Number 2. New Beginning
Dov Chaikin


“This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you” (Exodus 12:2 - NAS B). This is our introduction to the first month in the divine calendar. The name given to that month was “Aviv” (“spring”) (Exodus 13:4, 23:15, 34:18; Deuteronomy 16:1). In two of the books relating events during the Babylonian exile (Esther 3:7; Nehemiah 2:1) we find the name changed to “Nissan” (the name of the Babylonian god of spring!). And it was during the exile that the order of months of the calendar was changed, corresponding to the Babylonian calendars, the seventh month in the divine calendar - “Etanim” (1 Kings 8:2), from “etan” (“firm”, “strong”) becoming the first month in the Jewish religious calendar, being given the Accadian name “Tishrei” (“beginning”).

Whereas Aviv/Nissan remains pre-eminent in the divine calendar, the changover of the seventh to being the first month does have obvious spiritual significance. Of the appointed times of the Lord (Leviticus 23) - ordained after the Exodus - four are observed during Tishrei: "Trumpets" ("a memorial of blowing of trumpets" - v24); Day of Atonement (v27); Feast of Booths Tabernacles - v34fi); Eighth Day Convocation (vv36 & 39). "Trumpets" was later incorporated in "Rosh Hashanah" ("Head of the Year" - New Year), celebrated on the 1st and 2nd days of Tishrei.

Observance of New Year then has to do with the (Jewish) tradition, that it was on the first day of that month that God created the world. Rosh Hashanah is often referred to as "the Day of Remembrance" or "the Day of judgement"; the former lays stress on God's faithfulness to His covenant, the latter on His righteousness and justice.

Since Rosh Hashanah originated as the "memorial of blowing of trumpets", the "shofar" (Ram's horn) plays an important role therein. According to Rabbinic tradition, it symbolizes - Inter alia - God's Kingship and the coming of the Messianic age. Rabbinic teaching has it that one day the divine shofar would sound, and the Messiah would come. This is echoed in what the Apostle Paul taught: "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God …" (1 Thessalonians 4:16). What more appropriate way to call people's attention and convey a particular message, than the loud and clear blowing of the trumpet! Trumpets were blown on numerous important occasions in Old Testament times. On the holy convocation of Trumpets, they were blown especially loudly and alarmingly, calling attention to the nearness of that most solemn of days in the ecclesiastical calendar, the Day of Atonement. It was all important that the people listen and start preparing their hearts, as the sound of the trumpets summoned them to repentance and honesty before God and man prior to the great day near at hand.

Little wonder that we read so much about trumpets in the Bible, right up to the final ingathering and judgement. "Blow a trumpet (shofar) in Zion, and sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the Day of the Lord is coming …" (Joel 2:1)

The Lord's trumpet is sounding in the spiritual realm at this very time; the alarm is clearly heard, in preparation for the fierce conflict to come. "For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle" (1 Corinthians 14:8).

(First published in Tishrei Vol 1 No 1, Autumn 1992. The Journal Tishrei was launched in 1992 to highlight the need for the Church to return to its Jewish roots)