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Matthew 34:36[NIV] ~ “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[f] but only the Father.

It's become common in Messianic Jewish circles and among others who have been impacted by the Hebrew Roots movement to say that Jesus' words in Matt. 24:36 are a clue that He would return on a future Rosh Hashanah. The reasoning is that Rosh Hashanah / Yom Teruah is a feast whose date was "unknown" in the sense that it was not officially begun until the moon was sighted and the new month declared to have arrived (be sanctified) by the Sanhedrin.

However, I wonder if this hasn't become a sort of Christian urban legend. There seems to be no source material for this belief. Was Rosh Hashanah really known as a day of which no man knew the date or hour? After all, must it not occur a set number of days after Passover?

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    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 8:07
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    Why specifically Rosh Hashanah, rather than any of the other festivals? Their dates were determined by the same method.
    – user2910
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 14:31
  • Please quote the full text of the verse in question in your post, indicating the translation or MSS from which you quote. Thanks.
    – user17080
    Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 12:43
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    "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only." -- Matthew 24:36, ESV
    – Nick Uva
    Commented Apr 26, 2018 at 14:37

8 Answers 8

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No, the statement "No man knows the day or the hour" has absolutely nothing to do with Rosh Hashanah.

The Biblical Hebrew calendar was based on new moon sightings (unlike the Rabbinic calendar officially adopted after the bar khova revolt, even though it was used long before, which was metonic). This creates confusion because, according to the Bible, Rosh Hashanah must be 1 Nisan (first month), but by Rabbinical tradition, adopted during the exile, it is 1 Tishrei (seventh month). So we need to make a distinction between the Babylonian metonic calendar used in rabbinical tradition and the luni-solar calendar of the Old Testament. So let's not say "Rosh Hashanah" when speaking of the 7th month, but instead "feast of trumpets" or "day of trumpets" - Yom Teruah.

Because the Biblical calendar is based on new moons, one can argue that "no man knows the day or hour" applied to any future date that was more than a single new moon away, whether this be the fifth, sixth, or seventh month, it doesn't matter.

But the ability to accurately predict the new moons was present during the captivity - the Babylonians knew it and then the Greeks knew it, and even the Hebrews knew it long before the birth of Christ -- they learned it from the Babylonians -- and therefore there were certainly men who could predict future new moons with precise accuracy when Christ made his statement, and therefore his statement could not be a reference to knowing new moon sightings, and thus it can't have anything to do with the feast of the seventh month.

Fun-Fact: Although the leap month was more a question of the ability to predict 1 Aviv, even this could be predicted ahead of time by examining the rising of stars. It was helical risings, rather than observation of the equinox, that was used in practice to determine leap months.

Now some may argue that there was a special (extra-biblical) requirement to visually observe the new moon, and so something like a cloud could actually shift the calendar, but there is no evidence that the Hebrews, once they knew a new moon was present, actually delayed the year. And there is clear evidence that they didn't. E.g. from a famous passage in the Talmud we learn that knowledge of the length of the lunar month overrode visual observation:

The Sages taught in a baraita: Once the sky was covered with clouds, and the form of the moon was visible on the twenty-ninth of the month. The people thought to say that the day was the New Moon, and the court sought to sanctify it. However, Rabban Gamliel said to them: This is the tradition that I received from the house of my father’s father: The monthly cycle of the renewal of the moon takes no less than twenty-nine and a half days, plus two-thirds of an hour, plus seventy-three of the 1,080 subsections of an hour.

So before the time of Christ, the precise knowledge of new moons already override practical limits of visual observation, and there are many statements also in the Talmud and in Christian tradition that says that even during the era of the first century, scientific knowledge of new moons had replaced visual inspection - even if observational ceremonies were still being performed in the Temple before it was destroyed. In other words, people did know when seventh month began ahead of time -- they knew the day and hour of the start of the seventh month.

Rather, the reason why many believe that Christ will return on the feast of trumpets is because of the mention of the "trumpet sounding" in 1 Cor 15:52

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. [KJV]

Which many interpret is a reference to the celebration of the seventh month:

Leviticus 23:24 (KJV 1900)

24 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 [teruah], an holy convocation.

