Rosh Hashana: A Shofar and a Crown

“Daughters of Zion, come out, and gaze upon King Solomon, wearing the crown with which his mother crowned him on his wedding day, his day of joy!”

(Song of Solomon 3:11).

The Jewish New Year, also known as Rosh Hashanah or the ‘head of the year,’ occurs in the fall on the common Gregorian calendar.  It is also the same day as the Feast of Trumpets.  According to Leviticus 23, the Feast of Trumpets occurs on the first day of the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar,  so how can it be the ‘new year’?

The first of months is given in Exodus 1:2 in the spring month of Nisan around the time of Passover.  Counting ahead brings us to the seventh month of Tishri and Rosh Hashanah.   There is another consideration, however, regarding the new year.   It is found in the command for the Feast of Trumpets.  It was to be celebrated on the new moon.  Since all Biblical months are determined by the new moon, it could be that Tishri 1 begins a new year with a new month.   

Jewish tradition states that the earth was created on Tishri 1.  Ten days later when Adam and Eve sinned, there needed to be atonement.   That idea works for  Nisan 1 as well with the lamb being brought into the home on the tenth day of the first month in preparation for Passover.   In both Nisan and Tishri, a lamb was connected to redemption, Nisan for individuals in Israel, Tishri for corporate Israel.

However and whenever the confusion started,  there are now two ‘new years’.  The first is referred to as the spiritual new year that begins with the events surrounding Passover.  From this new year all Biblical months and festivals are set.  The other new year, referred to as the civil new year,  is used to number days and count the years.  For example, every 50 years on the tenth day of the seventh month, the trumpet was sounded and a Year of Jubilee began.  Property was returned to its original owners and people went back home to their Tribal lands to begin the 50-year cycle again. It was a new year with a new beginning.  A similar command was given for every seven years when slaves would be released, debts would be dissolved, and the land would be given a rest from planting.   This ‘year of release’ was called the shemitah and ended before sunset on Tishri 1, before the new year began on Rosh Hashanah.

Does this tradition of having two ‘new years’  nullify the commands of God? Biblical days are still sunset to sunset, months are still rendered new moon to new moon, ‘appointed times’ of the LORD are celebrated in the spring and fall as commanded, and years are counted for the releasing of land and debt and the Jubilee.  Scriptures that could be interpreted with either month as the beginning of the year were studied and midrashed out by elders in Israel who centuries ago established the two ‘new year’ Hebrew calendar.

A King’s Coronation

King's CrownOne of the most familiar types and shadows of Rosh Hashanah involves the coronation of a king.  The day when kings in Israel  were coronated, that day was the new year’s day of that king’s reign.   The counting of the days, weeks, months and years of the monarch’s royal rule began on his Rosh Hashanah.  Prophets, priests, and royal officials along with the people of the kingdom cheered and rejoiced.  Shofars were blown. It was a time of great rejoicing.   First Kings describes the coronation day of King Solomon.

“The king has sent with him Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, the Kerethites and the Pelethites, and they have put him on the king’s mule, and Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet have anointed him king at Gihon. From there they have gone up cheering, and the city resounds with it. That’s the noise you hear. Moreover, Solomon has taken his seat on the royal throne.  Also, the royal officials have come to congratulate our lord King David, saying, ‘May your God make Solomon’s name more famous than yours and his throne greater than yours!’ And the king bowed in worship on his bed and said, ‘Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has allowed my eyes to see a successor on my throne today’” (1 Kings 1:44-48).

According to the Scriptures, Yeshua will return to Jerusalem to begin a one thousand year reign.  With the blast of shofars, he will be coronated as King over all the earth and sit on David’s throne.   At that moment, the dead in Messiah will rise and those who are alive will be transformed into immortality.  They will become his Kingdom of royal priests and rule and reign with him for one thousand years.

The prophetic picture of the Feast of Trumpets is the blowing of a shofar for something that has not yet taken place.  As of this day, Yeshua has not returned to Israel, has not been coronated King over all the nations,  has not taken up his throne in Jerusalem.  There also has not been a resurrection of the dead. 

