THE TEMPLE - ITS MINISTRY AND SERVICE #17
By Alfred Edersheim
THE NEW MOONS: THE FEAST OF THE SEVENTH
NEW MOON, OR OF TRUMPETS, OR NEW YEAR'S DAY
'Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in
respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath:
which are a shadow of things to come; but the body of Christ.'--
SCARCELY any other festive season could have left so
continuous an impress on the religious life of Israel as the 'New
Moons.' Recurring at the beginning of every month, and marking
it, the solemn proclamation of the day, by--'It is sanctified,'
was intended to give a hallowed character to each month, while
the blowing of the priests' trumpets and the special sacrifices
brought, would summon, as it were, the Lord's host offer their
tribute unto their exalted King, and thus bring themselves into
'remembrance' before Him. Besides, it was also a popular feast,
when families, like that of David, might celebrate their special
annual sacrifice; 1 when the king gave a statebanquet; 2 and
those who sought for instruction and edification resorted to
religious meetings, such as Elisha seems to have held. 3 And so
we trace its observance onwards through the history of Israel;
marking in Scripture a special Psalm for the New
1 1 Sam. xx. 6,29.
2 1 Sam. Xx.5,24.
3 2 Kings iv.23.
Moon (in Tishri); 1 noting how from month to month the day was
kept as an outward ordinance, even in the decay of religious
life, 2 apparently all the more rigidly, with abstinence from
work, not enjoined in the law, (Yes, the "new month" day was
never ordained as a Sabbath rest, as some people falsely teach
today - Keith Hunt) that its spirit was no longer understood; 3
and finally learning from the prophecies of Isaiah and Ezekiel
that it also had a higher meaning, and was destined to find a
better fulfilment in another dispensation, when the New Moon
trumpet should summon 'all flesh to worship before Jehovah,' 4
and the closed eastern gate to the inner court of the new Temple
be opened once more to believing Israel. 5
And in New Testament times we still find the 'New Moon' kept
as an outward observance by Jews and Judaising Christians, yet
expressly characterised as 'a shadow of things to come; but the
body of Christ.' 6
We have already shown of what importance the right
determination of the new moon was in fixing the various festivals
of the year, and with what care and anxiety its appearance was
asertained from witnesses who had actually seen it; also how the
tidings were afterwards communicated to those at a distance. For
the new moon was reckoned by actual personal observation, not by
astronomical calculation, with which, however, as we know, many
of the Rabbis must have been familiar, since we read of
astronomical pictures, by which they were wont to test the
veracity of witnesses. (Edersheim is not correct here, for
calculation sometimes had to be used, if the clouds prevailed,
and could prevail for a number of months in a row - see my
studies on "The Calendar" - Keith Hunt).
So important was it deemed to have faithful witnesses, that
they were even allowed, in
1 Psa. lxxxi.3.
2 Isa. i.13; Hos. ii.11.
3 Amos viii.5.
4 Isa. lxvi.23.
6 Col. ii.16,17.
order to reach Jerusalem in time, to travel on the Sabbath, and,
if necessary, to make use of horse or mule.1 While strict rules
determined who were not to be admitted as witnesses, 2 every
encouragement was given to trustworthy persons, and the Sanhedrim
provided for them a banquet in a large building specially
destined for that purpose, and known as the Beth Yaazek. 3
In the law of God only these two things are enjoined in the
observance of the 'New Moon'--the 'blowing of trumpets' 4 and
special festive sacrifices. 5
Of old the 'blowing of trumpets' had been the signal for
Israel's host on their arch through the wilderness, as it
afterwards summoned them to warfare, and proclaimed or marked
days of public rejoicing, and feasts, as well as the 'beginnings
of their months.' 6 The object of it is expressly stated to have
been 'for a memorial,' that they might 'be remembered before
Jehovah,' it being specially added: 'I am Jehovah your God.' It
was, so to speak, the host of God assembled, waiting for their
Leader; the people of God united to proclaim their King. At the
blast of the priests' trumpets they ranged themselves, as it
were, under His banner and before His throne, and this symbolical
confession and proclamation of Him as 'Jehovah their God,'
brought them before Him to be 'remembered' and 'saved.' And so
every season of 'blowing the trumpets,' whether at New Moons, at
the Feast of Trumpets or New Years Day, at other festivals, in
the Sabbatical and Year of jubilee, or in the time of war, was a
1 "Mish. Rosh ha Sh." i.9; iii.2.
