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D12. Blowing the Shofar on Special Days & As an Alarm in War.    [Make a Comment]

We are to blow the shofar on the first day of the seventh month, on the other appointed days, on Rosh Chodesh, in the Jubilee, on days of rejoicing, & as an alarm in war.

This precept is derived from His Word (blessed be He):

Key Scriptures

Leviticus 23:23-25 (Chinuch C312)
ADONAI said to Moshe, "Tell the people of Isra'el, 'In the seventh month, the first of the month is to be for you a day of complete rest for remembering, a holy convocation announced with blasts on the shofar. Do not do any kind of ordinary work, and bring an offering made by fire to ADONAI.'"

Leviticus 25:8-12
You are to count seven Shabbats of years, seven times seven years, that is, forty-nine years. Then, on the tenth day of the seventh month, on Yom-Kippur, you are to sound a blast on the shofar; you are to sound the shofar all through your land; and you are to consecrate the fiftieth year, proclaiming freedom throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It will be a yovel for you; you will return everyone to the land he owns, and everyone is to return to his family. That fiftieth year will be a yovel for you; in that year you are not to sow, harvest what grows by itself or gather the grapes of untended vines; because it is a yovel. It will be holy for you; whatever the fields produce will be food for all of you.

Numbers 10:1-10 (Maimonides RP59; Chinuch C384)
ADONAI said to Moshe, "Make two trumpets; make them of hammered silver. Use them for summoning the community and for sounding the call to break camp and move on. When they are sounded, the entire community is to assemble before you at the entrance to the tent of meeting. If only one is sounded, then just the leaders, the heads of the clans of Isra'el, are to assemble before you. When you sound an alarm, the camps to the east will commence traveling. When you sound a second alarm, the camps to the south will set out; they will sound alarms to announce when to travel. However, when the community is to be assembled, you are to sound; but don't sound an alarm. It will be the sons of Aharon, the cohanim, who are to sound the trumpets; this will be a permanent regulation for you through all your generations. When you go to war in your land against an adversary who is oppressing you, you are to sound an alarm with the trumpets; then you will be remembered before ADONAI your God, and you will be saved from your enemies. Also on your days of rejoicing, at your designated times and on Rosh-Hodesh, you are to sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; these will be your reminder before your God. I am ADONAI your God.

Numbers 29:1-5 (Maimonides RP47, RP170; Meir MP30; Chinuch C312, C405)
In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you are to have a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work; it is a day of blowing the shofar for you. Prepare a burnt offering to make a fragrant aroma for ADONAI - one young bull, one ram and seven male lambs in their first year and without defect - with their grain offering, consisting of fine flour mixed with olive oil - six quarts for the bull, four quarts for the ram, and two quarts for each of the seven lambs - also one male goat as a sin offering to make atonement for you.

1 Corinthians 14:8
And if the bugle gives an unclear sound, who will get ready for battle?

Revelation 8:1-2
When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for what seemed like half an hour. Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and they were given seven shofars.

