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The Shofar

Updated on October 30, 2020
Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo is an avid Bible Studier who loves nothing more than to seek out the treasures in God's Word and share them with others.

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Introduction

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

I'm not sure he was aware of the timeliness of his gift considering that it was Rosh Hashanah (Head of the Year), otherwise known as Yom Teruah (The day of the Shofar blast or "Feast of Trumpets")

Rosh Hashanah celebrates the belief that this is the day of the creation of the Earth. Therefore, "time" has been measured from this point on with the Jewish calendar. For instance, the year 2020 on the Gregorian calendar translates as 5780 on the Hebrew calendar.

This particular holiday's Biblical observance 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 first mention of a shofar blast is recorded in Exodus chapter nineteen and is so fascinatingly associated with God's voice. The incident took 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 the following verse records 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 discovered.

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 essential purposes of the shofar, such as calling attention to a sovereign's arrival.

With trumpets and the sound of a horn (shofar); Shout joyfully before the Lord, the King.

— Psalm 98:6

The shofar was also used to gather the people for important announcements and the heralding of some appointed times, such as Jubilees 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 to the scriptures. Many times, turning away from God left the Children of Israel uncovered by their covenant faithful God and, therefore, open and vulnerable to their enemies. God lovingly sent His prophets to warn the people to return before they experienced the ultimate consequence of living unfaithfully. The call's focus to repent as related to this instrument will be addressed shortly in this article.

Instrument of Worship and War

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

This thought 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 as it refers to our enemies, The New Testament informs us that our enemies are not people.

. . . 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.

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A Call to Repentance

The modern observance of the feast of trumpets by the Jewish people expresses 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 the 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 to 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.

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 its 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 mainly do relative to the digestive process. Concerning spiritual things, the idea of the Shofar's sound as a signal to repent is a similar concept. It's penetrating sound is intended to pierce through, to break up and shatter the sleepy, dreamy atmosphere of our self-perceived, deluded sense of comfort to the reality of where we are, what is 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 Shofar's root word 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 illustration that the shofar blow, referring to repentance, begins with breaking but ends with being put back together. In fact, the Old Testament words for Shofar, repent, and restore all start 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 means to connect or join.

Pey

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

"Repent" is the first word of the Gospel. It is an announcement intended to break through the hardness of the human heart and awaken to its need for transformation. An "open" ear is what is required.

Interestingly, the Gospels record so many instances of Jesus healing blind and deaf people. It illustrates for us our biggest problems spiritually, and that is our closed eyes and ears.

"He who has ears to hear" is used six times in the Gospels. The first use is in Matthew chapter eleven, where Jesus is talking about John the Baptist and how prior generations who did not.

"exercise their capacity to hear but made excuses not hear John and Jesus."

— Liberty Bible Commentary

"He who has ears to hear" is used eight times in the book of Revelation concerning both rewards for overcoming and repentance in advising the seven churches, and the rest appear in The Parable of the Sower.

The Parable of the Sower references the reception of God's Word into the human heart and is depicted 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 of the word Shofar is a "resh" and is a picture of a person's head representing chief greatest and highest and has to do with the 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

The use of the word "backward' in the Bible most frequently refers to moving away from God and His goodness. Moving backward 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, and the Shophar expresses this. A repentant surrendered life is assured victory in Christ as is described in the eight "ears to hear" verses in the book of Revelation. Both are calls to advance and signal victory.

If we combine these concepts, we might see that the Shofar is a tool that is associated with the voice 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. This call connects to the revelation that our lives are moving backward and away from Him when He is not our number one priority.

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Sacrificial aspect of the Shofar

A final pictograph revelation is that the last two letters of the word "shofar" spell the word "par," a young and sacrificial animal, and reveals that repentance is only possible because the Lord Jesus was sacrificed for us. Not to mention the shofar itself symbolizes 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 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

Paul's word was given 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 Him. They were also to be an exhibit of loyalty to God by living in love with one another.

His final consolation was not to 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.

I can't think of a better note to end this message than 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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    • Tamarajo profile imageAUTHOR

      Tamarajo 

      6 years ago

      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!

    • Janellegems profile image

      Pennington 

      6 years ago

      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 imageAUTHOR

      Tamarajo 

      6 years ago

      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

    • North Wind profile image

      North Wind 

      6 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 imageAUTHOR

      Tamarajo 

      6 years ago

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

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      6 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 imageAUTHOR

      Tamarajo 

      6 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      christinekv 

      6 years ago

      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 imageAUTHOR

      Tamarajo 

      6 years ago

      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 : ) !!!

    • profile image

      christinekv 

      6 years ago

      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 imageAUTHOR

      Tamarajo 

      6 years ago

      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!

    • profile image

      christinekv 

      6 years ago

      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!

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