Archive for the ‘New Moons’ Category


by Beth PiepenburgEcliptic

I have enjoyed watching in anticipation every year when the Aviv barley is ready in the land of Israel. On that day or soon after, the New Moon would be sighted and the New Year would begin. Two weeks later, Passover could be observed. As I studied and watched how the ancient Hebrew calendar functioned, it led to further research. I discovered how the Feasts also tied with the nighttime sky in conjunction with the appointed times of the work of Christ. What I found was an astronomical-agricultural based calendar. However, some of my original understanding of how the New Year was determined began to change. The sighting of the Aviv barley as an agricultural marker was now dovetailed by the Vernal Equinox as an astronomical marker.

A small sect of Jews, called the Karaites, have maintained for centuries that the Aviv barley had to be sighted on or before the New Moon, in order to start the New Year and for Passover to be observed fourteen days later. In Exodus, the barley was in the Aviv prior to Moses’ establishing the New Year. However, the Karaites have maintained that Rabbinical Judaism had changed the sighting of the Aviv barley for the Babylonian system of using the Vernal Equinox and also had changed the calendar in other ways. As a result of these differences, Passover could be celebrated a month apart by each group. Now if the Jews can’t seem to agree in determining the Passover date, the Western and Eastern Christians fair no better having two separate systems in determining Easter.

From the time of Moses, the Israelites have used the Aviv barley, the Vernal Equinox, and the New Moon to determine the New Year. As the Egyptian Sphinx was aligned to the Vernal Equinox, Moses, having been educated in the courts of Pharaoh, would have known about the Vernal Equinox. However, the ancient Egyptian calendar was based on the heliacal rising of Sirius, and the New Year began in July. When Moses commanded the Israelites to begin the New Year on the evening of Aviv 1, the moon was a New Moon and the Vernal Equinox was just beginning. This particular day in history, the calendar was naturally aligned to both the moon and the sun. Thus, the Israelite calendar is a lunisolar calendar, and begins in the spring. Passover and the other Feasts would be aligned to the proper constellations, which were pointing to the Savior.

Along with finding new insights of the importance of the nighttime sky, I also began to see problems with the Aviv method pointing to the New Moon to usher in the New Year. Sightings of the Aviv barley differed in respect to the grain, location, time, etc. Did ancient barley grown naturally ripen sooner or later than the modern methods of growing new strains of barley? Because of the micro climates in Israel, which micro-climate was more suited for maturation? If the Aviv barley was not quite ready when the New Moon appeared, then how could one preserve the Aviv barley during an intercalary month? The integrity of checking the Aviv barley was maintained by the Levitical priests, but how can one know now when one group claims they have found the Aviv a little too early for comfort? Does the Scripture say, one must see the Aviv first? In Egypt, the Aviv barley would have naturally occurred much earlier than in the land of Israel. As far as the nighttime sky, the importance of the sun and moon being in the right constellations during Passover was important for the Feasts to correlate with the sky.

Since I follow the ancient Israelite lunisolar calendar in my personal life, I look forward to starting the New Year in the Spring rather than in the dead of Winter. While I can follow the lunisolar calendar with ease, this ancient calendar should coincide fairly well with the Jewish Passover and the Western Church observance of Easter. Most important, I will view the nighttime sky with the Feasts in mind along with the significance of Christ. While the New Moon and the Vernal Equinox will determine the New Year, yet the sighting of the Aviv barley will add purpose to the meaning calendar. As I follow the lunar months throughout the year, I hope to understand further how astronomy worked in connection with the agricultural seasons in ancient Israel.


Copyright by Beth Piepenburg, 2017. All rights reserved.


Was Mary a Virgin?

by Beth Piepenburg

220px-Giorgione_045Mt. 1:23 Behold a virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and they will call his name Emmanuel which is interpreted, ‘Our God is with us’.

Some say that the word virgin in Isaiah 7:14 was mistranslated as young maiden, and was fulfilled shortly thereafter. If so, then why does Matthew use this particular Scripture in reference to Mary? By looking at historical context, language, and Biblical astronomy, we can validate Matthew’s use of the word virgin.

Why did Isaiah prophesy this verse? When King Rezin of Syria and King Pekah of Northern Israel conspired against King Ahab of Judah, the prophet Isaiah meets Ahab and gives him a word to not fear these two kings. Isaiah informs Ahab that these two kings have conspired against Ahab to set a puppet king to him, and that it won’t stand nor come to pass. Being a critical time for the Davidic dynasty, Isaiah gives a prophetic word to Ahab that if he would trust the Lord, then he would be established. Ahab fails to trust the Lord, and used the temple gold and silver to request help from Tiglathpileser III of Assyria for help. Although Syria and eventually Northern Israel would be destroyed, Ahab’s reign held many problems including his pagan worship.

