(1) If a witness was unknown, others were sent with him to testify concerning his character. Formerly, evidence as to the appearance of the new moon was received from any one; but when the heretics corrupted [the witnesses], it was ordained, that evidence should be received only of those whose good character was well known.
(2) Formerly fires were lighted on the tops of the mountains [to announce the appearance of the new moon]; but when the Samaritans led the nation into error, it was ordained that messengers should be sent out.
(3) In what manner were these mountain fires lighted? They brought long staves of cedar wood, canes, and sticks [or branches] of the olive tree, also the coarse threads, or refuse of flax, which were tied on the top of them with twine; with these they went to the top of the mountain, and lighted them; and kept waving them to and fro, upward and downward, till they could perceive the same repeated by another person on the next mountain, and thus on the third mountain, &c.
(4) Whence did these mountain fires commence? From the Mount of Olives to Sartaba, from Sartaba to Grophinah, from Grophinah to Hoveran, from Hoveran to Beth Baltin; they did not cease to wave the flaming brands at Beth Baltin to and fro, upward and downward, until the whole country of the captivity appeared like a blazing fire.
(5) There was a large court in Jerusalem called Beth Yangzek, where all the witnesses met, and where they were examined by the Beth Din. Great feasts [or treats] were made for them there, in order to induce them to come often. At first they did not stir from that place all day [on the Sabbath], till the elder Rabbon Gamaliel ordained that they might go 2000 cubits [amoth] on every side; and not only these, but also the midwife, going to give her professional assistance, and those who proceed to another . place to assist the inhabitants in case of fire, attack of enemies, inundation, or to save people from under the ruins of fallen buildings, are considered as inhabitants of that place, and may go from thence [on the Sabbath] two thousand [amoth] cubits on every side.
(6) In what manner was the examination of the witnesses conducted? The first pair were always examined first. The eldest of them being introduced first, the following questions were put to him: "Tell us in what form you saw the moon; was it with her horns turned towards the sun, or away from it? To the north or to the south [of the sun]? What was her elevation on the horizon? Towards which side was her inclination? What was the width of her disk?" If he said towards the sun, his evidence went for nothing. The second witness was then brought in, and examined; if the evidence was found to agree, their testimony was received as valid. The remaining pairs of witnesses were then superficially examined, not because there was any necessity for their evidence, but only not to disappoint them, and also to encourage them to come another time.
(7) The chief of the tribunal [בית דין] then said, the feast of the new moon is mekoodash [consecrated]; and all the people said after him, "Mekoodash, mekoodash." Whether the new moon had been seen at the proper time or not it was consecrated. R. Eleazar, son of Zadok, said, "If it had not been seen at its proper time, it was not consecrated, because it had already been consecrated in heaven."