Hebrew Voices #133 – Yom Teruah Bible Study

In this episode of Hebrew Voices, Yom Teruah Bible Study, Bible Scholar Nehemia Gordon looks at whether this is a day for crying or being joyous, how we know we are supposed to call on the name Yehovah on this day, and what this holiday has to do with percussion eggs. Dora wrote: “Thank you for the so important explanation. This is the first time I celebrated this feast of the YEHOVAH celebrating His name!!!”

I look forward to reading your comments!

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Hebrew Voices #133 - Yom Teruah Bible Study

You are listening to Hebrew Voices with Nehemia Gordon. Thank you for supporting Nehemia Gordon's Makor Hebrew Foundation. Learn more at NehemiasWall.com.

Nehemia: Can we jump to the book of Nehemiah, chapter 7; in the English it's verse 73, in the Hebrew it's verse 72? “So, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the Temple servants, all Israel settled in their towns.” This is the ingathering of the first exile. “When the seventh month came, the people of Israel being settled in their town, all the people gathered together in the square before the water gate.” So they're in this public square. “They told the scribe, Ezra, to bring the Book of the Torah of Moses which Yehovah had given to Israel.” I get chills, Keith, he brought this Torah with him back from Babylon, and now he's going to unroll it and read it for the first time to the people who have gathered. They've been in exile for 70 years, and there are people like Daniel in the exile who were hearing the Torah, but then most people in the exile probably didn't have a great access to the Torah.

“Accordingly, the priest Ezra brought the law before the assembly,” that's the Torah, “before the assembly, both men and women, and all who could hear with understanding. This was on the first day of the seventh month.” That's today, that's Yom Teruah. So the first day of the seventh month. “He read from it, facing the square before the water gate from the early morning until midday in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the Torah.”

Verse 4. “The scribe Ezra stood on a wooden platform that had been made for the purpose, and besides him and stood Matityahu, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah and Maaseiah on his right hand. And Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Meshullam on his left hand. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above the people, and when he opened it all the people stood up.” That's interesting, so they're standing up in honor of the Torah. “And Ezra opened the book in the center of all the people,” verse 6. “And Ezra blessed Yehovah the great God, and all the people answered: amen, amen, lifting up their hands. Amen, amen. Then they bowed their heads and worshipped Yehovah with their faces to the ground. Also, Yeshua and Bani and Sherebiah on the right, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah,” these are different priests or leaders, or Levites, “Yozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah. And the Levites helped the people understand the Torah while the people remained in their places.”

And there's a question, what does that mean, they helped them understand, or they caused them to understand? A good question, we'll leave that for a different discussion. “So they read from the book of the Torah of God with...” and it says here, in this translation, “with interpretation”. And what it literally says in Hebrew is, meforash, clearly, unequivocally. “They gave the sense to the people so that the people understood the reading.” And what does that mean? There are different explanations of that, I don't know that we're going to get into that now.

One explanation is that that actually is just the intonation you use. So if it says in the Torah, you shall not murder, what it literally says is, “no, you will murder”. Lo tirtzakh. And you can read that as a rhetorical question, lo tirtzakh? Which means, shall you not murder? Of course you'll murder. So the very fact that I read it, lo tirtzakh! I read it as an imperative, as a commandment, that itself is giving the meaning.

Okay, going on. And it also is possible they were in Babylon for 70 years, they came back, the dialect of Hebrew they spoke in this period was slightly different than the Hebrew of the Torah, and how do we know that? Just read the book of Ezra and Nehemiah, it's a different dialect of Hebrew.

“And Nehemiah who was the governor and Ezra, the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people,” this is a key part for our discussion, “This day is holy to Yehovah your God, do not mourn or weep.” Now, why would they mourn or weep? “For all the people wept when they heard the words of the Torah.”

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: And why were they weeping, Keith?

Keith: Amen. Well, because they were under conviction.

Nehemia: They had heard - don't worship idols, don't pray to the dead. They're like, “We've been praying to the dead for 70 years in Babylon!” And whatever else they were doing, I don't know exactly. But they didn't know all these commandments that they were supposed to follow, and they heard, this is God's will for mankind, for Israel to share with the world, and we haven't been doing that? We've been shirking our responsibilities? So they wept.

