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FESTIVALS IN SCRIPTURE AND HISTORY VOLUME II: THE FALL FESTIVALS
IN OLD TESTAMENT TIMES
God has always had a heart to warn people before He executes His judgment. God warned the people before the Flood, and He warned Niniveh before it was ruined. The Feast of Trumpets reflects Godís desire to summon His people to repentance so that He can vindicate them on the day of His judgment.
The Feast of Trumpets fell on the first day of the seventh month , a month which stood out in the religious year as the Sabbatical month that ushered in the last three annual feasts, namely, Trumpets, Atonment and Tabernacles. These feasts, which became known as "The High Holy Days," marked the conclusion of the religious year and typify the conclusion and consummation of the plan of redemption.
The number seven, which is woven into the Biblical calendar, represents in Scripture completion and termination. This meaning is accentuated in three feasts of the seventh month, since they completed the yearly cycle of sacrifices and harvests. The Feast of Trumpets heralded through the blowing of trumpets the final phase of the Jewish religious year which, as we shall see, typologically brought to completion Godís plan for the final disposition of sin and the inauguration of a new world.
Objectives of the Chapter. This chapter examines the origin, meaning, and development of the Feast of Trumpets during Old Testament times. The first part of the chapter gives special attention to the two major typological themes of the feast, namely, divine judgment and mercy. We shall see how the blowing of the trumpets on the first day of the seven month announced to the people the beginning of a ten days heavenly trial during which God judged each person with mercy and compassion before the execution of His judgment on the Day of Atonment. The second part of the chapter looks at some of the Jewish practices and ceremonies associated with the Feast of Trumpets in order to appreciate the practical impact of the feast in the lives of the people.
This survey of the typological meaning and practical observance of the Feast of Trumpets in Old Testament times is of vital significance for our study in the following chapter of the antitypical fulfillment of the feast in the New Testament. Our study will show that the Feast of Trumpets inaugurated a the heavenly judgment that terminated on the Day of Atonment when the destiny of each Israelite was revealed. This judgment process finds its antitypical fulfillment in the pre-Advent judgment that will terminate on the day of Christís coming when the destiny of every human being will be revealed.
PART I: THE FEAST OF TRUMPETS
In the Old Testament the Feast of Trumpets was observed on the first day of the seventh month, which after the Babylonian exile was called "the first of Tishri." The original practice of identifying the months by their numerical order was eventually abandoned in favor of the Babylonian names of the month. Thus "the first day of the seventh month" became known as "the first day of Tishri." Since Tishri was the first month in the Babylonian calendar, the Jews called the first day of Tishri Rosh Hashanah, literally meaning "Head of the Year." The Jews still observe Rosh Hashanah as their New Year which marks the beginning of what is alternatively called the "Ten Days of Repentance," or the "Days of Awe." These are the ten days of introspection and preparation for the Day of Atonment (Yom Kippur), which falls on the tenth day of the seventh month.
The Feast of the Trumpets shares with the Day of Atonment two fundamental differences from the other festivals. First, both feasts were not connected with any special historical or national event. They were seen as universal and most personal celebrations. A time for the individual to stand before the judgment seat of God, seeking for forgiveness and cleansing. Second, both feasts were observed, not like the other festivals in a spirit of exalted joyfulness, but in a spirit of intense moral and spiritual introspection, as befits a plaintiff coming before the Supreme Judge and Ruler of the universe, appealing for his life.
The Name of the Feast. The Feast of Trumpets became the second most solemn day of the Jewish religious calendar, being surpassed in importance only by the Day of Atonment (Yom Kippur). The solemnity of the feast is hardly evident to a casual reader of the pertinent Biblical texts where the feast is simply designated as "a remembrance blast" (Lev 23:24) and "a day of blowing" (Num 29:1).
The first reference to the Feast of the Trumpets is found in Leviticus 23:24: "In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest [shabbaton], a memorial proclamation with a blast of trumpets (ziccaron teruah), a holy convocation." The Hebrew phrase ziccaron teruah, can be literally translated as "a remembrance blast."
The second major reference is found in Numbers 29:1: "On the first day of the seventh month you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work. It is a day for you to blow the trumpets (yom teruah)." The Hebrew phrase yom teruah literally means "a day of blowing." The crucial word in both references is teruah, a series of staccato sounds on a wind instrument.
These two passages offer little indications of the importance of the feast. The term shabbaton "a day of solemn rest" is mentioned in the Bible in conjunction with the Sabbath (Ex 16:23), the Day of Atonment (Lev 16:3), and the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev 23:39). Thus the term is commonly used for other festivals as well. Similarly there was nothing unusual about the sacrifices prescribed for the first day of the seventh month, inasmuch similar rites were conducted on the other festivals as well.
The description of the feast as a "day of blowing" is not impressive because the shofar was blown at the beginning of each month (Num 10:10). Moreover the phrase "day of blowing" is not the actual title of the feast, but only a distinguishing characteristic of the day. While the other appointed feasts are given a name (the Sabbath, the Passover, the Day of Atonment) this feast has no title. It is simply "Yom TeruahĖthe Day of Blowing." Since the blowing of the trumpets became the distinguishing characteristic of the day, it became known as the Feasts of the Trumpets: the feast that called people to prepare to stand before the judgment of God. The texts give no specific reason for observing the Feast of the Trumpet. This is surprising because the Bible usually gives the reason for the observance of the feasts. Apparently the reason was self-evident. In his book The Jewish Festivals, Rabbi S. M. Lehrman notes that "The Bible which usually gives the reason for every observance, does not do so in the case of Rosh Hashanah [New year or Feast of Trumpets], deeming the spiritual well-being of each individual too obvious to require comment. To subsequent teachers we owe the picture of a Day of Judgment on which all mortals pass before the Heavenly Throne to give an account of their deeds and to receive the promise of mercy."1
The blowing of the trumpets was understood to be a call to repent and prepare oneself to stand trial before God who would execute His judgment ten days later on the Day of Atonment. The importance of the feast is indicated by the fact that the Jews anticipated its arrival on the first day of each month (new moon) through short blasts of the shophar (Num 10:10; Ps 81:3). These short blasts were an anticipation of the long alarm blasts to be sounded on the new moon of the seventh month.
New Year or Rosh Hashanah. Before looking further into the theological meaning of the Feast of the Trumpets, it might be well to clarify how this feast became known as Rosh Hashanah, "the beginning of the year," though it was observed on the first day of the seventh month.
The answer to this apparent contradiction is found in the fact that the Jews had both a religious and civil calendar. The religious calendar, which regulated the festivals, began in the spring, in accordance with Godís command at the time of the Exodus: "This month shall be for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for your" (Ex 12:2; cf. Deut 16:1). The first month in the religious year was the month in which the Israelites left Egypt and celebrated Passover, the feast of their redemption. It was originally called Abib "the month of the ears," but after the Babylonian exile was named Nisan. It began at our new moon of our March or April.
The civil and agricultural year, as well as the sabbatical and jubilee years, began in the autumn with the seventh month, which after the Babylonian exile became known as Tishri. If it seems strange that the Jews should begin their civil year on the seventh month, it may be well to remember that even in our society the fiscal year for many organizations begins in other months than January.
There are indications that prior to the Exodus the Israelitesí calendar began in the autumn. In the book of Exodus, for example, though the month of Abib (Nisan) is designated as the first month (Ex 12:3), the Feast of Ingathering or Tabernacles in the seventh month (Tishri) is said to come "at the yearís end" (Ex 34:22). We find a similar expression in Exodus 23:16: "You shall keep the feast of ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labor." Since the Feast of Ingathering celebrated the bounties of the agricultural year which had just closed, it was seen as marking the end of the year, although the feast actually began 15 days after the end of the year.
The seasonal cycle of nature came to an end with the fall harvest, which marked also the beginning of a new agricultural cycle with the return of the early rains that softened the ground for plowing which was done in October and November. This contributed to place the beginning of the civil and agricultural year on the month of Tishri, though it was the seven month with respect to Nisan. Thus the Jews had a double reckoning, the religious year beginning with the first month and the civil year beginning with the seven month.
