Leviticus 23:24 reads,

Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.

But the Bible gives us no clue as to what the purpose of this festival is, and which function it is supposed to serve. For example, Passover commemorates the Exodus and is the festival of the Abib (an agricultural spring festival when the Israelites planted their fields). The festival of Shavuoth (weeks) is a festival of the קציר--a time of reaping the crops. And the festival of Sukkoth (booths) serves a similar function, it celebrates the final harvest of the year. But what is the purpose of the festival of the trumpets?

Furthermore, 10 days later there is the "Day of Atonement" יום כיפורים (see verse 27-33). Are these festivals related in any way? Jews nowadays call the festival of the trumpets "Rosh Hashana" which means "New Year", and they regard this day as a Day of Judgement (God judges everyone for good or for bad for the upcoming year), a "Day of Remembrance" and a prelude to the Day of Atonement; they both serve a similar function, they involve praying all day (well not exactly the whole day but a nice part of it) and asking god for forgiveness, and regard them propitious times for atonement. But i'm wondering is this an invention of the Rabbis, or does it have any biblical basis? The text doesn't say anything about the function of this festival so it is reasonable to assume that this festival is somehow related to the Day of Atonement 10 days later, and that this festival may be regarded as a day of judgement as the Jews understood it for thousands of years. (But of course finding evidence for the New Year idea will be a harder task). But i'm not satisfied with that, since the text is silent and doesn't mention any of the aforementioned descriptions, and doesn't say why we should celebrate that day at all.

So what is going on here. I'm looking for any clarifications (on the function of this festival) on the text itself, or some theories that may shed some light on this obscure holiday. And of course extra-biblical evidence is always a bonus for me.

5 Answers 5


Kevin Howard and Marvin Rosenthal 1 note the observance for this day is found in a simple command to blow trumpets and observe a sabbath rest:

And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work, and you shall present a food offering to the LORD.” (Leviticus 23:23-25 ESV)

And they note the required sacrifices are also straightforward:

“On the first day of the seventh month you shall have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a day for you to blow the trumpets, and you shall offer a burnt offering, for a pleasing aroma to the LORD: one bull from the herd, one ram, seven male lambs a year old without blemish; also their grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil, three tenths of an ephah for the bull, two tenths for the ram, and one tenth for each of the seven lambs; with one male goat for a sin offering, to make atonement for you; besides the burnt offering of the new moon, and its grain offering, and the regular burnt offering and its grain offering, and their drink offering, according to the rule for them, for a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the LORD.
(Numbers 29:1-6 ESV)

They conclude:

Even as the seventh day and the seventh year were holy under Mosaic law (Ex. 20:8-10; Lev. 25:4), so, too, was Tishri, the seventh month. significantly, Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first day of this sabbath of months in which all three of Israel's autumn holidays occur. 2

Although it only lasts for a single day, it does serve to identify the 7-fold Sabbath pattern which is found in days and years, is also found each seventh month of the year.

1. Kevin Howard and Marvin Rosenthal, The Feasts of the LORD, Thomas Nelson inc., 1997, p. 104.
2. Ibid p. 105.
3. Ibid p. 108.

  • So basically your saying this festival commemorates creation and the Exodus just like the sabbath does? This approach is novel, but i can't say that i find it to be very compelling. The text does not indicate that there is any connection between the two.
    – bach
    Sep 24, 2017 at 14:30
  • Consider also adding some clarity on the correlation between Rosh Hashana and the Day of Atonement ten days later.
    – bach
    Sep 24, 2017 at 14:38
  • Just saw your edit. IMO i would revert to the old version when you conclude the first section of the purpose of this festival. It was more concise and to the point than the current version. "Although it only lasts for a single day, it does serve to identify the 7-fold Sabbath pattern which is found in days and years, is also found each seventh month of the year."
    – bach
    Sep 27, 2017 at 20:38
  • @Bach I added the part about a single day to acknowledge it is not an exact pattern since it does not last the entire month. I thought you were looking for a connection to the Day of Atonement, which is there. But I wanted to show having the Feast of Trumpets also makes the 7th month follow the calendar from the 1st month and IMO this seems to be a better reason than Atonement. Sep 28, 2017 at 1:44

That the number seven bears special, and, perhaps, sacred significance in the calendar dar (and in progeny) has long been recognized." The seventh month is set apart just as the seventh day, the seventh year, and the Jubilee (the end of the seventh week of years). Moreover, note that the offerings listed for the first day of the seventh month almost duplicate the offerings of a normal new moon (cf. Num 28:11-15; 29:1-6). Thus the seventh new moon is to the ordinary new moon as the seventh day is to the ordinary day (Num 28:3-10), thereby preserving the sabbatical cycle in the lunar calendar. However, this can be accredited as only an ancillary factor. More central is the reality that it is inextricably associated with the other festivals of the seventh month-the the Day of Purgation and the Festival of Booths (see below). That this month is replete with festivals (ten days, fully one-third of the month) should not surprise. It is the only month that follows the harvests and precedes the rains. Still, the common denominator that binds these festivals into a single unit is something else, as will be explained below.

