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Closely Related:
Judaism.SE/How was Rosh Chodesh determined, if a New Moon Cannot be Seen?
Calculating months and weeks in the Mosaic Law
Astronomy.SE/How Soon Could a Waxing Crescent Moon Be Seen?


1. Question:

Apart from Rabbinical commentary, (in the Talmud) - is there any Scriptural or literary evidence explaining how a New Moon was determined - especially since it is not visible?
Or, was it the case that the Waxing Crescent Moon was taken "As and For" the New Moon?


2. The Text/Context:

NASB, 1 Samuel 20:18 - Then Jonathan said to him, “Tomorrow is the new moon, and you will be missed because your seat will be empty.

If a New Moon cannot be seen, then it seems that the first visible confirmation of a New Moon is actually the Waxing Crescent Moon, which can only be observed after the New Moon - minimally - after 12.1 hours with a telescope, and 15.5 hours without. (See Astronomy.SE/How Soon Could a Waxing Crescent Moon Be Seen?).

  • Voted to close as off-topic because 1) the question is about a Biblical subject but does not cite a particular verse. That is, the question does not arise from the verse cited any more than any other verse such as Exodus 12:2. 2) There is an anachronistic assumption behind question that there was a need for a "method". But the need for a method only arose in later times. 3) Whatever the answer, it makes no difference for our understanding of any Biblical text. – Abu Munir Ibn Ibrahim Apr 7 '17 at 14:13
  • You could ask a question about the meaning of מחר חודש. Does it imply prediction, or does it simply mean "in a while" similar to mañana in American English. There isn't any computation of time in the OT other than וספרתם לכם ממחרת השבת and similar trivial examples. – Abu Munir Ibn Ibrahim Apr 7 '17 at 14:53
  • The word מחר doesn't necessarily mean "tomorrow" in this verse. And the word חדש doesn't necessarily mean "new moon". That is a common translation but it is not a necessary translation. The simple meaning of the verse can be read, "At the coming new moon feast your place will be empty and your absence will be noted". In general, there is no calculation of time, weights or measures in the MT. The notions of precision that we have today are both post OT and "off-topic" as far as the OT is concerned. Besides that, there is no evidence of a single set calendar or even a need for one in the OT. – Abu Munir Ibn Ibrahim Apr 7 '17 at 15:57
  • @AbuMunirIbnIbrahim - A.) Given the context - I can see the answer going either direction : They knew exactly when events would occur, planning to meet in "3 days"; or : They didn't know exactly, which may be why they had "two feasts"; B.) Either way - your objection to the question relies on ripping "tomorrow | מחר" out of the verse, and a baseless presupposition that there are no measurements in the OT(???); C.) Regardless, even if you are right - an explanation is merited rather than a dismissive unsubstantiated declaration; D.) Your comments are better suited as an answer. – elika kohen Apr 7 '17 at 16:14
  • I think that the correct question to ask is "Does I Sam 20:18 imply that Jonathan knew when the new moon would be, and if so, how would he know?". I think that you should ask that question and close this one. – Abu Munir Ibn Ibrahim Apr 8 '17 at 17:03

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