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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Shofar as a Temple Instrument Part 2

Shofar as a Temple Instrument
Part 2
 Arthur L. Finkle

Sacrificial Cult




After the King David supervised the building of the first Temple (1000 BCE), he dedicated holy building as a sanctuary to house the written law (10 commandments) and to practice the sacrificial cult (which was how poepole in the Middle East worshipped.) 

The Sacrificial Ceremony



The Priests consecrated two different types of sacrifices: meat and dough. For both of these ceremonial rites,   When the Priests stood on top of the ramp holding the parts of sacrifice, placing them into the fire as he carried them up. He then throws the sacrifice into the great fire; he walks over and places it neatly on the burning logs.

Accompanying this ritual were a choral group and a small orchestra. Special lyrics and songs played according the time of the week and the type of sacrifice (the Bible counts 5 different types of sacrifices in Leviticus 1:1).

Leviticus 1-7 gives the most detailed description of Israel's sacrificial system. Rituals performed after childbirth (Leviticus 12:6-8), for an unclean discharge (Leviticus 15:14-15) or hemorrhage (Leviticus 15:29-30), or after a person who was keeping a Nazirite vow.

1.  Burnt offering (olah). The burnt offering was offered both in the morning and in the evening, as well as on special days such as the Sabbath, the new moon, and the yearly feasts (Numbers 28-29; 2 Kings 16:15; 2 Chronicles 2:4; 2 Chronicles 31:3; Ezra 3:3-6). was defiled (Numbers 6:10-11) required a burnt offering, as well as a sin offering.

The animal for this sacrifice could be a young bull, lamb, goat, turtledove, or young pigeon; but it had to be a perfect and complete specimen. The type of animal chosen for this sacrifice seems to be dependent on the offerer's financial ability.

2.  Grain offering (minchah; “meat offering” in KJV). An offering from the harvest of the land is the only type that required no bloodshed. It was composed of fine flour mixed with oil and frankincense. Sometimes, this offering was cooked into cakes prior to taking it to the priest. These cakes, however, had to be made without leaven. Every grain offering had to have salt in it (Leviticus 2:13),  It may have symbolized the recognition of God's blessing in the harvest by a society based to a large degree on agriculture. The bringing of a representative portion of the grain harvest was another outward expression of devotion.

3.  Peace offering . This consisted of the sacrifice of a bull, cow, lamb, or goat that had no defect. As with the burnt offering, the individual laid a hand on the animal and killed it. The priests, in turn, sprinkled the blood around the altar. Only certain parts of the internal organs were burned. The priest received the breast and the right thigh (Leviticus 7:28-36), but the offerer was given much of the meat to have a meal of celebration (Leviticus 7:11-21).


4.  Sin offering was designed to deal with sin that was committed unintentionally. The sacrifice varied according to who committed the sin. If the priest or the congregation of Israel sinned, then a bull was required. A leader of the people had to bring a male goat, while anyone else sacrificed a female goat or a lamb. The poor were allowed to bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons.

5.  Guilt offering. This is hard to distinguish from the sin offering (Leviticus 4-5). In Leviticus 5:6-7, the guilt offering is called the sin offering. Both offerings also were made for similar types of sin. The guilt offering was concerned supremely with restitution. Someone who took something illegally was expected to repay it in full plus 20 percent of the value and then bring a ram for the guilt offering. Other instances in which the guilt offering was prescribed included the cleansing of a leper (Leviticus 14:1), having sexual relations with the female slave of another person (Leviticus 19:20-22), and for the renewing of a Nazirite vow that had been broken (Numbers 6:11-12).


The burnt, grain, peace, sin, and guilt offering composed the basic sacrificial system of Israel. These sacrifices were commonly used in conjunction with each other and were carried out on both an individual and a corporate basis. The sacrificial system taught the necessity of dealing with sin and, at the same time, demonstrated that God had provided a way for dealing with sin.
Although the Prophets excoriated the sacrificial rites because the people seemed to be more impressed with ritual than why the rituals were offered, the prophets did not want to abolish the sacrificial system.

Interestingly the sacrifice system is found in the New Testament. The New Testament consistently describes Jesus’ death in sacrificial terms. Hebrews portrays Jesus as the sinless high priest who offered himself up as a sacrifice for sinners (Leviticus 7:27). The book ends with an encouragement to offer sacrifices of praise to God through Jesus.

After the Romans destroyed the Holy Temple, the sacrificial cult terminated. During this time, moreover, the early Church also disbanded the sacrificial rites because Christianity began to differ materially from Judaism.

Thereafter, two Priests stood atop of a marble stand near the altar signaling trumpet blasts: tekiah, tekiah and teruah. A long note followed a series of short notes; then another long note.

On Rosh Hashanah and other full holidays (Day of Atonement, Ingathering of the harvest [Succot], Passover and the Feat of Weeks – Pentecost) a single Priest perfected two sacrifices in honor of the full holiday, Note that festivals such as Hanukah and Purim), are not considered full holidays requiring an extra sacrifice. On Rosh Hashanah, something special occurred during the special sacrifice. Arguably two Shofar Sounders played the long notes and one Trumpet player played the short note. Accordingly, Rosh HaShanah is called Yom Teruah (the day of the blast).

Otherwise, the Trumpets had “top billing.” Rosh Hashanah27a, supports this claim: “Said Raba or it may have been R. Joshua B. Levi: What is the scriptural warrant fore this? – Because  it is written, “With trumpets and the sound of the Shofar shout ye before the King in the Temple, we require trumpets and the sound of the Shofar; elsewhere not.” See also Sidney B. Hoenig, Origins of the Rosh Hashanah Liturgy, The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. 57, The Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Volume of the Jewish Quarterly Review (1967), pp. 312-331.   Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press.


Indeed, on Yom Kippur, the Shofar was sounded to announce the Jubilee Year (every 50-years, Jews were granted freedom, forgiveness and debts and reclamation of sold lands. Shofar first indicated in Yovel (Jubilee Year -  Lev. 25:8-13). Indeed, in Rosh Hashanah 33b, the sages ask why the Shofar sounded in Jubilee year.  Further support is found in Rosh Hashanah 29a, where the Talmud talks of trumpets for sacrifices but Shofar in the Jubilee Year does not apply to priests who are exempt from the obligations of the jubilee. Perhaps, we have the first mention of Shofar Sounding by non-Priests. Perhaps the first distancing away from the Sacrificial Cult.

Otherwise, for all other special days, the Shofar is sounded shorter and two special silver Trumpets announced the sacrifice.

When the trumpets sound the signal, all the people who are within the sacrifice prostate themselves, stretching out flat, face down and on the ground.

Indeed, the idea that rabbinic prayer modeled itself of that of the
Temple is supported by:

·       Jeffrey H. Tigay. On Some Aspects of Prayer in the Bible, AJS Review, Vol. 1, (1976), pp. 363-379, Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Association for Jewish Studies

·       Holman Bible Dictionary: http://www.studylight.org/

·       Arthur L. Finkle, , Easy Guide to Shofar Sounding, Torah Aura, Los Angeles, CA, 2002.

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