Rosh HaShanah – The Feast of Trumpets
The Biblical Basis
There are five passages in the Hebrew Scriptures that speak of this feast. However, it is not mentioned at all in the New Testament but it will be discussed in the Messianic implication since there is an application that directly refers to the Feast.
1. Leviticus 23:23-25 Instructional
2. Numbers 29:1-6 Instructional
3. Psalm 81:3-4 Instructional
4. Ezra 3:1-6 Historical
5. Nehemiah 8:1-12 Historical
6. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Application
This is a reference to the Rapture of the Church.
See Messianic Implications.
7. 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 Application
This is a reference to the Rapture of the Church.
See Messianic Implications.
The Feast of Trumpets has largely been overshadowed by the rabbinic practices and the association with the new practice of Rosh Hashanah. However, there are some specific instructions for this feast, and are as follows:
1. The Date: It was to be held on the first day of the seventh month.
2. The Day: It was to be a day of rest, no labor.
3. Sacrifices: There were to be offerings.
4. Practice: The blowing of the trumpet.
5. No Reasons Given: There was no specific reason given for the action of blowing the trumpet. Whereas in other feasts, reasons were given for the different actions, but on this feast God chose not to give a reason for blowing the trumpet.
a. Burnt Offering: one young bull, one ram, seven male lambs each a year old
b. Meal Offering: mingled with oil
c. Sin Offering: one male goat, to make atonement for their sins
d. Addition: there were to be additional offerings besides the normal regular offering that was done daily.
There are five different names for the Feasts of Trumpets and it is mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures 5 times of which 2 are rabbinic names. The five names are:
1. Zicharon Truah: Means “memorial of triumph” or the “shout for joy.”
This phrase is found in Leviticus 23:24 and the literal meaning is “a remembrance of blowing.” The phrase shouting for you is found in Job 38:7 where all the sons of God shout for joy. Rabbinic Judaism teaches that God created the heavens and the earth on the Feast of Trumpets so it was on this occasion that the angels shouted for joy.
2. Yom Truah: literally means a day of blowing the trumpet.
It is a biblical designation found in Numbers 29:1.
3. Rosh Hashanah: This term is a common Jewish term for this feast today.
Very few Jewish people refer to it as the Feast of Trumpets, but rather it is known as Rosh Hashanah which literally means “the head of the year.” The Jewish people call this Feast of Trumpets Rosh Hashanah, or “the head of the year” because they believe that God created the heavens and the earth on this day. Therefore, this feast has become known as the beginning of the Jewish civil year. Judaism has two calendars, a religious and civil new year. However, God only gave Israel one calendar and that is expressly stated in Exodus 12:2. The first began in the Jewish month of Nisan in February/March and the other in Tishrei in the month of August/ September. The term does appear in Ezekiel 40:1 but not in connection with the feast day.
4. Yom Hazicharon: This is a rabbinic name which means “the day of remembrance.”
It is called by that name because Jews are to remember their sins before the next holy day, the Day of Atonement. It is said that on this feast day of Rosh Hashanah that God remembers His creation and shows them mercy. It is important for Jews to remember their sins in preparation for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
5. Yom Hadin: This is another rabbinic name and tradition which means “the day of judgment.”
In Jewish beliefs, all Jews on this day are to pass in judgment to see if their sins will be forgiven or not.
Judaism had ten practices that went along with the rabbinic traditions in celebrating this day:
1. The Month of Elul:
a. This month processed the month of Tishrei where all three of the fall feasts appear. Elul is a month of preparation; a month to begin repenting of one’s sins; a month to be diligent to fulfill the commandments of God.
b. During this month Psalm 27 is recited. It is done twice a day, throughout the completion of the three fall feasts. The reason for this practice is because the rabbis believed that this Psalm had a direct reference to the Feast of Trumpets.
