Public Proclamation of Shabbat
Arthur L. Finkle
Shabbat 35a-b – asks, “How did people know when Shabbat was going to begin? The Gemara related that the Rabbi Yishmael school taught: Six blasts are sounded on Shabbat eve. The first tekiah – the people standing and working in the fields refrained from hoeing, and from plowing and from performing all labor in the fields. And those workers who work close to the city are not permitted to enter the city until those who work farther away come, so that they will all enter together. Otherwise, people would suspect that the workers who came later continued to work after the blast. And still, at this time, the stores in the city are open and the shutters of the stores, upon which the storekeepers would arrange their merchandise in front of the stores, remain in place.
After the second blast, the shutters were removed; the stores were locked. But in the homes hot water was still cooking on the stove and pots remained in place on the stove.
After the third blast, mean the removal of the food from the stove; insulated hot water for Shabbat; the Shabbat lights lit.
And the one sounding the shofar pauses for the amount of time it takes to fry a small fish or to stick bread to the sides of the oven, and he sounds a tekia, and sounds a terua, and sounds a tekia, and accepts Shabbat.
The shofar blasts advising the people of Shabbat had to be heard throughout the city of Jerusalem and beyond, especially by those working in the fields. Although the Gemorra does not indicate where the Shofar was sounded, Josephus refers to the spot as being on one of the towers of the Temple (Wars of the Jews 4:9:12).
During the archaeological excavations a large stone was discovered at the southwest corner of the walls surrounding the Temple Mount, with the inscription: “To the trumpeting place to…” Apparently, it fell from a tower atop the wall and shattered during the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 CE.
Shavuot and Shofar
Shavuot completes the cycle of the 3-Pilgrammage Festivals (Succot and Pesach are the others). (Chagigah 7a). All pilgrimage festivals are on the same footing as each other. (Sabbath 131a)
The Feast of Weeks is called Pentecost or Assembly. (Talmud – Mas. Rosh HaShana 6b; Talmud – Mas. Mo’ed Katan 20a)
The Special Preparations for This Holiday
The special preparations for this holiday falling 7-weeks after Passover (Lev 23:17), are the two leavened loaves of bread (Shabbath 131a). Yet their preparation does not override the Sabbath ( Beitzah 20b)
There were special sacrifices for the Feast of Weeks:
• A second young bullock thou shalt take for a sin-offering:1 Now, if this comes to teach that there are two [sacrifices], surely it has already been said, (Zevachim 89b)
• The two lambs offered at the Feast of Weeks; cf. Lev. XXIII, 19. These lambs are also permissible as well as the two loaves mentioned previously. (Menachot 13b)
• The thank-offering consisted of an animal-offering and a bread-offering of forty cakes, ten cakes of each of the four different kinds specified; v. Lev. VII, 12, 13. The entire thank-offering had to be consumed on the same day of offering until midnight.
• A special waving peace-offering offered on the Feast of Weeks and accompanied by a bread-offering of two loaves (Lev. 23:17-19. This peace-offering and the loaves had to be eaten on the same day of offering. (Menachot 15a)
Two loaves of leavened bread were offered on Shavuoth, as a communal offering. The unground wheat was first rubbed by the priests…
The two loaves were kneaded and baked separately. They were rectangular in shape, measuring seven handbreadths long and four wide. The loaves were fashioned so that there would be a hornlike protrusion on each of the four corners.
The priests would carry the two loaves and the other offerings up to the altar. They would be accompanied by Levites blasting trumpets and playing flutes.
• The first fruits according to R. Eliezer b. Jacob. first fruits require waving;
• Twin Loaves Waves with Trumpets, Flute and Song
o When the time for the wine libation arrived and the twin loaves were offered, the Levite choir began its music-the singers, trumpeters and musicians. Indeed, the special holiday commandment for this day calls for the blowing of trumpets: “And on the days of your joy, and on your festivals… you shall sound off with trumpets” (Numbers 10:10). Additionally, the festival of Shavuot is included as one of the 12 days of the year in which the flute is played before the altar, even if it falls out on the Sabbath (Maimonides, Laws of Temple Vessels 3:2,5,6).
After the destruction of the Holy Temple, the Rabbi’s decreed that, in lieu of the sacrifices, the Hallel (Ps 113-118) be individually prayed. (Arachin 10a)
Arakhin, Chapter Two, Mishnah Three states that the Priests sounded the shofar never less than twenty-one blasts in the sanctuary and never more than forty-eight.
