Sounds like: t-roo’ah and roo’ah
This week is the celebration of Rosh Hashanah (head of the year) in the Jewish rabbinic calendar. It is essentially a New Year celebration but it takes place in the seventh month of the Biblical calendar. Although the phrase rosh hashanah is not actually in the Bible, it springs from the Biblical feast Yom Teruah, meaning Day of Shouting!
The Day of Shouting is often found in close proximity to the blowing of trumpets or, more accurately, the shofar (ram’s horn). And because of this, the Hebrew words rua and teruah often get translated as blowing trumpets instead of shouting.
A description of Yom Teruah is found in Numbers 29 and Leviticus 23:
Numbers 29:1 (see also Leviticus 23:23-25)
“Now in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall also have a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work. It will be to you a day for blowing trumpets [a day for shouting: Yom T’ruah].”
Rosh Hashanah is a rabbinic tradition rather than a Biblical feast, but to associate it with the Torah they adopted Yom Teruah’s date for celebration: the first day of the seventh month (Tishrei 1).
In the Gregorian calendar Tishrei falls within September-October and it hosts three major Jewish holy observances: Yom Teruah/Feast of Trumpets (Shouting), Yom Kippur/Day of Atonement, and Sukkot/Feast of Tabernacles.
In the Bible, Yom Teruah was a great day of joyful noise-making and an announcement of God’s presence among the people. It also kickstarted a very important holy season for the Jewish and Messianic people. In fact, many Messianic Jews and Christians, citing Paul, have believed that this day would be the future date of Yeshua’s (Jesus’) return:
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Messiah will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
Paul envisioned Yeshua descending from heaven with a shout, and the thunderous voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God accompanying Him. It was reminiscent of Yom Teruah… a day of joyful shouting announcing God’s presence among them.
Psalm 47:1-6 (see also Psalm 81:1-4)
[Sons of Korah:] O clap your hands, all peoples; shout to God [ha-riu l’Elohim] with the voice of joy. For YHWH Most High is to be feared, a great King over all the earth. He subdues peoples under us and nations under our feet. He chooses our inheritance for us, the glory of Jacob whom He loves. Selah.
God has ascended with a shout [alah Elohim bi-t’ruah], YHWH, with the sound of a trumpet. Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For these reasons many have believe that Yeshua’s return would coincide with the Jewish celebration of Rosh Hashanah. Yeshua died at the Spring high festival of Pesach (Passover) and would return during the time of the Fall Feasts, also known today as the Ten Days of Awe.
It’s a plausible suggestion but it’s not something we should be obsessed about. Our purpose is to not pinpoint the date of the Messiah’s return, but to live joyfully in our time, connecting with our fellow human beings and doing our best to reflect YHWH’s face on this suffering planet.
Shouting in Creation
Putting the eschatological significance aside, let’s simply trace the word rua throughout the Bible. According to YHWH, rua (shouting) goes back to the very beginning. When Job’s devotion to God was tested, he lost everything. Job verbally wrestled with God and, to His credit, YHWH listened and responded to Job. In a beautiful speech, YHWH spoke to Job about the beginnings of Creation:
[YHWH to Job:] “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy [wai-ya-riu]?
Here we are given a privileged peek into the actions of YHWH’s divine council. It’s a beautiful vision of joyful shouting as the whirling of creation formed together under YHWH’s direction, and the Universe came into order. Creation was not formed in silence… there was great and joyous shouting!
Shouting for Joy/Tears of Remembrance
Joyful shouting was a prominent feature in the Tanakh. Although the Bible contained many stories of great hardship, when the hardship was overcome it was a chance to celebrate with shouts of joy! The Psalms were filled with songs of victory, which almost always included joyful shouting:
O sing to YHWH a new song, for He has done wonderful things, His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him. YHWH has made known His salvation; He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations. He has remembered His lovingkindness and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Shout joyfully to YHWH, all the earth [Ha-riu YHWH kal ha-aretz]; break forth and sing for joy and sing praises. Sing praises to YHWH with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody. With trumpets and the sound of the horn shout joyfully [ha-riu] before the King, YHWH.
But the Hebrew people weren’t always victorious… far from it. They won and lost many man-made wars.
Their most devastating loss came in 597 BC when Jerusalem was attacked and destroyed by the Babylonians. The Hebrew people were captured, dragged out of their homeland and forcibly sent to Babylon. By the grace of God, seventy years later they were released from their captivity and allowed to return home to Jerusalem. Their first goal: rebuild the Temple.
Now when the builders had laid the foundation of the temple of YHWH, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise YHWH according to the directions of King David of Israel.
They sang, praising and giving thanks to YHWH, saying, “For He is good, for His lovingkindness is upon Israel forever.” And all the people shouted with a great shout [hey-riu t’ruah g’dolah] when they praised YHWH because the foundation of the house of YHWH was laid.
Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ households, the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy [bi-t’ruah b-sim’khah], so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the shout of joy [t’ruat ha-sim’khah] from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout [m-ri’im t’ruah g’dolah], and the sound was heard far away.
There’s depth to this story. The youth shouted for joy when the foundation was laid for the new Temple, but they did not remember the old Temple. The older generation, however, had a deep sentimental connection to Solomon’s Temple, and although they were no doubt happy to be back in Jerusalem, the new Temple celebration was bitter-sweet. It brought back memories of time long passed, and it was a remembrance of all the devastation and loss that befell the Jewish people.
This story should bring us to acknowledge that although we may be feeling joyful, we need to be sensitive to those who are not in that space. We must not let our joy blind us to the suffering of those around us.
Five-hundred years earlier, before Solomon’s Temple was built, David took the Ark of the Covenant from Kirjath-jearim and brought it to Jerusalem. In essence he was bringing the Presence of God to the capital city of the people of Judah. David’s joy was evident to all as he danced in the streets:
2 Samuel 6:14-19 (see also 1 Chronicles 15:27-29)
And David was dancing before YHWH with all his might, and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of YHWH with shouting [bi-t’ruah] and the sound of the trumpet [u-v-qohl shofar].
Then it happened as the ark of YHWH came into the city of David that Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before YHWH; and she despised him in her heart.
So they brought in the ark of YHWH and set it in its place inside the tent which David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before YHWH. When David had finished offering the burnt offering and the peace offering, he blessed the people in the name of YHWH of hosts. Further, he distributed to all the people, to all the multitude of Israel, both to men and women, a cake of bread and one of dates and one of raisins to each one. Then all the people departed each to his house.
David knew how to host a good party. There was shouting, dancing, and the sharing of food… a great celebration for bringing the Presence of God into the centre of the Kingdom. David couldn’t contain his joy but his wife was embarrassed and resentful of his actions. Although we tend to dismiss Michal’s feelings, I can’t help but wonder if her lack of joy could have been changed with a human connection and a kind word. Our enemies may hate the joy we have in YHWH, but if we take the time to patiently show love and acceptance, it could make all the difference.
Sounding the Alarm/Victory with a Shout
Rua was often associated with sounding an alarm during war… or a confident war cry:
The priestly sons of Aaron, moreover, shall blow the trumpets; and this shall be for you a perpetual statute throughout your generations. When you go to war in your land against the adversary who attacks you, then you shall sound an alarm [wa-ha-reotem] with the trumpets, that you may be remembered before YHWH your God, and be saved from your enemies.”
War was to begin with a shout, but YHWH took that statute and announced to Joshua that shouting would not only begin the war against the city of Jericho, it would also end the war. With a shout, they would win!
Now Jericho was tightly shut because of the sons of Israel; no one went out and no one came in. YHWH said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors. You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days.
Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout [ya-riu kal ha-am t’ruah g’dolah]; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up every man straight ahead.”
And so Joshua commanded the people to march around the city, blowing trumpets, but regarding their voices Joshua gave them specific instructions:
…“You shall not shout [lo ta-riu] nor let your voice be heard nor let a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I tell you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout! [Ha-riu! w-ha-riotem]” So he had the ark of YHWH taken around the city, circling it once; then they came into the camp and spent the night in the camp.
This formula was repeated for six days:
Joshua 6:15-16, 20
Then on the seventh day they rose early at the dawning of the day and marched around the city in the same manner seven times; only on that day they marched around the city seven times. At the seventh time, when the priests blew the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout [Ha-riu]! For YHWH has given you the city.”
…So the people shouted [wa-ya’ra ha-am], and priests blew the trumpets; and when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted with a great shout [wa-ya’riu ha-am t’ruah g’dolah] and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead, and they took the city.
This was a triumphant conquest and it was won without weapon or bloodshed. YHWH highlighted that victory did not need to come from weapons of war, but merely a shout. With God on their side, a loud and joyful voice was all it took to be victorious.
Shouting was not a Victory Guarantee
There were times when joyful shouting was not a good idea. The Israelites were having a terrible time battling the Philistines and so they thought, let’s bring the Ark, the Presence of God, to our battle. How could we loose?!
1 Samuel 4:3-5 11
When the people came into the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has YHWH defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us take to ourselves from Shiloh the ark of the covenant of YHWH, that it may come among us and deliver us from the power of our enemies.”
So the people sent to Shiloh, and from there they carried the ark of the covenant of YHWH of hosts who sits above the cherubim; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.
As the ark of the covenant of YHWH came into the camp, all Israel shouted [way-ya-riu] with a great shout [t’ruah g’dolah], so that the earth resounded.