When Isaiah delivers the prophetic word to Ahab, the Lord challenges Ahab to ask for a sign, which Ahab refuses to do. Then Isaiah turns to everyone present, and addresses the House of David, to give them a sign of hope, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Fifteen year old Hezekiah, Ahab’s son, would one day rule and continue the lineage of David. God’s purpose of a future Savior could not be thwarted by the fickleness of Ahab.

almah = young female, maiden (H.)
bethulah = a virgin (H.)
parthenos = a virgin maiden (G.)
virgo = virgin (L.)
ܒܬܘܠܬܐ = chaste girl, virgin (S. Peshitta.)

Concerning whether the word virgin or young maiden is correct, some claim the Hebrew word almah was originally used and mistranslated by the Greek Septuagint. While almah means young maiden, the high expectation of a young maiden entering marriage would be to keep her virginity before marriage. In one sense, the difference of the words is a minor point, but in the sense of a prophetic word given centuries beforehand and referenced by Matthew, the difference is a moot point. Because scribal copies of prophetic Writings were less scrutinized than the Torah, variant copies surfaced. Although the Great Isaiah scroll from the 1st century BC and the Masoretic Text of the 9th century AD uses almah, yet the Greek Septuagint had translated this passage with the word parthenos. Was the Greek Septuagint translation, which was agreed upon by seventy Jewish scholars and approved by the High Priest, correctly rendering parthenos from an earlier Hebrew text using bethulah? Were the later editions of the Hebrew/Aramaic substandard? Or did these Jewish scholars feel that parthenos would convey the best context of the original Hebrew word?

 To further validate the point, both Mt. 1:23 and its chiastic counterpart Mt. 1:18 indicate that Joseph and Mary abstained in their marriage relationship prior to the birth of Christ, because of the importance of Mary remaining a virgin. Since Matthew would have access to the commonly used Septuagint and the Aramaic scrolls, he would be aware of any differences. Remember, Matthew’s audience is the Jewish nation.

From an astronomical position, the first sign of the Jewish Mazzaroth is Bethulah or Virgo, as we know the constellation. Bethulah is the Virgin holding the ear of barley (firstfruits) in her left hand and the Branch in her left hand. The dominant star in the ear is Spica, the Seed, which can mean stream, or ear of grain, usually barley. The other stars in the Branch are Zavijava = the gloriously beautiful, Subilon = a spike of corn, and Vindemiatrix = the son or branch who comes. So, the stars and grain symbolism in the constellation of Virgo, which validates a Son who will be the firstfruits.

Virgo Yom Teruah 3 bc

At sunset on September 11, 3 BC, the seventh Chodesh (new moon) of the year appeared, situated in the constellation of Virgo. With this particular Chodesh came the celebration of Yom Teruah, the Day of Trumpets. Before dawn arrived, Jupiter was very close to Regulus in the Constellation of Leo, creating an effect of a very bright “star”. On this day, Mary would have most likely conceived the Lord Jesus Christ. As the last three fall feasts conclude the end of the agricultural season of farming, so the sounds of the trumpets on this particular Yom Teruah would announce the end of the age of Old Testament times.

Leo Yom Teruah 3 bcWhile some focus on nitpicking over the word virgin and guessing at interpretations, we can be assured that Matthew’s use of the word virgin can be validated by historical context of Isaiah, language, and Biblical astronomy.Virgo2 Yom Teruah 3 bc





Copyright by Beth Piepenburg, 2013. All rights reserved.



If the Hebrew word, moed(im), is used in Gen 1:14[1] to mean appointed times, which is translated as seasons, then what are the appointed times that are mentioned in Scripture? By the way, the pictograph symbols for moed are the eye and the door. Together, they may mean “to see the door”. The word can mean to come and enter the tent of meeting, or it can mean a time that is to be repeated. So, what events bring us toward the tent of meeting or to a time that is repeated?


barley The first one is Rosh HaShanah, which means “head of the year”. God had instituted that this New Year start after the aviv, the green barley, was seen in the fields. Once the new moon was sighted, then Rosh HaShanah would begin. Not only would the barley soon be harvested at this time, but springtime does represent the newness of life. Besides the beginning of the year, several important events began on Rosh HaShanah: Creation, Noah opened the ark because the waters were dried up from off the earth (Gen 8:13), and the Tabernacle was erected (Ex. 40:2). [Ex. 9:31, 12:2, 13:4; Num. 28:11-15; Deut. 16:1]