In addition, the shofar sounded during the twin loaves wave offering special for Shavuot. In addition, the special holiday commandment for this day called for the blowing of trumpets: “And on the days of your joy, and on your festivals… you shall sound off with trumpets” (Numbers 10:10).
The Horns of the Altar
Horns on an altar are ancient in the Middle East. Obbink, however, finds Israelite altars unique. Abraham calls his altar Jahwe jir’e (Gen. 22) ; Jacob calls his altar El ‘elohe yisra’el (Gen. 33 20), and Moses calls his, Jahwe nissi (Ex. 17). These are not names for altars. Rather, they are for sanctuaries. Gen. 28 is tells that Jacob took the stone that he had put for his pillow and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on the top of it: similarly Gen. 35 . In ancient Israel they were called altars when they were attached to the altar. In both cases the altar is a bethel, and the bethel is an altar. Such was the ancient Semitic tradition. (H. Th. Obbink, The Horns of the Altar in the Semitic World, Especially in Jahwis, Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 56, No. 1 (Mar., 1937), pp. 43-49. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3259629. Accessed: 05/29/2011
Initially using the Midrash Tadshe (ch. XI) (The Midrash Tadshe focuses on symbols and it plays much on groups of numbers. Section 2 contains a symbolization of the Tabernacle, the central idea of the midrash is the theory of three worlds—earth, man, and the Tabernacle), Samuel Belkin describes the rationale behind the use of the horns combined with the altar. Belkin explores further by using translations to the Greek texts of Philo, to the Armenian translation of Philo’s Questions and Answers on Genesis and Exodus, to the Mishnah, to the Talmud and Midrash, to Midrash Psalms and to the Mekilta (midrash to Exodus extending Jewish Law). He finds that these horns are of clean animals, whether these are brought as sacrifices or not, have horns and cleft hoofs. Once again, why did the Holy One, blessed be He, decree that horns be made for the altar? Because the Holy One, blessed be He, sought to teach us, that if we offered sacrifices to Him in righteousness, He would repel, destroy and subject their enemies and would not permit them to harm them (the Israelites). For it is written: ‘And all the horns of the wicked I will cut off, but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up’ (Ps. 75: II). But, if not, (i.e., should the Israelites become iniquitous), He would harass and repel them from before Him, as it is written: ‘And I will make your cities a waste, (and will bring your sanctuaries unto desolation), and I will not smell the savor of your sweet odors’ (Lev. 26: 31) ; and it is also said; ‘To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me’ ” (Isa. : II).
Belkin claims that Philo finds the Tadshe to be a Hellenistic Midrash derived from or based upon the main structure of Philo.
Accordingly, those which are to be offered as sacrifices are the following three (kinds): the sheep, the ox, and the goat.
But besides these there are seven other (kinds permitted) for food: gazelle, deer, wild goat, buffalo, white-rumped antelope, oryx, and giraffe; each of these has horns. For He wishes to specify those (animals to be used) for food, for even though they are not to be offered as sacrifices, still they are similar to those which are to be sacrificed.
Secondly, the horns (of the altar) incline and face toward the four sides of the world, toward the east, toward the west toward the south, and toward the Dipper, for it is proper that those who are in all parts (of the world) should all bring their first-fruits and new (offerings) to this one altar, and sacrifice victims to God, the Father of the world. In the third place, (this is said) symbolically, for in place of defensive weapons He has given a crop of horns to animals which grow horns. Just as the (animals) to be sacri¬ficed, (namely) the ram, the ox, and the goat, repel their enemies with their horns, so also did He wish to rebuke the impious who presume to offer sacrifices, by teaching that the divine Logos opposes and repels the enemies of truth, goring every soul as if with horns, and showing up in their nakedness its unclean and unworthy deeds, which a little while before it had been concealing. For these reasons the horns are not to be placed upon (the altar) from outside, but by His command are to be united to the altar itself to extend it, since sacrificial animals have their horns growing out of themselves.”
