[24] Hebrew chodesh refers to the Day that Begins each Month

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Now compare Num 10:10 with I Chr 23:30-31.

I Chr 23:30, “and [the sons of Aaron are] to stand every morning to thank and to praise YHWH, and likewise at evening,”
I Chr 23:31, “and for all the burnt offerings to YHWH for the Sabbaths, for the new-moons [2320 chodesh], and for the appointed-times [4150 moed] in the count [of animals], [according to the] ordinance concerning them continually before YHWH.”

In I Chr 23:31 above we notice that the burnt offerings on the new moons [2320 chodesh] are mentioned, and in Num 10:10 above we notice that the burnt offerings on the beginnings of your months [2320 chodesh] are mentioned. The whole phrase “beginnings of your months” appears in verse 10 compared to “new-moons” in verse 31, showing that a month begins with a new moon. Verse 31 translated this word chodesh as “new-moons”, while verse 10 translated the same word as “months”. Other examples also show a double meaning for this word. Some examples where chodesh means “month” are Gen 29:14; Num 10:11; I Ki 5:14. Some examples where chodesh means “new-moon” are II Ki 4:23; Ezek 46:3; Hos 2:11; Amos 8:5.

The last verse indicates that in ancient Israel the new moon day was treated as a public holiday where businesses were closed, although refraining from work on a new moon is not stated as a commandment in the law of Moses. It has already been shown that a cycle of the heavenly body called the moon determines a month. The translation “new-moon”, but without the hyphen, is the common translation for chodesh when it refers to the beginning of a month. Nevertheless, one may question whether “new-moon” is the best way to translate chodesh. Based upon Num 10:10 one may translate this single Hebrew word as “month-start” or “new-month” since it is definitely the beginning of a month. As already seen above, the word for moon is yahrayach [3394], which has no resemblance to chodesh. No Hebrew word for the physical body called the moon has a resemblance to the Hebrew word chodesh.

It is only through the other Hebrew word for month, yerach [3391], that we have the connection to the physical body known as the moon. On this basis it would be more literal to translate the Hebrew word chodesh as “monthstart” or “new-month”. The Hebrew noun chodesh [2320] has the same consonants as the Hebrew adjective chadash [2319] (almost always translated “new”) and the Hebrew verb chadash [2318] (about half the time translated “renew” and half the time “repair”). The month following any month is not a renewal of the previous month or a repair of the previous month; instead it is indeed a new month. While the translation of chodesh as “new-month” seems more literal and precise than “new-moon”, the latter is so firmly accepted that this will be used in the present study.

What about the suggestion to translate chodesh as “renewed-moon”? The moon itself is older than it was the previous month and the physical body itself is not renewed. If one wishes to make a case for translating the word chodesh as “renewed-moon” based upon the light from the moon, this is quite subjective because chodesh has the primary affinity with month, and the month is “new”, not “renewed”.

If we apply Num 10:1-2, 8, 10 to the beginnings of the months as specified in verse 10 along with “summoning the assembly” in verse 2, the following conclusion is drawn. Two priests were to blow two silver trumpets to summon the assembly and thereby announce that a new month had begun. Deut 16:16 shows that only three times during the year all men are commanded to appear at one central place, not at the start of all the months. Therefore, the summoning of the assembly at the beginning of their months pertained to those people that were near the one place where the two silver trumpets were blown and the sacrifices were performed, not all people throughout the nation.

Num 10:10 with Ps 133 shows the authority of the priesthood in declaring the start of each month through the blowing of the two silver trumpets. Num 28:11 also has the same phrase “and on the beginnings of your months”. The passage in Num 28:11-15 describes the burnt offerings, the grain offering, and the drink offering that is specific for the priests to perform on the beginnings of their months. At this time when the people heard the specific sound of the two silver trumpets blown by the two priests, they then knew that the ceremony of the offerings for the beginning of the month were to begin soon. This sound would summon the people who were within a reasonable distance to come and witness the priestly ceremonies associated with the beginning of the month. This would be an occasion for prayers, singing, and playing musical instruments when the priesthood fully developed the service for the beginning of the month.