Yom T’ruah is not Rosh haShanah

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During this time of year, we hear a lot of discussions as to whether or not we should join in the celebration of Rosh haShanah (Head of the new Year). We all know that Exodus 12:2 specifically tells us that the beginning of the year is in Aviv (springtime). Yet, we hear some very convincing tales as to why the Scriptures actually allows for more than one new year (like we have today – calendar year, fiscal year, school year, etc…) In this article, we will prove to you that the Scriptures only refer to one new year and it is not Rosh haShanah on 1 Tishri!

Leviticus 23:23–25
23 Again YHVH spoke to Moses, saying, 24 “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘In the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. 25 ‘You shall not do any laborious work, but you shall present an offering by fire to YHVH.’ ”

Rosh haShanah

The start of the new Biblical year is in Aviv, not Tishri

There are a lot of traditions that go with this moed that creates confusion. The most common one is that this is the Jewish New Year. It is also referred to as Rosh haShanah (Head of the Year). However, this designation was not applied to this feast in Scripture. The nomination of the 1st day of the 7th month as a start of the new year comes from the Mishnah (Jewish Oral Law):

ROSH HASHSHANAH
1:1 A There are four new years:
B (1) the first day of Nisan is the new year for kings and festivals;
C (2) the first day of Elul is the new year for tithing cattle.
D R. Eleazar and R. Simeon say, “It is on the first day of Tishre.”
E (3) The first day of Tishre is the new year for the reckoning of years, for Sabbatical years, and for Jubilees,
F for planting [trees] and for vegetables;
G (4) the first day of Shebat is the new year for trees, in accord with the opinion of the House of Shammai.
H The House of Hillel say, “On the fifteenth day of that month [is the new year for trees].”
1:2 A At four seasons of the year the world is judged:
B at Passover for grain;
C at Pentecost for fruit of the tree;
D at the New Year all who enter the world pass before Him like troops,
E since it is said, He who fashions the hearts of them all, who considers all their works (Ps. 33:15);
F and on the Festival [of Tabernacles] they are judged in regard to water.

Neusner, J. (1988). The Mishnah : A new translation (299–300). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Rosh haShanah originated in a primitive culture in which magic, myth and incantation were a familiar feature of religious belief. Since early Jewish culture was within the constellation of Babylonia, which dominated the Middle-East. Babylonians considered it to be their new year (Akitu) and on that day they believed that an awesome convocation of all their deities took place in the great temple of Marduk, the chief god in Babylon. They, the gods, assembled there on every new year to “renew” the world and to pass judgment on human beings and then inscribed the fate of each individual for the ensuing year on a tablet of destiny. Proof of this influence can be found in their explanation of some of their customs for the day. This feast was celebrated twice a year on the first and seventh month of the year. For more details on this festival please read the details on this page. From this document, I would like to quote a specific piece that could give us a clue as to how Yom T’Ruah and Akitu got merged (as was done with Pesach and Easter later).

Fourthly, because the Akitu festival was also a celebration of the triumph of Nanna, the Moon, particularly the festival of the seventh month was more important. Festivities started in the New Moon extended for four days. The length of the festival, at least in the seventh month, of eleven days may have been to enable the Moon to nearly complete His waxing, or Nanna´s full arrival into Ur.

As another way of determining the roots of Rosh haShanah let us look at one of the descriptions they provide for the tradition of eating apples and honey in one of their responsa (legal documents) – emphasis provided by me:

