What is a shofar, and how was it used in the Bible?
Blowing the shofar at the Western Wall©Government_Press_Office, Flickr
The Hebrew word shofar has been variously translated as trumpet, horn or ram’s horn in English versions of the Bible. A shofar is made from a hollowed-out animal horn, and sounds are produced by blowing through it. It is sometimes unclear whether the word trumpet in the English translations indicates a shofar or other types of metal trumpets used by the Israelites.
The first mention of the shofar in the Bible is in Exodus 19:16, when a loud “trumpet (shofar) blast” heralded God’s appearance on Mount Sinai. Another well-known story when ram’s horns were used was during the Israelites’ siege of Jericho (Joshua 6). Other uses of the shofar were in warfare (e.g. Judges 7:15-22) and in worship, where they might be used alongside metal trumpets (e.g. Psalms 98:6).