2 u.s. i.8.
3 u.s. ii.5.
4 Numb. x.10.
5 Numb. xxviii.11-15.
6 Numb. x.1-10.
of Jehovah as King. Accordingly we find the same symbols adopted
in the figurative language of the New Testament. As of old the
sound of the trumpet summoned the congregation before the Lord at
the door; of the Tabernacle, so 'His elect' shall be summoned by
the sound of the trumpet in the day of Christ's coming,' and not
only the living, but those also who had 'slept' 2 --'the dead in
Christ.' 3 Similarly, heavenly hosts are marshalled to the war
of successive judgments, 4 till, as 'the seventh angel sounded,'
Christ is proclaimed King Universal: 'The kingdoms of this world
are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ, and He
shall reign for ever and ever.' 5
SACRIFICES OF THE
Besides the 'blowing of trumpets,' certain festive
sacrifices, were ordered to be offered on the New Moon. 6
These most appropriately mark 'the beginnings of months. 7 For
it is a universal principle in the Old Testament, that 'the
first' always stands for the whole - the firstfruits for the
whole harvest, the firstborn and the firstlings for all the rest;
and that 'if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy.' And
so the burnt-offerings and the sin-offering at 'the beginning' of
each month consecrated the whole. These festive sacrifices
consisted of two young bullocks, one ram, and seven lambs of the
first year for a burnt-offering, with their appropriate meat-and-
drink-offerings, and also of 'one kid of the goats for a
sin-offering unto Jehovah.' 8
1 Matt. xxiv.31.
2 I Cor. xv.52.
3 1 Thess. iv.16.
4 Rev. viii.2; x.7.
5 Rev. xi.15.
6 Numb. xxviii.11-15.
7 Numb. xxviii.11.
8 There is a curious and somewhat blasphemous Haggadah, or story,
in the Talmud on this subject. It appears that at first the sun
and moon had been created of equal size, but that when the moon
wished to be sole 'ruler' to the exclusion of the sun, her
jealousy was punished by diminution. In reply to her arguments
and importunity, God had then tried to comfort the moon, that the
three righteous men, Jacob, Samuel, and David, were likewise to
be small - and when even thus the moon had the better of the
reasoning, God had directed that a 'sin-offering' should be
brought on the new moon, because He had made the moon smaller and
less important than the sun!
When we pass from these simple Scriptural directions to what
tradition records of the actual observance of 'New Moons' in the
Temple, our difficulties increase. For this and New Year's Day
are just such feasts, in connection with which superstition would
most readily grow up, from the notions which the Rabbis had, that
at changes of seasons Divine judgments were initiated, modified,
or finally fixed.
DIFFERENCE OF TEMPLE
AND SYNAGOGUE USE
Modern critics have not been sufficiently careful in
distinguishing what had been done in the Temple from what was
introduced into the synagogue, gradually and at much later
periods distinguishing. Thus, prayers which date long after the
destruction of Jerusalem have been and represented as offered in
the Temple, and the custom of chanting the 'Hallel' 1 on New
Moons in the synagogue has been erroneously traced to Biblical
ORDER OF SERVICE
ON NEW MONTH DAY
So far as we can gather, the following was the order of
service on New Moon's Day. The Council sat from early morning to
just before the evening sacrifice, to determine the appearance of
the new moon. The proclamation of the Council--'It is sanctified
!' - and not the actual appearance of the new moon, determined
1 Psa. cxiii.-cxviii.
2 This even by Buxtorf, in his "Lex. Rabb"., and also by Dr.
Ginsburg in Kitto's "Cycl." vol. iii. In general, articles on the
'New Moon' and 'New Year,' notwithstanding their ability, do not
display sufficient critical discernment on the part of their
author. That the 'Hallel' was not sung in the Temple on New Moons
is shown by Jost., "Gesch, d. Judenth." i.184.
