Rosh HaShanah: The Jewish New Year
A mighty blast of the trumpet ushered in the Festival of Rosh HaShanah on the first day of the seventh month, summoning the twelve tribes of Israel to a ten-day season of introspection and repentance known as the Ten Days of Awe (Num 29:1). The sacred festival week culminated in the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the year. It was on this day that the coronation and wedding of the Messiah was expected in God’s appointed time. The feast began with a Sabbath rest, a time when work was prohibited by law. The following prayer was recited during the festival after the blowing of the trumpet:
“Blessed art thou Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to hear the sound of the shofar.”
The Day of Atonement was the most solemn day of the year for the Israelites; for it was on this day of days that the high priest, the holiest priest in all Israel, dared to enter the Holy of Holies to make propitiation for the sins of the nation. If the high priest failed to perform the ancient ritual in the prescribed manner, sudden death would be the fate for him and the multitude of worshipers anxiously waiting outside the house of God. Imagine their great relief when the Almighty graciously accepted the sacrificial blood that had been poured upon the mercy seat by the intercessor of Israel (Lev 23:26-32)!
Rosh Hashanah, also known as the Feast of Trumpets, marks the Jewish New Year. The term is literally translated “head (top, first) of the year.” For some, throwing rocks is a part of the holy festival, representing sins being cast into the sea of forgetfulness (Mic 7:19). Jewish tradition declares that Adam was created on this momentous day. The prophet Joel speaks of the solemn feast of repentance in the following passage:
Blow a trumpet in Zion, consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly, gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children and the nursing infants. Let the bridegroom come out of his room and the bride out of her bridal chamber. Let the priests, the LORD’S ministers, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, “Spare Your people, O LORD, and do not make Your inheritance a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they among the peoples say, ‘Where is their God?'” (Joel 2:15-17)
According to the sages, the resurrection of the dead will occur on Yom HaDin (the Day of Judgment), another name for the Feast of Rosh HaShanah. Shofarot (shofar – pl.) are frequently engraved on Jewish tombs in anticipation of the blowing of the great trumpet when the righteous will be raised to eternal life. The shout of the trumpet speaks to believers today of the necessity of continual humility and repentance before Adonai. The bride of Yeshua must surrender herself completely as she prepares for her wedding day with the Savior/Bridegroom/King. Chag Sameach!