Jewish Understanding of Day of Trumpets
Festivals of the Jewish Year, By Theodor H. Gaster (New York, 1953).
The Day of Trumpets is also known as Rosh Hashana the (civil) New Year, The Day of Remembrance, Judgment Day, and the start of the Ten Days of Penitence. It is a day of remembering the beginning of the world, and a commemoration of the dead (who will be resurrected on that day). This is why, with the Day of Atonement, the Day of Trumpets is one of the two great solemn holydays. New Year's Day is thus a day of judgment and a new beginning. Not merely the anniversary of creation, it is a renewal of creation (the time everything will be made new, at the Messiah's return).
Jews associate with New Year's Day two important Biblical events: (1) Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac in obedience to God, and the reward God promised him as a result of his faithfulness. This incident, by Jewish tradition, took place on Tishri 1. (2) The birth of Samuel was said to have taken place at New Year, and Hannah's promise to God and Samuel's miraculous birth are recounted by Jews at the Day of Trumpets. (Trumpets signifies our birthday into God's kingdom.)
The blowing of the ram's horn -- shofar -- was done not only on Tishri 1, but on every new moon. It recalled the giving of the Law at Sinai with the great thunders and trumpet-like voice of God, when His covenant was made with Israel (Exodus 19:16,19; 20:18). The holy days always look forward, as well as backward. The shofar also points to the day God will intervene in world affairs, when "the Lord God shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south," Zechariah 9:14, when the Last Trump will be blown, the rallying call of Israel in the final battle for the Kingdom of God (Zechariah 14).
During the time of the Temple, Jewish worship included the act of prostration, or kneeling; but Jews are today forbidden to kneel in worship except on the Day of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement. Part of the Jewish ceremony is the incantation, "We bend the knee . . . and make acknowledgment before the supreme King of Kings, the Holy One . . . ."
Trumpets Scripture Readings
Psalms which begin with "The LORD reigneth," were originally designed for recitation at the new year festival. See Psalm 93, 97, and 99.
Three types of shofar notes are blown: (1) a short base blast ending abruptly, (2) a long resonant blast, and (3) "quavers," a series of trills, like a person wailing in distress. The shofar is blown at set ways during the Jewish service after which various verses are recited: (1) "Kingship verses," to celebrate God's kingship, Exodus 15:18; Numbers 23:21; Deuteronomy 33:5; Psalm 22:28, 24:7-10, 93:1; Isaiah 44:6; Obadiah 1:21; Zechariah 14:9; Deuteronomy 6:4; (2) "Memorial verses," Genesis 8:1; Exodus 2:24; Leviticus 26:42; Psalm 111:4, 5, 106:45; Jeremiah 2:2; Ezekiel 16:60; Jeremiah 31:20; Leviticus 26:45; and (3) "Shofar verses," Exodus 19:16, 19, 20:18; Psalm 47:5, 81:3, 98:6, all of Psalm 150; Isaiah 18:3; Zechariah 9:14; Numbers 10:10.
Days of Penitence (Repentance)
Beginning on the Day of Trumpets and ending on the Day of Atonement is what Jews call the "Ten Days of Penitence," or "Days of Awe," dedicated to the inner cleansing of the man. They are also known as "Days of Return," because we are to examine ourselves and return to God.
Jewish tradition relates that figuratively, on Trumpets, God opens three books: (1) the first containing the names of the righteous, who are in the book of life, (2) the second contains the names of those irremediably wicked whose fate is death, and (3) the third book has the names of those in between, who have until Atonement to determine their fates. (Thus, Jews understand that there are three resurrections, three classes of people God deals with.) One of the verses Jews recite during these days is Exodus 34:5-7, 9, which emphasizes repentance and God's mercy. Revelation 20:12-15refers to God's book of eternal life.
The weekly Sabbath between Trumpets and Atonement is known as Sabbath Shubah ("return"), meaning "repentance Sabbath." Hosea 14:1-9 and Micah 7:19-20are read on this Sabbath. Repentance is the vehicle God has assigned through which man may reach Him. The only way to approach God is through repentance. The value of repentance is also emphasized by the Biblical example of King Hezekiah, who, when upon his deathbed, pleaded with God for mercy. God granted Hezekiah's request and extended his life for fifteen years, II Kings 20:1-11.
