Psalm 81 and the New Moon/New Month

Please note: This brief study is an excerpt from a larger work I am about to publish on this blog entitled, “When Does the Biblical Month Begin? Refuting 14 Pro-Conjunction Arguments in Favor of the Visible Crescent.” Stay tuned. — Natan

A Study on Psalm 81 — Is the Word Keseh Proof That the Month Is Conjunction-Based? 

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A source of great controversy has been the meaning of the Hebrew word keseh as used in Psalm 81:3. The conjunctionists use this word as definitive proof that the new moon starts at the conjunctions. Complicating the issue is the fact that this word occurs only two times in the Tanakh, making its meaning all the more difficult to quantify. Let’s now look at the issues surrounding the meaning of this word.

New Moon Conjunctionist Assertion: In Psalm 81:3 (also Prov 76:10; Job 26:7–9), the phrase full moon is the Hebrew word keseh meaning “concealed, dark, hidden or covered.” This points to a full or dark new moon. The overwhelming use of keseh in the Tanakh (Old Testament) fits the definition above. Job 26:9 to backs up this claim, when you link it back to keseh in Psalm 81:3.

Refutation A: There are several problems with this argument. The word keseh/vxf in Job 26:9 is not the same keseh found in Psalm 81:3. These are two Hebrew words that sound similar and are transliterated the same. In Psalm 81:3, keseh/vxf (Strong’s H3677) ends in the Hebrew letter heh, while the Job 26:9 kiseh/txf (Strong’s H3678) ends with the letter aleph and has a completely different meaning.  This keseh means “seat (of honour), throne, seat, stool, throne; royal dignity, authority, power.” This different Hebrew word has nothing to do with concealing or covering. Some lexicons say that both words have the Hebrew word kasah as their root, but as we shall see below, scholars aren’t certain whether keseh derives from kasah or from a similarly sounding Aramaic loan word that doesn’t mean “concealed or covered” at all, but means “fullness or full moon” and hence the alternate reading in Psalm 81:3. Strong’s and TWOT both state that keseh/vxf in Psalm 81:3 can also be spelled keseh/txf, although it is vowel pointed differently and thus pronounced differently than the keseh/txf meaning “throne.” Both TWOT and Strongs list these words separately in their indexes, but the confusion comes when they list the alternate spelling of keseh (with the ending aleph/t under the heading of the keseh that could mean “concealed.”All this confusion between scholars as to the origination of similarly sounding words between two ancient languages makes it difficult to determine the true meaning of a word. For certain, when such uncertainty exists between the experts, laymen must be careful not to base theological arguments on such unclear and ambiguous words and passages. We must seek to find the truth in Scriptures that are clear and unambiguous. Many false teachings have arisen based on misinterpreting unclear passages of Scriptures and then turning these misunderstandings into cult-like pet doctrines.

Furthermore, conjunctionists will claim that the disputed root word keseh comes from the Hebrew word kasah (meaning “concealed or covered), and attempts to prove that keseh in Psalm 81:3 means “covered or concealed” by referencing a number of places in the Tanakh where kasah is used and means “covered or concealed.” The problem is that the dishonest conjunctionist will make no mention of the fact that scholars dispute the meaning of keseh. The argument that such a conjunctionist makes to support keseh meaning “concealed or covered” is not on solid ground logically, hermeneutically or lexically. Therefore, we can’t use this argument from Psalm 81:3 as a proof of that the new moon begins at the conjunction.

Refutation B: Psalms 81:3, Blow the trumpet [Heb. shofar] at the time of the New Moon [Heb. chodesh], at the full moon [Heb. keseh/vxf meaning “full moon or concealed, covered” — scholars disagree as to its meaning and the origin of the word], on our solemn feast day [Heb. chag] — NKJV. The ArtScroll Stone Edition Tanach translates this verse alternatively as follows,

Blow the shofar at the moon’s renewal, at the time appointed for our festive day.

The origins of the Hebrew word keseh behind the phrase “full moon” is uncertain, and there is debate among the experts on this subject. Some Hebrew lexicons relate it to a Hebrew root word kasah meaning “to conceal, to cover” (e.g., Gesenius; Strong’s number H3677 cp. H3678), while other scholars tell us that it means “fullness; full moon” (e.g., Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Lexicon; cp. TWOT; Strongs). BDB tells us that the origin of keseh is unknown and that it may be an Aramaic loan word meaning “full moon.” Gesenius in his lexicon states that the etymology of keseh isn’t clear, but he favors the idea of the moon being covered or concealed in darkness as opposed to being covered in light (i.e., in its full moon state).

