Thursday, September 15, 2011

More Sounds of the Shofar

I have received, via Jack Sasson’s list, notice of a book accompanying the exhibition at the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem.

Sound the Shofar - A Witness to History
Filip Vukosavovic (ed.)
ISBN - 965-7027-23-3
Paperback, 72 pages (55 English, 15 Hebrew)
Price: $20

image

From the Introduction:

The shofar is a natural sound-producing wind instrument made out of Bovidae horn. It has been a part of human history for thousands of years and is probably among the earliest musical instruments played by mankind. Moreover, the shofar is one of the oldest and most recognizable symbols of Judaism, which has been in continual use in a wide variety of circumstances for more than 3,000 years.

In this catalogue, which accompanies the exhibition Sound the Shofar - A Witness to History, at the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem, we examine the shofar not only as an artifact, but as an integral and everlasting part of Jewish history, faith and tradition. Throughout the ages, the shofar has been a powerful witness to the tumultuous history of the Jewish people in times of rejoicing and triumph, as well as sadness and catastrophe.

The catalogue, like the exhibition, is divided into two parts. In the first section we discuss the zoology and anatomy of the animal horn from which a shofar is created. In the second section we explore the history, iconography and function of the shofar in Judaism from its earliest attestation in the Bible until the present day.

It appears that shipping to addresses outside of Israel costs $10. The book is published by the museum and does not seem to be available via regular book channels.

Reader Paul Mitchell has sent along some comments and links to more sounds of the shofar.

We read in the Bible of "horns," and in English this is sometimes interpreted as a "trumpet." Usually the instrument wasn't metal (maybe never, I'm not sure) but was a ram's horn (a foot long, curved), and sounds like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Epf_ylf6Pk&feature=related

...or that of an ibex with a curly 3-4 ft long horn, and sounds like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jb4gKuoxXxI&feature=related

You have to wonder if anyone figured out cutting holes in it might make it more versatile, like a flute. When I was in Israel I bought both a ram's horn, and, an ibex horn. Both are in the congregational resources room now, and used to show the kids mostly what these horns from the Bible are like. But the best sound I could ever replicate was a sad moan you might hear from an asthmatic goat who had just been stepped on while in his deathbed.

Here is a short clip that shows the ibex horn can be played quite expertly (the example is disappointingly short): http://www.jpost.com/VideoArticles/Video/Article.aspx?id=237645

The horns were used for signaling various things, from warnings to battle orders, to temple commencements. Here is an expert Jewish cantor, in robes, giving varied riffs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jR20-0sy1Y&NR=1

Josh 6:5 It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him."

You might get a small idea of this ancient sound of horns and shouting at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8xxXYq3IVM&feature=related (these guys blow the horn as good as I do... a herd of my comrade asthmatic goats).

If someone in your congregation is PC-savvy, these clips might be good to save to a sound-file for classes.

1 Kings 1:34 There let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel; and blow the horn, and say, 'Long live King Solomon!'

2 Kings 11:14 When she looked, there was the king standing by a pillar according to custom; and the leaders and the trumpeters were by the king. All the people of the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets.

Ps 98:6 With trumpets and the sound of a horn; Shout joyfully before the LORD, the King.

UPDATE: Someone replied with this link, and man oh man can this guy blow!!  Imagine you are in the city of Jericho and a whole nation of horns are blowing this at you, unsheathing their swords etc.  GULP.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXw3LgmGUI8&feature=related

Man blowing shofar at Western Wall, tb042605429

Blowing the shofar at the Western Wall

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