Numbers 10:9-10

Blaine Robison, M.A.

Delivered 22 June 2019


Blow the Trumpets!


9 And when you go to war in your land against the enemy who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, and you will be remembered before ADONAI your God, and you will be saved from your enemies. 10 And in the day of your gladness and in your appointed feasts, and at the beginning of your months, and you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; and they shall be for you a memorial before your God. I am ADONAI your God." (Num 10:9-10 BR)

For a complete exegesis of this passage see my commentary here.

At the beginning of this chapter God told Moses to make two trumpets of silver. Josephus says that the trumpet was about a cubit in length and composed of a narrow tube, somewhat thicker than a flute, and it ended in the form of a bell." The construction of the trumpets was probably based on a heavenly pattern as were other articles used in the Tabernacle. In fact, the Greek word for trumpet used in Revelation for the trumpets blown by the seven archangels is the same word used in the LXX to translate the Hebrew word here for trumpet.

God imposed a restriction that the silver trumpets were only to be blown by priests. The trumpets were not given to the priests so they could "toot their own horn" as the saying goes or take pride in the possession, "I'm special because I have a silver trumpet." At the time only two trumpets were made because Aaron had only two sons who would use them. In the time of David seven trumpets are mentioned, but in the time of King Solomon 120 trumpets had been made and blown for the dedication of the temple.

The trumpets had two general functions, one practical and one religious. The practical use was threefold: First, calling for assembly of leaders or the congregation at the tent of meeting; Second, signaling the tribes to set out when moving the encampment to a new location, and third, sounding an alarm when attacked by an enemy force.

The religious use was to blow the trumpets on any day of special celebration, during the annual festivals of Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot, on the monthly Rosh Chodesh, and daily for burnt offerings and peace offerings. The majority of the mentions of these trumpets in the Tanakh is for the religious use.

As with a lot of other requirements in the Torah God did not explain the significance of the silver trumpets. Defining the function of the trumpets is not the same as telling why the priests should blow the trumpets, but we may make some inferences based on Scripture.

The trumpets were a priestly instrument, but God intended for Israel to be a kingdom of priests and according to Kefa, we, the people of God constitute a holy priesthood. The trumpet required breath to make a sound. Moses may have had a craftsman produce the trumpet, but God provided the breath. So, when the priest blew his breath into the trumpet, the instrument became an extension of the priest's mouth giving glory to God. Similarly, our mouths function as trumpets and the psalms frequently called upon Israelites to shout for joy.

In the two verses of our text the use of the trumpets is connected to remembering. In verse 9 God is the one remembering and in verse 10 it is the Israelites. In verse 9 the trumpet call represents desperation, and an urgent need for God to rescue from danger. To be remembered by God means for Him to extend His favor and help. God frequently prevents bad things from happening to us, but at the same time He expects us to acknowledge our dependency on Him and cry out to Him in urgent situations. We are to pray persistently until God answers.

The priestly use of the trumpets in verse 10 is tantamount to calling on the Israelites to stop and consider why they are doing these things. The blast of the trumpet was a call to remember. Too often in Israel's history the people forgot their God. Without reminders we too might forget the great things God has done for each of us. Think about the events God mentioned.

The annual festivals were (and are) memorials that testify of God's grace and deliverance in the past and point to the Messiah who would provide universal atonement, empowerment of the Spirit to live by the Torah and the promise of God dwelling in the midst of His people. The daily burnt offering was a reminder that sin pollutes but God provided a permanent means of cleansing and purifying His people every day. The peace offering is a reminder that by the faithfulness of Yeshua we can have shalom with God and be reconciled to one another.

Just consider that on the day Yeshua hung between heaven and earth the trumpets resounded in the Temple. The trumpets echoed Yeshua's declaration, "It is finished!" Glory to God! Someday the trumpets will sound again, next time by the angels. Six of those trumpets will announce judgment on the world, but at the last trumpet God will resurrect the dead, Yeshua will return in power and glory and the reign of our King will begin on the earth. On that day we will shout with all the people of God in heaven and earth, "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God!" [Rev 19:1].

Barukh Hashem!

Copyright 2019 by Blaine Robison. All rights reserved.