Genesis 1:14 Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens

Genesis 1:14 Then the Almighty said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens, to make a division between the day and between the night. And they will have been for signs, and for appointed times, and for days and years. The Almighty calls the heavenly signs “lights.” He says, “And they [the lights] will have been for signs.” Therefore, it is the light that makes the sign. The lights serve two functions, 1. to be signs (vs. 14:b), and 2. to give light on the earth (vs. 15). The bodies making the light are called the sun and moon.

The lights are signs for appointed times מוֹעֲדִים mō‘adi̱m. This word is the Hophal of the verb יָעַד ya‘ad = “appoint” (BDB, Strong #3259). The noun is formed from the participle of the Hophal, מוּעָדִים mū‘adi̱m = “be making appointment.” Mō‘adi̱m is a general term for appointed times. Only days and years are specifically mentioned, and therefore we must comprehend months under the general term,“appointed times.” We must also understand all the holy days by the term in a general sense, even though at this time all the holy days were not yet specifically determined.

The lights play varying roles in fixing time. Firstly, to the light of the sun is assigned the role of the beginning and the end of the year, and the beginning and the end of days. To the light of the moon is assigned the beginning of the month.

A good deal of the commentary is apologetic to disprove twisted reasoning. However, here I will lay out the calendar as concisely as possible. The year begins at the spring equinox, which is when the sun sets exactly west. The month begins with the sighted moon, i.e. when it is first seen. The month which is the “first month” must be at least half way in the new year. More precisely, the sunset on the 15th day of the first moon must come after the beginning of the year. The literal day begins with the dawn and ends with the dusk, and the calendar day adds the following night, so that one calendar day is from dawn to dawn, which is successive cycles of the return of the sun’s light. Sabbath days are reckoned from the setting of the light to the next setting of the (sun) light.

All the elements of the calendar are observationally determined. That is, a single person can determine the calendar by watching the sun and moon in good weather, and with no fancy instruments. Some lines and markers are needed to determine the equinox. Keeping a count of days of the year, days of the month, and days of the week is also a necessary discipline to keeping the calendar accurate.

It is here that we must introduce a principle of interpretation. The Scripture does not contain all knowledge, and at many points, it does not give exhaustive definitions of its meanings. Cults exploit this feature by declaring only what is in Scripture truth, and all other knowledge tradition, and therefore suspect or false, and they freely take the liberty to put their own interpretation on Scripture when Scripture has not given an exhaustive definition. Cult leaders train their followers to demand exhaustive proof from Scripture of every point, while they themselves put their own ignorant and speculative interpretations thereon, and make their followers deathly afraid of any knowledge that is sourced outside the Scripture.

But God does not expect his people to be such idiots. Therefore, much in the way of general knowledge, necessary to the understanding of Scripture, is omitted from Scripture. Scripture only contains so much information as is necessary to correct the errors man has introduced to general knowledge. Therefore, if Scripture is not precise in a matter, which we must necessarily know, then the answer has to be found in general knowledge.

General knowledge is best specified as “the majority consensus.” If Scripture intentionally omits details, then we can expect it to be completed by accepted knowledge outside it. The consensus is almost always right against the small cults inventing their own interpretations.

Let us apply this to the definition of the “new moon.” Scripture says that the light of the moon is to be a sign. Scripture numbers the days of the month from the new moon. And the definition of month (חֹדֶשׁ ḥōdesh) comes from the word “new.” From this we can justly rule out any definition of the new moon in which no light can be seen from the moon. On the basis of “new” (חָדַשׁ, חֹדֶשׁ) we can rule out definitions which are not based on the newness of the light. This point can be both confirmed and extended from general knowledge. And if the Scriptural definition may seem incomplete, it can surely be completed from general knowledge without contradiction.

Since the moon must give light, we may eliminate the a) Egyptian definition of the new moon, which is that the first day after old crescent when there is no light, as the new moon day. On this day the moon gives no light, and further it was the absence of old light that was used for a sign, and not the new light. Also we may eliminate the b) Roman “new moon” in which the months have no relation to the moon. This is the basis of western months. Also, we may eliminate all c) conjunction methods, since on the day of the conjunction no light is seen from the moon, and often no light is seen the day before the conjunction or the day after it.

The ancient Jewish sources say that the new moon is when the moon is first sighted again after being dark. The Mishnah states this directly. And it can be derived from Josephus and Philo. Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Muslim Empires which used this same definition, the exceptions being Egypt and Rome. The ancient consensus is that the new moon is when it is newly seen, and this definition even persists in English as we call the new crescent the new moon, despite astronomers conventions to label the conjunction the new moon.

