As I mentioned in the Observe / Shamar Introduction, I previously had a section of my site called Moediym – Appointments, until I learned the origin of the word moed. Dealing with the subject of moed / moad became another study for the Observe section of this site. Due to the origins I could not, in good conscience, title the section dealing with the shabbath, feasts, etc., with Moed. I also had learned the origins of some of the “appointed” times that Judaism deemed law. I will no longer accept the traditions of men in dealing with the relationship of YHWH, especially since they have idolatrous origins. I will not follow a “law” of men, no matter how established, just “because”. We need to believe, but believing with our eyes wide open, not choosing ignorance because it is the easier, accepted, traditional way.
Priestly Caste and Rabbinic Judaism’s Moed
According to the Hebrew, moad / moed cren [plural moadiy or moadiym] means appointed time, place of meeting. It is also translated as season occasionally. In Jacob Neusner’s Dictionary of Judaism in the Biblical Period, Moed is defined first, as festival and secondly, as the second division of the Mishnah dealing with shabbath and the festivals. In The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, 1942, moed is defined as festivals and then the second division of the Mishnah.
In the Encyclopedia Judaica, CD Rom version, when you search for Moed, the first listing is that of festivals. “The term moed means an appointed place, time, or season.” “In the Diaspora an extra day (in Heb. yom tov sheni shel galuyyot) is added to each of the biblical festival days, except for hol ha-mo'ed and the Day of Atonement. The practice originated because of the uncertainty in the Diaspora of the day on which the Sanhedrin announced the New Moon. Later, when astronomical calculations were relied upon, the sages declared that the custom should nevertheless be accepted as permanent. Although the Day of Atonement was an exception, as a double fast day was considered too difficult, there were individuals who observed two days.”
As discussed in the Observe / Shamar
study, “A calendar was instituted, at the time of Hillel
II, also known as Hillel the Nasi,
about 358 or 359 CE. This was a mathematically calculated calendar, which
replaced one of observation. This was ‘necessary’ since so many Jews had been
dispersed far from
The first time that moed is used in the Tanak is by the Priestly editors, in Bereshiyth [Genesis] 1:14, “and elohiym said, let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to divide between the day and between the night, and let them be for signs and for moadiym and for days and years.” In this verse we see a correlation with the sun and the moon to for signs, days, months and these moadiym. This verse gives no indication as to textual translation. Context will not help us in establishing a meaning.
The first time that moad is used to designate all the holy days, including shabbath, is the book of Wayyiqra [Leviticus], the book of the priests, chapter 23:1,2, “and YHWH spoke to mosheh, saying, 2 speak to the sons of yisrael, and you will say to them, the moadiy of YHWH which you will proclaim, set apart gatherings, will be these, these are my moad,” The book of Wayyirqra is also by the Priestly editors. Further, we will begin to understand meaning, which involves more of a process of what it isnt, before what it is.
In the Talmud, the written version of the Oral Traditions, the second of six orders of the Mishnah is titled Moed, referring to the festivals, which deals with Shabbath, Pesach / Passover, Yom HaKippuriym / Day of Atonements, Sukkoth / Feast of Tents, Yom Tov – holidays, Rosh HaShanah – the regulations of the calendar by the new moon, as well as the festival of Rosh HaShanah, Taanit – fasting, Megillah- meaning Scroll which deals with the reading of the scroll at Purim, Moed Katan – the little festival and Hagigah – festival offerings for the 3 pilgrimages. Rabbinic Judaism and the priestly caste editors, clearly developed the view moed as inclusive of all the feasts, fasts, shabbath and new moons. This latter, blanket application hides the original meaning though.