However trumpets were blown on other occasions as well. E.g. in Leviticus 25:9, Trumpets are blown at the start of Jubilee years on Yom Kippur -- every seventh year, a one year period of time called a Jubilee began on the 10th day of the seventh month and continued until the ninth day of the next year's seventh month, and during this Jubilee period, which was overlayed over the normal Aviv to Aviv calendar, debts were forgiven and land was returned to ancestral owners.

And in many places in the Bible, the blowing of trumpets is used to signify important events that have nothing to do with the seventh month. The trumpet is an instrument used to raise the alarm or proclaim a special day, and trumpets were blown as part of the regular worship service in the temple, as it says in Psalms 33:3

  Sing unto him a new song;
  Play skilfully with a loud noise [teruah]

Thus, any day in which an alarm was raised or in which a celebration was made, or even when a song was sung -- it would be a day in which the trumpet was blown, and any one of these could be a prophecy of the blowing of the trumpet when Christ comes again, and thus it really could be any day.

Therefore it remains the case that no man knows the day or the hour, but this has nothing to do with the feast of the seventh month, later called in Rabbinic tradition the head of the year.

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All the Jewish feasts pointed to Yeshua which followers of the Way understand and the Jews still don't but this was prophesied. Yeshua fulfilled the law and therefore fulfilled the feasts. I find it interesting though that many scholars believe that Yeshua was born sometime in September (Tishiri) which is the same month as the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles.

It seems to me that the feast of Trumpets is proclaiming to us the Messiah is coming, the Day of Atonement proclaiming Messiah's humble birth in the manger, and the feast of Tabernacles proclaiming that he is dwelling among us. I'm not second-guessing God but it could be that this may again happen during these same times. It's very possible!

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Was “no man knows the day or the hour” (Mt. 24:36) a reference to Rosh Hashanah?

Maybe. Maybe not. The disciples asked a similar question in Acts 1:

6Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

Jesus answered them:

7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

For our part, our responsibility is to spread the good news regardless of when is His return.

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When is the Lord’s Return?

Was “no man knows the day or the hour” (Mt. 24:36) a reference to Rosh Hashanah?

Answer: No.


While there is a certain sense to the idea that God would end the world at the end of some specific week -- Saturday night, the end of 7-days, in reality, it makes no difference when He does this at all, as I will (try to) explain.

You see, there are dozens of passages that, if we think carefully, relate to us when/how the Lord will return, and they have nothing to do with any specific date on earth -- including Rosh Hashanah. Here are three such examples:

1 Thessalonians 4: “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”

1 Thessalonians 5:2: “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.”

Luke 12:39: “But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.”

The day of Christ's return represents the eventuality of all the faithful dating back to the very beginning. God does not play favorites; it would be egregiously unfair that a single generation would be the sole recipient to witness the greatest event in the history of the world.

Suppose the last day of history is December 31, 3000. Since we will physically die before then, how can we witness Christ’s return? Why are we told to be prepared for an event that has apparently never occurred to countless multitudes that have already died in Christ (Jas. 5:7-8, Heb. 10:25, 1 Cor. 1:7, 2 Pet. 3:9, Matt. 24:42, Phi. 3:20, etc.)?

Then, there is this: How then does Christ “return” to those with whom He is already present (2 Cor. 5:8)? Are we really to somehow exist as bodiless, semi-triumphant ghosts awaiting the Lord's return? Would such an intangible existence not parallel the dreadful circumstances of demons, unclean spirits forever in search of a body (Matt. 12:43, Lk. 11:24)?

Further, was Stephen not in the Presence of God, just as he tells us that he was in Acts 7:56? Would the thief on the cross not really be in paradise with Christ, just as Jesus promised him that he would (Luke 23:43)? Does Christ never return as a “thief in the night” to any of the vast numbers of obedient saints that have departed this world, fully assured that they will see Him return?