There are three areas of repentance in Jewish understanding: (1) thought, (2) speech, (3) action. Unless one corrects his actions, he is not truly repentant.
Meaning of Trumpets
Alfred Edersheim, The Temple: Its Ministry and Services (Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1950).
Trumpets were used to signal Israel during their march through the wilderness, to summon them to war, proclaim days of public rejoicing, and to mark the beginnings of their months. According to Numbers 10:10, every time the trumpets were blown, it was a public acknowledgment that the LORD is God, He is King.
Accordingly, in the New Testament, God's elect will be summoned by the sound of the trumpet in the day of Christ's coming, not only the living, but "the dead in Christ," Matthew 24:31, I Corinthians 15:52, I Thessalonians 4:16. Also, the heavenly hosts are marshalled to war until the seventh angel sounds the last trumpet and Christ is proclaimed King Universal, Revelation 8:2, 10:7, 11:15.
A Solemn Time of Covenant Renewal
Rabbi Louis Jacobs, A Guide to Rosh Hashanah (London, 1959).
Joy and sadness are twins, and the closeness of these two are never seen more clearly than at the New Year. Rosh Ha-Shanah is a solemn festival but it is a festival. It is not unusual for men and women to change their lives under the influence of the stirring worship services of the "Days of Awe" of which Rosh Hashanah is the first.
The first day of the agricultural year, Trumpets is also the time Ezra read the Law to the captives returned from Babylon, Nehemiah 8:1-8. Hence the festival is associated with personal renewal of one's covenant with God and firm resolution (New Year's resolution) to obey God's law.
Rabbis felt that Rosh Hashanah is the day all men pass before God like sheep, and he judges them. Thus, the feast is not only a "Day of Judgment" but a "Day of Remembrance," for God remembers sins that proud humans forget, and remembers good deeds which humble men belittle or forget.
Jewish Customs With Meaning for Us
Elul, the sixth month, precedes Tishri. Jewish tradition holds that Moses went up on Sinai on Elul, to receive the second tablets of stone, stayed there 40 days, until the Day of Atonement when he brought the Law again to Israel.
Jews read Psalm 27 during the month of Elul. Verse 1, "The LORD is my light," [compare with "brightness of His coming," II Thessalonians 2:8, this is referring to the Day of Trumpets] and my salvation [referring to the Day of Atonement, on which our sins are atoned, see Leviticus 16:34] shows that this Psalm is about the Fall Festivals. Verse 5, "For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion: in the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide me; He shall set me up upon a rock [Petra?]," refers to the Day of Tabernacles. The theme of Psalm 27 is about faith and trust in God, the desire "to dwell in God's house," the appeal to God to not hide His face, teach us His ways, answer our prayers. This Psalm evokes an introspective mood, which is the purpose behind the solemn days of Trumpets and Atonement.
Jews also read Micah 7:19, "He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea," reminding us that God will forgive. Jews have a custom of going to a river and reciting this and other penitential verses. A "custom" that we may do on the Day of Trumpets is to remember our baptism, considering whether we have really buried the old self. "Seek ye the LORD while He may be found, Call ye upon Him while He is near," Isaiah 55:6, implies there is a time when it is easiest to seek God. Jewish Rabbis feel that the Ten Days from Trumpets to Atonement are such a special time, when men should submit themselves to severe self-scrutiny in the effort to improve the quality of their lives.
A Jewish custom during and after Trumpets is to greet one another with, "May you be inscribed (or sealed) in the Book of Life for a good year." Stopping and considering whether or not you are in the Book of Life is a good lesson for us today of the Feast of Trumpets (see Revelation 3:5).
Franz Rosenzweig (1886-1929) wrote: "The horn blown on New Year's Day at the peak of the festival stamps the day as a 'day of judgment' . . . . [on this day] the individual in all his naked individuality stands before God."
