Crowning God

A Coronation on Rosh Hashanah

The idea of crowning God may sound sacrilegious to some Christians, but it is a normative idea in Judaism. On Rosh Hashanah, Jews around the world blow the shofar to announce the coronation of God as King.[1] Why do we call it a coronation if God is already the King of the Universe? Rabbi Noson Gurary explains in his book The Jewish Holy Days in Chasidic Philosophy:

. . . the key spiritual event of Rosh Hashanah is the renewal of God’s kingship which we bring about through hachtarat hamelech (the coronation of the king). This means that we submit ourselves to God with our total being and entreat Him to reveal His kingship “below,” in the physical world. Our request that God reveal His kingship is the constant theme of the liturgy of Rosh Hashanah since we seek to elicit God’s will to reign and His delight in being King for the whole year.[2]

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks tells the story of how when Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik was a child, his first Hebrew teacher, a Hasid (an ultra-Orthodox Jew), explained to him about the coronation of God at Rosh Hashanah. Rabbi Soloveitchik’s Hebrew teacher said to him: 

And who puts the crown on His head? We do.[3]

In Jewish thought, we crown God by accepting Him as our King. We also enthrone Him with our praises. Psalm 22:3 says:

. . . you are holy, enthroned [literally: sitting] on the praises of Israel (NRSV). 

The Midrash, a traditional Jewish commentary on the Scriptures, builds on the enthronement idea and says in Exodus Rabbah 21.4, “The angel appointed over prayers takes all the prayers uttered in all the synagogues and makes them a crown which he places on the head of the Holy One, blessed be He.” 

The earliest mention in Jewish literature of the concept of crowning God is in the New Testament. John describes in Revelation 4 the throne room of God. There he sees 24 elders, dressed in white, falling down before the One sitting on the throne. Then they cast their crowns of gold in front of God’s throne (in a kind of coronation of the King). The Christian hymn “Crown Him with Many Crowns” is deeply rooted in Jewish thought.

To sum up, Rosh Hashanah is an annual time for Jews to crown God. We crown Him by accepting Him as our King, by asking Him to delight in being our King this coming year, and finally by calling on Him to establish His kingdom on earth as it is heaven. The Rosh Hashanah service includes a coronation ceremony that has been passed down from generation to generation in which we as Jews crown God as King. The ceremony is made up of blessings, prayers, readings from Scripture, and the blowing of the shofar. 

There is also an eschatological and proleptic (already-but-not-yet) dimension to holding a coronation ceremony for the King of Kings on Rosh Hashanah.[4] What is the signal to the whole world that Yeshua’s second coming has begun and that He is on his way back to Jerusalem? The signal is a great shofar blast from heaven. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 4:16:

For the Lord Himself shall come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the blast of God’s shofar… (TLV).

Will this blast of the shofar be on Rosh Hashanah? A compelling case can be made for this. If Yeshua died on Passover, and He rose from the dead on the Feast of Firstfruits, and He sent the Holy Spirit on the Feast of Weeks (in Hebrew, Shavuot), then it makes sense to assume that He is going to return on the next Jewish festival described in the Torah—the Day of Blowing (Yom Teruah, that is, Rosh Hashanah) when we hear the blast of the shofar (Lev 23:24; Num 29:1). 

What is beyond doubt is that Yeshua will return with the blast of God’s shofar. And on that day, the leaders of Israel will welcome Yeshua with the words:

Baruch Haba B’Shem Adonai.

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord (Matt 23:39 NIV).

What happens next? The coronation ceremony—when Israel crowns Yeshua as King![5]

At the Messiah’s first coming, the Roman soldiers put a crown of thorns on Yeshua’s head and mocked Him as being the King of the Jews.[6] Pilate placed a sign above Yeshua’s head that read in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, “Yeshua of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” When the chief priests saw the sign, they went to Pilate and said:

Do not write, “The King of the Jews,” but, “This man said, I am King of the Jews” (John 19:21 NRSV). 

And for almost two thousand years, this has been how the leaders of my people have viewed Yeshua. But at Yeshua’s second coming, the chief rabbis of Israel will place a crown on Yeshua’s head and, on that day, organize the greatest coronation ceremony that the world has ever seen. Do you want to be at that Second Coming coronation ceremony? I know I do! May it come speedily and soon, even in our day. Until then, whether we are Jews, or Gentile Christians with a calling to celebrate Israel’s festivals with the Jewish people, we can crown Yeshua the Son of David with many crowns every Rosh Hashanah. 


[1] Cf. 1 Kgs 1:34-39.

[2] Noson Gurary, The Jewish Holy Days in Chasidic Philosophy (Northvale: Jason Aronson: 2000), 9-10. 

[3] Jonathan Sacks, “Introduction,” in The Koren Rosh Hashana Mahzor, trans. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (Jerusalem: Koren, 2011), xviii. See also Rabbi Nosson Scherman, Rosh Hashanah: Its Significance, Laws, and Prayers (Brooklyn: Mesorah, 2011), 21; Marc Zvi Brettler, “God’s Coronation on Rosh Hashanah,” TheTorah.com, 2014, https://thetorah.com/article/coronation-on-rosh-hashanah-what-kind-of-king.

[4] David Frankel, “Malchuyot: Is God King Now or Only in the Future?” TheTorah.com, 2017, https://thetorah.com/article/malchuyot-is-god-king-now-or-only-in-the-future.

[5] Cf. Exod Rab. 8.1. See Mark S. Kinzer, “Is Jesus of Nazareth Still King of the Jews? New Testament Christology and the Jewish People,” in Jesus, King of the Jews? Messianic Judaism, Jewish Christians, and Theology Beyond Supersessionism, ed. James E. Patrick (Vienna: Toward Jerusalem Council II, 2021), 43-55. Originally published in Kesher: A Journal of Messianic Judaism 39 (2021): 15-23.

[6] John 19:2-3.

Dr. David Rudolph
Dr. David Rudolphhttp://www.tku.edu
Dr. David Rudolph is professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies and director of the Messianic Jewish Studies program at The King's University in Southlake, Texas.