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The aim of this explanation is to share how Rosh Hashanah (The Feast of Trumpets – ref. Leviticus 23:24), which takes place on the first day on the seventh month (Tishrei) on the Hebrew calandar, is actually the beginning of the Jewish new year – despite Nisan (Abib) being described as the beginning of the year in Exodus 12:2.
Before we begin a fact to be aware of is that according to it’s definition, Tishrei (the seventh month) is ‘…from Akkadian tašrītu “Beginning”, from šurrû “To begin”…’* – however, we will not rely soley on this for the explanation.
Leviticus 25:8-13 is the supporting passage for this explanation, and will be explained on a moment;
‘…you shall sound the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month. On the Day of Atonement you shall sound the trumpet throughout all your land. And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan. That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of itself nor gather the grapes from the undressed vines. For it is a jubilee. It shall be holy to you. You may eat the produce of the field. “In this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his property.’
(Leviticus 25:9-13 ESV)
This passage from the book of Leviticus tells us that in the seventh month – the fiftieth year (jubilee) is to be consecrated (v.10), declared as holy (ref. Rashi on Leviticus 25:10:1).
This is done on the Day of Atonement (v.9).
The Day of Atonement takes place a little over a week after Rosh Hashanah (The Jewish New Year). Rosh Hashanah is deemed the new year by way of tradition and custom.
How do we know that when it says to ‘consecrate’ a year, that this means it is the start and not the end of the year instead?
Today the instruction of the Pharisees (typically unbelieving, though zealous rabbis – Matthew 23:1-3) state, that in the land of Israel; the land is to rest in the fiftieth year (as well as every seventh year).
This means that from the beginning of the year right to the end of the year, work such as sowing, commercial reaping, and the selling of produce is forbidden – for the entire year.
Paraphrasing the context of IBN Ezra on Leviticus 25:13:1, he confirms that the phrase that reads along the lines of ‘In the year of this jubilee’ in verse 13, speaks of action at the beginning of the year.
A Question Which The Mishnah Can Answer
A person might have a question like this thus far;
‘why would we consecrate (v.10) the jubilee (declare the year holy) a little over a week after Rosh Hashanah (the traditional new year)?’
Perhaps we can see the reasoning for this, from another matter touched upon in the Mishnah applying here;
When paraphrasing context from the Kehati Mishnah, Taanit 1,1 – it says ‘one must make himself acceptable, before making a request…’; i.e. one has made sure he has ceased sowing and reaping, and one has also returned ‘…to his clan…’ (Lev 25:10 ESV). This person can now be sure that all is in order and acceptable, and only then can in turn consecrate that year (declare that year holy).
Other Supporting References And Commentary
In this particular instance, a person could see the commentary of Rashi on Exodus 23:16 relating to this matter, which further agrees – though in a different way.
Exodus 23:16 states that the Festival of Ingathering (Festival of Booths / Sukkot) which is just after, though in the same month as Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur – is in the new year, as the old year has just gone/passed (see Rashi on Exodus 23:16);
And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, the year having just gone (since Rosh Hashanah, the Hebrew New Year) [H3318], when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field.
Exodus 23:16 KJV [amended]
IBN Ezra on Exodus 23:16:2 further agrees when it states that the civil new year begins with Tishrei, which is the seventh month (Rosh Hashanah being on the first day of Tishrei) – the same month that the above mentioned Feast of Ingathering (Sukkot) is also in.
What About Nisan (Abib) As The First Month?
From this explanation, we can also see that when Holy Scriptures speak of the month of Nisan as being the first month of the year in the book of Exodus;
“This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you.
Exodus 12:2 ESV
That the contextual explanation is that Nisan is the first of months from the beginning of your exodus (see Kehati Mishnah, Seder Moed, Rosh Hashana 1,1, Kehati [free mobile application]).
Rashi when paraphrasing context, also states that this verse’s explanation is that; Nisan is simply to be known as the beginning of the order in which the months are counted for a year (ref. Rashi on Exodus 12:2:1) – with regard to the listing order of the year’s months, and not the actual commencement of the year (see also Kehati Mishnah, Seder Moed, Rosh Hashana 1,1, Kehati [free mobile application]).
Rosh Hashana, the first day of the seventh month [on this ‘list’] – being the actual beginning/commencement date of a Jewish new year.
By tradition and custom, we can see that on the Hebrew calendar the Biblical new year takes place on Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year, The Feast of Trumpets).
From Leviticus 25:8-13, we can also see that the jubilee year (the fiftieth year in the fifty year continuous cycle) is formally consecrated in the new year – though a little over a week or so after Rosh Hashanah, on the Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) ceremony.
From rabbinic commentary (IBN Ezra on Leviticus 25:13:1), we can see that the actioning of some of statutes that take place in the jubilee year, are actioned at the beginning of the year, and that this consecrating after the commandments have been completed – is a recorded school of thought on the approach to certain other matters, as we read in the Mishnah.
Hoping that this is fruitful with you.
May the Holy G-d bless you beyond maximum, believing in His risen Son the Lord Jesus Christ (Adonai Yehoshua/Yeshua HaMoshiach). Amen.
Very kind regards,