Samuel Belkin, Some Obscure Traditions Mutually Clarified in Philo and Rabbinic Literature, Source: The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. 57, The Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Volume of the Jewish Quarterly Review (1967), pp. 80-103. University of Pennsylvania Press, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1453486. Accessed: 05/29/2011
Arthur L. Finkle
The Shofar had several religious roles recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures, such as the transfer of the Ark of the Covenant (2 Samuel 6:15; 1 Chronicles 15:28); the announcement of the New Moon (Psalms 81:4); the beginning of the religious New Year (Numbers 29:1); the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 25:9); the procession preparatory to the Feast of Tabernacles (Mishnah, Hullin 1:7); the Havdalah ceremony marking the end of a festival (Mishnah, Hullin 1:7);and other uses mentioned in Hebrew Writings (Mishnah and Talmud) after the fall of the Temple in 70 Common Era (CE).
The Shofar is primarily associated with Rosh HaShanah. Indeed, Rosh HaShanah is called Yom T’ru’ah (the day of the Shofar blast). “And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have a holy convocation: ye shall do no manner of servile work; it is a day of blowing the horn unto you.” (Numbers 29:1) [ This is 1 Tishrei, which is Rosh HaShanah, the Hebrew New Year.] See also Leviticus 23:24). .
In the Mishnah (book of early Rabbinic laws derived from the Torah), a discussion in Tractate Rosh HaShanah centers around the centrality of the Shofar in the time before the destruction of the Second Temple (70 C.O. Those debating never experienced the ceremony itself but their grandfathers may have. Indeed, the Shofar was the center of the ceremony, with two silver trumpets playing a lesser role. On other solemn holidays, fasts, and New Moon celebrations, two silver trumpets were featured, with one Shofar playing a lesser role. The Shofar is also associated with the Jubilee Year in which, every fifty years, Jewish Law provided for the release of all slaves, land, and debts. The sound of the Shofar on Yom Kippur proclaimed the Jubilee Year that provided the actual release of fi¬nancial encumbrances.
The legislation concerning the year of Jubilee is found in Leviticus, xxv, 8-54, and xxvii, 16-24. It contains three main enactments:
• rest of the soil;
• reversion of landed property to its original owner, who had been driven by poverty to sell it; and
• the freeing or manumission of those Israelites who, through poverty or otherwise, had become the slaves of their brethren.
Ten days after Rosh HaShanah, at the Yom Kippur service it reads. “And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and there shall be unto thee the days of seven sabbaths of years, even forty and nine years.” See Leviticus 16:29, 23:27.
Further, the Scriptures herald: Then shalt thou make proclamation with the blast of the horn on the tenth day of the seventh month; in the day of atonement shall ye make proclamation with the horn throughout all your land. See Lev 25: 9
The new moon offering comes before the Rosh HaShanah offering, because that which is brought the most often has precedence (Yad, Temidim 9:2).
The Israelites and the subsequent Jews celebrated a lunar calendar intercalated so that the seasons are correct. New moons were extremely important. Accordingly, the Shofar was sounded upon the occurrence of the new moon. (Numbers 29:11; Rosh HaShanah 1:1). The Talmud tells us that this custom was discontinued when the Samaritans attempted to disrupt this system of sounding from mountain to mountain announcing the new moon.
Scripture further proclaims the sounding on the appearance of the new moon:
And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets; and they shall be to you for an ordinance forever throughout your generations.
Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the LORD your God. See Numbers 10:10.
Finally we have the famous passage in PSALMS 81:3: “Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.”
Rediscovering Jewish Christian Heritage
God did not visit Abraham for religious purposes. Moses did not go up on the mountain to get religion, but to meet with and hear from God. Jesus did not come to earth to make us religious but to restore us to relationship with God. It’s all about relationship.
Indeed, Existentialism has captured Christian theology throughout the 20th mid-century. Following in the steps Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, Martin Heidegger made human existence his since the 1920s, and Karl Jaspers in the 1930s. Human relationships
Enhance humanity by interacting with one another in a spiritual way. The sparks of each soul contributes to a whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Jewish Biblical Roots
Others flock to their Jewish biblical roots because they want to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and the disciples. They celebrate the Jewish holidays that Jesus celebrated and tend to refer the Holy Temple celebrations that were extent in Jesus’ time. They tend to be highly structured that predominates in the American culture. They want a more authentic religion.
