If a person desires to follow the calendar of the Creator then they must be able to discern the New Moon each month. In Hebrew the word is chodesh meaning “head of the month”. The beginning of months on the Hebrew calendar, and God's calendar, is marked by the birth of the new moon. Much debate has occurred amongst certain groups over what constitutes the “birth of the new moon”. Some groups argue that the new moon should be called when the moon is dark. Others argue that the new moon should be called when the first sliver of the crescent is seen by the naked eye after the dark of the moon. Still others argue that it is called by a precise mathematical calculation down to minute detail.
Since most people reading this blog will already be aware of the importance of the new moon and know the scriptures relating to the event, I would just like to address the question of when the new moon was historically called. Believing that the first century Jews would have celebrated and called the new moon correctly, or Yeshua would not have died on the correct day to be the Passover Lamb, then we should examine ancient sources to see exactly how they called the New Moon each month.
Although this lesson is quite lengthy, what I have tried to do is to compile a list of ancient and modern sources which attest to the proper calling of the new moon. For those seriously studying this matter it should be of great help to find these sources in one location. (Although there are many more)
I have added bold text in some areas for emphasis.
Direct quote regarding the new moon from Philo
According to the encyclopedia, Philo Judaeus, also called Philo of Alexandria was born 15–10 BC and died 45–50 AD. He was a Greek-speaking Jewish philosopher.
Quote from Philo
“The first matter to be considered is that of the Festivals. Now there are ten festivals in number, as the law sets them down. The first is that which any one will perhaps be astonished to hear called a festival. This festival is every day. The second festival is the seventh day, which the Hebrews in their native language call the sabbath. The third is that which comes after the conjunction, which happens on the day of the new moon in each month. The fourth is that of the passover which is called the passover.
The fifth is the first fruits of the corn--the sacred sheaf. The sixth is the feast of unleavened bread, after which that festival is celebrated, which is really The seventh day of seventh days.
The eighth is the festival of the sacred moon, or the feast of trumpets. The ninth is the fast.
The tenth is the feast of tabernacles, which is the last of all the annual festivals, ending so as to make the perfect number of ten..... Following the order which we have adopted, we proceed to speak of the third festival, that of the new moon. First of all, because it is the beginning of the month, and the beginning, whether of number or of time, is honourable. Secondly, because at this time there is nothing in the whole of heaven destitute of light. Thirdly, because at that period the more powerful and important body gives a portion of necessary assistance to the less important and weaker body; for, at the time of the new moon, the sun begins to illuminate the moon with a light which is visible to the outward senses, and then she displays her own beauty to the beholders. And this is, as it seems, an evident lesson of kindness and humanity to men, to teach them that they should never grudge to impart their own good things to others, but, imitating the heavenly bodies, should drive envy away and banish it from the Soul.”
Quote from the Mishnah
(20 BC to 220 AD) Read this carefully and then see if you don’t believe the new moon was called by seeing the new crescent.
Ordinances about the witnesses concerning the new moon, the hoisting of the flags and how it was consecrated by the Beth Din
MISHNA: “There was a large court in Jerusalem called Beth Ya'azeq, where all the witnesses met, and where they were examined by the Beth Din. Great feasts were made there for (the witnesses) in order to induce them to come frequently. At first they did not stir from there all day (on the Sabbath),till R. Gamaliel, the elder, ordained that they might go two thousand ells on every side; and not only these (witnesses) but also a midwife, going to perform her professional duties, and those who go to assist others in case of conflagration, or against an attack of robbers, or in case of flood, or (of rescuing people) from the ruins (of a fallen building) are considered (for the time being) as inhabitants of that place, and may go (thence on the Sabbath) two thousand ells on every side. How were the witnesses examined? The first pair were examined first. The elder was introduced first, and they said to him: Tell us in what form thou sawest the moon; was it before or behind the sun? Was it to the north or the south (of the sun)? What was its elevation on the horizon? Towards which side was its inclination? What was the width of its disk? If he answered before the sun, his evidence was worthless. After this they introduced the younger (witness) and he was examined; if their testimony was found to agree, it was accepted as valid; the remaining pairs (of witnesses) were asked leading questions, not because their testimony was necessary, but only to prevent them departing, disappointed, and to induce them to come again often,
GEMARA: Do not the questions (asked by the Mishna), "was it before or behind the sun?" and "was it to the north or to the south?" mean the same thing? Answered Abayi: (The Mishna asks) whether the concave of the crescent was before or behind the sun, and if (the witness said) it was before the sun, his evidence was worthless, for R. Johanan says: What is the meaning of the passage [Job, xxv. 2]: "Dominion and fear are with him; he maketh peace in his high places?" It means that the sun never faces the concave of the crescent or the concave of a rainbow.