Josephus, the famous Jewish historian, says that the Egyptians began their year on the fall, but "Moses appointed that Nisan, which is the same with Xantichus [the corresponding macedonian month name], should be their first month for their festivals, because he brought them out of Egypt in that month: so this month began the year as to all the solemnities they observed to the honor of God, although he preserved the original order of the months as to selling and buying, and other ordinary affairs."2 According to Josephus, then, when Moses introduced the spring (Nisan) beginning of the year for the religious calendar, he retained the Egyptian beginning of the new year in the fall for civil purposes. This information accords with the references mentioned earlier to the Feast of Ingathering coming "at the end of the year" (Ex23:16; 34:22).
Memorial of Adamís Creation. The observance of the first day of the seventh month as Rosh Hashanah, the New Year of the civil and agricultural calendar, may have inspired the rabbinical tradition that Adam also was created on that day. According to this tradition Adam sinned on the very first day of his creation and God forgave him on the same day. Adam was told by God on this day: "Just as you stood before me in judgment on this day and came out free, so your children, who will stand before me in judgment on this day, will be set free."3
The rabbis thought it logical to assume that man should be judged on the anniversary of his creation. This view in turn influenced the belief that mankind also would be judged on the same day. The rabbis expressed confidence in Godís mercy. Just as God forgave Adam, so He would forgive those who repent during the Ten Days of Penitence.4
There is merit to the concept of a new year celebration that calls believers to take an annual spiritual inventory of their lives and repent of cherished sins, knowing that God will temper His judgment with mercy. We shall see that this is a fundamental theme of the Feast of the Trumpets, an annual trumpet-call to repentance during the ten awesome days of judgment, knowing, however, that God will remember favorably His people and vindicate them.
To understand more fully the theological meaning of the Feast of the Trumpets, we shall consider its characteristic feature, namely, the blowing of the shofar. The sounding of the shofar has a rich biblical and Jewish typology which points to the human need to prepare for the final judgment. This study will provide the basis for understanding the antitypical fulfilment of the Feast of the Trumpets in the New Testament as Godís final call to mankind to prepare for the final judgment that precedes Christís return.
The Blowing of the Shofar. The unique feature of the ritual of the Feast of Trumpets was the blowing of an instrument. This is reflected in the Biblical name yom teruah, a "day of blowing" (Num 29:1). Historically the instrument blown on Rosh Hashanah has been the shofar, that is, a curved ramís horn. In fact the feast came to be identified as "The Festival of the Shofar."
Surprisingly, however, the Biblical texts cited above do not name the instrument to be used. The feast is simply referred to as yom teruah, that is, "a day of blowing" (Num 29:1). A blowing (teruah) sound could be produced with a trumpet (Num 10:5), a horn (Lev 25:9), or cymbal (Ps 105:5). The texts do not give us a clue as to the identity of the instrument to be blown on the day of the feast.
One wonders why the Feast of Trumpets, later known as Rosh Hashanah, came to be associated with the blowing of the shofar, ramís horn. After all to the average Jew the silver trumpets had far greater significance than the shofar, because trumpets were widely used in conjunction with many sacrificial rites.
The reasons for the preference given to the shofar for the Feast of the Trumpets, appear to be both practical and theological. Practically, as Abraham P. Block explains, "The shophar was a mass-produced instrument, relatively cheap, a common household article in the homes of farmers, shepherds, and many urbanites. It was used as a means of communication in everyday life. The shophar was a less sophisticated instrument than the trumpet, and its use required little skill. . . . When an occasion called for mass participation of wind instrumentalists, it was imperative to use the shophar. That was the reason for Joshuaís use of shopherot prior to the fall of Jerico (Josh 6:4). . . . The same was true of Gideonís army, which used three hundred shoferot (Jud 7:12)."5 Block continues explaining that since "the obligation to blow an instrument on that day [Feast of Trumpets] devolved upon each individual Jew (Rosh Hashanah 33a) . . . the instrument for practical reasons, had to be the shofar."6
Another practical reason suggested by Naphtali Winter is that the "stirring notes [of the shofar] arouse a feeling of apprehension. . . . arouse people from their apathy, shake their equanimity, and set in motion the train of thought leading to a heightened spiritual awareness."7
Theologically, the rite of blowing the shofar came to be associated with the Feast of the Trumpets, apparently because, as Bloch explains, "The first historical occasion associated with the sounds of the shofar was the Sinaitic revelation (Ex 19:16). The opening of the jubilee year, a momentous event in the life of the people, was also announced by the sound of the shofar [Lev 25:9]. The Decalogue established a Judaic social and religious order. The jubilee year renewed oneís social order by proclaiming freedom from poverty and bondage. Rosh Hashanah offered an opportunity to set oneís religious life in order by liberating him from sin and transgression."8
The historic association of the blowing of the shofar with Sinaitic revelation of Godís moral law and the jubilee liberation from bondage, could make the blowing shofar during the first 10 days of the seven month a fitting reminder of Godís justice and mercy. It is significant to note how the blowing of the shofar served, on the one hand, to remind the people of their need of repentance and, on the other hand, to "remind" God of the needs of His people.
The Shofar: A Call to Repentance. To appreciate the significance of the blowing of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah we need to look at the progressive nuances of its symbolism that we find in the Old Testament. The prophets used the metaphor of the shofar to call the people to repentance and return to God. For example, the prophet Joel called for blasts of the shofar in Zion to impress the people with the needed repentance: "Blow the trumpet [shofar] in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly" (Joel 2:15). Joel may be referring figuratively, if not, literally, to the Feast of the Trumpet, since he mentions its three major characteristics, shofar, fast, and solemn assembly.
During the religious reformation of King Asa, the Israelites "entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their hearts and all their souls" (2 Chron 15:12) and they sealed their oath "with trumpets, and with horns [shoferot]" (2 Chron 15:14). Isaiah explicitly associated the sound of the shofar with an admonition against sin. "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet [shofar]; declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins" (Is 58:1).
The literal and figurative usages of the shofar by the prophets to warn people of their sins and call them to repentance, was most likely derived from the Feast of the Trumpets, the annual trumpet-call to repentance and cleansing in view of the judgment conducted in the heavenly court during the ten days running from the Feast of Trumpets to the Day of Atonment. In his book What Christians Should Know about the Jews and Judaism, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein explains that the shofar "is sounded on Rosh Hashanah to arouse us from our moral reverie, to call us to spiritual regeneration, and to alert us to the need to engage in teshuvah (repentance). The shofar is the clarion call to perform teshuvahĖto search our deeds and mend our ways before the awesome day of judgment. It is a reminder of our need to confront our inner selves just as God confronted Adam with the existential question, ĎWhere are you?í (Gen 3:9)"9
On a similar vein, Maimonides, the great Jewish philosopher, explained that the blowing of the shofar on Ros Hashanah, is a wake up call for people to abandon their evil ways and return to God: "Awake, O you sleepers, awake from your sleep! Search your deeds and turn in repentance. O you who forget the truth in the vanities of time and go astray all the year after vanity and folly that neither profit nor saveĖremember your Creator! Look at your souls, and better your ways and actions. Let every one of you abandon his evil ways and his wicked thoughts and return to God so that He may have mercy upon you."10
The shofar beckoned the people with a solemn message of warning to repent for the time of judgment had come. It called upon the people to examine their lives, mend their ways, and experience divine cleansing. "In the trial imagery," writes Rabbi Irving Greenberg, "the shofar blast communicates: Oyez! Oyez! This court is in session! The Right Honorable Judge of the World is presiding!"11
The Shofar Announces the Beginning of the Trial. The blowing of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah was understood by the Jews as the beginning of their trial before the heavenly court, a trial that lasted ten days until the Day of Atonment (Yom kippur). Greenberg explains that the central image underlying the Ten Days of Awe is that of the trial. "Jews envision a trial in which the individual stands before the One who knows all. Oneís life is placed on the balance scales. A thorough assessment is made: Is my life contributing to the balance of life? Or does the net effect of my actions tilt the scale toward death? My life is being weighted; I am on trial for my life. Who shall live and who shall die? This image jolts each person into a heightened awareness of the fragility of life. This question poses the deeper issue: If life ended now, would it have been worthwhile?
