4 Things About Rosh HaShanah / Feast of Trumpets That Messianics Always Get Wrong

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Tomorrow, on the Jewish calendar, is the day commonly known as Rosh HaShanah, or the Feast of Trumpets. Here are four things about this special day that Messianics always get wrong:

#1 — It’s not the New Year.

The day traditionally celebrated in Judaism as “Rosh HaShanah” falls on the first day of the seventh month—not the first month—on the Hebrew calendar. “Rosh HaShanah” is not Scriptural, but an invention of Judaism.

“Rosh HaShanah,” which means “Head of the Year,” is traditionally celebrated in Judaism as the New Year, commemorating the alleged anniversary of Creation. Judaism actually teaches that there are four “new years” in any given year, and “Rosh HaShanah” is one of them. The problem is that not one thing in Scripture indicates this to be the case. On the contrary, the Scriptural New Year is in the springtime, not the fall (Exodus 12:2). “Rosh HaShanah”—correctly called in Scripture Yom T’ruah or Zikhron T’ruah (see Leviticus 23:23-25, Numbers 29:1)—is actually the first day of the seventh month of the Hebrew year, not the first month, as one would expect for the “New Year”.

(The Scriptures do speak about the “turn of the year” in Exodus 34:22, but this is referring to the end of the annual harvest cycle, which concludes with the Feast of Sukot, not three weeks earlier with Yom T’ruah. The phrase “Rosh HaShanah” actually does show up in Scripture one time in Ezekiel 40:1, but it has nothing to do with the day in question.)

#2 — It’s not a Feast (or Festival).

As far as God’s appointed times are concerned, there are only 3 (or 4) Biblical “Feasts”—not seven as is commonly taught—and Yom T’ruah is not one of them.

When speaking of the appointed times (mo’adiym) as outlined in Leviticus 23, the word “feast” is a very specific term—”chag“—referring only to the feasts that require a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. These feasts are Pesach/Matzah (Passover/Unleavened Bread), Shavuot (Weeks), and Sukot (Temporary Dwellings). That’s only three feasts, folks (or four, depending on how you count Pesach/Matzah), not the so-called “seven festivals” that Messianics so often tout.

So, Yom T’ruah is not a Feast (“chag“). Yes, it is a mo’ed (appointed time), and it is a day (yom), but it’s not a feast. There’s a difference.

So, not only is the “Feast of Trumpets” not a feast, but…

#3 — It has nothing to do with trumpets (or shofars).

What your English Bible says about the blowing “of trumpets” or “shofars” (ram’s horn) is not in the Hebrew text, but has been added to your Bible by translators. It comes from Jewish tradition.

When you read Leviticus 23:24 and Numbers 29:1 in your English-language Bible, it plainly says that Yom T’ruah is for the “blowing of trumpets” or similar. But “of trumpets” was added to your Bible! When you read it in the Hebrew, all it says is that it’s for t’ruah, which, in the Scriptures, can be everything from the loud sound of crashing cymbals (Psalm 150:5) to the thunderous shouting of people, as when the walls of Jericho fell down (Joshua 6:5,20)! Yes, there were shofars at Jericho, but according to the Scriptures, it was the voices of the people—not the shofars—that made the sound of t’ruah.

So why did your translators decide to add “of trumpets”? Because that’s the way Judaism observes Yom T’ruah.  The fact that Yom T’ruah has come to be known as the Feast of Trumpets shows the influence of man’s tradition on our understanding of the Scriptures.

To be sure, when we consider Psalm 81:3 where it says, “Blow the trumpet (shofar) at the new moon, at the full moon, on our feast day,” this is very likely referring to Yom T’ruah (“at the new moon”) and Sukot (“our feast day”). But all this demonstrates is that shofars (ram’s horn) are welcome as noise-makers for Yom T’ruah. We need to note that the word “shofar” and “t’ruah” fail to appear together here as well, further showing that the Day of T’ruah is about the sound, not the instrument making it.

This being the case, the bad news for Messianics only gets worse, because if there is not an explicit connection between Yom T’ruah and the shofar, then…

#4 — Yom T’ruah is not fulfilled in Yeshua, and has nothing to do with “the rapture.”

The common Messianic teaching that says that Yeshua’s return fulfills Yom T’ruah is forced, and worse, based on words and concepts that aren’t even in the Scriptures!

The widespread prophetic teaching about Rosh HaShanah / the Feast of Trumpets / Yom T’ruah relies completely on the idea that it is connected explicitly to the blowing of the shofar. And once you have shofars blasting away, Messianics can make the leap to 1 Corinthians 15:52 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16, in which “the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.”

The trumpet/shofar is the only thing connecting Yom T’ruah to the return of Yeshua. Take away this connection, and Messianics are hopeless to find a prophetic fulfillment of the “Feast” in Yeshua.

Why It Matters

The good news is that Yeshua is indeed coming back, and we will hear the sound of the shofar at His glorious return! What doesn’t matter is whether or not this is done in “fulfillment” of a “Biblical feast”—because nothing in Scripture indicates this to be so.

