ROSH HASHANNAH (Feast of Trumpets– “New Year”)
Date: The first and second day of the Jewish month, Tishri, which falls in September or October. It was an autumn festival associated with preparations for the harvest.
Name: The Bible name is Feast of Trumpets because it was observed with the blowing of trumpets or the shofar, the ram’s horn. In later years, it was called Rosh (Hebrew for head or beginning) HaShannah (Hebrew for the year) since it marked the beginning of the year.
Purpose: To present Israel before the Lord for His favor.
Old Testament: “On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. Do no regular work, but present an offering made to the LORD by fire” (Leviticus 23:24-25). Also Numbers 29:1-6.
Observance: It was a day of rest when Jewish people gathered at the tabernacle (temple) with their sacrifices. Today they come to the synagogue to examine their deeds of the past year and pray for forgiveness. They reaffirm their faith and prepare for a 10-day period of repentance that climaxes on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur.
Tradition: The ram’s horn recalls Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son when God asked it of him, but in the last moment God provided a ram and accepted the sacrifice of the ram instead of the son. The sounding of the shofar reminds people of their responsibility to God and calls them to repentance.
One tradition holds that three books are opened at the sound of the shofar on Rosh HaShannah–one for the completely righteous, one for the completely wicked, and one for the average person. Those most righteous are inscribed in the Book of Life, the wicked are inscribed in the book of death, and the average are kept in suspension for the ten days of repentance until the Day of Atonement. If they fare well, they will be inscribed in the Book of Life.
Fulfillment: As the trumpet called people to the presence of God to stand before His judgment and mercy, believers in the Messiah look forward to hearing the trumpet on the last day when He will return with “the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).