Blog Extra - Rosh Hashanah

Thursday, October 2, 2008

This evening marks the beginning of the Fast of Gedalia. This fast honors the memory of Gedaliah, who was appointed by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon to be over the people left behind in Judah. However, seven months later, he was assassinated, along with the men of Judah and any Babylonians that were there with him in Mizpah. This text is found in 2 Kings 25:22-26. This also signified the end of the First Temple (Solomon's Temple).

The Fast of Gedalia is to be held during the seventh month. We find a reference to this in Zechariah 8:19. The Jewish calendar must be an exciting one to maintain. The month of Tishrei is the first month of the civil year and the seventh month of the ecclesiastical year.

So, why is this blog post entitled Rosh Hashanah? The Fast of Gedalia is to occur immediately after the second day of Rosh Hashanah, which this year began on Monday, September 29 and ended Wednesday (at sundown), October 1.

As I was reading, I found some wonderfully interesting information - if not to you, at least it is to me.

What is Rosh Hashanah? It literally means "head of the year." 'Roshe' means beginning, or head. 'Shanah' means year. We see these two words together in Ezekiel 40:1, but the command for the festival comes from Leviticus 23:23-24. It occurs on the first day of Tishrei, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar. This happens to be 163 days after Passover.

The blowing of the shofar occurs in specific intervals during the prayers that are recited.

Rosh Hashanah is a day of judgment. During the afternoon of the first day, prayers are said beside naturally flowing water and sins are symbolically cast into the water (Isaiah 11:9). Psalms 118:5-9, 121 and 130 are read among many written prayers. Honey and apples are included in meals to symbolize a sweet, new year.

Rosh Hashanah reminds Jews that God has three books and those are all opened during this Festival. There is the book of the wicked, the book of the righteous and a book in the middle. The names of the righteous will be sealed into the Book of Life, the wicked are blotted out of the Book of Life and those in the middle have 10 days until Yom Kippur to repent and become righteous.

As Christians, our awareness of Jewish festivals and fasts is loathsome. I am ashamed of my lack of knowledge of these things. I also find that I discover so much more about my faith when I understand the history of the Old Testament. The book of Life is a predominant part of Revelation. To comprehend John's interpretation of the vision that was being given to him requires one to attempt to fully comprehend the context of his life and background.

I love this stuff!