A 'shofar' is a ram's horn trumpet, one of the earliest wind instruments known to man. Its symbolic use by the people of Israel is described in this article.
In November 1998 I visited London for a few days. I went there simply to learn how to play the 'shofar.'
A Christian living in London had telephoned me about a 'shofar
seminar' being held in a west London synagogue on Sunday 1st November. Since
I already play a modern trumpet and possess a small collection
of ram's horns, I was excited at the prospect of learning to play
the 'shofar' correctly. At the seminar, to my surprise,
I was classified as an experienced player and invited to
join another group of experienced players to take part
in a 'shofar fanfare' which was to open the 9th
International Jewish Music Festival commmemorating Israel's
Jubilee. I considered this a great privilege to say the
least. When, on the following Monday the 'shofar fanfare' echoed round the
concert hall I thought of Joshua, Gideon, the dedication of Solomon's
Temple and the Trumpets of Revelation. As in ages past, the shofar's spiritual, awe-inspiring tones stirred the hearts
of the high-tech generation of Jews in that London concert hall.
The concert was a resounding success and I understand that the 'shofar fanfare'
moved some in the audience to tears of joy. The visit from start
to finish was an experience I could never have imagined. Even
now when I recall it, its meaning remains a mystery to me. What
could it all signify?
Far more symbolic than the 'shofar fanfare' in the concert hall was my visit to another London synagogue two days earlier on late Friday evening at the start of the Sabbath, where I was invited to open the 'ark.' The 'ark' is the most sacred part of a synagogue where the Torah (the Law of the LORD God of Israel) and other sacred books of the Holy Scriptures are held. When we drew the 'ark' door open, I feared to look inside, thinking all the while about the experience recorded in:
|1 Samuel 6: 19:||And he (the LORD) smote the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter.|
I still wonder at the meaning of it all. Just what has the LORD
God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in mind for David
B Loughran? It is a question I trust will be answered
in the near future. But whatever it means, to me it was one of
the greatest moments of my life; a sacred privilege I shall never
forget. To be allowed to actually join with the Almighty's chosen
people Israel, to worship Him with them and then to take part
in a 'shofar fanfare' at the International Jewish Music
Festival comemmorating Israel's Jubilee, amazes me beyond measure to this day.
But back to the subject of the SHOFAR. The ram's horn trumpet, is one of the first instruments played by the ancient Israelites. Bible references concerning the 'shofar' (a Hebrew word which according to Strong's Dictionary, #07782, is translated 'trumpet' in 68 of the 72 times it appears in the Old Testament) tell us many meaningful things about this ancient wind instrument. But before we consider the Bible references, here are a few facts concerning the 'shofar' which I have taken from the Jewish Encyclopaedia.
Now let us take a look at some Bible texts. I will simply list
them before ending with a short summary. Each time you see the
word trumpet in the Old Testament verses below, remember
that the original Hebrew word was 'shofar.'
You may even want to study the full Bible story from which these
brief quotations are taken. Believe me, that is a study in itself.
Also, when reading, note when the 'shofars'
were blown, who blew them, what events did they
herald, what were the people of Israel supposed to do when
they heard the 'shofar' and how did
the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob respond. Note also how the LORD Himself is going to
blow the Great Shofar!
Here are the texts:
1. AT MOUNT SINAI.
|Ex:19:16:||And it came to pass on the third day in the morning,
that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon
the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud;
so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.
||And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed
louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice.
|| And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings,
and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking:
and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.
2. ON THE ALMIGHTY'S SABBATHS
|Psalm 81:3:||Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.|
|Lev:23:24:||Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.|
|Lev:25:9:||Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.|
3. AT THE DESTRUCTION OF JERICHO
|Joshua 6:4:||And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. 5: And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him...|
|Josh:6:20:||So the people shouted when the priests blew with the
trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound
of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that
the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city,
every man straight before him, and they took the city.|
4. VICTORY IN WARFARE
|Judges 7:16:||And he (Gideon) divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man's hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers...|
|Judg:7:20:||And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon.|
|2 Chron.13:12:||And, behold, God himself is with us for our captain, and his priests with sounding trumpets to cry alarm against you. O children of Israel, fight ye not against the LORD God of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper. 13: But Jeroboam caused an ambushment to come about behind them: so they were before Judah, and the ambushment was behind them. 14: And when Judah looked back, behold, the battle was before and behind: and they cried unto the LORD, and the priests sounded with the trumpets. 15: Then the men of Judah gave a shout: and as the men of Judah shouted, it came to pass, that God smote Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah.|
5. THE RETURN OF THE ARK
|2Sam:6:15:||So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.|
6. THE ANOINTING OF KING SOLOMON.
|1 Kgs:1:34:||And let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there king over Israel: and blow ye with the trumpet, and say, God save king Solomon.|
7. THE DEDICATION OF THE TEMPLE.
|2Chron:5:13:||It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD.|
8. REBUILDING OF JERUSALEM
|Neh:4:18:||For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me.|
|Neh:4:20:|| In what place therefore ye hear the sound
of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our
God shall fight for us.|
9. A WATCHMEN'S RESPONSIBILITIES
|Ezek:33:3:||If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people.; 4: Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. 5: He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. :6: But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand.|
10. WARNINGS CONCERNING SIN
|Isa:58:1:||Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.|
|Joel 2:1:||Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand.|
11. THE LORD SHALL BLOW THE SHOFAR!
|Zech:9:14:||And the LORD shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the LORD GOD shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south.|
|Isa:18:3:||All ye inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth, see ye, when he lifteth up an ensign on the mountains; and when HE bloweth a trumpet, hear ye.|
|Isa:27:13:||And it shall come to pass in that day, that the GREAT trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.|
12. ALAS! MANY WILL NOT LISTEN
It is an absolute tragedy that, like Israel of old, millions of people pay little or no attention to the Almighty's Word and the warnings it contains. Blindly they stagger on, refusing to acknowledge the Creator's presence, His Word, His Law and His offer of salvation through His only begotten Son Yeshua the Messiah. This is the greatest mistake the human race has ever made and - alas! - is still making.
|Jer:6:17:|| Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to
the sound of the trumpet.|
But they said, We will not hearken.
The 'shofar,' the ram's horn trumpet, represents the spokesmen of Yahweh the Almighty God of Israel; through whom His Spirit declares the Truth.
It is a musical instrument of antiquity - of God's own making!