Sacred Texts  Judaism  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

The Talmud, by Joseph Barclay, [1878], at

p. 149


The New Year.

Four New Years—Judgments—New Moon—Witnesses—Evidence—Samaritans—Spreading the News—Beth Yangzek—Examining Witnesses—Rabban Gamaliel's Plan of the Phases of the Moon—Rabbi Joshua—Sanhedrin—Cornets and Trumpets—Intention—The Serpent of Brass—Jerusalem and Jamnia—Blessings—Texts of Scripture—How the Trumpets are to be blown.


1. There are four new years. The first of Nisan 1 is a new year for kings and for festivals. 2 The first of Elul 3 is a new year for the tithing of cattle; but R. Eleazar and R. Simeon say, "it is on the first of Tishri. 4" The first of Tishri is a new year for civil years, for years of release, and for jubilees, also for planting of trees 5 and herbs. The first of Sebat 6 is a new year for (the tithing of) trees according to the school of Shammai, but the school of Hillel say, "on its fifteenth."

2. The world is judged at four periods: at the passover, for the growth of corn; at Pentecost, for the fruit of trees; at new year's day, when all human beings pass before Him like lambs, as is said, "He fashioneth their hearts alike; He considereth all their works;" 7 and at the feast of tabernacles, judgment is given for the rains.

3. Messengers went forth (from Jerusalem) in six months: in Nisan for the passover; in Ab 8 for the fast; in Elul for the new year; in Tishri for the regulation of the feasts; in

p. 150

[paragraph continues] Kislev 1 for the dedication; in Adar 2 for the feast of lots; and also in Iyar 3 during the existence of the Temple for the little passover.

4. For two months 4 they may profane the Sabbath, for Nisan and for Tishri, because in them the messengers went forth to Syria, and in them they regulated the feasts. And during the existence of the Temple they might profane it in all the months for the regulation of the offerings.

5. If the moon 5 appeared high and clear, or did not appear high and clear, the witnesses may profane the Sabbath on account of it. R. José says, "if it appeared high and clear, they may not profane the Sabbath on account of it."

6. It happened that more than forty pairs of witnesses were passing through, when R. Akivah detained them in Lydda. Rabban Gamaliel sent to him, "if thou thus detainest the people, it will be a stumbling-block in the future."

7. When father and son have seen the new moon, they must go (before the Sanhedrin), not that they may be combined together, but in order that, should the evidence of either of them be disallowed, the other may be combined with another witness. R. Simeon says, "father, and son, and relatives in every degree, may be allowed as competent witnesses for the new moon." R. José says, "it happened that Tobias, the physician, his son, and his freed slave, saw the new moon in Jerusalem, and the priests accepted his evidence, and that of his son, but disallowed his slave; but when they came before the Sanhedrin, they accepted him and his slave, but disallowed his son."

8. These witnesses are disallowed—gamblers with dice, usurers, 6 pigeon-breeders, 7 traders in produce of the Sabbatical

p. 151

year, and slaves. This is the rule—all evidence that cannot be received from a woman cannot be received from any of these.

9. "He who has seen the new moon but cannot walk?" "They must bring him on an ass or even in a bed." Those afraid of being waylaid may take sticks in their hands, and if they have a long way to go, they may take provisions. If they must be a day and a night on the road, they may profane the Sabbath in travelling to testify for the new moon; as is said, "These are the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons." 1


149:1 Nisan answered to part of March and April. The reign of kings was counted from this month, so that if a king began to reign in Adar (February and March) in the following Nisan he would be reckoned to have reigned two years.

149:2 The passover was the first of the three feasts, beyond which one could not neglect a vow.

149:3 Part of August and September.

149:4 Part of September and October.

149:5 Lev. xix. 23-25.

149:6 Part of January and February.

149:7 Psalm xxxiii. 15.

149:8 Part of July and August.

150:1 Part of November and December.

150:2 Part of February and March.

150:3 Part of April and May.

150:4 That is, for the new moon observances.

150:5 The Talmud states that when the sun and moon were first created they were of equal size. The moon became jealous of the sun, and she was reduced in bulk. The moon then appealed to God, and she was consoled by the promise that Jacob, Samuel, and David were to be likewise small. As, however, some injustice seemed to have been committed, God ordained "a sin-offering" on every new moon, because the moon had become less than the sun!

150:6 The Sanhedrin treated gamblers and usurers as thieves.

150:7 Those who bred pigeons, to bet on their quickness of flight, or to entice their neighbours’ pigeons to their dovecotes.

151:1 Lev. xxiii. 4.

Next: Chapter II