We discussed YHWH as the Master Time keeper and the relationship between women and the moon in Part I. This post will compare the four primary moon phases to the feast days and women’s cycles.
The Creator’s purpose for placing the great luminaries in the sky is to govern our TIME (and calendars).
Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth“; and it was so. God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day. (Gen. 1:14-19)
The moon is given a unique role in setting our calendars; it keeps, guards, protects, and marks out our moedim or appointed times with the Creator. These roles mirror those of the female and the ezer kenegdo. These “appointed times” or appointments with God were meant to be important and relevant to God’s people in all generations (Lev. 23).
He made the moon for the seasons (moedim)… (Ps. 104:19)
In this post, we are going to focus on the various moon phases that mark out our months. Have you ever considered what phase the moon is in at various biblical festivals? Do you think it’s possible that the Creator meant for us to consider not only the season of each feast, but also the phase the moon would be in? Since the moon was given for the moedim, I believe there is great significance to be gleaned by these observances.
The moon actually changes (from our perspective) a little each night. Science generally categorizes these changes into four principal lunar phases. In between each of these quarters, there are also four intermediate phases. All together, they are:
- New moon (astronomical)
- Waxing crescent
- First quarter
- Waxing gibbous
- Full moon
- Waning gibbous
- Last quarter
- Waning crescent
For our purposes here, I will be using the four principal lunar phases as section titles. Where a feast day falls during an intermediate phase, it will be noted. But first, let’s define the new moon more clearly.
As I’m sure most of my readers understand, there is a difference between the astronomical new moon and the biblical new moon. The astronomical new moon occurs when the moon is completely invisible or dark. Most of the time, you can see this phase with the naked eye. The moon appears “full” but it has no illumination. This may help us to understand a fascinating contranym (a word that can mean its own opposite) in Hebrew with regard to the moon. That word is the Hebrew keseh. This Hebrew word may sound familiar to you in the form Yom HaKeseh, the Hidden Day — a day referring most particularly to the new moon feast of Yom Teruah (Rosh Hashanah).
Truly, the moon is “hidden” just before the first sliver of the new crescent reveals the return of light and the biblical new moon. But the word keseh means much more than “hidden”. It is used here in the Psalm 81:
Blow the trumpet at the new moon (chodesh), at the full moon (keseh), on our feast day (chag). (Ps. 81:3)
Chodesh (New Moon) is a Hebrew word derived from the root meaning new or renew. The Crescent New Moon is called chodesh precisely because it is the first time the moon is seen anew after being concealed in darkness. What seems to cause confusion is the uncertainty of the root behind the Hebrew word keseh (translated as full moon). This is Strong’s definition followed by its root.
H3677 כּסה כּסא kese’ keseh Apparently from H3680; properly fullness or the full moon, that is, its festival: – (time) appointed.
H3680 כּסה kâsâh A primitive root; properly to plump, that is, fill up hollows; by implication to cover (for clothing or secrecy): – clad self, close, clothe, conceal, cover (self), (flee to) hide, overwhelm. Compare H3780.
Obviously, keseh means to be full or fully covered. Is not the full moon full of light and the new moon covered in (partial) darkness? Can you detect the contranym in keseh? This word denotes both revealed fullness and concealed coverings. Keseh is like kos, cup. The full moon is like a cup overflowing with abundance. Likewise, the new moon is “covered” with the same abundant force. Thus, the moon (from our perspective) is in a continual state of keseh. Like many Hebrew words, keseh can mean its own opposite. The moon is both revealed and concealed in a cycle. This activity is mirrored by women, both in their appearances in the biblical narratives (their movement in and out of the text) and in their physical bodies (menses/flow).
According to the Bible and Hebraic history, sighting the very first sliver of the waxing moon crescent marks a biblical new moon. This makes sense considering that when the moon is still black, there is not yet an indication of renewal. Only when the first visible sign of light returns can the moon be considered “renewed”. Historically, each new month began with the sightings of two reliable witnesses. Once announced, two silver trumpets heralded the day. Signal fires were then lit from mountain to mountain to spread the news throughout the Kingdom. And a new moonth began.
Rosh Chodesh (New Moon)
The Biblical New Moon honors God as the Creator, the Master of TIME and new beginnings. The moon is a symbol that emphasizes our move from darkness unto light. At the head of every new month, we have an opportunity to live out this truth anew. The moon’s cycle of waxing and waning reminds us that even in our failings, when our light decreases, there is always hope for renewal. Rosh Chodesh offers us the opportunity to begin anew every month. This is just one more way that we may join YHWH as masters of TIME in the wheel in the middle of the wheel.
