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History of the Feast of Trumpets

From one Jewish writer of 1938

                             FEAST OF TRUMPETS

                             A JEWISH HISTORY


From the book "The Jewish Festivals" by Hayyim Schauss -
published in 1938.

(Some history practices may now be outdated and not practiced
because the writer was penning his book in 1938 - Keith Hunt)



     The Days of Awe (Yomim Noroim) ... Rosh Hashonoh (New Year)
is the Jewish New Year, celebrated by Orthodox Jews everywhere,
Palestine included, on the first two days of the Jewish month,
Tishri. Among Reform Jews it is observed one day only, on the
first day of Tishri.

     Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, comes on the tenth day of
Tishri, and is observed everywhere as a fast day, as the Great
Day of the year.

     Both Rosh Hashonoh 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 Hashonoh 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.

(This was of course the old Jewish way of looking at these two
feasts, as well as thr adding of practices adopted from Babylon
during and after the Jewish 70 years captivity in Babylon, from
which they came forth under Ezra and Nehemiah - Keith Hunt)

     They are also different from other Jewish festivals in that
they bear no relation to nature nor to any historic event in the
Jewish past. They are concerned only with the life of the
individual, with his religious feelings and innermost probings.

(Of course with the Jews by and large not accepting Jesus and the
New Testament, they could go no further in their understanding of
these two Festivals - Keith Hunt)

     Rosh Hashonoh is the Jewish New Year but, in contrast with
the New Year of other peoples, it is greeted not with noise and
joy, but with a serious and contrite heart.


The New Year of the Jews

     The theme of the New Year of the Jews is a complex one. It
is impossible to present it in clear and straightforward terms,
in a minimum of words. There are many phases to discuss, and all
are complicated.

     The first thing to be explained is the fact that in the
Pentateuch, in which Jews are told to observe the first day of
Tishri as a holiday, that day is not labeled Rosh Hashonoh, the
New Year; it is designated as the first day of the seventh month.
Throughout the entire Bible there is no reference to that day as
Rosh Hashonoh. It is clear, therefore, that in biblical days
there was no holiday by that name. It is curious, too, that
according to the Pentateuch the New Year begins in the seventh
month. How is such a thing possible?

     To these and to similar questions there can be but one
answer: Jews, in the days of old, before the Babylonian Exile,
observed neither Rosh Hashonoh nor Yom Kippur. In those days they
observed only one festival at that time of the year, the Festival
of the Ingathering of the fruits and grapes. 

(Nothing could be further from the truth. The first day and the
tenth day of the seventh month was given as holy days by God,
through Moses to Israel - Leviticus 23. We shall see later that
the author contradicts himself - Keith Hunt)

     That festival had many rites that are now associated with
Rosh Hashonoh, Yom Kippur, and Sukkos. It was only later, after
the Babylonian exile, that the autumn festival was divided into
three separate holidays. 

(Absolutely not so. But the writer is obviously not believing the
Old Testamrnt is inspired writings of God - Keith Hunt)

     For this reason Jews observe, in one season of the year,
three festivals which are all actually New Year festivals. We
shall discuss later, in the chapters on Yom Kippur and Sukkos,
the type of holiday the original autumn festival must have been,
and why it was divided into three parts.

(It was from the beginning devided into three parts, as clearly
seen in Leviticus chapter 23 - Keith Hunt)

     We shall consider now the question of why the first day in
Tishri is called, in the Pentateuch, the first day of the seventh
month, and why Yom Kippur comes exactly on the tenth day of that
month. However, we must first acquaint ourselves with the Jewish
calendar and the conditions under which the Jews of old reckoned
the year and the month.


The Jewish Calendar

     The calendar in common use throughout the western world is
based on the sun. Neither the year nor the months have anything
to do with the phases of the moon. The Mohammedans, on the other
hand, reckon both the year and the month according to the phases
of the moon. Their year is therefore shorter than the general
year by about eleven days. A moon-year has 354 days, and the
sun-year 365 days. The Jewish calendar is based on a compromise
between the two, and is reckoned according to both the sun and
the moon. The months are figured according to the moon (twelve
months of 29 and 1/2 days each), and the year according to the
sun. In order to take up the extra eleven days, a whole month is
added to the calendar in leap years. Every second or third year
there is a thirteenth month, a second Adar.
     Jewish calendar is a very oldone. It has been established a
long time and every point and detail has been ironed out. But the
history of the calendar, how it evolved and how, in time, it came
to be an established fact, is very obscure.

(Not obscure at all, it has been recorded how it evolved to its
present form in the Jewish Encyclopedia - Keith Hunt)

     It is to be presumed that in pre-historic times, when Jews
were still nomadic shepherd tribes in the wilderness, they
reckoned time entirely by the moon, as did all nomadic peoples.

