There are four words in Hebrew associated with horns/trumpets:

1. "the ram's horn" (BDB 901, KB 1144) – used as a wind instrument, cf. Jos. 6:5.  This same word is used for the ram caught by his horns which Abraham will substitute for Isaac in Gen. 22:13.

2. "trumpet" (BDB 1051) – from Assyrian term for wild sheep (ibex).  This is the horn that was used in Exod 19:16,19 at Mt. Sinai/Horeb. #1 and #2 are parallel in Jos. 6:5.  It was used to communicate

a. times to worship (cf. Lev. 25:9)

b. times to fight (i.e., Jericho was both, cf. Jos. 6:4; Jdgs. 3:27; 6:34; 1 Sam. 13:3; Jer. 4:5; Hos. 5:8)

c. times for anointing a new king, 1 Kgs. 1:34,39

d. blown by God, Zech. 9:14

3. "ram's horn" (BDB 385, KB 398) – from Phoenician word for ram (cf. Jos. 6:4,6,8,13). It also stands for the Year of Jubilee (cf. Lev. 25:13,28,40,50,52,54; 7:17,18,23,24).

All of these first three seem interchangeable with no distinction intended. The Mishnah (RH 3.2) allowed animal horns from sheep, goats, or antelope, but not from a cow.

4. "trumpets" (BDB 348, KB 344) – possibly from the verb "stretch out," implying a straight bone (not curved as the animal horns). These were made of silver (after the shape and form of Egypt). These are used:

a. with worship rites (cf. Num. 10:2,8,10; Ezra 3:10; Neh. 12:35,41)

b. for military purposes (cf. Num. 10:9; 31:6; Hosea 5:8)

c. for royal purposes (cf. 2 Kgs. 11:14)

One of these metal horns is depicted on the Arch of Titus in Rome; also Josephus describes them in Antiq. 3.12.6.


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