Why did Abbaye say to see these foods on Rosh Hashanah? The simple reason is that this is a type of magic; we do a positive act on Rosh Hashanah, which will have a positive effect on the entire year. Indeed, this was the explanation given by a number of rabbis and scholars:
Rav Natronai Gaon (Sura, mid-ninth century) was asked about these customs and he replied that “they are a good nahash (divination)” (Otzar Hageonim to Rosh Hashanah , Responsa section, p. 53, parag. 94 = Teshuvot Rav Natronai Gaon , ed. Brody, p. 306). In Sefer Hamanhig , written by R. Abraham of Lunel (Toledo, 1204, ed. Raphael, p. 304), it says that on the evening of Rosh Hashanah they put on the table special foods ” l’simana tava (for a good omen) for the next year” but in ms. A it adds ” l’simana tava v’nahsha ma’alya ” (and an excellent divination).
Similarly, Rashi explains in his commentary to Keritot 6a: “And these [foods] – some grow quickly and some are sweet”. In other words, we look at things that grow quickly or are sweet as an omen for a good and sweet year (cf. Rashi to Horayot 12a for a similar explanation). A similar explanation is given by Mahzor Vitry (p. 362), which was edited by Rashi’s student R. Shimshon of Vitry ca. 1120. After bringing some of the customs under discussion, he says: “Everything new and light and good – for a good omen for the entire Jewish people”.
And so explained Hayyim Schauss in his classic work The Jewish Festivals (pp. 158-159), which was translated from the Yiddish in 1938:
This custom is based on an ancient magical belief, that every activity calls forth its counterpart… and if one eats sweet dishes at the beginning of the year, sweetness will abide for the entire year. This is an old primitive belief, widespread amongst all peoples.
Indeed, the Chinese observe similar customs on their New Year:
Long noodles promised longevity. Oysters in my local dialect meant “alive”. Eggs were round and perfect… and if you twisted the pronunciation of “seaweed” a little, it sounded a lot like the word that meant “fortune”. (Da-Chen, Colors of the Mountain , New York, 1999, p. 56)
from – http://www.schechter.edu/responsa.aspx?ID=36

Omens, magic and divination is not something we should be associating with a Biblical feast!

The sages have changed the Jewish calendar so that their new year begins on this day rather than in the month of Aviv, as YHVH instructed Israel in His Torah. With this change, Yom T’Ruah lost its true meaning. Through this Babylonian distortion of the truth, some of the people of Israel began to be led astray. The sages also taught that this day marks the anniversary of the creation of the world and Yom T’Ruah is the only feast to fall on a Rosh Chodesh (New Moon).

How can this be?

The heavens and the earth was created on the second day (Gen 1:6-7).  He created the moon on the fourth day (Gen 1:14-19) and man on the sixth day ( Gen 1:26-31).  Thus, if 1 Tishri is to be the new moon and the creation of the earth and/or the creation of Adam we have a problem here.  All these things happened on different days in the creation according to Genesis.

Real Instruction in Scripture

In scripture we have one reference to the beginning of the year:

Exodus 12:2
2 “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you.

From this first two things are clear: Firstly that Aviv is the first month and secondly that it is the first month of the year. This is also indirectly confirmed in two other places in Scripture:

At 1 Kings. 6:1 Ziv (Iyyar; Apr./May) is indicated as the second month, which would necessitate Nisan’s being the first; similarly, at Jer. 36:22 Chislev (Nov./Dec.)
Myers, A. C. (1987). The Eerdmans Bible dictionary (761). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans.

Arguments against Yom T’Ruah as beginning of the year

Supporters of Rosh haShanah will use several ways to minimize this scripture.  Let us deal with these:

1. Yom Kippurim clearly states the beginning of the new year

Leviticus 25:8–10
8 ‘You are also to count off seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years, so that you have the time of the seven sabbaths of years, namely, forty-nine years. 9 ‘You shall then sound a ram’s horn abroad on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the day of atonement you shall sound a horn all through your land. 10 ‘You shall thus consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim a release through the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family

The way this should be read is simply that on Yom Kippurim (10th day of the 7th month) we should sound the ram’s horn to proclaim a release.  No mention is made here of the sabbatical year or even of the start of the yovel year.  It is simply an instruction to proclaim that the year of release will happen and all should return to the land of his family. The term used here in the NASB for “sound a ram’s horn” has a different interpretation in the Hebrew.

5674 עָבַר, עָבַר [ʿabar /aw·bar/] v. A primitive root; TWOT 1556; GK 6296 and 6297; 559 occurrences; AV translates as “(pass”, “went”, “…) over” 174 times, “pass” 108 times, “(pass”, “etc …) through” 58 times, “pass by” 27 times, “go” 26 times, “(put”, “pass”, “etc …) away” 24 times, “pass on” 19 times, and translated miscellaneously 123 times.  instruction to proclaim that the year of release will happen and all should return to the land of his family. The term used here in the NASB for “sound a ram’s horn” has a different interpretation in the Hebrew.  (In this verse it is used in the Hiphil, thus pay attention to 1D):

