Festivals In Genesis 1:14 -- By: David J. Rudolph

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 54:2 (NA 2003)
Article: Festivals In Genesis 1:14
Author: David J. Rudolph

Festivals In Genesis 1:14

David J. Rudolph


The study presents a case for translating מוֹעֲדִים in Genesis 1:14 as ‘festivals’ or ‘festivals and seasons’. After surveying the growing support for this rendering in biblical scholarship, the article considers the evidence of usage, literary context, ANE background, and Second Temple Jewish literature.

I. Introduction

The goal of this essay is to demonstrate that a reasonable case can be made for translating מוֹעֲדִים in Genesis 1:14 as ‘festivals’ or ‘festivals and seasons’.1 Support for the rendering is found in modern English translations (e.g. GNB, NJB, NEB, REB).2 In addition, an increasing number of non-English translations have adopted the ‘festivals’/

‘festivals and seasons’ rendering, following recommendations in the 1997 United Bible Society Translation Handbook.3

Standard lexicons and theological dictionaries support the ‘festivals’ rendering, including Koehler-Baumgartner, Holladay, BDB, TWOT, and TDOT.4 Koch notes:

The fixed seasons in the course of the year are at the same time the fixed times of festivals. Though the moon plays an especially decisive role, the sun is also of consequence: ‘He made the moon for the מוֹעֲדִים; the sun knows its (time for) rising’ (Ps. 104:19). A similar sense is expressed by the famous passage Gen. 1:14, according to which the celestial bodies were created to be ‘for signs and for (regular) times of festivals and for days and years’ (cf. Sir. 43:7). 1QS 9:26–10:8 extensively discusses the relationship between the natural and cultic year from the perspective of מועדּ.5

Over the past 130 years, a number of commentators have favoured ‘festivals’ as the most accurate translation of מוֹעֲדִים in Genesis 1:14.6 In line with this trend, John Skinner wrote in his ...

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