Maimonides, the great Jewish teacher, summed up the meaning of the Trumpets as follows: "Awake, ye slumberers, from your sleep and rouse you from your lethargy. Make search into your deeds and turn in repentance. Remember your Creator, you who forgot truth in the trifles of the hour, who go astray all your years after vain illusions which can neither profit nor save. Look to your souls and mend your ways and your actions let every one of you leave his evil path and his unworthy purpose. Seek the way of God; this is the meaning of life."
Trumpets and Atonementare Serious Days of Awe
The Jewish Festivalsby Hayyim Schauss (Cincinnati, 1938).
Both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur "are different, in atmosphere, from other Jewish festivals and are therefore known as the 'Days of Awe.' In all other festivals the spirit is one of exalted joyfulness. The exaltation of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, however, has no traces of joy, for these are profoundly serious days, with a feeling of the heavy moral responsibility which life puts on all."
Day of Trumpets in the Talmudand Jewish Writers
According to Rabbi Eliezer, the creation began on Elul 25, and on the sixth day from this, Tishri I, Adam was created.
--Leviticus Rabbah, 29.1
(COMMENT: This would make the first Sabbath Tishri 2. But calendar rules forbid Tishri 1 from falling on a Friday.)
The first day of Nisan is the New Year for kings and festivals; but the first of Tishri is the New Year for the tithe of cattle and vegetables, reckoning of the years, and for release and jubilee years. At four times, judgment is passed on the world: at Passover in respect of produce; at Pentecost in respect of fruit, at New Year all men are judged, "He that fashions the heart of them all, that considers all their doings," Psalm 33:15; and on Tabernacles judgment is passed in respect of rain. --Rosh Hashanah 1.1-2
Rabbi Judah says: "Man is judged on New Year and his doom is sealed on the Day of Atonement." R. Jose says: "Man is judged every day, as it says, 'and you do visit him every morning,' Job 7:18." R. Nathan says: "Man is judged every moment, as it says, 'You do try him every moment'."
--Rosh Hashanah 16a
The fate of everything in nature is under judgment on Rosh Hashanah, and is sealed on various days: the fate of grain on Passover, fruit on Shabuot, water on Sukkot, "the fate of man, however, is sealed on Yom Kippur." --Rosh Hashanah, 16a
On New Year, Sarah, Rachel and Hannah were remembered on high [and they conceived]; on New Year Joseph went forth from prison; on New Year the bondage of our ancestors in Egypt ceased [although their exodus was delayed until Passover].
--Rosh Hashanah 10b - 11a
The Hallel Psalm [Psalm 146-150] are not sung on the New Year and on the Day of Atonement, because: "Is it possible that the King should sit on the throne of judgment, with the books of those destined to live and destined to die before Him, and Israel should sing a song before Me?" --Arakhin 10b
The shofar was created for the welfare of Israel. The Torah was given to Israel with the sound of the shofar, as it is said: "When the voice of the shofar waxed louder and louder," Exodus 19:19. Israel conquered in the battle of Jericho with the blast of the shofar: "When the people heard the sound of the shofar that the people shouted with a great shout, and the wall fell down flat," Joshua 6:20. Israel will be advised of the advent of the Messiah with the sound of the shofar: "And the Lord God will blow the shofarZechariah 9:14." And the Holy One . . . will sound the shofar at the ingathering of the exiles of Israel to their place: "and it shall come to pass in that day, that a great shofar shall be blown; and they shall come that were lost in the land of Assyria, and they that were dispersed in the land of Egypt; and they shall worship the Lord in the holy mountain at Jerusalem," Isaiah 27:13. --Eliyahn Zuta 2
Rosh Hashanah is a day of judgment with mercy and Yom Kippur is a day of mercy with judgment. --Moses Nahmanides
Trumpets is also known as the Day of Judgment, Day of Remembrance, Trumpet Feast or Day of Concealment (it being the only festival which falls at the beginning of the month when the new moon is still concealed). It is also the Birthday of the World, in which creation was "completed" with the creation of Adam.
Cain and Abel were said to have offered their sacrifices on Rosh Hashanah, the time of paying tithes. The binding of Isaac as a sacrifice was on Rosh Hashanah, and because the ram was sacrificed in his stead, its horn is used for the shofar.
Jacob was said to have arrived at Bethel on New Year, where he built an altar.
