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I'm trying to understand the historical workings of Rosh Hodesh prior to Sanhedrin.

I assume that the entire concept of having possibly 2 days Rosh Hodesh was related to the timing of when witnesses appeared at Sanhedrin. Thus, the month could have been either 29 or 30 days long.

What happened before then? How was Rosh Hodesh declared? Didn't witnesses have to see the New Moon, then to, and who was in charge to declare Rosh Hodesh? And, even with all that, was there no doubt as to whether a month was 29 or 30 days long? In short, what factors caused this sense of doubt to make 2 days Rosh Hodesh that may not have been there , previously?

  • Until davening was formalized, the only immediate implication I can think of for most Rashei Chodashim was the musaf. The average person outside the Beis Hamikdash didn't necessarily need to know until a few days later. (Tishrei is the obvious exception.) – Heshy May 23 at 20:51
  • @Heshy Unless you hold fasting on Rosh Chodesh is a biblical prohibition – Double AA May 23 at 21:04
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    Possible evidence of 2 days Rosh Chodesh in the days of Shaul and David sefaria.org.il/I_Samuel.20.27?lang=bi See eg Malbim there – Joel K May 24 at 8:15
  • @JoelK Good reference. If I recall correctly, Rash"i says that the language used is not a question of doubt of when Rosh Hodesh was (i.e. if month length was 29 or 30 days), but rather it is a reference to the 2nd day of the month. – DanF May 26 at 22:29

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