Feast of Pentecost: Trumpets and Cloud

Rabbis taught, “Six blasts were blown on Friday evening before the Sabbath. The first one warned people to cease working in the fields. The second one warned people in the city to cease working. The third warned people to kindle their Sabbath lights … [finally the last three] a tekiah, teruah, and a tekiah were blown to mark the onset of the Sabbath.” (b.Shabbat 35b)

Throughout the Israelites’ journey in the wilderness, the LORD accompanied them by means of the miraculous cloud of glory, which overshadowed the camp. When the cloud lifted, indicating the time for breaking camp had arrived, the priesthood sounded a long trumpet blast on a pair of silver trumpets to alert the people that the time for setting out had arrived. They also used other distinctive trumpet blasts. They sounded staccato trumpet blasts to convene the assembly. The priests sounded different combinations of trumpet blasts for declaring the onset of festivals and Sabbaths and other blasts for invoking divine assistance in battle.

The use of the trumpets to indicate the onset of the Sabbath and appointed times carried over into Temple practice and even later Synagogue practice.

Jerusalem archaeology has revealed a stone, part of the second Temple from the days of the Apostles, on which the words “to the place of the trumpeting for” are inscribed. Archaeologists surmise that the stone might have originally read, “To the place of the trumpeting for the priests.” It must have once marked the station high up on the Temple pinnacle where the priests stood to blast the trumpets at the beginning of Sabbaths and festivals.

The combination of the cloud of glory and the blasting of the trumpet to indicate the onset of the appointed time are consistent with the second coming of Messiah. The appointed time of His coming will be heralded with the blast of trumpets. It will mark the onset of the great Sabbath of the Messianic era. It will be a time of war during which Israel calls upon divine intervention. It will be a time of assembling the congregation.

In the book of Daniel, Messiah at His coming is described as one coming “with the clouds of heaven, one like a Son of Man.” (Daniel 7:13) For that reason, the Sages of the Talmud titled Messiah as “Bar Naphle,” a transliterated form of “Son of the Clouds.” The Targum on 1 Chronicles 3:24 picks out the Israelite name Anani (ענני) as a title for Messiah. Anani means “he of the clouds”; it is based on the Hebrew word for “cloud,” (anan, ענן). The Targum explains that Anani is a title for King Messiah who will reveal Himself in the future.


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