of the feast. Immediately afterwards, the priests blew the
trumpets which marked the feast. After the ordinary morning
sacrifice, the prescribed festive offerings were brought, the
blood of the burnt-offerings being thrown round the base of the
altar below the red line, and the rest poured out into the
channel at the south side of the altar; while the blood of the
sin-offering was sprinkled or dropped from the finger on the
horns of the altar of burnt-offering, beginning from the east,
the rest being poured out, as that of the burnt-offerings. The
two bullocks of the burnt-offerings were hung up and flayed on
the uppermost of the three rows of hooks in the court, the rams
on the middle, and the lambs on the lowest hooks. In all no less
than 107 priests officiated at this burnt-offering - 20 with
every bullock, 11 with every ram, and 8 with every lamb,
including, of course, those who carried the appropriate meat-and-
drink-offerings. At the offering of these sacrifices the trumpets
were again blown. All of them were slain at the north side of the
altar, while the peace-and-freewill-offerings, which private
Israelites were wont at such seasons to bring, were sacrificed at
the south side. The flesh of the sin-offering and what of the
meat-offering came to them, was eaten by the priests in the
Temple itself; their portion of the private thank-offerings might
be taken by them to their homes in Jerusalem, and there eaten
with their households.
PRAYERS OF THE
If any special prayers were said in the Temple on New Moons'
Days, tradition has not preserved them, the only formula dating
from that period being that used on first seeing the moon --
'Blessed be He who reneweth the months.' To this the synagogue,
towards the close of the third century, added the following
'Blessed be He by whose word the heavens were created, and by the
breath of whose mouth all the hosts thereof were formed! He app-
pointed them a law and time, that they should not overstep their
course. They rejoice and are glad to perform the will of their
Creator, Author of truth; their operations are truth! He spoke to
the moon, Be thou renewed, and be the beautiful diadem (i.e. the
hope) of man (i.e. Israel), who shall one day be quickened again
like the moon (i.e. at the coming of Messiah), and praise their
Creator for His glorious kingdom. Blessed be He who reneweth the
moons.' 1 At a yet much later period, a very superstitious
prayer was next inserted, its repetition being accompanied by
leaping towards the moon! New Moon's Day, though apparently
observed in the time of Amos as a day of rest, 2 is not so kept
by the Jews in our days, nor, indeed, was abstinence from work
enjoined in the Divine Law. 3
(edersheim is very correct in his last assertions - New Month's
day was NEVER enjoined in the laws of Moses to be a Sabbath day -
THE MOON OF THE SEVENTH MONTH -
THE FEAST OF TRUMPETS
Quite distinct from the other new moons, and more sacred
than they, was that of the "seventh" month, or Tishri, partly on
account of the symbolical meaning of the seventh or sabbatical
month, in which the great feasts of the Day of Atonement and of
1 The article 'New Moon ' in Kiitto's "Cycl." erroneously states
that not only this prayer, but even the much later superstitious
addition was 'during the period of the second Temple offered up
by every Israelite.' But comp. Jost., "Gesch. d. . Judenth" ii.
265,266, where the time of their origin is traced.
