Articles‎ > ‎

New Moons, Are They Sabbaths?

By Chuck Henry
rev. 1/24/2013



Table of Contents


New Moon or Month?

Septuagint Rendering

KJV Marginal Reading

Other Translations of Amos 8:5

Additional Scripture References Relating to the New Moon



Amos 8:4-5 (NKJV)

4 Hear this, you who swallow up the needy, and make the poor of the land fail,

5 Saying: When will the New Moon be past, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may trade wheat? Making the ephah small and the shekel large, falsifying the scales by deceit.



In Amos 8:5, “new moon” is Strong’s #2320, chodesh. In the definition, it not only states “the new moon,” but also states, “by impl. a month.” And then the word list following the definition reveals that the word chodesh was translated as both “month” and “new moon.”


Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon defines the word in agreement with Strong, as either (1) “the new moon” or (2) “a lunar month.”


So we see that the Hebrew word chodesh can mean either “new moon” or “month.” It does not have to mean “new moon.”




The Septuagint, also known as the LXX because of the approximate 70 scholars who worked on it, is a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek done by ancient Hebrew scholars around 250 BCE.


The Septuagint rendering of Amos 8:5 indicates that the proper translation of chodesh in this instance should indeed be “month.” Here is Amos 8:4-5 from the Septuagint


Amos 8:4-5 LXX

4 Hear indeed these things! O ones obliterating the needy, and tyrannizing the poor of the land.

5 Saying, When shall [3go by 1the 2month]* that we shall make trade, and the Sabbaths, that we shall open the treasury to make the measure small, and to unequally magnify the scale-weight, and to make the yoke balance scale unjust?

-- The Apostolic Bible


* As described in the Introduction to the Apostolic Bible, “[3go by 1the 2month]” is a bracket structure showing the common English word order. The bracket structure is used with a-follow-the-number scheme. Therefore, it is showing that the common English word order in Amos 8:5 would be, “…When shall the month go by…”


In Greek, there are two different words for month and new moon:


  • 3561. noumenia (new moon)


  • 3376. men (month)


Interestingly, both of these Greek words are used in Exodus 40:2 in the Septuagint, which gives a feel for how one word applies to month and the other to new moon.


Exo 40:2 LXX

On day one of the month [G3376 men] of the first new moon [G3561 noumenia], you shall set up the tent of the testimony.

-- The Apostolic Bible


Now returning to our consideration of the Septuagint rendering of Amos 8:5, it is noteworthy that the translators chose to use the Greek word for month (men) and not the Greek word for new moon (noumenia). This shows that the understanding of the ancient Hebrew scholars who translated the Septuagint for their Greek-speaking audience was that chodesh in Amos 8:5 referred to the “month,” not specifically to the “new moon.”


With this information in mind, let us move on to examining yet more references that lend evidence to indicate that the word chodesh as used in Amos 8:5 should have been translated as “month.”




There is a very interesting note in the margin of my old World Publishing Company KJV study Bible; it states for Amos 8:5:


“Or, month


Thus, it was recognized that the Hebrew word chodesh should possibly have here been translated as “month” instead of “new moon.”




I have also checked some other translations that may lend insight as to what the proper translation should be:


Amos 8:5 (TEV)

You say to yourselves, We can hardly wait for the holy days to be over so that we can sell our grain. When will the Sabbath end, so that we can start selling again? Then we can overcharge, use false measures, and fix the scales to cheat our customers.


Amos 8:5 (TLB)

You who long for the Sabbath to end and the religious holidays to be over so you can get out and start cheating again-using your weighted scales and under-sized measures.


After taking a look at these translations, what comes to mind as a possibility is that the month to which Amos 8:5 may be referring is the seventh month, with its several holy days and festive activities (Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles), and that they were anxious for all of this to be over with so that they could continue their fraudulent business activities without such distraction.


However, if the proper translation really is “new moon,” another possibility is that they were simply anxious for the new moon festivities to be over, which festivities (although not a Sabbath except for the seventh new moon) could have also been a hindrance to them by bringing a lull in business.


Could the special activities of the new moon be very similar to us getting together, watching for the new moon, and having a celebratory meal together? I think so. Be that as it may, this type of activity can be done without it being a Sabbath. Similarly, Yahweh specified other days that are special days, but that are not Sabbath days – consider the non-Sabbath days during the Feasts of Unleavened Bread and Tabernacles. Although these days are not Sabbath days, the fact that they are festive days could have resulted in a lull in business as pointed out earlier.




Although not a Sabbath day except for the seventh moon, Scriptures do show that there were, and will be, some special activities at the time of the new moon, as shown in the passages below. As you read these passages, notice how many times the Hebrew word chodesh has been translated as “month” or “months.” —


Num 10:10

Also in the day of your gladness, in your appointed feasts, and at the beginning of your months [H2320 chodesh], you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; and they shall be a memorial for you before your Elohim: I am Yahweh your Elohim.