Why does this typical Messianic, prophetic teaching about Yom T’ruah need to be exposed for what it is? Because it’s bad theology that has been unquestioningly perpetuated, and demonstrates a grave mishandling of the Scriptures, based on the traditions and misunderstandings of man. Yeshua does indeed fulfill Passover and Yom Kippur, for example, as the Scriptures clearly teach. It would therefore be wonderful if we could tie all the mo’adiym up into a tidy prophetic package picturing Yeshua. The problem is that we have to take huge unscriptural leaps and bounds to do it—and that robs the Scripture of its truth and power, defiling the Word of God.

Yom T’ruah is Israel’s annual Memorial Day—it’s a day for remembering with loud blasts of sound (“t’ruah“). What does God want His people to remember? Scripture doesn’t say. But somehow all the t’ruah is supposed to jog our memory, and somewhere among the clanging cymbals, shouting, and, yes, even the blowing of the shofars, He expects certain things will come to mind. Perhaps the day’s proximity to Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) is related to what we should recall. But regardless, one thing is sure: it is not a day to sit in a synagogue and listen to someone else blow the shofar 100 times! No, it’s a day for us all to participate in the making of t’ruah, and remember the greatness of our God.

What do you think? Sound off below!

14 Comments
  • Eric Tokajer
    September 24, 2014

    I read your blog and while I agree with most of it and even have taught much of it at my synagogue. I think it is important that when something is not clear we don’t teach it as true or false. For instance, while Yom Teruah doesn’t explicitly state shofar/trumpet. The context of Scripture does incorporate Trumpet/Shofar with the Moedim. Also please don’t forget that Yom Teruah always falls on Rosh Chodesh and with it requires the hearing of the Trumpet/shofar. Thus hearing the Shofar is part of the observance. On another note, my opinion is that, I think the remembrance is of the first time Israel heard the trumpet/shofar at the Mount when Torah was given. So while there is much that is taught by Messianic’s that is either wrong or at best stretched to fit in observance of Yom Teruah. I think we do as much of a disservice by saying concluding things based upon conjecture. Is it a shofar or a trumpet, was it the sound of the trumpet/shofar they had to hear or just a noise. We can spend a lot of time telling people things we assume are incorrect or teach what we clearly know from scripture and what is tradition. Which by the way Paul taught us that traditions should be followed (as long as they don’t violate commandment. My two shekels worth. Thanks for the blog as I said much of it I agree with.

    • Kevin Geoffrey
      September 24, 2014

      Yo, Eric! Thanks for the comment. I’m not sure I know what you mean that “the context of Scripture does incorporate Trumpet/Shofar with the Moedim.” In all of Leviticus 23, for example, the shofar is only mentioned once, and it is in conjunction with Yom Kippur at the Yovel. As for the sounding of the shofar on each Rosh Chodesh (New Moon), Numbers 10:10 actually says “trumpet”–not shofar (ram’s horn). Completely different word. As for whether or not the traditions should be followed as long as they don’t violate Scripture, that’s for another blog post. 🙂

      • Eric Tokajer
        September 24, 2014

        Kevin if you notice I used both words, trumpet and shofar in reference to Rosh Chodesh in my response. Not just shofar. My point being that hearing a trumpet was expected on Rosh Chodesh of which Yom Teruah is one. So connecting the sound of a trumpet with Yom Teruah is not a stretch. I also know that all shofar are trumpets but not all trumpets are shofar. Just trying to keep things balanced. We have enough people trashing teachers for things that are clearly wrong I don’t see a need to belittle those who teach things that are clearly just as much a could be as they are could not be. Just my humble opinion. Blessing

        • Kevin Geoffrey
          September 24, 2014

          Thanks, Eric! I have not heard that all shofars are also trumpets. Could you please provide the reference? I’d like to check that out.

          My issue is that I don’t think the “could be” can be arrived at without first consulting the tradition. This illustrates a difference in starting points: tradition, or Scripture. Which interprets/informs which?

          Blessings!

  • Doug
    September 24, 2014

    Shalom Ya’all,

    Kevin, I think what Eric meant by all shofarot being trumpets, is that they are all instruments to blow and make a noise with, where not all trumpets are made from animal horns, so they’re not all shofarot. Good post, learned a few things, will check the references mentioned myself. Always good to listen to others views 🙂

    L’Shana Tova!
    Ok I just had to throw that in there 🙂

    • Kevin Geoffrey
      September 24, 2014

      Funny, Doug! 🙂

      Your point is taken, and I appreciate your comments. We’ll see what Eric comes back with.

      If I could continue to think out loud, just for my own clarification, not to beat a dead post: while I would agree that trumpets and shofars have certain characteristics in common, I don’t know that there’s enough there Scripturally to connect them for the purposes of this discussion. In fact, Numbers 10:2 makes it clear (as you implied) that the trumpets to be sounded each New Moon (and for assembling, and for sounding the alarm, and for all the mo’adiym) are made of hammered silver. Lacking any further clarification qualifying the nature of a “trumpet” elsewhere in Scripture, I don’t see how a trumpet could be anything but man-made, just like the other musical instruments mentioned in Scripture.

