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In this week's Parsha - יִתְרוֹ - we have the first occurrence (AFAIK) of the Shofar blast announcing something. בִּמְשֹׁךְ הַיֹּבֵל הֵמָּה יַעֲלוּ בָהָר. When you hear the long shofar sound, you may again climb the mountain.

Rashi points out that this was a divine Shofar blowing - ושופר של אילו של יצחק היה - in which case we understand how a few million people could hear it.

However, in various places in תנ"ך we see the Shofar being used for announcements; often to signal the end of a conflict. The shofar was sounded and the conflict ended. Somehow everybody heard it and put their weapons down.

E.g.: Shmuel-2 Ch. 2 18 verse 16:

וַיִּתְקַע יוֹאָב בַּשֹּׁפָר וַיָּשָׁב הָעָם מִרְדֹף אַחֲרֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל כִּי חָשַׂךְ יוֹאָב אֶת הָעָם

Yoav blew the shofar and the nation stopped chasing the Israelites, for Yoav spared the nation.

How did this work? How far can the sound of a Shofar travel - even if they had an entire group of Shofar blowers.

How did people know this was a genuine peace-blast and not some peace activist trying to end the war?

The most astounding case is in Shmuel-2 Ch. 15 verse 10:

וַיִּשְׁלַח אַבְשָׁלוֹם מְרַגְּלִים בְּכָל שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לֵאמֹר כְּשָׁמְעֲכֶם אֶת קוֹל הַשֹּׁפָר וַאֲמַרְתֶּם מָלַךְ אַבְשָׁלוֹם בְּחֶבְרוֹן

Avshalom sent spies to all the tribes with instructions that when they hear the Shofar blast they should announce that Avshalom was crowned in Hebron.

How would the blast travel, reliably, all over the country?

  • I'm not sure if this is a science question. In the desert, the people were encamped in a relatively small space. So, if someone stands on top of a mountain, most people will hear the shofar, esp. if they are in the valley and the mountains echo the sound. As for something like Avshalom, I think the verse may mean "When you hear ABOUT the shofar". I.e., some would have heard it, and there may have been messengers to tell others. Let me check some mefarshim on that verse. – DanF Jan 31 '18 at 14:48
  • Regarding the last verse cited, see [Metzudat David][1][1]: hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14258&st=&pgnum=354 commentary. It seems that Avshalom sent spies prior to his going to Hevron to test people's reactions to the idea. I.e., the spies were relaying a scenario to the various people to get their reaction to an event that hadn't yet happened. – DanF Jan 31 '18 at 20:08
  • @DanF - Science and protocol - wasn't enough differentiation to ask 2 separate questions. – Danny Schoemann Feb 1 '18 at 12:36
  • @DanF - correct he sends spies and "when they hear the shofar, then..." - how will they hear the Shofar from Hebron to up North? A top-notch air-raid siren can be heard 8 miles away if the wind is blowing in that direction (says Google). – Danny Schoemann Feb 1 '18 at 12:41

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