The moon receives new light when the crescent first appears after a conjunction, and this light waxes and wanes until it disappears. During the month the moon is always lighted, except when the old crescent disappears until the new crescent appears. There are thus two witnesses to what a new moon is. Firstly the sign is the light, as stated here in Genesis. And secondly the verbal root behind חֹדֶשׂ ḥōdesh is חָדַשׁ ḥadash, which means “new” or “renewed.” The only gap in the moon’s light is between the old crescent and the new crescent. The light, which is the sign to signify the beginning of the month, therefore, occurs when the light returns to the moon.

Some claim that Psalm 81:3 teaches a conjunction method. They translate it, “Blow on the new moon a shōfar, in the concealment, on our feast day.” They say the word כֵּסֶה kēseh means concealment, and refers to the conjunction, and claim that scripture teaches the definition of the new moon is the conjunction. Is this so?

This is not the way that the Jewish translators about 250 B.C. understood the word when they translated the term from Hebrew to Greek. In the LXX, they translated, “Blow in the new moon a trumpet with clearness in the day of our feast” (σαλπίσατε ἐν νεομηνίᾳ σάλπιγγι ἐν εὐσήμῳ ἡμέρᾳ ἑορτῆς ἡμῶν). The Greek word they used, εὐσήμῳ means “clearness, distinctness,” or as a substantivized adjective, “a clear [one],” “a distinct [one].” Can the Hebrew mean this?

Marcus Jastrow gives the following entry in The Dictionary of the Targumim: for “כֶּסֶה,כֶּסֶא” (pg. 652), “mark, distinction; marked, appointed time”; Jastrow cites this very Psalm text in the noun entry and the verb entry. The LXX seems to support an idea of the Aramaic word use: ευσημω, “clear, distinct”, only it applies it to the Shofar, “distinct Shofar”, or “clear sound of a Shofar”, “with distinctness” (εν ευσημω), cf. Jastrow, “distinction” above. The Dictionary of the Targumim suggests this translation, “Blow on the new moon a trumpet, on the distinguished [new moon] on the day of our feast.” Jastrow states, “וכי כל החדשים אינן חדש אלא בכ״ ‘on the New Moon’, are all other new moons no New Moons (festive days)?; but (therefore is added) bakkesé, on the distinguished (month).” Aramaic words are sometimes used in Hebrew texts, e.g. Psa. 2:12, “Make be kissed the Sŏn” נַשְּׁקוּ־בַר nashqū bar. Therefore, the word used in Psa. 81:3 does not mean “at the conjunction.” Psa. 81:3 is in complete agreement with Gen. 1:14.

Conjunctionists argue that Daυid predicted the new moon in advance at the conjunction because it was calculated, “Behold the new moon is tomorrow” הִנֵּה־חֹדֶשׁ מָחָר hinnēh ḥōdesh maḥar (1 Sam. 20:5). How did he know the new moon would be tomorrow without it being calculated, they ask? They assume that “tomorrow” begins with the sunset, and since the new moon can only be seen after sunset, then Daυid did not see it, or no one else had seen it and spread the news. This conjunctionist contention may be disproved by citing 1 Sam. 19:10b-12, “And Daυid had fled. Therefore, he himself escaped in that night. Then Sha’ūl sent messengers unto the house of Daυid to watch it, and for making him die in the daybreak. Then she declared to David, Mi̱ḳal his wife, saying if you do not make be delivered your soul this night, tomorrow you are being made to die. Then Mi̱ḳal made Daυid go down through the window.” First David flees from Saul’s spear “in that night,” then he comes to his house, but Saul has it watched. It is still night. David’s wife notes that it is night, and she says he will be killed “tomorrow.” When was Saul planning to have David killed? At the daybreak. When did David’s wife warn him of this fact? During the night. What did David’s wife say the time would be? Tomorrow. Therefore, “tomorrow” did not mean at sunset. It meant at the daybreak. Therefore, if David means the same thing in 1 Sam. 20:5, he or someone else had plenty of time to see the new moon. Therefore, this scripture agrees with the new moon being the return of the first new light of the moon after the old light had died.

Some conjunctionists have gone so far as to say that Passion Chronology only works with the conjunction, and therefore their conjunction method must be correct. 119 Ministries presents AD 30 as the year of the crucifixion for this argument. If the new moon were a conjunction, then in this year the 14th of Nisan would be on a Wednesday. What they don’t disclose is that AD 34 also works out for a Wednesday with the crescent method. Their proof is therefore meaningless since they did not show that there was no possible Nisan 14 on a Wednesday in another year.