      • Dina Preuss
        January 19, 2016

        Kevin, I have to agree with you on the the matter of distinguishing between a shofar and a trumpet. We can not simply toss all “wind instruments” into the same definition. If they’re all the same simply because we blow into them in order to create a noise then a flute or a clarinet can also be labeled as a shofar!

        If King David can distinguish the flute from other wind instruments within the Psalms, then we should also be able to distinguish between them.

        We know they had the ability to pound out metals back then to create “trumpets” and we know the shofar is created from the horns of various animals. So we can intelligently deduce that a shofar and a trumpet are NOT the same instrument.

  • Diana
    September 24, 2014

    Hi Kevin:
    I’ve been attending a Messianic Synagogue for 3 years. I have to say that what you wrote has felt like a bucket of cold water was thrown on me. As I try to learn about God’s word and all the things ignored by the “Church”, it is very confusing to know what is true and what is tradition. I’m not criticizing your stand, in fact, I like what you’re doing. Messianic congregations are doing a great disservice to believers when they say that some things are commandments. For instance, I have a real problem saying that we are commanded to light the candles on Erev Shabbat. That is NOT in scripture. I have been reading your devotionals; I hope you’ll write more real soon.
    Thank you for “Bearing the Standard”

    • Kevin Geoffrey
      September 24, 2014

      Exactly the point, Diana. You got it. And thank you!

  • Doug
    September 24, 2014

    Agreed Diana, trying to unlearn 25+ years of churchianity and relearn things from an accurate Hebraic mindset Biblical perspective is a challenge for me at times, but well worth it. I think it would be too much for me to expect no traditions be taught, nor do I think that it should be that way. I think many traditions taught are worthwhile and a blessing. What I DO wish, is that it would be made crystal clear which things are just traditions and not in scripture, so people like me wouldn’t be as confused. To me, that’s just good stewardship of handling The Word. I ask my Rabbi a lot of questions about many of the traditions, and where it’s found in scripture, if it’s in there.

  • Philip
    September 24, 2014

    Interesting but I have several questions:
    1. In reference to point #3 – Is there an English Bible that does not use the word Trumpets as you suggest? If so, please point it out.

    2. Point #4 – You stated that one can’t tie all the mo’adiym into a tidy prophetic package pointing to Yeshua. Since the Spring Feasts point exactly to the death, burial, Resurrection and Holy Spirit, your claim seems to be the fall feasts or in particular this one doesn’t. This is the only one that no purpose is given in our Bible text as you point out. My 2-part question – does any of the fall mo’adiym point to any prophetical time period and If any does, what do they point to?

    • Kevin Geoffrey
      September 25, 2014

      Thanks, Philip!

      1. First, let me say that it doesn’t matter if every single English translation until the end of time adds “of trumpets,” it’s still adding to God’s Word. The phrase is not there in the original text. That said, in Leviticus 23:24 in Young’s Literal Translation, he simply translats t’ruah, as “shouting” with no additional phrase:

      “Speak unto the sons of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first of the month, ye have a sabbath, a memorial of shouting, a holy convocation”

      2. Scripture explicitly demonstrates fulfillment in Yeshua for Passover and Yom Kippur, and, obviously, the giving of the Spirit is tied to Shavuot (Weeks). We also see some moderate level of thematic connection to Sukot (Temporary Shelters). A typical teaching is that the Spring mo’adiym are fulfilled in Yeshua’s first coming, and the Fall Mo’adiym will be fulfilled in His second coming. That kind of “tidy pacakge” requires quite a bit of theological creativity to fill in the blanks, based on a tenuous premise: that there must be a tidy package in the first place. Scripture indicates no such thing. It says what it says about Passover, Yom Kippur and Shavuot, and that’s all it says. Why do we need more? Indeed, the “tidy package” dividing the Fall and Spring mo’adiym into first and second comings ought to be blown away when we realize that Yeshua fulfilled Passover and Yom Kippur at the same time, with the same action.

      Hope that helps. Thanks for the questions!

  • Bradley Sutton
    September 24, 2014

    This is a perfect article. I am glad to see more believers teaching this. I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for taking the time to write and publish this. I wish you an enjoyable Chag haSukkot.

  • Amy
    September 25, 2014

    Hi Kevin!
    I have been trying with no success to say this very thing, trying so hard to explain these to brainwashed gentile “messianics” who invent all sorts of things with these feast days to try to justify the idea that everyone everywhere is bound by scripture to observe them. This article states is plainly. Thank you. I will be forwarding this, with the hope that somebody reads it with a scriptural understanding. I am SO TIRED of hearing “the fall feasts aren’t fulfilled” and worse, “If Jesus doesn’t return THIS YEAR on the ‘hidden day’ or Yom T’ruah, then it won’t be this year at all.” WHAT NONSENSE. I was saved in a BIBLE TEACHING Messianic synagogue, and I began reading your devotionals from my very early days in the faith, and still do. Keep doing what you are doing, you are blessing many people.