Shabbath and New Moons Not Moed
Jacob Milgrom, considered an
expert on matters of the priesthood, was commissioned by the Anchor Bible
series to write the books dealing with the book of Leviticus. In took three
volumes. By the way, before anyone starts yelling anti-Semitism for disagreeing
with some aspect of Judaism, please note that Jacob Milgrom
is a practicing Jew who moved to
“The answer to both questions is the same: neither the Sabbath nor the New Moon is a moed. All of Scripture affirms this. Isaiah distinguishes between New Moon and moadekem (Isa ). Ezekiel differentiates between the Sabbath and moed in one context (Ezek 44:24) and between the Sabbath, the New Moon, and the moadim in another (Ezek 46:1-9). Lamentations also does not confuse the Sabbath with moed (Lam 2:6), and even postexilic books meticulously maintain the distinction among all three (Neh ; I Chr 23:1; 2 Chr ; 31:3). Finally, let it be noted that P itself excludes the Sabbath from the moadim (-38). Lest the objection be raised that in Num 28-29 (P) Sabbath and New Moon are subsumed under the term moed, it need only be observed that this term occurs solely in the superscript and subscript (Num 28:2; 29:39), which betray the hand of H (note the first-person qorbani lahmi le issay reah nihohi in 28:2 [Knohl 1987:88]). Just as in Lev 23:1-3, H uses this device to incorporate the Sabbath as a moed. As to why H retained the New Moon in Num 28 but omitted it in Lev 23, it had no choice. Num 28-29 contain P’s complete list of the fixed public sacrifices of the calendar year; hence the New Moon had to be included there. Besides, H had an additional reason for excluding the New Moon from Lev 23; it was neither miqra qodes nor bound by meleket aboda as the other festivals of chap. 23. Thus, one must conclude that neither the Sabbath nor the New Moon was present in the original (P) list of Lev 23; not being moadim they did not belong there. H’s innovation, then, was to break this pattern. It deliberately designated the Sabbath a moed, and did so uniquely, for the later literature continued to distinguish between them. H, however, did not do the same for the New Moon. Apparently, the same motivation that impelled H to call the Sabbath a moed did not apply to the New Moon. As proved by Num 10:10, which Knohl correctly assigns to H, H itself differentiates between the New Moon and moed, and for that reason it omitted P’s New Moon pericope from its list of moadim in Lev 23. “ The Anchor Bible , Leviticus 1-16, Jacob Milgrom, Double Day, 1991, pg. 18.
I find it very important in this weeding process that
Shabbath and the new moon were not originally lumped with the moadiym. Shabbath and the new moon were not part of what
became pilgrimages with the establishment of the centralized
Ohel Moed – Tent of Assembly
Now, let us look back at the other uses of moed to see if context will help to clarify what moed originally was. Moed / Moad is used 223 times in the
Tanak. 146 of those times it is paired with another Hebrew word ohel ld`. Ohel means tent,
tabernacle, sometimes shelter. The ohel
moed is translated as the Tent of Assembly / Meeting,
the Tabernacle, that was built by the direction of
Mosheh [Moses], according to the book of Shemoth [Exodus]. Before the temple
was built by Shlomoh [Solomon], the Ohel Moed was where people went to seek YHWH. According to the
books of Mosheh, after the exodus, the ohel moed originally resided in
Ancient Semitic Uses of Moed
To better understand the pre-exilic use of moed, I believe we need to look at other Semitic languages that precede or were contemporary with Biblical Hebrew. When we examine how it is used contextually, then we will better see its original application.
Ammonite Branch of the Semitic Language
In an archaeological inscription, called the Balaam
Inscription [see Archaeology/Inscription/Balaam bar Beor
Inscription of my site], we see the moad in conjunction
with the shaddiym. The plaster inscription dates to
Before I get to the other language, I first need to explain
the shaddiyn. As I noted in the above paragraph, shaddiyn is the same as the Hebrew shaddiym,
both are the dialectual plurals of the singular shadday/shaddai. Shadday is defined as almighty, referring to EL.
