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New-Moon Feast, Hebrew


In ancient Israel the first day of each month, i.e., the day after the new moon was sighted, was a feast day with ordinances similar to those of the sabbath, with which it is linked in several passages (e.g., 2 Kgs 4.23). It has not been demonstrated, however, that the two were in fact originally connected. The monthly feast is not mentioned in the festival calendars of the Pentateuch, but in Nm 28.1115 the sacrifices for it are prescribed in detail. The antiquity of the feast is clear, however, from allusions in the Prophets (Is 1.1314; Hos 2.13; Am 8.5), and a NewMoon dinner at the royal court, requiring ritual purity for participation, is described in 1 Sm 20.529. Like the Sabbath, it was a day of rest from work.

The NewMoon Day was observed throughout Old Testament times (e.g., Ezr 3.5; Neh 10.33) and in New Testament times as well (Col 2.16), but it gradually lost its importance and disappeared from Jewish life. In later Biblical times only the first of the seventh month, Tishri, retained its prominence (Lv 23.2425; Nm 29.16) and was observed with special solemnity: rest, trumpet blasts, a holy convocation, and sacrifices. This solemnity may reflect an earlier time when this day was a new year's day. The much later Hebrew Feast of the new year, Rosh haShanah, retained the characteristic trumpet blast of the first day of Tishri. But the New Moon Day of Tishri is never mentioned in the Bible as a new year feast.

Bibliography: h. eising, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche 2, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 195765); suppl., Das Zweite Vatikanische Konzil: Dokumente und Kommentare, ed. h. s. brechter et al., pt. 1 (1966), 7:916917. r. de vaux, Ancient Israel, Its Life and Institutions, tr. j. mchugh (New York 1961) 469470. k. kohler, The Jewish Encyclopedia, ed. j. singer, 13v. (New York 190106) 9:243244. a. caquot, "Remarques sur la fête de la néoménie dans l'ancien Israël," Revue de l'histoire des religions 158 (1960) 118.

[g. w. macrae]

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