2 Amos. viii.5.
3 The Talmud has this curious story in explanation of the custom
that women abstain from work on New Moons - that the women had
refused to give their earrings for the golden calf, while the men
gave theirs, whereas, on the other hand, the Jewish females
contributed their ornaments for the Tabernacle.
and partly, perhaps, because it also marked the commencement of
the civil year, always supposing that, as Josephus and most
Jewish writers maintain, the distinction between the sacred and
civil year dates from the time of Moses. 1 In Scripture this
feast, is designated as the 'memorial blowing,' 2 or 'the day of
blowing,' 3 because on that day the trumpets, or rather, as we
shall see, the horns were blown all day long in Jerusalem. It was
to be observed as 'a Sabbath,' and 'a holy convocation,' in which
'no servile work' might be done. The prescribed offerings for the
day consisted, besides the ordinary morning and evening
sacrifices, first, of the burnt-offerings, but not the
sin-offering, of ordinary new moons, with their meat-and-
drink-offerings, and after that, of another festive
burnt-offering of one young bullock, one ram, and seven lambs,
with their appropriate meat-and-drink-offerings, together with
'one kid of the goats for a sin-offering, to make an atonement
for you.' While the drink-offering of the festive sacrifice was
poured out, the priests and Levites chanted Psalm lxxxi., and if
the feast fell on a Thursday, for which that Psalm was, at any
rate, prescribed, it was sung twice, beginning the second time at
verse 7 in the Hebrew text, or verse 6 of our Authorised
Version. At the evening sacrifice Psalm xxix. was sung. For
reasons previously explained, 4 it became early common to
observe the New Year's Feast on two successive days, and the
practice may have been introduced in Temple times.
(Such a practice of observing two holy days for each holy day
Festival of the year, is no where prescribed in the books of
Moses - it was a false Jewish tradition, brought in mainly for
those in the Dispora - the scattered Jews in the Roman Empire, a
way of kinda making sure those Israeltes "got the right day" -
somewhat like using a shot-gun to hit the bulls eye - Keith Hunt)
1 In another place we have adopted the common, modern view, that
this distinction only dates from the return from Babylon. But it
must be admitted that the weight of authority is all on the other
side. The Jews hold that the world was created in the month
(Jewish traditions have nothing to do with actual truth - which
is founded onlt in God's word - John 17:17 - Keith Hunt)
2 Lev. xxiii.24.
3 Numb. xxix.1.
4 Chiefly to prevent possible mistakes.
THE MISHNAH ON
NEW YEARS DAY
The "Mishnah," which devotes a special tractate to this
feast, remarks that a year may be arranged according to four
different periods; the first, beginning with the 1st of Nisan,
being for 'kings' (to compute taxation) and for computing the
feasts; the second, on the 1st of Elul (the sixth month), for
tithing flocks and herds, any animal born after that not being
reckoned within the previous year; the third, on the 1st of
Tishri (the seventh month), for the Civil, the Sabbatical, and
the Jubilee year, also for trees and herbs; and lastly, that on
the 1st of Shebat (the eleventh month), for all fruits of trees.
Similarly, continues the Mishnah, there are four seasons
when judgment is pronounced upon the world: at the Passover, in
regard to the harvest; at Pentecost, in regard to the fruits
of trees; on the Feast of Tabernacles, in regard to the
dispensation of rain; while on 'New Year's Day all the children
of men pass before Him like lambs (when they are counted for the
tithing), as it is written, 1 "He fashioneth their hearts alike;
He considereth all their works."
THE TALMUD ON THE
To this we may add, as a comment of the Talmud, that on New
Year's Day three books were opened - that of life, for those
whose works had been good; another of death, for those who had
been thoroughly evil; and a third, intermediate, for those whose
case was to be decided on the Day of Atonement (ten days after
New Year), the delay being granted for repentance, or otherwise,
after which their names would be finally entered, either in the
book of life, or in that of death.
(Again, Jewish theology not based upon the truth of God's word.
It is akin to the Roman Catholic teaching of "heaven, hell, and
purgatory - Keith Hunt)
1 Psa. xxxiii.15.
By these terms, however, eternal life or death are not
necessarily meant; rather earthly well-being, and, perhaps,
temporal life, or the opposite. It is not necessary to explain at
length on what Scriptural passages this curious view about the
three books is supposed to rest. 1 But so deep and earnest are
the feelings of the Rabbis on this matter, that by universal
consent the ten days intervening between New Year and the Day of
Atonement are regarded as 'days of repentance.' Indeed, from a
misunderstanding of a passage in the "Mishnah," 2 a similar
superstition attaches to every new moon, the day preceding it
being kept by rigid Jews as one of fasting and repentance, and
called the 'Lesser Day of Atonement.'