In first-millennium Uruk, two New Year festivals were celebrated, one in Nisan (the first month) and the other in Tashritu (the seventh month), and both months qualified ified as "the beginning of the year." In addition, third- to second-millennium Ur also held two New Years annually that can only be explained as the beginning of the agricultural cultural year (the seventh month) and the beginning of the civil year (the first month). Also, chronological considerations can lead to the conclusion that the royal year in Judah began in the spring, whereas the royal year in north Israel began in the autumn); Nor should it be forgotten that rather recently, in our time, multiple New Years (civil, legal, and fiscal) were normative in the Western world. Finally, I must frankly state that there exists not a single hint in all of Scripture that the first day of Tishri, the seventh month, was New Year's Day. In sum, the text must be taken as it is: it prescribes the rites for the first day of the seventh month, which falls at the end of the harvests (the old agricultural year) and before the onset of the rainy season (the beginning of the new agricultural year).

The purpose of the alarm blasts is to arouse the Deity's attention. But what are Israel's pressing needs that surface on the first day of the seventh month? The Mishna Ta`anit, in my opinion, strikes the mark. It deals with the sounding of the shofar at the assembly of a community engaged in a fast to implore God for rain.15 All three festivals of the seventh month-the alarm call on the first day, the fast day on the tenth, the circumambulation of the altar with waving fronds and other vegetation for seven days, from the fifteenth through the twenty-second, as well as the tradition of a water libation offered during these days-combine into a single-minded goal: to beseech God for adequate and timely rain in the forthcoming agricultural year.

Jacob Milgrom, Leviticus Continental Commentary

Milgrom addresses all of my questions and sheds light on the purpose of all the festivals of the month: The purpose of the blasts is to arouse the deity's attention. And that is also how this festival is related to the other festivals following in the seventh month: it is all to beseech God for adequate and timely rain in the forthcoming agricultural year. Finally, we cannot rule out the theory of the New Year announcement on the month of Tishri as there is extra-biblical evidence for its existence in the ANE (Though he notes that the Torah is silent on this). Furthermore, this festival also preserves the sabbatical cycle, which features so prominently in the OT, in the lunar calendar.


Trumpets were used to call the people, and this feast was a call to the people, and for preparation of the Day of Atonement the 10th day of the month, and the feast of Tabernacles / Booths began on the 15th day.


"24. In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath—That was the first day of the ancient civil year.

a memorial of blowing of trumpets—Jewish writers say that the trumpets were sounded thirty successive times, and the reason for the institution was for the double purpose of announcing the commencement of the new year, which was (Le 23:25) to be religiously observed (see Nu 29:3), and of preparing the people for the approaching solemn feast." Source: here

Num. 29:1,

"`And in the seventh month, in the first of the month, a holy convocation ye have, ye do no servile work; a day of shouting it is to you;" (YLT)

The seventh day was the sabbath; the seventh year was a sabbatical year, and the seventh month was a month of many sabbaths - a sabbath month.

" This feast is known in Judaism as Rosh Hashanah, but it is never known by that name in Scripture. Rosh Hashanah literally means: "Head of the Year." However, this designation was not applied to this feast until at least the second century A.D., more than 1,500 years after the institution of the holiday. The timing of this feast coincided with the beginning of Israel's civil New Year.

In the Bible, it is referred to as Zikhron Teruah, or the Memorial of Blowing of Trumpets (Lev. 23:24), and Yom Teruah, the Day of Blowing Of Trumpets (Num. 29:1). The "Feast of Trumpets" is a day of sounding trumpets in the Temple and throughout the land of Israel." Source: Feast of Trumpets

The feasts, or appointed times of the Lord, all pointed to Christ, and were all fulfilled in Christ. So, yes, they are related. Another discussion of these feasts is found here.