ACTS 2:2: Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
2:1-4 They [disciples] had prayed more together of late. Would we have the Spirit poured out upon us from on high, let us be all of one accord. And notwithstanding differences of sentiments and interests, as there were among those disciples, let us agree to love one another; for where brethren dwell together in unity, there the Lord commands his blessing. A rushing mighty wind came with great force. This was to signify the powerful influences and working of the Spirit of God upon the minds of men, and thereby upon the world. Thus the convictions of the Spirit make way for his comforts; and the rough blasts of that blessed wind, prepare the soul for its soft and gentle gales. There was an appearance of something like flaming fire, lighting on every one of them, according to John Baptist’s saying concerning Christ;
On Rosh HasShana, the shofar-like blast coming from the Throne of God, calling us to return to the simplicity of the faith as it was originally given to us. It is a call to pursue God out of love, not religion. The gospel of Jesus Christ is anything but religious. It is about relationship.
The gospels, the Psalms or the Prophets bespoke ordinary people living extraordinary lives. They were down-to-earth, hearty and knew how to touch God. They were able, through their daily connection to Him, to change the course of battles, rescue whole nations out of slavery, heal the sick, even raise the dead.
The Resurrection of the Dead even as we wait to hear the trumpet blast of the king, the great shofar of our returning Redeemer, we celebrate the appointed time of the Rosh Hashanah. The annual blast of the shofar during the Feast of Trumpets foreshadows that day when the heavens will be rent by the blast of Messiah’s trumpet. For disciples of the Messiah, Rosh Hashanah is a reminder of that appointed time yet to come when the Master “will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” (Matthew 24:31)
Responding to the Shofar’s Call reveals how this change took place. These Messianic Jewish Christians posit that the Jewish religion of closeness to and love God was hijacked by the Greek philosophers, who have an enormous persuasion on the Earth Church Fathers. Indeed, Ambrose, Chrysostom and Augustine. The philosophizing took the authentic nature of love out of the equation. Instead of relying on outdated, hellenize3d creeds, the Jews continue to question the ways of God and the ways to lead a better life.
What we are involved in is a culture war. The true biblical culture of the believer is Hebraic in nature. There is nothing wrong with demonstrating a biblical culture and yet being comfortable and natural in our own nation’s culture—as long as it is our biblical culture which dominates us and as long as the national cultural characteristics are not harmful to our faith and walk in the Lord.
True Hebraic culture is what Jesus demonstrated. Jesus was perfectly comfortable in His own skin as the holy Son of God and as a Hebrew who was practical and simple. He didn’t theorize and theologize. He didn’t seek after or exalt knowledge. He exalted those with a humble heart who lived out what they believed. He was capable of reaching out to and befriending those who were in a sinful state—a worldly culture— like the tax collectors and “sinners,” without ever becoming like them. http://www.who-is-god-really.org/shofar.html
Footsteps of Jesus and the Disciples
Others flock to their Jewish biblical roots because they want to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and the disciples. They celebrate THE Jewish holidays that Jesus celebrated and tend to refer the Holy Temple celebrations that existed in Jesus’ brief earthly time.
To a professional trumpet player, the ‘call of the shofar’ signifies:
• Truth (2 Chronicles 15 v.14)
• Repentance (Joel 2 vs. 1 + 15)
• Obedience (Jeremiah 6 v.17)
• A call to worship God (Isaiah 27 v.13, Revelation 1 v.10 )
• The Joy of Trumpets
|Ryan Malone, September 8, 2010, http://www.thetrumpet.com
The sound of the shofar could be joyful blasts heralding a king. In fact, five references of shofar in the Old Testament refer to coronations—namely those on the throne of David. The blast of the seventh trumpet angel heralds the coronation of Jesus Christ to return to the throne of David and assume rulership of all the kingdoms of the Earth! (Revelation 11:15; Isaiah 9:7). What joy that means for God’s people!
This angelic trumpet blast also indicates war. (Revelation 11:18). Jesus, Himself said that, at His Second Coming, “shall all the tribes of the earth mourn …. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet” (Matthew 24:30-31).
Also when the seventh trumpet sounds, pictured by the Feast of Trumpets, the dead in Christ will be resurrected! The sound of the trumpet will initiate the first resurrection. John 5:28 says “all that are in the graves shall hear his voice.” God’s voice is likened to a shofar blast in Exodus 19:16-19 (and in the New Testament: Revelation 1:10; 4:1). Even God’s prophets throughout history were symbolically to use their voices like trumpets (Isaiah 58:1). By lifting their voices like trumpets, God’s prophets were emulating God’s voice! Today, when we trumpet this warning that is a type of God speaking.