"The trial image captures the sense of oneís life being in someone elseís hands. The shofar of Ros Hashanah proclaims that the Judge before whom there is no hiding is now sitting on the bench. Sharpened self-awareness, candid self-judgment, and guilt are activated by the possibility that a death sentence may be handed down. Like standing before a firing squad, a trial for life wonderfully concentrates the mind."12
One of the clearest depiction of the sounding of trumpets to announce the inauguration of the heavenly judgment is found in 4 Ezra, a Jewish apocryphal book written in the first century A. D. "Behold the days come and it shall be, when I am about to draw night to visit the dwellers upon the earth, and when I require from the doers of iniquity (the penalty of ) their iniquity: (And when the humiliation of Sion shall be complete), and when the Age which is about to pass away shall be sealed, then (will I show these signs): the books shall be opened before the face of the firmament, and all shall see together. . . . And the trumpet shall sound at which all men, when they hear it, shall be struck with sudden fear" ( 4 Ezra 4:18-2-, 23).
A similar text traditionally recited by the Jews on Rosh Hashanah is found in G. H. Boxís book on 4 Ezra: "God seated on His throne to judge the world opens the Book of records; it is read, every manís signature being found therein. The great trumpet is sounded: a still small voice is heard. The angel shudder . . . and say: ĎThis is the Day of Judgment.í"13
In both passages the final judgment in which the heavenly books are opened is announced with the sounding of the trumpet. The same view is expressed in another apocryphal book, contemporary to 4 Ezra, the Apocalypse of Moses. In section 22 it says: "And at the same hour we heard the archangel Michael blowing on his trumpet, calling the angels, saying, ĎThus says the Lord, Come with me into paradise (Garden of Eden) and hear the words with which I will judge Adam.í And as we heard the archangel trumpeting we said: ĎBehold God is coming into paradise to judge us.í"14 In this text the coming of the Lord to judge is announced by the blowing of the trumpet.
The Final Judgment. The texts just cited show how of the blowing of trumpets of Rosh Hashanah was seen as a prototype of the Great Final Judgment of mankind. This helps us appreciate why the eschatological day of the Lord is announced by the prophets with the blowing of the shophar. For example, Joel wrote: "Blow the trumpet [shophar] in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near" (Joel 2:1). Similarly Zephaniah announced "the great day of the Lord" as "a day of trumpet [shophar] blast" (1:14,16). In the New Testament also, as we shall see in the next chapter, trumpets call people to repent in view of the final judgment (Rev 9:20-21). This shows a continuity in Scripture in the typological use of trumpets to announce Godís final judgment.
For the Jews the final judgment that determines the destiny of every human being, opened on Rosh Hashanah with the blowing of trumpets and closed ten days later on the Day of Atonment. For this reason these ten days are still called by the Jews, "Days of Awe," or "Days of Repentance." During these ten days a universal judgment is conducted in heaven on the basis of records kept in books on the life of every person. We shall see that the rabbinical literature speaks explicitly of books opened by the heavenly court on the Feast of Trumpets in order to decide the destiny of every human being. The heavenly judgment that begins on the Feast of Trumpets, is "sealed" or confirmed ten days later, on the Day of Atonment. As the Mishnah puts it, "All [the human beings] are judged on Rosh Hashanah, and the [divine] sentence is sealed on Yom Kippur".15
We shall return to the themes of repentance and judgment in conjunction with our study of the Jewish customs and ceremonies associated with the Feast of the Trumpets. At this juncture it is important to note that the Feast of the Trumpets was viewed as the beginning of a judgment process that lasted ten days until the Day of Atonment. This understanding of the Feast of the Trumpets has enormous significance for our study of the investigative judgment that precedes Christís return. We shall see in the next chapter that as God called upon His people with the loud sounding of the shofar in Old Testament times on Rosh Hashanah to repent and prepare themselves to stand before His judgment seat, so He calls us today with a loud voice, saying: "Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgment has come" (Rev 14:7). A study of the typology of the Feast of the Trumpets in the Old Testament, will help us appreciate its antitypical fulfilment in the New Testament.
The Heavenly Judgment in Daniel 7:9-10. The understanding of the Feast of Trumpets as the inauguration of heavenly final judgment that lasted 10 days until the Day of Atonment when the verdict was issued, reminds us of the judgment scene found in Daniel 7:9-10. In Daniel the heavenly court consists of the Ancient of Days who is surrounded by "ten thousand times ten thousand" of angels. They "sat in judgment and the books were opened" (Dan 7:10). The imagery of books being open in the heavenly court reminds us of the Feast of Trumpets when typologically the heavenly books were opened to ascertain the destiny of each individual.
The Jews saw the connection between the heavenly judgment of Daniel 7:9-10 and the heavenly judgment of the Feast of Trumpets. In commenting on Daniel 7:9-10, Edward Chumney writes: "Since the court was seated and the books were opened, it is understood to be Rosh Hashanah. The books are the book of the righteous, the book of the wicked, and the book of remembrance. The third book that will be opened is the book of remembrance (zikkaron). This is why the common greeting during Rosh Hashanah is, ĎMay you be inscribed in the Book of Lifeí"16 We shall return later to the Jewish understanding of the opening of the books by the heavenly court on the Feast of Trumpets.
It is interesting to note that in Daniel the celestial judgment takes place after the war against the saints by the despotic little horn and before the coming of Christ to establish Godís eternal kingdom (Dan 7:8-14). The complete historical sequence runs as follows: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, ten horns, apostate horn, judgment, coming of the Son of Man, establishment of Godís eternal Kingdom.
This sequential order clearly indicates that the judgment described in Daniel 7 is not an executive act carried out on this earth at the time of Christís Return, but the evaluative process conducted in heaven before myriads of heavenly beings prior to the Second Advent. The function of the judgment in Daniel 7 is both saving on behalf of the suffering saints (Dan 7:22), and punitive against the little horn, the oppressor of Godís people, who is condemned "to be consumed and destroyed to the end" (Dan 7:26).
This dual function of the judgment accords well with the typology of the Feast of Trumpets which inaugurated a ten days judgment process that terminated with the Day of Atonment. On the latter day Godís people were vindicated and impenitent sinners were "cut off" (Lev 23:29). The drastic separation between the saved and unsaved that occurred on the Day of Atonment finds its antitypical fulfilment at the Return of Christ. In chapters 3 and 5 we will examine the antitypical fulfilment of the Feast of Trumpets and Day of Atonment respectively.
The Heavenly Judgment in Daniel 8:13-14. The judgment scene of Daniel 7 is complemented by the vision of Daniel 8:13-14. Both visions cover much of the same ground. In the vision of Daniel 7 we have the succession of four empires represented by four beasts. These are followed by the appearance of the despotic little horn who oppresses the saints (Dan 7:21) and by the vision of the heavenly court which vindicates the saints and punishes the little horn (Dan 7:25-26).
In the vision of Daniel 8 we have the succession of two empires represented by two beasts (Dan 8:1-4). These are followed by the appearance of the same despotic little horn who oppresses the saints and profanes the sanctuary (Dan 8:5-13). The oppressive and destructive activities of the little horn are terminated by the divine restoration of the sanctuary to its rightful state (Dan 8:14) The parallelism between the two visions clearly shows, as Frank Holbrook points out, that "The judgment scene of Daniel 7 and the cleansing/restoring of the heavenly sanctuary of Daniel 8 describe the same event."17
The contribution of the vision of Daniel 8 is that it expands on the activity of the little horn and it pinpoints the lime for restoration of the sanctuary, namely, after "two thousands and three hundred evenings and morning; then the sanctuary shall be restored (nisdaq) to its rightful state" (Dan 8:14). The Hebrew term nisdaq comes from the root sdq, which has a wide range of meanings such as "to vindicate, to justify, to set right, to restore, to cleanse." The term is "widely employed in judgment settings and legal procedures,"18 thus suggesting that the restoration or vindication of the sanctuary, corresponds to the judgment scene of Daniel 7.
"The judicial-redemptive end-time activity before the intelligences of the universe (Dan 7:9-10)," rightly observes Gerhard Hasel, " restores the sanctuary to its efficacy (Dan 9:24), which was attacked by the rival system of the Ďlittle horn.í On the basis of the judicial-redemptive activity in the sanctuary for the people of God, Michael, the great prince who has charge of your peopleí (Dan 12:1; cf. 10:10-13, 21; 9:25; 8:11), is able to come forth victoriously in the time of trouble and physically deliver the saints, Ďevery one whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to everlasting contemptí (Dan 12:1b-2)."19 This grand climax of the judgment process represents the antitypical fulfilment of the Day of Atonment, when, as we shall see in chapter 4, the saints are vindicated and the wicked are "cut off" (Lev 23:29).