In Jewish tradition, women are given special honor during Rosh Chodesh. Some women celebrate it as a special Shabbat from certain types of labor and gather together with other women for study. There are several stories from tradition that make these associations quite fascinating. You can read about them in the links in this footnote. Regardless of whether the traditional stories are true or not, the physical nature of women’s cycles weren’t lost to the Sages. Though shrouded in some mystery, women’s bodies align themselves with YHWH’s mystical lunar clock.
Although Chanukah extends into a new moon phase, there is only one feast day that begins at the New Moon: Yom Teruah or Rosh Hashanah (Trumpets). It may now be very obvious why trumpets are blown at this date. Since weather can affect the sighting of a new moon sliver, this day has been dubbed, Yom HaKeseh, the Hidden Day at which no man knows the hour or the day of its occurrence. Yom Teruah heralds the seventh month, the coming Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Ingathering.
This day calls the ones sleeping in darkness to hear the great alarm of the shofar. Wake from slumber and know the season and phase you are entering. The Father desires that none perish, but many will choose otherwise. There are exactly ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. These days are called the Days of Awe and throughout this time, the moon grows fuller and fuller. In other words, the new moon brings promises of more light, more awareness. There is an escalation that begins with this New Moon Feast that will culminate at Sukkot. Remember that first sliver of light is visible at this feast and moon phase. It brings with it the potential for growth and restoration.
Many women have their menses either during the dark/new moon or during the full moon. They shed the old, so they can begin building the new. Obviously, menses can occur at any time during the month, but when a woman bleeds during the new moon, she will be fertile at the full. And when she bleeds at the full moon, she will be fertile during the new moon. Studies show that the more women are exposed to natural light (rather than artificial), the more consistent their cycles align with the moon phases. The new moon is certainly a type of renewal, just as the woman’s womb continually renews itself.
To simplify our analogy with women and the moon, let’s consider a woman that ovulates during the new moon. If the egg is met with seed, new life will begin to form.
As soon as the first sliver of the new moon reveals itself, the moon begins to grow increasing fuller in the night sky.
Shavuot and Yom Kippur
Shavuot (Pentecost) is the fourth feast on YHWH’s calendar. It is the holiday that commemorates the giving of the Torah and the Holy Spirit. Every year, this spring harvest festival falls at the waxing moon. The implication is that this season and phase of the moon is a time of growth, harvest, and blessing.
Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, also falls at this time as the sixth feast. As the most holy day of the year, it behooves us to ask why it arrives during the waxing moon. I believe the answer is revealed when we also consider the other two festivals that sandwich this feast (fast) day in the seventh month. We’ve already looked at Rosh Hashanah as the new moon. It calls us to awaken from our slumber and to hear the shofar’s call, warning us of coming Judgment. Ideally, the call will lead us to life.
Yom Kippur is the Day of Judgment. Too often we associate judgment with finality. The moon speaks to us that that is not what the Creator has in mind. There is more to the story. His desire is that we are judged favorably as pictured in this waxing/growing moon phase. Judgment leads us to something. It points us to eternity as visualized in the following feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles).
If an egg was fertilized at the new moon, then at this phase, the zygote will be implanted into the womb and growth will rapidly occur. Conversely, if no seed was received, the womb will prepare to shed in menses.
The Full Moon
The full moon falls around the fourteenth or fifteenth day of Hebrew months. The important thing to remember is that when the moon is full, we have the most light in the darkness. It’s easier to SEE.
Two of the three pilgrimage festivals, Pesach (Passover) and Sukkot (Tabernacles), occur at the full moon. If we looked at all seven festivals together, these feasts would bookend YHWH’s entire calendar. The light of the moon offers a bright night sky for worshippers and pilgrims to gather together. Interestingly, Sukkot commemorates the original Passover and the succeeding wanderings in the wilderness. The two feasts with the most light in the darkness are linked and connected by their memorials, light, and completeness.
Mystically speaking, there is more “spiritual” light on the earth at these appointed times. In my experience, it is the two festivals of Passover and Tabernacles that people are more curious about and willing to participate in.
If a woman ovulated during the new moon, she will begin menses at this time if she didn’t receive seed. If she did conceive, her body will pause her cycle at this moon and full gestation will begin. I believe Passover and Sukkot both impregnate the true spiritual seeker with a desire to seek the Creator more diligently through obedience.
The moon’s light begins to decrease.
Unleavened Bread, Early Firstfruits, Shemini Atzeret, and Chanukah
Holidays that fall during the waning days of diminishing light include Chanukah (which extends into the new moon) and Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah, the eighth day of Sukkot. This holiday also marks the end of the Torah cycle and its beginning. These are holidays of new beginnings, cleansing and renewal, and portals from death into life.