2. The Meaning of Rosh Hashanah:
In rabbinic literature the meaning of Rosh Hashanah concerns three main things: first it is the anniversary of creation; secondly, it is the day of judgment; third, it is a day of renewing of the bond between God and Israel.
a. Creation occurred on this month.
b. It is “the head of the year” for the Sabbatical Year.
c. It is “the head of the year” for the Year of Jubilee.
d. It is “the head of the year” for trees. When a new fruit tree is planted, rabbinic law forbids the eating of the fruit for the first three years of it growth. That count begins on the Feast of Trumpets.
e. It is “the head of the year” concerning the law pertaining to vegetables. On this day 10 % of all produce was to be given to the Levities.
3. The Blowing of the Shofar:
The blowing of the trumpet is the only actual command in the Hebrew Scriptures as to how this feast is to be observed, but the Bible does not give any reason for it. And where the Bible fails to give a reason, the rabbis felt a need to provide one.
a. In the blowing of the Shofar the Talmud gives 10 rabbinic reasons.
b. There are also three main purposes for Blowing the Shofar.
c. Rabbi Saadiah Gaon (882-942 CE) gives 10 reasons for the blowing of the Shofar, but only one will be mentioned because it is practiced today in rabbinic Judaism.
- to introduce the ten days of penitence that comes between the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement.
d. The Three Meanings of the Blowing of the Trumpets:
(1) First, it was a symbol of the final regathering of Israel when the Messiah comes.
(2) Second, it was a symbol of the resurrection from the dead.
(3) Third, on this day (Feast of Trumpets) three different books will be open in Heaven. One is called the Book of Righteousness. Those who were perfectly righteous would have their names inscribed in the Book of Life and they would live another year. The second book is called the Book of the Wicked or the Book of the Dead and those whose names are inscribed in this book would die during the year. Most people are neither totally righteous nor totally wicked, so there is a third book call the Book of the In Between. Those inscribed in the third book are given ten days to repent – the ten days between the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement.
(4) The Trumpet Blasts:
The Tekiah – is a long, single blast. It was straight, plain, smooth, continuous note and it is to symbolize the expression of joy and contentment.
The Shevarim – is three short blasts. A combination of three broken notes to symbolize weeping.
The Truah – Extremely short blasts which are a combination of nine staccato notes in a very quick succession of short trill. This symbolizes trepidation, sorrow and sobbing.
The Tekiah Gedolah – Means “the last trump.” This one symbolizes the hope of redemption. It is a very long, final note.
- In these one hundred blasts, the first of three categories are combined back and forth until there is a total of 99 sounds. Then comes the 100th, the Tekiah Gedolah, a very long-sustained note – as long as the trumpeter had breath to hold it, and this is known as “the last trump.” That will become very significant when the Messianic Implications of this particular festival are discussed.
(5) Scripture Reading:
(a) The Law:
- first day – Genesis 21 and Numbers 29:1-6
- second day – Genesis 22 and Numbers 29:1-6
(b) The Prophets:
- 1 Samuel 1:1-2:10 because rabbis believe Samuel was born on this day.
(c) The Writings:
- Psalm 47 which is a praise to God recited seven times because it mentions the blowing of the ram’s horn in verse 5.
- Jeremiah 31:2-20 because it deals with Israel’s coming forgiveness and restoration.
The term Tashlich means “the casting forth’ and is a ceremony based on Micah 7:18-20. In verse 19 Micah predicted that God was going to cast the sins of Israel into the depth of the sea.
It has become a Jewish custom on the first day of the Feast of Trumpets in the afternoon following the service, that they go out to a body of water and symbolically empty their pockets into the water. This symbolizes God casting their sins into the depths of the sea. The following passages are also read:
- Psalm 118:5-9 – seeking refuge in God
- Psalm 33 – praise to God for past deliverances and present hope
- Isaiah 11:9 – Messianic Kingdom of Peace
- Psalm 24 – a righteous worshipper & the glorious King
- Yyehi Rratzon – special prayer which means “may it be desirable.”
