[Heb., hhatso·tserahʹ; Gr., salʹpigx].
Before Israel had broken camp for the first time in the wilderness, Jehovah commanded Moses to make “two trumpets of silver . . . of hammered work.” (Num. 10:1-10, 13) Although no further description of the instruments is given, coins circulated at the time of the Maccabees and a relief on the Arch of Titus picture the trumpets as being from about eighteen inches to three feet (45.7 to 91.4 centimeters) in length, straight, ending in a bell. Josephus states that there was a slight expansion near the mouthpiece and that the bore was only a little wider than a flute, which would likely produce a shrill, high tone. At the inauguration of Solomon’s temple, 120 trumpets were played.—2 Chron. 5:12.
Three signals are described, employing two methods of playing: (1) blowing both trumpets called all the representative men of the whole assembly of Israel to the tent of meeting; (2) blowing one trumpet would summon only the chieftains who were heads over thousands; and (3) blowing fluctuating blasts signaled the breaking up of camp.—Num. 10:3-7.
Jehovah further directed that in times of war the trumpets should sound a “war call.” (Num. 10:9) This was done thereafter by the priest accompanying the army. (Num. 31:6) Abijah of Judah, when seeking to avert war with Jeroboam of Israel, pointed to these “trumpets for sounding the battle alarm” as a divine assurance of victory in warfare for Judah. When Jeroboam stubbornly persisted in his aggression, his forces were defeated by a Judean army that had been greatly encouraged by the priests’ “loudly sounding the trumpets.”—2 Chron. 13:12-15.
Trumpets were included among the musical instruments in the temple. (2 Chron. 5:11-13) The trumpeters were sons of Aaron, the priests. (Num. 10:8; 2 Chron. 29:26; Ezra 3:10; Neh. 12:40, 41) Every account where the trumpet (hhatso·tserahʹ) is mentioned without the priests being clearly identified as the players is an event of national importance when the presence of the priests would be expected. It is therefore reasonable to suppose that they were the ones playing the trumpets. (2 Chron. 15:14; 20:28; 23:13; compare 1 Chronicles 15:24 with verse 28.) There is a possibility, though, that a variety of trumpets existed, and some of these may have been possessed by nonpriests.
Jesus told his hearers not to blow a trumpet to attract attention to one’s acts of charity in imitation of hypocrites. (Matt. 6:2) It is generally suggested that the trumpet is here used metaphorically, Jesus warning against ostentatiousness in making gifts of mercy.