translators have rendered "chodeshim" as "new moons":

1) I Chron 23:31 "And to offer all burnt sacrifices unto the Lord in the sabbaths ("shabbatot"), in the new moons ("chodeshim"), and on the set feasts ("moedim"), by number, according to the order commanded unto them, continually before the Lord".

2) II Chron 2:4 "Behold, I build an house to the name of the Lord my God, to dedicate it to him, and to burn before him sweet incense, and for the continual showbread, and for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the sabbaths ("shabbatot"), and on the new moons ("chodeshim"), and on the solemn feasts ("moedim") of the Lord our God".

3) II Chron 8:13 "Even after a certain rate every day, offering according to the commandment of Moses, on the sabbaths ("shabbatot"), and on the new moons ("chodeshim"), and on the solemn feasts ("moedim"), three times in the year, even in the feast ("chag") of unleavened bread, and in the feast ("chag") of weeks, and in the feast ("chag") of tabernacles".

4) II Chron 31:3 "He appointed also the king's portion of his substance for the burnt offerings, to wit, for the morning and evening burnt offerings, and the burnt offerings for the sabbaths ("shabbatot"), and for the new moons ("chodeshim"), and for the set feasts ("moedim"), as it is written in the law of the Lord".

5) Ezra 3:5 "Afterwards they offered the regular burnt offering, and those for new moons ("chodeshim") and for all the appointed feasts ("moedim") of the Lord that were consecrated".

6) Nehemiah 10:33 "Also we made ordinances for us, to charge ourselves yearly with the third part of a shekel for the service of the house of our God; for the showbread, and for the continual meat offering, and for the continual burnt offering, of the sabbaths ("shabbatot"), of the new moons ("chodeshim"), for the set feasts ("moedim"), and for the holy things".

As the context of the above six passages is God's appointed times, all of which are listed in Leviticus 23, and none of which include new moons, the word "chodeshim" should be translated as "monthly appointments".

7) Isa 1:13 "Bring no more futile sacrifices; incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons ("chodesh"), the Sabbaths ("shabbat"), (and) the calling of assemblies—I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting".

The Hebrew words translated "New Moons" and "Sabbaths" in this verse are actually both singular. Literally the latter part of this verse reads "Month and Sabbath the going to meeting I cannot endure evil and the assembly".

As the new moon is not a commanded time of "meeting" or "assembly", the word "chodesh" should be understood as "Monthly appointment", just like in the examples seen earlier.


8) Isa 1:14 "Your New Moons ("chodeshim") and your appointed feasts ("moedim") My soul hates; they are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them".

The above two verses in Isaiah are consecutive, and the context is meetings, assemblies and appointed times, so again this should be rendered "Your Monthly appointments ......".

9) Eze 45:17 "Then it shall be the prince’s part to give burnt offerings, grain offerings, and drink offerings, at the feasts ("chagim"), the New Moons ("chodeshim"), the Sabbaths ("shabbatot"), and at all the appointed seasons ("moedim") of the house of Israel. He shall prepare the sin offering, the grain offering, the burnt offering, and the peace offerings to make atonement for the house of Israel".

The context here is the Lev 23 appointments, so "chodeshim" should be translated "Monthly appointments".

10) Eze 46:3 "Likewise the people of the land shall worship at the entrance to this gateway before the Lord on the Sabbaths ("shabbatot") and the New Moons ("chodeshim")".

This verse is part of the same passage mentioned earlier, where the singular "chodesh" occurs in Eze 46:1 and 6. Clearly "Monthly appointments" are intended here.

11) Hos 2:11 "I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days ("chagim"), her New Moons ("chodeshim"), her Sabbaths ("shabbatot") — all her appointed feasts ("moedim")".

This verse sums up this subject perfectly, when translated correctly. As it is translated here, it contains a contradiction, because new moons are not "appointed feasts". In Lev 23:4 God states "these are my Feasts ("moedim", lit. "appointed times"), but the chapter does not mention new moons. It does speak of Sabbaths ("shabbatot"), Monthly appointments ("chodeshim") and Feasts ("chagim").

So we see that in every place where "New Moon" or its plural appears in the KJV translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, it is a mistranslation.

 

The New Testament

 

The New Testament KJV only contains one instance of "New Moon". It is found in Col 2:16 "So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths".

 

(For the correct interpretation of this passage please see the page "THE SANCTITY OF THE SABBATH").

A quick perusal of the words "moon" and "month" in a Concordance will show that these are translated from two very different Greek words:

 

1) the word "selene", which is always translated "moon", and

2) the word "men", which is always translated "month".

There is only one exception, and that is the above mentioned Col 2:16. Here the translators have rendered the Greek word "noumenia" ("nou" from "neos" meaning "new", and "men" meaning "month") as "new moon" when, to be consistent, they should have translated it "new month".

So what we find in both Old and New Testament Scriptures is that the phrase "new moon" is an invention of men. I do not believe that the term "new moon" will be found in newly produced copies of the Bible in God's Kingdom.

One more thing needs to be addressed in this article to round it off. This concerns the Biblical instructions given regarding the first day of each month in Numbers 10 and 28.

 

Numbers 10:10 states that trumpets were to be blown "at the beginnings of your months" ("chodeshim"). This command enabled people to keep a standardised calendar, based on observations of the moon made by appointed officials. Num 28:11 likewise says "At the beginnings of your months ("chodeshim") you shall present .....", followed by a list of offerings to be made by the priests on the first day of each month.

However, note that if the word "chodeshim" by itself can mean "new moons", as most translators seem to think, there would have been no need to add the Hebrew word for "beginnings" in front of "chodeshim" in these two verses.

What all these passages confirm is that the Hebrew word "chodesh" means month, but it is also employed for specific days of the month which God has designated as special appointments in Leviticus 23.

bottom of page