Until that point in history, God’s voice will have been trumpeted through His work. But finally, on this day, God will speak—and, just as at Mt. Sinai, it will be an earthshaking event.
A Spiritual Weapon with Revival Power
Shofar is the Hebrew word for a trumpet made from a ram’s horn. Most places in the Old Testament where the English translation is trumpet, the Hebrew word is ‘Shofar’.
We believe that God has given us a revelation that we wish to share with the Body of Messiah. We believe this will add a new dimension to our prayer and spiritual warfare. The Lord has revealed the spiritual dynamic of the use of the Shofar or Ram’s Horn as used by the Israelites in the Old Testament times. We don’t fully under- stand the power of it, why or how it works – but it works !
The Lord led us to the story of Gideon (Judges 7). As is the pattern throughout the book of Judges, the Israelites again turned away from God after 40 years of peace brought by Deborah’s victory over Canaan and were allowed to be attacked by the neighboring Midianites and Amalekites. God chose Gideon, a young man from an otherwise unremarkable clan from the tribe of Manasseh, to free the people of Israel and to condemn their worship of idols. God sent a reluctant Gideon and 300 warriors to battle with a heavily armed enemy of thousands. However, He instructed Gideon to go out with a pitcher and torch in one hand, and a Shofar in the other hand. At the appointed time, the 300 blew their Shofars in unity, which firstly caused restlessness in the enemy’s camp, resulting in their total confusion; turning and killing each other with their swords. We also see in the story of Joshua that he too, won the war by blowing the Shofar. A similar episode occurred at Jericho. The Holy Spirit revealed that, blowing the Shofar brings about some cosmic effect.
In the Bible, the blowing of the Shofar was first heard when God called Moses to the summit of Mt. Sinai to receive the tablets of the Law. And, it will be sounded at the end of days to announce the Return of the Messiah and the Rapture of His Bride. ( 1 Thess 4:16 )
Biblical Blowing of the Shofar.
1 Thess 4:16 “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, with the Shofar of God and the dead in Christ shall rise.”
A Shofar will be blown before the dead rise:
1 Cor 15:52 “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last Shofar; for the Shofar will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”
1 Corinthians 15:52 states: “ . . . in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”
The Shofar (trumpet) is the sound of God’s voice.
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Revelation 1:10
John Was Heaven Sent by the sound of the Shofar.
After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. Revelation 4:1
Seven trumpets (Shofar) are sounded when God judges the earth during the tribulation.
And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound the shofar, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets. Revelation 8:1-10:7
Acts 2:2 states: “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. “ Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary comments:
2:1-4 We cannot forget how often, while their Master was with them there were strifes among the disciples which should be the greatest; but now all these strifes were at an end. They had prayed more together of late. Would we have the Spirit poured out upon us from on high, let us be all of one accord. And notwithstanding differences of sentiments and interests, as there were among those disciples, let us agree to love one another; for where brethren dwell together in unity, there the Lord commands his blessing. A rushing mighty wind came with great force. This was to signify the powerful influences and working of the Spirit of God upon the minds of men, and thereby upon the world. Thus the convictions of the Spirit make way for his comforts; and the rough blasts of that blessed wind, prepare the soul for its soft and gentle gales. There was an appearance of something like flaming fire, lighting on every one of them, according to John Baptist’s saying concerning Christ; He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire. The Spirit, like fire, melts the heart, burns up the dross, and kindles pious and devout affections in the soul; in which, as in the fire on the altar, the spiritual sacrifices are offered up. They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, more than before. They were filled with the graces of the Spirit, and more than ever under his sanctifying influences; more weaned from this world, and better acquainted with the other. They were more filled with the comforts of the Spirit, rejoiced more than ever in the love of Christ and the hope of heaven: in it all their griefs and fears were swallowed up. They were filled with the gifts of the Holy Ghost; they had miraculous powers for the furtherance of the gospel. They spake, not from previous though or meditation, but as the Spirit gave them utterance.
We have taken a journey into Christian theology in which the shofar symbolizes the voice and power of God in His guidance to our present and future. By adhering to the Old Testament, we receive a different perspective of the New Testament, as it was intended.