Historically Adventist have associated the restoration of the sanctuary mentioned in Daniel 8:14 with the heavenly court scene of Daniel 7:9-10.20 The linkage is legitimate because, as we have seen, the parallelism between the two visions indicates that the heavenly court scene of Daniel 7:9-10 stands in parallel to the vision of the restoration of the sanctuary of Daniel 8:13-14. In other words, the same heavenly court that in Daniel 7 vindicates the saints and condemns the little horn, in Daniel 8 also vindicates Godís people ("the host"- Dan 8:12) and punishes the little horn for his oppressive and destructive activities. The outcome is the restoration of the sanctuary to its rightful place, that is, the vindication of God and His people, since the sanctuary represents Godís redemptive activity on behalf of His people.
Seventh-day Adventists have historically interpreted the restoration or cleansing of the sanctuary of Daniel 8:14 in the light of the cleansing of the sanctuary on the Day of Atonment described especially in Leviticus 16. This connection has been facilitated the KJVís translation of nisdaq in Daniel 8:14 as "cleansed:" "Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." The KJV follows the Greek Septuagint translation of nisdaq which is katharizoó"to cleanse," or "purify." This is a legitimate translation of nisdaq, though, we have seen that nisdaq has a broad range of meanings, including, "to vindicate, to justify, to set right, to restore."
To interpret the restoration or cleansing of the sanctuary of Daniel 8:14 solely on the basis of the cleansing of the sanctuary accomplished on the Day of Atonment, appears to me to be somewhat restrictive. The reason being that the vision of Daniel 8:13-14 stand in parallel to the heavenly court vision of Daniel 7:9-10. The latter can hardly be linked exclusively to the typological cleansing of the sanctuary on the Day of Atonment, because such cleansing represented the outcome of a judgment process, rather than an actual ongoing judgment process. Therefore this study proposes to broaden the typological base of Daniel 8:14 by including the heavenly judgment process typified by the Feast of Trumpets. Ultimately this will contribute to place the doctrine of the pre-Advent judgment on a broader and stronger typological base.
This digression on the heavenly judgment of Daniel 7 and 8 was triggered by our discussion of the Jewish understanding of the blowing of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah, as representing the beginning of the trial before the heavenly court. Now we wish to resume our study of the blowing of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah by considering some of its other meanings.
The Shofar: A Symbol of Godís Enthronement. The blowing of the shofar was seen not only as a call to stand trial before the judgment throne of God, but also to reaffirm Godís sovereignty and kingship over the world. The themes of judgment and kingship are closely related, because the king was enthroned to judge over his people. The anointment of a new king to the throne was announced by the blowing of the shofar. After Solomon was anointed king by Zadok, the priest, "they blew the trumpet; and all the people said, ĎLong live King Solomon!í" (1 King 1:39). On a similar fashion the sound of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah was seen as a symbol of Godís enthronement.
In his classic study The Psalms in Israelís Worship, Sigmund Mowinckel finds that some forty Psalms were used in conjunction with the Feast of the Trumpet to celebrate Godís enthronement.20 While Mowinckel may have gone too far in applying some many Psalms to the Feast of the Trumpets, there is some merit on some of his selections.
In Psalm 47, for example, God is depicted as ascending up the temple mount to be enthroned as king of all the earth. The call of the shofar is here used to remind the people that God is sovereign, judging from His holy throne the nations of the earth: " God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet [shofar]" (Ps 47:5). In Psalm 98:6, the people are exhorted "to make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord . . . with trumpets and the sound of the horn [shofar]."
In Psalm 87:15-16 the shofar is linked to divine justice and mercy : "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of thy throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before thee. Blessed are the people who know the festal shout [literally, "the sound of the shofar"], who walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance, who exult in thy name all the day, and extol thy righteousness."
The festal sound of the shofar most probably refer to Rosh Hashanah, the day when the shofar reminded the people in a special way of Godís justice and mercy.
The Shofar: Symbol of the Messianic Era. An important aspect of Godís mercy is His promise of a Messianic Deliverer. The sounding of the shofar has served as a reminder of Godís promise to send the Messiah to gather His scattered children. "And in that day a great trumpet [shofar] will be blown, and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those who were driven out of the land of Egypt will come and worship the Lord on the holy mountain at Jerusalem" (Is 27:13). On a similar vein, Zechariah wrote that the Lord Himself will blow the shofar when He delivers His people from attacking heathen armies; "Then the Lord will appear over them, and his arrow go forth like lightening; the Lord God will sound the trumpet [shofar], and march forth in the whirlwinds of the south" (Zech 9:14).
The sound of the shofar announces in the Bible not only the first advent of the Messiah (Is 27:13), but also the second coming of Christ. Just as the shofar was sounded to proclaim the freedom and liberation of the Jubilee year, so "the sound of the trumpet" will herald the descent of Christ from heaven (1 Thess 4:16) to gather the faithful and punish the wicked. It is significant that Paul calls this "the last trumpet" (1 Cor 15:52), evidently because it is sounded for the last time to mark the consummation of redemption. "Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed" (1 Cor 15:51-52). We shall come back to this theme in the next chapter which examines the Feast of the Trumpets in the New Testament.
The Shofar: A Reminder of Divine Mercy. The shofar did not always strike a fearful note. We noted that the shofar was blown to inaugurate the Jubilee year (Lev 25:9), the time of the great sabbatical release God provided to the people. Slaves and those dispossessed of their properties eagerly listened for the sound of the shofar that signaled their freedom! The land itself welcomed the sound of the shofar that allowed it to rest (Lev 25:11).
On a similar fashion the sound of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah reminded the Jews of Godís mercy and forgiveness during the ten days of judgment inaugurated by the Feast of the Trumpets. "On this Day of Judgment," writes Philip Goodman, "motivated by a profound faith in Godís mercy and loving-kindness, the Jew renders an accounting of his life and actions during the past year before the Supreme Judge. But he does so with a feeling and ardent hope that the Almighty will pardon his shortcomings and gratify his yearning for spiritual regeneration."21
As a reminder of divine mercy, the Jews still read today in the synagogue on Rosh Hashanah, the story of the binding of Isaac, known as Akedah (Gen 22), a story which permeates a great deal the liturgy of the High Holy Days. The Talmud says: "Why do we blow on a ramís horn? The Holy One, blessed is He, said: ĎSound before Me a ramís horn so that I may remember on your behalf the binding of Isaac the son of Abraham, and account it to you as if you had bound yourselves before me.í"22
The ramís horn, which was caught in the brushes, became for the Jews the symbol of Godís willingness to remember penitent sinners and to atone for their sins. A rabbinical tradition brings out this point eloquently: "The offspring of Isaac will someday transgress my will, and I will judge them on Rosh Hashanah. Should they appeal to my leniency, I will recall the binding of Isaac and let them blow then the horn of this ram [which was substituted for Isaac]."23
This understanding of the Feast of Trumpets as a time when God judges His people with mercy, is clearly expressed in another rabbinic statement: "It is on New Yearís Day that I acquit My creatures. Accordingly, when I judge them, let them be sure to lift up shofars and blow them before Me, and I will bring to remembrance in their behalf the binding of Isaac and I will acquit them at the judgment. Whence do we know that the blowing of the shofar is a reminder to God? From what is read in the lessor for the day, ĎIn the seventh month, in the first day of the month . . . a time of remembrance proclaimed with the blast of hornsí (Lev 23:24)."24
A Day of Divine Remembrance. The Jewish tradition of recalling the binding of Isaac on Rosh Hashanah as a reassurance of Godís willingness to atone for their sins, introduces us to another important function of the Feast of the Trumpets, namely, to "remind" God of the needs of His people.
So far our focus has been on how the blowing of the shofar served to remind people of their sins and of divine mercy. But the blowing of the trumpets serves in the Bible also "to remind" God of the needs of His people. Since God is not forgetful, we need to understand His remembering in a more dynamic sense, namely, as His intervention on behalf of His people.
We noted earlier that the two key words in Leviticus 23:23-25 that help us define the theological meaning of the Feast of the Trumpets are "remembranceĖziccaron" and "trumpet blastĖteruah." So far we have studied how the blowing of the shofar reminded people to repent of their sins before it was too late. But the term "remembranceĖziccaron" is applied also to Godís remembering His people.
