This day signals the beginning of the Fall feasts. It is the fourth of the seven feasts, which makes it central to Israel’s celebrations. Also called Zikron Teruah, or Memorial of Blowing, it is a Shabbat with a commanded assembly, a miqra kodesh, or holy convocation (Lev 23:24). Yom Teruah occurs in the seventh month of the Biblical calendar (sometimes called Tishri). It corresponds to the Gregorian months of September and October, and it begins the “Ten Days of Awe.” On this “Feast of Trumpets” we start a ten-day count to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the day when Israel stood before the Holy One to be judged. Together, Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur are known as the “High Holy Days.”
These two feasts differ decidedly from the others – in that they are not centered on man’s agricultural offerings. They are not about earthly harvests, but instead speak prophetically of the harvest of the LORD’s planting ( Isa 60:21;Jer 24:6; 32:41; Mat 15:13). Their collective focus is on men preparing themselves, and on the Almighty’s determinations concerning that preparedness. They have come to be known as days of self-examination and repentance – days set aside for men to make peace with their brethren – that their hearts might be made right before the awesome, and determining day that is Yom Kippur.
Messiah Yeshua’s statement about brothers who were angry with each other fits well with the theme of this season:
“I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. Therefore if you are pre-senting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent” ( Mat 5:22-26).
One day, all mankind will have to stand before the Judge of all the earth and account for their actions [See Endnote 1]. And He warns, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20).
Surely we need to make peace with our fellow man before the coming Day of Judgment. But could it be that other important truths have been veiled to us, shrouded due to a misunderstanding of the feast of Yom Teruah?
Rosh Hashanah – The Jewish New Year
In Jewish tradition, this day is called Rosh Hashanah, or Head of the Year – and, the month of Tishri is said to mark the beginning of the year. But the first commandment given when Abba delivered us from Egypt was that we were to honor Abib as the first of our months (Exo 12:2).
Some rabbis say Judaism celebrates this day to commemorate the creation of the Adam and Eve, which they believe happened in the Fall, on Yom Teruah. Others explain this discrepancy by saying the Tishri celebration is but a “civil” New Year. Two Scriptures are primarily used to defend this date, Exodus 23:16 and 34:22: “The feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field” (KJV). And, “You shall celebrate… the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year.” (Young’s Literal Translation renders the latter verse, “At the revolution of the year.” [See Endnote 2])
What is meant by these verses? What does “turn of the year” mean? Did the Father change His mind about His established New Year? Or, could it be that this Jewish tradition is based on a misunderstanding of the meaning of this phrase?
The End of a Seven Month Long “Year”
The year’s end mentioned above refers to Israel’s feast calendar, which was based on a seven-month-long cycle. Her feasts began with Passover and ended seven months later with Tabernacles. This agricultural year began with the spring barley harvest during the season of Passover and ended with the fall wheat harvest on the last day of Sukkoth. This agricultural calendar was based on a seven-month-long lunar cycle, which refers to the monthly rotation of the moon around the earth. Thus Hebrew concordances speak of a revolution of time – it being the time of planting and harvests [See Endnote 3].
Jewish sources affirm that Israel’s lunar-based agricultural year ended at the conclusion of Sukkoth, with the winter wheat harvest at the last feast of the agricultural year [See Endnote 4]. The actual New Year did not begin again until Spring, in the month of Abib, the month of the barley harvest [See Endnote 5].
Ancient Israel was an agriculturally based nation, their feast celebrations involved their entire lives and they revolved around the planting seasons. Their agricultural calendar, only included seven lunar-based months, which began in the month of Abib. However, they also functioned in a world that had (and still does have) a twelve-month long calendar-year, related to the solar cycle of the sun, which is based on the rotation of the earth around the sun. Israel’s twelve month long solar calendar begins in Abib. That is the established pattern of the One who set the sun in its place.
To have a New Year begin on Yom Teruah places it before the Fall harvest of Sukkoth, and the command is to observe “the Feast of the Ingathering at the end of the year when you gather in the fruit of your labors” (Exo 23:16). To begin a year fifteen days before this eight-day harvest feast begins, and twenty-three days before it ends, goes against Scripture.
Babylon and the New Year
So why does Judah call this day “Rosh Hashanah”?