It goes on in verse 10. “Then he said to them, ‘Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine.’” And literally it says, eat mashmanim, fat foods, ushtu mamtakim, and drink sweet drinks, “and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared,” in other words, to poor people, “for this day is holy to Yehovah,” or, actually, it says, “to our Lord. And do not be grieved for the joy of Yehovah is your strength.” What a beautiful statement, the joy of Yehovah is your strength.

“So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, ‘Be quiet, for this day is holy, do not be grieved.’ And all their people went to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.”

Think about this, it's Yom Teruah. They might not even know it's Yom Teruah. They're hearing in Leviticus the way we're hearing in Leviticus and in Numbers about this holiday, and maybe that's all they know. Imagine you're standing there on the first day of the seventh month, and you hear the following, in the book of Leviticus, chapter 23 verse 24. You get this little surprise, it says... verse 23, it starts, “And Yehovah spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Speak to the people of Israel, saying: Bakhodesh hashvi'i ba'ekhad lakhodesh, on the seventh month on the first day of the month yihiyeh lakhem shabbaton, shall be for you a time of rest, zikhron teru'ah,” which in the NRSV is translated, “commemorated with trumpet blasts”. NIV here says, “a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts”. The JPS here, the Jewish translation, “a sacred occasion commemorated with loud blasts.” We're going to return to what that means. So it's a mikrah kodesh, a holy convocation or proclamation which is zikhron teru'ah, a zikhron of teru'ah. What is teru'ah? It's Yom Teru'ah, we'll get to that in a minute. “You shall not do any manner of work, and you shall offer a fire offering to Yehovah.”

And then the next time you hear about it is Numbers 29 verse 1. And of all the feasts we have in the Torah, this is the one we hear the least about. You could say maybe Shmini Atzeret, but that's part of the cycle of Sukkot. But here we have two references in the entire Torah to this feast. Pesach we have numerous references. We have Exodus 12, Exodus 23, 34, Numbers 9, Leviticus 23, Numbers 28 and Deuteronomy 16. That's seven references to Pesach. We have a whole chapter in Leviticus 16 on Yom Kippur, in addition to what we hear in Leviticus 23 and Numbers 29.

Here we have two references, and here's the second one. This is Numbers 29:1. “On the first day of the seventh month you shall have a holy convocation, you shall not work at your occupations.” That's the NRSV. It says, “you shall do no laborious work. It is a yom teru'ah for you, a day of teru'ah.” That's all we know about Yom Teru'ah in the entire Tanakh. Really, the three passages. We read one about it in the Book of Nehemiah, but it didn't even tell us there that it's Yom Teru'ah, it just says, this is a day that's holy to Yehovah. And then we have Leviticus 23 and Numbers 29. And that's it, that's all we know about Yom Teru'ah.

Keith: Something that I really appreciated about the passage that you had us read. I was thinking about Ezra for a second. And so you have Ezra, of course, the book right before in our English Bible here, but there's a verse in Ezra that kind of gives reason for why he would be the one that would do what he's doing in the Book of Nehemiah. And it's in chapter 7, verse 10. And it says this, “For Ezra had set his heart to study the Torah of Yehovah, and to practice it, and to teach his statutes and ordinances in Israel.”

And I've always kind of, Nehemia, used that as a kind of a model. It says that he would study it and then practice it, and then teach it. So why is that? I want to bring that up before we go any further, because Yom Teru'ah for me is my favorite holiday. And the reason has to do with something that you and I actually have experienced, which was learning and understanding it for myself, and then practicing the idea of looking for the sign that would let us know that this is Yom Teru'ah. So here's an obvious question for you, my friend. How do we know it's Yom Teru'ah? I know there's a lot of people listening, you guys are the know-it-alls. You guys have all the information.

Nehemia: Because there's somebody who sighted the new moon in Israel.

Keith: There's a bunch of people that we invited to this particular event who don't have as much background. So can we back up a little bit about how we would know that this is the day to celebrate?

