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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
or FEAST OF TRUMPETS (ראש השנה זכרון תרועה, יום תרועה ), though not one of the three great festivals on which the male population appeared before the Lord in Jerusalem, is nevertheless one of the first among the principal holy days, and as such has been celebrated by the Israelites since the giving of the Law, and is observed to the present day.
1. Name and its Signification, and the Import of this Festival. — In the two passages where the institution of it occurs, this festival is called זכרון תרועה, remembrance blowing, i.e. of trumpets (Leviticus 23:24; Sept. μνημόσυνον σαλπίγγων; Vulg. Sabbatum memoriale clangentibus tubis), and יום תרועה, the day of blowing, i.e. the trumpets (Numbers 29:1; Sept.) ἡμέρα σημασίας; Vulg. Dies clangqoris et tubarum). To understand this indefinite appellation, we must examine the import of this festival. As the first of Tisri, on which this festival occurs, besides being the new moon, is the beginning of that month wherein the festivals most distinguished both for holiness and joy are celebrated, it had to be connected in an especial manner with the import of the month itself. (See FESTIVAL).
Hence, as Maimonides observes, it was made, as it were, a stepping-stone to and a preparation for the great Day of Atonement (More Nebochim, 3:43). This is not only indicated by the particle! א (Leviticus 23:27), which forms the transition from the feast of New Year to the Day of Atonement, but has been so understood by the unanimous voice of the Jewish Church, which from time immemorial has observed the ten intervening days between these two festivals as days ofpenitence, and calls them "the ten days of repentance, or humiliation" (עשרת ימי תשובה, comp. Talmud, Rosh Ha-Shana, 18 a; Maimonides, ut sup.; Orach Chajim, sec. 582, 602, 603). Being preparatory to it, the festival of the New Year was to draw the attention of the Israelites to the design of the Day of Atonement, by summoning and stirring them up to it. As it is ordained that whenever all Israel are to be summoned to general action — e.g. either to a convocation, journey, war, or an assault — the priests are to blow silver trumpets made especially for this purpose (Numbers 10:1-10), and that these trumpets are especially to be blown at every sacred work in order to summon the people on festivals and new moons to participate in the sacrifices (Numbers 10:10); the festival of the New Year, which is designed to summon the Israelites to the most holy of all works, and to prepare them for the great Day of Atonement, had to be finished with the sign of this summons in an especial manner. Thus the blowing of the trumpets, which was a secondary thing on other festivals, became the chief and distinguishing feature of this festival. Hence its name, יום תרועה, the day on which the trumpets were especially blown; or, the day on which the blowingq was peculiarly characteristic (Numbers 29:1).
Moreover, as this blowing of the trumpets is a summons to the Israelites to enter upon the work of sanctification, it is accounted to them as a merit in the sight of God, and the inspired Word promises them for it a special remembrance before the Lord (Numbers 10:10) and divine help for this holy life (Numbers 10:9). Hence this festival is also called זכרון תרועה , the remembrance blowing (Leviticus 23:24), i.e. the day on which the blowing of the trumpets, by its summoning the Israelites to effect their reconciliation with God, makes them to be remembered before the Lord, and secures for them divine aid for the holy work before them. The synagogue, however, takes the word זכרון more in the sense of reminding God of the merits of and his covenant with the patriarchs, and for this reason has appointed Genesis 21:1-34; Genesis 22:1-24, recording the birth and sacrifice of Isaac, as lessons for this festival (comp. Rashi, On Leviticus 23:24, and the article HAPHTARAH (See HAPHTARAH) ).
That this festival occurs on the day commencing the civil new year. which from time immemorial has been on the first of the seventh month, called Tisri, is not only evident from Exodus 12:1; Exodus 23:16; Exodus 23:22; Josephus, Ant. 1:3, 3; but from the fact that both the Sabbatical year and Jubilee commenced in this month (comp. Leviticus 25:9-10; and the article JUBILEE (See JUBILEE) ). The universal practice of the Jewish nation, who regard and celebrate it as the Festival of the New-Year's Day, is therefore rightly supported by Christian scholars; and the name New Year (השנה ראש ), by which this festival is almost universally spoken of in Jewish literature, is far more expressive than the vague appellation, Feast of Trumpets.
