First mentioned in Exodus 19:16 at the
At a later period, the Rabbi’s postulated that the ram's horn was preferred in order to recall the binding of Isaac for whose sacrifice a ram was substituted (RH 16a; see Gen. 22:13). The Rabbi’s rules that a curved shofar symbolizes humankind bowing in submission to God's will (RH 26b)
Although the Bible is silent on the reason a shofar specifically accompanies holy events. The Rabbi’s gave their oral interpretations. Saadiah Gaon (see Abudraham ha-Shalem, ed. S. Krauser (1959), 269–70) states:
(1) Trumpets are sounded at a coronation and God is hailed as King on this day.
(2) The shofar heralds the beginning of the penitential season (from Rosh Hasanah to the Day of Atonement).
(3) The Torah was given on Sinai accompanied by blasts of the shofar.
(4) The prophets compare their message to the sound of the shofar.
(5) The conquering armies that destroyed the
(6) The ram was substituted for Isaac.
(7) The prophet asks: "Shall the horn be blown in a city, and the people not tremble?" (Amos 3:6).
(8) The prophet Zephaniah speaks of the great "day of the Lord" (Judgment Day) as a "day of the horn and alarm" (Zeph. , 16).
(9) The prophet Isaiah speaks of the great shofar which will herald the messianic age (Isa. 27:13).
(10) The shofar will be sounded at the resurrection.
Awake from your slumbers, ye who have fallen asleep in life, and reflect on your deeds. Remember your Creator. Be not of those who miss reality in the pursuit of shadows, and waste their years in seeking after vain things which neither profit nor save. Look well to your souls and improve your character. Forsake each of you his evil ways and thoughts.” (Yad, Teshuvah 3:4)
In about 400 C.E. in
In Biblical Jewish life, to prepare for the Sabbath, on Friday afternoon, six blasts were sounded at various intervals. At the first tekiah, the laborers in the fields ceased their work. At the second, shops were closed and city laborers ceased to work. The third signaled that it was time to kindle the Sabbath lights. And the fourth, fifth, and sixth were a tekiah, teruah and tekiah formally ushering in the Sabbath (Shab. 35b).
In modern times, the shofar, as a symbol of ancient Judaism, was used at the inauguration of a new president of
Clearly, the shofar is identified as uniquely Jewish.
No Sacrifice Is Too Much . . . Shofar
“Nothing so much enhances a good as to make sacrifices for it”.
George Santayana (1863-1952) American philosopher and poet
Arthur L. Finkle
Early Horn Uses
Pre-historic humankind utilized whatever was useful in their environment. Wherever the primitive lived, they utilized the available materials to signal. Those in the Indian and
Hindus also utilize the Conch Trumpet. In ancient
Where is the Shofar in the Bible?
Commentators have tracked the word “Shofar” in 7 parts of the Hebrew Scripture: Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Joshua Chronicles and 5-psalms
In the first five books of Moses, Shofar is cited:
13 . . . Only when the ram's horn sounds a long blast may they go up to the mountain."
In Leviticus 23 and 24, there is a priestly commandment:
"In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe complete rest, a sacred occasion commemorated with loud blasts" (Lev. 23:24).
There are references to the Shofar in the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament, that Gabriel will announce the Messiah with the sound the Shofar. (16;Matthew 24:29-31; I Thessalonians 4:16-17; I Corinthians 15:51-52 .
The burnt, grain, peace, sin, and guilt offering composed the basic sacrificial system of
1. Burnt offering (olah). The burnt offering of certain animals was offered both in the morning and in the evening, as well as on special days such as the Sabbath, the new moon, and the yearly feasts (Numbers 28-29; 2 Kings 16:15; 2 Chronicles 2:4; 2 Chronicles 31:3; Ezra 3:3-6).
2. Grain offering (minchah; “meat offering” in KJV). An offering from the harvest of the land is the only type that required no bloodshed. (Leviticus 2:13),
3. Peace offering . This consisted of the sacrifice of a bull, cow, lamb, or goat that had no defect. As with the burnt offering, the individual laid a hand on the animal and killed it. The priests, in turn, sprinkled the blood around the altar. The priest received the breast and the right thigh (Leviticus 7:28-36), but the offerer was given much of the meat to have a meal of celebration (Leviticus 7:11-21).
4. Sin offering was designed to deal with sin that was committed unintentionally. The sacrifice varied according to who committed the sin.
Interestingly the sacrifice system is found in the New Testament.Hebrews portrays Jesus as the sinless high priest who offered himself up as a sacrifice for sinners (Leviticus 7:27). The book ends with an encouragement to offer sacrifices of praise to God through Jesus.
After the Romans destroyed the
Thereafter, two Priests stood atop of a marble stand near the altar signaling trumpet blasts: tekiah, tekiah and teruah. A long note followed a series of short notes; then another long note.
In the Mishnah (gathering the laws of the Bible, written in 200 CE by great-grandchildren of those who worshipped at The Temple in
There is also a dispute as to what the Shofar sounds should be. The Sages agreed on the “Teki'ah" blast) but differed in “Teruah" note. Some of the Rabbi’s indicated that Teruah was 9 staccato sounds; others, three weeping wounds. The Rabbis compromised by adding all both sounds in the service.
Reasons for Sounding the Shofar
The Saadiah Gaon (10th century CE, head of a famous Babylonian university) offers ten reasons, two of which are cited below:
(1) as a reminder to be faithful to the teachings of the Torah, since the Shofar was heard at the giving of the Torah;
(2) as a reminder of the prophets, the teachers of righteousness, who raised their voices desire the Shofar to touch our consciences (Abudarham [Jerusalem, 1959 ed.], 269f.).