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Why the Rabbis Don’t Understand Rosh HaShanah

By Ron Cantor
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Posted in Jewish HolidaysRosh HaShana, Zealous Magazine, on July 27, 2017

Every year Jewish people do the strangest thing. We celebrate a new year in the middle of the year. It is called Rosh HaShanah, and it is not in the Bible. Well, not explicitly.

The scriptures tell us:

On the first day of the seventh month hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. It is a day for you to sound the trumpets” (Numbers 29:1). We also have this: “On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts” (Leviticus 23:24-25).

You may have noticed that not only does it not mention “Rosh” (head) “HaShanah” (of the year), but comes on the “first day of the seventh month.” In Hebrew this is called the Day of Trumpeting. So, the supposed Jewish New Year is actually a day in which we are to blast trumpets as a memorial.

A memorial for what? It doesn’t say. There is no specific reason given for the blowing of the trumpets. Now doesn’t it seem strange that God would leave that out? Unless, there is a meaning that would be revealed in the future.

It is commonly believed that this blowing of the trumpets is a call to repentance, as Yom Kippur—the Day of Atonement—is only ten days later. In the Scripture, the shofar, or trumpet, had many meanings. Numbers 10 speaks of the silver trumpets being a way to call people to assemble or the Israelites to battle. The ram’s horn was sounded at the New Moon festivals each month as we see in Psalm 81:3.

However, I think that the greatest fulfillment of this holiday is in expectation of the Messiah: “Then the Lord will appear over them; His arrow will flash like lightning. The Sovereign Lord will sound the trumpet; He will march in the storms of the south” (Zechariah 9:14).

The revelation is further revealed in the New Covenant:

“And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other” (Matthew 24:31).

“In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52).

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Messiah will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

“The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).

I believe that because the rabbis were blinded to the revelation of Yeshua, they were also blinded to the true meaning of Yom Teruah—the Feast of Trumpets. They needed to beef-it-up and give it more meaning, and thus decided that creation took place on the first day of the seventh month. And now it is accepted as gospel truth (pun intended) without a shred of evidence.

There is more. The seventh month in Hebrew is called Tishrei, which really isn’t Hebrew. In Hebrew the months are simply recognized by their order—the first month, the third month, etc.* While exiled in Babylon, we took on the Babylonian names of the months like Nisan and Tishrei.

The Babylonians took their celebrations quite seriously, whereas in the Scriptures, it is never emphasized as a holiday. Tishrei was their New Year, and it is possible that the rabbis embraced this—as it was already a holiday and thus easy to incorporate without causing friction with their captors. They could celebrate Yom Teruah as a New Year.

Of course this is merely a hypothesis. The most important point here is to discover the true meaning of the Feast of Trumpets—a day to look toward the coming of Messiah when he subdues the enemies of Israel (Zechariah 14:3-4) and sets up His Millennial kingdom. As believers, we can join in by taking extra time on this day to pray that Messiah’s return will be hastened.

(*There are four exceptions: Aviv, Ziv, Etanim and Bul)

Ron Cantor is the GOD TV Israel Regional Director and host of the daily TV program, “Out of Zion.” He also serves on the leadership team of Tiferet Yeshua, a Hebrew-speaking congregation in Tel Aviv. Ron and his family moved to Odessa, Ukraine, to work for MJBI in 1996 before eventually moving to Israel in 2003, where they now reside.