The modern-day name of the feast, Rosh haShanah (ראש השנה, i.e. head of the year), was originally called Yom T’ruah (יום תרועה). It became Rosh haShanah during the Babylonian exile, when the Babylonian calendar was adopted by the Jewish people.1
The original name, Yom T’ruah, is translated to English as the “feast of trumpets”, although a more accurate translation would be the “day of shouting”.2 Furthermore, God set the beginning of the year to the month of the Exodus (Nisan, c.f. Ex. 12:2, Lev. 23:4) and therefore, Yom T’ruah occured in the 7th month, as the commandement in Leviticus 23:23-25 shows:
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets (or: loud shouting), a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work, and you shall present a food offering to the LORD.”
Summary of rabbinic traditions
In rabbinic Judaism, the days preceding Rosh haShanah are considered holy days during which the Slichot prayers (סליחות, prayers of repentance) should be recited in preparation of Rosh haShanah, which is also known as Yom haDin (יום הדין, i.e. the “day of judgement”).
On Yom haDin, 3 books are opened, the book of life, for the righteous among the nations, the book of death, for the most evil who receive the seal of death, and the third book for the ones living in doubts with non-evil sins. The final judgment is not done from Yom haDin before the start of Yom Kippur, it is sometimes possible to receive the seal of life by asking for forgiveness.3
The shouts and trumpet blasts are alluded to in the book of Revelations with several themes of announcement.
The trumpet blasts and shouts in front of the city of Jericho (Joshua 6) announced its judgement by God.
“Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets.”
Similarly to Joshua’s account, the coming judgement is also accompanied by shouts or woes, as shown in Revelations 8-11.
“Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.”
Similarly to Joshua’s account, the coming judgement is also accompanied by shouts or woes (e.g. Rev. 8:13). Of course, the one bringing this judgement to restore justice is the new and righteous king.
A new king
Traditionally, after being anointed with oil, new kings were proclaimed by loud shouting, as can be seen with Saul (1 Samuel 10:1,25) and Solomon (1 Kings 1:34). This typefies the coming of Messiah as a King (e.g. Rev. 11:15 & 19-20). First, Yeshua was anointed with oil (Mat. 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; Luke 7:36-50; John 12:1-8) and then recognised as king of Israel by the civil authority in mockery (Pontius Pilate, e.g. John 19:19 or the priests, e.g. Mat. 27:42, Mark 15:32). But like David, he did not become king until much later, when loud voices will proclaim the kingdom:
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he shall reign forever and ever!”
Traditionally, the bridegroom would come to take his bride during the night with trumpet blasts and loud shouting from his friends. This is alluded to in Yeshua’s parable of the ten bridesmaids:
But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’
Similyrly, Messiah as the bridegroom of his people is announced with trumpet blasts and loud shouting (e.g. Rev. 12 & 19; 1 Thess. 4:16-17).
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out:
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
And the angel said to me: “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”
References and footnotes
2 Compare to the usage of the word תרועה in Joshua 6:5, where it is clearly related to shouting and loud noises