Nehemia: So like I said, there are people in Israel who sighted the new moon, and that was put out. Devorah's Date Tree made the announcement. And we had more than one, we had at least two witnesses, and the new moon was sighted. Oh, and it's the seventh month from the beginning of the year. And that was actually really interesting - I was discussing this this morning with someone, and we read the same exact thing that we just read here, Leviticus 23 and 24, and the response was, well, wait a minute - and this was someone who doesn't have a great background in Jewish culture - so the person's response was, I thought this was the beginning of the year, but it says here it's the seventh month.

Well, the whole idea of Rosh Hashanah is something that doesn't appear anywhere in the Tanakh. That's an idea that Jews brought back with them from Babylon. The rabbis actually admit that this is something that is not... Well, they don't exactly admit it's not core to the Torah, but here's what they do admit. In the Mishnah of Rosh Hashanah, the first passage says there are four new years. Why do they say there are four new years? Because they understand that the new year counted as the first day of the first month, that that's actually the primary new year. So they said that's the new year of months.

Here's what they really did. They took the Babylonian or Persian new year - because the Babylonians had a similar calendar and their new year, though, is in the first day of the seventh month instead of the first day of the first month - and they call that month Tishrei. So the first of Tishrei was the Babylonian new year, and they adopted that new year, but they didn't validate the Torah new year.

So here's what it says in Mishnah Rosh Hashanah 1:1, “There are four new years. The first of Nissan,” meaning the first month, “is the new year for kings and for festivals.” Why did they say, “for festivals”? Because we read in Leviticus 23 and Numbers 28 and 29, and it says, “the first month and the seventh month”. You have to acknowledge that for counting the festivals, that the first day of the first month... and really, that's actually the first commandment in the Torah. Exodus chapter 12 verse 2, is the first commandment in the Torah to Israel as a people, and that commandment is, hakhodesh hazeh lakhem rosh khodashim, this new moon is for you the beginning of new moons. So they acknowledged that it's the new moon for the festivals.

The first of Elul is the new year of the tithes, for the tithes of beasts. The first of Tishrei is the new year for the years, for shmita, that is the sabbatical cycle in Jubilee years, for planting and for tithes of vegetables. The first of Shvat is the new year for trees. So they have four new years. What do they mean “the new year for trees”? That's an agricultural, maybe, celebration or observance that may have existed in ancient Israel. It's not even hinted at anywhere in the Tanakh. So maybe it's part of the ancient Israelite culture, but it's not part of the Torah that the Creator of the universe gave to mankind.

So… of Rosh Hashanah being the first of Tishrei, the first of the seventh month, is completely contrary to what we read in the Torah.

Hey, I want to talk about the meaning of Teru'ah. So if it's not Rosh Hashanah, what's the holiday called? We saw in Numbers 29:1, it's called Yom Teru'ah, the Day of Teru'ah. And in Leviticus 23:24 it’s called Zikhron Teru'ah, the Memorial of Teru'ah or the Mentioning of Teru'ah. The actual meaning of “Zikhron”, it comes from the word zakhar, lehazkir. Lehazkir is to mention. Now, a lot of people say, “Wait a minute, zakhar is “to remember”. In ancient Hebrew, Biblical Hebrew, this word meant both to remember something and to mention it with your lips. And how could it mean both? Well, it's the idea of summoning it up. You can summon it up with your lips by speaking it, or you can summon it up in your mind by thinking about it, by remembering it. So it's an active memory - summing it up in the memory.

And then that's what God meant in Exodus 3:15. He says, “This is My name forever, this is my zekher for every generation.” And some people translate it, “This is My memorial for every generation.” That we're not to use God's name anymore, we're just supposed to remember it. That's not what it means at all. Quite the contrary, He meant, “This is My mention for every generation. When you mention Me, this is how you're supposed to refer to Me, as Yehovah.”