(Not so, the calendar was ordained by God to be the
responsibility of the Elders of Israel who had the skill of
astronomics, the movement of the sun and the moon, and the math
skills to govern the year and keep the festivals in sink with the
seasons of the year. The details of all this is expounded upon in
my stuides called "The Calendar Question" - Keith Hunt)

     But it seems that after they settled in Palestine and began
to observe the agriculture seasons, they also began to reckon
according to the position of the sun. How the Jews of the period
equalized the sun-year and the moon-year we do not know. It is
possible that at one time they just added a number of days at the
end of each year. 

(It is not revealed in the Old Testament. But we do know they had
the skill, certain people in Israel had the skill to keep the
Festivals of God within their season - Keith Hunt)

     In time, however, the method of making every second or third
year a leap year was apparently established.

(All recorded in the Jewish Encyclopedia as the Jewish calendar
is formed today. In the OT they had the knowledge how to keep it
the calendar in sink to the basic 19 year cycle of the sun and
planets. But the Bible is not a text book on the function of the
calendar. It is enough to know that Israel always knew how to
govern the calendar. In the time of Christ; we see that Jesus
never argued or corrected them on the governing of the calendar -
Keith Hunt)

     It appears that in the old days Jews figured their calendar
- the month, the year, and the festivals--entirely by
observation, by the testimony offered that the moon had appeared
and had been seen. 

(The writer is very lacking on his knowledge of the calendar and
how it functioned under the OT - it was never ONLY by observation
- calculation was present from the beginning. See my studies of
the calendar question - Keith Hunt)

     Later, astronomic calculation was instituted in connection
with the calendar, but the Jews were not certain of its exactness
and still had recourse to witnesses. The authority to hear this
testimony and, through it to establish the beginning of the
month, the intercalation of the calendar, and the dates of the
festivals was vested in the Sanhedrin. When they accepted the
report of the witnesses, the New Moon was announced through the
lighting of fires on the hill-tops. Later, this method was not
considered safe enough, and messengers were sent out to proclaim
the date. 

(Again the writer is lacking in understanding all the details of
how the Jews governed the caledar - Keith Hunt)

     However, it took time for the messengers of the Sanhedrin in
Palestine to reach the further lands inhabited by Jews and
proclaim there the arrival of the New Moon. It was, therefore,
decreed that outside of Palestine, in the lands of the Diaspora,
festivals were to be observed for two days instead of one. This
added second day was called "the second holiday of the Diaspora."
An exception was made in the case of Yom Kippur which, because of
the hardship of fasting, could not be prolonged. 

(It is true, such was the "traditions" of the Jews outside of
Palestine - Keith Hunt)

     Rosh Hashonoh was also an exception in that it was observed
for two days even in Palestine, for Rosh Hashonoh was also the
New Moon, the first day of Tishri. Even in Palestine it could not
always be ascertained on the preceding day whether the particular
day was the first day of Tishri or the last day of Ellul.

(Observed as such only by Pharisee Jews. When the new month of
the first day of the seventh month was announced, everyone in
Palestine knew when that first day was - Keith Hunt)

     In later times the astronomical calculation of the calendar
became so precise that the practice of hearing witnesses was
discarded. The Jewish calendar was established in every detail.

(The practice of hearing witnesses has a much larger context than
what the writer is telling you. My in-depth studies on the
calendar will explain the details - Keith Hunt)

     Despite this, the observance of the second day of festivals
is still retained in the Diaspora, for people are conservative
when it comes to religious affairs, and they are not willing to
change long established customs.

(This is probably very outdated in this 21st century, unless you
have some obscure Jewish sect still holding to this tradition _
Keith Hunt)

     To this day Orthodox and Conservative Jews in all lands
outside of Palestine, observe Pesach for eight days, Shovuos
for two days, and Sukkos for nine days. In Palestine, only seven
days of Pesach are observed (the first and seventh days holidays,
the intervening five days as semi-festivals); Shovuos is
celebrated only one day, and Sukkos for eight (the first day a
full festival, five days as semi-festivals, Hoshano Rabboh, and
finally Sh'mini Atseres, which is observed also as Simchas
Torah). Reform Judaism, recognizing the present stability of the
Jewish calendar, has discarded "second holiday of the Diaspora."

(The above pragraph in the most part [except for the last
sentance] is probably very out of date today in the 21st century
- Keith Hunt)


The History o f the New Year

     As we have learned, various peoples have various ways of
reckoning their calendar. There is a long history behind the
Jewish calendar. The same statements may be made regarding the
New Year.
     Various peoples observe the New Year at different seasons of
the year. The Babylonians and the Persians, for instance, began
their year in the spring. The ancient Egyptians began theirs in
the summer, when the waters of the Nile begin to rise; the Romans
celebrated the new year in the winter, the present secular New
Year; and the inhabitants of Palestine began their year in the
fall.