If not, why then does Scripture remind us over 300 times about the certainty of the event? No one seems to pause and reflect on these things. In the Book of Revelation, it is written:

Revelation 1:7: “Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him”

This verse speaks to all the tribes of the earth. Surely we are not to believe these words apply only to judgment on Jerusalem or Rome in 70 and 78 A.D. (respectively)? These are all questions that demand an answer for those seeking the truth.

Our intractable problem is that we feel we will be “waiting” in heaven. That is, everyone believes there must be some amount of time between our departure from this life and our eventual encounter God. But that is illogical. You cannot speak of "time" in eternity, because that is just as nonsensical as believing that God had a beginning. When we traverse the threshold of time into eternity at death, time as we experience it ceases to exist entirely.

Let me try this: If there was a time “before” something in eternity, then there must, of necessity, have been a time even before that. This represents an infinite regression of "yesterdays," but there aren't any. There is only today in heaven just as God has told us: "I am." (Ex. 3, John 8, etc.) If we ignore this distinction we are rejecting dozens of passages in Scripture. Paul tells us something we should remember:

1 Corinthians 14:33: “[God] is not a God of confusion…”

It should be clear that God has not conveyed logical impossibilities to us. There are at least two sources that relate to us how God will return. And both of them suggest that He will not return to Earth (per se). From the Book of Acts:

Acts 1:11: “[Two angels] also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.’”

Very similar circumstances are echoed in the Letter to the Thessalonians. Upon the “last trumpet” (1 Cor. 15:52), we step out of time into God’s immediate Presence; there is no waiting for anything in heaven:

1 Thessalonians 4:17: “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”

Neither of these passages are relating to Rosh Hashanah. Note too, that these "clouds" are not on earth: they are the "clouds of heaven." Interestingly, Paul speaks of "we who are [still] alive." We should understand that Paul is trying to assuage the fear that his audience's [Thessalonians] lost loved ones would never see Christ. Then he states "then, we who are [still] alive" will be caught up with them. Are we too not "[those] who are alive?" Yes, we will be caught up to paradise just as Paul told the worried Thessalonian saints.

Clearly, 1 Thessalonians 4:17 parallels Acts 1:11, where Christ is to return with the clouds of heaven. And, when He returns, we are told that He will destroy the material universe with intense heat (2 Pet. 3:10). There is no way around this.

I've included a figure below intended to depict how every faithful soul is immediately ushered into the Presence of the Christ (dotted line). Note that time ceases to exist for us as we do this. Few who have died did so on Rosh Hashanah (although some may have):

enter image description here

Traversing the threshold of Time into eternity is analogous to the effects of Special Relativity: E = mc2.

Consider an analogy: Suppose we see our close relatives off on a flight to another country. But, as soon as they arrive, they are thrilled to discover that we are on the plane with them. The reason that no one is yet in heaven (Acts 2:34) is that we are not yet there either. But as soon as we arrive, all of the faithful dating to the end of physical time will be there along with us in that same eternal moment.

Christ could return in five minutes, since no one can know when the event will occur per Matthew 24:36 in the OP. Based entirely on Scripture, when Christ returns is completely irrelevant: we will all witness the event indistinguishably from one another.

Think about this. What event in everyone's life comes to them suddenly without warning -- as a thief in the night? We might encounter some fatal auto accident in a flash, without any warning. Or, we may be bedridden, expecting everything to be at it was so many days before, all without incident.

Then, in a moment, we each experience our last day: the end of our physical life on earth. This is the day we step into eternity, a realm where time ceases to elapse (certainly, as we now recognize it). Christ will never set foot on Earth again: We will step into His Presence in the clouds (Acts 1:11, 1 Thess. 4:17).

I have posted another partial answer to this elsewhere. Providing a complete answer to your question is very difficult since I can only scratch the surface of this subject here. However, NO, Christ will not return on to us on Rosh Hashanah -- unless it by sheer coincidence that our death happens to coincide with that day. Our death and the Lord's return are essentially synonymous -- a very difficult concept to relate to others.