And then Exodus 20:24, He says, “Every place where I cause My name to be mentioned, and every place where azkir et shemi, where I cause My name to mention, I will come to you and bless you.” And zikhron teru'ah, that word zikhron may be - I think it is - it's a term that refers to mentioning God's name. In other words, this term, zakhar took on a technical sense of “to mention the name of a god.” And I say, “a god”, because there's a commandment not to mention the names of other gods, and it has that same exact word, zakhar. And here, in the context of the God of Israel commanding us to have a zikhron teru'ah, we're supposed to teru'ah His name. And we haven't defined what teru'ah is, so... We're supposed to teru'ah His name, to mention His name.

So let's find out what teru'ah means. In Rabbinical Judaism, teru'ah has a very clear meaning. It means to blow a shofar and nothing else. I want to see what it means from the Tanakh, though. Let's start, we'll go really quick through these different passages. Leviticus chapter 25 verse 9. And there, it's talking not about Yom Teru'ah; it's talking about Yom Kippur, and specifically the Jubilee Year, the 50th year. You count 7 years, and that's a sabbatical year, a shmita. And you count seven shmitas, that's 49 years, and then the 50th year is the yovel, the Jubilee Year. What is the meaning of the word jubilee? Has anybody stopped to ask that? What is the meaning of jubilee, Keith?

Keith: For me, I know what it means.

Nehemia: Isn't it like you have a gold plate or a silver plate or something like that?

Keith: You mean the English meaning or the Hebrew?

Nehemia: What is the English meaning? Let's start with that.

Keith: Jubilee is like the idea of celebrating over a period of time. It's a period of time.

Nehemia: So the Hebrew word yovel means an antelope. It literally means an antelope. And so, what is the significance of the Jubilee Year? They would proclaim the year on Yom Kippur with an antelope horn. And here I have a shofar, but it's a specific type of shofar. Most Jews, when they think of a shofar, think of this. This is the ram's horn. This is from a domesticated animal. I actually have a little one over here. This is my little ram, I got this to illustrate. Everything is backwards on my screen, so I hope I'm doing this right.

Keith: Looking good.

Nehemia: It's inverted on the camera. So this is a ram's horn. It attaches here, and people blow on the shofar. Okay, I'm not very good at this little one. However, this one comes from an animal called an Arabian Oryx. Well, frankly, this one probably comes from a gemsbok, which is a type of oryx. But the animal that's indigenous to Israel is this little guy. He's called the Arabian Oryx, in Hebrew, the re'em. The re'em is often translated in the Tanakh as a unicorn. I once actually had somebody say, “How can you say you believe in the Bible if you don't believe in unicorns?” I'm like, what are you talking about? He showed me in the King James Version where re'em was translated unicorn. I said, “That's not a unicorn, that's an Arabian Oryx. From the side it might look like a unicorn, but no, it's not.”

So this is the shofar, and this is a yovel. When it says they blew on a yovel, it could have been this, or it could have been a different type, which comes from an animal called a kudu. A kudu is an animal known from South Africa, but it also exists in southern Arabia, it may have extended to Israel at some time, but even if it didn't, they would have traded in these from southern Arabia and eastern Africa. Keith, you're famous for blowing on the kudu shofar.

Keith: Yes, I love it.

Nehemia: Can you blow on the shofar?

Keith: Blow on the shofar.

Nehemia: Jews will often refer to these as a Yemenite shofar, because in Yemen this is the shofar they used, usually. Or often, at least, because they had access to these. If you were living in Morocco, there weren't a whole lot of kudus, so you usually use something like this, right? Or if you were in Eastern Europe, you use something like this, from a domesticated ram.

Okay, we're going to blow on the shofar a little bit later. I'm going to let you toot your own horn, Keith. Both this and this are called a yovel, a jubilee. Now, Numbers chapter 10 verses 5 and 6, I want to read those passages, because what we're doing here is we're saying, “Okay, we know what tradition tells us that teru'ah means, teru'ah is blowing on a shofar. Let's see what the Tanakh reveals through the ancient Hebrew language as the meaning of teru'ah.

So verse 5 says, “When you blow an alarm,” and literally it says, “when you blow a teru'ah, the camps in the east side shall set out. When you blow a second teru'ah, the camp of the south side shall set out.” And then it says, “A teru'ah is to be blown whenever they are to set out.”

