We are going to begin to talk about the ceremonies at the festival of Rosh Ha Shannah, or Yom Teruah. This festival is very difficult of all the Temple ceremonies to reconstruct because the ancient sources did not elaborate on the various ceremonies connected to the festival. However, a ceremony can be basically reconstructed and that is what we are going to look at. Most believers are aware of the eschatological implications of this festival. They know that the term “last trump” refers to this festival and that Paul uses it when talking about the Gathering (Rapture) of the believers during the day of the Lord. Knowing the ceremonies of the Temple will only enhance our understanding and the message of the coming of the Lord.
Here is another issue for today. Many so-called “prophecy experts” who appear on television or are on the radio do not understand the festivals and they do not understand the Temple services which teach the rehearsals, the blueprint, of what the Lord is going to do as far as eschatology is concerned. They misinterpret simple idioms and try to redefine them in their ignorance, causing a distorted eschatological picture that is totally distant from what the Lord was trying to communicate. You have people like David Wilkerson (deceased), Harold Camping (deceased) Monte Judah, Jonathan Cahn, John Shorey, Rick Wiles, Tim LaHaye, Rick Joyner, Jim Bakker, John Hagee and many, many others on television, or over the radio and Internet predicting things out of their own hearts, but saying “the Lord showed me” or “I was led by the Lord” when it really isn’t the Lord at all. Most recently, their false interpretations were exposed with the blood red moons and Shemittah teachings, but they justified their predictions by saying things happened that fulfilled what they were saying, when in reality, it didn’t if you go back and see what they were saying. John Shorey made predictions for March 2016 that have not happened, so he is off licking his “prophetic wounds” until he can come back and twist around what he meant to say. It’s the same story. They are predicting a “mid-trib” Raapture or the believers are going through the Tribulation. But, if they understood the festivals, they would see that this interpretation does not fit the tavnit, or pattern, that the Lord has prescribed in those festivals.
The bottom line to all these people, and many others like them, is that they do not understand the Torah, the Temple services, the festivals and the biblical idioms, phrases and concepts associated with the things. Without that foundation, you will have what we see today. Nobody is an expert on these things, but a basic understanding should be achieved before one goes out and pretends to speak for the Lord. Many are leading people astray with their predictions, causing a lot of heartache, expense and fear. What we are attempting to do on this site and in our teachings is to restore what we can to the original understanding, in other words, what people in the first century saw and understood when they read the Scriptures. We are not necessarily interested in how Gentile, western European, replacement theology Christianity interprets things, although there is some truth there. We want to see how the people understood the ceremonies in the Temple that went along with these festivals in this series of teachings, called Temple 201. We want to get the information out that we have been taught and researched to others so that they can have that understanding, too, and then study it on their own and take to another level. A proper understanding of the festivals and the Temple ceremonies is crucial to “rightly dividing” the Word of God and to not be swayed by every wind of false prophecy that is sure to come our way. With that said, let’s move on.
There are many good books on the subject of the Temple ceremonies, but one in particular and it is called “The Colorful Ceremonies of the Beit Ha Mikdash” by Torah U’Mesorah Publications. However, when you read the book, it passes right over the Rosh ha Shannah ceremonies. We have quoted from this book before when talking about the Temple ceremonies.
Leviticus 23 deals with the major festivals, so you know there were Temple ceremonies associated with all of them. Num 29.1-6 deals with the additional korbanot, called Mussaf, for Rosh ha Shannah. In Num 29.2 we learn that the biblical name for this festival is “Yom Teruah” which means the “day of the awakening blast” so there must have been a shofar or trumpet ceremony. Numbers chapters 28 and 29 overall deals with the Tamid, Rosh Chodesh, Pesach, Hag ha Matzah, Bikkurim, Shavuot, Rosh ha Shannah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot korbanot. All of that means there was a service in the Temple.