(As we shall see, there was actually two new years in Israel -
the religious year as of Nisan 1st and the secualr/agricultural
year of the seventh month - Keith Hunt)

     Under what conditions the Jews of old observed the New Year
is a matter that is somewhat obscure and complicated. The Bible
calls for the observance, in autumn, of the "feast of
ingathering, 'at the end of the year.'" Ex.23:16; 34:22. From
that we learn that the Jews started the year in the fall, when
all the work of the year was completed and all the produce of the
field and orchard were gathered in barn and bin; when the earth
was seared with heat and the rains were awaited to bring forth
new growth and life.

     But another passage of the Bible tells us that the first
month of the year is Nisan, Ex.12:2, and the months were numbered
beginning with the spring, making Pesach the first festival. The
usual explanation given by critics of the Bible is that, in older
times, Jews began the year in the fall, but that they were later
influenced by the practices of the Babylonians, who observed the
New Year in the spring. The Jews, therefore, arranged their
calendar to begin at that time. The religious ceremonies in honor
of the New Year, however, they continued to observe in the fall.
It was in this way that the observance of the New Year occurred
in the seventh month of the calendar. 

(Such ideas are foolishness - just not true at all. The simple
truth, acknowledge by most scholars today, is that Israel had a
"religious" calendar year, and an "agricultural" secular year -
as clearly given by the Lord Himself in the various verses of the
books of the law of Moses - Keith Hunt)

     The Jews of old, then, began the year in the fall, but there
was no special New Year festival, no holiday  by the name of Rosh
Hashonoh. Such a festival originated among Jews quite late, a
long time after the Babylonian Exile. The Pentateuch states only
that "in the seventh month, in the first day of the month shall
be a solemn rest unto you, memorial proclaimed with the blast of
horns, a holy convocation." But the first of every month was an
occasion for the blowing of trumpets, as a memorial before God.
The only difference was that short blasts were blown at the New
Moons of other months, while long alarm blasts were sounded on
the New Moon of the seventh month.

(All this is indeed true, what the writer has stated in his last
paragraph _ Keith Hunt)

     We cannot, then, be certain what kind of festival the first
of Tishri was in ancient times. It is possible that it was
already a form of New Year, the beginning of the year, according
to the moon. But it is also possible that it was nothing more
than an exalted New Moon observance, the holiest one of the year,
the New Moon of the holy seventh month. For exactly as the
seventh day and the seventh year were holy, so, undoubtedly, was
the seventh month.

(Indeed so! It was a "feast day of the Lord" - it had the special
blowing of the trumpets. Ancient Israel may not have fully
understood until the writing of the prophets, exactly the meaning
of those trumpt sounds. The prophets certain showed the blast of
trumpets for certain, in their day, future large and important
events to bring in the Kingdom of God on earth - Keith Hunt)

     It is worthy of note that the Bible does not refer to the
day as the New Year; neither do any Jewish books written in the
period of the second Temple. We must, however, take it for
granted that about the time of the destruction of the second
Temple the day was observed as the New Year. For in the
literature of the Tannaim, which dates to the years shortly after
the destruction, the first of Tishri is called Rosh Hashonoh. In
those days the belief was already popular that Rosh Hashonoh
marked the day on which mankind was judged in heaven and man's
fate settled.

(Wellll .... the Jews were beginning by this time, to add or make
up certain ideas on the prophetic trumpet blasts written in the
prophets of old. There will be judgement on the earth for sure,
when the reality of the Feast of Trumpets comes, but it is not as
pictured by Jewish ideas that started to take shape after the
destruction of the Temple in 70 AD - Keith Hunt)

     At any rate, a generation or two after the destruction of
the second Temple, Rosh Hashonoh had all the outstanding
characteristics associated with it today. The Shofar was blown in
the synagogue and various interpretations had been read into the
custom. The festival was observed, as today, mainly in the
synagogue. The services were longer and already included the
prayers of Malchiyos, Zichronos, Shoforos, and the use of
different leaders of prayer for the morning and Musaf
(additional) services. Later, other prayers were added, and still
later the Piyut, the liturgical poetry of the Middle Ages, making
the Rosh Hashonoh services still richer and more impressive.
Of all the prayers and the poetical insertions that were added to
the Rosh Hashonoh services none became as popular as the prayer,
Un'saneh Tokef. This poetic prayer gives the most vivid picture
of Rosh Hashonoh as the day of God's judgment of the world. The
moment when Un'saneh Tokef is recited is the most earnest and
awesome in the entire service of Rosh Hashonoh.

                           .....................

The Jews had come to see from the writings of the OT prophets,
that large earth-shaking events would happen in the trumpet
blasts of prophetic writings. But as time went on many other
false ideas and traditions were added. The full understanding of
this Feast cannot be understood unless you have Christ and the 
New Testament - Keith Hunt


 
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