This beautiful and stately ruler of the night, Ge 1:16, is one of the chief witnesses to mankind of the goodness, wisdom, and power of the Creator, Ps 8:3; and as receiving all its light from the sun, and reflecting it on all around, it is a striking image of the church of Christ. In the clear sky of the East, the moon shines with peculiar brilliancy; and it was worshipped by most nations of antiquity, either directly, or as an idol-goddess under the name of Ashtoreth, Artemis, Diana, Hecate, Meni, Mylitta, Maja, etc. The Hebrews were specially cautioned against this form of idolatry, De 4:19; 17:3; and yet fell into it; 2Ki 21:3; Isa 65:11; Jer 7:18; 8:2; 19:13; 44:17-25. See LUNATIC and NEW MOON.
heb. yareah, from its paleness (Ezr 6:15), and lebanah, the "white" (Song 6:10; Isa 24:23), was appointed by the Creator to be with the sun "for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years" (Ge 1:14-16). A lunation was among the Jews the period of a month, and several of their festivals were held on the day of the new moon. It is frequently referred to along with the sun (Jos 10:12; 72/5'>Ps 72:5,7,17; 89:36-37; Ec 12:2; Isa 24:23, etc.), and also by itself (Ps 8:3; 121:6).
The great brilliance of the moon in Eastern countries led to its being early an object of idolatrous worship (De 4:19; 17:3; Job 31:26), a form of idolatry against which the Jews were warned (De 4:19; 17:3). They, however, fell into this idolatry, and offered incense (2Ki 23:5; Jer 8:2), and also cakes of honey, to the moon (Jer 7:18; 44:17-19,25).
yareach "yellow," and lebanah; "white" (Ge 1:14-16, "the lesser light".) Instead of being regarded as a person and worshipped, as it was by the surrounding nations, in Scripture it is God's creature "made for signs, seasons, days, and years" (Ps 104:19). The brightness of the moon in the East, guiding the traveler by night when the heat of day is past, gives it a prominence which it has not with us (Ps 8:3). In Ps 89:37 however the moon is not the "faithful witness," but God is witness to His own oath; translated "and the witness in heaven is faithful," so Ps 89:35. So Job 16:19, "my witness is in heaven," namely, God knows my innocence. The church is "fair as the moon, clear as the sun" (Song 6:10). As the moon shines in the night, reflecting the sun's light, so the church in this world's night (Ro 13:12) reflects the light of "the Sun of righteousness" (2Co 3:18).
Her justification in Him is perfect (1Jo 4:17 ff); in herself sanctification is yet imperfect, as the moon has less light than the sun on the illuminated part, and is but half illuminated. At His coming she "shall shine forth as the sun" (Mt 13:43). It influences vegetable growth; De 33:14, "moons," namely, its phases, others explain "months" as the times of ripening fruits. The cold night dews (Ge 31:40) and moonlight hurt the eyes and health of those sleeping under it; so Ps 121:6, "the moon shall not smite thee by night"; moon blindness is common in the East. The moon was worshipped as Isis in Egypt; as Karnaim, "two horns," of Ashtoreth, wife of Baal the king of heaven (the male and female symbolizing the generative powers of nature), in Syria; as Sin, "lord of the month," in Babylon.
Sabaism (from tsaabaa' "the heavenly hosts") was the earliest of false worships; it appears in our pagan names Sun day, Mon (moon) day; and in Job 31:26, "if I beheld the sun ... or the moon walking in brightness, and my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand" in adoration. Josiah put down those who burned incense to the moon (2Ki 23:5). She was called "queen of heaven" (Jer 7:18), though that may mean Venus Urania. "Cakes" (cawanim) round like her disc were offered to her. So far from being an object of worship, it unconsciously worships its Maker (Ps 148:3; 8:3).
The moon in Re 12:1 is the Jewish dispensation, borrowing its former light from the Christian but now become worldly, and therefore under the church's feet (Ga 4:3 end; Heb 2:1). The sea, earth, and its satellite the moon, represent the worldly element in opposition to the sun, the kingdom of heaven. Before Jehovah the moon has no brightness (Job 25:5; Isa 24:23; 60:19-20). He shall be His people's everlasting light when sun and moon shall have ceased to shine.