The only other usage of keseh in the Scriptures is found in Prov 7:20, which gives us no clue as to the exact meaning of the word.

Orthodox Jewish scholars tell us that keseh means “to conceal or to cover.” They say that the only biblical festival that occurs at the time of the new moon (biblically, when the first sliver of the new moon becomes visible) is Yom Teruah (or Rosh HaShanah), which occurs on the first day of the seventh month (in late summer). At this time, the moon is nearly completely covered or concealed except for a small, visible sliver.

The next phrase in this verse speaks of a solemn feast day, which is the Hebrew word chag. This word refers to the three pilgrimage festivals, which are Passover/the Feast (chag) of Unleavened, the Feast (chag) of Weeks or Pentecost and the Feast (chag) of Tabernacles (Exod 23:14–16; Deut 16:16).

Jewish scholars relate the word chag to Yom Teruah (which they say refers to Rosh HaShanah, see The ArtScroll Tanach Series Tehillim/Psalms Commentary on this verse). The problem with this interpretation is that the Scriptures never call the day of the new moon (rosh chodesh) a chag, nor is Yom Teruah technically a chag either in the strictest sense. Therefore, the word keseh, if it means “concealment” must be referring to both the new moon day (the first day of each month, and to Yom Teruah, which occurs on the first day of the seventh month), while the chag must be referring to the three pilgrimage festivals.

Those scholars who take the word keseh to mean “full moon” say that the phrase in this verse containing this word refers to the pilgrimage festivals (Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Weeks, and Feast of Tabernacles), which all occurred on or very near the time of the full moon.

The bottom line is this: In light of all the uncertainty and controversy among linguists and Hebrew scholars as to the meaning and derivation of the word kesesh, this, on the surface, appears to be a weak scripture on which to base such an important concept as to how to calculate the biblical calendar. It would be wiser to use other clear scriptures to base our understanding of when the new moon begins. (For a detailed discussion of these scriptures, read my articles on the subject of the biblical calendar at

The Blowing of the Shofar in Psalm 81 — Proof That the Month Starts at the Conjunction?

New Moon Conjunctionist Assertion: One conjunctionist proponent presents a novel perspective on Psalm 81:3–4 by saying that the Torah-law commands us to blow the shofar on the keseh. If keseh means full moon, then where in the Torah does it command us to blow the shofar on the full moon (during one of the chag feasts), he reasons? Nowhere. Therefore, he assumes, if keseh means “to cover and conceal” and is a reference to the conjunction, then this makes sense, since this would be a reference to Yom Teruah, which is also a new moon day (Lev 23:24), when the Torah commands Israel to blow the shofar. The conjunctionist continues, if the author of this Psalm 81 is telling us that the law says to blow the shofar on the full moon when the law says no such thing, then the psalmist is guilty of lying and adding to the word of Elohim. This is not possible, since the word of Elohim cannot lie. The conjunctionist rightly states that one can’t rely on Numbers 10:10 as proof that one is to sound the shofar on the feasts, since this passage refers to the silver trumpets and not to the ram’s horn shofar mentioned in Psalm 81:3. Furthermore, he continues, in Psalm 81:3, “on our solemn feast day” should read “toward [or leading to] the feast day.” This is because the Hebrew word l’yom or “on the feast day” should be translated as “toward/leading to the feast day” because the lamed prefix can mean “toward.” Technically, since Yom Teurah isn’t a chag or a feast, this verse should say that our new moon day (i.e., Yom Teruah) points toward or leads to the upcoming Feast of Tabernacles. Therefore, Psalm 81:3 should read something more like this: “Blow the shofar at the time of the concealed moon toward / leading to your solemn feast day [chag]” referring to Sukkot. Therefore, he concludes, this is another proof that the month begins on the conjunction and not on the visible crescent.

Refutation: This is one of the more novel and creative arguments we have heard against using the visible new moon crescent as the beginning point for the month. On the surface, it seems rather convincing. The command in Psalm 81:3 to blow the shofar on new moon day as an act pointing toward the feast of Sukkot has merit. According to TWOT, the Hebrew prefix lamed/k may indicate direction or physical movement (e.g., that I may go to/toward my country). BDB tells us that when used in conjunction with certain types of verbs, k can mean “toward, in reference to” or express it the idea of “direction towards.”