So you can blow a shofar on a jubilee, on an antelope horn, which is a type of shofar. You can also do it on what's called a khatsotsra, and khatsotsra is what's described in Numbers chapter 10. Numbers 10 is not a shofar. Numbers 10 is a silver trumpet. Verse 2, “Make two silver trumpets, you shall make them of hammered work, and you shall use them for summoning the congregation for breaking camp.” So the teru'ah can be made both on a ram's horn - well, we've actually haven't seen ram's horn yet; we've seen antelope horn - on antelope horns, and it could also be made on a silver trumpet. So that's two types of teru'ah.

There's another type of teru'ah in Judges chapter 6 verse 5. It's describing the Israelites walking around Jericho, they did this for seven days. “For they and their livestock would come up and they would even bring their tents as thick as locusts, neither could their camels be counted.”

I'm in Judges 6:5 instead of Joshua 6:5. Joshua 6:5, “When they make a long blast with the ram's horn.” And that's a completely incorrect translation! Because what does the Hebrew say in Joshua 6:5? It doesn't say “ram's horn” in that part of the verse, it says bekeren hayovel, with the horn of the jubilee, with the horn of the antelope. It literally says, “And it shall come to pass when the horn of the antelope is elongated.” What does that mean? You don't just blow the shofar (blows shofar shortly), but you do a really long one, what they call today teru'ah gedola. I don't know that I can do it with my asthma. I'll give it a try. No.

Okay, no walls of Jericho are coming down. So here, it says, “when they make a long blast with the horn of the yovel. As soon as you hear the sound of the shofar.” So shofar appears in that verse. The NRSV translates that as trumpet. There's all this confusion. JPS, “that went a long blast that sounded on the horn...” As soon as you hear that sound of the horn. So from JPS you would have no idea that it's specifically talking about the horn of a yovel, of an antelope. And that there's another word there, which is the word shofar, because it's a type of shofar.

Then it says, “yari'u kol ha'am teru'ah gedola, the entire nation shall shout a great shout.” So teru'ah is a shout. Now, here's a really interesting point. If you look at the Targum, which is the ancient Jewish translation in Aramaic, of the word teru'ah, it has the word yavava. It says, “Yeyavevun kol ama yavava. The entire people shall yevav a yevava.” What is yevava? Yavav is the Hebrew and the Aramaic word for “to cry”. So the meaning of teru'ah is understood as something like crying.

So what exactly does that mean, crying? We're going to come back to that. And there's a beautiful verse that we're going to see in Ezra that really illustrates that. So that was Joshua 6:5, and then again in verse 20 the same thing happens. First Samuel 4:5,6, the crowd, after the Ark entering the camp is shouting with a teru'ah. Two Samuel 6:15, I want to look at that. And again, what we're doing here is asking the question, not “what does this mean in tradition?” We have this ancient text that's 1,000 pages long, the Tanakh. How did people use this word? We can tell the meaning of the word by the way it was used. It says, “Thus David and all the house of Israel brought the Ark of Yehovah with teru'ah and with the sound of the shofar.” Those are two different things, in Two Samuel 6:15.

So what is teru'ah here? It's not the sound of the shofar; it's the sound of the people, just like in Jericho. Now, the sound of the shofar can be teru'ah, we saw that in Leviticus 25, but teru'ah can also be shouting. That's why I translate Yom Teru'ah not as Day of Trumpets, which it definitely doesn't mean. You can translate it, if you want, the Day of Horn Blasts. But I translate it Day of Shouting. But if we really want to give the full definition, teru'ah is a loud noise that sounds like a big crowd of people crying. How do I know that? We'll see, we're not there yet.

Okay, so that was Two Samuel 6:15. Psalms 150, verse 5. So far, we've seen 3 different meanings of teru'ah. We saw, number one, it's the blast of an antelope horn, it is the blast of a silver trumpet, and it is the shout of the people. And it's compared to crying in the Aramaic. And, by the way, even the silver trumpets were described in Aramaic as yavavta, as crying. So, is it a sad crying? Because crying can be sad. We'll see whether it's sad or not.