Many believe Judah renamed this feast day and changed their calendar year when they were taken captive to Babylon. This same essential month was known as the “Head of the Year” in Babylon, and Judah apparently adopted the custom. In his book, Seasons of Our Joy, Arthur Waskow explains how this may have happened
“By the time the Jews had suffered the destruction of the First Temple and had wept and sung their song in Babylon, the first of Tishri [date for Yom Teruah] took on new meaning. The simple thread was woven, twirled, embroidered into a richer fabric of renewal…. Some scholars believe that deep in the background of this [New Year] celebration… stood a Babylonian holiday…. [T]he successful conclusion of the Babylonian harvest was an occasion for pledging renewed obedience to the Babylonian throne…. either before the Exile or during it, the Jews both borrowed and transformed this coronation – lifted it on high to assert that only God is the King, and that every year we recognize and celebrate God’s power…. Once the rabbis decided Tishri was the head of the year, they [began] …to establish the orderly procession of time and ….human community [and]…. rules… for the sighting of a new moon…. [and] rules of order… among all… who must obey God’s royal will toward justice. Linking these two… the rabbis heard the call of the ram’s horn, the shofar…” [See Endnote 6].
Did the rabbis hear a call from the Father, or were they deceived by a blast from Babylon? Did Judah fall into a misunder-standing similar to the Christian misunderstanding of Christmas? Did Ephraim go to Rome only to learn to errantly celebrate Christmas, and Judah to Babylon only to learn to errantly celebrate Rosh Hashanah? In The Book of Jewish Knowledge, Nathan Ausubel says:
“Rosh Hashanah is called the Jewish New Year.” [But] …its institution showed no concern with the [Biblical] calendar. It occurs – not as one would expect – on the first day of the first month of the Hebrew month of Nissan [Babylonian name for Abib]….
“Rosh Hashanah… originated in a primitive culture… in which magic, myth, and incantation were familiar features of religious belief…. Since early Jewish culture was [primarily established in]… Babylonia, which dominated the… Middle East, Rosh Hashanah followed, in its main outline, the ‘Day of Judgment.’ … Babylonians… considered it to be their New Year [and]… believed that on that day there took place an awesome convocation of all their deities in the great Temple of Marduk, the chief god in Babylon. They assembled there on every New Year to ‘renew’ the world and to pass judgment on human beings, and then inscribed the fate of each individual for the ensuing year on a ‘tablet of destiny.’ The name Rosh Hashanah was not… originally used… to designate this day… the first mention of Rosh Hashanah is found in the Mishnah, the code of the Oral Tradition which was first compiled in the second century….[A.D.]” [See Endnote 7].
The Present Jewish Calendar
In his book, Jewish Customs And Ceremonies, Ben M. Edidin says,
“The present Jewish calendar was written down in the fourth century…by Hillel the Second some sixteen hundred years ago” [See Endnote 8].
With this change, which came some 1500 years after the feast of Yom Teruah was instituted, this feast began to lose its true meaning. Through this misstep, the people of Jewish Israel began to be led astray in this area – even as many of their Israelite brethren would later be led astray by the counterfeit claims of pagan Rome.
The Mishna, the Jewish Oral Law, compiled in the Second Century AD reveals that both silver trumpets and shofar were to be blown on this day, but the shofar was supposed to be heard above the sound of the trumpets (Mishana, Rosh Hashanah 3:2-3ff) [See Endnote 9].
Even today, sounding the shofar is an important part of a Rosh Hashanah synagogue service. Adding to this, is the idea that it would be much easier for a man to acquire a shofar than a pair of silver trumpets. Also, they were to be blown by “priests.” In the Eleventh Century, when commenting on Numbers 10:2, Rashi said the “trumpets were for Moses’ exclusive use; he had the status of a king in whose honor trumpets are sounded. The trumpets were hidden just before Moses’ death; even Joshua, his successor, was not permitted to use them” [See Endnote 10]. But, we do see trumpets being used by King Solomon in the dedication to the Temple, and by Ezra in his rededication (2 Chr 5:12; 13:14-16; Ezra 3:10). Even so, we can see how the prophetic picture painted by Israel’s two silver trumpets began to be lost for a season…
Our God said the head of His year is “Abib” and we should honor His instructions (Exo 12:2).
It is incumbent upon us to be careful about embracing a supposed civil New Year observance that appears to be based on Babylonian practices. Without being legalistic about it, to the best of our ability, we want to base our lives on His seasons of blessings, on His seasons of joy.