2. The Manner in which this Festival was and still is celebrated. — Like the Sabbath, this festival was to be a day of rest, on which all trade and handicraft works were stopped (Leviticus 23:24-25). As the new year also is the new moon, a threefold sacrifice was offered on this festival-viz. the ordinary daily sacrifice, which was offered first; then the appointed new-moon sacrifice, (See NEW MOON, FEAST OF THE); and last of all followed the sacrifice of this festival, which consisted of a young bullock, a ram, and seven lambs of the first year, with the usual meat-offerings, and a kid for a sin-offering (Numbers 29:1-6); and which, with the exception of there being one young bullock for a burnt-offering instead of two, was simply a repetition of the monthly offering. All the time that the drink- offering and burnt-offering were offered, the Levites engaged in soul- stirring vocal and instrumental music, singing the eighty-first and other Psalms; while the priests at stated intervals broke forth with awful peals of the trumpets. After the offering up of the sacrifices the service was concluded by the priests, who pronounced the benediction (Numbers 6:23-27), which the people received in a prostrate position before the Lord.
Thereupon the congregation, after prostrating themselves a second time in the court, resorted to the adjoining synagogues, where the appointed lessons from the Law and Prophets were read, consisting of Genesis 21:1-34; Numbers 29:1-6; 1 Samuel 1:50-2:10; Genesis 22:1-24; Numbers 29:1-6; Jeremiah 31:2-20. Psalms were recited and the festival prayers were offered, beseeching the Lord to pardon the sins of the past year, and to grant to the people a happy new year, which concluded the morning service. The families then resorted to their respective homes, partook, as on other festivals, of a social and joyous repast, and in the evening again went to the Temple to witness the offering of the evening sacrifice and the incense, and to see the lighting of the candlestick, with which the festival concluded, all wishing each other, "May you be written down for a happy new year," or "May the Creator decree for you a happy new year;" to which it is replied, "And you likewise." This wish or prayer to be inscribed on this day in the book of life arises from the fact that the Jews believe that the feast of the New Year is the annual day ofjudgment, on which all the deeds of man are weighed, whether they be good or evil, the destinies of every individual and every nation are fixed for the ensuing year, and the death and life of every one is determined, as well as the manner of death (Mishna, Rosh Ha-Shana, 1:2; Talmud, in loco). Hence the names Day of Judgment (יום הדין ) and Awful Days (ימים נוראים ), by which this festival is sometimes called. It is a remarkable fact that all the ancient astronomers of the different nations have given the figure of an aged man of stern aspect, holding a pair of scales in his right hand and an open book in his left, as the sign of the zodiac for this month, thus expressing the religious idea of this festival.
With the exception of the sacrifices which cannot be offered in consequence of the destruction of the Temple, and a few modifications which have been introduced through the shifting circumstances of the nation, the Jewish ritual for the new year continues to the present day to be essentially the same as it was in the days of Christ. The service comprises prayers of a threefold kind as described in the Mishna, which are as follows:
(1.) A series of texts are recited bearing on the supreme rule of God, consisting of, אבות till מגןאּאברהם; b, גבורות, commencing with אתה גבור till המתים מחיה; and c, קדשת השם, beginning from where the last leaves off till האל הקדוש . After these prayers have been offered, in which the speedy approach of the kingdom of God is invoked, when all mankind shall possess the true knowledge of their Creator, and unite in the worship of their supreme Benefactor, and which are called מלכוות, of homage, a prayer is recited celebrating the holiness of the day (אתה בחרתנו ), after which the trumpet is blown.