Psalm 150, verse 5, and I love this psalm because, first of all, Psalm 150 is the end of the fifth Book of Psalms. Psalms is divided in the Hebrew into five books. This is what we call a doxology, a praise, a blessing that ends the entire book, not just the psalm. Let's read the whole psalm. “Halelu Yah, praise Yah. Halelu el bekodsho, haleluhu birkia uzo, praise God in His sanctuary, praise Him in the sky, His stronghold. Praise Him for His mighty acts, praise Him for His exceeding greatness. Praise Him with the blast of the horn,” is what it says in the JPS. The Hebrew says, “haleluhu, praise Him, with the blowing of the shofar.” So you can take the shofar, and there it could be this, it doesn't say what type of shofar, meaning a domesticated ram's horn, or it can be an Arabian Oryx or a kudu. It could be any of these. And there are other animals in Israel, potentially, it could be. Other types of antelope. These are the most common, certainly today. And you could praise God by blowing the shofar. I'm going to ask you to do that in a minute, okay, Keith?

“Praise Him with drums and dancing. Praise Him with lute and pipe. Praise Him with...” and here in the JPS it says, “with resounding cymbals. Praise Him with loud clashing cymbals. Let all that breathe praise Yehovah, halelu Yah.”

Now, I want to go back to verse 5, where it says, “praise Him with resounding cymbals, praise Him with loud clashing cymbals.” What are these cymbals? Are these like what we think of as cymbals? I don't think so. The word there is tziltzel. “Betziltzeley shama, betziltzeley teru'ah.” Oh, and here is the important point. Tziltzelim of teru'ah, so there's a type of teru'ah made by tziltzelim. What are tziltzelim? It's actually what we call an onomatopoeia. Most words in every language in existence are considered to have nothing to do with the object they describe. What do I mean by that? There's nothing about the word dog in English, or kelev in Hebrew, that tells me anything inherently about a dog. It's an arbitrary term that's been applied to dog.

There are exceptions, and the most common major exception is what we call onomatopoeia. Onomatopoeia is this idea that the thing you're describing sounds like the word. Tziltzelim is an onomatopoeia. It's some noise that sounds like tziltzel, tziltzel, tziltzel. And one of the ways that make it teru'ah is with some musical instrument that makes it tziltzel. Now, what is that musical instrument? I can say with great confidence that it's not cymbals. It's what's called a percussion egg. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a percussion egg. How do I know it's a percussion egg? What is a percussion egg? It's like those like la cucaracha things.

So I have here a tambourine. A tambourine makes a similar sound. That's a tziltzel, tziltzel. But what it's describing more than likely, here, is something that has been found in archaeological excavations… in the excavations up against the wall of the Temple Mount that were carried out in the late ‘60s, 1968, by Benjamin Mazar. He found what we call today percussion eggs. And it's a round thing that kind of looks like an egg. In the case of ancient Israel, in the excavations it was made of pottery, and it's filled with little pottery balls. And you shake and it goes, shshshsh. And that's the sound, tziltzel, tziltzel, tziltzel.

So one of the ways of making the sound of teru'ah on Yom Teru'ah is with a percussion egg, or I'm going to use in this case my tambourine. This is no less legitimate a way of making teru'ah than to blow on the shofar and to say, halelu Yah, praise Yehovah. And a silver trumpet which I don't have. All of those, in the biblical Tanakh sense, are ways of making teru'ah, and when we hear about zikhron teru'ah... zikhron is to mention the name of God. So we can mention His name with a shout, Yehovah! Or we can blow on the shofar. You do it much more beautifully than I do, where your shofar actually sings Yehovah's name. But listen for His name in my blowing of the shofar. (blows shofar).

I'll talk about why we have those different traditional ways of doing it in a minute. So that is the fourth way, Psalm 155, to do it with a percussion egg or with some kind of tambourine or cymbals. Now, how do I know that this is actually something that is supposed to be joyous? Because this is what they've done today in Judaism. Every one of our festivals in the Tanakh, every one of our holy convocations has a historical and/or agricultural reason assigned to it.