When the Philistines heard the great shouts of the Israelites, it only strengthened their resolve to not be captured by their Israelite enemies:
1 Samuel 4:6-11
When the Philistines heard the noise of the shout [ha-t’ruah], they said, “What does the noise of this great shout [ha-t’ruah ha-g’dolah] in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” Then they understood that the ark of YHWH had come into the camp. The Philistines were afraid, for they said, “God has come into the camp.” And they said, “Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before. Woe to us! Who shall deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who smote the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. Take courage and be men, O Philistines, or you will become slaves to the Hebrews, as they have been slaves to you; therefore, be men and fight.”
So the Philistines fought and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to his tent; and the slaughter was very great, for there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers. And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.
YHWH does not love war and bloodshed; it’s a man-made form of organized chaos. Choosing to bring God into a war does not guarantee success… in fact, it might ensure just the opposite. So many wars have been fought in the name of God, but YHWH wants no part in mankind’s destructive, violent, acts of aggression.
When Isaiah prophesied about the destruction of Moab, it was pointed out that there would be no joyous shouting:
Gladness and joy are taken away from the fruitful field; in the vineyards also there will be no cries of joy or jubilant shouting (lo ya-roa), No treader treads out wine in the presses, for I have made the shouting [cheers: heydawd] to cease.
War, whether victorious or not, was not something to be joyous about. Mankind fighting against itself was not what God wanted, but it’s what came out of humanity wanting to be gods themselves. Overcome with the desire of wealth and power and glory, the humans were driven to fight against each other and claim dominance.
The great promoter of war, chaos and destruction was YHWH’s enemy, the Adversary (ha-Satan). Ha-satan set up a jail in darkness and the people walked right in and shut the prison doors behind them.
YHWH made it clear that He would never let the Adversary take His glory. He would shout out, raise the war cry, prevail against Chaos and set His people free from the bondage they put themselves in:
Isaiah 42:5-9, 13
Thus says God YHWH, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and its offspring, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it,
“I am YHWH, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, and I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon and those who dwell in darkness from the prison.
I am YHWH, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images. Behold, the former things have come to pass, now I declare new things; before they spring forth I proclaim them to you.”…
…YHWH will go forth like a warrior, He will arouse His zeal like a man of war. He will utter a shout [ya-ria], yes, He will raise a war cry. He will prevail against His enemies.
YHWH promised to utter a shout and protect us from the forces of evil, and all who try to drag us to the feet of the Adversary. Great joy never comes out of man’s war, but great joy is what YHWH wants us to have. He wants to bring us home to live joyfully in His Presence.
Humans then, and now, have been caught in this lie that we are maker of our own selves; that we are in control of our own lives; that what we want, we should take; that what we work for, we deserve. It’s all about the great and important Me. But over and over in the Psalms we are reminded that all that is good, comes from God. We didn’t make it, God did. We did not make ourselves; God made us, and, as our Creator He deserves songs of praise and joyful shouts:
Psalm 100 (See also Psalm 66:1-4)
Shout joyfully to YHWH, all the earth [Ha-riu YHWH kal ha-aretz]. Serve YHWH with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing. Know that YHWH Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For YHWH is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.
Shout with Joy: You are Redeemed
When a king entered a stadium, the crowd would erupt with joyous shouting. Shouting announced the king. So it should be with YHWH, our Great King:
O come, let us sing for joy to YHWH, let us shout joyfully [na-riah] to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, let us shout joyfully [na-ria] to Him with psalms. For YHWH is a great God and a great King above all gods.
YHWH, as King, did not come to rule over us, He wanted to rule alongside His creation. Humans were not a commodity to Him; they were His friends, His image-bearers, His people, and because of that He constantly wanted to protect and save them. He saved them from the Egyptians and countless neighbouring territorial enemies. Even when He stepped aside and let them be conquered, He still picked them up, dusted them off, and lovingly returned them to their homeland.
“Shout [Sing] for joy, O daughter of Zion! Shout (in triumph) [ha-riu], O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! YHWH has taken away His judgments against you, He has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, YHWH, is in your midst; you will fear disaster no more.
In that day it will be said to Jerusalem: “Do not be afraid, O Zion; do not let your hands fall limp. YHWH your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with songs of joy.”
[YHWH:] “I will gather those who grieve about the appointed feasts— they came from you, O Zion; the reproach of exile is a burden on them. Behold, I am going to deal at that time with all your oppressors, I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will turn their shame into praise and renown in all the earth.
At that time I will bring you in, even at the time when I gather you together; indeed, I will give you renown and praise among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes,” says YHWH.
This was a common theme in the prophetic books. They were called to sound the alarm (make a noise) because the Hebrew people had dismissed their God and they turned to the gods of their enemies. As a result there would be days of trial, but YHWH would not turn His back on anyone who returned to Him:
Joel 2:1-2a, 12-13
Blow a trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm [w-ha-riu] on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of YHWH is coming; surely it is near, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness…
…“Yet even now,” declares YHWH, “Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping and mourning; and rend your heart and not your garments.”
