Four types of trumpets have emerged in Israel’s history. The common word for trumpets in the Old Testament is shophar, which was normally a ram’s horn, as indicated in Joshua 6. At times a larger horn from an antelope was used, but the horns had to be from a kosher animal.
In these verses, Moses crafted two silver trumpets for calling the congregation and directing the movement of the camp. Silver trumpets were later used during the “divine service,” including the Sabbaths, new moon, jubilee cycles, and certain main festivals—Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles.
At the tabernacle, if one trumpet was blown, only the heads of the tribes were to gather at the door of the Tabernacle of Meeting. If both trumpets were blown, the entire congregation was to gather. Distinct trumpet sounds indicated whether the congregation should assemble, march out of the camp, or head to war. According to Jewish tradition, a long blast indicated the people were to assemble; short staccato blasts were used in battle and sounded an order to begin movement.
Silver is a metal that represents redemption. Two trumpets are significant when we consider that as the future “ingathering of the saints” occurs, there will be both “the voice of the archangel” and the “trump of God” (1 Thess. 4:16). When the dead in Christ are raised and the living saints are changed from mortality to immortality, we will be changed at the sound of the “last trump” (see 1 Cor. 15:52). Various opinions exist about the meaning of the phrase last trump. However, if there is a last trump, there must be the sounding of a first trumpet. Some suggest the first trump sound will raise the dead in Christ and the second sound will impact the living, initiating the changes predicted by the apostle Paul.
The two silver trumpets are a perfect image of the gathering together of the dead in Christ and the living at the return of Christ. The two silver trumpets were for the “calling of the assembly” and the “journeying of the camps.” The first blast called the people to gather together, and the second blast indicated movement as a group to their new destination. Could this imagery be compared to the sounding of the trumpet of God? The first raises the dead, and with the second blast we meet with them in the air.
These silver trumpets helped to bring the people together, just as the coming of Christ is called the “gathering together” (see 2 Thess. 2:1; Eph. 1:10).