"What was its elevation on the horizon? Towards which side was its inclination?" In one Boraitha we have learned: If (the witness) said "towards the north," his evidence was valid, but if he said, "towards the south," it was worthless; in another Boraitha we have learned the reverse. It presents no difficulty; in the latter case it speaks of the summer, while in the former it refers to the winter.
The rabbis taught: If one (witness) said its elevation appeared about as high as two ox-goads and another said about as high as three, their testimony was invalid, but either might be taken in conjunction with a subsequent witness (who offered similar testimony). The rabbis taught (If the witnesses say): "We have seen the reflection (of the moon) in the water, or through a metal mirror, or in the clouds," their testimony is not to be accepted; or (if they say we have seen) "half of it in the water, and half of it in the heavens, or half of it in the clouds," their evidence carries no weight. Must they then see the new moon again (before their testimony can be accepted)? Said Abayi: "By this is meant that if the witnesses testify that they saw the moon accidentally, and they then returned purposely and looked for it, but they saw it not, their evidence is worthless." Why so? Because one might say they saw a patch of white clouds (and they thought it was the moon).
MISHNA: The chief of the Beth Din then said: "It (the new moon) is consecrated," and all the people repeated after him: "It is consecrated; it is consecrated." Whether the new moon was seen at its proper time (after twenty-nine days) or not, they used to consecrate it. R. Elazar b. Zadok said: If it had not been seen at its proper time it was not consecrated, because it had already been consecrated in heaven (i.e., of itself).
"R. Elazar b. Zadok said: If it had not been seen at its proper time it was not consecrated," etc. We have learned in a Boraitha, Pelimo said: If the new moon appear at its proper time it was not customary to consecrate it, but if it appeared out of its proper time they used to consecrate it. R. Eliezer, however, said: In neither case would they consecrate it, for it is written [Lev. xxv. 10]: "And ye shall consecrate the fiftieth year;" years should be consecrated, but not months. Said R. Jehudah in the name of Samuel: "The halakha prevails according to R. Elazer b. Zadok. Said Abayi: There can be a support to this from the following Mishna, viz.: "If the Beth Din and all Israel saw the new moon (on the thirtieth day) and if the examination of the witnesses had already taken place, and it had become dark before they had time to announce 'It is consecrated,' the month (just passing) is intercalary." That (the month) is intercalary is mentioned (by the Mishna), but not that they said "It is consecrated." It is not clear that this is a support for Abayi's argument, for it was necessary to say that it was intercalary, or we would not have known that the next day was the intercalary day. One might have thought that, since the Beth Din and all Israel saw the new moon, it was apparent to all, and that the month does not become intercalary; therefore he teaches us that (nevertheless the month becomes intercalary).
MISHNA: R. Gamaliel had on a tablet, and on a wall of his upper room, illustrations of the various phases of the moon, which he used to show to the common people, saying: "Did you see the moon like this figure or like this?"
MISHNA: It happened once that two witnesses came and said: We saw the moon in the eastern part of the heavens in the morning, and in the western part in the evening. R. Jo'hanan b. Nouri declared them to be false witnesses; but when they came to Yamnia, Rabbon Gamaliel received their evidence as valid. (On another occasion) two other witnesses came and said: We saw the moon on its proper day, but could not see it on the next evening of the intercalary day. R. Gamaliel accepted their testimony, but R. Dosa b. Harkhenas said: They are false witnesses; for how can they testify of a woman being delivered (on a certain day) when on the next day she appears to be pregnant? Then R. Jehoshua said unto him: I approve your opinion. Upon this R. Gamaliel sent him (R. Jehoshua) word, saying: "I order thee to appear before me on the Day of Atonement, according to your computation, with your staff and with money." R. Aqiba went to him (R. Jehoshua) and found him grieving. He then said to him: I can prove that all which R. Gamaliel has done is proper, for it is said: "These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which ye shall proclaim," either at their proper time, or not at their proper time, only their convocations are to be considered as holy festivals. When he (R. Jehoshua) came to R. Dosa b. Harkhinas, the latter told him: "If we are to reinvestigate the decisions of the Beth Din of R. Gamaliel, we must also reinvestigate the decisions of all the tribunals of justice which have existed from the time of Moses till the present day; for it is said [Ex. xxiv. 9] Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy elders went up (to the Mount)." Why were not the names of the elders also specified? To teach us that every three men in Israel that form a Beth Din are to be respected in an equal degree with the Beth Din of Moses. Then did R. Jehoshua take his staff and money in his hand, and went to Yamnia, to R. Gamaliel, on the very day on which the Day of Atonement would have been according to his computation, when R. Gamaliel arose and kissed him on the forehead, saying: "Enter in peace, my master and disciple! My master--in knowledge; my disciple--since thou didst obey my injunction."
