The Shofar (Psalm 98)

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Illustration: The shofar

Psalm 98:4-6 instructs worshippers to offer joyful praise music to the Lord, using not only their voices but also various instruments. The Hebrew word translated “ram’s horn” here (98:6) is shofar. This instrument belongs to a class known as earophones, which produce a sound when air is passed through them. The shofar was blown in several contexts:

  • The blast of the horn summoned warriors to battle and signalled the beginning of an attack (Judges 3:27, 7:20, Job 39:25, Jeremiah 4:19-21). When the Israelites marched around Jericho for the seventh time, they were instructed to blow ram’s horns (Joshua 6:4-5).
  • The shofar summoned worshippers to Jerusalem (Isaiah 27:13).
  • It was blown by watchmen to announce important news, whether celebratory or disastrous (1 Samuel 13:3, Ezekiel 33:3-6, Joel 2:1, 17, Amos 2:2).
  • It was used during the coronation ceremonies, such as Solomon’s (1 Kings 1:34) and Jehu’s (2 Kings 9:13).
  • The shofar was sounded on holy occasions such as: The Day of Atonement (Leviticus 25:9), David’s return of the ark to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:15), The covenant renewal ceremony during Asa’s religious reforms (2 Chronicles 15:14) and Regular temple worship (Psalms 47:5, 81:3, 98:6, 150:3).

See also Trumpets in the ancient world under Revelation 8.


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