Rosh Hashanah can never fall on a Sunday, Wednesday or Friday. This is the Sacred Calendar arrangement so Atonement can never fall on a Friday nor Sunday. Thus there would never be the possibility of having two consecutive days on which it is forbidden to prepare food and to bury the dead.
Isaiah 55:6, "Seek Lord when He is near." When is God near? During the Ten Days of Repentance [Tishri 1-10]. --Otzar Midrashim, page 495
"On Rosh Hashanah we should go about with a subdued spirit; on Yom Kippur with an exalted spirit." --Rosh Hashanah, 26
Sound the Shofar so that God may recall the martyrdom of Isaac, and consider it as if you too are ready to suffer martyrdom for His sake. --Rosh Hashanah, 16
Rosh Hashanah is a time of judgment, yet Israel is not dejected and somber, but dresses in holiday attire and eats a festive meal. Why? "They are confident of God's mercies." --Y. Rosh Hashanah, 1,3.
Do you ask for God's compassion upon you? Be compassionate then upon your fellow-men . . . the Lord restored the prosperity of Job when he prayed on behalf of his friends [Job 42:10]. When did Abraham have a son from Sarah? When he prayed on behalf of Abimelech. [Thus, Sarah became pregnant on Rosh Hashanah, a time of birth and begettal.] --Pesikta Rabbati, 39
Abraham's sons are judged each year on Rosh Hashanah, the day he offered up Isaac. God remembers Abraham's loyalty when the ram's horn was sounded, for the ram was substituted for Isaac. --Pesikta Rabbati, 41, 6.
10 Animals were sacrificed on Rosh to correspond to the 10 days of repentance, 10 sayings by which the world was created, 10 Commandments. --Pesikta Rabbati, 41, 5.
The Sages said: "And God will say unto Israel -- yea, unto humanity, too -- 'My children, I look upon you as if today, on Rosh Hashanah, you have been made for the anew, as if today I created you -- a new being, a new people, a new humanity'." --Wayyikra Rabbah, 29:10.
Ten Reasons Why God Commanded Us to Keep the Day of Trumpets,
by Saadia Gaon (892-942 A.D.)
The first reason:Because this day is the beginning of creation, on which the Holy One blessed be He, created the world and reigned over it. Just as is with kings at the start of their reign -- trumpets and horns are blown in their presence to make it known and to let it be heard in every place -- thus it is when we designate the Creator, may He be blessed, as King on this day, for David said: With trumpets and sound of the horn, shout ye before the King, the Lord, Psalm 98:6.
The second reason: Because the day of New Year is the first of the ten days of repentance, the shofar is sounded on it to announce to us as one warns and says: "Whosoever wants to repent -- let him repent; and if he does not, let him reproach himself." Thus do the kings: first they warn the people of their decrees; then if one violates a decree after the warning, his excuse is not accepted.
The third reason: To remind us of Mount Sinai, . . . The blare of the horn grew louder and louder, Exodus 19:19, and that we should accept for ourselves the covenant that our ancestors accepted for themselves, as they said we will do and obey, Exodus 24:7.
The fourth reason: To remind us of the words of the prophets that were compared to the sound of the shofar, as it is said: Then whosoever heareth the sound of the horn, and taketh not warning, if the sword come, and taketh him away, his blood shall be upon his own head . . . whereas if he had taken warning, he would have delivered his soul, Ezekiel 33:4-5.
The fifth reason: To remind us of the destruction of the Temple . . . , O my soul, the sound of the horn, the alarm of war, Jeremiah 4:19. When we hear the sound of the shofar, we will ask God to rebuild the Temple.
The sixth reason: To remind us of the binding of Isaac who offered his life to Heaven. We should also offer our lives for the sanctification of His Name, and thus we will be remembered for good.
The seventh reason: When we will hear the blowing of the shofar, we will be fearful, and we will tremble, and we will humble ourselves before the Creator, for that is the nature of the shofar -- it causes fear and trembling, as it is written: Shall the horn be blown in a city and the people not tremble? Amos 3:6.