GEMARA: We have learned in a Boraitha that R. Gamaliel said to the sages: "Thus it has been handed down to me from the house of my grandfather (Zamalill the elder) that sometimes the new moon appears elongated and sometimes diminished. R. Hyya saw the old moon yet on the morning of the twenty-ninth day, and threw clods of earth at it, saying: 'We should consecrate thee in the evening, and thou art seen now? Go, hide thyself!'"
Said Rabbi to R. Hyya: "Go to Entob and consecrate the month and send back to me as a password 'David, the King of Israel, still lives.'"
Another Witness to the Crescent New Moon
From Jewish website www.chabad.org
“Every month, as the new moon becomes sufficiently visible for us to benefit from its soft light, we go outside and recite the kiddush levanah prayer (lit. "the sanctification of the moon"). The heart of this prayer is a blessing wherein we praise Gd:
"...And He directed the moon to renew herself as a crown of glory to [the Jewish nation], who likewise are destined to be renewed like her..."
The Jewish nation marches to the beat of the lunar calendar, as opposed to the more universally followed solar calendar. For we identify with the moon and its constant fluctuations. In the words of the Midrash: "On the first of Nissan, the moon begins to illuminate. As the days continue, her luminosity increases, until the 15th day, when her disk is full... Likewise is Israel. Fifteen generations from Abraham until Solomon; Abraham began illuminating... with Solomon, the moon's disk was filled."
“Based on this understanding it is clear why the Messianic Redemption is compared to the rebirth of the moon, as opposed to the full moon. For with the coming of Moshiach, the essence of the Jewish soul will be revealed in her full glory.
“Gd showed Moses the moon in its renewal and said, “When the moon is renewed, that will be the head of the month.” (Rashi's Commentary, Exodus 12:2)
(There is a video at http://www.chabad.org/multimedia/media_cdo/aid/1731270/jewish/The-First-Mitzvah.htm - if you watch this, the Rabbi explains that in Exodus 12:2 the Hebrew used here in the phrase used when speaking to Moses about the moon, means that something “was a picture” for Moses to behold so that he would “see” the Moon and “know what the moon would look like” and “that the new moon would be pointing east, whereas the diminishing moon, when last seen, before disappearing was facing west”, “saw the moon in front of him” in “its rebirth, its re-appearance,he could point to it”. “the new moon is its re-appearance”. He was shown the “new moon” so that he could show the people. They say this is the first Mitzvah (commandment), before getting to Mt. Sinai.)
“And He told the moon to renew herself, as a crown of beauty to those He carries from the womb, for they are likewise to be renewed and to glorify their Creator for the name of the glory of His kingdom. (From the blessing on the new moon)”
“And to us? To us, the moon is feminine -- because she has no light until she receives from the sun, just as a mother cannot give life until she receives the seed from the father. Yet, oddly, we identify with her. For we, too, are the feminine of the nations, “the sheep among seventy wolves, the dove among the eagles”
“Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said, “Why is the goat offering of the New Moon unique? Why does it say it is a sin offering for Gd? Because the Holy One, blessed be He, said, 'This goat will be an atonement for my having diminished the moon.'” (Talmud, Chullin 60b)”
“the moon has phases of growth, decline, disappearance and rebirth. Here the lunar calendar has a lesson for us. The moon declines to the point of disappearance. But decline is as much a part of life as birth. Decline is not extinction. Like the moon, the Jew has the power of revival. The spark is never extinguished. Then there is the process of change and of growth in live people, also implicit in the lunar cycle.”