According to Kleins Etymological Dictionary of the
Hebrew Language, and my research, some scholars find the root in the Akkadian , shadu, for mountain. In
the ancient Arabic, it is associated with breasts, which many believe
originated with mountains before the term was transported to the desert by
nomads. This occurs much in the travel of Semitic languages and deities. If a culture does not
have the same geography or characteristic as the originating one, a comparable
application is then adopted. Likewise the myths of the
deities. The Amorite original was a deity of the mountains and was
almighty. In the Hebrew text of the Tanak, you generally see the pairing of El
with Shadday, written as El Shaddai. Translators use
it like a title for El. But there is another connection, which deals with the
Ugaritic Branch of the Semitic Language
While dealing with my research into the Perpetual Idolatry
and Worthless Deities studies, I came across a reference in the Ugaritic texts
to moed. Just to give a brief explanation of the
Ugaritic texts, which are the primary comparison texts used in the Worthless
Deity study, they date from the 14th century
In the Semitic, Ugaritic/Canaanite pantheon, El / Il / Ilu
– l` , is the creator of the earth, who is
supreme, Father of the Gods, the Ab Adam – Father of
Mankind. He is referred to as the Father of Years, with a grey beard [Ugaritic
In Ugaritic text
Ohel Moed Revisited
In the Canaanite and Ammonite passages, moed is not used of a season or appointment. Now if you remember the 146 passages in the Tanak where ohel moed is used, you can better see what is actually taking place. Ohel in the Hebrew is the same as in the Ugaritic / Canaanite - tent. Ohel moed is not a tent of meeting, it is the tent of the divine assembly of the gods/elohiym/shaddiym – El’s tent. This is attested to in the Balaam Inscription as well as ancient Ugaritic texts. There is no reason to believe that the context would be anything other than the same in the older Hebrew text, even though the translators and later editors have tweaked things to give it a different appearance. If you do not believe that the Ohel Moed was viewed as the abode of the deity, you need to realize that another name for this tent was the Mishkan. The root of mishkan – dwelling place, is shakan, to dwell, abide, inhabit, sojourn. This was viewed as the dwelling place of YHWH, just as the ohel of El was his abode. Shemoth [Exodus] 39:32, “so all the work of the mishkan of the tent of assembly [ohel moed] was completed; and the sons of yisrael did according to all that YHWH had commanded mosheh; so they did.” Mishkan is also attested to in the Ugaritic. It is used as the individual dwellings of the other gods.
In the Tanak, an old account of the mountain of assembly [har moed] of El exists. YeshYahu
[Isaiah] , “for you have said in
your heart, i will go up to the heavens; i will raise my throne above the stars of el, and i will sit in the mountain of assembly [moad],
in the sides of tsafon.” While this later editor confuses the
Astral Cult Applied to YHWH Replaces El and His Sons
Just before the exile, you can see an astral cult developing
among Yisrael and Yahudah. In the Ugaritic texts, you see El, who is the
Creator of the earth, the Father of the gods [beney
El - sons of god] and of mankind, the Father of Years, the Elyon. He is the
head of the assembly/council of the gods, which he primarily birthed. In some
accounts the beney El are 70 in number. You can see
elements of this divine council or heavenly court, stating YHWH as the head, in
the Tanak. Over time, and through the hands of the editors, this assembly of
gods goes through a transformation. “Just as an earthly king is supported by a
body of courtiers, so Yahweh has a heavenly court. Originally, these were gods,
but as monotheism became absolute, so these were demoted to the status of
angels.” Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of
Studying the post-exilic writings you see a distinct and
elaborate system of angelology developing, no different than the previous
mythologies of deities. Just as lesser deities held the function of messengers
of El, to other deities and to men, you now see angels functioning as mediators
of the deity and men. Just as cities and nations had patron deities that they
sought, now you have angels in charge of nations and cities. Just as men had
patron deities for protection and mediation, now you have guardian angels and
messenger angels. “It must be remembered that popular belief had regarded the
heavenly bodies as members of Yahweh’s heavenly assembly, that host of angelic
beings who did his bidding; introduction of the cults of astral deities would
naturally encourage such. One short step, and Yahweh would have become the head
of a pantheon, and
In the Canaanite myths of Baal, he battles against his two
brothers Mot [death] and Yam [sea] for supremacy, position of kingship – Melek.
