The Shofar

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Introduction

Sunday September 1st 2013, Larry Wilson from our church, a fellow lover of all things Hebrew gave me a Shofar as seen in the photo.

I'm not sure he was aware of the timeliness of his gift in that Rosh Hashanah (Head of the Year) otherwise known as Yom Teruah (The day of the Shofar blast - "Feast of Trumpets") began the evening of September 4 2013 and set forth the High Holy days of the Jewish calendar.

Rosh Hashanah is celebrated in the belief that this is the day that the Earth was created and time on the Jewish civil calendar is measured by this. According to the Jewish calendar as of Sept 4 the year turned from 5773 to 5774.

The Biblical observance of this particular holiday is recorded in Leviticus 23:23-25 and in Numbers 29:1-6 and was a memorial holiday.

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The Voice of God

The very first mention of a shofar blast is recorded in Exodus chapter 19 and is so fascinatingly associated with God's voice. The incident takes place in the third month after the children of Israel left Egypt and had reached Sinai. The Lord invited the people to hear Him speak and is about to give them the requirements of living in fellowship with Him. Up until this point His communications with the people had been through Moses and this was their experience.

Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet (literal translation - The voice of a shofar) was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled ~ Exodus 19:16

Then in verse 19 of this same chapter amongst the smoke, fire, and quaking of the Lord's presence the "Voice of the shofar" is further described.

And when the blast of the trumpet (literal translation - "The voice of the Shofar) sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice ~ Exodus 19:19

When viewed literally it appears that this shofar sound is coming from the very Lord Himself. In Revelation a similar connection is found...

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet ~ Revelation 1:10

This scene captures some of the important purposes of the shofar that can be found in scripture such as a call to attention either in preparation for a sovereigns arrival.

With trumpets and the sound of a horn (shofar); Shout joyfully before the Lord, the King ~ Psalm 98:6

The shofar was used also as a call to gather for important announcements, as well as the heralding of beginning of some appointed times such as Jubilee's and New Moons.

It was also a warning of an approaching enemy or an alarm call to repent before impending judgment. These final two were many times related in the scriptures. Turning away from God many times left the Children of Israel uncovered by the their covenant faithful God and therefore open and vulnerable to their enemies to which God lovingly sent His prophets to warn the people to return before they experienced the ultimate consequence of living unfaithfully. The focus of the call to repent as related to this instrument will be addressed shortly in this article.

The conquering of Jericho
The conquering of Jericho | Source
The defeat of the Midianites
The defeat of the Midianites | Source

Instrument of Worship and War

Both Joshua and Gideon used the shofar in defeating and conquering in war perhaps it resembled God's voice so distinctly that it confused and routed their enemies.

Which is fitting with the concept of praise being a weapon of sorts in spiritual matters.

Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength (translated "praise" in Matthew 21:16), Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger

Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet (shofar) ~ Psalm 150:3

It is worth mention that In reference to our enemies. The New Testament concept of enemies are not people. The Old Testament gives physical image to the spiritual understanding of the New.

we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places ~ Ephesians 6:12

We also must consider the internal enemy of our flesh.

the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another ~ Galatians 5:17

In either case this penetrating sound representing the voice of God can give vision and consideration of God breaking through for us as we worship Him.

A Call to Repentance

The modern observance of the feast of trumpets by the Jewish people, express the element of awakening, the call to examine oneself, and repentance as was discussed briefly earlier in this article in agreement with the Biblical function of shofar.

Blow the trumpet (shofar) in Zion, And sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; For the day of the Lord is coming, For it is at hand ~ Joel 2:1

“Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet (shofar); Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins. ~ Isaiah 58:1

Coupled with the New Testament call of repentance this includes the idea of preparing the way for a sovereign namely the Lord Jesus Christ.

John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’” ~ Matthew 3:1-3

The Hebrew word pictograph of the word for shofar is enlightening and confirms this particular of the shofar as well.

The Hebrew root word for Shofar consists of four Hebrew letters sheen, vav, pey, and resh. The root of this word is simply minus the vav and is three letters Sheen, pey, and resh. I will be drawing on the definitions of both the word and the root to define it and hopefully get a clearer understanding of it's meaning and purpose.

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Sheen

Sheen is a picture of teeth and symbolizes breaking down and putting back together, which is what teeth essentially do in relationship to the digestive process. In relationship to spiritual things the idea of the sound of the shofar as a signal to repent is a similar concept. Its penetrating sound is intended to pierce through, to break up and shatter our sleepy dreamy atmosphere of our self perceived, deluded sense of comfort to the reality of where we really are,what is really going on and in whose presence we reside.

...Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the Lord, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you ~ Hosea 10:12

Zodhiates defines the root word of Shofar as an incising or clear sound, as in something that cuts through and brings clarity. Gesenius lexicon also describes the sound as sharp, as in something that pierces through.

We might be able to see from this image that shofar blow, in reference to repentance, begins with breaking but ends with the purpose of being put back together in fact the Old Testament words for shofar, repent, and restore all begin with the letter sheen.

Restore me, and I will return, For You are the Lord my God ~ Jeremiah 31:18

The next letter is the letter vav and is a picture of a nail and simply means to connect or join to.

open mouth
open mouth | Source
open ear
open ear | Source

Pey

The next letter is pey and is a picture of a mouth and symbolizes to open and make known. It can be significantly associated obviously with speech and voice. We saw in Exodus 19 how the Shofar was associated with God's voice as well as in the above verse of John quoting Isaiah about the voice of one crying in the wilderness.

Repent being the first word of the Gospel is the announcement intended to breakthrough the hardness of the human heart and awaken to its need of transformation. An "open" ear is what is required.

It is interesting that the Gospels record so many instances of Jesus healing blind and deaf people. I think it images for us our biggest problems spiritually and that is our closed, eyes, and ears.

"He who has ears to hear" is used 6 times in the gospels, the first is in Matthew chapter 11 where Jesus is talking about John the baptist and how prior generations who did not...

"exercise its capacity to hear but made excuses not hear John and Jesus" ~ Liberty Bible Commentary

"He who has ears to hear" is used 8 times in the book of Revelation in reference to both rewards for overcoming and repentance advised to the 7 churches and the rest are used in the parable of the sower.

The parable of the sower references the reception of Gods Word into the human heart and is imaged by various types of soil. The hearts that were unproductive were hearts that were not necessarily "open" to change they were hard, filled with other things, not conducive to growing living things, and deeply distracted. just after this parable is the parable of "revealed" light and wraps up with "...therefore take heed how you hear"

The image of the shofar blast should image for us the distinct call to attention God deserves. It should be the sound that opens our ears and calls us away from every distraction so that His Word can be planted in our hearts and produce a harvest.

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. ~ James 1:21

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Resh

The final letter is a resh and is a picture of a person's head representing chief greatest, and highest and has to do with right priorities. It can also symbolize moving forward.

The call to repentance is about getting priorities straight...

...seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness ~ Matthew 6:33

...and about moving forward. A word study on backward in the Bible reveals that it most always refers to moving away from God and goodness and is strongly associated with disobedience.

they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward ~ Jeremiah 7:24

Moving forward is also indicative of victory, which the shophar also is used to express. A repentant surrendered life is assured victory in Christ as is described in the 8 "ear to hear" verses in Revelation. Both calls to advance and signals of victory are included in the use of the shofar

If we combine these concepts we might see that the Shofar is a tool that images the call of God that penetratingly calls us to repent via the opening of our ears that we may be restored and have victory in our lives and is connected to the revelation that our lives are moving backwards and away from Him when He is not our first priority.

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Sacrificial aspect of the Shofar

A final pictograph revelation is that the final two letters of the word "shofar" spell the word "par" which is a young and sacrificial animal and reveals that repentance is only possible because of the Lord Jesus who sacrificed Himself for us. Not to mention that the shofar itself symbols this sacrifice in that it came from a sacrificial animal.

The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins ~ Acts 5:30-31

Conclusion

The final and relevant aspect of the shofar blast concerns a future event foretold of in the New Testament.

the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God ~ I Thessalonians 4:16

This word was given by Paul to encourage and comfort the believers in Thessalonica as part of their instructions to please God by not living as the world does but to live devoted loyal lives to the Him as well as well as exhibit that loyalty by living in love towards one another.

His final consolation was to not be discouraged by the death of fellow believers with the understanding that Christ will one day return and the faithful will not only meet the Lord Himself but will be reunited with those who had passed on before them, keeping in mind they were a church under persecution.