In the spring, just after the full moon of Passover, come the days of Unleavened Bread and Early Firstfruits. The moon light begins to gently decrease during these days as well. The theme of these festivals mirrors Shemini Atzeret and Chanukah. This isn’t surprising since they all occur during the same waning moon phase. Harvest, rebirth, resurrection, and renewal are all present.
While decreasing in light can be considered a negative thing, sometimes it is a very necessary and holy act. Perhaps that is why more feast days occur at this moon phase than any other. Consider John the Baptist’s words:
John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven. “You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’ “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. “He must increase, but I must decrease. “He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. (John 3:27-31)
I wonder if John had the analogy of the moon in mind when he said these words. If you carefully read the above passage, you can clearly see the moon phases. John was sent ahead of the Messiah as the “sent one”. His job was to testify (reflect) the true light:
There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. (John 1:6-8)
The imagery of the moon reflecting the true light of the sun (Son) is unmistakable here. The fact that the Hebrew month begins in the evening with the moon in the sky also testifies to this. The moon precedes the sunlight just as John preceded the Messiah. His job? To testify or reflect the coming Light. This is the job of all “sent ones”. Remember to think cyclically and not linearly. In Hebraic thought, this imagery doesn’t occur once, it is ongoing and repetitive. This cycle didn’t begin with John the Baptist nor will it end with him; just as the daily cycles of evening and morning repeat every day and the moon phases repeat every month.
In Jewish literature, the moon is not only associated with women, but with Israel as a nation. This shouldn’t surprise us since God’s people are often given feminine metaphors in the Bible. Israel and Judah are sisters; Israel/Judah is a bride, a woman, and a wife. As I’ve mentioned many times, both men and women are revealed in the Woman of Scripture. This is true whether you are a harlot or a righteous woman.
John knew that he had no real light of himself. The people didn’t need to be distracted by him, a mere man. The Mashiach, the Light of the World, was in their midst. To Him alone all glory belongs. This is a test for all “sent ones”. The moment a “sent one” believes that people must come to them for “light” is the moment they pass from truth to the realm of a false apostle.
This brings us to the other side of the coin of diminishment. Not all light is good or holy light. We know that the enemy masquerades as an “angel of light” and Messiah told us to “watch out that the light that in you is not darkness”. (Luke 11:35) The first wicked spirit that lights a dark lamp is pride. We all suffer from this malady and it must be diminished as a wicked or dark lamp. Repenting and humbling ourselves, we have the promise of renewal and rebirth as seen in the coming new moon.
Women also have this same promise if the conception of life didn’t occur earlier in the month. The new moon is coming, but not before darkness. I believe this is true for women desiring to conceive children and for those trying to birth other (good) things into the world. The cycle teaches us that sometimes we must endure the darkness. Sometimes our light is dim. But praise Adonai; the promise of His light is near. We need only to look up. Our salvation draws nigh.
“For just as the new heavens and the new earth which I make will endure before Me,” declares the LORD, “So your offspring and your name will endure. “And it shall be from new moon to new moon And from Sabbath to Sabbath, All mankind will come to bow down before Me,” says the LORD. (Is. 66:22-23)
Women connect us to sacred time. Their bodies tell the same story as the great luminaries in the sky. It is a message of life, death, and renewal. It is the gospel spoken through the flesh. Let’s put together what we know about the moon, the feasts, and women thus far. Here, I’ve given the analogy of a woman that is in menses at the new moon. Here are the festivals and their associated moon phase. I’ll let you make your own assessments for the feasts of the people: Chanukah and Purim.
Passover/Full Moon = Shedding of blood. Death is cleansed by blood, so new life can begin. All people must pass through the bloody opening of their mother’s womb, just as people of faith must leave Egypt through the bloody door of the covenant. Light is separated from the darkness. A woman is separated (niddah) by the blood, whether it is menstrual or from birth. Both speak to life, birth, and renewal.
Unleavened Bread/Waning Moon = Leaving an old life for a new one is difficult. All must eat the bread of affliction and struggle with this phase of repentance and cleansing. The light may “appear” dimmer as we walk through this process. As the uterus continues to shed death and decay, a woman experiences a level of discomfort and separation.
Early Firstfruits/Waning Moon = The moon continues to wane during this week. But the darkness of the tomb has light. The separation process isn’t indefinite. Gathering unto life is promised. (As pictured in Isaac and Messiah’s resurrection.) Though the days ahead may be dark, a new dawn is coming. The waters of immersion wash us in the Red Sea just as a woman is cleansed from her blood flow in the mikveh. Newness and cleansing preps us to receive life. We begin to count our days to fullness, to Shavuot.
