Elul – The Sixth Month

Solomon 6:3
The King is in the Field

Elul – אלול

Elul is the sixth month in the Hebrew calendar.  The name derrives  from the time of the Babylonian captivity and means ‘harvest’.   It is the month of repentance and turning back to God and His commandments or ‘making teshuvah’.  During this time, the shofar is blown every morning until Rosh Hashanah or Yom Teruah  to awaken once’s spirit, to search one’s heart and soul and to draw close to God in preparation for the coming Day of Judgment which begins with the Yom Teruah and ends on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) when the books are opened and judgements and rewards are rendered.

In Hebrew, אלול, is an acronym for “Ani li dodi v’dodi li” or “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” from the Song of Solomon.    This beautiful and romantic phrase represents our relationship with God, our Creator,  which is often compared to that of a husband and wife, a bride and groom.   It is believed that during the month of Elul, we begin ‘back to back’ with our beloved because of sin, but by the end, we have ‘turned around’ through teshuvah and repentance, and we may look at each other  ‘face to face’.

Selichot, or pentitent prayers are recited every day.  They include the Thirteen Attributes of God found in Exodus 34:6-7.

In the Hebrew Scriptures, it was during the month of Elul that God showed great mercy to the Israelites who had sinned against Him in the wilderness.   After interceding for Israel with God for the lives of the people he had recently delivered from Egypt, Moses returned to Mt. Sinai.  After forty days and nights he came down from the mountain with the second set of commandments given by God.

It was at the beginning of the month of Elul that John began immersing people in the Jordan River for repentance from sin.  This was a yearly event and brought many people to the river to prepare themselves for the coming days of judgment, as well as the ‘one who was to come’ immersing in fire.

“If you have really turned from your sins to God, produce fruit that will prove it!  It’s true that I am immersing you in water so that you might turn from sin to God; but the one coming after me is more powerful than I — I’m not worthy even to carry his sandals — and he will immerse you in the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and in fire. He has with him his winnowing fork; and he will clear out his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn but burning up the straw with unquenchable fire!” (Matthew 3:8-12).

It was at the beginning of the month of Elul that Yeshua came, with the rest of his brothers and sisters,  to John in the Galilee to be immersed.  John looked up and saw Yeshua coming and and said that he should be immersed by Yeshua.  Yeshua’s response is one that has great significance – righteousness required the ‘son of man’ to be immersed as a example for all of his followers.

“Yeshua answered him, “Let it be this way now, because we should do everything righteousness requires.” Then Yochanan let him. As soon as Yeshua had been immersed, he came up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, he saw the Spirit of God coming down upon him like a dove, and a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; I am well pleased with him” (Matthew 3:15-17).

Immediately after being immersed, Yeshua is taken into the wilderness to be tempted by the Adversary.  After forty days and nights, he returns to the Galilee to begin preaching the ‘good news’ just as the Days of Awe were ending on Yom Kippur.

“From that time on, Yeshua began proclaiming, “Turn from your sins to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near!” (Matthew 4:17).

“After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news (gospel) of God.“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:14-15).

With these words, the King had entered the field where the workers were few and the harvest was plentiful.

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