Tagged: Talmud

Jesus in the Feasts of Israel: Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah)


This is the fifth in a series of articles on Jesus in the feasts of Israel.



Name Scriptures Time / Date Purpose Fulfillment
Trumpets Lev. 23:23-25; Num. 10:10, 29:1-6 1st day of Tishri (September/October) To usher in the seventh month and begin “The Days of Awe.” The rapture of the church(1 Cor. 15:51-2; 1 Thess. 4:16-17)

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In Scripture, Rosh Hashanah is referred to as Zikhron Teruah (“Memorial of Blowing [of trumpets],” Lev. 23:24) and Yom Teruah (“Day of Blowing [of trumpets],” Num. 29:1).  Because of these biblical descriptions, Rosh Hashanah is often referred to as “the Feast of Trumpets.” It is a day of sounding trumpets in the Temple and throughout Israel. Rosh Hashanah literally means “head of the year.” This holiday marks the first day of the Jewish civil New Year. However, this designation only came to be after the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. Since there was no longer a central place of worship and an altar of sacrifice – the Temple in Jerusalem – the observance necessarily had to change. Today, the emphasis is on the Jewish New Year rather than the blowing of trumpets.

The Biblical Observance

The Scripture references to the Feast of Trumpets are simple and straightforward:

  • Israel is commanded to memorialize the day by blowing trumpets and by keeping the day as a Sabbath of rest (Lev. 23:23-25; Num. 29:1).
  • A special burnt offering, consisting of a young bull, a ram, and seven lambs, is offered. A kid goat also is sacrificed as a sin offering. These offerings are in addition to the required daily sacrifices (Num. 28:1-8), and those for the new moon, which also are offered on that day (Num. 28:11-15).

Rosh Hashanah is the only Jewish holiday occurring on the first day of the month, when the moon appears as a thin crescent. Just as the seventh day and the seventh year are holy according to Mosaic law (Ex. 20:8-10; Lev. 25:4), so is the seventh month, Tishri, the Sabbath of months. Jews in ancient Israel announced the new moon with short blasts of a trumpet, but the new moon of Tishri was announced with long blasts, setting it apart.

The type of horn used for the Feast of Trumpets is the shofar, a curved trumpet made from a ram’s horn. This is different from the hatzotzerah, the silver trumpets priests blew to announce the beginning and ending of the Sabbath, and with the sacrifices. During the Feast of Trumpets, a priest is chosen to sound the shofar. He stands in a row of priests with silver trumpets facing the altar. The shofar sounds long blasts while the silver trumpets sound short blasts over the sacrifices of the day. 

Besides the sacrificial ceremony, the trumpet had many uses for Israel:

  • To gather an assembly before the Lord (Num. 10:2-4).
  • To sound a battle alarm (Num. 10:9).
  • To announce the coronation of a new king in the cases of Solomon (1 Kings 1:34, 39), Jehu (2 Kings 9:13), Joash (2 Kings 11:12-14), and Absalom (2 Sam. 15:10).

The Modern Observance

The observance of Rosh Hashanah today bears little resemblance to the biblical Feast of Trumpets. 

The Days of Awe. Jewish tradition holds that the 10 days from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur are the “Days of Awe.” It is believed that God reviews the books of judgment on Rosh Hashanah and delivers final judgment on Yom Kippur. These 10 days are considered the last chance for a person to repent before God’s judgment falls, possibly resulting in the death of the disobedient in the coming year. It is believed that three books are opened and every person’s name is entered into one of the books:

  • The Book of Life for the wicked. If a person’s name is entered here, judgment is final and that person’s life will be cut short in the coming year.
  • The Book of Life for the righteous. Those whose names are entered here are granted another year of life and prosperity.
  • The Book of Life for the in-between. Those whose names are written here have their lives hanging in the balance. If they sincerely repent during the Days of Awe, tradition holds that God will grant them life until the following Yom Kippur.

There is a Biblical origin of this tradition (Ex. 32:32-33; Psalm 69:28), but Jewish tradition has greatly embellished it. The Days of Awe are so solemn, weddings and other festive occasions are postponed until after Yom Kippur.

Prayers of repentance. Faithful Jews recite penitent prayers called selihot (“forgiveness”) throughout the week leading up to Rosh Hashanah.

The casting ceremony. On the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah, observant Jews gather near a body of water to recite the Tashlikh (“cast off”) prayer. In Israel, this may take place on the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea or at the Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem. Several Hebrew Scriptures make up the prayer – Micah 7:18-20; Psalm 118:5-9; Psalm 33; Psalm 130; and often Isaiah 11:9. After the prayer, worshipers may shake their pockets, or throw bread crumbs or stones into the water, symbolically ridding themselves of sins.