“I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Yeshua and because of the word of God. … They came to life and reigned with Messiah a thousand years. …Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection… they will be priests of God and of Messiah and will reign with him for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4-6).

According to tradition, Kings of Judah were coronated on the new year day in the spring and gentile kings coronated on the new year day in the fall.  Yeshua was ‘crowned’ King of the Jews at Passover when he hung on the cross with the sign “King of the Jews.”  When he returns, he will be more than the King of the Jews, he will be King over Jews as well as gentiles.  His coronation as King of the nations of the world will most likely occur on the combined new year of Rosh Hashanah and Feast of Trumpets.  

“Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. For the Lord Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth.  …God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets. Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise. God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne. The nobles of the nations assemble as the people of the God of Abraham, for the kings of the earth belong to God; he is greatly exalted” (Psalm 47).

Books are Opened

According to another Jewish tradition, two books are opened on Rosh Hashanah.  The destiny of the righteous is written in the Book of Life and the destiny of the wicked is written in the Book of Death.   According to Moses, David and Yeshua, these books do exist and names can be blotted out of the Book of Life (Exodus 32:32, Psalm 69:29, Revelation 3:5).  Anyone whose name is not found in the Book of Life will face serious consequences.  According to Revelation 20:12-15, those whose names are not found in the Book of Life will be thrown into the lake of fire where there is eternal torment.

For this reason, Jewish men and women spend the month of Elul (the month before Tishri and new year’s day) preparing themselves through repentance and immersion so that their names are not blotted out of the Book of Life and they face the same judgment as the wicked.  It was during the month of Elul that John was immersing people in the Jordan for repentance of sins so they would be ready for the coming day of atonement.

Feast of Trumpets or Rosh Hashanah

ShofarIn the past few years, a trend has come about where non-Jewish believers in Yeshua condemn the new year celebration of Rosh Hashanah as a ‘tradition of men’ and not God’s ‘appointed time’ of Feast of Trumpets.  This is grievous because both celebrations have prophetic and Biblical significance. 

According to Yeshua, some traditions do nullify the commands of God, but the error of the Christian church over the centuries has been the belief that all Jewish traditions nullify the commands and even faith in Messiah.  They not only cut themselves off from the Biblically Jewish roots of their faith, they cut themselves off from being a witness of the Messiah to the Jewish people, the ‘lost sheep of the House of Israel’ Yeshua came to find. 

Messianic gentiles should not make the blanket statement that Rosh Hashanah is a manmade tradition and therefore should be avoided.   It is not, and even if it were, Paul commends the Corinthians for ‘holding onto the traditions’ he passed onto them (1 Corinthians 11:1).   Gentile believers in Messiah should use every opportunity to make Israel envious for their Messiah.   This is the purpose for being grafted into the Olive Tree of Israel.  The unnatural branches are not to be arrogant over the natural especially when it comes to ‘traditions‘ they don’t understand.  As foreigners gentiles need to learn about some of the traditions Paul may have been passing on as they may be the very traditions that bring the Jewish people to faith in Yeshua.  It is only when the Jews and their brothers cry out for the Messiah that those shofars will sound and there will be life from the dead.  This is a mystery that has many allusions to the first day of Tishri no matter what name you call it.

Rosh Hashanah and Feast of Trumpets are two different names for the same event reasoned from different perspectives of Scripture.  One perspective is from God’s point of view; the other from man’s. Both  cast great light into the reality of a coming King and his Kingdom.   On a future ‘first day of the seventh month’ with the blasts of shofars and a miraculous gathering of his royal priesthood, King Yeshua will be crowned King of the nations in Jerusalem.   His coronation will occur on the ‘appointed time’ of Trumpets and his Millennial Kingdom established on a new year’s day called Rosh Hashanah.

©2014 Tent Stake Ministries (Chapter from Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive that has more teachings on the Feasts of the LORD and how to celebrate them in your home or with others.)

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