(7) Other Practices and Customs
(8) Legends of Rosh Hashanah:
Things that happened on this day according to legend:
(a) Creation of the world occurred on this day
(b) Creation of Adam on this day
(c) Adam sinned on this day
(d) Cain was born with a twin sister on this day
(e) Abel was born with a twin sister on this day
(f) On this day both Cain and Abel made their offerings
(g) Cain killed Abel on this day
(h) Flood dried up on this day
(i) Abraham was born and died on this day
(j) Isaac was born and died on this day
(k) Jacob was born and died on this day
(l) Isaac was offered on this day
(m) Jacob arrived at Bethel on this day
(n) Sarah gave birth on this day
(o) Rebecca, Rachel and Hannah gave birth on this day
(p) Joseph was liberated from prison on this day
(q) Samuel was born on this day
(r) First Temple was dedicated on this day
(s) Elisha was born on this day
(t) Sacrifices were resumed after the Temple was rebuilt
(u) There are many more.
(9) The Ten Days of Penitence:
Ten days of penitence fall between the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement. These are the ten days during which one must repent, particularly the 7 days in the middle, because the first two of these 10 days are the Feast of Trumpets and the 10th day is the Day of Atonement. So the days of penitence concern days 3 – 9 only. It is during these 7 days that one is to seek forgiveness. Special forgiveness prayers are recited in the Temple. The Sabbath that falls within these days is known as “the Sabbath of Repentance” and there is a great emphasis on repentance, especially on that Sabbath day.
4. The Usage of the Trumpet in the Hebrew Scriptures
1. Two Key Words:
a. Shofar – which literally means “a horn for blowing” and refers to the curved horn.
b. Truah – means “shout,” “a blast of war, alarm, joy.” This is the word that is used for this feast in Leviticus 23:24.
1. Hebrew Scriptures – Isaiah 27:13
- This passage speaks of the regathering of Israel and in this regathering a great trumpet shall be blown. Then the Shofar is blown after this to signal the final return of Israel for the purpose of worshipping God in the Kingdom.
2. New Testament:
- The Signal of the Regathering connects Isaiah 27:13 with Matthew 24:31. Notice the points made:
1. …he shall send forth his angels
2. …a great sound of a trumpet
3. … [He] shall gather together His elect … – that is Israel
4. …from one end of heaven to the other
- Trumpets are used in Announcing Judgment, see Revelation 8-9
3. Fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets:
- 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18: This passage speaks of the rapture and the trump of God. It gives seven points as to the Rapture itself.
- 1 Corinthians 15:50-58: This second passage deals with the details of the Rapture and also mentions the role that the trumpet will play. The trumpet mentioned in verse 52 is the last trump. Here Paul draws from Isaiah 27:13 but he also drawls from rabbinic tradition in the use of the Tekiah Gedolah, the last trump to signal the Rapture of the Church.
Notice the sequence of events that are fulfilled in the ministry of Yeshua when He came at the First Coming [spring feasts] and what we will see as the fall feasts that fulfill His Second Coming. Look at the sequence and progression of events:
1. The Feast of Passover was fulfilled by the death of the Messiah.
2. The Feast of Unleavened Bread was fulfilled by the righteous character and sinlessness of His blood-offering upon His death.
3. The Feast of First-Fruits was fulfilled by the Resurrection of the Messiah.
4. The Feast of Weeks was fulfilled by the birthday of the Church.
Following the first cycle of feasts [spring feasts] came a four month interval separating the first cycle of feasts from the second cycle of feasts. This four month interval is fulfilled by the Church Age. God’s program for the Church interrupts His program for Israel as revealed in the program of the festivals.
All of the Spring Feasts occurred in a little over 50 days and now the Fall Feasts will occur within a two-week period to fulfill His program for Israel in the Second Coming pictured in the Fall Feasts.
5. The Feast of Trumpets will be fulfilled by the Rapture of the Church.
6. The Day of Atonement will be fulfilled by the Great Tribulation with Israel’s national salvation at the end of that period.
7. The Feast of Tabernacles will be fulfilled by the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom.
See Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s manuscript #118 for more detailed study.