Shofar as a Temple Musical Instrument
Arthur L. Finkle
The Shofar is the only musical Jewish musical instrument that survived two millennia in its original form and is still used to the sounding of the Shofar. Rabbi Saadia Gaon (11th century) stated that the sound of the Shofar raised awe and emotion in the hearts and souls of the people. Maimonides interpreted the sounding as reminding humankind of its duties to God. The mystical Zohar holds that the sound of the Shofar awakens the Higher Mercy.
The Shofar is the most-mentioned instrument in the Bible (72 times). It held a special religious and secular role in the life of the Jewish people. Only Priests and Levites (as Levites) were allowed to perform the religious function of sounding the Shofar in the Jewish Commonwealth.
The Shofar is first mentioned in Exodus 19:16 at the theophany on Sinai. It was used to proclaim the Jubilee Year and the proclamation of “freedom throughout the land” (Lev. 25:9–10); this verse is engraved upon the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was to be sounded on Rosh Ha-Shanah, which is designated as “yom teru’ah” (“A day of blowing”; Num. 29:1). It was also used as an accompaniment to other musical instruments (Ps. 98:6), in processionals (Josh. 6:4ff.), as a signal (Josh. 6:12ff., II Sam. 15:10), as a clarion call to war (Judg. 3:27), and in order to induce fear (Amos 3:6).
When used in the Temple, the Shofar was usually sounded in conjunction with the trumpet (hazozrah). The Talmud (RH 27a) states that the trumpet was made of silver while the processed horn of one of the five species of animal—sheep, goat, mountain goat, antelope, and gazelle—was used to fulfill the ritual commandment of the sounding of the Shofar. It further declares (ibid. 26b) that the Shofar should preferably be made of a ram’s or wild goat’s horn, because they are curved. Rabbi Judah states “the Shofar of Rosh Ha-Shanah must be of the horn of a ram, to indicate submission.” Traditionally a ram’s horn is sounded on those days because of its connection with the sacrifice of Isaac (the Akedah), the story of which is the Torah reading for the second day of the festival. Conversely, a cow’s horn may not be used because of the incident of the golden calf (RH 3:2). The Shofar may not be painted, though it can be gilded or carved with artistic designs, so long as the mouthpiece remains natural. A Shofar with a hole in its sidewall or a chip in its mouthpieceIN ITS SIDEWALL is deemed halakhically unfit, though it may be used if no other is available (Sh. Ar., OH 586).
The Shofar had several religious roles recorded in the Tanakh (the Bible), such as the transfer of the Ark of the Covenant (2 Sam. 6:15; Chronicles 15:28); the announcement of a New Moon (Psalms 81:4); the beginning of the religious New Year (Num. 29:1; the Day of Atonement (Lev. 25:9); the procession preparatory to the Feast of Tabernacles (Mishnah Hullin 1:7); the libation ceremony (Mishnah: RH 4:9); and the Havdalah ceremony marking the end of a festival (Mishnah, Hullin 1:7)
In addition, the Shofar had a number of secular roles, such as coronating a king (2Sam, 5:10; 1 Kings 1:34; 2 Kings 1:13) and signaling in times of war to assemble troops to attack, to pursue, and to proclaim victory (Num. 10:9; Judges 6:4; Jeremiah 4:5 and Ezekiel 33:3-6)
After King David supervised the building of the first Temple (1000 BCE), he dedicated holy building as a sanctuary to house the written law (10 commandments) and to practice the sacrificial cult (which was how people in the Middle East worshipped.)
The Sacrificial Ceremony
The Priests consecrated five different sacrificial types preponderantly involving animals or dough. When the Priests stood on top of the ramp holding the parts of sacrifice, placing them into the fire as he carried them up. He then throws the sacrifice into the great fire; he walks over and places it neatly on the burning logs.
Accompanying this ritual were a choral group and a small orchestra. Special lyrics and songs played according the time of the week and the type of sacrifice (the Bible counts 5 different types of sacrifices in Leviticus 1:1).
Leviticus 1-7 gives the most detailed description of Israel’s sacrificial system. Rituals performed after childbirth (Leviticus 12:6-8), for an unclean discharge (Leviticus 15:14-15) or hemorrhage (Leviticus 15:29-30), or after a person who was keeping a Nazirite vow was defiled (Numbers 6:10-11) required a burnt offering, as well as a sin offering..
