Blow the Trumpets in Zion: The Silver Trumpets

“The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Make two silver trumpets. Of hammered work you shall make them, and you shall use them for summoning the congregation and for breaking camp. And when both are blown, all the congregation shall gather themselves to you at the entrance of the tent of meeting.” (Numbers 10:1-4)

The original Hebrew word for ‘trumpet’ is ‘Chatzo’tzerah’ {חצוצרה} . This is a fascinating word because we do not know for sure what its origin is. In fact, this Hebrew word has a four letter root – which is very rare to find in the Hebrew language – H- Z- Z-R. {ח-צ-צ-ר}

Some of the Hebrew scholars believe that this word came from the Hebrew adjective ׳ zar’ {צר} which means ‘narrow’ and suggests the narrow shape of this instrument.

The ‘Septuagint’ (the old Greek translation of the Bible) is very clear about the difference between the ‘Chatzo’tzerah’ (‘trumpet’) and the ‘Shofar’ {שופר} (‘horn’), as can be found in the following example from Psalms:

“With TRUMPETS and the sound of the HORN make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!” (Psalm 98:6)

There, according to the Old Greek translation, the ‘trumpet’ is made out of metal and the ‘Shofar’ is made out of an animal’s horn. By the way, in the old Latin translation (the ‘Vulgate’) the word for ‘trumpet’ is ‘tuba.׳

One of the main differences between the ‘Shofar’ and the ‘trumpet’ is that while everyone could blow in the ‘Shofar,’ in the ‘trumpet’ ONLY the priests were allowed to do so:

“And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow the trumpets. he trumpets shall be to you for a perpetual statute throughout your generations.” (Numbers 10:8)

The importance of the role the trumpet played in the Temple in Jerusalem can be found in the Book of Ezra (among others) at the description of the rebuilding of the Temple:

“And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments came forward with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the LORD, according to the directions of David king of Israel.” (Ezra 3:10)