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Yes. https://www.nehemiaswall.com/yom-teruah-day-shouting-became-rosh-hashanah. Jesus told His disciples at Jacob's Well "Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest'?" John 5:35 I suggest that Jesus was saying believing gentile Samaritans are "born again" John 3:3 and "already white for harvest." This was the time of the Barley Harvest (unleavened, sinless) and 4 months later is The Feast of Trumpets (aka Yom Terauh now Rosh Hashana). "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven ... with the trumpet of God." Therefore, I suggest a future unknown day of Yom Teruah is the time of physical resurrection for all "born again" believers.

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This is kind of in response to the last two (2) sentences of the answer at the top this time as they ask what is what I see as the points at the core of any dicussion on the subject. The possibility of there being a correlation between Rosh Hashanah being called "the day that no man may know the day nor hour" and Jesus telling us "no man may know the day nor hour" in reference to the Rapture so could the Rapture happen on one of the days looking for Rosh Hashanah to start. They also brought something to do with being literal mind.

  1. "Was Rosh Hashanah really known as a day of which no man knew the date or hour?"

What I've learned about Rosh Hashanah is that the holiday could only start when the first sliver of the crescent of the moon was seen or witnessed. At that time the trumpets were blown and the temple was notified. They would start watching close to time for this to occur. When it happened and was witnessed the holiday could start. I'm sure sometimes it happened on the first evening they started watching and sometimes it didn't happen for a few days. It could be about anytime within a span of a few days and within a few hour span on the day it did happen. So they really didn't know for sure exactly what day and what hour of the evening it would happen. So I would have to say yes. They really didn't know what day and hour of the day that first little sliver of the moon would be visible so the holiday could start. Did they call it by this alternate title? I don't know for sure, but I wouldn't be surprised to find out that it was at least used in slang or relaxed common discussion.

  1. "After all, must it not occur a set number of days after Passover?"

Yes, sort of. Like I described above, it still couldn't start until that sliver of the crescent of the moon was witnessed. Yet, If I'm not mistaken, yes, it does have to start within a set period of time or number of days, BUT... Yea. Big "but" coming here. I've been presenting this to others for some time now. Perhaps God was more literal than we thought before on some things if not everything. First let's test this. Not the most accurate testing I can present without basically writing a book instead of a post, but here it is. God told us that he declares the end from the beginning. Well the very first word of the first book of the Bible in Hebrew is "Baresheet". It means "In beginning". Now in Hebrew, our first language that God gave us, each letter of the alphabet has a perceived assigned representation of not only a sound, but also a sort of symbol and value. Like the "aleph" or Hebrew letter "A" represents an Ox or Bull and strength or powerfulness. Side note: Yes our "Alphabet" comes from ancient Hebrew like almost all languages if not all of them. Even the Hebrew word for "Alphabet" is "Alephbet". We already knew this though. It's the rest of the world that doesn't want to admit it. If you write "Beresheet" in ancient Hebrew and look at each letter it tells a story. The story in general is A Prince who is the Son of The Strong One left home and came here and it even tells of him being on the Cross! It's worth looking up if you want to learn more about it. Anyway, so in the very first word of The Bible God told us about the coming of Jesus Yeshua Messiah! There are other examples, but this is already getting too long. Sorry. So I would have to say Yes! The Lord was more literal than we thought on some things He told us in The Bible. So if that is the case then could He have been literal when He said "day nor hour"? Basically could it be possible that someone could know the Millennium, Century, Decade, Year, Season or Month or down to the Week even, but just not the day or the hour!?! Jesus did tell us to look up and that we know or could tell the season or coming of the season. There are lots of clues, both Biblical and in the world that could very well be pointing to it being time. As well as generally when the time is. Yet, we all know how things can appear like that and how we can apply things to events or occurrences that are not actually related.

So like I said Yes if I recall correctly it does have to happen on a set number of days after Passover. The key word there being "days". Plural. So we still don't know exactly what "day"! Also we still can't know what hour of that day if we don't know exactly what day in the first place. If someone knew that it was going to happen at 9 p.m. ok fine, but 9 p.m. on what day? 9 p.m. on Monday is a different time in history than 9 p.m. on Sunday or Tuesday or even the next or previous Monday. So knowing through modern science the exact hour or even day the crescent can be seen you still have to consider knowing the exact weather data in the exact area of obviously Jerusalem so the "witnesses" can see and will blow the trumpets or when the first trumpet will sound and at the last trumpet and when exactly will that happen? We still can't predict or "know" that.