I can't think of a better note to end this message then to concur with this encouragement to occupy till He comes. (Luke 19:13)

Take heed (pay attention), watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is ~ Mark 13:33

Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound (teruah - blowing of the trumpets) ~ Psalm 89:15

© 2014 Tamarajo

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12 comments

christinekv profile image

christinekv 2 years ago from Washington

So enjoyed this many faceted explanation of the significance and releveance of the shofar! Well done and thanks for sharing it! Hope others discover this hub and it will help expand thier understanding, and perhaps they will also make an application! I have been to Israel once, in the Spring of 2007 and that's when I was led to buy and bring one home! I probably don't blow mine as often as I should, but when I'm called to worship or do serious warfare here on the homefront, it gets blown a lot! Voted thumbs up!


Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 2 years ago from Southern Minnesota Author

Hi Christine,

A trip to Israel would be spectacular! I hope to do that someday.

I live in a rural area so I did blow it out on my front porch one day and was stunned at how far the sound carries and echoes. I'm pretty sure my neighbors were wondering what that was and confirmed their speculations about my quirkiness : )

You mention the warfare on the homefront...I have 29 yr old son who is in deep darkness and so very anti-God I happened to give him a ride the day I received the shofar so it was in my car. My son asked what it was. I didn't get to detailed about it but just explained what it was called and a brief purpose in the Bible. He wanted to know what it sounded like so I blew it in the car. I wasn't necessarily intending for all that to happen but couldn't help but wonder if the Lord was just wanting him to hear the sound, that call to come home, those penetrating frequencies that cut through to his heart.

I thank you so much for stopping by and your gracious commentary as well as your vote up. God Bless!


christinekv profile image

christinekv 2 years ago from Washington

We live in a rural area too and I have done the same thing, blowing it from my front porch! I had a horse I lost to colic 3 1/2 years ago and prior to the dire prognosis and the decision to put him down, my son (who was 14 at the time) grabbed my shofar and was down around the house blowing it, and praying from the psalms, hoping the Lord was going to send help and do a miracle in our beloved horse! It was very sweet and think it was the first time he succeeded in blowing it, after having made attempts in the past. I know for a fact, we had a few neighbor friends who knew what was happening with our horse and probably wondered, "what the heck is that?" (I could hear him from the barn and took me a few minutes to figure it out..it was a long agonizing wait for the vet..).

Sorry to read about your son being in deep darkness at the present but if it's any encouragement to you, keep fighting the good fight, knowing He not only hears but He answers! (I know I get discouraged and frustrated, feel hopeless now and then since I have a hard time waiting!). I have a friend who her son just came back to Yeshua after being a prodigal for a few years...she fasted and prayed for him once a week. (I think he's going to be 3o in April..).

This same friend thought she and other members of her family would be moving to Minnesota...she is very much a supporter/participator of First Fruits of Zion, which I understand is in MN.

Hope you get to go to Israel one day soon! It kind of brings the Word more to life, not to mention I'd expect you'd experience some real spiritual highs or moves of God ....I did on 4 occassions. I'd love to go back (but would dread the long plane ride!).

Blessings to you my new hubber friend!!


Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 2 years ago from Southern Minnesota Author

So sorry about the loss of your horse and thank you for your encouragement concerning my son. what a confirmation as we have been fasting and praying once a week as well.

I looked up the Fruits of Zion in the Minneapolis area. I do occasionally check out messianic special services they do seem to have some valuable insights into the Hebrew and Old Testament connection with the New. Kehilat Sar Shalom in St. Paul hosted a feast of tabernacles celebration that lended to some interesting revelations.

I'm not sure if I qualify as "messianic" in terms of the movement itself. Certainly ascribe to the messiahship of Yeshua and love the insights offered into the revelations of Him in the Old Testament imagery of the appointed times that also give us solidification and dimension to our understanding of who He is, what He has done and our own position. I have been known to celebrate Hanukkah not necessarily in the prescribed traditional way but I will pull anything and everything that educates, glorifies Him and encourages faith in the Lord. Our activities include the elements of Yeshua being the light of the world, the oil as symbol of the work of the Holy Spirit, and God's miracles as in His ability to do what only He can do. I also like to highlight the loyalty and faithfulness of those who chose to follow God in spite of extreme persecution. We have had a lot of fun with it and making it an activity as such makes it a unique teaching opportunity.

