The Greatest Commandments, Part 15: Yom Teruah Edition

For the uninitiated, the Greatest Commandments Project is an undertaking to map all the biblical commandments in the Torah into a massive visual tree.

Have a look at:

The Feast of Many Labels

Yom Teruah (“Day of Blasting/Shouting”), also called the Feast of Trumpets, falls this week.

But you might be more familiar with the modern name: Rosh HaShana (“Head of Year”), which Judaism celebrates as the new year.

Also note that, because it is the only feast that falls on a new moon, it has been referred to by Messianics as “the day no man knows”, however, I have not seen this name in use by greater Judaism, so that may be a Messianic analogy more than a real name.

Some independent Messianics have suggested the name Rosh HaShana derives from Israel’s captivity in Babylon. While it’s true the Scriptures do not use the name “Rosh HaShana”, and while it’s true that the Scriptures does not refer to this day as the head of the year, it’s worth noting that the actual observance of this holiday is carried out Scripturally: shofar blasts, and rest. Dunno ‘bout you fine blog readers, but I’d rather focus on actual observance than label correction.

For further Yom Teruah/Rosh HaShana commentary, see J.K. McKee’s Rosh Hashana FAQ.

The 4 Yom Teruah commandments

The Scriptures contain relatively few commandments on this feast; in his famous list of 613 commandments, the medieval Jewish sage Maimonides finds only 4 on Yom Teruah.

Nonetheless, the commandments were explicit: sound the shofar, rest, don’t do regular work, and bring offerings.

A Sign of Things To Come?

While God commands us to sound the shofar on Yom Teruah, he doesn’t explain why. Perhaps for this reason, as First Fruits of Zion notes, medieval sage Rav Saadiah Gaon listed shofar blast remembrances as aspects of Yom Teruah:

  1. The Coronation of the King
  2. The Call to Repentance
  3. The Giving of the Torah at Sinai
  4. Warning of Impending Judgment
  5. The Destruction and Future Rebuilding of the Temple
  6. The Binding of Isaac
  7. Fear of God
  8. The Day of Judgment (Yom Kippur)
  9. The Ingathering of Israel
  10. The Resurrection of the Dead

The red-highlighted ones above are also mentioned by Messiah and his disciples in the New Testament, which I’ll touch on below. It could be argued that #8 and #9 are also mentioned in the New Testament, albeit indirectly.

A number of Messianic and Christian scholars have suggested the feast – known for its trumpet blasts – has prophetic significance with regards to the return of the Messiah and the final judgment. For example, Messiah says his return will come with a loud trumpet blast,

Immediately after the distress of those days 'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ [Isaiah 13]

At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

-Messiah, as recorded by Matthew

Also, Paul seems to agree with both Messiah and Rav Gaon that the dead will be raised at this time, with this great trumpet blast:

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."

-Paul, in his letter to Corinth

Finally, Revelation records final judgment and Messiah’s return being signaled with the trumpet blast.

While not definitive evidence, it does seem fitting that Messiah’s trumpet-blast-return would occur on or following the Day of Blasts, Yom Teruah, perhaps as a crowning fulfillment of the feast.

And that, my fine blog readers, is something to look forward to you. Man. Messiah’s return. Dead people coming back to life. Final judgment. (On second thought, maybe that last one isn’t so appealing! Still, the final, setting-right-the-wrongs justice is something to look forward to for all but the world’s worst characters.)

Mapping the Commandments

All that commentary out of the way, let’s get down to business: map the Yom Teruah commandments into our massive visual hierarchy, oh yes!

Sound the Shofar

On the first day of the seventh month hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. It is a day for you to sound the trumpets.

-Numbers 29:1

Maimonides summarizes this commandment as “Hear the shofar on Rosh HaShana”.

I’ve deviated slightly from this in an effort to remain closer to the plain wording of the text. Rather than the passive “hear the shofar”, I’ve interpreted this as “sound the shofar”.

Seeing as how Yom Teruah is known for the day of shofar blasts, I’ve mapped this commandment as the root Yom Teruah commandment, deriving from “Keep All God’s Commandments”:


Rest On Yom Teruah + No Regular Work On Yom Teruah

Two related commandments here: to rest on Yom Teruah, and to refrain from regular work on Yom Teruah. They are both taken from Leviticus 23:

On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. Do no regular work, but present an offering made to the LORD by fire.

-Leviticus 23:24-25

This pattern follows Maimonides’ previous interpretations with regards to not working on Passover: there, he likewise distinguished between commandments to rest and commandments to refrain from regular work.

I’ve derived these commandments like so:


Bring Additional Offerings On Yom Teruah

On the first day of the seventh month hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. It is a day for you to sound the trumpets.

As an aroma pleasing to the LORD, prepare a burnt offering of one young bull, one ram and seven male lambs a year old, all without defect. With the bull prepare a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil; with the ram, two-tenths; and with each of the seven lambs, one-tenth. Include one male goat as a sin offering to make atonement for you. These are in addition to the monthly and daily burnt offerings with their grain offerings and drink offerings as specified. They are offerings made to the LORD by fire—a pleasing aroma.

-Numbers 29:1-2

Maimonides tends to combine sacrifice commandments into a single commandment. Here we see he consolidates perhaps 7 sacrifices – bull, ram, lambs, grains with the bull, grains with the ram, grains with the lambs, and a goat – into a single commandment: bring additional offerings. This is consistent with Maimonides’ interpretation of the Yom Kippur sacrifices.

This commandment to bring additional cannot be carried out without a tabernacle or Temple. Or at least, not in the way the Torah prescribes. This is the 3rd such commandment we’ve mapped which cannot be carried out today. Such commandments are highlighted in red in our commandment tree.

I’ve derived this commandment from the “sound the shofar on Yom Teruah” commandment:


The Big Picture

That summarizes the Yom Teruah commandments, fine blog readers: sound the shofar, rest, refrain from regular work, and bring additional offerings.

Here’s the current state of the Greatest Commandments Project:

(Click to enlarge)

Absolutely bee-ay-you-tee-ful.

Have a great Yom Teruah, fine blog readers!


  1. I don't suppose there's any way to get a version that is printable...

    Great work, Judah. Keep it coming. :)

  2. Thanks!

    I do plan on creating massive posters of this when it's done, sending them out to the fine Messianic minds here on Kineti, yourself included.

    Until then, I'm not sure how you'd print it. I mean, it is an image, you could shrink it down to fit anywhere...but seeing as how the image is currently a 4930x995 image, scaling it down to fit on a piece of paper would likely render the text unreadable.

  3. Reminds me of a mind map.

    Ir would be a great teaching tool for when I revamp and reboot my "613 commandments class", this fall.