The Passover Lamb
Courtesy to C. Malcolm Powers

The second one is Pesach, which means to “pass over”. The Passover Lamb was sacrificed on the fourteenth day of the first month, and was eaten at twilight between the fourteenth and the fifteenth day of the month. Although the story in Exodus of the first Passover is about the death angel passing over the homes that had the lamb’s blood on the lintel and doorposts of their homes, the Passover is really centered upon the sacrifice. [Ex. 23:18, 34:25; Lev. 23:5; Num. 28:16]

matzahThe third one is the Chag HaMatzah, the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Celebrated from the fifteenth day of the first month until the twenty-first day, the Israelites ate the first unleavened bread along with the Passover Lamb at twilight. Remember, the new day began at sunset for the Israelites. So, Passover was ending and the Feast of Unleavened Bread was beginning.  [Ex. 12:17, 13:6, 23:15, 34:18; Lev. 23:6; Num. 28:17-25; Deut. 16:16]

firstfruitsThe fourth one is the Reishit Katzir, the Firstfruits of Harvest. Celebrated on the day after the Sabbath during the week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the firstfruit of the barley harvest was dedicated and waved in praise to God. [Ex. 34:26; Lev. 23:9]

einkornThe fifth one is the Chag Shabua, the Feast of Weeks, or the Feast of Harvest. The Hellenistic Jews called it Pentecost. Counting seven Sabbaths or fifty days from the Sabbath after Passover, the celebration pertained to the wheat harvest with the waving of two leavened loaves of bread before the Lord. [Ex. 23:16, 34:22; Lev. 23:15, 17, 20; Num. 28:26-31; Deut. 16:10, 16]


shofar smThe sixth one is Yom Teruah, the Day of Trumpets. Celebrated on the first day of the seventh month, the trumpet signaled for those working in the field to come to the Tabernacle to worship the Lord. [Lev. 23:23; Num. 29:1-6]

040_01_0009_BSTD scapegoat2The seventh one is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Celebrated on the tenth day of the seventh month, the day was dedicated to afflicting one’s soul, confession, and prayer in the form of personal and national repentance. Crying, wearing sackcloth and ashes, or fasting were ways to afflict one’s soul. [Lev. 23:26-32; Num. 29:7-11]

sukkahThe eighth one is Chag Sukkah, the Feast of Tents (Tabernacles or Booths) and is also known as the Feast of Ingathering. Celebrated from the fifteenth day of the seventh month for eight days, the Israelites lived in booths to remember how their ancestors had lived in booths after leaving Egypt. Not only was the Torah read, the feast was a time of rejoicing and thankfulness of the final harvests. [Ex. 23:16, 34:22; Lev. 23:33-36, 39-43; Num. 29:12-38; Deut. 16:13, 16:16, 31:10]


110_06_0208_BiblePaintings shewbread2Sabbath, is to stop activity to rest, and was observed on the seventh day every week. The purpose is to rest in the Lord, yet not to make the day an idol in itself. In Genesis 2:1-3 and Exodus 20:11, God gives us an example of God resting in Himself. From thence, God blessed and made holy the Sabbath. [Num. 28:9-10]

Rosh HaShanah - Chodesh Abib - 3/23/2012

Chodesh, is the new moon, and was observed once a month after the moon was barely sighted. Its purpose is to help keep the timing of the special appointed times on track. [Ex. 12:2; Num. 28:11-15; Ps. 81:3]


Although much more information is available and many questions to ask and discuss about each appointed time mentioned, this brief summary should give an overall idea of when each moed took place and its significance.

[1] Gen 1:14-19 14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. 16 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. 17 God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 So the evening and the morning were the fourth day. (NKJV)

Rosh HaShanah 2012

Rosh HaShanah - Chodesh Abib - 3/23/2012

Rosh HaShanah (new year) has arrived here in Wyoming. The new month is Chodesh Abib. It’s been cloudy today, but we had less than a minute to snap a picture of the new moon.

žThe early Israelites determined a new month, not by astronomical calculations, but by sighting the new moon when the first sliver of the crescent was observed.

žBlow the trumpet in the new moon… (Ps. 81:3)


The twelfth month, shenayim ‛asar chodesh, has arrived with the sighting of the New Moon here in Wyoming (January 24, 2012).

Upcoming Abib Search:

On March 22-23, the Abib Search, the examining of barley throughout the Land of Israel, will be conducted. If the barley has reached Abib, the sighting of the new moon on March 23, 2012 will be the beginning of Chodesh Ha-Aviv. Because Israel is having an unusually wet winter, a later sighting of the Abib may result in a thirteenth month, creating a leap year. Then, Chodesh Ha-Aviv will begin on April 22, 2012.

New Moon here in Wyoming (January 24, 2012) by Beth Piepenburg.

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