Moon


The terms used.


Lebānāh, related to lābān, “white,” is used for the moon prob. because of its white appearance. Its three OT uses in poetic sections are in Isaiah 24:23; 30:26; and Song of Solomon (in a figure for a woman’s beauty), and always in parallel with the sun which in each case is called, חַמָּ֑ה, “the hot one.”

The word ḥōdes, “new moon,” “month,” obviously has specialized significance to indicate the time when certain religious festivities were held (cf. 1 Sam 20:5) and offerings performed (1 Chron 23:31), to designate month segments (Gen 38:24), and to point out calendar months (Exod 13:4).

The term, kese’, “full moon” is perhaps an Akkad. loan word, kuse’u, “headwear,” “cap,” or “crown.” Its only OT use is in Job 26:9; Psalm 81:3; and Proverbs 7:20; possibly fig. depicting the moon to be like a person wearing a crown. In the pseudepigraphical book of 1 Enoch (78:2) four names given to the moon are Asônjâ, Eblâ, Benâsê, and Erâe.

The NT Gr. word for “moon” is selēnē, used basically in eschatological contexts as Luke 21:25 and Revelation 21:23 (cf. 1 Cor 15:41). Neomēni’a, “new moon,” “first of the month,” occurs once in Colossians 2:16 of a festival celebrated by Jews and Gentiles.

The moon in creation and providence.


The moon is a part of a picture of the enduring nature of God’s creation, in the psalmist’s expression of his desire for a long life (Ps 72:5, 7) and in the promise that the Davidic dynasty will have permanence (Ps 89:37). The moon is also a symbol of God’s protective care over His people (Ps 121:6). The figure of the moon, sun and stars bowing before one of His servants (Gen 37:9) depicts God’s providence over His universe and mankind. The moon and other heavenly bodies are to show the glory of God and produce thanksgiving in the hearts of men (Pss 8:3; 148:3; 1 Cor 15:41).

The moon as an object of worship.


In spite of the Biblical warning and command not to worship the moon and other heavenly bodies (Deut 4:19; 17:3; Job 31:26-28), and the statement of the penalty involved (Deut 17:6; cf. 2 Kings 23:5), the OT people of God did fall into this form of idolatrous worship (Jer 8:1, 2).

The moon as identification.



The moon in eschatological passages.


Parallel NT references to the moon emphasize its being darkened at Christ’s Second Coming (Matt 24:29; Mark 13:24; Luke 21:25; Acts 2:20 [quoting Joel 2:31]). Revelation 6:12 prophesies that “the full moon became like blood.” The woman of Revelation 12:1 (whether Christ, the Church, or Israel) is pictured as having the moon under her feet, etc. In the millennium, or eternal state, the new Jerusalem will not need the moon to shine (Rev 21:23).

Bibliography

J. B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts (1955), 501, 502; C. H. Gordon, Ugaritic Textbook, Glossary, Analecta Orientalia 38 (1965), No. 1151.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

The moon was very early worshipped by the nations of the Far East as a divinity or the representative of one or more deities. These deities were both masculine and feminine. In Assyria and Babylonia the most common name for the moon-god was Sin or Sen. In Babylonia he was also called Aku and Nannara. In Egypt the moon was representative of several deities, all masculine. The chief of these was Thoth the god of knowledge, so called because the moon was the measurer of time. Babylonia has, also, Aa, the goddess of the moon, as the consort of the sun, while her equivalent was known in Phoenicia as Ashtaroth-karnaim. This personification and worship of the moon among the nations who were neighbors to Palestine was but part of an elaborate Nature-worship found among these people. Nor was this worship always separated from Palestine by geographical lines. It crept into the thought and customs of the Hebrews and in a sense affected their religious conceptions and ceremonies. They fell into the habit of making direct homage to sun, moon and stars, as is evidenced by Job 31:26,27; Jer 44:17, and even Isa 8:18 (see Crescents). Moses seems to have forewarned his people against the danger of this form of worship (De 4:19).

The actual worship of the moon and the idolatry consequent thereon seems to have touched the Hebrews, though this is disputed by some. It would seem difficult to explain 2Ki 21:3 upon any other supposition, and in 2Ki 23:4,5 we have a clear statement that Josiah put down the worship of the moon among the people and silenced the priests of this form of worship.

Certain forms of the adoration of the moon, or superstitious fear of baneful influences as coming from the moon, still abound in some sections of the world. In fact in nearly all sections modified forms of old superstitions still hold sway and yield but slowly to scientific knowledge.


See also ASTRONOMY; ASTROLOGY.

See also

  • Astronomy