The concept of God remembering His people is frequently found in the Bible. We read that "God remembered his covenant with Abraham" (Ex 2:24) when He saw the affliction and heard the cry of the Israelites in Egypt. The result of His remembering was His decision to intervene. "I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a land good and broad land, a land flowing with mild and honey" (Ex 3:8).
The ephod of the High Priest contained two onyx stones where the names of the twelve tribes of Israel were engraved as a remembrance before God. "Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord upon his two shoulders for remembrance" (Ex 28:12). Apparently Aaronís bearing of the names engraved in the two stones before the Lord, served as a "reminder" to the Lord of His covenant with His people.
Jon Paulien rightly notes that "When the stones are brought into the tabernacle they Ďstimulate Godís remembranceí of His people. If the Lord has Ďno remembranceí of a person or a nation, it means that they are rejected by Him (Neh 2:20). Thus Ďrememberingí by God is to be a continual assurance of His acceptance of His people. The people were encouraged to Ďprod His memory.í"25
A clear indication of Godís remembrance of His people is found in Numbers 10:9,10: "And when you go to war in your land against the adversary who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with trumpets, that you may be remembered before the Lord your God, and you shall be saved from your enemies. On the day of your gladness also, and at your appointed feasts, at the beginning of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; they shall serve you for remembrance before your God."
Here it is explicitly stated that the blowing of the trumpets in battle or in connection with the feasts serves to remind God of the needs of His people. The implication is that the blowing of the shofar at the Feast of the Trumpets, which is the only feast that fell on a new moon, served the purpose not only of reminding the people to repent of their sins, but also to remind God to be merciful toward His people.
Commenting on Numbers 10:9,10, Keil and Delitzsch write: " The trumpet blast was intended to bring before God the prayers of the congregation embodied in the sacrifice, that God might remember them in mercy, granting them the forgiveness of their sins and the power for sanctification, and quickening them again in the fellowship of His saving grace."26
Some rabbinical sources explain that the purpose of blowing the trumpet was to rouse God to action on behalf of Israel. "When Israel take their horns and blow them in the presence of the Holy One, blessed be He, He rises from the Throne of Judgment and sits upon the Throne of MercyĖfor it is written, ĎThe Lord (of mercy) amidst the sound of the horníĖ and He is filled with compassion for them, taking pity upon them and changing for them the attribute of justice to one of mercy."27
Moses Nahmanides, a medieval rabbi, wrote this insightful comment: "Rosh Hashanah is a day of judgment with mercy and Yom Kippur is a day of mercy with judgment."28 This statement captures admirably the emphasis of two feasts. The Feast of Trumpets tells us that God will judge us with mercy, while the Day of Atonment that God will atone for our sins with justice.
In the light of these observations we conclude that the blowing of the shofar on Ros Hashanah had a dual function. On the one hand it called the people to repent in view of the ten days of judgment that began on that day and on the other hand it reassured the people that they would be remembered with favor by God. These dual aspects of the judgment process inaugurated by the Feast of the Trumpets, will help us in our study of the antitypical fulfillment of the feast. We shall see that the Pre-Advent judgment serves not only to call upon believers on earth to repent for the hour of judgment has come, but also to reassure the same believers that God will remember and vindicate them on the day of judgment.
It is significant to note that for the Jews the judgment
process going on in heaven during the ten days preceding the Day of Atonment
was not an abstract theological truth, but an existential reality lived
out with real trumpet-calls to repentance, trusting in Godís mercy to vindicate
Christ is the Basis of Godís Remembrance. When God remembers He acts redemptively on behalf of His people. Since redemption is accomplished through Christís atoning death and intercessory ministry, ultimately Christ is the basis of Godís remembrance. This truth is brought out, for example, in Luke 1:72 where Zechariah bursts forth in a poem of praise to God for in sending Jesus He was about "to remember his holy covenant."
In the Old Testament God remembered His covenant with Israel by sending Moses ( Ex 2:24). In the New Testament God remembers His covenant with the New Israel by sending a new Moses (Deut 18:15-18), Christ Himself. In many ways the life of Christ parallels the life of Moses. Like Mosesí life was threatened at birth by a suspicious king (Ex 1:16), so the life of the infant Christ was threatened by an insecure king (Matt 2:13-18). Like Moses fasted forty days before receiving the law (Ex 34:28), so Christ fasted forty days before clarifying the principles of Godís law from the mountain (Matt 4:2; 5 to 7). Like Moses fed the Israelites with the manna sent by God (Ex 16:35), so Christ fed the multitudes with both physical and spiritual bread ( John 6: 30-33). Like Moses was used by God to bring forth water from the rock (Num 20:8), so Christ offers the water that will quench the thirst for ever (John 4:14). Like Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so Christ was lifted up (John 3:14).
The above parallelisms suggest that the New Testament sees Jesus as the new Moses sent by God to deliver the new Israel from the bondage of sin and death. Truly, when God remembers, marvellous things happen! Godís remembrance typified by the Feast of the Trumpet is above all Christ centered. Through Jesus Christ God reassures us that He remembers our physical and spiritual needs in the present, and He will remember us in the final judgment and consummation. That will be the last trumpet when we will be remembered for ever.
The Feast of the Trumpets in Biblical History. There is no mention in the Old Testament of the observance of the Feast of Trumpets between its institution at Sinai and the Babylonian exile. Some scholars assume from this silence that the feast was not observed during this period. This may be true, but an argument from silence is never conclusive.
If Mowinckelís thesis is correct that the enthronement Psalms were used on the Feast of the Trumpets to celebrate Godís sovereignty, then there is the possibility that the feast was observed. Some scholars support this view on the basis of the practice to enthrone the kings of Israel and Judah on the first of Tishri.29
One must admit that support for the observance of the Feast of Trumpets during the pre-exilic period, is very scarce. In fact there are indications suggesting that the observance of the Holy Days had been grossly neglected. For example, when the Scriptures were found during the spiritual reformation inspired by the leadership of King Josiah, the king charged Hilkiah the priest, saying: " Go, inquire of the Lord for me and for those who are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord, to do according to all that is written in this book" (2 Chr 34:21).
If, as Josiahís admits, the teachings of the Scriptures had been largely forgotten, this must have been true of the observance of the annual feasts as well. In fact, at the climax of his reform, Josiah summoned the people to "keep the passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this book of the covenant" (2 Kings 23:21). The reason given for the command is "For no such passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, or during all the days of the kings of Israel, or of the kings of Judah" (2 Kings 23:22).
The author apparently meant that no Passover had been observed in Jerusalem as a nation, because there are indications of Passover celebrations during the reign of Solomon (2 Chron 8:13) and Hezekiah (2 Chron 30:15). Yet the fact remains that Passover had been largely neglected. If this was true for Passover, the same must have been true for the Feast of Trumpets. We must not forget that, as Abraham Bloch points out, "up to the time of the Babylonian exile, monotheism had waged a loosing battle against idolatry, and ignorance of the Bible was commonplace,"30
After the Exile. The assumption that the ritual of the shofar had been largely forgotten during the exile appears to be corroborated by some Old Testament texts. We read, for example, that when Zerubbabel came to Palestine, probably in the summer of 536 B. C., he restored the sacrificial rites on the first of Tishri (Ezra 3:6). The Temple had not yet been rebuilt, and the offerings were brought to an altar especially built for that purpose. Since there is no mention of the blowing of the shofar, it would seem that the practice had been forgotten during the exile.
When later Ezra came to Jerusalem (about 457 B. C.) he discovered a community weakened by intermarriage with heathen wives and lax in the observance of the law. He assembled the people on the first day of Tishri and he led them in the public reading and translation of the law. The people hungered to know Godís Word. When they realized how far they had strayed from Godís holy precepts that they mourned and wept. Ezra comforted them, saying: "This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep" (Neh 8:9). Apparently the people were unaware of the nature of the day. Ezra told them to go home "eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared" (Neh 8:10). On the following day the people were instructed to prepare for the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles.
The omission in the account of the blowing of the shofar on either days, suggest that this characteristic ritual of the Feast of Trumpets had been forgotten. Furthermore the sober themes of repentance and judgment associated with the Feast of Trumpets are also totally absent. It would seem that though the first of Tishri was recognized as a holy day, the rituals associated with the day had largely been forgotten.