Quote from well known and revered Jewish Scholar, Arthur Spier
"The beginning of the months were determined by direct observation of the new moon. Then those beginning of months (Rosh Hodesh) were sanctified and announced by the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, after witnesses testified that they had seen the new crescent and after their testimony had been thoroughly examined, confirmed by calculation and duly accepted." (Arthur Spier, The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar, p.1, section: HISTORICAL REMARKS ON THE JEWISH CALENDAR)
"The rebirth of the state of Israel rekindles in us the hope that a new Sanhedrin, recognized by the whole people of Israel, will be established again in our time. It will be the task of the Sanhedrin to make a decision as to when and how the sanctified calendar of Hillel II is to be modified in accordance with the requirements of astronomy and the Torah." (Arthur Spier, The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar, p.227).
"This method of observation and intercalation was in use throughout the period of the second temple (516 B.C.E. - 70 C.E.), and about three centuries after its destruction, as long as there was an independent Sanhedrin. In the fourth century, however, when oppression and persecution threatened the continued existence of the Sanhedrin, the patriarch Hillel II took an extraordinary step to preserve the unity of Israel. In order to prevent the Jews scattered all over the surface of the earth from celebrating their New Moons, festivals and holidays at different times, he made public the system of calendar calculation which up to then had been a closely guarded secret. It had been used in the past only to check the observations and testimonies of witnesses, and to determine the beginnings of the spring season." (Arthur Spier, The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar, p.2)
"Nowadays the day, hour and parts of each Molad are announced before the Proclamation of the New Moon in the Sabbath morning service preceding the week of the New Moon. This custom keeps alive the memory of the time when the Sanhedrin sanctified the months on the basis of observation It calls our attention to the fact that today we determine our new moons and holidays according to the decision of Hillel's Beth Din. " (Arthur Spier, The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar, p.13)
From Encyclopedia Judaica
From Jewish encyclopedia:
“The periodical reappearance of the moon, like the reappearance of everything that is a benefit to mankind, such as fruits in their respective seasons, should be recognized by praise and gratitude to the Creator. The benediction in this case is recited in the open air, while facing the moon, preferably in a congregation of not less than ten persons (Minyan). The benediction is of early origin, and is mentioned in the Baraita (Soferim xx. 1, 2; Sanh. 42a). The present text, with slight variations in the various rituals, is as follows:
"Praised be our God Almighty, King of the Universe, who created the heavens by His word and the stars by His command. He implanted in them fixed laws and times. . . . And He ordered the moon to renew itself, as a crown of beauty over those He sustained from childhood [Israel], and as a symbol that they, likewise, will be regenerated in the future, and will worship their Maker in His glorious kingdom. Praised be the Lord who reneweth the moon!"
According to the Baraita, the ceremony should be performed on Saturday night, when the celebrant is dressed in Sabbath attire and is in a joyous frame of mind. Later authorities, while preferring Saturday night, would not in any case postpone the performance after the 10th of the month, for fear that cloudy weather might intervene up to the 16th, when the time for saying the benediction would have expired, since the moon is then no longer considered new. Maimonides fixed the period from the 1st to the 16th of the month; but later authorities make it between the 3d and the 16th, because during the first three days the moon's light is not perceptible on the earth.” (In other words they recognized that according to their current calendar by the dark moon, that the new moon is dark between their proclaimed 1-3 days and the new moon blessing cannot be recited until the moon is seen.)
“The history of the Jewish calendar may be divided into three periods—the Biblical, the Talmudic, and the post-Talmudic. The first rested purely on the observation of the sun and the moon, the second on observation and reckoning, the third entirely on reckoning.”
“It thus seems plain that the Jewish year was not a simple lunar year; for while the Jewish festivals no doubt were fixed on given days of lunar months, they also had a dependence on the position of the sun.”
“In the times of the Second Temple it appears from the Mishnah (R. H. i. 7) that the priests had a court to which witnesses came and reported. This function was afterward taken over by the civil court (see B. Zuckermann, "Materialien zur Entwicklung der Altjüdischen Zeitrechnung im Talmud, "Breslau, 1882).”
“ The fixing of the lengths of the months and the intercalation of months was the prerogative of the Sanhedrin, at whose head there was a patriarch or . The entire Sanhedrin was not called upon to act in this matter, the decision being left to a special court of three. The Sanhedrin met on the 29th of each month to await the report of the witnesses.”