Supportive Scriptures

Joshua 6:4-20
Seven cohanim are to carry seven shofars in front of the ark. On the seventh day you are to march around the city seven times, and the cohanim will blow the shofars. Then they are to blow a long blast on the shofar. On hearing the sound of the shofar, all the people are to shout as loudly as they can; and the wall of the city will fall down flat. Then the people are to go up into the city, each one straight from where he stands. Y'hoshua the son of Nun called the cohanim and told them, "Take up the ark for the covenant, and have seven cohanim carry seven shofars ahead of the ark of ADONAI." To the people he said, "Move on, encircle the city, and have the army march ahead of the ark of ADONAI." When Y'hoshua had spoken to the people, the seven cohanim carrying the seven shofars before ADONAI passed on and blew on the shofars, with the ark for the covenant of ADONAI following them. The fighting men went ahead of the cohanim blowing the shofars, while the rearguard marched after the ark, with incessant blowing on the shofars. Y'hoshua gave this order to the people: "Don't shout, don't let your voice be heard, don't let a single word out of your mouth until the day I tell you to shout; then you will shout." So he had the ark of ADONAI make a circle around the city, going around it once; then they returned to camp and stayed in the camp. The next morning Y'hoshua got up early, and the cohanim took up the ark of ADONAI. The seven cohanim carrying the seven shofars ahead of the ark of ADONAI went on, continually blowing on their shofars, with the fighting men marching ahead of them and the rearguard following after the ark of ADONAI; all the while the blowing on the shofars was incessant. The second day, they went around the city once and returned to camp. They did the same for six days. On the seventh day, they got up early, at sunrise, and went around the city in the same way seven times. That was the only day they encircled the city seven times. The seventh time, when the cohanim blew on their shofars, Y'hoshua said to the people, "Shout! because ADONAI has given you the city! But the city and everything in it is to be set aside for ADONAI and therefore to be destroyed completely; only Rachav the prostitute is to be spared, she and everyone with her in her house, because she hid the messengers we sent. So you, keep clear of everything reserved for destruction. If you bring a curse on yourselves by taking anything set aside to be destroyed, you will bring a curse on the whole camp of Isra'el and cause great distress there. All the silver and gold, and all the brass and iron utensils are to be separated out for ADONAI and added to the treasury of ADONAI." So the people shouted, with the shofars blowing. When the people heard the sound of the shofars, the people let out a great shout; and the wall fell down flat; so that the people went up into the city, each one straight ahead of him; and they captured the city.

1 Kings 1:34, 39
There Tzadok the cohen and Natan the prophet are to anoint him king over Isra'el. Sound the shofar and say, "Long live King Shlomo!" ... Tzadok the cohen took the horn of olive oil out of the tent and anointed Shlomo. They sounded the shofar, and all the people shouted, "Long live King Shlomo!"

Ezekiel 33:1-6
The word of ADONAI came to me: "Human being, speak to your people; say to them, 'Suppose I bring the sword on a country, and the people of that country take one of their men and appoint him their watchman. Now if, upon seeing the sword coming against that country, he blows the shofar and warns the people; then, if the sword comes and takes away someone who heard the sound of the shofar but paid no attention to it, the responsibility for that person's death will be his own - he heard the shofar but paid no attention, so the responsibility for his death is his own; whereas if he had paid attention, he would have saved his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the shofar, so that the people are not warned; and then the sword comes and takes any one of them, that one is indeed taken away in his guilt, but I will hold the watchman responsible for his death.'"

Joel 2:1, 15
"Blow the shofar in Tziyon! Sound an alarm on my holy mountain!" Let all living in the land tremble, for the Day of ADONAI is coming! It's upon us! - ... Blow the shofar in Tziyon! Proclaim a holy fast, call for a solemn assembly.

Psalm 81:3-5(2-4)
Start the music! Beat the drum! Play the sweet lyre and the lute! Sound the shofar at Rosh-Hodesh and at full moon for the pilgrim feast, because this is a law for Isra'el, a ruling of the God of Ya'akov.

Psalm 150:3
Praise him with a blast on the shofar! Praise him with lute and lyre!


The Hebrew of Leviticus 23:23:24 says that the first day of the seventh month (Tishrei on the lunar calendar) is a remembrance of blowing (Zich'ron T'ruah), and Numbers 29:1 says it is a day of blowing (Yom T'ruah); the CJB translation adds the word "shofar" (a trumpet made from an animal horn) because that was what was customarily blown in Moses' time to draw the community's attention, to summon to assembly, and to sound alarms. That is why the first day of Tishrei is sometimes referred to as the "Day of Trumpets" (Yom HaShofar), and it is a warning to prepare for the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) that is about to come. It is generally understood that not everyone in the community need blow a shofar; it is sufficient that the community cause the shofar to be blown in public for all to hear.

In the Jewish world, Yom T'ruah is most commonly known as Rosh HaShanah (Head of the Year), and considered the "Day of Judgment" (Yom HaDin) when the "Books of Life" are opened, and we are called to begin an examination of our lives, with the purpose of repenting of our sins before the "Books" are again closed and sealed, ten days later, on the "Day of Atonement" (Yom Kippur). The day is also said, in Talmud, to be the anniversary of the creation of the world.