The eighth reason: To recall the day of the great judgment and to be fearful of it, as it is said: The great day of the Lord is near, it is near and hasteth greatly . . . a day of the horn and alarm, Zephaniah 1:14-16.
The ninth reason: To remind us of the ingathering of the scattered ones of Israel,
that we ardently desire, as it is said: And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great horn shall be blown; and they shall come that were lost in the land of Assyria . . . and they shall worship the Lord in the holy mountain at Jerusalem, Isaiah 27:13.
The tenth reason: To remind us of the resurrection of the dead and the belief in it, as it is said: All ye inhabitants of the world, and ye dwellers on the earth, when an ensign is lifted up on the mountains, see ye; and when the horn is blown, hear ye, Isaiah 18:3.
There are so many staggering problems in the world today. Is there a solution? Yes, thank God, there is!
We need the Kingdom of God. Jesus Christ preached the Gospel of the Kingdom of God when He was on this earth in human form. This is the message that the churches should be preaching as a warning and witness to the world. This message says that Christ will return and set up the government of God on this earth.
This part of God's Plan for us and the rest of the world is the essence of the Day of Trumpets.
God's Plan began in the First Month of His Calendar (Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread), continues 50 days later (Pentecost), and will end with the seventh month of His Calendar. The first day of the seventh month (seven is the number for perfection and completion) is the Day of Trumpets which will herald the return of Jesus Christ who will set up the Kingdom of God and bring to an end all that is now wrong in this world.
The Day of Trumpets will begin the Great Fall Harvest, during which time all of mankind that responds to God's call will be saved and become a part of the Kingdom of God.
It is time for those now called to let God's trumpet sound in our lives as we strive to overcome our problems so that we can be in God's kingdom.
The Day of Trumpets, the pivotal middle festival in God's Plan, is not a pleasant time for earth's inhabitants. It is a time of destruction as God and Jesus Christ tear down Satan's world and prepare to set up the Kingdom of God.
Great plagues are visited upon the inhabitants of the earth as each trumpet is sounded, ending with the Seventh Trumpet and the Seven Last Plagues including the Battle of Armageddon, Revelation 16:16.
Trumpets, in the Bible, often are used for an announcement of war, and the first festival of the Third Harvest period is no exception. Just as a new building cannot be raised until the old and dilapidated one is razed (as much as is necessary), so this world must be torn down in order for the Kingdom of God to be raised up.
God will fight a great war with the evil elements of the earth beginning with the seventh seal of Revelation 8. Here we find seven angels which have seven trumpets ready to sound so as to fulfil the beginning of the Fall Harvest.
Although the sounding of the trumpets will bring bone-chilling, terrifying and cataclysmic destruction and ruin to this world, there is also a very joyful note: the heralding of the triumphal return of Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords. With Him He will bring His people (saints) who will reign and rule with Him on this earth. The government (kingdom) of God will bring the wonderful joy, happiness, and peace that this world has agonized and longed for.
The Day of Trumpets comes to fulfillment as Jesus returns to stand on the Mount of Olives. At this time the Mount will cleave in two and healing waters will flow east and west into all the world, Zechariah 14:4, 8.
7 Trumpets of Revelation
7th Seal = 7 Trumpet Plagues (Rev. 8:1-2)
1st Trumpet(v. 7) 1/3 of Trees Burnt
2nd Trumpet(vs. 8-9) 1/3 of Sea Creatures Die
3rd Trumpet(vs. 10-11) 1/3 of Fresh Water Poisoned
4th Trumpet(v. 12) Sun, Moon, Stars Darkened by 1/3
5th Trumpet(Rev. 9:1-12) Bottomless Pit Opened; Locusts, Scorpions; People on Earth Tormented
6th Trumpet(Rev. 9:13-21) Four Angels Loosed; Army of 200 Million; 1/3 of Mankind Killed.
7th Trumpet= 7 Last Plagues (Rev. 15:1,7-8,16:1-21)
1st -- Boils & Sores
2nd -- Sea Becomes Blood
3rd -- Fresh Water Becomes Blood
4th -- Sun's Heat Becomes Red Hot
5th -- Darkness
6th -- Battle of Armageddon
7th -- Thunder, Lightning, Great Earthquake, Great Hail
Christ Returns (Rev. 19:11-16)
Ultimate fulfillment of Day of Trumpets as Kingdom of God is established.