The moon is 'the lesser light to rule the night' of the cosmogony of Genesis (Ge 1:16). Its importance was in part due to the recurrence of its phases, which formed a measure for time. Each new moon, as it appeared, marked the commencement of a new period, and so in Hebrew the word for 'moon' and 'month' is the same. Sun and moon occur side by side in passages of Scripture, and to the moon as well as to the sun is ascribed a fertilizing power over and above the gift of light which comes from them to the earth. Just as we have in De 33:14 'the precious things of the fruits of the sun,' so we have there 'the precious things of the growth of the moons.' As a consequence of this, the re-appearance of the new moon was eagerly looked for, and trumpets were blown and sacrifices offered on the day of the new moon. We gather also from Ps 81:3 (RV) that something of a similar kind took place at the full moon. The moon took its part with the sun in one of Joseph's dreams when it 'made obeisance' to him (Ge 37:9); and it stood still, 'in the valley of Aijalon,' at the command of Joshua, at the battle of Gibeon (Jos 10:12-13; cf. Hab 3:11). Language which must have been derived from the appearance of the moon during eclipses is used by the prophets. The moon is to be darkened or turned into blood (Joe 2:10,31) before 'the day of the Lord'; and similar language is used by our Lord (e.g. Mr 13:24). We are told of the redeemed Zion that the light of the moon is to be as the light of the sun (Isa 30:26), and that there is to be no need of the moon, because the glory of God is to be the light of His people (Isa 60:19; cf. Re 21:23). Cautions against the worship of the moon, and punishment by death for the convicted worshippers, are to be found in De 4:19; 17:3; whilst a superstitious salutation of the moon by kissing the hand, not quite unheard of even in our own day, is mentioned in Job 31:26-27. Moon-worship by the burning of incense was offered in Jerusalem, and put down by Josiah (2Ki 23:5).
Mount Sinai is supposed to have derived its name from the moon-god Sin, to whom worship was paid there.
For the worship of the 'queen of heaven,' see under Stars.
It has been always considered baneful in the bright clear atmosphere of the warmer regions of the earth to sleep exposed to the rays of the moon (Ps 121:6). The influence of the earth's satellite has long been considered burtful. Our word 'lunatic' reproduces the idea of the Western world of our Lord's time, that lunacy was due to the influence of the moon: the Greek word used in Mt 4:24; 17:15 shows this. In the RV the word is translated 'epileptic.' There are many still to be found who believe that the violence and recurrence of epileptic fits vary with the phases of the moon.
H. A. Redpath.
At the creation the 'lesser light' was to rule the night. Its brilliancy is seen much more in the east than in the west, and its light is more appreciated in the former, especially when the heat of the day necessitates travelling by night. The NEW MOON among the Israelites was a festival: it was watched for on the hills, and as soon as it was seen, it was ushered in by sound of trumpet. Nu 10:10; 1Ch 23:31; Ps 81:3; Eze 45:17; Col 2:16: cf. 1Sa 20:5,18,24.
The Israelites were warned against worshipping the moon as well as the sun and stars. De 4:19; 17:3: cf. Job 31:26-28. Of Israel, in the time of Hoshea and of Manasseh it is said they worshipped 'all the host of heaven.' 2Ki 17:16; 21:3,5. Jeremiah also states that in Judah and Jerusalem cakes were made to the QUEEN OF HEAVEN, which is commonly supposed to refer to the moon, worshipped as Astarte. Then when the residue of the people had gone into Egypt, they declared that in spite of the prophet's warning they would burn incense to the Queen of Heaven, and pour out drink offerings unto her. Jer 7:18; 44:17-19,25.
There will be SIGNS IN THE MOON as well as in the sun when the time of God's dire judgement has arrived. Joe 2:10,31; Lu 21:25; Re 6:12. As a symbol the moon is used in prophecy to signify derivative authority, the sun being the supreme source of heavenly rule.
The moon held an important place in the kingdom of nature, as known to the Hebrews. Conjointly with the sun, it was appointed "for signs and for seasons, and for days and years;" though in this respect it exercised a more important influence, if by the "seasons" we understand the great religious festivals of the Jews, as is particularly stated in
and more at length in Ecclus 43:6,7. The worship of the moon prevailed extensively among the nations of the East, and under a variety of aspects. It was one of the only two deities which commanded the reverence of all the Egyptians. The worship of the heavenly bodies is referred to in
and Moses directly warns the Jews against it.
In the figurative language of Scripture, the moon is frequently noticed as presaging events of the greatest importance through the temporary or permanent withdrawal of its light.
MOON. Particular sacrifices were enjoined by Moses at every new moon, which day was also celebrated as a feast. It is promised in Ps 121:6, "The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night." The effect of a coup de soleil, or stroke of the sun, is well known; and in some climates the beams of the moon are reputed hurtful. Anderson, in his "Description of the East," says, "One must here (in Batavia) take great care not to sleep in the beams of the moon uncovered. I have seen many people whose neck has become crooked, so that they looked more to the side than forward. I will not decide whether it is to be ascribed to the moon, as people imagine here." In some of the southern parts of Europe the same opinions are entertained of the pernicious influence of the moon beams. An English gentleman walking in the evening in the garden of a Portuguese nobleman at Lisbon, was most seriously admonished by the owner to put on his hat, to protect him from the moon beams. The fishermen in Sicily are said to cover, during the night, the fish which they expose to dry on the sea shore, alleging that the beams of the moon cause them to putrefy.