Scripture does not indicate the reason for Yom T'ruah, but its placement 10 days prior to Yom Kippur strongly suggests that it is intended to begin a count-down of days for personal introspection leading to Yom Kippur. This theme is reflected in Mishna Yoma 1 and its related Talmudic Gemara, that explain how the High Priest (Kohen HaGadol) was sequestered for purification seven days prior to Yom Kippur; that process would have begun three days from when the shofar sounded on Yom T'ruah.

This time of introspection from Yom T'ruah to Yom Kippur (known as the "Days of Awe" or Yamim Nora'iym) should be seen as meaningful to all Jews and all followers of Yeshua because, according to Exodus 19:6, Israel is a kingdom of priests (albeit not all of Israel are Levitical priests) and, according to 1 Peter 2:9 and Revelation 5:10, all New Covenant believers have been made priests as well. Priestly duties require time spent for personal cleansing, so what better use is there of the ten day period from when the trumpets sound to Yom Kippur? That notwithstanding, literal compliance with this Mitzvah, i.e., to blow the shofar, is mandatory only for Jews and K'rov Yisrael Gentiles. It is optional for Gentiles generally.

It is an interesting side-note that the Babylonian Talmud (b. Rosh HaShanah 29b) prohibits the shofar from being blown when Rosh HaShanah falls on a weekly Shabbat. The reason given for this prohibition is to protect the Shabbat from being violated by someone who might inadvertently carry his shofar beyond the prescribed distance. My position is that the Talmudic prohibition is incorrect because it is in direct contradiction of several Scriptures that require that the shofar be blown on Yom T'ruah (which, by the way, is itself a Shabbat).

We have said much about blowing the shofar on Yom T'ruah, but Scripture commands that the shofar be blown at other times as well, such as on the other appointed days, on Rosh Chodesh, on days of rejoicing, and as an alarm to war. In this last-mentioned time of blowing we should not limit our understanding of war to just the physical, but also to times of spiritual warfare, especially when declared by our communities' leaders. We are also to blow the shofar on days of rejoicing, and the contrast of war and rejoicing is something to consider as we ponder complying with 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:

Always be joyful. Pray regularly. In everything give thanks, for this is what God wants from you who are united with the Messiah Yeshua.

Commentary by Daniel C. Juster

I believe that when the New Covenant Scriptures speak of a heavenly shofar being sounded upon Yeshua's return, upon the dead being raised, and upon His disciples (then alive) being transformed and caught up with Him in the air, they are referring to Yom T'ruah (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52). This can also be connected to an eschatological time of universal repentance, including in Israel (Zechariah 12:10), that leads to a world-wide "Day of Atonement". If so, then the days between Yom T'ruah and Yom Kippur have teaching significance for all followers of Yeshua, and enhanced responsibility for the Jewish People, and for K'rov Yisrael Gentiles, who are charged with fulfilling the commandment to blow and hear the sound of the shofar.

Classical Commentators

Maimonides, Meir, and HaChinuch all refer to Yom T'ruah as Rosh HaShanah and state their respective mitzvot as our having to hear the shofar being blown. This no doubt reflects their view (as it is also mine) that blowing the shofar is the responsibility of the community, but going to hear them being blown is the responsibility of each individual.

Of the three, HaChinuch is the most expansive in his discussion of Rosh HaShanah. He explains that the Mishnah in Talmud tractate b. Rosh HaShanah 2a considers the 1st of Tishrei to be the beginning of the year (for numbering the years), and that the blowing (or sounding) was determined, by the sages, to be of the shofar as distinguished from some other musical instrument. He also speaks of "t'ruah" as a broken sound, which he relates to man's need of repentance from sin.

HaChinuch states that any hollow animal horn may be blown on Rosh HaShanah, whereas Meir states that only the horn of a sheep is acceptable. They both state that it is obligatory to hear nine sounds of the shofar, consisting of t'kiah (a single unwavering sound), t'ruah (a series of short broken sounds), and sh'varim (several short unwavering sounds). They do not refer to a t'kiah g'dolah.


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