Num 28:11-15

11 At the beginnings of your months [H2320 chodesh] you shall present a burnt offering to Yahweh: two young bulls, one ram, and seven lambs in their first year, without blemish;

12 three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour as a grain offering, mixed with oil, for each bull; two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour as a grain offering, mixed with oil, for the one ram;

13 and one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour, mixed with oil, as a grain offering for each lamb, as a burnt offering of sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to Yahweh.

14 Their drink offering shall be half a hin of wine for a bull, one-third of a hin for a ram, and one-fourth of a hin for a lamb; this is the burnt offering for each month [H2320 chodesh] throughout the months [H2320 chodesh] of the year.

15 Also one kid of the goats as a sin offering to Yahweh shall be offered, besides the regular burnt offering and its drink offering.


1 Sam 20:5, 18

5 And David said to Jonathan, Indeed tomorrow is the New Moon [H2320 chodesh], and I should not fail to sit with the king to eat. But let me go, that I may hide in the field until the third day at evening.

18 Then Jonathan said to David, Tomorrow is the New Moon [H2320 chodesh]; and you will be missed, because your seat will be empty.


In 2 Kings 4:23, in the case of the Shunammite woman going to Elisha after the death of her son, the new moon is mentioned in a way that seems to be indicative of some special activity:


2 Ki 4:23

So he [the Shunammite woman’s husband] said, Why are you [the Shunammite woman] going to him [Elisha] today? It is neither the New Moon [H2320 chodesh] nor the Sabbath. And she said, It is well.


1 Chr 23:27-32

27 For by the last words of David the Levites were numbered from twenty years old and above;

28 because their duty was to help the sons of Aaron in the service of the house of Yahweh, in the courts and in the chambers, in the purifying of all holy things and the work of the service of the house of Elohim,

29 both with the showbread and the fine flour for the grain offering, with the unleavened cakes and what is baked in the pan, with what is mixed and with all kinds of measures and sizes;

30 to stand every morning to thank and praise Yahweh, and likewise at evening;

31 and at every presentation of a burnt offering to Yahweh on the Sabbaths and on the New Moons [H2320 chodesh] and on the set feasts, by number according to the ordinance governing them, regularly before Yahweh;

32 and that they should attend to the needs of the tabernacle of meeting, the needs of the holy place, and the needs of the sons of Aaron their brethren in the work of the house of Yahweh.


Isa 66:23

And it shall come to pass that from one New Moon [H2320 chodesh] to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me, says Yahweh.


Eze 46:1-3

1 Thus says the Master Yahweh: The gateway of the inner court that faces toward the east shall be shut the six working days; but on the Sabbath it shall be opened, and on the day of the New Moon [H2320 chodesh] it shall be opened.

2 The prince shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gateway from the outside, and stand by the gatepost. The priests shall prepare his burnt offering and his peace offerings. He shall worship at the threshold of the gate. Then he shall go out, but the gate shall not be shut until evening.

3 Likewise the people of the land shall worship at the entrance to this gateway before Yahweh on the Sabbaths and the New Moons [H2320 chodesh].




The only new moon that is specified as a Sabbath day in Scripture is the seventh one, and it is clearly specified in the Torah—


Lev 23:24

Speak to the children of Israel, saying: In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.


Num 29:1

And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work. For you it is a day of blowing the trumpets.


If other new moons were to be sanctified as Sabbath days, why were they not specified as such in the Torah? True, there were special sacrifices at the time of the new moon, and it was evidently a celebratory occasion, but not a Sabbath day, except for the seventh new moon.


Amos 8:5 probably comes closest to implying that each new moon was to be kept as a Sabbath day, but as we have seen, the Hebrew word chodesh can mean either “new moon” or “month.” It does not have to mean “new moon.” As used in Amos 8:5, indications are that chodesh should be translated as “month,” not “new moon.” If the proper translation in Amos 8:5 really is “new moon,” another possibility is that they were simply anxious for the new moon festivities to conclude, which festivities (although not a Sabbath except for the seventh new moon) could have also been a hindrance to them by bringing a lull in business.


Even if one does not accept these arguments, one is still devoid of a commandment showing that every new moon is to be kept as a Sabbath.


Demanding that Amos 8:5 is tantamount to a commandment for keeping each and every new moon as a Sabbath does not harmonize with the balance of Scripture. However, recognizing that the Hebrew word chodesh possibly should have been translated as “month” in Amos 8:5 does bring harmony because it does not contradict the Torah, which commands only that the seventh new moon is to be kept as a Sabbath.


And if the proper translation really is “new moon” in Amos 8:5, the understanding that it was not a Sabbath day (unless it was the seventh new moon), but that they would have been anxious for the new moon festivities to conclude so that they could carry on unimpeded with their fraudulent business activities, also brings harmony and does not stand in contradiction to the Torah.


One other possibility which would bring harmony is that at the time of Amos 8:5, it was indeed at the time of the seventh new moon, which of course is a Sabbath.


We should look for harmony in the whole of Scripture, and there is not one command in Scripture that specifies every new moon as a Sabbath.