The Meaning of “moed” and Genesis 1:14

Genesis 1:14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons (מוֹעֵד) and for days and years

It is most probable that in Gn 1:14 (P), where מ׳ || אֹתֹת, the reference is to the sacred seasons as fixed by the moon’s appearance; and so also עשׂה ירח למ׳ he made the moon for sacred seasons ψ 104:19 (Brown, Driver, Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977, 417).

מוֹעֵד (ca. 200 times), מוֹעֲדוֹ/דֶֽךָ, מוֹעֲדֵי, מוֹעֲדָי/דֶֽיכֶם: —1 place for meeting, assembly point; 2. meeting, assembly; 3. agreed time, appointed time; 4. festival, time of festivity (Koehler, Baumgartner, Richardson, et al., The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994–2000, 557–558).

מוֹעֵד (môʿēd), nom. appointed time, (time of) feast, (#4595a); meeting place, assembly, tent of meeting (#4595b); < יָעַד (yāʿad), appoint, designate (#3585).

OT 1. Usage. The nom. מוֹעֵד occurs 223× in the OT, most frequently in Num (65×); Lev (49×); Exod (38×); and 2 Chron (4×). The nom. is used 149× in Exod 25–Num 31, where a pronounced priestly influence can be detected (TWAT 4:744).

Noncultic use of מוֹעֵד. The nom. מוֹעֵד in the OT refers to a determined place or time and can vary from the birth of a child (Gen 17:21) to the migration of a bird (Jer 8:7). A meeting between Jonathan and David can, for example, be referred to in this way (1 Sam 20:35). Koch is of the opinion that the nonreligious use of this term is concentrated in preexilic times (TWAT 4:746).

Cultic use of מוֹעֵד. A religious festival can also be called a מוֹעֵד (Lev 23:2, 4, 44; Isa 1:14; Ezek 36:38; 44:24; 45:17; Hos 2:9 [11]), but מוֹעֵד refers to more than only the pilgrimage festivals. In the OT a “feast” in the general sense of the word referred to “all set times of communal observance” (IDB 2:260). Some of the more important religious feasts in the OT are: the Festival of the New Moon (Num 28:11), the Sabbath (Exod 20:8–11; 31:12–17), the New Year (Feast of Trumpets, Lev 23:23–25; Num 29:7–11), the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:23–26, 32), and the Year of Jubilee (25:8–55; 27:17–24). For the use of מוֹעֵד as Tent of Meeting (#4595b).

Theological considerations on festivals. The biblical accounts of the feasts of Israel are recorded in different festive calendars (חַג [#2504]); much more research will have to be done on how different festival traditions (from the northern kingdom and Judah) were combined in the final text of the OT (Goldstein & Cooper, 19–31).

(a) Two theological elements can be traced in all of them: the grateful and joyous commemoration of the redemptive acts of God, and care for the poor and the needy (ISBE 2:295; Wilms, 42–45). According to Cox (21), “The festival breaks through the routine and opens man to the past, it widens his experience and reduces his provincialism.” Religious feasts were the reenactment of God’s salvific events in the past (esp. the Exodus). They had a distinct educational value in nurturing succeeding generations in the faith. The feast became the recurring reminder that God can also determine the present circumstances of everyday reality (Otto, 44).

(b) The feasts were instituted not only to maintain community between God and Israel, but also to reestablish community among Israelites themselves by taking care of the widows and orphans (Vriezen, 284, 320). Deuteronomy in particular is concerned with the needs of the poor, which were to be addressed in the creation of solidarity among all Israel during the commemoration of a feast (Deut 16:11, 14; cf. Albertz, 91).

(c) The increase in the importance of the temple and priesthood in Jerusalem (esp. with the reforms of Hezekiah and Josiah) led to a concentration on the outward performance of festivals, sacrifices, and fasting (Isa 1:14–15; 58:3–5; Amos 5:21; Eichrodt, 1:47). Modern theological interpretation of the OT festivals should be aware of the ongoing danger of degrading religious feasts to a level of superficial adherence.

(VanGemeren, ed., New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997, 871–872).

Occurrences of מוֹעֵד (môʿēd) in the Hebrew Bible: Gen. 1:14; 17:21; 18:14; 21:2; Exod. 9:5; 13:10; 23:15; 27:21; 28:43; 29:4, 10f, 30, 32, 42, 44; 30:16, 18, 20, 26, 36; 31:7; 33:7; 34:18; 35:21; 38:8, 30; 39:32, 40; 40:2, 6f, 12, 22, 24, 26, 29f, 32, 34f; Lev. 1:1, 3, 5; 3:2, 8, 13; 4:4f, 7, 14, 16, 18; 6:9, 19, 23; 8:3f, 31, 33, 35; 9:5, 23; 10:7, 9; 12:6; 14:11, 23; 15:14, 29; 16:7, 16f, 20, 23, 33; 17:4ff, 9; 19:21; 23:2, 4, 37, 44; 24:3; Num. 1:1; 2:2, 17; 3:7f, 25, 38; 4:3f, 15, 23, 25, 28, 30f, 33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43, 47; 6:10, 13, 18; 7:5, 89; 8:9, 15, 19, 22, 24, 26; 9:2f, 7, 13; 10:3, 10; 11:16; 12:4; 14:10; 15:3; 16:2, 18f; 17:7f, 15, 19; 18:4, 6, 21ff, 31; 19:4; 20:6; 25:6; 27:2; 28:2; 29:39; 31:54; Deut. 16:6; 31:10, 14; Josh. 8:14; 18:1; 19:51; Judg. 20:38; 1 Sam. 2:22; 9:24; 13:8, 11; 20:35; 2 Sam. 20:5; 24:15; 1 Kgs. 8:4; 2 Kgs. 4:16f; 1 Chr. 6:17; 9:21; 23:31f; 2 Chr .1:3, 6, 13; 2:3; 5:5; 8:13; 30:22; 31:3; Ezra 3:5; Neh. 10:34; Job 30:23; Pss. 74:4, 8; 75:3; 102:14; 104:19; Isa. 1:14; 14:13, 31; 33:20; Jer. 8:7; 46:17; Lam. 1:4, 15; 2:6f, 22; Ezek. 36:38; 44:24; 45:17; 46:9, 11; Dan. 8:19; 11:27, 29, 35; 12:7; Hos. 2:11, 13; 9:5; 12:10; Hab. 2:3; Zeph. 3:18; Zech. 8:19

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