The Fall Feasts and Completion
The seventh day, the seventh month, and the seventh year were deemed sacred to Israel, and Yom Teruah begins the seventh month (Exo 20:8-10; Lev 25:4). The feasts that occur in this month are seen as especially sacred because seven is related to completion. As stated in Philippians 1:6, “He who began a good work in you will carry it to completion until the day of Messiah” (NIV). The Fall feasts tell of the completion of our walk, and of the completion of the Father’s work in the earth. They foretell Yeshua’s return to earth, as well as the time when the Father will come down in the Heavenly City, the New Jerusalem and forevermore dwell with His people. The Feast of Trumpets particularly symbolizes our call to gather together, and declare truth to, the whole house of Israel. It is about unity among brethren, intercession, and being remembered before the Father.
Yom Teruah is called a Memorial of Blowing (Lev 23:24). It is to be a memorial in which we are remembering, and being remembered – at the sound of two hammered silver trumpets.
Sadly, the role the silver trumpets were to play in the life of Israel has all but been lost to her children. Insights into this feast have been shrouded. But now is the time for the restoration of all things (Acts 15:16). Now is the time for us to better understand the little understood feast day. However, before we begin our study, let us make clear the following:
The point is not so much in what we actually blow on Yom Teruah, but for us to understand the prophetic message conveyed through the feast. More important than the instruments used is the message to be imparted. Scripture shows the shofar is used in many ways, at YHVH’s command, and we do not want to detract from its many divinely inspired uses. Instead, we simply seek to bring to light the all-but-lost prophetic meaning of the two hammered silver trumpets…
1. Psa 67:4; 96:13; John 12:48; Heb 4:12.
2. Young’s Literal Translation, Robert Young, 26 Translations of The Bible. Some believe Ezekiel also references a fall New Year: “In the five and twentieth year of our captivity, in the beginning of the year, in the tenth day of the month… in the selfsame day the hand of the LORD was upon me…” (Ezek 40:1). If this calculation were correct, Ezekiel’s “tenth day” would be Yom Kippur. Seeing a temple in the spirit, he is told to, “Describe the temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities…. ‘If they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the house, its structure, its exits, its entrances, all its designs, all its statutes, and all its laws. And write it in their sight, so that they may observe its whole design and all its statutes and do them” (Ezek 40:4; 43:10-11). Writing is thought to be work and that is not allowed in any form on Yom Kippur. Thus Ezekiel probably speaks of Abib 10, when the Passover lamb was to be carefully examined and selected (Exo 12:3,5). We see that Ezekiel is examining a temple that is supposed to make the people of Israel “ashamed of their iniquities.” That is the purpose of the sacrifice lamb. Examining it shames us in that, because of our sin, something has to die in our place that we might live. For this and other reasons, some suggest that based on the measurements given, Ezekiel’s temple cannot be physically built, and that it’s description speaks of the redemptive work of Messiah Yeshua. See, The Secrets of Ezekiel’s Temple by Bob Hall, Shippensburg, PA: Companion Press, 1991. Also see Restoring Israel’s Kingdom: Expanded Edition, by Angus Wootten, Saint Cloud, FL: Key of David Publishing, 2008.
3. S&BDB # H8622.
4. Jewish Customs And Ceremonies, Ben M. Edidin, NY: Hebrew Pub., 1978, pp. 93, 100.
5. Abib means fresh, young ears of barley, which alludes to Spring. S&BDB # H24.
6. Seasons of Our Joy, Arthur Waskow, NY: Bantam Books, 1982. pp 2-3.
7. Nathan Ausubel, NY: Crown Publishers, 1977, pp 372-373.
Note: In Qumran literature Nisan [another name for Abib] is referred to as the New Year.
8. Jewish Customs And Ceremonies, Ben M. Edidin, NY: Hebrew Pub., 1978, pp 93, 100.
9. Mishnah: “Repetition,” the first recording of the Oral Law, compiled around 200 AD by Judah haNasi (Judah the Prince).
10. The Chumash, Stone Edition, ArtScroll, Nosson Scherman, ed., Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 2001, p. 783. It is commonly believed in Judaism that Temple vessels/furniture are not to be reproduced. However, the Temple Institute in Jerusalem has reproduced silver trumpets for use in their hoped-for rebuilt Temple.
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