Scripture Readings (First Day)
Torah: Genesis 21:1-34
Maftir: Numbers 29:1-6
Prophets: 1 Samuel 1:1-2:20
Apostles: Matthew 24:3-25:46
Scripture Readings (Second Day)
Torah: Genesis 22:1-24
Maftir: Numbers 29:1-6
Prophets: Jeremiah 31:1-19
Apostles: 1 Corinthians 15:50-58, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
A Prayer for Yom Teruah (Micah 7:18, Psalm 118:5-9)
It is traditional to pray the following Scriptures when standing at the side of a body of water, and throwing small stones or pieces of bread, which represent casting away our sin, upon the water, and pleading with the Father for a clean slate for the coming year.
“Who is a God like You, that pardons iniquity, and passes by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. You will show faithfulness to Jacob, mercy to Abraham, as You have sworn to our fathers, from the days of old.”
“Out of my distress I called upon YHWH; He answered me, and set me free. YHWH is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me? YHWH is for me as my helper; and I shall gaze upon them that hate me. It is better to take refuge in YHWH than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in YHWH than to trust in princes.”
Yom Teruah, or as it is commonly called “Rosh HaShanah,” is the beginning of the Fall Feasts on the Hebrew calendar. It falls on the first day of the seventh month, or Tishri 1. Its name comes from Numbers 29:1, which recounts, “In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing of trumpets to you.” It is also referred to as Zikhron Teruah (“a memorial of trumpets”) in Leviticus 23:24-25, “In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, shall be a solemn rest to you, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no regular work; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to YHWH.”
The “trumpet” in use here is the shofar, or the horn of a ram. There is power in man’s obedience to God’s commandment to blow the shofar, as is seen by Joshua’s taking of Jericho. Joshua 6:20 recounts, “So the people shouted, and the priests blew the trumpets. It happened, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, that the people shouted with a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.”
It should be noted that the meaning of “teruah” is not restricted to a trumpet blast, but can also refer to a great shout, as it is translated here.
The Return of the Messiah
Yeshua, in His first coming, fulfilled the Spring feasts of YHWH; and in His return, He will fulfill the Fall feasts of YHWH. There are a handful of passages in the Ketuvim Netzarim (the New Testament) which detail quite clearly that Yeshua’s much-anticipated return as Messiah ben David– the conquering King– will be in prophetic fulfillment of Yom Teruah.
Matthew 24:30-31, “Then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. He will send out His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and with a great shout, and they will gather together His chosen ones from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.”
1 Corinthians 15:51-52, “Behold, I tell you a mystery. We will not all sleep, 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 Thessalonians 4:16-17, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with God’s trumpet. The dead in the Messiah will rise first, then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. So we will be with the Lord forever.”
The House of Joseph
As has already been discussed, the return of the Messiah is heralded by the sounding of the trumpet, coinciding with the Day of Trumpets. There is an additional piece to the puzzle here to the Day of Trumpets; preserved in Rabbinic tradition, it is believed that two very significant events also transpired on the Day of Trumpets: Joseph the patriarch was released from prison, and the final restoration of the people of Israel.
The following citations are from Gemara Rosh HaShanah 11A-B.
“Rabbi Eliezer says: ‘…on Rosh HaShanah, Joseph went forth from prison.’” The passage later clarifies, “‘On Rosh HaShanah, Joseph went forth from the prison.’ Whence do we know this? Because it is written, ‘Blow the horn on the new moon, on the covering day for our festival… He appointed it for Joseph for a testimony when he went forth…’ ” (Psalm 81:3-5)
The reason Rabbi Eliezer taught that Joseph the patriarch was brought out of Egypt on the Day of Trumpets is found in his exegesis on Psalm 81:3-5. The passage in Psalms reads as follows, “Blow the trumpet at the New Moon, at the full moon, on our feast day. For it is a statute for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob. He appointed it in Joseph for a testimony, when he went out over the land of Egypt, I heard a language that I did not know.” Rabbi Eliezer understood the “New Moon” referenced here to be the Day of Trumpets, as it is the appointed time in which the trumpet is commanded to be blown in conjunction with the New Moon. (Leviticus 23:23-25) Rabbi Eliezer did not believe it was mere coincidence that the two events discussed here (the Day of Trumpets and the release of Joseph from prison) were mere coincidence, but were intimately connected.
The second point of interest from Rabbi Eliezer’s teaching here is that just as all Israel was released from their bondage in Egypt during the first month, specifically on Passover, so would the final bondage of all Israel be ended during the seventh month, specifically on Yom Teruah.
The passage continues, “Rabbi Eliezer says: ‘…on Rosh HaShanah, the bondage of our ancestors in Egypt ceased.’” The passage later clarifies, “‘On Rosh HaShanah, the bondage of our ancestors ceased in Egypt.’ It is written in one place, ‘And I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians,’ (Exodus 6:6) and it is written in another place, ‘I removed his shoulder from the burden.’ (Psalm 81:6, in reference to Joseph) ‘In Nisan (the first month) they were delivered,’ as Scripture recounts. ‘In Tishri (the seventh month) they will be delivered in time to come.’ This is learnt from the two occurrences of the word ‘horn.’ It is written in one place, ‘Blow the horn on the new moon,’ (Psalm 81:3) and it is written in another place, ‘In that day a great horn shall be blown.’” (Isaiah 27:13)
As believers in Yeshua, we find that these traditions hold much value to our belief in the return of the Messiah– an event which also occurs on Yom Teruah– to draw the House of Joseph out of the lands to which they had been scattered, just as the writings of the Prophets and the Apostles declare to us.
Rosh HaShanah – the Jewish New Year?
As has been noted in the introduction, the traditional name for Yom Teruah is “Rosh HaShanah.” This name means “Head of the Year.” Now frequently in the Messianic movement, it is not uncommon to hear objections to the traditional name for Yom Teruah, on the basis that this name is not Scriptural, and that God has already called Abib 1 the beginning of the year in Exodus 12. While it is honorable that these objections are rooted in a desire to follow the Scriptures, there are two points that must be pointed out in defense of tradition.
The first point to consider is this: although the Rabbis understand Tishri 1 to be the beginning of the civil year, they also understand Abib 1 to be the beginning of the religious year year. In fact, the Rabbis understand there to be four distinct beginnings of the year that are all used for different purposes. This isn’t confusing as it might sound; a good analogy to this (for those who live in the US) is that we observe a civil calendar that begins in January, but our fiscal calendar does not restart until February. When we use the phrase “start of the school year,” it is commonly understood that we refer to September. The same principle applies to Rosh HaShanah on the Hebrew calendar, as will be seen as follows.
- Abib 1, which is regarded as the New Year for religious observance.
- Elul 1, which is considered the New Year for the purpose of animal tithe. (This form of the “New Year” is not commonly used today.)
- Tishri 1, which is Yom Teruah This New Year is used for civil purposes, and is used for determining most calendar-based information.
- Shevat 15, which is considered to be the New Year for trees.
The second point to consider is that the observance of Yom Teruah as some form of a new beginning has significance to our Messianic faith. As has been noted above, Yeshua’s return as Messiah ben David will coincide with the blowing of the shofar, that is, on Yom Teruah. Most certainly His return would officially begin the Messianic age, and we would start counting over again from that point onward.
While I am not suggesting it is necessarily “right” to refer to Yom Teruah as Rosh HaShanah, I am suggesting that there is certainly no harm in doing so, and that this tradition has significance to our Messianic faith.
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