Why do we do Sukkot? It's the ingathering of the crops from the fields, or from the outdoor areas of the fields, and we dwelt in booths for seven days when we came out of Egypt. Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. What's Yom Teru'ah? We're just told it's a zikhron, a mentioning shout, a mentioning of God's name, apparently, with this word, zakhar. But we're not really told what the purpose of that is, so maybe it's a sad day. If we didn't have the verse in Nehemiah that we read, chapter 8, we might think it's a sad day. And especially since the ancient Aramaic translation translates the word teru'ah as yevava, as a cry.

Now, what does a cry sound like? The ancient Jewish sources say there are different types of cries. I can say ahhhh! (crying) That's actually what the shofar sounds like in traditional blowing, is those three different sounds. One long blast, three short blasts, or a nine staccato blast. Now, I don't do nine, I'm winging it here. And if you go to a synagogue, they actually do different combinations of those three types of crying, and it's supposed to sound like crying. But then we get to the question, is it crying for joy or is it crying for sadness? So Job 8:21 is our next clue.

Job is talking to his friends, and there we read about God. We'll start in verse 20. “Surely God does not despise the blameless; He gives no support to evil doers. He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with teru'ah.” So there’s no question there it’s made with the mouth, the teru'ah, and it's something that is happy. It's just like laughter in the verse. And it says, “your enemies will be clothed in disgrace.” So there's a contrast there between you and your enemies, and wicked people. “The tent of the wicked shall vanish.” So unequivocally, in Job 8:21, teru'ah can be made with the lips, and it is something that is joyous. It is a happy teru'ah.

Now, why do we say it sounds like a cry? Because when you're happy it can also sound like a cry. And that brings us to the next passage. Ezra 3:11 to 13. I absolutely love this passage, Keith. It's describing the dedication of the Second Temple. They sang songs extolling and praising Yehovah. And then it quotes what they sang. “Ki tov ki le'olam khasdo al Israel. For He is good, His khesed, His steadfast love for Israel is eternal.” “All the people raised a great teru'ah praising Yehovah,” it says, “because the foundations of the house of Yehovah have been laid.” So they're shouting a great teru'ah.

What does that mean? Do they do it with shofars? Apparently not. Verse 12, “Many of the priests and Levites and the chief of the clans, the old men who had seen the first house wept loudly at the sight of the founding of this house. Many others shouted,” that is, they did teru'ah, “joyously.” It says here, “bitru'ah besimkha, a joyous teru'ah, at the top of their voices.”

So you've got thousands of people, and some are weeping over the destruction of the First Temple, and they've now been blessed to see the Second Temple built, and there are other people who are shouting with joy. And it says in verse 13 of Ezra 3, “The people could not distinguish the shouts of joy from the people's weeping, for the people raised a great teru'ah, a great shout, the sound of which could be heard from afar.”

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: So, we've seen up until now that teru'ah could be made in four different ways in the Tanakh. It could be made with a shofar. In the Tanakh that tends to be an antelope horn, a Jubilee horn. It could be made with a silver trumpet. It could be made with cymbals, or some kind of maracas, some type of tziltzel, a noisemaker. Or it could be made with people shouting, and it's a shouting of joy.

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: That's what teru'ah is. And everybody out there, I want you to sit with your family and your friends and ask this question. When you're shouting to Yehovah, when you're blowing your shofar, letting it shout for you, what are the things that you're joyous about that you have to have a teru'ah besimkha, a teru'ah in joy rejoicing? And now I'm going to blow the shofar.

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  • Bridget Scott says:

    I Love This Episode! I have watched it 4 Times and Get More From it Every Time… Thank You So Much For Taking Your Time To Do It… !

  • Angel says:

    What day is this in 2021 please

  • Debra says:

    Thank you for this teaching!!! Answered question I had this morning about difference between RoshHashannah and Yom Teruah!

  • Johnny Gutierrez says:

    Nehemiah Why do you greet us with “Chag Sameach” (you being a Moreh in Yisrael how do you not know this….words of, 2nd Beit haMiqdash period, Rav Yeshua min Natzaret to p’rushim) today is September 1, 2021 it is NOT TISHREI 1 !!!