Shofar Lesson 1: Horn Sounds and History

Dwight Carrell of Jewish Voice Ministries International demonstrates the sounds of three shofars (animal horn trumpets), which are blown in Messianic Jewish congregations —the traditional ram’s horn; and the oryx horn and the kudu horn, which both come from two different types of African antelopes. The kudu shofar is sometimes called a Yemenite horn, and it is often the preferred type of shofar blown in Messianic congregations.

Purpose of the Shofar

Shofars are Hebrew cultural instruments that have been a traditional part of Judaism for generations. The primary purpose of the shofar is not musical, but rather as a means of making an announcement or proclamation.

Traditional History of the Shofar

In Genesis 22:1-14,  Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, on Mount Moriah. But before Abraham could harm his son, God saw Abraham’s faith and rewarded it by instead providing a ram to use as the sacrifice.

According to Jewish tradition, after that key point in history, Abraham took one of the ram’s horns to make the very first shofar. It’s also traditionally believed that God took the other ram’s horn to make a shofar, and that’s the trumpet that will be sounded on the Last Day when Yeshua (Jesus) calls us all home. This story is not biblically supported, but it is a widely held belief in some Jewish circles.

Biblical History of the Shofar

In terms of specific biblical references, the shofar is mentioned in Exodus 19:13, when it was used to proclaim the Jubilee Year and “freedom throughout the land” (see Leviticus 25:9-10). The shofar is most associated with Rosh Hashanah, the “Feast of Trumpets” (see Numbers 29:1). Today during Rosh Hashanah, the shofar player is required to sound 100 separate calls consecutively on the shofar. In Hebrews 12:18-19, the Bible likens the sound of the shofar to the voice of God.

Why the Shofar Is Blown

  • To gather the people (Exodus 9:16)
  • To proclaim liberty (Leviticus 25:1-9)
  • To call to war (Judges 3:27)
  • To declare victory (1 Samuel 13)
  • To announce the coming of the Ark of the Covenant (2 Samuel 6:15)
  • To announce the king (Kings 1: 34)
  • To give thanks (Numbers 10:10)
  • To call to worship (Isaiah 7:13)
  • To announce the Lord’s return (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

How the Shofar Is Used Today

  • A call to attention
  • A call to prayer
  • A call to worship
  • Spiritual warfare
  • A call to repentance
  • As a form of praise
  • To divide the enemy

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