Honk That Horn, Baby
While any horn or trumpet could be considered a shofar (Strong's
number 7782), it is traditionally an instrument made from the curved
horn of a sheep or goat-related animal. One thought is that to be a
proper shofar, it should have at least one bend in it.
Left is a picture of a Yemenite shofar made from the horn of an African
Another type of
trumpet (pictured on the right), made from silver and straight, is used for summoning the
congregation or signaling camp movement in places such as Numbers 10.
The Hebrew word for this type of trumpet is chatsotsrah (khah—tsow—tsraw,
Strong's number 2689).
In some ways there are specific meanings attached to each type of
noisemaker, and in some ways they are interchangeable, depending on what
they are used for. For instance, both are mentioned in Psalm 98:6 as a
way to make a joyful noise.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn shout
joyfully before the King, the LORD.
The shofar was also used as mentioned in Exodus 19:16,19 and 20:18
for a representation of the voice of God. (Also Psalm 47:5.) Perhaps
that's one of the reasons why the walls of Jericho collapsed (ram's
horns or shofars are mentioned 14 times in Joshua 6). Shofars were used
to sound battle cries (Judges), rally troops (Nehemiah 4:20), or express
joy, while trumpets seem to be used more as a calling device or for
music (usually joyful), mostly connected to the Tabernacle or Temple.
Shofars seem to be mentioned more often than chatsotsrah (or
straight silver trumpets), but that could be because animal horns were
easier for the average person to obtain.
Or because battle was more common than worship.
The Good Way
A couple of verses in Jeremiah are very interesting. He seems to say
that we are directed to the "good way" by the sound of the shofar, and
this good way is the entire Word of God, including the Law.
Here is what Adonai says: "Stand at the
crossroads and look; ask about the ancient paths, 'Which one is the good
way?' Take it, and you will find rest for your souls. But they said, 'We
will not take it.' I appointed sentinels to direct them; 'Listen for the
sound of the shofar.' But they said, 'We will not listen.' So hear, you
nations; know, you assembly, what there is against them. Hear, oh earth!
I am going to bring disaster on this people; it is the consequence of
their own way of thinking; for they pay no attention to my words; and as
for my Torah, they reject it."
(Jeremiah 6:16–19 CJB)
An Awakening Blast of War
Another interesting thing in Jeremiah, that I'm not quite sure about,
is in 49:2.
"Therefore behold, the days are coming,"
declares the LORD, "That I will cause a trumpet blast of war to be heard
against Rabbah of the sons of Ammon; and it will become a desolate heap,
and her towns will be set on fire. Then Israel will take possession of
his possessors," says the LORD.
Jeremiah uses the analogy of an "awakening blast" (teruah) of war. I
wonder what this means in view of our holiday of the Awakening Blast?