“When you sound an alarm, the camps to the east will commence traveling. When you sound a second alarm, the camps to the south will set out; they will sound alarms to announce when to travel. However, when the community is to be assembled, you are to sound; but don’t sound an alarm. It will be the sons of Aharon, the cohanim, who are to sound the trumpets; this will be a permanent regulation for you through all your generations.“-Numbers 10:5-8
Now you’re probably wondering just how deep I can go in my Biblical discussion of trumpets and shofars?
Pretty darn deep!
So let’s get started.
Scripture tells us that not only were there different horn blasts and signals, but depending on which of the various alarms were being sounded either a shofar or trumpet was used.
And understand that the one rule which could NOT be changed was that only the Priests were allowed to blow the trumpets.
In fact, Scripture tells us “this will be a permanent regulation for you through all your generations.“
Let’s talk a little bit about the different trumpet blasts that were used.
To simplify things, basically there were long blasts and short blasts (in staccato fashion).
The longer trumpet blasts were used to summon all the leaders or people of Israel together.
The short machine-gun-fire-like blasts were used to direct the soldiers during a battle.
TAKIA is the Hebrew term used to refer to the long trumpet blasts and TERUAH is the word used to refer to the short blasts.
Here’s how things worked out on the battlefield.
First, the military commander would instruct the priests as to which type of signal they should blow on their silver trumpets.
Second, the priests would blow their trumpets as instructed from a strategic elevated area away from the heat of the battle.
Third, the commanders and leaders in the field would listen to the type of blasts that priests were blowing on their silver trumpets and then repeat them on their shofars (remember shofars were only used by the non-priests or the common folk).
Let’s take a close look at verse 5.
“When you sound an alarm,
the camps to the east will commence traveling.”
Of course, there is no way to know just by reading the English, but the word “alarm” here is TERUAH (shorter staccato blast) and it is used to signal to the divisions of Israel that it’s time for them to move.
At the first TERUAH blast, the division encamped at the highest ranking East side of the Tabernacle is to move.
This is the division led by Judah.
At the second TERUAH blast, the division encamped on the South side of the Tabernacle led by Reuben and the 2nd highest ranking division was to begin moving and so on.
Next, let’s take a look at verse 9.
“When you go to war in your land against an adversary who is oppressing you, you are to sound an alarm with the trumpets; then you will be remembered before Adonai your God, and you will be saved from your enemies.”
This is inspiring!
Here we see there is a direct connection between the trumpets being blown and being remembered by the Lord.
In other words, these silver trumpet blasts being blown by the priests carry the same function as prayers being raised up to the heavens!
And these trumpet blasts are a form of obeying God’s Torah (since that is what Israel is commanded to do).
When God hears the trumpet blasts, we are told He will remember Israel and protect them in battle.
Even the Dead Sea scrolls talk about “trumpets of remembrance” and their involvement as both an instrument to be used during BOTH worship and war.
The phrase used for the use of the silver trumpets during war is “vengeful remembrance of the Lord’s appointed time“.