However, this is not the only way to look at this verse. Let’s view Psalm 81:3 from the perspective of the broader context of this passage. Verses one and two of Psalm 81 open up with the author instructing us to sing aloud, make joyful shouts and to play musical instruments in praise of Elohim. In other words, we are to rejoice before him. In verse three, the psalmist gives us some examples of when Elohim’s people are to rejoice. They are to do so at the new moon and when the moon is full or at the appointed time at the three chag feasts, which are the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Tabernacles. Verse four then states that “this is a statute for Israel, a law of the Elohim of Israel.” So what is a law for Israel? Blowing a shofar on the feasts? No, since the Torah never commands us to blow the shofar on the feasts as the conjunctionist teacher referenced above correctly notes. However, the Torah does specifically command Israel to rejoice at the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev 23:40; Deut 16:11, 14, 15). This is what Psalm 81:1–4 is telling us to do in its fuller context. Blowing the shofar on the new moon and on the feasts that occur at the full moon is one aspect of rejoicing. Psalm 81 is therefore commanding us to rejoice on the feasts as the Torah instructs us to do of which blowing the shofar is given as an example of how to rejoice. This passage, however, is not saying that sounding the shofar is something the Torah commands us to do at the feasts. If it were saying this, it would be inaccurate, since the Torah never commands us to blow the shofar at any of the chag feasts — only at Yom Teruah, which, technically, isn’t a chag feast.

As we’ve just noted, to prove his point, this conjunctionist teacher makes the assertion that the word keseh in Psalm 81:3 cannot mean “full moon” (from the Aramaic), but must mean “concealed moon” (from the Hebrew) because nowhere does the Torah command us to blow the shofar at the time of the full moon (when the three pilgrimage feasts occur) as verse four seems to indicates. The teacher then goes on to correctly state that Yom Teruah is the only appointed time or moed on which the Torah commands the shofar to be blown (Lev 23:24). There is no biblical Torah command to blow the shofar on any of three pilgrimage feasts (Unleavened Bread, Weeks or Tabernacles). This is, therefore, proof positive in the conjunctionist’s mind that the command to blow the shofar in Psalm 81:3 is referring to blowing it on the new moon day of Yom Teruah (which falls on the new moon day of the seventh month) towards or pointing to the upcoming Feast/Chag of Tabernacles. The problem with this argument is that this teacher shoots himself in the foot with his own argument. To insist that the Torah command of verse four refers back to blowing the shofar on a chag would also be saying that the Torah commands us to blow the shofar on the new moon, which it in no place does. Therefore as already noted above, the Torah-law that the psalmist must be referring back to is not to the blowing the shofar in verse three, but to the Torah-law commanding us to rejoice before YHVH as stated in verses one and two (see Lev 23:40; Deut 16:11, 14, 15).

As a validation to the idea that keseh (Strong’s H3677) derives from the Hebrew root word kahsah, (Strong’s H3680), in Jewish thought, the new moon is still considered covered even when the first glimmer of the sun’s light begins to shine on it after its conjunction (The ArtScroll Tanach Series, Psalms, commentary on Ps 81:3/4, p. 1027). Keseh (Strong’s H3677) can also relate to the Hebrew word for throne (Heb. kisay, Strong’s H3678). On the new moon day of Yom Teruah, prophetically this is when Yeshua returns to the earth in the last days to take his rightful position as King of kings over the earth. This is certainly cause for celebrating and sounding the shofar — a practice the ancient Israelites did when a new king was crowned!


14 thoughts on “Psalm 81 and the New Moon/New Month

  1. I totally agree with you on all points of this controversy, makes no sense the other way. as the dark of the moon is from one to three days, just saying. Shabbat Shalom.

  2. Actually…..the dark moon only lasts a minute or two………..not 1-3 days. If we are to observe the DAY of the new moon for purposes of determining THE first (1) day of the month it makes sense to observe THE 1 day in which the 0% illumination occurs. I am thinking that when the ancients had 2 evening meals at the NM, it was to bring in the day of the NM, and to end it as well……much like we do Shabbat.

    • Correction. There’s some confusion here. Actually the dark moon lasts from one to three days. I can observe this each month from my house. It is the conjunction that lasts for a minute or two. In my upcoming paper, I will show you from NASA sources that the dark moon can last from one to two days in North America. I will give you dates and links to NASA charts as evidence.

      • Yes. I knew what I meant and said the wrong thing. I have the NASA charts. It IS the conjunction that is brief…..I am considering the day of the conjunction as the day of the nm. Thanks for pointing out…..