All three are the sons of El. Baal is victorious and is called Baal Shamem,
Lord of the Heavens. At a latter point in the Tanak, you start to see a shift
in the title associated with YHWH. He is no longer just Adonay YHWH – Lord
YHWH, or YHWH Elohay - YHWH God, but He now is given the title Adonay YHWH
Tsebaoth. Tsebaoth is from the root word tsaba. Tsaba, the singular, means to
wage war, to gather against. Tsebaoth is
plural and means armies, host. It is in this aspect that YHWH is portrayed as
the god over all the hosts of the heavens or heavenly hosts, as well as the god
that was called upon to defeat the other nations that had attacked Yisrael and
Yahudah, as evidenced by the use in the writings from the 9th
A prime example of this is in YeshaYahu [Isaiah] 13:1-6, “the burden of babel which yeshayahu ben amoz saw, 2 lift up a banner on a bare mountain; make the voice rise to them; wave the hand that they may enter the gates of nobles. 3 i have commanded my holy ones; i have also called my warriors for my anger, those exultant at my majesty. 4 the noise of a multitude in the mountains, as of a great people. a noise of tumult of the kingdoms of goyim gathered together; YHWH tsebaoth is calling up an army [tsaba] for the battle. 5 they come from a distant land, from the end of the heavens, YHWH and the weapons of his wrath, to destroy all the land. 6 howl. for the day of YHWH is at hand. it will come as a destruction from shadday it will come”
For further information on the subject of the astral cult, please read the Stumbling Block study of Shatan and Fallen Angels, as well as the Worthless Deities study.
Assembly in Biblical Hebrew
There are a number of words which are used for the word assembly in the Tanak. As we take a look at these, you will see that moed was not used for the people assembling, nor of the people assembling with YHWH, they had other words to designate this.
Edah dcr means assembly, congregation,
literally a group assembled together by appointment, derived from the Hebrew
root yaad – cri , which means to
appoint, designate. Edah is used 146 times in the
Tanak. 118 times, in the books Shemoth [Exodus] – DibreyHaYamiym
[Chronicles], the word is used of the assembly of Yisrael. 9 times in the book
of BeMidbar [Numbers] the word is used for the assembly of Qorach
[Korah]. Oddly the same English translators will
typically translate edah, in reference to Qorach, as followers, instead of assembly. Another way that translators can put their own spin on a situation
to promote their agenda. From the book of Iyob [Job] on, edah is used 15 times and translated a myriad of ways:
band, herd, company, household, followers, flock and a few times as assembly,
but not of Yisrael, rather the righteous or evil men. When edah
is the assembly of Yisrael, they assemble for various reasons, but most importantly, this is the form
of assembly that is used when Mosheh says that YHWH calls them together. At
times it is to hear Mosheh deliver some direction, teaching or judgment. Other
times, it is used of the assembly at a particular place, such as
Wayyiqra [Leviticus] 8:1-4, “and YHWH spoke to mosheh, saying, 2 take aharon, and his sons with him, and the garments, and the anointing oil, and the bull of the sin offering, and the two rams, and the basket of matstsoth, 3 and gather [qahal] all the assembly [edah] together at the door of the tent of assembly [ohel moed]. 4 and mosheh did as YHWH had commanded him, and the assembly was gathered to the door of the tent of assembly. ”
Qehillah dldw means assembly, gathering, congregation, community, from the Hebrew root qahal – ldw , which means to assemble, gather together. Qahal is also used for assembly, predominately in the later writings. So where edah leaves off in the books, qahal picks up the slack, with the ratio almost flipped. Qehillah is only used twice, once in HaDebariym [Deut.] for the assembly of Yaaqob and once in NechemYahu [Nehemiah] for an assembly that was called together to deal with some nobles and officials. Qahal is used 123 times for assembly. This is also used of all of Yisrael or dealing with the Southern Kingdom – Yahudah [Judah].
“The disappearance of dcr from the post-exilic Biblical texts gives rise to the question whether a more definite terminus ad quem for its usage can be established. The answer is yes. The fact is that dcr does not occur either in Deuteronomy or in Ezekiel.