1 to pass over or by or through, alienate, bring, carry, do away, take, take away, transgress.
1A (Qal).
1A1 to pass over, cross, cross over, pass over, march over, overflow, go over.
1A2 to pass beyond. 1A3 to pass through, traverse. 1A3A passers-through (participle).
1A3B to pass through (the parts of victim in covenant). 1A4 to pass along, pass by, overtake and pass, sweep by.
1A4A passer-by (participle).
1A4B to be past, be over.
1A5 to pass on, go on, pass on before, go in advance of, pass along, travel, advance.
1A6 to pass away.
1A6A to emigrate, leave (one’s territory).
1A6B to vanish.
1A6C to perish, cease to exist.
1A6D to become invalid, become obsolete (of law, decree).
1A6E to be alienated, pass into other hands.
1B (Niphal) to be crossed.
1C (Piel) to impregnate, cause to cross.
1D (Hiphil).
1D1 to cause to pass over, cause to bring over, cause to cross over, make over to, dedicate, devote.
1D2 to cause to pass through.
1D3 to cause to pass by or beyond or under, let pass by.
1D4 to cause to pass away, cause to take away.
1E (Hithpael) to pass over.

Strong, J. (1996). The exhaustive concordance of the Bible : Showing every word of the text of the common English version of the canonical books, and every occurrence of each word in regular order. (electronic ed.). Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship.

Thus we are instructed to pass the ram’s horn over.  We see this as an instruction to make sure the message is spread across the whole nation.  Remember that Yom Kippurim is not one of the feasts where all are required to come to Jerusalem.

2. Turn/end of the year in Exodus

Exodus 23:16
16 “Also you shall observe the Feast of the Harvest of the first fruits of your labors from what you sow in the field; also the Feast of the Ingathering at the end( H3318) of the year when you gather in the fruit of your labors from the field.

Exodus 34:22
22 “You shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks, that is, the first fruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn(H8622) of the year(H8141).

Both these verses refer to the Feast of Ingathering (Sukkot).  These verses the states that Sukkot is at the end/turn of the year.  I really do not see how this supports the theory of 1 Tishri being the beginning of the year if the end of the year is 15 days later. To me, this indicates the end of the agricultural cycle which started in spring.  Also, have a look at the Hebrew being used in these verses to support the conclusion:

Strongs H3318 – end

3448 יוֹצֵאת (yô∙ṣē(ʾ)ṯ): n.fem. [BDB: qal act.ptcp.fem.]; ≡ Str 3318; TWOT 893—LN 85.67–85.85 captive, i.e., one going out of the land into captivity and exile, so changing one’s place of habitation (Ps 144:14+), note: some translate the “going out” as the miscarriage of cattle, see also domain LN 23.46–23.60
Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

3318 יׄוצֵאת, יָצָא, צֵא [yatsaʾ /yaw·tsaw/] v. A primitive root; TWOT 893; GK 3448 and 3655 and 7361; 1069 occurrences; AV translates as “… out” 518 times, “… forth” 411 times, “bring” 24 times, “come” 24 times, “proceed” 16 times, “go” 13 times, “depart” 10 times, and translated miscellaneously 53 times.
1 to go out, come out, exit, go forth.
1A (Qal).
1A1 to go or come out or forth, depart.
1A2 to go forth (to a place).
1A3 to go forward, proceed to (to or toward something).
1A4 to come or go forth (with purpose or for result).
1A5 to come out of.
1B (Hiphil).
1B1 to cause to go or come out, bring out, lead out.
1B2 to bring out of.
1B3 to lead out.
1B4 to deliver.
1C (Hophal) to be brought out or forth.
Strong, J. (1996). The exhaustive concordance of the Bible : Showing every word of the text of the common English version of the canonical books, and every occurrence of each word in regular order. (electronic ed.). Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship.