Now return to YHWH your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil.
YHWH was, and is, the Great Redeemer and He promised to save everyone who sought Him out.
“Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are My servant; I have formed you, you are My servant, O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me. I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud and your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”
Shout (Sing) for joy, O heavens, for YHWH has done it! Shout joyfully [ha-riu], you lower parts of the earth; break forth into (a shout of joy) singing, you mountains, O forest, and every tree in it; for YHWH has redeemed Jacob and in Israel He shows forth His glory.
Thus says YHWH, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, “I, YHWH, am the maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by Myself and spreading out the earth all alone, causing the omens of boasters to fail, making fools out of diviners, causing wise men to draw back and turning their knowledge into foolishness, confirming the word of His servant and performing the purpose of His messengers.”
YHWH did it! He redeemed the early Hebrew people from their warring enemies, but there was a greater redemption to be had. Saving people from un-Godly humans was one thing, but saving them from the chains of death… chains that the Adversary wound around the limbs of humanity… was a much grander feat.
I find it endlessly fascinating how YHWH chose to take down His enemy, the Adversary. As the Almighty God He could have wiped the Evil One out by force, but YHWH doesn’t play by ha-Satan’s rules. There was a better way.
YHWH would take down Death by dying. He would send a part of Himself, His Son, to submit to death, conquer it, and rise up to victory. The Messiah, aptly named Salvation (Yeshua), would redeem the people of YHWH, not by defiance but by submission.
Shouting for the Messiah
According to the prophecy of Zechariah, the daughters of Judah (Zion/Jerusalem) would shout in triumph at the arrival of the Messiah-king… the one who would bring Salvation to the people. This glorious King would arrive in His Kingdom, seated on a humble donkey:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph [ha-ri’yi], O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of YHWH, even the King of Israel.”
Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him.
The shouting announced the long awaited Messiah-King. In the beginning we were exiled out of Eden, by our own choosing. Yeshua would be the One who would save us, bring us back home, and reconnect us to the Face of YHWH.
Nature Shouts for Joy
According to Luke’s account, the religious leaders were quite upset with the response Yeshua received from the people as He entered Jerusalem on a donkey. So many people were shouting out and calling Him “King” and these actions were not well received by the Pharisees:
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”
Yeshua knew His Tanakh and He drew this idea from the many accounts of nature shouting for joy:
Psalm 65:8, 12-13
[Psalm of David:] They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs; You make the dawn and the sunset rejoice… the pastures of the wilderness drip, and the hills gird themselves with rejoicing. The meadows are clothed with flocks and the valleys are covered with grain; they shout [yit-ro’a’u] for joy, yes, they sing.
Shouting for Death, not Life
It should be pointed out that the Hebrew word rua was not the same as yelling or screaming. Rua was, almost exclusively, a joyful noise. Yelling and screaming was a very different thing and it came from a different emotional place. When Yeshua was arrested and put on trial, the general population hurled insults at him and shouted that he should die. But it wasn’t a joyful shout, no… it was a malice scream:
Now at the feast he used to release for them any one prisoner whom they requested. The man named Barabbas had been imprisoned with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the insurrection. The crowd went up and began asking him to do as he had been accustomed to do for them.
Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” For he was aware that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy.
But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to ask him to release Barabbas for them instead. Answering again, Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?”
They shouted back, “Crucify Him!”
But Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?”
But they shouted all the more, “Crucify Him!”
Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.
Shouting for Life, not Death
YHWH has always been the God of Life, not death. Death had a different god… the one who cherished chaos and darkness. But as children of YHWH, we are called to the light, and with the generous sacrifice of the Messiah, Yeshua, we are no longer chained to darkness and we have power over the grave.
Yeshua paid our entrance fee so we can be free to return to the Garden and be in the Presence of YHWH, face to face:
[Psalm of Ethan the Ezrahite:] How blessed are the people who know the joyful sound [t’ruah]! O YHWH, they walk in the light of Your countenance [Your face]. In Your name they rejoice all the day, and by Your righteousness they are exalted.
David looked forward to the day when he would dwell in the house of YHWH, singing and shouting praises in the very presence of the One who made him:
[Psalm of David:] One thing I have asked from YHWH, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of YHWH all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of YHWH and to meditate in His temple.
For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; in the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock. And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me, and I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts (of joy) [t’ruah]; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to YHWH.
Hear, O YHWH, when I cry with my voice, and be gracious to me and answer me. When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O YHWH, I shall seek.”
You are loved, redeemed, and saved by the Creator. Seek His face, accept His love, and let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our Salvation.
Next week: Forgive/Forgiveness