The sounding of the shofar. Jewish tradition holds that on Rosh Hashanah, Satan appears before God to accuse Israel as God opens the books for judgment. The Jews blast the shofar on this day to confuse Satan, so he might believe Messiah has come and ended Satan’s reign on earth. It is customary to sound 100 shofar blasts on each day of the Rosh Hashanah synagogue services.

Synagogue services for Rosh Hashanah are lengthy, lasting five or more hours, and are focused on God’s kingship. The prayers and readings emphasize God’s majesty, His remembrance of His everlasting covenant with Israel, and the key role of the shofar in the history of the nation. The benediction speaks of the end of days, in which God will reveal Himself, sounding the shofar and sending the promised Messiah (Zech. 9:14).

The Jewish New Year. Rosh Hashanah has its festive moments as well. Since it is identified as the start of the civil New Year, Jews often send festive cards to family and friends, wishing them Shanah tovah, “a good year.” They also dress in new clothing and eat special foods, like apples dipped in honey and oval loaves of hallah bread; the round loaves of bread remind them of crowns and God’s kingship.

The Talmud, the ancient rabbinical commentary, suggests the world was created in the month of Tishri. Other rabbinic authorities say Rosh Hashanah was the day on which man was created.

The Fulfillment

Israel’s four springtime feasts – Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits and Pentecost – were fulfilled in the first coming of the Messiah. The three fall festivals – Rosh Hashanah, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles – will be fulfilled at the Messiah’s second coming.

For Israel, the fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets will be a dark day. Just as Rosh Hashanah occurs at the new moon, when the sky is darkest, Israel’s prophets warn of a coming day of judgment for the nation. For example, Amos 5:18-20, Zeph. 1:14-16, and Joel 2:31 all speak of the day in which the Lord will turn off the heavenly lights, pour out His wrath on the wicked, and bring Israel to repentance and into the new covenant.

Ancient Jewish tradition held that the resurrection of the dead would occur on Rosh Hashanah. As a result, many Jewish grave markers feature a shofar.

God’s last trump and the resurrection of the dead are tied to the rapture of the church in the New Testament. Consider these key passages:

  • 1 Cor. 15:51-52 – “Listen! I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed.”
  • 1 Thess. 4:16-17 – “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will always be with the Lord.”

Remember the reasons for trumpet blasts in the Old Testament? They will be the same in the days to come:

  • To gather an assembly before the Lord (the rapture of the church).
  • To sound a battle alarm (God will defeat Satan’s rebellious followers throughout the tribulation and at Christ’s return).
  • To announce the coronation of a new king (Jesus the Messiah will sit on the throne of David as King of kings and Lord of lords).

Next: The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)

 Copyright 2008 by Rob Phillips

* While several sources were used in preparing these notes, I drew heavily from The Feasts of the Lord: God’s Prophetic Calendar from Calvary to the Kingdom by Kevin Howard and Marvin Rosenthal.

Judaism: An Overview

Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people. It is based on the principles of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and the Talmud (a record of rabbinic discussions about law, ethics, custom and history). The history of Judaism begins with the covenant between God and Abraham, in which God establishes the Jews as His chosen people and promises them future blessings, including a large population and land. Most significantly, the Jews are the people through whom the entire world would be blessed (in the coming of the Messiah). Judaism is one of the oldest religious traditions still in practice today. Jewish history and beliefs have influenced other religions including Christianity, Islam, and the Baha’i faith.

Jewish Texts

The Tanakh corresponds to the Old Testament and is composed of three parts:

  • Torah (law) – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
  • Nevi’im (prophets) – Joshua, Judges, Samuel (2), Kings (2), Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zachariah and Malachi.
  • Ketuvim (writings) – Ruth, Chronicles (2), Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Lamentations and Daniel.

The Talmud comes mainly from two sources:

  • Mishnah – containing hundreds of chapters, including series of laws from the Hebrew Scriptures.
  • Gemara – including comments from hundreds of rabbis from 200-500 A.D. explaining the Mishnah with additional historical, religious, legal and other material.

Basic Jewish Beliefs

The closest thing to a creed in Judaism is the 13 articles formulated by rabbi and scholar Moses Maimonides, who lived from 1135-1204 A.D.

  1. God alone is Creator.
  2. God is one and unique.
  3. God is incorporeal (without material existence).
  4. God is eternal – the first and the last.
  5. Prayer is to be directed to God alone and to no other.
  6. The words of the prophets are true.
  7. Moses was the greatest of the prophets, and his prophecies are true.
  8. The Written Torah (first five books of the Bible) and the Oral Torah (teachings now contained in the Talmud and other writings) were given by Moses.
  9. There will be no other Torah.
  10. God knows the thoughts and deeds of men.
  11. God will reward the good and punish the wicked.
  12. The Messiah will come.
  13. The dead will be resurrected.