“From before the destruction of the Temple certain rules were in existence. The new moon can not occur before a lapse of 29½ days and ⅔ of an hour. If the moon could not be exactly determined, one month was to have 30 days and the next 29. The full months were not to be less than 4 nor more than 8, so that the year could not be less than 352 days nor more than 356. After the destruction of the Temple (70 C.E.) Joḥanan ben Zakkai removed the Sanhedrin to Jabneh. To this body he transferred decisions concerning the calendar, which had previously belonged to the patriarch. After this the witnesses of the new moon came direct to the Sanhedrin.”
“R. Gamaliel II. (80-116 C.E.) used to receive the reports of the witnesses in person, and showed them representations of the moon to test their accuracy.”
“The country people and the inhabitants of Babylonia were informed of the beginning of the month by fire-signals, which were readily carried from station to station in the mountain country. These signals could not be carried to the exiles in Egypt, Asia Minor, and Greece, who, being accordingly left in doubt, celebrated two days as the new moon.”
“Under the patriarchate of Rabbi Judah I., surnamed "the Holy" (163-193), the Samaritans, in order to confuse the Jews, set up fire-signals at improper times, and thus caused the Jews to fall into error with regard to the day of the new moon. Rabbi Judah accordingly abolished the fire-signals and employed messengers. The inhabitants of countries who could not be reached by messengers before the feast were accordingly in doubt, and used to celebrate two days of the holidays. By this time the fixing of the new moon according to the testimony of witnesses seems to have lost its importance, and astronomical calculations were in the main relied upon.”
“One of the important figures in the history of the calendar was Samuel (born about 165, died about 250), surnamed "Yarḥinai" because of his familiarity with the moon. He was an astronomer, and it was said that he knew the courses of the heavens as well as the streets of his city (Ber. 58b). He was director of a school in Nehardea (Babylonia), and while there arranged a calendar of the feasts in order that his fellow-countrymen might be independent of Judea. He also calculated the calendar for sixty years. His calculations greatly influenced the subsequent calendar of Hillel. According to Bartolocci his tables are preserved in the Vatican. A contemporary of his, R. Adda (born 183), also left a work on the calendar.”
“Under the patriarchate of Rabbi Judah III. (300-330) the testimony of the witnesses with regard to the appearance of the new moon was received as a mere formality, the settlement of the day depending entirely on calculation. This innovation seems to have been viewed with disfavor by some members of the Sanhedrin, particularly Rabbi Jose, who wrote to both the Babylonian and the Alexandrian communities, advising them to follow the customs of their fathers and continue to celebrate two days, an advice which was followed, and is still followed, by the majority of Jews living outside of Palestine.”
“Under the reign of Constantius (337-361) the persecutions of the Jews reached such a height that all religious exercises, including the computation of the calendar, were forbidden under pain of severe punishment.”
“The persecutions under Constantius finally decided the patriarch, Hillel II. (330-365), to publish rules for the computation of the calendar, which had hitherto been regarded as a secret science. The political difficulties attendant upon the meetings of the Sanhedrin became so numerous in this period, and the consequent uncertainty of the feast-days was so great, that R. Huna b. Abin made known the following secret of the calendar to Raba in Babylonia: Whenever it becomes apparent that the winter will last till the 16th of Nisan, make the year a leap-year without hesitation.”
“This unselfish promulgation of the calendar, though it destroyed the hold of the patriarchs on the scattered Judeans, fixed the celebration of the Jewish feasts upon the same day everywhere. Later Jewish writers agree that the calendar was fixed by Hillel II. in the year 670 of the Seleucidan era; that is, 4119 A.M. or 359 C.E. Some, however, as Isaac Israeli, have fixed the date as late as 500. Saadia afterward formulated calendar rules, after having disputed the correctness of the calendar established by the Karaites. That there is a slight error in the Jewish calendar—due to inaccuracies in the length of both the lunar and the solar years upon which it is based—has been asserted by a number of writers.”