119 also puts out another false witness for AD 30. They cited that strange signs in the Temple, such as the doors opening of their own accord, the scarlet thread not turning white on the Day of Atonement, and other signs, which occurred for the 40 years before the destruction of the Temple, started in AD 30. They implied that by these signs, the Almĭghty was showing displeasure for the Temple service because the sacrifice of Messiah had happened. Therefore, they say this proves that Messiah died in AD 30. What is the problem with this reasoning?

The reasoning is theologically motivated, by false doctrine. The false doctrine is that Messiah did away with the Temple services by his death and resurrection! It is refuted by Jer. 33:17-22, and by the fact that Paul participated (cf. Acts 18:18 and 21:23). There is a much simpler explanation, that involves no such false doctrine. AD 30 was at the start of Messiah’s ministry. The scene in John 2:18-21 was in AD 30, where the Jewish authorities rejected Messiah’s authority. Therefore, the signs in the temple were not God’s rejection of the services, but his showing of displeasure toward the authorities for rejecting Messiah. The Father gave additional signs on Messiah’s behalf, in addition to the sign Messiah promised of his death and resurrection. No sign will be given for the sake of those asking a sign except the sign of Yōnah, but other signs are given anyway for those who do not ask.

For further reading on the Calendar, you might want to consult the commentaries on, Exodus 12:2, 13:10, Lev. 23:11, 15-16. 1 Sam. 1:20. I will post here finally, a calendar for the first month after creation:

4139 BCThe sun and moon were created on the 4th day. I have marked PNM = proleptic new moon, and PSE = proleptic spring equinox. This is to say if we calculate the movement of the sun and moon backwards then the spring equinox agrees with dawn on the first day of creation, and the days of the month begin counting from the first day of creation. This means that the sun and moon were created on the phase of the 4th day of the month and the 4th day of the year. The Julian date, April 25th, is only given for astronomical reference purposes. Anyone who wants to calculate this needs the correct biblical chronology, and the proper software and procedures that can correct for Joshua’s long day, as well as up to date calculations for tidal friction. This has all been done in my Chronology book. And it can be verified in a public open source software program called Stellarium.

1:14 The last clause is interpreted as a simple waw, and the perfect as background info stating their purpose. Likewise, the first clause of verse 15. In verse 15 the last clause is understood as a future. This measure keeps the narrative from saying he created things after he already created them. The entire statement, “And they will have been for signs, and for appointed times, and for days and years. 15 And they will have been for lights in the expanse of the heavens to make light upon the earth,” can be viewed as a parenthesis.

1:14 The most unique thing about the EHSV is the preservation of the perfect verb from the Hebrew, which in the strict sense is a view point on the action as completed. Thus the point of view is looking back on something completed in the past of the POV. Hebrew discourse, unlike English, has the regular habit of shifting the POV of the perfect tense into the future. Thus the POV of view is shifted to the future of the narrative, and then the perfect looks backward at the completed events. The only way to accomplish this in English is to use the future perfect, which is a valid English verbal tense, though seldom used. It takes the form, “will have”; The will puts the POV into the future. The have looks into the past of that future. English syntax requires will or shall to shift the point of view with the perfect to a future perfect. Hebrew requires nothing but the logic of a context that requires a future POV. It is very easy to figure out from most contexts that an event has not been completed. If that is the case, and the perfect tense is being used, then it is a future perfect.

It is this use of the perfect that connects the English reader to the heart of Hebrew verbal thought. Of course I have supplied the word will from the context. The timing comes only from the POV in the context. The waw prefixed to the perfect verb has no future or imperfect converting power, eg. Gen 2:6, “and it had been watering” is not “and it will water”; 2:10, “and it had become” is not “and it will become”; Gen. 6:4, “and they had given birth” not “and they will give birth”; 2 Chron. 12:11, “The runners had entered, and they had lifted them, and they had returned them to the chamber of the runners.”

Cf. “perfect of certainty”; “precative perfect”; See also Waw Consecutive with the Perfect in Hebrew, George Ricker Berry. See also The Prophetic Perfect. The English reader should be aware that the English future perfect used to translate future Hebrew perfects is a function of English morphology, but that it is not a function of Hebrew morphology. The Biblical Hebrew relies on context. Also it should be noted that the waw consecutive, despite grammatical tradition, does not exist with the Hebrew perfect. All waw’s prefixed to the perfect verb are plain conjunctives, and so are translated “and.” There are a few exceptions. These will be noted.

EHSV Translation of Genesis 1:14 by Daniel Gregg, Torahtimes

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