Some additional beliefs found commonly among Jews are:

  • Jesus was a great moral teacher; or, Jesus was a false prophet or an idol of Christianity.
  • The Jews are God’s chosen people; that is, God selected Israel to receive and study the Torah, to worship God alone, to rest on the weekly Sabbath, and to celebrate the festivals.
  • The 613 commandments found in Leviticus and other books of the Torah regulate all aspects of Jewish life.
  • The Ten Commandments form a brief synopsis of the Law.
  • The Messiah will arrive in the future and gather Jews once more into the land of Israel. There will be a general resurrection of the dead at that time, and the Jerusalem Temple, destroyed in 70 A.D., will be rebuilt.
  • Boys reach the status of Bar Mitzvah on their 13th birthday. Girls reach Bat Mitzvah on their 12th birthday. Following these milestones, males and females can sign contracts, testify in religious courts, and marry (although the Talmud recommends 18 to 24 as the proper age for marriage).

Jewish Practices

Jewish practices include:

  • Observation of the weekly Sabbath.
  • Strict discipline, according to the Law, which governs all areas of life.
  • Regular attendance by Jewish males at synagogue.
  • Celebration of the annual festivals including: Passover, Rosh Hashanah (New Year), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), Sukkoth (Feast of Booths), Hanukkah (Feast of Lights), Purim (Feast of Lots), and Shavout (Feast of Weeks).

Main Forms of Judaism

There are five main forms of Judaism in the world today:

  • Orthodox – the oldest, most conservative, and most diverse form of Judaism. Modern Orthodox, Chasidim and Ultra Orthodox Jews share a basic belief in the Jewish Law, even though they differ in their outlooks on life. They attempt to follow the original form of Judaism as they see it. Every word of the sacred texts is considered inspired.
  • Reform – a liberal group including many North American Jews. The movement started in the 1790s in Germany. Reform Jews follow the ethical laws of Judaism but allow the individual to decide whether to follow dietary and other traditional laws. They use modern forms of worship. Many of their rabbis are females.
  • Conservative – a movement that began in the mid-nineteenth century in response to the Reform movement. It is a mainline movement midway between Orthodox and Reform.
  • Humanistic – a very small group composed mainly of atheists and agnostics who regard man as the measure of all things.
  • Reconstructionist – a small, liberal movement started as an attempt to unify and revitalize the religion. It rejects the concept that Jews are a unique people whom God favors.

It’s important to note what some call a sixth – and growing – form of Judaism: Messianic Judaism. These Jews believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah. Culturally and ethically they are Jews, but they have embraced Christianity. Some prefer to be called Hebrew Christians, Jewish Christians, or simply believers.

Moshiach: The Messiah

Traditional Judaism holds to a foundational belief in the eventual coming of the moshiach– the Messiah (Hebrew) or Christ (Greek). Jews teach that the Messiah will be a great political leader descended from King David (Jer. 23:5). He will be well-versed in Jewish law and observe its commandments (Isa. 11:2-5). In addition, he will be a charismatic figure who inspires others; a great military leader who wins battles for Israel; and a great judge who makes righteous decisions (Jer. 33:15). But above all, he will be a human being who is in no way divine. It is believed that in every generation a person is born with the potential to be the Messiah.

Though many have claimed to be the Messiah – Jesus of Nazareth (1st century), Shimeon ben Kosiba (2nd century), and Shabbatai Tzvi (17th century) to name a few – Jews claim all of them died without fulfilling the Messiah’s mission, which involves:

  • Bringing about the political and spiritual redemption of the Jewish people by restoring the Jews’ homeland and capital city (Isa. 11:11-12; Jer. 23:8; 30:3; Hosea 3:4-5).
  • Establishing a government in Israel that is the center of all world government (Isa. 2:2-4; 11:10; 42:1).
  • Rebuilding the temple and reestablishing its worship (Jer. 33:18).
  • Restoring the religious court system of Israel and establishing Jewish law as the law of the land (Jer. 33:15).

Before the time of the Messiah, there will be war and suffering (Ezek. 38:16). After he comes, the world will enter a period known as Olam Ha-Ba, or the world to come, or the Messianic Age, characterized by peaceful coexistence among people, and even animals (Isa. 2:4). Jews will return from their exile among the nations to Israel (Isa. 11:11-12; Jer. 23:8; 30:3; Hosea 3:4-5). The whole world will acknowledge God and worship Him according to the Jewish religion (Isa. 2:3; 11:10; Micah 4:2-3; Zech. 14:9). Sin will cease (Zeph. 3:13). Sacrifices will continue to be brought to the temple, but these will be limited to thanksgiving offerings because there will be no necessity for sin offerings.

Jews do not believe that Jesus was the moshiach. They argue that he did not fulfill the mission of the Messiah as described above.

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Copyright 2008 by Rob Phillips