PART II: THE FEAST OF TRUMPETS
The Feast of Trumpets, though largely neglected in the pre-exilic period, became the second most important solemn day of the Jewish year in the post-exilic period. An important factor which contributed to its increasing importance, was the establishment of the synagogue, where the blowing of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah became a significant ritual.
Since the Jews, who were widely scattered, were not required to travel to Jerusalem for the Feast of Trumpets, the blowing of the shofar took added significance in the synagogues of the Dispersions. Most of the information about the Jewish observance of the Feast of Trumpets comes to us from the rabbinic literature. Before looking at the rabbinic literature, we shall mention two references from the book of Jubilees (late second century B. C.) to the first day of the seventh month, since they seem to reflect the prevailing understanding of the Feast of Trumpets.
A Time for Family Purification. In Jubilees chapter 5 there is a description of the inclusive nature of "the great judgment day." "And the judgment of every one is ordained and written on the heavenly tablets, and there is no injustice in it: all who stray from the path marked out for them to follow, and do not follow itĖjudgment is written down for them. For every creature and for every kind of creature. And there is nothing in heaven or earth, or in light or darkness, or in sheol or in the depth, or in the place of darkness, which will not be judged; and all their judgments are ordained and written and engraven. . . . And about the sons of Israel it has been written and ordained, If they repent in righteousness, he will forgive all their transgressions and pardon all their sins. It is written and ordained that he will show mercy to all who repent of all their sins they have committed inadvertently, once every year" (Jubilees 5:13-14, 17-18).
The forgiveness granted "once every year," most probably refers to the annual cleansing from sin associated with the Feast of Trumpets. This is supported by the fact that the author places the purification that Jacob carried out in his family after the affair at Shechem (Gen 35:2-4), "on the new moon of the seventh month" (Jubilees 31:3). On that day "Jacob spoke to all the members of his household, saying, Purify yourselves and change your clothes, and let us get up and go to Bethel, where I vowed a vow to the Lord on the day I fled from my brother Esau, because he has been with me and brought me into this land in peace; and do you rid yourselves of the foreign gods that are among you. And they gave up the foreign gods, and the ornaments that were in their ears and on their neck; and Rachel gave to Jacob all the idols that she had stolen from her father Laban. And he burnt them and broke them into pieces and destroyed them, and he hid them under an oak near Shechem" (Jub 31:1-2).
The fact that the book of Jubilees dates this event "on the new moon of the seven month," suggests that by the time the book was written in the late second century B. C., the Feast of Trumpets had come to be seen as a time for family purification and soul-searching. This theme, as we shall see, becomes the central motif of the feast in later Judaism.
A Day of Judgment. In the rabbinic tradition the Feast of Trumpets is clearly seen as a day of judgment. "The central motif of Rosh Hashanah is that of the Day of Judgment. On this day, says tradition, all who enter the world pass before the Heavenly Judge like troops in review or like sheep beneath the shepherdís crook. God opens His great book and records the fate of each according to his desert: ĎWho is to live and who is to die, who to rest and who to rove, who to grow rich and who to grow poor.í"31
The theme of divine judgment is emphasized in the special morning service (Musaf) of Rosh Hashanah. "The most famous element of this service," as Theodor Gaster explains, "is the solemn chanting of the hymn entitled Unetanneh Tokef ("Now let us recite the majesty of this day"), in which God is represented as sitting in heavenly assize, while mankind pass before him in judgment: ĎThe great trumpet is blown, and a still small voice is heard. The angels quiver in fright; fear and trembling seize them. And they cry one to another: Behold, the Day of Judgment is here, when the hosts on high shall be visited with judgment, for they are not guiltless in Godís eyes. And all that enter the world shall pass before Him as troops in review. Even as a shepherd tends his flock, making them to pass beneath his crook, so shall God make every living being to pass beneath His gaze, as He counts and numbers and tells them, and sets His brand upon all creation, and seals the doom of each.í"32
This view of the Feast of Trumpets as the time when God judges the world, as Abraham P. Bloch points out, "has its origin in scriptural texts and in the admonitions and proclamations of the prophets and psalmists. The rite of the shofar was another revealing indication of the judgment aspect of the holiday."33
The rabbinic consensus that the Feast of Trumpets is a day of judgment generated considerable controversy over the scope and character of the judgment. The earliest opinion attributed to the school of Rabbi Ishmael (second century A. D.), is that God has determined four seasons of judgment for the world. The judgment of God was expressed mostly in agricultural terms, as He withheld or bestowed His blessings upon the nationsís crops.
"At four times in the year is the world judged: at Passover, for the grain [Passover was the time of the barley harvest]; at Pentecost, for the fruits of the tree [Pentecost was the beginning of the fruit season]; on New Yearís Day all that come into the world pass before him like a flocks of sheep [when they are counted for tithing], for it is written, ĎHe that fashioneth the hearts of them all, that considereth all their works" (Ps 33:15); and at the Feast [of Tabernacles] they are judged for the water [Tabernacles was the time of the early fall rains]."34
According to this widely accepted view, the judgment of the New Yearís Day is the most important judgment because it affects the destiny of every human being. This universal judgment is conducted in heaven on the basis of records kept in heaven on the life of every person. The Talmud explains: "Three books are opened (in heaven) on New Year, one for the thoroughly wicked, one for the thoroughly righteous, and one for the intermediate. The thoroughly righteous are forthwith inscribed definitely in the book of life; the thoroughly wicked are forthwith inscribed definitely in the book of death; the doom of the intermediate is suspended from New Year till the Day of Atonment; if they deserve well, they are inscribed in the book of life; if they do not deserve well, they are inscribed in the book of death."35 Since, according to the rabbis, every person should regard himself as "half guilty and half meritorious,"36 it is incumbent upon all to repent and forsake their sins during the ten days of penitence.
The heavenly judgment that began on the Feast of Trumpets was "sealed" or confirmed ten days later, on the Day of Atonment. As the Talmud puts it, "All [the human beings] are judged on Rosh Hashanah, and the [divine] sentence is sealed on Yom Kippur".37 For this reason the ten days that separated the two feasts were called "Ten Day of Penitence." In a sense these ten days were, as K. Hruby observes, "days of grace par excellence for the shekinah [Godís glorious presence manifested in the Most Holy] was near, and God wanted to grant forgiveness to His people."38
Rather than separating the two feasts, the ten days of penitence united them, because, as L. Ligier points out, "the two feasts find their importance in a common eschatological theme: the determination of the destiny of the community, the individual, and the world on the new year."39
The Jewish understanding of the Feast of Trumpets and of the Day of Atonment has largely been ignored by Christian authors, possibly because of anti-Judaic bias. However, as the studies of the Levitical system advance, there will be a greater appreciation for the Jewish understanding of these feasts, because their understanding is well-rooted in the Old Testament. After all the Jews received and observed these Holy Days long before Christian authors began studying them. The Jewish understanding of the these feasts allows us to see their typological projections in Biblical texts normally ignored by most commentators.
Preparation for the Feast. The judgment inaugurated by the Feast of Trumpets was so important that the Jews were reminded of it on the first day of every month (new moon) through the blowing of trumpets. Since the months of the year in the Jewish calendar were numbered beginning with Nisan, the blowing of trumpets on the first day (new moon) of the first six months was seen as a series of mini-Feasts of Trumpets that anticipated the climactic arrival of the Feast on the first day of the seventh month.
Hayyim Schauss explains that the only difference between the blowing of the shofar on the New Moon of other months and that of the seventh month is that "short blasts were blown at the New Moon of other months, while long alarm blasts were sounded on the New Moon of the seventh month."40
The spiritual preparation for the Feast of Trumpets began in earnest a month in advance, with the start of the sixth month, Elul. The month of Elul is intended to set the psychological and emotional tone for repentance during the coming Ten Days of Awe.
Rabbi Irving Greenberg explains that "just as the month before the summer is the time when Americans go on crash diets, fearing how their bodies will look on the beach, so Elul, the month before Rosh Hashanah, became the time when Jews went on crash spiritual regimens, fearing how their souls would look when they stood before God.
