|Archaeological Find - Platform for Shofar Sounding|
Saturday, July 27, 2013
Shofar as a Temple Instrument Part 1
Shofar as a Temple Instrument
Arthur L. Finkle
The Shofar is the only musical Jewish musical instrument that survived two millennia in its original form and is still used to the sounding of the Shofar. Rabbi Saadia Gaon (11th century) stated that the sound of the Shofar raised awe and emotion in the hearts and souls of the people. Maimonides interpreted the sounding as reminding humankind of its duties to God. The mystical Zohar holds that the sound of the Shofar awakens the Higher Mercy.
The Shofar is the most-mentioned instrument in the Bible (72 times). It held a special religious and secular role in the life of the Jewish people. Only Priests and Levites were allowed to perform the religious function of blowing instrument of ancient Israel the Shofar in the Jewish Commonwealth.
The shofar is first mentioned in Exodus 19:16 at the theophany on Sinai. It was used to proclaim the Jubilee Year and the proclamation of "freedom throughout the land" (Lev. 25:9–10); this verse is engraved upon the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was to be sounded on Rosh Ha-Shanah, which is designated as "yom teru'ah" ("A day of blowing"; Num. 29:1). It was also used as an accompaniment to other musical instruments (Ps. 98:6), in processionals (Josh. 6:4ff.), as a signal (Josh. 6:12ff., II Sam. 15:10), as a clarion call to war (Judg. 3:27), and in order to induce fear (Amos 3:6).
When used in the Temple, the shofar was usually sounded in conjunction with the trumpet (hazozrah). The Talmud (RH 27a) states that the trumpet was made of silver while the processed horn of one of the five species of animal—sheep, goat, mountain goat, antelope, and gazelle—was used to fulfill the ritual commandment of the sounding of the shofar. It further declares (ibid. 26b) that the shofar should preferably be made of a ram's or wild goat's horn, because they are curved. Rabbi Judah states "the shofar of Rosh Ha-Shanah must be of the horn of a ram, to indicate submission." Traditionally a ram's horn is sounded on those days because of its connection with the sacrifice of Isaac (the Akedah), the story of which is the Torah reading for the second day of the festival. Conversely, a cow's horn may not be used because of the incident of the golden calf (RH 3:2). The shofar may not be painted, though it can be gilded or carved with artistic designs, so long as the mouthpiece remains natural. A shofar with a hole is deemed halakhically unfit, though it may be used if no other is available (Sh. Ar., OH 586).
The Shofar had several religious roles recorded in the Tanakh (the Bible), such as the transfer of the Ark of the Covenant (2 Sam. 6:15; Chronicles 15:28); the announcement of a New Moon (Psalms 81:4); the beginning of the religious New Year (Num. 29:1; the Day of Atonement (Lev. 25:9); the procession preparatory to the Feast of Tabernacles (Mishnah Hullin 1:7)’ the libation ceremony (Mishnah: RH 4:9); and the Havdalah ceremony marking the end of a festival (Mishnah, Hullin 1:7)
In addition, the Shofar had a number of secular roles, such as coronation of a king (2SAam, 5:10; 1 Kings 1:34; 2 Kings 1:13) and signaling in times of war to assemble troops to attack, to pursue, and to proclaim victory (Num. 10:9; Judges 6:4; Jeremiah 4:5 and Ezekiel 33:3-6)