  • Is there any evidence to support this approach? If it was considered to be the festival of the New Year, why didn't they start counting months from there instead of Nissan? Also, nowhere does the bible mention that the seventh month is the beginning of the year, so there is little evidence to support your idea!
    – bach
    Sep 17, 2017 at 17:56
  • Added some clarity. The Hebrew civil new year was not the same as the Hebrew religious new year. Based upon Ezek. 40:1, they counted the civil events and recordings of the years from Tishri, but the spiritual feasts were counted in months from Nisan. See: therefinersfire.org/two_new_years2.htm.
    – Gina
    Sep 17, 2017 at 18:09
  • "Trumpets were used to call the people, and this feast was a call to the people, and for preparation of the Day of Atonement the 10th day of the month". Possibly true, but not the whole story. See Numbers 10:9. Trumpets wee used as a form of prayer, a remembrance before god. That is also the reason it was blown on all festivals (ibid). That is most probably the reason the Trumpets/Shofar were blown on that day, it was a day of remembrance (possibly because it was the beginning of the New Year).
    – bach
    Sep 18, 2017 at 14:14
  • see also my question here hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/28883/…
    – bach
    Sep 18, 2017 at 14:15

Yom Teruah, the Feast of Trumpets. The Hebrew word "Teruah" mean: H8643 תְּרוּעָה truw`ah (ter-oo-aw') n-f. 1. clamor, i.e. acclamation of joy or a battle-cry. 2. (especially) clangor of trumpets, as an alarm.

Most of time the word "Teruah" is used for alarm for battle as demonstrate in following versses in the TaNaHk תּרוּעה terû‛âh ter-oo-aw' Total KJV Occurrences: 36 • alarm, 6 Nb 10. 5; Nb 10. 6(2); Jr 4. 19; Jr 49. 2; So 1. 16

• aloud, 1 Esd 3. 12

• blow, 1 Nb 31. 6

• joy, 2 Jb 33. 26; Ps 27. 6

• jubilee, 1 Lv 25. 9

• noise, 1 Ps 33. 3

• rejoicing, 1 Jb 8. 21

It is interesting that Judaism count the 10 days between Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur "the days of awe or days of repentance. Yom Kippur is the day of Judgment. Question remain: to or for whom is this alarm? Am 2:2 “But I shall send fire upon Mo’aḇ, and it shall consume the palaces of Qeriyoth. And Mo’aḇ shall die amid uproar, with a cry(Teruah in Hebrew) and with a voice of a shophar.

The number 7 is considered to be the number for perfection on earth, the day YHWH rested from his work, while the number 10 is related to the higher goal mankind can reach in godliness (10 commandments) The Feast following Yom Kippur is Succoth or the Feast of Tabernacle. During this Feast, offering are made for the 70 nations day after day during the 7 days of succoth. Badmidbar/Number 29:12-34. Every day oone lesser, starting with 13 Bullocks (the number for rebellion) to finish with the number 7, the number for perfection on earth. The total amount of the Bullocks are: 13 + 12 + 11+ 10 + 9+ 8 + 7 = 70, the number of the 70 nations descendants from Noah's sons. So Yom Teruah could be the day to herald, judgment on the nations who rebel against YHWH righteous Torah, and the delivrance of His people.


You ask if the idea of Day of Judgement was invented by the rabbis or if it has Biblical basis. When the rabbis discussed this, they they explained how this is derived from the Biblical text. As the Talmud states in Tractate Rosh Hashana 8a-8b:

R. Nahman b. Isaac [explained the Mishnah to refer] to the Divine judgment ‘as it is written, From the beginning of the year to the end of the year, [which means], From the beginning of the year sentence is passed as to what shall be up to the end of it. How do we know that this takes place in Tishri? — Because it is written, Blow the horn at the new moon, at the covered time [keseh] for our feastday. Which is the feast on which the moon is covered over [mithkaseh]? You must say that this is New Year; and it is written [in this connection], For it is a statute for Israel, an ordinance for the God of Jacob. (Soncino translation)

While one can of course disagree with the rabbis' interpretive methodology, they did indeed claim textual basis for the idea that the festival of the trumpets is a day of judgement, by utilizing verses from Deuteronomy and Psalms.

Interestingly, when Maimonides discusses the nature of this festival and its connection to the Day of Atonement, he cites no textual evidence; rather he simply states that this is a tradition.

Guide for the Perplexed 3:43

New-Year is likewise kept for one day; for it is a day of repentance, on which we are stirred up from our forgetfulness. For this reason the shofar is blown on this day, as we have shown in Mishneh-torah. The day is, as it were, a preparation for and an introduction to the day of the Fast, as is obvious from the national tradition about the days between New-Year and the Day of Atonement. (Friedlander translation)

  • Alex I appreciate your effort and all, but I do not see how you have addressed the above issues; namely, what is the function of this day according to the bible, and do we have any evidence that this is a day of judgment or a new year as the rabbis have claimed? Your answer as it is now just summarizes the Jewish view but offers no support that it is indeed so.
    – bach
    Jun 6, 2018 at 0:39
  • Doesn't my answer show how the"Jewish view" is derived from the Biblical text?
    – Alex
    Jun 6, 2018 at 0:47
  • It does, but you offer no arguments to support the Jewish view, to show that it is the correct understanding. Remember, this is not a Jewish Q&A site, it is about BH only.
    – bach
    Jun 6, 2018 at 13:32

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