      • I find this article funny. Because it uses ZERO ancient references. For example, the book of 1st 3noch, found in the Dead Sea scrolls, literally says that when the moon turns dark, the month is over. Which means the very next day must be a new month, a new moon. And the moon os STILL DARK, at conjunction, lol.
        Which is why both first century jewish historians, Philo and Josephus, wrote that the new moon day was at CONJUNCTION. Josephus was a priest during the 2nd temple period. Pretty sure he knew when the new moon day took place. Which means he fully understood that Psalm 81:3 did infact speak of the fully covered new moon day. Philo, who lived during tje exact same time as Jesus, wrote 3 seperate times that the new moon day was as CONJUNCTION. He never even mentions the first visible sliver. Infact, nowhere in any scriptures, to include the extra biblical text, Enoch, or the apocrypha, is the first visible sliver ever mentioned. Only in the Babylonian Talmud, is this false new moon day mentioned.
        Pretty clear to me.
        Lastly, psalm 81:3 NEVER says “full moon”. Only in the faulty english translation does this appear. The Hebrew literally says “full rosh chodesh”. The hebrew word moon is ONLY ever used for a visible moon, not a hidden moon. Kese does infact contain the Hebrew root word kasa. Which means covered, conceiled, hidden.
        Which is why jews to this day call Yom Teruah “Yom Keseh”, or “The Hidden day” LOL! They literally identify the new moon day of the feast if Trumpets as the Kese day, the HIDDEN DAY. Then they revert back to talmudic tradition and wait for the first visible cresent. Which is NOT the hidden moon, or the hidden rosh chodesh.

      • Yeah, and I find it funny (even laughable) that you have not bothered to check out all that I have written elsewhere on the subject of the calendar (not to mention the several videos that I have made addressing this issue) that have been available on our website free of charge for years. In these resources, I address your issues in great details, quote numerous ancient sources (biblical and extra-biblical) and go into Hebrew linguistics. If you are a truth seeker, you can can read my articles at

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  3. Two reasons that I think make obvious we sight the crescent moon.

    1) The luminaries that govern the day & the night have to be VISIBLE.

    Because the verses talk about THEM SHINNING..

    Gen 1:14 And Elohim said, Let there be LIGHTS in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
    Gen 1:15 And let them be for LIGHTS in the firmament of the heaven TO GIVE LIGHT UPON THE EARTH: and it was so.
    Gen 1:15 And let them be for LIGHT in the firmament of the heaven, SO AS TO SHINE UPON THE EARTH, and it was so.

    Gen 1:16 And Elohim made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and THE LESSER LIGHT TO RULE THE NIGHT: he made the stars also.
    Gen 1:17 And Elohim set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
    Gen 1:17 And God placed them in the firmament of the heaven, SO AS TO SHINE UPON THE EARTH,

    Is a conjunction moon shinning?? In other words is it visible?? We all know it’s not.

    The Torah never gives signs that are invisible. The Torah gives signs that are visible

    Signs are always visible things In Israel.

    2) Look at the Hebrew lexicon, it says FIRST CRESCENT

    Strongs #2320:

    (HhDSh) ac: Renew co: New moon ab: New: The first crescent of the moon as the renewal of the moon, the first day of the month. [from:  – restoration]

    • You are absolutely correct. The Hebrew word for sign is owt (spelled: aleph, vav, tav). Owt means a visible, not an invisible sign. When determining the meaning of a Hebrew word as used in the Bible, we can look at word dictionaries and lexicons. To really understand a word’s meaning, we will look at how it is used in the Scriptures. This gives us a full understanding of the word. We then subdivide and categorize the word according to its meanings. There no guesswork in this. It’s logical and a scientific approach. This is what the Theological Dictionary of the OT and the Theological Dictionary of the NT both do. That’s why I use them as references for my research. In the case of owt, I not only consulted the TWOT and found that owt means “a visible sign,” but I confirmed this meaning by looking up every instance where owt is used in the OT. In every case, it’s a visible sign; that is, something you can see. When the moon is dark, you technically can’t see it. You can only see it when the suns light is shining on it. (There is a spiritual mystery in this as well — see below for explanation.) Your point above is well-taken. The Genesis account of the sun and moon’s creation emphasize the idea of light and juxtapose this with a visible sign (owt) along with the idea of modiem (appointed times; i.e., the biblical feasts). I don’t think it could be any clearer that the month begins when we can see the new moon. From this we determine the biblical feasts.

      I’m perpetually amazed at how people overlook these plan instructions and examples in the Scriptures in favor of oblique, unclear and tenuous scripture verses to prove their point. The Babylonian church system has been using this approach for years in an effort to disprove the Sabbath, the feasts, the Torah and the dietary laws.