I am so blessed by your visit and encouragement!!! And blessings back to you as well : ) !!!


christinekv profile image

christinekv 2 years ago from Washington

Very interesting sharing and thanks! I guess I'm kind of clueless about "movements" since when I realize or learn different things, I then try to apply them to my own walk. I have the conviction that the true Sabbath is on Saturdays (but I can worship the King anytime!) and I should abstain from pork and shellfish since it's an instruction which was given in the first covenant, its in there for a reason (for our own good), Yeshua did not eat these things, and in heaven, I don't think when we dine at the banquet table, those creatures will be served! Just last year, I was at my first Chanukah service and observed some of the feasts in the fall. I've got a lot to learn. There is such a long and rich history. I have not felt ok about celebrating Halloween, or Ressurrection day to include eggs and bunnies, and have not quite figured out what to do about Christmas since I don't think blending holy days with paganism is acceptable. I'm a work in progress, along with everyone else. I share my convictions if the door is opened, but most people in the mainstream church don't understand, perhaps because they don't want to. I accept people where they are at, but do feel frustration when they don't get it as I know many feel awkward about me now. The main foundational truths of course are what's most important and we all are wanting to follow and honor the Lord. Just like the salvation message, anything else has to be a direct revelation and willingness to respond accordingly.

It's wonderful that you and your family are on the same page in regards to wanting to appreciate, learn about and apply Jewish roots to your own walk. The rest of my immediate family is not there yet. Even believers unfortunately can be pretty closed off to that which is biblical, whether its on this subject or any other, and I think for many, it has to do with a fear of man.

Yes, those who choose to follow God in spite of extreme persecution are indeed people we need to appreciate, pray for, be inspired by, and do whatever else He leads us to do on their behalf. I just finished a book called, "Tortured for Christ." Amazing the joy and peace people existing under such horrific conditions and treatments can experience....it can't be adequately explained I don't think, it's supernatural. Seems the fellowship with the Lord they experience is a treasure which we in the west can't quite fathom.


Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 2 years ago from Southern Minnesota Author

Hi Christine,

A quote so well put from your reply..

"when I realize or learn different things, I then try to apply them to my own walk" Amen...that was what I was trying to say and you worded it so much better...still working on my tact. : )

I too have met with much resistance when I put to question any of the issues or elements of the culturally Christian celebrated holidays. I have discovered that messing with tradition can be touchy stuff with most. I also don't necessarily observe the cultural traditional things of modern Jewish observances either. I really just want to see every facet of Him He will allow us to see by studying everything as it is presented in the scriptures and finding creative ways to commit it memory as well as increase my understanding of all of Him.

I also share what I have learned if the door is open. I think what most fear is legalism and think that these things lead to the idea of we must become Jewish to be saved but what I am learning is that its not about that at all. Its really about that God really does know best and although we are not required to observe, it is a joy and pleasure to know more about Him because of it and believe that all the things He has asked us to obey is for our own good as you well stated not to mention it expresses our own loyalty to Him and that is what makes Him God to us, the fact that we value Him so much we do what He says is good.

I dropped the Halloween thing years ago with no regrets I am thrilled that Jews for Jesus will be presenting at our church around passover this year and think that would be so much more educational and eye opening in terms of understanding the sacrificial Lamb of God then cultural Easter as you said. The claim has always been that Easter is about Jesus but I was quite disturbed to discover a group of about 10 girls I worked with at a youth center had no clue whatsoever that Jesus was "supposed" to be connected with Easter. Their reply was "its about egg hunts, bunnies, candy, and eating with relatives". When I asked if they could think of anything at all about how God was connected with it no one had a clue... which to me revealed that the origins of that celebration held more influence than its claim of Christian observance.

I still have so much to learn too!! So glad to have met you and I have so much enjoyed your additional experience and wisdom.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean

Tamarajo, this is the first time I have read anything written specifically about the Shofar. It gives a very solemn sound. Thank you very much for this detailed lesson.


Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 2 years ago from Southern Minnesota Author

Thank you for reading MsDora and for taking the time to comment. I appreciate your visit.


North Wind profile image

North Wind 2 years ago from The World (for now)

Wow! What great detail about the Shofar. I have learned a lot from this hub. The Lord has His reasons for everything and it is amazing how this instrument connects with the message of the Gospel.


Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 2 years ago from Southern Minnesota Author

Hello North Wind, Happy to hear the hub was useful for learning. I am amazed at how many ways the gospel is proclaimed in both His word and in all He has made.

I am blessed by your visit and comment


Janellegems profile image

Janellegems 2 years ago from Virginia

Thanks for writing a Hub that tells of the importance and history of the Shofar throughout the Word of God. This was very helpful and something I am interested in knowing more about. Voted up!!!


Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 2 years ago from Southern Minnesota Author

Good to hear janellegems that the article was useful and interesting to you. God's word is so full of relevant and fascinating things. I appreciate your votes visit and encouraging comment. Good bless!

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