In the Mishnah tractate Rosh ha Shannah 1.1 it says that there are four “New Years” during the year. Only one mentioned is a major festival, and that is the Rosh ha Shannah on Tishri 1. In Lev 23.23-25, it refers to Rosh ha Shannah, and the word “shabbaton” is used. That means that it will always be a Sabbath, no matter what day it falls on. It is a day of blowing as a “reminder” or a “Zikkaron Teruah.” No laborious work is allowed and an offering is given. The word “teruah” is a note played on the shofar of silver trumpets and it is blown when receiving a king or a war cry. In Num 10.1-10 we learn about the two silver trumpets called “tzotzrot.” The teruah is a short blast. In Numbers, the emphasis is on the two silver trumpets. Lev 25.9 talks about the ram’s horn, and the word there is “yovel.” In the book “Days of Awe” by B.S. Jacobson it says that the names for Rosh ha Shannah include: Zikkaron Teruah; Yom Teruah; Yom ha Din (day of judgment); Rosh ha Shannah (head of the year); Day of blowing and the beginning of creation. Now, unlike other festivals, we do not have a rabbinical account of the ceremonies on Rosh ha Shannah. There is nothing in the Mishnah, Tosefta or the Talmud. But, we will need to go to the Tanach primarily to glean the information we need.
Even though the Torah does not explicitly say it is a “new year” festival, you can establish it from the Torah. Evidence exists that it was seen as a new year even before the Torah. There are two important Targums, which are Aramaic paraphrases of the Tanach. The Targum Yonaton Ben Uzziel dates to the first century and that is on the Torah. The other is the Targum Onkelos, and that is from the fourth century A D and that is on the Prophets. It is believed that the famous Tanna of the first century Yochanon Ben Zakkai is mentioned in Acts 4, and he would have been a young man. He was a contemporary of Ben Uzziel and they certainly knew of Yeshua, the Talmidim and Paul. In 1 Kings 8.2 we read, “on the feast, in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.” Now, there are three festivals in the seventh month; Rosh ha Shannah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. The Targum on 1 Kings 8.2 says that “the first month, which the ancients called the first month” is referring to the new year in Tishri. Who are the ancients? They were before the Torah. Ethanim is Tishri. When God spoke to Moses in Exo 12, Aviv was the beginning of months. That means that there had to be another “beginning of months” and that was Tishri. Exo 16.1 to 19.1 says that the second and third month came about after the children of Israel left Egypt. Why would he say that? Because the calendar has now expanded to two calendars. Tishri was the beginning of the civil year and Nisan was the beginning of the religious, festival calendar. All the dates in the Bible given after Exo 12 are according to the religious calendar.
Now, the Mishnaic Period of time goes from about 100 BC to 200 AD. Individual teachers are called a “Tanna” meaning “teacher.” Paul would be considered a Tanna greater than all of them if Israel believed in Yeshua, but sadly he is not even recognized. The Amoric Period goes from 200 AD to 600 AD. The teachers in this period are “Amoraim” or an “Amora” and it also means “Teacher.” The Amoraim regarded Rosh ha Shannah as a Yom ha Din (day of judgment). Deut 11.12 regards Rosh ha Shannah as the beginning of the year (in Tishri).
Lets’ look at Psa 81.3. Most translations have it translated wrong. It should say “Blow a shofar at the new moon, at the hidden (or concealed) moon, on our feast day.” Most translations have “full moon” instead of “hidden” but that is impossible. There is only one festival that occurs on a new moon, and that is Rosh ha Shannah. Psa 81.4 goes on to say that it is a statue for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob, and this alludes to it being a Yom ha Din (day of judgment). The word for “hidden” is “kiseh” and this is significant. In modern Hebrew, a kiseh is a chair. However, in ancient Hebrew it meant more than a chair. It meant a throne, and a throne had a canopy over it. This custom spread to Europe eventually and that is why there is a canopy over a throne with European kings. So, that is why a throne was called a kiseh in the Tanach, because it was covered.
So, that brings us to another application of Rosh ha Shannah. We have already mentioned it is a day of judgment, but it is also related to the throne of the king. Another book to get is called “The Psalms in Israel’s Worship” by Sigmund Mowinckel. He has a chapter called “The Royal Psalms” and the “New Year Psalms.” He goes into the enthronement festivals, and these include Rosh ha Shannah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot in Tishri. He also goes into the psalms associated with these festivals. Now, we have mentioned before that we cannot find in any rabbinical account, or Josephus of any ceremonies for Rosh ha Shannah. But, we know there had to be ceremonies because Num 29 and the korbanot told us there was. These korbanot that were offered during the Mussaf service (additional offerings along with the Tamid on festivals) had to have some ceremonies associated with them. All the others did.
In Part 23 we will pick up here and begin to discuss what we do know about the services and how this knowledge will help us piece together what was done by using the Torah, the Psalms and what was done in the Temple on particular festival days.