1st Tishrei - The Blowing of Trumpets

by Joseph Hunting

The year 1990 in the Gregorian calendar not only commences the last decade of this millennium with political upheavals sweeping communism from many European countries, but it also commences the year 5751 in the Hebrew calendar.

1st Tishri , which falls on September 20th has a dual significance for Israel. Biblically it is one of the Seven Holy Convocations instituted by Moses which are also known as the Feasts of Jehovah. On the 1st Tishri Moses commanded the institution of the Festival of the Blowing of Trumpets which commenced the fifteen Days of Awe. The Day of Atonement was to be observed on 10th Tishri , and the final of the seven festivals, the Feast of Tabernacles on the 15th Tishri .

On the other hand 1st Tishri has been promulgated rabbinically as Israel's New Year, the anniversary of the day when God created planet Earth. Over the centuries the latter celebration has largely superseded the Biblical observance of the Holy Convocation.

Whilst we join hands in wishing our Jewish readers "L'SHANA TOVA TIKATEVU" (A Happy New Year), on 1st Tishri , this is the Scriptural injunction: "And the Lord spoke unto Moses saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall you have a Sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation" (Leviticus 23:23-24). However, the Scriptural New Year according to Exodus 12:1 was to be the month which was known as Abib. This was ordained to be the first month of the year. After the Babylonian captivity this month became known as Nisan and corresponds to late March or early April in our Gregorian calendar.


There is an interesting account detailing the blowing of trumpets given in Numbers chapter 10. The Lord commanded Moses to make two silver trumpets which were primarily to be used for calling the children of Israel to assemble before the Tabernacle or to signal their journeying from one place to another during their wilderness wanderings. There was another important Divinely ordained function for the silver trumpets: "If you go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresses you, then you shall blow an alarm with the trumpets: and you shall be remembered before the Lord your God, and you shall be saved from your enemies" (10:9). There are numerous incidents recorded in Scripture where this practice was observed.


In the time of Joshua seven ram's horns were used when the children of Israel encircled Jericho -- even seven times on the seventh occasion. It was when the priests blew with the ram's horn trumpets and the people shouted that the walls of Jericho fell.

After Solomon had completed the construction of the Temple on Mount Moriah one hundred and twenty priests blew with their trumpets accompanied by the Levites sounding with cymbals and harps. It was then that the Shekinah glory of God filled the Temple with His presence.


In the midst of the euphoria that accompanied the entry of Israel's paratroopers into the Holy City, General Goren, the Chief Rabbi of the armed forces blew the shofar (ram's horn) at the Western Wall to signify the deliverance of this sacred place. It must be remembered that Jerusalem had been under the control of a succession of Gentile powers ever since Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Holy City in 586 B.C. Two thousand years is a long time for Israel to lament over its beloved city: "If I forget you O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember you, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy" (Psalm 137:5-6).

Fifty years is also a very long time. It was fifty years earlier, in 1917, that Jerusalem had been liberated from the Ottoman empire and had begun to be rebuilt. In 1948 a bitter war was fought over Jerusalem and Jordan gained control over the Old City with all its sacred and holy sites which she proceeded to defile and destroy. Eighteen years later, and fifty years after General Allenby had captured Jerusalem from the Turks, Rabbi Goren sounded the shofar. Under Mosaic law, fifty years was the period of the Jubilee which signalled the return of property to its original owner. Thus Jerusalem celebrated its Jubilee when the Holy City was liberated from Jordanian control and totally liberated after 2,500 years of Gentile domination. A historic moment indeed!


Joel (chapter 2) gives a vivid picture of the great end-time battle of Armageddon, and commences his prophecy with the words: "Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord comes, it is nigh at hand ... Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly ... Then the Lord will be jealous for his land, and pity his people" (please read all chapter 2 for the full magnificent picture of Israel's great deliverance in this last of all terrible wars). On both occasions where the word trumpet is used the Hebrew word is shofar or ram's horn.

There is a final reference to the prophetic sounding of the trumpet which will occur at the resurrection of the dead when the Messiah comes. This will be the moment of victory for all who have availed themselves of the atonement promised under the terms of the New Covenant (see Jeremiah 31:31ff). "Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 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.

"For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, 'Death is swallowed up in victory'" (I Corinthians 15:51-54).

Just as the first mention of the blowing of the trumpet that was given to Moses was for the assembling of the children of Israel to the presence of God at the Tabernacle, so the final sounding of the trumpet will summon the redeemed into the presence of God -- and "death will be swallowed up in victory" .