(This teaching of 10 days of "Awe" [as it is called today by
Jews] between Trumpets and Atonement feasts, was actually derived
from Babylon, during the Jews captivity of 70 years. The
Babylonians had this fall "days of repentance" towards their
false god/s festival. The "collective" days of examination-
repentance, is given by the Lord as the Feast of Unleavened Bread
in the Spring, or start of the Festical seasons, NOT at the end
or in the 7th month - Keith Hunt)
In accordance with this, the Rabbis hold that the blowing of
the trumpets is intended, first, to bring Israel, or rather the
merits of the patriarchs and God's covenant with them, in
remembrance before the Lord; secondly, to be a means of
confounding Satan, who appears on that day specially to accuse
Israel; and, lastly, as a call to repentance - as it were, a
blast to wake men from their sleep of sin. 3
During the whole of New Year's Day, trumpets and
(In the book of Revelation the trumpet blasts are pointing to the
end of this age, when mankind will be "trumpet blasted" in
destruction, for, or because of sins; yet the last trumpet is
also the good news of the Messiah Christ coming to destroy those
who are destroying the earth and to set up the Kingdom of God
under His rule for 1,000 years - Keith Hunt)
1 The two principal passages are Psa. Ixix.28, and Exod. xxxii.
32; the former is thus explained: 'Let them be blotted out of the
book,' which means the book of the wicked, while the expression
'of the living' refers to that of the righteous, so that the next
clause, 'and not be written with the righteous,' is supposed to
indicate the existence of a third or intermediate book!
2 Sheb. i.4,5.
3 Maimonides, "Moreh Nev." iii.43. In opposition to this, Luther
annotates as follows: 'They were to blow with the horn in order
to call God and His wondrous works to remembrance; how He had
redeemed them - as it were to preach about it, and to thank Him
for it, just as among us Christ and His redemption is remembered
and preached by the Gospel;' to which the Weimar Glossary adds:
'Instead of the horn and trumpets we have bells.' See Lundius,
"Jud. Heiligth." p.1024, col. ii. Buxtorf applies Amos iii.16 to
the blowing of the horn.
NEW YEARS DAY
horns were blown in Jerusalem from morning to evening. In the
Temple it was done, even on a Sabbath, but not outside its walls.
Since the destruction of Jerusalem this restriction has been
removed, and the horn is blown in every synagogue, even though
the feast fall upon a Sabbath. It has already been hinted that
the instruments used were not the ordinary priests' trumpets, but
horns. The "Mishnah" holds that any kind of horns may be blown
except those of oxen or calves, in order not to remind God of the
sin of the golden calf! The "Mishnah," however, specially
mentions the straight horn of the antelope and the bent horn of
the ram; the latter with special allusion to the sacrifice in
substitution of Isaac, it being a tradition that New Year's Day
was that in which Abraham, despite Satan's wiles to prevent or
retard him, had offered up his son Isaac on Mount Moriah. (Of
course no scriptures proves this - Keith Hunt). The mouthpiece of
the horns for New Year's Day were fitted with gold - those used
on fast days with silver. Another distinction was this - on New
Year's Day those who blew the horn were placed between others who
blew the trumpets, and the sound of the horn was prolonged beyond
that of the trumpets; but on fast days those who sounded the
trumpets stood in the middle, and their blast was prolonged
beyond that of the horns. For the proper observance of these
solemn seasons, it was deemed necessary not only to hear but to
listen to the sound of the horn, since, as the "Mishnah" adds,
everything depends on the intent of the heart, not on the mere
outward deed, just as it was not Moses lifting up his hands that
gave Israel the victory, nor yet the lifting up of the brazen
serpent which healed, but the upturning of the heart of Israel to
their Father who is in heaven' - or faith. 1 We quote the
remark, not only as one of the comparatively few passages in the
"Mishnah" which turn on the essence of religion, but as giving an
insight into the most ancient views of the Rabbis on these types,
and as reminding us of the memorable teaching of our Lord to one
of those very Rabbis. 2
NEW YEAR'S BLESSING
The "Mishnah" 3 mentions various 'Berachoth' or
'benedictions' as having been repeated on New Year's Day. These,
with many others of later date, still form part of the liturgy in
the synagogue for that day. But there is internal evidence that
the prayers, at any rate in their present form, could not have
been used, at least, in the Temple. 4 Besides, the Rabbis
themselves differ as to their exact amount and contents, and
finally satisfy themselves by indicating that the titles of these
benedictions are rather intended as headings, to show their
contents, and what special direction their prayers had taken.
