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What is a…
horn

Hebrew: קָ֫רֶן —transliteration: qeren

Hebrew: שׁוֹפָ֖ר —transliteration: shophar or shofar

Shofar.
Shofar, a prepared ram’s horn used in Jewish rituals and festivals. They come in many sizes and shapes. Photo by Zachi Evenor (CC).

Early trumpets were made from animal horns (such as a ram’s horn) perforated at the tip, used for various purposes (Joshua 6:4-5). Horns were also used from chamois and oxen.

Flasks or other vessels were made from the horns of animals and used to hold various materials (1 Samuel 16:1, 13; 1 Kings 1:39).

Zadok the priest then took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. —1 Kings 1:39 NASB

Altar horns

The word horn is also used metaphorically in referring to the projecting corners of the altar of burnt offerings (Exodus 27:2) and of the altar of incense (30:2). The horns of the altar of burnt offerings were to be smeared with the blood of the slain bullock (29:12; Leviticus 4:7-18).

If a criminal’s crime was accidental, he found asylum by laying hold of the horns of the altar (1 Kings 1:50; 2:28).

Symbols of dignity and power

Horns are also the symbol of royal dignity and power (Jeremiah 48:25; Zechariah 1:18; Dan. 8:24).

Horns in metaphors

This word is used metaphorically for strength (Deuteronomy 33:17) and honor (Job 16:15; Lam. 2:3). Horns are emblems of power, dominion, glory, and fierceness, as they are the chief means of attack and defense with animals that are endowed with them (Dan. 8:5, 9; 1 Samuel 2:1; 16:1, 13; 1 Kings 1:39; 22:11; Joshua 6:4, 5; Psalms 75:5, 10; 132:17; Luke 1:69, etc.).

To have the horn “exalted” denotes prosperity and triumph (Psalms 89:17, 24).

To “lift up” the horn is to act proudly (Zechariah 1:21).

Horn of Salvation

The expression “horn of salvation,” applied to Christ, means a salvation of strength, or a strong Savior (Luke 1:69).

Hill summit or mountain peak

The word “horn” also denotes the peak or summit of a hill, as in Isaiah 5:1 where the Hebrew word qeren (horn) is translated as “hill.”

…My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill. —Isaiah 5:1b NASB

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Article Version: October 3, 2017