The Seven Shofars and our Hebrew roots

Posted: October 2, 2011 in Christian Living
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Most English Bibles have translated the Hebrew word for shofar as a trumpet. I believe that this was an intentional attempt by the English translators to remove the Jewishness from the scriptures.

The shofar is the ritual instrument of the ancient and modern Hebrews, and is the only Hebrew cultural instrument to have survived until now. The shofar was used to call the assembly when the Israelites were in the wilderness. However, scripture makes a distinction between using the shofar to call the assembly and to sound the alarm. The shofar alarm was not musical worship, but the Hebrew’s warrior’s cry that their God was superior. It was not used as a musical instrument to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord.”

We learn from the Mishna and the Talmud that no improvements or modifications that might affect the tone were permitted. Also no gold-plating of its interior is permitted; no plugging of holes, and no alteration to its length. (The minimum permissible length of a ritually approved shofar was 3 handbreadths) The shofar tone was to be preserved unaltered.

I find it very interesting to see how the Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Corinthian church, compares the use of the shofar in warfare (Of which the Hebrew Christians were familiar with) to speaking in tongues. “And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? For ye shall speak into the air.”  (1 Corinthians 14:7-9)

In addition to “lifeless instruments” Paul also spoke of carnal weapons. If you look up weapon and instrument in your Strong’s Concordance you will find that both are the same Greek word. As he warned the Corinthians about speaking and singing their own messages and compared it to warfare, the Apostle clearly understood the regulation for the shofar listed in Numbers chapter 10.

Apart from its liturgical uses the shofar was also used to destroy the walls of Jericho, and in the Dead Sea scrolls we read that during the War between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness  priests are instructed  to sound  a powerful war cry with shofars to instill fear into the hearts of the enemy.

From the Dead Sea Scrolls: War Scroll (1QM)

Col. 7

The ministry of the priests and Levites

(9) When the battle lines are arrayed against the enemy, battle line against battle line, there shall go forth from the middle opening into the gap between the battle lines seven (10) priests of the sons of Aaron, dressed in fine lute linen garments: a linen tunic and linen breeches, and girded with a linen sash of twined fine linen, violet, (11) purple, and crimson, and a varicolored design, the work of a skillful workman, and decorated caps on their heads; the garments for battle, and they shall not take them into the sanctuary.

(12) The one priest shall walk before all the men of the battle line to encourage them for battle. In the hands of the remaining six shall be (13) the trumpets of assembly, the trumpets of memorial, the trumpets of the alarm, the trumpets of pursuit, and the trumpets of reassembly. (A total of seven trumpets) When the priests go out (14) into the gap between the battle lines, seven Levites shall go out with them. In their hands shall be seven trumpets of rams’ horns. Three officers from among the Levites shall walk before (15) the priests and the Levites. The priests shall blow the two trumpets of assembly … of battle upon fifty shields, (16) and fifty infantrymen shall go out from the one gate and […] Levites, officers. With (17) each battle line they shall go out according to all [this] order…. men of the] infantry from the gates (18) [and they shall take position between the two battle lines, and […] the battle]

Where trump or trumpet is a military allusion, familiar to Greek readers, there is a possible allusion to Numbers 10:2-9, “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. And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies.” (Numbers 10:8-9)

1Thessalonians 4:16 also gives a reference to this when speaking of the return of Messiah. It is interesting to note that the Book of John’s Revelation in the New Testament Writings also mentions seven trumpets. (Rev. 8:2 -11:18)

The first angel sounded its shofar, and there was hail and fire mingled with blood that burned up a third of the earth’s vegetation.

7) The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.

The second angel sounded and destroys a third of sea life as well as a third of the ships.

8 ) And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; 9) And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.

When the third angel sounded its shofar a great star fell and polluted a third of the earth’s water supply.

10) And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; 11) And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.

The fourth angel sounded its shofar and a third of earth’s light was lost.

12)And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.

The fifth angel sounds its shofar and yet another star falls to the earth. There are too many theories of what this might be but the result will be great torment of people who refuse to have the ‘seal of God’ on them.

9:1) And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. 2) And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. 3) And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. 4) And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. 5) And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment [was] as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. 6) And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.

The sixth angel sounded its shofar and a third of mankind dies.

13) And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, 14) Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. 15) And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.

The seventh and final shofar is sounded which ushers in God’s final judgment on the wicked and eternal life for his servants.

11:15) And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become [the kingdoms] of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.  16)And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, 17) Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. 18) And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.

This is not an attempt to explain or decode the Book of Revelation. The main point I want to make is the correlation between our Hebrew roots and our Christian faith. For without the great work of God that was done by the apostles, (Who were all Jewish by the way) we would not know that God, through His mercy and grace, made a way to atone for our sins through the sacrificial system that He gave to the children of Israel wherein He required a blood sacrifice. (Leviticus 17:11) Without the knowledge of our Hebrew roots we would not know that there is one God and one salvation through the Jewish Messiah.

Without Judaism, there would be no Christianity.  And without Christianity, there is no hope for salvation. Realizing the Jewish roots of Christianity, it’s difficult to understand how Christianity has been, and still could be, used for anti-Semitism. Don’t Christians know that without the Jews, there is no Jesus? That without Jesus there is no Messiah? And that without Messiah, there is no Christianity?

Remember, “If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches. If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. (Rom. 11:16-18)

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”  (Rom. 1:16)

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