      Yah’s people are finally finding their way out of the fog of this theological pea soup haze and making their way back to the truth of Torah only to fall prey to this same kind of faulty biblical interpretive approach. Oy vey! As Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” But Yeshua said that you shall know the truth will set you free (John 8:32).

      Part of the problem is that you have some Messianic/Hebrew roots teachers that have pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps and promoted themselves to positions of responsibility that YHVH hasn’t called them to. They’re untempered, unproved and lack experience in the knowledge of YHVH’s word and haven’t learned how to rightly divide it. They have not been properly discipled by older, wiser and more experienced elders, and they are accountable to no one. Furthermore, they have slick websites, are often great orators and look good as they merchandize YHVH’s people for their own personal financial gain. They tickle ears, and YHVH’s people love to have it so. The problem is that as uncircumcised fruit, they’re not yet ready to be teaching and leading YHVH’s people. Thus, many of them are teaching falsely and misleading Yah’s people. All I can say is, “Yah, have mercy on us all!”

      Now for the biblical mystery I referenced above. Genesis 1 reveals the sun is the greater light and the moon is the lesser light. The sun is a metaphor for Yeshua who is the Sun of Righteousness (Mal 4:2), the Light of the World (John 8:12) and whose face shines like the sun (Rev 1:16). The saints, like the moon, are the lesser light that reflects the light of Yeshua into this dark world. One of the ways we do this is through observing and teaching about the seven biblical feasts, which are the seven steps of YHVH’s plan of salvation. Seeing the visible new moon is how we determine the beginning of the months and hence the dates of the feasts. In other words, by the light of the moon we determine the feasts. In the same way, by our reflecting the light of Yeshua and the truth of his feasts into this dark world, we bring the light of the gospel to the world. This analogy breaks down if the month start when the moon is dark in its conjunction.

      • Natan, thanks for adding more support in the truth on this matter..

        I really enjoy watching the moon and looking for that new crescent.. watching the heavens..

        I believe we rehearse this event 12 times a year or in some years 13 in preparation and knowledge for the climatic sign of seeing Him return in the air at the sighting of 7th moon the year of His return.. when the angels will yank us up to meet Him in the air!!

        What a Day that will be … It truly is awesome knowing the great and mighty things He has in store for us…

        Each time I blow the shofar at the sighting of the new moon I get excited and think of His return and the glorious shofar we will hear in the heavens at His sighting in the heavens.. 🙂

  4. Consider the stars being the lesser light, going back to Hebrew scriptures. Moon is not mentioned until later in scriptures.

    • You are correct that the moon isn’t explicitly mentioned in Gen 1:14–19, while the stars are mentioned. However, it is folly to use this passage as a justification for using the stars to calculate the bilblical calendar for several reasons, if this is what you’re trying to imply. First, elsewhere the Bible clearly teaches that the moon is used for determining the modeim (YHVH’s appointed times or feasts) and NOT the stars. Using the stars for calendric calculations is what the heathens did, not the Israelites. This is a well-documented fact of history. Second, the historical record (both biblical and extra-biblical) is clear that the ancient biblical Israelites used the moon for determining the moedim and not the stars. In fact, YHVH forbad them from looking to the stars as the heathens did.

      I have documented extensively in several long-published articles these facts, which you can access for free here:

  5. Covered could also mean Covered in Light. As in, Yeshua takes our dark dirty rags and covers us with robes of white. A completely covered heavenly “body” would be full of light. Man started in the light, then the fall to darkness, then a light came into the world to teach us to walk in the light, then we share the light and grows to all the nations, finally the Light of the World returns in fullness.

    “Walk in the Light” as he is in the light.

    Thoughts? I have been testing the full moon as the new moon. Abib = Spica (star in virgin) and is the witness to determine the first month of the year. No sun dials, no maps, no grain in the ground, no man. Just the Sun Moon Stars like Gen 1 states.

    • There is much confusion on the subject of the new moon, sadly. It need not be. It’s really not that complicated to understand if we take the full counsel of YHVH’s word into account instead of cherry picking out a verse here and there in an attempt to prove one thing or another. Let me say that the full moon is not the new moon, and never has been in so ancient Biblical Hebrew culture or in modern times either. I have written several articles proving this from the Bible as well as from ancient and modern sources. You can find my articles on this subject at

    • . I also have several videos on this subject which you can find on the Hoshana Rabbah YouTube channel. Happy studying.

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