Its absence from Ezekiel is astonishing, for the interdependence pf P and Ezekiel is a well established fact. On the other hand, lest it be argued that Ezekiel may not have had any need to refer to dcr , let it be noted that he uses ldw twelve times and precisely with the same technical meaning as dcr (Ezek. 16:40, 17:17; 23:3, 46, 47; 32:22, 23; 38:4, 7, 13, 16). Three of these verses are especially enlightening, for they deal with the judicial sentence of death by stoning (; -47) for adultery and murder (; -45). These crimes violate the covenant (Exod. -14; Deut. ), for which death is prescribed (Exod. ; Lev. , 24:17, etc.) by stoning 9for adultery see Deut. 22:21, 24; cf. John 8:5). Now in P stoning as a judicial punishment is carried out by the dcr (Lev. 24:16; Num. ). Ezekiel, however, uses the term ldw. He might have resorted to the unspecific, though attested, word mr (Deut. 17:7; I Kings ; Jer. 26:24). Since he then resorts to the equivalent term ldw , it can be only for the reason that dcr had disappeared from the linguistic currency of his day. Thus in contrast to the earlier literature which shows ldw not as a technical term for assembly but only as a verbal noun meaning ‘assemblage’ or ‘gathering,’ in Ezekiel ldw already connotes a body of judicial function.
This technical usage of ldw predominates in the post-exilic literature. In Ezra-Nehemiah, to be sure, ldw denotes the entire nation (e.g., Ezra 2:64-65, 10:8). However, it refers also to the national assemblies called for the dissolution of mixed marriages 9Ezra ), for the cancellation of debts, and for the instruction in the laws of the Torah (Neh. 8:2).
Striking illustrations of the post-exilic ldw preempting the
function earlier ascribed to the dcr is afforded by the Books
of Chronicles... Thus the dcr of pre-exilic texts has been
transferred to the post-exilic ldw.” Studies in Cultic
Theology and Terminology, Jacob Milgrom, Brill,
Miqhal ldwn means assembly. This Hebrew root is also qahal. This word is used only twice in Thehillah [Psalm] 26:12 and 68:27, generally translated as great assembly.
Miqra `xwn means convocation calling together, from the Hebrew root qara - `xw , which means to call. It is used 23 times, predominately in the books of Wayyiqra and BeMidbar [Numbers]. The majority of the times that miqra is used, it is paired with the word qodesh [holy, set apart, sacred]. The miqra qodesh were generally associated with the first and last days of a feast. It is also used of Yom Teruah – Day of Trumpet Blasts and Yom HaKippuriym – Day of Atonements.
Atsrah dxvr means festive assembly, solemn assembly, specifically referring to the last days of Pesach and Sukkoth, from the Hebrew root atsar – xvr , which means retain, restrain, applied to the cessation of work on the feast days. Atsrah is used 11 times and for those 11 times in 10 different books, and the context is all over the board. It is used of the assemblies on the last days of the feast, an assembly of Baal, evil assemblies, assembly of unfaithful people, declared holy fasts.
Of all these terms for assembly, edah is used in conjunction with meeting at the ohel moed and miqra is used with feasts and fasts, more frequently than moed was in the early writings. It is in the late writings and books that you see moed used quite frequently for feasts. The pattern of usage clearly shows that the original use for moed was as the place where the deity dwelt and held council, which originated with the Canaanite myths of El, his mountain and tent of assembly with the gods.
We need to seek YHWH on His terms, in His ways, not applying
other cultures myths to YHWH, nor the centralized
So what began as the assembly of the gods, the sons of El,
in his tent, became the ohel moed,
tent of assembly for YHWH in the Tanak, then the council of YHWH, then the
army/angelic hosts of YHWH, in his temple in the later writings. The moed is where the presence of the divine assembly was. This
was not an appointed time or feast time on a calendar originally. Through time,
many words change in meaning, as circumstances change and assimilation occurs.
YeshaYahu [Isaiah] 1:10-19, “10 hear the word of YHWH, rulers of sedom [sodom]. listen
to the thoroth of our elohey, people of amorah [