Strongs H8622 – turn

9543 תְּקוּפָה (teqû∙p̄ā(h)): n.fem. [see also ]; ≡ Str 8622; TWOT 2001a—
1. LN 15.88–15.92 circuit, trajectory, i.e., the fixed course of an object in the atmosphere (Ps 19:7[EB 6]+);
2. LN 67.78–67.117 course, cycle, i.e., an indefinite period of time (1Sa 1:20+)

תְּקוּפָה (teqû∙p̄ā(h)): adv. [served by 9543]; ≡ Str 8622; TWOT 2001a—LN 67.78–67.117 at the turn, in the end, i.e., pertaining to a period of time in which change occurs (Ex 34:22; 2Ch 24:23+)
Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

†[תְּקוּפָה S8622 TWOT2001a GK9543] n.f. coming round, circuit;—cstr. תְּקוּפַת הַשָּׁנָה Ex 34:22 (JE), adv., at the circuit (completion) of the year, so לִת׳ הַשָּׁנָה 2 Ch 24:23; = pl. cstr. לִתְקֻפוֹת הַיָּמִים
1 S 1:20; sg. sf. of finished circuit of sun ψ 19:7 (opp. מוֹצָאוֹ; cf. of moon, בתקופתו Ecclus 43:7).
Brown, F., Driver, S. R., & Briggs, C. A. (2000). Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (electronic ed.) (880). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems.

2001a תְּ קוּפָה (tĕ qûpâ) coming round, circuit of time or space (Ex 34:22; II Chr 24:23 = I Sam 1:20; Ps 19:7).
Harris, R. L., Harris, R. L., Archer, G. L., & Waltke, B. K. (1999). Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (electronic ed.) (794). Chicago: Moody Press.

Strongs H8141 -year

8141 שָׁנָה [shaneh, shana /shaw·neh/] n f. From 8138; TWOT 2419a; GK 9102; 875 occurrences; AV translates as “year” 797 times, not translated 55 times, “yearly” three times, “yearly + 8141” twice, “year + 1121” once, “live + 2416” once, “old + 2416 + 3117” once, and translated miscellaneously four times. 1 year.
1A as division of time.
1B as measure of time.
1C as indication of age.
1D a lifetime (of years of life).
Strong, J. (1996). The exhaustive concordance of the Bible : Showing every word of the text of the common English version of the canonical books, and every occurrence of each word in regular order. (electronic ed.). Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship.

9102 II. שָׁנָה (šā∙nā(h)): n.fem.; ≡ Str 8141; TWOT 2419a—
1. LN 67.163–67.200 year, i.e., unit of time, involving a complete cycle of all seasons (1Sa 29:3);
2. LN 67.142–67.162 unit: בֵּן (bēn) … שָׁנָה (šā∙nā(h)) [certain age] old, formally, son of [certain age] years, i.e., a marker of a period of time as an age of a male (Ge 5:32);
3. LN 67.142–67.162 unit: בַּת (bǎṯ) … שָׁנָה (šā∙nā(h)) [certain age] old, formally, daughter of [certain age] years, i.e., a marker of a period of time as an age of a female (Ge 17:17);
4. LN 67.163–67.200 unit: בֵּן־שָׁנָה (bēn-∙šā∙nā(h)) one-year-old male, i.e., pertaining to one complete year (Ex 12:5);
5. LN 67.163–67.200 unit: בַּת־שָׁנָה (bǎṯ-∙šā∙nā(h)) one-year-old female, i.e., pertaining to one complete year (Ge 17:17);
6. LN 67.163–67.200 unit: זֶה יוֹם אֹו זֶה שָׁנָה (zě(h) yôm ʾô zě(h) šā∙nā(h))2 over a year, i.e., pertaining to a time over one complete year (1Sa 29:3);
7. LN 67.163–67.200 unit: דָּבָר שָׁנָה בְּ־ שָׁנָה (dā∙ḇār šā∙nā(h) b- šā∙nā(h)) year after year (1Ki 10:25);
8. LN 67.163–67.200 unit: מִן דַּי שָׁנָה בְּ־ שָׁנָה (min dǎy šā∙nā(h) b- šā∙nā(h)) year after year (Zec 14:16);
9. LN 67.163–67.200 unit: בְּ־ כֹּל שָׁנָה וְ־ שָׁנָה (b- kōl šā∙nā(h) w- šā∙nā(h)) annually (Est 9:21);
10. LN 67.142–67.162 unit: Pl. שָׁנָה (šā∙nā(h)) for years, i.e., an indefinite time (Eze 38:17);
11. LN 67.163–67.200 unit: בְּ־ שָׁנָה (b- šā∙nā(h)) yearly, i.e., pertaining to each year (Ex 23:14);
12. LN 67.163–67.200 unit: בְּ־ שָׁנָה אֶחָד (b- šā∙nā(h) ʾě∙ḥāḏ) yearly, i.e., pertaining to each year (1Ki 10:14);
13. LN 67.163–67.200 unit: תְּשׁוּבָה שָׁנָה (tešû∙ḇā(h) šā∙nā(h)) springtime, i.e., the season that follows winter (2Sa 11:1; 1Ki 20:22, 26; 1Ch 20:1; 2Ch 36:10);
14. LN 67.163–67.200 unit: בֹּוא שָׁנָה (bô(ʾ) šā∙nā(h)) springtime, i.e., the season that follows winter (2Ki 13:20); 15. LN 67.163–67.200 ;
16. LN 67.142–67.162 unit: יוֹם שָׁנָה (yôm šā∙nā(h)) lifetime, i.e., an undetermined period of time comprising a lifetime (Ecc 6:3);
17. LN 67.78–67.117 unit: עַד שָׁנָה דֹּור וְ־ דֹּור (ʿǎḏ šā∙nā(h) dôr w- dôr) ages to come, i.e., a duration without reference to time (Joel 2:2)
Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