"Consciousness of going to trial always precedes the trial itself. So Elul reflects the awareness and anxiety of the trial. In the traditional synagogue, the shofar is blown every day in Elul to shake up people and remind them of the approaching trial. Understandably, Elul became a time for reconciliation with enemies (a trial for life is no time to fight other battles) and a time for resolutions (ĎIf I get off, Iíll never do it again!í) and for heroic efforts to correct personal flaws (ĎYour Honor, Iíve turned over a new leaf!)."41
Greenberg continues explaining that "One should not exaggerate the tone of Elul. It is awe, not terror. There is a strong conviction that God is understanding, merciful, and loving. Sin, error, and failure are inescapable parts of human behavior. Judaism is not a religion of excessive guilt or of judgment standards that can never be met, but neither is it a religion of permissiveness. Through the self-criticism of Elul and the High Holy Days, Judaism keeps life from settling into deadening routine or evil habits."42
As Rosh Hashanah approaches traditional Jews gather for Selichot, penitential prayers which focus on human guilt and divine forgiveness. Taking a haircut and dressing in new clothes are also part of the preparation fro the Feast of Trumpets. "In spite of the awe of the moment, the joy of the holiday is not stilled. On the contrary, joy expresses confidence in Godís forgiveness and love. Despite the fear and trembling, the trial is before a merciful Judge. If joy were suppressed, it would represent a failure to appreciate Godís nature."43
This Jewish understanding of the Feast of Trumpets as an annual trumpet-call to stand trial before God and seek for His cleansing grace, is most relevant for Christians today. After all, Christians too need to be reminded periodically that "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body" (2 Cor 5:10). The Feast of Trumpets provides a much needed annual wake up call to prepare oneself to stand before Godís judgment by repenting and forsaking sinful ways.
Ten Days of Penitence. The ten days between the Feast of Trumpet and the Day of Atonment were seen by the Jews as a continuous judgment process that determined their fate. Abraham Bloch notes that the view that "the fate of the average individual, who is neither perfect nor wicked, is reviewed beginning on Rosh Hashanah and determined on Yom Kippur [the Day of Atonment] (Roh Hashanah 16b), has converted the entire period between the two holy days into a season of continuous judgment."44
The notion of a ten days period of testing is not foreign to the Bible. Daniel and his three companions were tested for ten days (Dan 1:12). In Revelation the church of Smyrna is told that she would be tested for ten days (Rev 2:10). Nabal died ten days after learning from his wife, Abigail, how she spared his life by providing food for David and his men, contrary to his refusal to do so (2 Sam 25:38). Apparently during those ten days Nabal did not repent for his wrongdoing. Rabbi Samuel bar Nachman connects this episode with the Ten Days of Penitence. "God waited for him (Nabal; 1 Sam 25:38) ten days, like the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur so that he may repent."45
Rabbi Irving Greenberg helps us capture the mood of the Ten Days of Penitence, through this vivid description: "On Rosh Hashanah, the trial opens, the Judge enters and takes the bench. The evidence is reviewed. Individual Jews hasten forward to plead their cases. The liturgy attempts to capture this mood. On Rosh Hashanah, God as Creator and ruler is the central focus of the prayer. The divine quality of awesomeness and judgment stand out in the human mind. By the time of Yom Kippur the primary liturgical focus shifts to the trial itself and to Godís mercy, which more than anything else sustains the people in the process of the judgment. As the trial wears on, the initial panic or tension lightens and the people relax enough to see that the judge is not an impersonal authority who will be relentless but, rather (what good fortune!), a loving old friend who will do all to show mercy. Nachmanides suggested that in human experience Rosh Hashanah is a day of judgment with mercy; Yom Kippur is a day of mercy with judgment."46
A Lesson from the Jews. The religious practices performed on Rosh Hashanah and the subsequent Ten Days of Penitence, reveal how the Jews lived out in practical ways their belief that God would judge during those days their conduct of the previous year. This is one of the areas where as Christians we can learn valuable lessons from the Jews. We tend to make our beliefs more of a profession than a practice, more creed than deed.
Most Christians believe, like the Jews, that they must appear before the judgment seat of God (Rom 14:10; 2 Cor 5:10), but no significant attempt is made to translate such a belief in some religious practices. In my own Seventh-day Adventist church, we believe, somewhat like the Jews, in a heavenly judgment process that precedes the Second Advent. We call it "the Pre-Advent Judgment." But to the average Adventist the pre-Advent judgment is primarily something that goes on in heaven. No significant attempt is made to integrate this belief in the church calendar or in the daily life of our members. The major thing pastors or evangelists may do about "the Judgment Message" is to proclaim that "the hour of his judgment has come" (Rev 14:7). Even this proclamation is seldom heard today, because it is not a popular preaching.
Our Adventist church calendar does not summon us annually, like the Feast of Trumpets did to the Jews, to repent and amend our lives in view of the judgment going on in heaven. The result is that fewer and fewer Adventists know what the pre-Advent judgment is all about. Recently in my college Bible class of 45 college students I was surprised to find out that only three of them had heard about the pre-Advent judgment, though this doctrine is a fundamental belief of our Seventh-day Adventist church. A church calendar patterned after the feasts of ancient Israel, would challenge us on an annual basis to live out our faith, by taking time to remember and respond to Godís redemptive acts, such as His final judgment and vindication of His people.
Jewish Practices. Over the years the Jews have developed numerous religious practices designed to help them conceptualize and internalize the significance of the judgment process inaugurated at the Feast of Trumpets. In this context we can only briefly refer to few of them.
On the day preceding Rosh Hashanah it is customary for Jews to bathe, cut their air, and wear Sabbath clothes in the evening. At the synagogue service on Rosh Hashanah many Jews wear a white garment or some white article of clothing, such as a kippah (skullcap) or a white tie. The ark and the lectern at the synagogue are also covered with white cloth during the period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The Talmud explains that the wearing of white garments on Rosh Hashanah represents forgiveness, purity and continuity of life.47
Special phrases reflecting the mood of the period are added to traditional prayers. Some of the phrases are: "Remember us for life, King who loves life; write us into the book of life, for Your sake, Lord of life. . . . In the book of life, blessing and peace, and good fortune, may we and all Your people of Israel be remembered and inscribed for a good life and peace."48
Following the evening service, as people leave the synagogue, a special form of greeting is used: "May you be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for a good year." This special greeting is used with some variations during the ten days.
One of the best known and most beloved hymn sang on Rosh Hashanah in most Ashkenazic synagogues (Eastern European Yiddish-speaking synagogues) is entitled "He Who Ordains Judgment." The hymn is built on the twin refrain of "judgment" (din), and "Day of Judgment" (Yom Din).
And thus let all acclaim God as King:
In this hymn the poet enumerates the attributes of mercy, compassion, and forgiveness manifested by God on the Day of Judgment. These attributes reflect a fundamental characteristic of the Feast of Trumpets we discussed earlier, namely, a day when God remembers His people with mercy and compassion. This Biblical understanding of the final judgment, not as a scheme of divine retribution, but as a plan of divine vindication of Godís people, will be examined in the following chapter in conjunction with the antitypical fulfilment of the Feasts of Trumpets in the New Testament.
Casting Away of Sins. One of the most suggestive Jewish ceremonies of the Feast of Trumpets is the Tashlich, the symbolic casting away of sins into a body of water. After the morning religious service of Rosh Hashanah people go to rivers, oceans, lakes or any body of living waters and recite special prayers of repentance like this: "You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea, and may You cast all the sins of Your people, the house of Israel, into a place where they shall be no more remembered or visited or ever come to mind."50
After the prayer, the people shake crumbs from their pockets into the water to express their belief that as the crumbs float away, so God will carry away their sins represented by the crumbs. "The inspiration for this symbolic ceremony, as well as the name of the ritual, is derived from Micah 7:19: ĎHe will again have compassion upon us, he will subdue our iniquities and you will cast (tashlich) all their sins into the depth of the sea.í"51
The symbolism of the Tashlich ceremony is significant because it reveals how the Jews act out their belief that God will forgive and dispose of all their sins of the past year during the ten days of judgment between the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonment. "By sending his sins away on the bosom of the ocean or the flowing stream, he [the Jew] figuratively expresses his desire that they might disappear from the sight of God and might not serve as a deterrent in the way of his gaining the favor of Providence."52
During the Ten Days of Penitence the Jews perform several other ceremonies to which we can only allude. For example, it is customary to seek reconciliation and forgiveness from all persons whom one might have offended in the preceding year. It is also customary to confess oneís sins (al chet) after the conclusion of the morning service of Rosh Hashanah. Pious Jews immerse themselves in water prior to the morning service. This practice was apparently inspired by the immersion of the High Priest on the Day of Atonment.53
The foregoing survey of some of the Jewish customs and ceremonies associated with the Feast of Trumpets, suffice to show the importance of the feast in the thinking and living of the Jews. The feast has been understood and experienced as the annual trumpet-call for Jews to stand trial before God and to prepare themselves for the disposition and cleansing of their sins on the Day of Atonment. This Jewish understanding and experience of the Feast of Trumpets will help in our study of the antitypical fulfilment of the feast in the New Testament and its relevance for us today.
