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Hebrew Language/A Question About Rosh Hashanah


Hello Mr. Yaari. I have heard some on TV and on the internet claim that when Jesus said to 3 of his disciples that "no one knows the day or the hour...," they and the Jewish people in general in first century AD Judea would have understood this as a reference to the Feast of Trumpets/Rosh Hashanah, because, as I understand it, the Feast of Trumpets/Rosh Hashanah began when the Jewish people first spotted the new moon; since they didn`t have modern knowledge of astronomy, they didn`t know in advance what day of the week and at what time the new moon would first appear, and therefore didn`t know "the day or the hour" when the new moon would appear/when the Feast of Trumpets/Rosh Hashanah would begin. Some of these individuals also add to the above that in Jewish thinking, a solar eclipse is a sign from God that he is about to punish unrepentant Gentiles, and that a lunar eclipse, i.e., a "blood moon" means the same, or similar, to a solar eclipse, and that 4 "blood moons" with a solar eclipse in between is a sign that something significant will happen to the Jewish people, and that God will judge/punish the unrepentant nations, and that the above will happen in 2014-2015, when the only next lunar tetrad takes place. My question: Is what they say above about "no one knows the day or the hour" being understood by 1st century Jews as referring to Rosh Hashanah (for the above mentioned reasons), and the above mentioned description of how solar and lunar eclipses (and a solar eclipse between a lunar tetrad), would be understood in ancient Jewish religious thinking, actually true? If not, what is the truth about what ancient Jewish thinking about these things actually is? Thank you for your time and response.

Hi Bill,

While it is true that some Jewish congregations held the beliefs you mention concerning solar and lunar eclipses, this was by no means a widely held belief. As to sighting the new moon, we know from various sources that there were rabbis who were proficient in astronomy and could calculate the length of the lunar month to within a margin of 30 seconds. Nevertheless, visual sightings of the new moon were required in order to formalize the calculations.

Because of that, I can't see the connection between Matthew 24:36 and Rosh Hashanah. I think the text applies to the destruction of the Temple, which took place on the 9th day of Ab.

All the best,


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What I don't do: NO NAME TRANSLATIONS. For that, try

What I do: I'll help you understand Hebrew phrases or single words, as well as answer questions about Jewish customs and practices.

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I am a columnist for a Hebrew-language newspaper, and a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary.

D.Med MBA BA in the US, Grade school and high school in Israel

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