The meaning of The Jewish New Year – Rosh Hashanah

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The meaning of The Jewish New Year - Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah begins on the Jewish New Year and is called the Feast of Trumpets in the Bible because it begins the Jewish High Holy Days

The article will give a summary of the meaning of Rosh Hashanah, why as Jewish people it is celebrated and the significance of Rosh Hashanah to day for Messianic Jews. It will also talk briefly about Yom Kippur, what repentance is and why repentance is so significant within the meaning of the Festival of Rosh Hashanah

The Festival of the Feast of the Trumpets was to introduce the entry of the seventh month as it was a time to prepare the people of Israel for the Day of Atonement which would be ten days later. The seventh month was important as it was the final month in the religious season. It was the last time that the people of Israel were to make a journey to Jerusalem until the following year at Passover. The day was signaled by the blowing of trumpets and offering of sacrifices (Num.29: 1 – 6). The trumpets were sounded on the first day of each month because all would know that the new month had come (Num 10:10). On the feast of the Trumpets shofar would be blown extra-long and louder all through the day

Leviticus 23:23-

The Festival of Trumpets

23 The LORD said to Moses, 24 “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of Sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. 25 Do no regular work, but present a food offering to the LORD.’

The feast of the Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) incorporates as follows:

• The Ten Days of Repentance with the blowing of the ram's horn - the shofar is a call for G’d's people to repent from their sins.

If we were to examine the book of Joshua regards the blowing and the significance of the Shofar we can read how the Rams horn played a vital role in this narrative. G’d had promised His people the Land that He had sworn Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and when the many Shofars were sounded after marching around the wall of Jericho seven times, the walls fell and Hashem delivered the land to His people

Joshua 6

…6 Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.

2 Then the LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. 3 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. 4 Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. 5 When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”

6 So Joshua son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant of the LORD and have seven priests carry trumpets in front of it.” 7 And he ordered the army, “Advance! March around the city, with an armed guard going ahead of the ark of the LORD.”

8 When Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets before the LORD went forward, blowing their trumpets, and the ark of the LORD’s covenant followed them. 9 The armed guard marched ahead of the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard followed the ark. All this time the trumpets were sounding. 10 But Joshua had commanded the army, “Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!” 11 So he had the ark of the LORD carried around the city, circling it once. Then the army returned to camp and spent the night there.

12 Joshua got up early the next morning and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. 13 The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets went forward, marching before the ark of the LORD and blowing the trumpets. The armed men went ahead of them and the rear guard followed the ark of the LORD, while the trumpets kept sounding. 14 So on the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. They did this for six days.

 On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times. 16 The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the army, “Shout! For the LORD has given you the city! 17 The city and all that is in it are to be devoted[a] to the LORD. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent. 18 But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring

about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. 19 All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the LORD and must go into his treasury.”

20 When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city. 21 They devoted the city to the LORD and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.

The shofars here represent deliverance. God’s promises were to be fulfilled. He had brought His people out of the Land of Slavery into the Land that He had for them.

During the Rosh Hashanah synagogue services, the trumpets traditionally sound 100 notes. Rosh Hashanah is also the beginning of the civil year in Israel. It is a serious and solemn event. Jewish people are searching for forgiveness, that is repentance and remembering G’d's judgment. It’s important to understand that G‘d cannot abide any kind of sin. And the festival of Rosh Hashanah looks forward to Hashem’s goodness and mercy in the New Year.

Another important practice of the holiday is Tashlikh (casting off). There will a walk to flowing water such as creek or a river on the afternoon of the first day. Pockets will then be emptied into the river thus symbolizing casting off of all sins. This practice is not discussed in the Bible but has been a long standing practice amongst Orthodox Judaism.

Reasons for celebrating Rosh Hashanah as the New Year

The term Rosh Hashanah—means “Head of the Year”— and is observed for two days beginning on 1 Tishrei, which is the first day of the Jewish year usually falling on the month of September.

Many Sephardic Jews rise before dawn every morning to recite the Selichot prayers (Pardons)

The Festival of Rosh Hashanah is a time when Jewish people believe that Hashem feels especially close to His people.

