Yom Teruah or Rosh Hashanah

This post isn’t going to have a lot of explanation of the holidays mentioned in the title.  Maybe in the future I will write about the spiritual significance of Rosh Hashanah (if any), but this post poses a question to ones who celebrate Rosh Hashanah. Why do you celebrate it?

We, as believers, are called to be set apart:

Know that the LORD has set apart his faithful servant for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him.  — Psalm 4:3

For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. — Deuteronomy 7:6

…but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” — 1 Peter 1:15-16

How can we be considered “set apart” if we pick up pagan traditions and incorporate them into our worship? What is the difference of celebrating Christmas on the winter solstice if we use Babylonian traditions as the tone for our celebrations?

The literal definition of Rosh Hashanah is “the head of the year”, meaning the beginning of the new year. The Jewish/Biblical calendar does not call for the new year to be in the seventh month of the year. Yom Teruah means “day of shouting” or “day of making loud noises” and is translated as the “Feast of Trumpets” in many Bibles. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Teruah are celebrated on the same day, and now is celebrated as a new year in the Jewish culture, but that is not Biblical:

“Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts.

Yom Teruah is Biblical, Rosh Hashanah is not. The Biblical new year falls in the Spring, during Passover.

“The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of the months; it shall be the first of the months of the year for you” (Exodus 12:1-2).

So where did the “new year” concept come from? As far as I can tell, Yom Teruah often fell on the same day as the Babylonian new year. During the captivity in Babylon, the Jews picked up the celebration of a new year and incorporated it into their Yom Teruah celebration. They also did the same thing with the names of months, so when I hear about the Jewish month “fill in the blank” I wonder what that means in a Babylonian mindset.

I haven’t quite figured out which elements of Rosh Hashanah are pagan, if any. I know with Christmas just about every element is of pagan roots because the holiday was first pagan, and then it was whitewashed. This is different, there was a Biblical commanded holiday that picked up a tradition from a pagan culture.

Until I have figured this out you won’t hear me say “La Shanah Tovah” (which means Happy New Year), I’ll probably just say “Happy Yom Teruah!”. I’m guessing that is the safer thing to say.


  1. Bethany Belt on September 25, 2014 at 9:48 am

    Amen! on the difference between being “pagan and then whitewashed” and being “Biblical and then picking up pagan elements.” There is a difference no matter what kind of spin you try to put on Christmas or Easter. Don’t try to justify the fact that you are celebrating something that is clearly originally pagan by saying that you are celebrating Jesus. You can’t say that it is “the heart” that matters, when G-d has said that you are not to have anything to do with the sin or the pagan cultures around you. Don’t tell me that you think that G-d is okay with you celebrating Christmas, when you THINK it has something to do with the birth of Christ the Messiah. And don’t put baby Jesus on your pagan fertility tree that you have brought inside your home because of “the tradition of men.” If you don’t believe me, just google “the origin of the Christmas tree.” You will be shocked; I was. And then after about 4 or 5 years, I submitted to the fact that G-d and the Bible are the authority, they are right, and man is sinful and completely and utterly stupid!

    Matthew 15:6b-9-“Thus you nullify the word of G-d for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ” ‘ These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’ “(Isaiah 29:13-in quote)

    John 15:19b-“As it is, you so not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.”

    So Aaron is right, as believers, we are to be different. Will the world hate you because you are different? Absolutely! I am. Will you be left out or be treated differently because of your view on certain celebrations? Absolutely! I am. Will others be offended? I hope so. The gospel is very offensive to the world because they don’t want to hear it! But guess what? It is exactly what they need to hear to be saved! I bet you they won’t be offended then!

    1 Peter 2:12-“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify G-d on the day he visits us.”

    Amen and Amen! (maybe I need my own website for me to vent, too!)
    Bethany 🙂
    PS-Aaron, great job on being bold and bringing up the topic in the first place, and great job on the history lesson!

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