[Heb., qeʹren, shoh·pharʹ; Gr., keʹras].
Animal horns were used in Israel as vessels for oil and for drinking, as inkhorns and containers for cosmetics and as musical or signaling instruments.—1 Sam. 16:1, 13; 1 Ki. 1:39; Ezek. 9:2; see RECORDER’S INKHORN.
MUSICAL AND SIGNALING INSTRUMENTS
At Joshua 6:5 qeʹren is used for a wind instrument, “the horn of the ram.” (Josh. 6:4) However, the word nearly always employed with reference to an animal’s horn used as a signaling instrument is shoh·pharʹ, as at Joshua 6:5 where it appears in the phrase “sound of the horn.” It has been suggested that qeʹren was a general designation for horns, without reference to the material used, while shoh·pharʹ specified a particular type of qeʹren. The modern shoh·pharʹ is a hollow ram’s horn about fourteen inches (c. 36 centimeters) long, straightened by heat but curved upward at the bell end. It has a separate mouthpiece to facilitate blowing. The shoh·pharʹ of Bible times, it is thought, had no separate mouthpiece and, according to the Talmud, the ram’s horn was not straightened but left crooked.
Some associate shoh·pharʹ with a Hebrew root meaning “bright” or “clear,” a quality of tone particularly qualifying the shoh·pharʹ for its basic use as a signaling instrument. It assembled the Israelite forces, sometimes sounded the “alarm signal” against a city to be attacked and directed other maneuvers in warfare. (Judg. 3:27; 6:34; 2 Sam. 2:28; Joel 2:1; Zeph. 1:16) In case of enemy attack, the shoh·pharʹ gave warning. (Neh. 4:18-20) Being just a signaling instrument in battle, the sound of three hundred of these horns would, under normal circumstances, indicate an army of considerable size. So when the Midianites heard the horns blown by everyone in Gideon’s band of three hundred men, “the whole camp got on the run,” terror-stricken.—Judg. 7:15-22.
In addition to the horn’s announcing every new moon, it proclaimed the year of Jubilee and added to the joyful spirit of other occasions. (Ps. 81:3; Lev. 25:8-10; 2 Sam. 6:15; 2 Chron. 15:14) When Jehovah stated the terms of the Law covenant, the miraculous sound of a horn was one of the features of the spectacle at Mount Sinai. (Ex. 19:16-19; 20:18) To proclaim the beginning and the end of the sabbath with the shoh·pharʹ appears to have been a custom established before the Common Era.
Israelites of all stations seemed to know how to use the shoh·pharʹ. The priests blew it when marching around Jericho and likely were the ones who announced the Jubilee with it. (Josh. 6:4, 5, 15, 16, 20; Lev. 25:8-10) The Levites probably used it on occasion, and its being sounded by Ehud, Gideon and his 300 men and by Joab, all being from non-Levitical tribes, as well as by the watchmen, who were not necessarily Levites, indicates general familiarity with the instrument.—Judg. 3:27; 6:34; 7:22; 2 Sam. 2:28; Ezek. 33:2-6.
HORNS OF ALTARS
The horns of both the incense altar and the altar of sacrifice at the tabernacle were hornlike projections extending outward from the four corners. They were overlaid with the same material as the altar, either copper or gold. (Ex. 27:2; 37:25, 26) The altars at Solomon’s temple were probably patterned after those of the tabernacle, the incense altar being specifically described as being of cedarwood overlaid with gold.—1 Ki. 6:20, 22.
It was on the horns of the altar of sacrifice that Moses put some of the blood of the bull of the sin offering at the installation service to “purify the altar from sin.” (Lev. 8:14, 15) According to Jehovah’s direction, the priest was to put the blood of certain sacrifices on the horns of either one altar or the other, depending on the sacrifice offered. (Lev. 4:7, 18, 25, 30, 34; 16:18) Jehovah said that the sins of Judah were engraved “on the horns of their altars” (Jer. 17:1), making the altars unclean and their sacrifices unacceptable; and in Amos 3:14 Jehovah states his purpose to desecrate the altars for calf worship at Bethel by the cutting off of their horns.
These altar horns may have been viewed as a place of protection or of final appeal; but actually this was no protection for a deliberate murderer, such as Joab. (1 Ki. 2:28-34) The statement at Exodus 21:14 may mean that even a priest was to be executed for murder, or that the act of taking hold of the horns of the altar would not shield any willful murderer.
An animal’s horn is a formidable weapon and was used Biblically quite often in a figurative sense, especially in the Hebrew Scriptures. Rulers and ruling dynasties, both the righteous and the wicked, were symbolized by horns, and their achieving of conquests was likened to pushing with the horns.—Deut. 33:17; Dan. 7:24; 8:2-10, 20-24; Zech. 1:18-21; Luke 1:69-71; Rev. 13:1, 11; 17:3, 12; see BEASTS, SYMBOLIC.
In one instance Jehovah, in assuring victory to his people, said he would ‘change the horn of the daughter of Zion to iron.’ (Mic. 4:13) Whereas Jehovah raised up or caused the horn of his people to be exalted, the wicked are warned not to lift up their horn arrogantly, for the horns of the wicked will be cut down. (1 Sam. 2:10; Ps. 75:4, 5, 10; 89:17; Amos 6:12-14) In expression of his feeling of complete abandonment, Job sorrowfully states: “I have thrust my horn in the very dust.”—Job 16:15.
“Horn” may also be used to describe an article shaped like a horn. At Ezekiel 27:15, the “horns of ivory” probably refer to elephant tusks. At Isaiah 5:1 the Hebrew phrase “a horn the son of oil [or, fatness]” evidently refers to “a fruitful hillside,” the “horn” being used to represent the upward slope of the hill.—NW, ftn. a, 1958 ed.