XXmoon (yareach; meaning obscure--probably "wanderer"; by some given as "paleness"; selene): The moon was very early worshipped by the nations of the Far East as a divinity or the representative of one or more deities. These deities were both masculine and feminine. In Assyria and Babylonia the most common name for the moon-god was Sin or Sen. In Babylonia he was also called Aku and Nannara. In Egypt the moon was representative of several deities, all masculine. The chief of these was Thoth the god of knowledge, so called because the moon was the measurer of time. Babylonia has, also, Aa, the goddess of the moon, as the consort of the sun, while her equivalent was known in Phoenicia as Ashtaroth-karnaim. This personification and worship of the moon among the nations who were neighbors to Israel was but part of an elaborate Nature-worship found among these people. Nor was this worship always separated from Israel by geographical lines. It crept into the thought and customs of the Hebrews and in a sense affected their religious conceptions and ceremonies. They fell into the habit of making direct homage to sun, moon and stars, as is evidenced by Job 31:26,27; Jer 44:17, and even Isa 8:18 (see CRESCENTS). Moses seems to have forewarned his people against the danger of this form of worship (Dt 4:19).
The actual worship of the moon and the idolatry consequent thereon seems to have touched the Hebrews, though this is disputed by some. It would seem difficult to explain 2 Ki 21:3 upon any other supposition, and in 2 Ki 23:4,5 we have a clear statement that Josiah put down the worship of the moon among the people and silenced the priests of this form of worship.
Certain forms of the adoration of the moon, or superstitious fear of baneful influences as coming from the moon, still abound in some sections of the world. In fact in nearly all sections modified forms of old superstitions still hold sway and yield but slowly to scientific knowledge.
The eclipses of the moon were naturally given a religious significance inasmuch as the Hebrew knowledge of them did not rise much above awe and wonder (Isa 18:10; Joel 2:31; Mt 24:29; Mk 13:24). Other passages causing interference with the constancy of the moon to foreshadow great events can be found in Jer 13:16; Ezek 32:7,8; Rev 8:12. An interesting passage and most difficult of interpretation is Rev 12:1. It is frequently interpreted as a revelation in symbolism of the glory of the church clothed with the light and radiating the truth of God.
See also ASTRONOMY; ASTROLOGY.
C. E. Schenk