“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.” (Leviticus 23:23-25)
The first day of the seventh month, the year was officially half over. The summer’s work was done and most of the crops were harvested and stored. The people knew how much God had blessed their work. God instructed them to devote that day to him as a memorial, blowing the trumpets to get the people’s attention. Numbers 29:1-6 describes the offerings that were to be made.
“And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you. And ye shall offer a burnt offering for a sweet savour unto the LORD; one young bullock, one ram, and seven lambs of the first year without blemish: And their meat offering shall be of flour mingled with oil, three tenth deals for a bullock, and two tenth deals for a ram, And one tenth deal for one lamb, throughout the seven lambs: And one kid of the goats for a sin offering, to make an atonement for you: Beside the burnt offering of the month, and his meat offering, and the daily burnt offering, and his meat offering, and their drink offerings, according unto their manner, for a sweet savour, a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD.” (Numbers 29:1-6)
The first day of every month, Israel was to offer a special sacrifice in addition to the daily sacrifices and those of the Sabbath if the first of the month should fall on a Sabbath. The offerings and celebration of the first day of the seventh month were to be in addition to the regular offerings the first of every month.
Prior to his speaking to the people from Mount Sinai in Exodus 19, God directed them to spend three days preparing themselves to meet with him. The assembly on the first day of the seventh month gave them a similar opportunity to prepare themselves for the day of atonement. Nehemiah 8:2-8 describes the way it was celebrated in Ezra’s day, about 480 BC.
“And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law.
And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam.
And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.” (Nehemiah 8:2-8)
Understanding what was required of them, the people were then able to prepare themselves emotionally and spiritually for the day of atonement. As Nehemiah describes, they spent the next several days reviewing God’s commandments and fulfilling them in a way they hadn’t done in over a hundred years.
Today, Rosh Hashanah is celebrated as the Jewish New Year even though it is considered the seventh month. Other than taking it as day in which they do not work, the celebration today has little resemblance to that commanded in the Law. It occurs in September or early October according to our calendar.
The Day Of Atonement
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God. For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.” (Leviticus 23:26-32)
Nine days after celebrating the first day of the seventh month, Israel was to celebrate the day of atonement. While no servile work was to be done on other Sabbaths and holidays, on the day of atonement, there was to be no work at all. It was to be a day spent wholly in making things right with God. Leviticus 16 describes the sacrifices and rituals that were to be followed on the day of atonement. Leviticus 16:34 commands, “And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year…”
Today the holiday is known as Yom Kippur. It is often observed by a twenty five hour period of fasting, and is the