I still can't say if it is correlated or just coincidence. Everything I've mentioned, like with anyone, could just be the hope driven work of my mind putting things together that just have some coincidental connection and nothing more. Yet, it will happen some day. Some wonderful day.

I believe the important thing is, yes it's VERY exciting and fills one with hope and joy to think we're finally about to go home in just the next day or two or three, but in any case we need to be ready everyday and all days always! EVERY hour of EVERY day our entire lives! Not doing whatever sinful things you might love so much until it's just about time and lay off the sin "just in case" it really does happen! There are far too many "just in case" Christians out there and we all know it. Heck before I truly got saved I used to think "Why not? Just in case it's all true and real join a church and get "saved". That way I don't go to hell. Christianity is all about being a good person anyway and I'm inclined toward being good so why not!? Then I don't go to hell!" How wrong I was and deceived and perhaps even under the enemy's delusion. I see it now that I truly believe and am actually saved! Thank you God for calling me to Lord Jesus and having Him deliver me to you Father God! I don't deserve it, but I accept the gift and thank you forever for my salvation! Amen.

I hope this shed a little more light on the subject. Maybe somebody will be led to pick it up and do more and better with it.

Hope this helps. I love you all!

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Matthew 34:36[NIV] ~ “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[f] but only the Father is using a Hebrew idiom for the space of time when the moon cannot be seen in the night sky. Man did not know when the moon would appear again but watched and waited to see the sliver of the moon come into sight. This meant that the new month had begun so that they would know when to count the days for festivals and seasons. This was done every month and the idiom applied to every month. When one month's month (29-30) days "is spent" there is a period of darkness before the new moon begins to appear. When it appears the watchers from all over Israel get the word out with shofars sounding, bonfires burning, and runners going to the Sanhedrine to officially state that the new moon has been sighted. Each new month, the Sanhedrin would determine whether the month would be 29 or 30 days long depending on when the following month's new moon was first sighted by the watchers across Israel. When the Sanhedrin receive the statement from he runners each confirming the sighting the Sanhedrin would then sanctify the new month. The next day then the celebration of the New Moon Festival would take place. This was every month at the time of the new moon. The Father knows the time of the new moon not man. When this idiom is referenced it is regarding the new moon every month. This is how the coming of Jesus will be according to Jesus's words. Those hearing His words knew he was referencing the time of the new moon, 'that day or hour no one knows' because of the commonly used idiom. (The One New Man Bible, Bill Morford, and other Jewish resources.)

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Many answers have explained that watching for the new moon was the key. This is true but for the Feast of Trumpets, not only did it denote the beginning of the 7th month but it indicated that you were already in the day of the Feast of Trumpets.

The sliver of the moon is visible just as the sun goes down and it is only visible for an hour or less (varies). Thus, one must be watching very carefully for it's arrival or you will miss it.

The day begins and ends at dark and thus when the sliver of the new moon is visible, you are already in the day known as the Feast of Trumpets.

This is the only appointed time known as his feasts recorded in the book of Leviticus chapter 23 the knowing of the time and the being in the actual feast happen simultaneously.

This correlates to the wedding feasts of that time wherein the groom would come at a time unknown to the bride and in order to give her warning, his friends would go before him blowing the trumpets and announcing his coming.

There are three fall feasts and it appears that the Feast of Trumpets is the announcement of his coming, 10 days later is the purification Feast, known as the Day of Atonement. This is followed 5 days later with the Feast of Sukkot wherein, it appears the Groom finally shows up to greet his bride.

The Bible teaches a 7-day wedding feast followed by togetherness forever. The Sukkot feast represents that as it is a 7-day feast, followed by an eight-day feast. Eight is the symbol of eternity.

I trust that this helps to answer the question...

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  • There is little scripture here and much assertion about technicalities. 'The Bible teaches . . . . . . etc' is not a substantiated reference, but merely the expression of a personal opinion.
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    Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 4:20

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