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Rosh Hashanah Explained

Rosh Hashanah Explained

Where did the holiday come from?

The major Jewish holidays (or feasts) are typically separated into two categories: those in the fall and those in the spring. In order to explain Rosh Hashanah, the first important thing to know is where these holidays originated in the Bible.

In Leviticus 23, God details what He calls the “appointed times” (Hebrew: moedim) during the annual Jewish calendar. God knew that it was (and is!) easy for humans to fall into a ritualistic pattern of life that might not make space for time with Him. So He appointed specific times during the year as moments of remembrance, reflection and dedication for His people. He even calls these holidays “permanent” and tells His people to observe them from “generation to generation.”

Before we go any further, please make sure you understand this very important point about these holidays/feasts: God gave them to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – the Jewish people. There is no Biblical command for Gentiles (non-Jews) to observe these holidays. (Read more in our paper on Torah Observance, if you’d like).

Here’s what we’re going to do. Let’s quickly look at the fall Jewish holidays by:

  1. The name and date of the holiday
  2. Mention of the holiday in the Bible
  3. Modern Jewish observance

Yalla chaverim! (let’s go, friends!)

Rosh Hashanah: Head of the Year

This is the holiday for the Jewish New Year. It literally means “head of the year.” In the Bible, it’s called the Feast of Trumpets, or “Yom Teruah.” It literally means “Day of Blasting” because God commanded His people on this day to blast or blow shofars (ram horns). Literally, that’s it – get together, take a day of rest, and blast you some shofars!

Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, which is usually in September. This year (2022), Rosh Hashanah starts at sundown on Sunday, September 25.

Rosh Hashanah Explained in Scripture

Where do you see Rosh Hashanah in the Bible?

Leviticus 23:23-25

Numbers 29:1-2

Matthew 24:31 – referencing the blasting of a trumpet

1 Corinthians 15:52 – not specifically about the holiday, but about the blasting of trumpets

1 Thessalonians 4:16 – same as above

Modern Jewish Observance

Modern Jewish communities celebrate the holiday by blowing shofars, going to synagogue for special services, and – most popularly – eating apples and honey together. This is in connection with the hope for a “sweet new year” ahead. If you’re extra interested in modern Jewish observance of this holiday, check this out.

Fun Facts

Jewish tradition believes that God created the earth on Rosh Hashanah, and many Messianic Jewish scholars believe Jesus will return on Rosh Hashanah (see the three New Testament Scriptures above)!

Further study on Israel read: A Heart for Israel

Nic Lesmeister received a life calling to serve the Jewish people in 2011 while in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with one of his spiritual fathers, Dr. Wayne Wilks. After a successful business exit as an entrepreneur in the finance sector, Nic moved his family to Israel where in 2015 he earned a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 2019, Nic led the vision to create the new “Gateway Center for Israel” as a part of Gateway Church, and serves as its director. Nic and his wife, Tabatha, have three children and live in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.

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