Quote Jewish Publication Society of America
"It is generally accepted that the Jewish festivals were, in Biblical times, fixed by observation of both the sun and the moon. Gradually, certain astronomical rules were also brought into requisition, primarily as a test, corroborating or refuting the testimony of observation....It has been authoritatively proved that in spite of a more advanced knowledge of astronomy the practice of fixing the new moon and the festivals by observation was in force as late as the latter part of the fifth century [C.E.]....It was only after the close of the Babylonian Talmud, in the sixth or perhaps later, in the seventh century, that the observation of the moon was entirely given up, and a complete and final system of calendation introduced [in the tenth century]." (Henry Malter, Saadia Gaon: His Life and Works, Chapter IV, Saadia's Controversy with Ben Meir, pp.70-88, Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1921)
"...Rejecting the fixed calendar as a heretic innovation, the Karaites held that by law of Scripture the beginning of the months must be determined by the appearance of the new crescent and no other means, and that this had been the practice of ancient Israel at all times. Rabbanite refutation of this extreme assertion found its most outspoken exponent in Saadia Gaon, who went to the opposite extreme in 'demonstrating' that the fixed calendar, computation of molad and tekufah, has the force of a Mosaic-Sinaitic law that had been followed at all ages of the past [like some in the CoGs proclaim], while observation of the new crescent was merely a passing episode in the history of the Jews, introduced at the time of the Sadducees to show that it confirmed the correctness of the prescribed calendaric regulation by calculation. Although this contention could easily be refuted by the Karaites as fanciful to the point of ridicule, Saadia's prestige was so great that his theory was accepted even by leading scholars.....Maimonides [12th century A.D] is one of the few medieval Rabbanite authorities known to have taken issue with Saadia's and his followers' contention, and his refutation amounts to unmitigated reproach, indeed to expression of intellectual as well as religious indignation. [Maimonides commented:] 'I am truly astonished over a personage who rejects clear evidence, asserting that the religion of Israel was based, not on observation of the new moon, but on calculation alone--and yet he [Saadia] affirms the authority of all these (just mentioned) Talmudic passages! I think indeed that he did not believe his own assertions, but he merely wished to repel his [Karaite] adversary by any notion that just occurred to him, be it true or false, when he had found himself unable to escape the force of (his adversary's) argument.'" (The Code of Maimonides, book II, treatise 8, translated by Solomon Gandz, Yale Judaica Series, Volume XI, pp.lii-liii)
There Is also a Roman letter that was written by someone, and directed to the emperor, during first century. I have read this letter before but cannot put my hand on it now. This letter makes mention of the Jews and their celebrations. It refers to them observing the crescent moon to start the beginnings of their months and many festivals.
The primary text they use for their dark moon theory is this Psalm. This verse (3) it rightly translated in many versions. It is referring to the new moon, the full moon, and their Chag. it is saying to blow the trumpet on the new moon, and the full moon which is associated with a Chag. This Psalm is talking about the Passover event. It is a call of remembrance for Israel to repent and remember their God who brought them out of Egypt a Passover when the shofar would have been sounded at the new moon(every month) at fullmoon (because it was the 15th)day they came out of Egypt and it was a Chag.
Scripture I Samuel
In Yahweh’s calendar, each month contains 29 or 30 days. Traditionally, as the Mishnah clearly states, the New Moon Festival was celebrated for 2 days throughout the land, because the far reaches of the land and even into Babylon, where many Jews still lived, they had to set fires (In Mishnah) to announce the sanctification of the new moon in Jerusalem, which had been called by the Sanhedrin (later messengers). On the 29th they would start looking for the new moon and taking witnesses to the sightings, in Jerusalem. They would continue until the 30th day. If the moon had not been spotted by this time then the 31st day was called the first day of the month, by default. Hence, the new moon festival was held every month throughout Israel on the 29th and 30th day of each month.
This is why Saul held a two-day festival (I Sam. 20:27, 34). David and Jonathan knew in advance that there would be a new moon festival the next day (I Sam. 20:5, 18), and the day after that, because of their mentioning waiting until the third day (I Sam. 20:5, 12, 19). But they didn't know in advance whether the crescent would appear the first day or the second. The very fact that two days were celebrated rather than just one is proof of their inability to predict with certainty the new moon day. The lunar conjunction would have been precise and unambiguous. The exact day is determined using that method. (If they had had the knowledge to calculate the lunar conjunction, which they did not, they would not have had to keep two days.)
There is more-but enough for now. Historical resources from the first century and afterwards attest to the fact that the new moon was called by the sighting of the new crescent moon. The Jewish calendar that is followed today only came about when there was no longer a temple or a Sanhedrin to properly call the sighting of the new moon. Jews were scattered all over the world and in order to bring uniformity, Hillel adopted the current calendar which all Jews follow. This calendar calculates the new moon so that all Jews would be on the same page. However, for anyone that examines ancient sources or current Jewish sources they will find that the new moon, anciently, was called by the sighting of the first sliver of the crescent moon, after the dark moon. This was the Biblical way as outlined by God in His Word. One day the correct system will be restored when a Temple and governing body, once again, rule in Israel.
Compiled by Leisa Baysinger