(2.) Then follow prayers acknowledging the omniscience, providence, and supremacy of the Creator, and beseeching him to remember his creatures in pity, and temper his judgment with mercy, which are called זכרונות, of Remembrance, and after which the trumpet is again blown; and
(3.) Prayers celebrating that future jubilee when all men will be free from the bondage of error, and acquire perfection in the knowledge of their God, which are called שופרות, of Sounding the Trumpet, and after which the trumpet is blown a third time. The service is then concluded with the recital of the הודאה עבודה, and ברכת כהנים or the last three blessings of the Amida or Mussaph, רצה, מודים, and שים שלום (Rosh Ha-Shanta, 4:5). Before the destruction of the Temple the trumpets were blown all day by the priests in Jerusalem, from sunrise to sunset, but since the downfall of the city it has been ordained that the trumpet is to be blown in every city during the synagogal service, and that every Israelite is obliged to hear its sound. Though the Bible says nothing about the kind of trumpet to be used on this occasion, yet it is certain that "the cornet used in the Temple on the feast of New Year was," as the Mishna declares, "a straight horn of a chamois [a kind of antelope, or wild goat], the mouthpiece of which was covered with gold" (Rosh Ha-Shana, 3:3), and the Jews to the present day use a ram's horn, to remind God on this occasion of the ram which he sent to be sacrificed instead of Isaac, and of the covenant made with the patriarchs; for which reason also Genesis 22:1-24, recording the sacrifice of Isaac, forms the lesson of this festival. The horns of oxen or calves are unlawful (Rosh Ha-Shana, 3:2), as the use of them would remind God of Israel's sin in making the golden calf, which is also the reason why the Jews in the present day no more gild the mouthpiece of the trumpet. Before sounding the trumpet, which is of this shape, the rabbi pronounces the following benediction: "Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who hast sanctified us with thy commandments, and enjoined us to hear the sound of the trumpet! — Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who hast preserved us alive, sustained us, and safely brought us to this season!"
To this the whole congregation responds "Amen!" The greatest importance is attached to the blowing of the trumpet, as its sound is believed to confound Satan, who on this day of judgment appears before God's tribunal to accuse the children of Israel (Rosh Ha-Shana, 16). This explains the otherwise inexplicable rendering of Numbers 29:1 in the Chaldee paraphrase of Jonathan b. Uzziel, "It shall be a day of blowing to confound Satan, who comes to accuse you, with the sound of your trumpets." After the Minchah, or the afternoon service, they go to a river or stream, which they generally prefer to be out of town, and to contain fish, and recite a prayer called!תשלי, which consists of the following passages of Scripture: Micah 7:18-20; Psalms 118:5-9; Psalms 33; and with the earnest recitation of Isaiah 11:9, shake their garments over the water. Four reasons are assigned for this service:
(1.) It is to pray to God to be as fruitful as the fish.
(2.) To commemorate the sacrifice of Isaac, which, .according to an old tradition, Abraham made on this day, in spite of the wiles of Satan, who sought to prevent the patriarch from obeying the Lord, by causing a mighty stream to arise on Abraham's journey to Mount Moriah, which would have drowned both the father and the son but for the prayers of faithful Abraham.
(3.) To be reminded by the sight of the fish that we are as suddenly deprived of our life as these fish are caught in the net (Ecclesiastes 9:12), and thereby be admonished to repentance.
(4.) To learn from the fish constantly to direct our eyes upwards.
3. Literature. — Mishna, Rosh ha-Shana; and the Gemara on that Tractate; the Siphra on Leviticus 23:2325; Numbers 29:1; Abrabanel. Commentari-on-Exodus 12, I sq.; Leviticus 23:23-25; Numbers 29:1; the Jewish Ritual entitled Derech Ha -Chajim (Vienna, 1859), p. 258 sq.; the Machsor for Rosh Ha-Shana; Mever, De Temporibus Sacris et Festis Diebus Hebraeorum (1755), p. 300 sq. (See TRUMPETS, FEAST OF).
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'New Year'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/n/new-year.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
the Second Week after Epiphany