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Psalm 47

Psalm 47 describes the coronation of God as King. The celebration parallels Biblical descriptions of a human king’s coronation, including the blowing of the shofar. We do not know the exact event that prompted the Psalmist to compose this Psalm, but it has become a key reading of Rosh Hashanah. In this Psalm, God’s name (Elohim) is repeated seven times and the Ashkenazic (Eastern European) custom is to repeat this Psalm seven times on each day of Rosh Hashanah around the blowing of the Shofar.

In 9th century Baghdad, the center of Jewish learning, among the most influential teachers was Saadya Gaon. This Egyptian-born sage identified in this Psalm seven verses with seven suggested reasons for blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah:

v. 2- Need to coronate God as King with great fanfare;
v. 3- Ruler gives warning to repent before punishment;
v. 5- Shofar as a call to God to rebuild the Temple;
v. 6- The blast recalls the shofar at Mount Sinai;
v. 7- A call for the regathering of the dispersed exiles;
v. 8- Announcing the final judgment
(as suggested in Zephania 1: 14, 16);
v. 10- Recalling the “Binding of Isaac”.