Pentecost/Waxing Moon = When the day of Pentecost has “fully come”, the moon waxes toward fullness and we begin to overflow with the fullness of the Torah and the Holy Spirit. This likened to a woman that has received Seed. There is promise that a New Life is forming. This is why the moon isn’t yet full. We have our instructions and the filling of the Holy Spirit to see us through to the harvest.
Rosh Hashanah/New Moon = During the long hot summer, the harvest grows and ripens. Eventually, the darkness of this present world seems as if it will engulf us in wickedness. Alas, the trumpet sounds (Rosh Hashanah) announcing the arrival of the king. The tiny new sliver brings with it the promise of the bright full moon to come. But first, judgment must come to pass. The shofar calls the Bride to make herself ready. She is fertile and ready to receive her King.
Yom Kippur/Waxing moon = As the moon begins to reach fullness, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement arrives. The harvest is gathered, bundled, and placed in the covering of the Master’s barn, but the chaff is burned outside. Likewise, two goats are marked. One for Adonai and the other is sent into the wilderness of sin to die for Azazel. The woman has been judged. Will she bear fruit fit for the Kingdom or will she only have the curse of a swollen belly because of the bitter waters?
Sukkot/Full Moon = After judgment, the marriage feast takes place under the bright harvest moon. What was promised in the betrothal at Shavuot is consummated under the chuppah. The bridegroom is joined with his bride. She recalls their time in the wilderness of her youth and her redemption from slavery. Everything about this festival recalls the great work and preparation of her Maker, her husband. Though He seemed to delay, the harvest is great. The guests are dressed in clean white linen. What was once a seed has become new and eternal life.
Shemini Atzeret /Waning Moon = The last great day occurs. Though the moon is waning once again, it won’t last long. The cycle will continue, but the moon’s light will no longer be diminished. YHWH is making all things new. There will be no need for the light of the earthly luminaries. He is our Light and His people know their appointed times. The trees (His people) will produce fruit every month because they are nourished from the River of Life that flows from the throne of God. (Ezek. 47:12, Rev. 22:2)
Chanukah = Waning Moon and New Moon
Purim = Full Moon
My hope is that you will now begin to meditate on the moon phase as you celebrate the moedim cycle. While men do not have a menstrual cycle that keeps their physical body attune with the moon, they no doubt have women in their lives that do. As a part of the greater assembly, both men and women (as a Bride) go through cycles of shedding death and nourishing good seed. In a very real sense, both men and women birth things in both the natural and the spiritual realms. The next post in this series will take this concept a bit further by examining the moedim within the framework of a human gestation cycle.
 The word crescent refers to the phases where the moon is less than half illuminated. The word gibbous refers to phases where the moon is more than half illuminated. Waxing means “growing” or expanding in illumination, while waning means “shrinking” or decreasing in illumination.
 In the camps of those returning to the Torah, the moon can cause a bit of controversy in the realm of calendar keeping. Many divisions and splits have resulted from differing opinions and research of new moon sightings. Many a paper and teaching have sought to prove that their view of when a “new moon” actually occurs is the right one. There are others that adamantly claim that once the new month begins, the count for the weekdays should begin. This makes the weekly Shabbat, fall on the 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th of a month instead of the usual reckoning of Saturday (Sabbath). Confused yet?
We can truly act like LUNATICS in our pursuit of truth. I encourage you to seek balance in these areas through humility. Our Greek mind-sets desire absolutes, black and white answers, and “rightness”. But Hebraic thought allows for more than one understanding even when they appear contrary to our finite minds. Be careful when you feel the need or desire to draw line in the sand. No one has yet cornered the truth no matter how thoroughly researched the topic may be. Ask yourself what type of fruit will be manifested by your “belief” or “actions”. Will your stand produce life or death in the Body? Will your conviction build or destroy? I’m not calling for compromise, but sacrificial love. We don’t have to sacrifice our convictions in order to love others or respect their conclusions. We will be known by our fruit. May our fruit NOT reek of division, confusion, bickering, self-righteousness, and pride.
So, in regards to the “right” way to observe, mark, or calculate the new moon, humbly follow your convictions, but be careful when you judge someone else’s if it is contrary to yours. If your local Body doesn’t keep the moedim on the dates you do, I encourage you to join with them anyway. Separation that doesn’t lead to gathering is DEATH. (You can always keep the dates you feel are most accurate at home.) In this same spirit, be careful when you “judge” Jewish laws in this area as well. In light of this, I will not engage or allow others to mete out their fierce convictions on this issue in the comments on my blog. I see nothing but rotten fruit in such endeavors.
 Strong’s Definitions: H2320 חדשׁ chôdesh From H2318; the new moon; by implication a month: – month (-ly), new moon.
H2318 חדשׁ châdash A primitive root; to be new; causatively to rebuild: – renew, repair.