The First of Elul and the 40 Days

On the Jewish calendar, today is the first day of Elul, which begins a special 40-day period of the year called “Days of Favor.” According to Jewish tradition, it was during this time that the Lord forgave the people of Israel after they had sinned with the Golden Calf at Mount Sinai. Therefore, it is during this period of time that the Jewish people repent and confess their sins until the 40 days are over, which ends on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) with fasting and prayer.

Worshippers at the Western Wall in Israel during the month of Elul

Worshippers at the Western Wall in Israel during the month of Elul

This date in history goes all the way back to Moses receiving the tablets of the Law. When he descended Mount Sinai after having spent time with God, he returned to his people and saw they had fallen into sin by worshipping the Golden Calf.

You know the history – in anger, Moses destroyed the two tablets of the law and burned the calf the following day (Exodus 32:19 and Deuteronomy 9:11).

Moses approached God on Mount Sinai a second time to plead with God for His forgiveness. After 40 days, he returned. It was on the first of Elul that he ascended the mountain for a third period of 40 days to ask for mercy and complete atonement and he received the second set of tablets and the assurance of God’s forgiveness (Exodus 34:1; 27—28; Deuteronomy 10:1—5).

The Jewish people recognize this 40 days as a time of repentance and mercy and call it the “Days of Favor.”

Elul ends on Erev Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year's Eve), which is on Wednesday, the 20th of September. On this day, the Hebrew year of 5778 will begin.

This is a time to pause and consider our ways - to set goals for personal improvement for the coming year.

Why not join with your Jewish friends in spending some time with God asking Him for forgiveness of any sins that have gone unconfessed (1 John 1:9) and repenting from that sin. It is a good time to search your heart and it's always good spending time with God!