According to tradition- God created the world on this day. And so it is frequently called

• the Day of Remembrance Yom HaZikaron
• or the day of judgment Yom Hadin. The first name emphasises Gods faithfulness to His covenant and His promises. Conversely the second represents His righteousness and justice.

It is important to understand that Rosh Hashanah has deep messianic significance as the Rabbis taught that one day the shofar would sound and the Messiah would come:

We can read this in the book of Thessalonians:

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18New International Version

16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

The meaning of Yom Kippur following the Festival Rosh Hashanah

Leviticus 23:26-32

The Day of Atonement

26 The LORD said to Moses, 27 “The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves,[a] and present a food offering to the LORD. 28 Do not do any work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the LORD your God. 29 Those who do not deny themselves on that day must be cut off from their people. 30 I will destroy from among their people anyone who does any work on that day. 31 You shall do no work at all. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. 32 It is a day of sabbath rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath.”

We can put forward a question to consider. How do we as Jewish people come before a pure and holy G’d as we all fall short of His holiness?

The Day of Atonement is not a guarantee to be written in the Book of Life


I have put forward a question on how are we to come before G’d when He is the most Holiest of Holies. The question lies with what repentance is and means which I shall endeavor to explain. It is important understand that Jewish people believe that repentance is not an event but is a process through which a person recognizes the distance that has come between himself and G’d. After the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), he would commit Himself to returning to the Torah

However, as a believer in Y’shua I know that without knowing the Messiah how could I possibly stand in front of a Holy G’d as we all fall short of holiness.

The greek word for repentance is: ‘μετανοέω’ (metanoeó)
It translates to I repent, change my mind defined as I repent, change the inner man (particularly with reference to acceptance of the will of G’d). It is a turning away from rebellion towards G’d - from sin to holiness.

And to achieve this there needed to be a Messiah who was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible such a Isaiah 53 for example, who would reconcile man’s relationship with G’d that had been broken in the fall. (Read the first five chapters of Genesis)

We have examined how Rosh Hashana is a day on which each person individually and the nations of the world are being judged by an omniscient God. I like many Jewish people today believed that such a day would seem a call for sadness than rejoicing fasts as oppose to feasts. And yet it is the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) where I would have been reflecting on the past year with mournful sorrow.

When Yom Kippur had passed as a Jewish person I knew I would be no closer to achieving holiness as I knew I fell short to G’d standard. The completely righteous and absolute sinners have been judged on Rosh Hashanah according to Jewish tradition. The rest have been, again according to Jewish traditions, given a ten day reprieve. As men and women look and ponder on their misdeeds of the past year some become so emotional that they lament. To the very religious Jews their very future hangs on the 24 hours of Yom Kippur which as we know includes a twenty four fast from food and water. In synagogue is a time of deep thought and a hope to be written in the book of life.

So How does the Festival of Rosh Hashanah co inside with the Messiah. Well G’d desires all to repent and come to Him. It is impossible to do so without accepting that there was a need for atonement. There are many prophecies which lead us to the understanding that Y’shua is the Messiah.

Isaiah 64:6 reads

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. The latter was written between 701 and 681 B.C. And yet many Messianic Scriptures are denied by Rabbinic Judaism. How can we deny the scriptures which point towards a Messianic Age? Are we to deny the fact that we need to repent to come before a Holy G’d?

Psalm 19:9- 10 reads:

The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.

We have looked at the significance of the Festival of Rosh Hashanah, the meaning of Yom Kippur and the term repentance. I have shown what the Festival means to Jewish people today. However, the question is how as Jewish people are we to guarantee our names to be written in the book of Life. Following the 613 mandates is not enough. Y’shua was prophesied in many scriptures and yet is rejected as the Messiah. However, He fulfilled many of the Messianic prophecies by becoming the atonement for His people and the world reconciling a broken relationship between man and G’d which came through the fall in Genesis 1. If we are to carefully examine the scriptures we can clearly see that Y’shua is the Messiah and yet many reject the prophecies. Without atonement for sin it is impossible to come before G’d.

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