Exodus 12:2 “This month shall be for you the first of months.” In past articles in this Pesach series, I’ve written extensively on the moon, and it’s connection to the month—especially in relation to the timing of Pesach. The word for moon is yerach (Strongs H3394), which is used only a few times in the entire Torah. Yeah, I was surprised too. When we read the English words “new moon” that is clearly NOT what the literal Hebrew actually says. The word often being translated is chodesh (Strongs H2320), or one a few other related variants.
Chodesh is the word most often translated as “month”, and “rosh” (Strongs H7218) is the word for “head” or “leader”. Add a couple of extra letters to rosh and its modified to roshoon meaning “first”. “Rosh chadeshim roshoon” is the full expression in Exodus 12:2, literally translating to “first month’s head”. The next sentence in Exodus 12:2 clarifies “It shall be the first month of the year for you.” Every chodesh (month) has a rosh (head), but only Biblical New Year (day one, month one) is ever referred to as Roshoon (first). Biblical New Year (Rosh Chadeshim) is not listed in the appointed times of Leviticus 23, but it remains the crucial key to the renewal of each year.
In Genesis 1:14-16, we learn that lights in the sky were created specifically to mark appointed times, “The greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night.” It seems so obvious that He means the sun and the moon, but we actually don’t really have a textual confirmation of the moon’s involvement in all of this, until Psalm 104:19, “He made the moon to mark the appointed times, the sun knows it’s time for setting.” The English words moon, and month are closely linked to each other for this reason, and the non-literal translation of “chodesh” as “new moon” is also due to this obvious connection to the moon and the month. Every culture on earth sees the cycle of the moon relating to the cycle of the month.
Romans 1:19-22 “For what can be known about God is plain to them [those who don’t fear YHWH] because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools…”
Although it shouldn’t be translated as “moon”, chodesh (month) does relate perfectly to the behavior of the moon, both scientifically and poetically. Chodesh actually is rooted in the idea of “repair, renew, rebuild”. The moon starts off invisible, and can only be seen in the western sky for less than 10 minutes on the first night it’s visible at all. The next night it gets slightly larger and hangs in the sky for only 20 minutes or so. The following night, again, its slightly larger and visible slightly longer before setting in the west. In the direct center of the month (the 15th day of the biblical month) the moon has finally reached the opposite side of the sky. Now it’s full and is visible in the sky the entire night. By design, this phase aligns with Pesach as well as the first day of Sukkot, exactly 6 months later. From that point to the end of the month, the moon shrinks back each night until only a teeny sliver is visible on the eastern sky just before sunrise. This cycle has been unbroken since Genesis 1, which the exception of the miracle in Joshua 10:12-13 (where both the sun and moon stand still in the sky).
Repairing, renewing, and rebuilding, is not unique to the moon, or the month. Look at how the renewing of the seasons are poetically described in Psalm 104:27-30. The author is talking about how all of creation works, contrasting first summer, then winter, then spring.
These all look to you,
to give them their food in due season.
When you give it to them, they gather it up;
when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die
and return to their dust.
When you send forth your Spirit, they are created,
and you renew [chodesh] the face of the ground.
The word for “ground” in that last verse is adamah, the same ground Adam (humanity) was created from. The same renewal (chodesh) of the seasons also works with birth, then death, then resurrection.
Chodesh is used as the center of a chiastic structure (learn more about chiasms here) in Psalm 51, where chodesh is used twice. Psalm 51 was written by King David, in response to being busted by YHWH through Nathan for both murder and adultery. Remember that the Levitical instructions for sacrifices offer no remedy for INTENTIONAL, pre-meditated sin. Nor do they offer remedies (besides death of the guilty) for adultery nor murder. David was guilty of all of the above. After Nathan’s initial rebuke in 2 Sam 12, we hear Yah’s judgement delivered in verse 14, “Because by this deed you have utterly scorned YHWH, the child who is born to you shall die.”
The rest of chapter 12 is a not-so-subtle Pesach prophecy. David spends a week in prayerful self-reflection. He’s despondent and inconsolable until the “death of the Innocent and Sinless Son of David as payment for otherwise unpardonable transgressions.” Once it’s confirmed that the Son is dead, David arose from the ground, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his clothes. He went to the house of YHWH and worshiped. I like to imagine he brought pen and paper with him, and wrote Psalm 51 then and there.
Here is the center of that psalm with the word chodesh in bold:
Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and RENEW a steadfast spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
RESTORE to me the joy of your salvation [Yesha, the root of Yeshua]
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
It’s this psalm that defines King David, not his sin. This is what is meant by David being “a man after YHWH’s heart.“
Psalm 51 is the original sinner’s prayer. You don’t have to modify a single word to make it relevant and true for a “New Testament” worldview.
There’s a LONG list of english words, each valuable to our faith, connected to the idea of chodesh. Just look for the prefix RE. REdemeption, REstoration, REnewal, REsurrect, REpent, REconcile, REgeneration, REvelation, REfresh, REward. This is why it’s becoming more common to refer to the New Testament, as the “Renewed Testament.” Messiah said “This new commandment I give you, to love one another…” (John 13:34). That’s clearly a REnewed commandment, as it’s the drumbeat of the entire bible. John struggles with the language of new, yet not new, as well:
1 John 2:7-12 “Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”
It’s almost as if YHWH likes simple patterns and lots of REpetition to make sure humanity has a chance to enter into His cycles of righteousness.
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
There’s nothing new under the moon, either. Rosh Chodeshim (Biblical New Year) is coming quickly. There is literally no better time to leave the cycles of death and enter into the His cycle of life.