What is Rosh Chodesh?

Rosh Chodesh is a Jewish holiday that is celebrated at the beginning of every month in the Hebrew calendar. It is marked by the birth of a new moon and is celebrated for one or two days depending on the length of the month.

Translated to English, “Rosh Chodesh” means “head of the month”.

The Jewish people use a lunar calendar, which means it is based on the moon. The months are defined by the luncar cycles and a new moon means a new month. It has twelve months; half are 30 days long and the other half are 29 days.

Depending on the length of the month, Rosh Chodesh is celebrated for either one or two days. For months that are thirty days long, it is celebrated on the thirtieth day and on the first day of the next month. For months that are twentynine days long, the celebrations take place on the first day of the new month.

Origin of Rosh Chodesh

Marking time has been of huge importance for the Jewish people since the escape from Egypt. The Hebrew calendar is established in the book of Exodus, shortly before Moses leads God’s people out. In chapter 12, God commands the people of Israel to mark the months of the year.

“The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of the months; it shall be the first of the months of the year for you.” Exodus 12:1-2

The first month mentioned here, is the month of Nisan. Here in the west, Nisan would fall somewhere in March and April.

The origin of Rosh Chodesh dates back to biblical times, when the Israelites were instructed to sanctify the new moon as a way of marking the passage of time. This practice is mentioned several times in the Old Testament, including in the Book of Numbers (28:11-15) and the Book of Psalms (81:3).

“With each bull there is to be a drink offering of half a hin of wine; with the ram, a third of a hin; and with each lamb, a quarter of a hin. This is the monthly burnt offering to be made at each new moon during the year.” Numbers 28:14

How was it announced?

Long before electronic communication, the new moon was confirmed by the testimony of two moon-seekers who would observe the night sky and inform the Sanhedrin (highest council of the ancient Jews). Once confirmed the council would declare Rosh Chodesh and the announcement would spread throughout Israel using a simple yet impressive method.

The first would start on the Mount of Olives by settling light to a pole and waving it around until a person on other nearby hilltops would do the same. The second person would then wave their pole until others joined in. A simple method of communication did an amazing job of getting the word out.

How did they celebrate?

The Jewish people would celebrate by bringing special animal sactifices to the temple, feasting and blowing trumpets. Although it is considered a minor holiday, the arrival of Rosh Chodesh was a truly joyous time for the Jewish people back then and today.

How can I celebrate?

Since Rosh Chodesh is at the beginning of the month, it is a great time to realign yourself and set goals for the days ahead.

You can also help celebrate by joining the ICEJ’s Rosh Chodesh prayer chain. Get involved and you will be joining so many likeminded people from around the world in praying for the nation of Israel the UK, the Church and revival!

“And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.” Isaiah 66:23