3. Ezekiel was shown the temple on Yom Kippurim

This argument is based on the verse in Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 40:1
1 In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was taken, on that same day the hand of YHVH was upon me and He brought me there.

The theory here is that the 10th day of the first month must refer to Yom Kippur which is in Tishri.  This is based on the faulty theory that nothing significant happens on the 10th day of Aviv, thus why would Ezekiel have mentioned it. Once again, we disagree with this statement, as there is something very significant on the 10th day of Aviv.

Exodus 12:2–3
2 “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you. 3 “Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household.

We do believe that the selection of the lambs for Pesach is a special day, specifically mentioned in Torah.  It is the first activity that starts the festival cycle of the year and it is also a day of judgment for the lambs that will be offered. Thus, for us, the 10th day of Aviv could have been a day that Ezekiel was referring to.

Conclusion

It is clear that none of these counter arguments disproves Exodus12:2 as the only scripture that points us to the beginning of YHVH’s year. All proofs for Yom T’Ruah as the start of the year is from outside the Scripture and should thus not be used to counter Exodus 12:2.

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Comments (4)

  • anneelliott

    |

    Amen!!!! I agree! It is such a temptation to “change times and seasons,” isn’t it? …no matter who we are. (I’m convicted of this at other times of the year.)

    Reply

  • Benjamin Brooks

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    I’m a little overwhelmed and completely buried by all of the study it would take to truly find out how to carry out every law in the old testament. This article is one example. For me to know who really is right concerning the start of the Sabbath year so I would be able to keep it, it would take much, much study. And this is only one law. How do you keep from getting overwhelmed? How do I read the entire Bible, and do exactly what it says? Where does grace fall into this? I would almost just like to do my best and recognize that all the research required will never be completely understood and just do my best. Is this an excuse? :-( This overwhelming feeling makes me feel condemned and stressed, not at peace. The fruit of the Spirit is peace. I must be missing something! When Nicademus found out about the gospel, He decided to repent for all that He stole by giving back 4 fold. So should we repent for all the years we haven’t celebrated the Sabbath year? How do we do that? Do we take a extra couple of years of not living off the land? How do we atone for all the years of oiur ancestors not keeping the Sabbath years? Is that a curse on the generations following, or can we reverse this and make the blessings of God pour on us and our children? Please help. Thank you.

    Reply

    • Schalk_and_Elsa

      |

      Shalom Benjamin,
      Our apologies for taking so long to answer. I was going though all the unanswered commemds, and I realize yours must have slipped through. I do hope YHVH has given you peace since. He is a loving merciful Father and He does not require rigid adherence all at once. Your best is most certainly enough and repentance of past mistakes is also enough. We do not have to do a kind of pennace or atonement to make up for not being obedient in past years. We grew into keeping the commandments. We would study and if we feel convicted in any way, we would obey. We started obeying as we learned.
      Shalom

      Reply

  • Laurel Austin

    |

    Thank you for this. I have been researching the dangers of the Rabbinic Talmudic Judaism and this was one more confirming witness.

    Reply

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