One set of them bore on 'the kingdom' of God, and is accordingly
called 'Malchiyoth;' another, the 'Sichronoth,' referred to the
various kinds of 'remembrance' on the part of God; while a third,
called 'Shopharoth,' consisted of benedictions, connected with
the 'blowing of the horn.' It is said that any one who simply
repeated ten passages from Scripture - according to another
authority, three - bearing on 'the kingdom of God,' the
remembrance of God,' and 'the blowing of
1 "Rosh ha Sh." iii.8.
2 John iii.14,15.
3 "Rosh ha Sh." iv.5, etc.
4 From the text of "Rosh ha Sh." iv.7, it distinctly appears that
they were intended to be used in the synagogues. Of course, this
leaves the question open, whether or not something like them was
also said in the Temple. The "Mishnah" mentions altogether nine
of these 'benedictions.'
horns,' had fulfilled his duty in regard to these 'benedictions.'
FIRST DAY OF THE
From Scripture we know with what solemnity the first day of
the seventh month was observed at the time of Ezra, and how
deeply moved the people were by the public reading and
explanation of the law, which to so many of them came like a
strange sound, all the more solemn, that after so long a period
they heard it again on that soil which, as it were, bore witness
to its truth. 1 In the New Testament there is no reference to
our Lord having ever attended this feast in Jerusalem. Nor was
this necessary, as it was equally celebrated in all the
synagogues of Israel. 2 Yet there seems some allusion to the
blowing of the horn in the writings of St.Paul. We have already
stated that, according to Maimonides, 3 one of its main purposes
was to rouse men to repentance. In fact, the commentator of
Maimonides makes use of the following words to denote the meaning
of the blowing of trumpets: 'Rouse ye, rouse ye from your
slumber; awake, awake from your sleep, you who mind vanity, for
slumber most heavy has fallen upon you. Take it to heart, before
Whom you are to give an account in the judgment.' May not some
such formula also have been anciently used in the synagogue; 4
and may not the remembrance of it have been present to the mind
of the apostle, when he wrote: 5 'Wherefore it is said, Awake
thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall
give thee light!' If so,
1 Neh. viii.1-12.
2 But in the synagogues out of Jerusalem, the horn, not trumpets,
was blown on New Year's Day.
3 "Moreh Nev." iii. c. 43.
4 Comp. Goodwin, "Moses et Aaron" (ed. Hottinger), p.601.
5 Eph. v.14.
we may possibly find an allusion to the appearance of the new
moon, specially to that of the seventh month, in these words of
one of the preceding verses: 1 'For ye were sometimes darkness,
but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light!'
1 Eph. v.8.
To be continued with "The Day of Atonement."
I have covered fully in other studies on this Website, the
significance of the New Month Day, and especially the main
meaning of the Feast of Trumpets which is the FIRST day of the
7th Month, of the sacred year, or the first day of the FIRST
month of the civil year, which was the beginning of a RESTITUTION
of good things to come for the next year of harvest.
Certainly with Christ in the Feast, it is a time of gathering in
the final harvest of saints, to join Him in the clouds, at His
coming; then to bring the trumpet blast of war upon those enemies
of Christ who will try to fight Him on His return to earth, whom
He will defeat and destroy.