Conclusion. The Feast of Trumpets reflects Godís desire to summon His people to repentance so that He can vindicate them on the day of His judgment. Our study has brought out four significant features of the feast . First, we have found that this feast has no title or an explicit reason for its observance in the Bible. It is simply called "the day of blowing" or "a remembrance blast" (Num 29:1; cf. Lev 23:24). Since the blowing of the trumpets (shofar) was the distinguishing characteristic of the day, it became known as the Feasts of the Trumpets. The texts give no specific reason for observing the Feast apparently because the reason was too obvious to require comment. The blowing of the trumpets was understood to be a call to stand trial before the Heavenly Throne to give an account of oneís deeds and to receive the promise of Godís mercy.
Second, we have seen that the blowing of the shofar on the first day of the seventh month was understood by the Jews as the beginning of their trial before the heavenly court where books would be opened and the destiny of each individual would be decided.. The trial lasted ten days until the Day of Atonment (Yom kippur) when God would dispose of their sins in a permanent way.
Third, we have found that the blowing of the shofar during the Ten Days of Penitence served not only to call upon the Jews to repent, but also to reassure them that God would remember and vindicate them on the day of judgment. The ten days preceding the Day of Atonment were not an abstract theological truth, but an existential reality lived out with real trumpet-calls to repentance, trusting in Godís mercy to vindicate them.
Lastly, we have observed that the Jews developed some interesting customs and ceremonies to help them live out their belief that God would judge them with mercy during the ten days preceding the Day of Atonment.
Summing up, the Feast of Trumpets in Old Testament times was understood and experienced as the inauguration of a judgment process that culminated on the Day of Atonment with the final disposition of all the sins committed during the previous year. This understanding and experience of the Feast of Trumpets provide us with a basis for investigating the antitypical fulfilment of the Feast in the New Testament. To this we must now turn our attention in the following chapter.
NOTES ON CHAPTER 2
1. S. M. Lehrman, The Jewish Festivals (London, 1956), p. 155.
2. Antiquities of the Jews 1, 3, 3, from Josephus: Complete Works (Grand Rapids, 1960), p. 28.
3. Vayikra Rabba 29:1.
4. Tanchuma, Vayero 22:13.
5. Abraham P. Bloch, The Biblical and Historical Background of Jewish Customs and Ceremonies (New York, 1980), p. 143.
6. Ibid., p. 144.
7. Naphtali Winter, The High Holy Days (Jerusalem, 1973), p. 2.
8. Abraham P. Bloch, the Biblical and Historical Background of the Jewish Holy Days (New York, 1978), p. 21.
9. Moses Maimonides, Mishnah Torah, Laws of Teshuvah 3:4, as cited by Irving Greenberg (n. 5), p. 119.
10. Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, What Christians Should Know About Jews and Judaism (Waco, Texas, 1984), p. 119.
11. Rabbi Irving Greenberg, The Jewish Way. Living the Holidays ( New York, 1988), p. 195.
12. Ibid., p. 186.
13. G. H. Box, The Ezra-Apocalypse (London, 1912), p. 74.
14. Konstantin von Tischendorf, Apocalypses Apocryphae (Hildeshein, 1866), p. 12.
15. Balylonian Talmud, Rosh Hashanah 16a.
16. Edward Chumney, The Seven Festivals of the Messiah (Shippensburg, PA, 1994), p. 111.
17. Frank B. Holbrook, The Atoning Priesthood of Jesus Christ (Berrien Springs, Michigan, 1996), p. 165.
18. Gerhard F. Hasel, "The ĎLittle Horn,í the Heavenly Sanctuary, and the Time of the End: A Study of Daniel 8:9-14," Symposium on Daniel, Frank B. Holbrook, ed., (Silver Spring, Maryland, 1985), p. 454.
19. Gerhard F. Hasel, "The ĎLittle Horn,í the Saints, and the Sanctuary in Daniel 8," The Sanctuary and the Atonement, Arnold V. Wallenkamf and W. Richard Lesher, eds., (Washington, D. C., 1981), p. 207.
20. C. Mervyn Maxwell concisely states: "Historically, Seventh-day Adventists have perceived a pre-advent judgment to be described in Daniel 7, typified in Leviticus 16 and 23, announced in Revelation 14, and dated in Daniel 8:14," "Sanctuary and Atonment in SDA Theology. An Historical Survey," The Sanctuary and the Atonement, Arnold V. Wallenkamf and W. Richard Lesher, eds., (Washington, D. C., 1981), p. 522.
21. Sigmund Mowinckel, The Psalms in Israel Worship (Sheffield, England, 1967), pp. 106-130.
22. Philip Goodman, The Rosh Hashanah Anthology (Philadelphia, 1970), pp. xi, xii.
23. Rosh Hashanah 16a, as cited in Philip Goodman (note 10), p. 22.
24. Tanchuma, Vayero 22:13
25. Pesikta Rabbati 40,1, as cited in The Rosh Hasnanah Anthology, compiled by Philip Goodman (Philadelphia, 1970), p. 18.
25. Jon Paulien, "Rosh Hashanah, The Feast of the Trumpets and Its Application in the New Testament," A Paper Submitted to Dr. Abraham Terian in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements of the Course NTST 689, Andrews University Theological Seminary, (Berrien Springs, Michigan 1981), p. 74-75.
26. C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, 1973), vol 3, p. 220.
27. Leviticus Rabbah 29.3 as cited in The Roash Hashanah Anthology (n. 15), p. 23.
28. Ramban, Leviticus 23:24, as cited in The Roash Hashanah Anthology (n. 15), p. 40.
29. Edwin R. Theile, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings( Grand Rapids, 1951), pp. 29-30. Johannes C. De Moor, New Year with Canaanites and Israelites (Kampen, 1972), p. 18.
30. Abraham P. Bloch (n. 8), p. 15.
31. Theodor Gaster, New Year. Its History, Customs and Superstitions (New York, 1955), p. 119.
32. Ibid., p. 122.
33. Abraham P. Bloch (n. 8), p. 21.
34. Rosh Hashanah 1, 2 , Herbert Danby, The Mishnah (London, 1993), p. 188.
35. Rosh Hashanah 16b, as cited in The Rosh Hashanah Anthology (n. 15), p. 21.
36. Kiddushim 40a-b, as cited in The Rosh Hashanah Anthology (n. 15), p. 21.
37. Babylonian Talmud, Rosh Hashanah 16a.
38. K. Hruby, "Le Yomha-Kippurim ou Jour de Líespiation," LíOrient Syrien 10 (1965), p. 427.
39. L. Ligier, Péché díAdam et Péché du Monde (Aubier, France, 1960), p. 215.
40. Hayyim Schauss, Guide to Jewish Holy Days (New York, 1961), p. 117. See also, Jon Paulien, "The Role of the Hebrew Cultus, Sanctuary, and Temple in the Plot and Structure of the Book of Revelation," Andrews University Seminary Studies 33 (Autumn 1995), p. 259.
41. Rabbi Irvin Greenberg (note 11), p. 188
43. Ibid., p. 189.
44. Abraham P. Bloch (note 5), p. 156.
45. Jerusalem Talmud, Bikkurim 2:1.
46. Rabbi Irvin Greenberg (note 11), p. 192.
47. Jerusalem Talmud, Rosh Hashanah 1:3.
48. Rabbi Irvin Greenberg (note 11), p. 193.
49. Ben Zion Bokser, The High Holiday Prayer Book: Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur( New York 1959), p. 134.
50. Richard Siegel, Sharon Strassfeld and Michael Strassfeld, the Jewish Catalog (Philadelphia, 1973), p.122.
51. Abraham P. Bloch (note 5), p. 156.
52. Julius H. Greenstone, Jewish Feasts and Fasts (New York, 1946), p. 18.
53. Jerusalem Talmud, Yoma 19b.