-- adapted from an article distributed by Gary Sjordal
Answers to the following quiz are at the end of this section.
Matching -- Day of Trumpets
1. memorial, remembrance
2. ram's horn
3. first day of 7th month
4. first day of civil year
5. new moons
6. Tishri 1-10
7. return of Messiah
__ a. one of three Sacred times,
I Chron. 23:31, Col. 2:16
__ b. Day of Trumpets
__ c. Rosh Hashana
__ d. shofar, Leviticus 25:9
__ e. meaning of Day of Trumpets
__ f. "Days of Repentance", "Days of Awe"
__ g. zikrown, Leviticus 23:24
Fill in the Blanks
1. "In the _______ month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a _______, a ________ of blowing of trumpets, an holy ___________," Leviticus 23:24
2. "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a _______, and shew My people their _____________, and the house of Jacob their ____," Isaiah 58:1
3. "Blow ye the trumpet in ____, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the ____ cometh, for it is nigh at hand," Joel 2:1
4. " . . . The kingdoms of this _____ are become the kingdoms of our ____, and of His ______; and He shall reign ___ ____ and ____," Revelation 11:15.
5. "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last _____: for the trumpet shall sound, and the ____ shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be _______," I Corinthians 15:52
6. "For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a _____, with the voice of the archangel, and with the _____ of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be ______ __ together with them in the ______, to meet the Lord in the ___: and so shall we ever be with the Lord," I Thessalonians 4:16-17
On a separate sheet of paper, answer these questions:
1. Prophetically, what future events are typified by the Day of Trumpets? Joel 2; Zephaniah 1; Psalms 98:6, 9, 47:5-8; Revelation 11:15; Matthew 24:31; I Corinthians 15:52; I Thessalonians 4:16-17; Psalms 89:15, 98:6; Isaiah 27:12-13; Isaiah 58:1; Jeremiah 6:17; Ezekiel 33:3-6.
2. Is "Feast of Trumpets" a Biblically-based term?
3. Does the Bible tie the Day of Trumpets with the Day of Atonement? Joel 2; Zephaniah 1.
4. How is the Day of Trumpets a unique Holy Day? Give 2-3 ways.
Matching -- Day of Trumpets: 5a, 3b, 4c, 2d, 7e, 6f, 1g.
Fill in the Blanks: 1. seventh, Sabbath, memorial, convocation; 2. trumpet, transgression, sins; 3. Zion, LORD (YHVH); 4. world, Lord, Christ, for ever, ever; 5. trump, dead, changed; 6. shout, trump, caught up, clouds, air.
1. Day of the LORD, judgment of the wicked, establishment of the millennial Kingdom of God, resurrection of the righteous dead, joyful triumph of the righteous, regathering of Israel (second Exodus), warning of the world with the gospel message.
2. No. Trumpets (and Atonement) are not merry and joyful like the Feasts of Unleavened Bread, Weeks (Pentecost) and Tabernacles. Trumpets is profoundly serious and intended to be a time of deep introspection and repentance before the Almighty. The Hebrew words chag and chagag(Strong's #2282 and 2287) denote the giddy joyfulness characterized by feasting and dancing. These words are used for Unleavened Bread, Weeks and Tabernacles, but not for Trumpets and Atonement. Another word, moed, "set time, divine appointment" in Leviticus 23 refers to the weekly Sabbath and all the feast days, including Tabernacles, Trumpets and Atonement. Unfortunately, the King James Version often translates both chag and moed as "feast," which causes confusion. Trumpets is not a chag, but a moed. "Feast of Trumpets" in an inaccurate term.
3. Yes. Blowing trumpets begins a time of fasting and repentance.
4. (a) The holy Day of Trumpets is not mentioned in the New Testament (except in its prophetic fulfillment as the Day of the LORD), (b) Trumpets is the only New Moon that is also a Holy Day, (c) Trumpets is directly tied to the Day of Atonement.
Day of Trumpets, Part 1
Main Holy Day Menu
Written by: Richard C. Nickels
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