1. Burnt offering (olah). The burnt offering 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). was defiled (Numbers 6:10-11) required a burnt offering, as well as a sin offering.
The animal for this sacrifice could be a young bull, lamb, goat, turtledove, or young
pigeon; but it had to be a perfect and complete specimen. The type of animal chosen for this sacrifice seems to be dependent on the offerer’s financial ability.
2. Grain offering (minchah; “meat offering” in KJV). An offering from the harvest of the land is the only type that required no bloodshed. It was composed of fine flour mixed with oil and frankincense. Sometimes, this offering was cooked into cakes prior to taking it to the priest. These cakes, however, had to be made without leaven. Every grain offering had to have salt in it (Leviticus 2:13), It may have symbolized the recognition of God’s blessing in the harvest by a society based to a large degree on agriculture. The bringing of a representative portion of the grain harvest was another outward expression of devotion.
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. Only certain parts of the internal organs were burned. 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. If the priest or the congregation of Israel sinned, then a bull was required. A leader of the people had to bring a male goat, while anyone else sacrificed a female goat or a lamb. The poor were allowed to bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons.
5. Guilt offering. This is hard to distinguish from the sin offering (Leviticus 4-5). In Leviticus 5:6-7, the guilt offering is called the sin offering. Both offerings also were made for similar types of sin. The guilt offering was concerned supremely with restitution. Someone who took something illegally was expected to repay it in full plus 20 percent of the value and then bring a ram for the guilt offering. Other instances in which the guilt offering was prescribed included the cleansing of a leper (Leviticus 14:1), having sexual relations with the female slave of another person (Leviticus 19:20-22), and for the renewing of a Nazirite vow that had been broken (Numbers 6:11-12).
The burnt, grain, peace, sin, and guilt offering composed the basic sacrificial system of Israel. These sacrifices were commonly used in conjunction with each other and were carried out on both an individual and a corporate basis. The sacrificial system taught the necessity of dealing with sin and, at the same time, demonstrated that God had provided a way for dealing with sin.
Although the Prophets excoriated the sacrificial rites because the people seemed to be more impressed with ritual than the reason why the rituals were offered, the Prophets, conceding the collective mores of the people, did not want to abolish the sacrificial system.
Interestingly the sacrifice system is found in the New Testament. The New Testament consistently describes Jesus’ death in sacrificial terms. 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 Holy Temple, the sacrificial cult terminated. During this time, moreover, the early Church also disbanded the sacrificial rites because Christianity began to differ materially form Judaism.
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.
On Rosh Hashanah and other full holidays (Full holidays are generally a Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and the three pilgrmage fesitvals – Sukot, Pesach and Shavuot) a single Priest perfected two sacrifices in honor of the full holiday, Note that festivals such as Hanukah and Purim), are not considered full holidays requiring an extra sacrifice. On Rosh Hashanah, something special occurred during the special sacrifice. Arguably two Shofar Sounders played the long notes and one Trumpet player played the short note. Accordingly, Rosh HaShanah is called Yom Teruah (the day of the blast) Otherwise, the Trumpets had “top billing.” Rosh Hashanah27a, supports this claim: “Said Raba or it may have been R. Joshua B. Levi: What is the scriptural warrant fore this? – Because it is written, “With trumpets and the sound of the Shofar shout ye before the King in the Temple, we require trumpets and the sound of the Shofar; elsewhere not.” See also Sidney B. Hoenig, Origins of the Rosh Hashanah Liturgy, The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. 57, The Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Volume of the Jewish Quarterly Review (1967), pp. 312-331. • Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press.
http://www.jstor.org/stable/1453499. Accessed December 31, 2009
Indeed, on Yom Kippur, the Shofar was sounded to announce the Jubilee Year (every 50-years, Jews were granted freedom, forgiveness and debts and reclamation of sold lands. Shofar first indicated in Yovel (Jubilee Year – Lev. 25:8-13). Indeed, in Rosh Hashanah 33b, the sages ask why the Shofar sounded in Jubilee year. Further support is found in Rosh Hashanah 29a, where the Talmud talks of trumpets for sacrifices but Shofar in the Jubilee Year does not apply to priests who are exempt from the obligations of the jubilee. Perhaps, we have the first mention of Shofar Sounding by non-Priests. Perhaps the first distancing away from the Sacrificial Cult.
Otherwise, for all other special days, the Shofar is sounded shorter and two special silver Trumpets announced the sacrifice.
When the trumpets sound the signal, all the people who are within the sacrifice prostate themselves, stretching out flat, face down and on the ground.
Indeed, the idea that rabbinic prayer modeled itself of that of the
Temple is supported by:
• Jeffrey H. Tigay. On Some Aspects of Prayer in the Bible, AJS Review, Vol. 1, (1976), pp. 363-379, Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Association for Jewish Studies
• Holman Bible Dictionary: http://www.studylight.org/
• Arthur L. Finkle, , Easy Guide to Shofar Sounding, Torah Aura, Los Angeles, CA, 2002.
Further support for this occurrence come from Alfred Edersheim, a 19th century biblical scholar:
The Shofar was blown at the temple to begin the Sabbath each week. There was within the temple an inscription on the lintel of the wall at the top of the Temple that said, “To the house of the blowing of the trumpet (Shofar)”. Each Sabbath 2 men with silver trumpets and a man with a Shofar made three trumpet blasts twice during the day. On Rosh haShanah, this was different. The Shofar is the primary trumpet. According to Leviticus 23:24 and Numbers 29, Rosh HaShanah is the day of the blowing of the trumpets. The original name is Yom (Day) Teruah (The staccato sound of the horn, which also means “Shout”). According to the Mishnah (Rosh HaShanah 16a, Mishnah RH 3:3), the trumpet used for this purpose is the ram’s horn, not trumpets made of metal as in Numbers 10. On Rosh HaShanah, a Shofar delivers the first blast, a silver trumpet the second, and then the Shofar the third.
Alfred Edersheim, by boldly setting out his aim: It has been my…” published in 1874, republished by Gregal Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI 1997.
Another source bespeaks this conclusion:
According to rabbinic tradition, “In the Temple on Rosh Hashanah two men blowing silver trumpets stood on either side of the one who blows the Shofar. Citing the Gemara, referring to verses [Psalms 47:5; 81:3; 98:6; 150:3] requiring trumpets along with the Shofar,”we also read that, “A community beset by calamity is under a Rabbinic obligation to…[be] assembled for supplication and prayer, and this is always accomplished with trumpets, as written in Numbers 10:2”
And they shall be yours for summoning the assembly….we sound the trumpets in order to stir the hearts of the people and bring them to repentance by causing them to realize that the disaster resulted because of their sins. In the Temple, Shofars were blown along with the trumpets. The Shofar [blows] short…and the trumpets [blow] long…for the primary commandment is with trumpets.”
In these rabbinic statements, the word “Shofar” is footnoted: “The use of two Shofars, one on each side, is a Rabbinic innovation, to publicize that the special mitzvah of the day is with trumpets (Rosh HaShanah also called Yom Teruah).” (Schottenstein Gemara, chap. 3, “Rosh Hashanah,” pp 24b2, notes 21, 24, 27,28,) “Trumpets” is footnoted with: “The purpose of sounding an instrument on a fast day is to assemble the people for supplication and prayer….blowing the trumpets is more important, for it is mandated by the Pentateuch, whereas the Shofar accompaniment is derived from the aforementioned verse in Psalms” (Schottenstein Gemara, chap. 3, “Rosh Hashanah 24b2, notes 21, 24, 27,28, Mesorah Publications, Brooklyn, NY.) Also see The Writings of Flavius Josephus, “Antiquities of the Jews,” Bk. 3, Chap. 12, http://www.bible.crosswalk.com.)
It is also noted that we have confusion as to wher there was a Shofar with two trumpets or two trumpets and a Shofar. This is underastandsable because Rosh HaShana 27a notes trumpets (plural) and Shofar (singular). On the other hand, in The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (Musical instruments) p 172) the trumpets (chuzotzrot) were the the ususal Temple instruments and the Shofar was used only for special occasions.
Moreover, the word for trumpet is used interchangeably with Shofar (See Maimonides, Yad. Hilchot Shofar 21.1; and the baraita in Rosh Hashanah 33b.
For more information about Shofar and other Holy Temple instruments.
We have three websites
1) Shofar Sounders WebPage
2) Joint Effort with Michael Chusid,an expert Shofar sounder and commentator