From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [1]

In the early days of the human race, music was one of the first expressions of artistic and cultural development ( Genesis 4:21). It soon became widely used, along with singing and dancing, to celebrate special occasions, whether private or public, domestic or national, secular or sacred ( Genesis 31:27;  Exodus 15:20-21;  2 Samuel 6:14-15;  2 Chronicles 20:28-29;  Psalms 92:1-3;  Psalms 144:9;  Isaiah 5:12;  Amos 6:5;  Daniel 3:4-5; see also Dancing ; Singing ). At other times people played or listened to music purely for relaxation or enjoyment ( 1 Samuel 16:16-17;  1 Samuel 16:23;  1 Samuel 18:10;  Job 21:11-12;  Ezekiel 26:13;  Ezekiel 33:31-32;  Lamentations 5:14;  Revelation 18:22). Music also accompanied mourning and singing at funerals ( Matthew 9:23;  Luke 7:32; see Funeral ).

Hebrew musical instruments were of three kinds – stringed, wind and percussion. Chief among the stringed instruments were the harp ( 1 Samuel 10:5;  2 Samuel 6:5;  1 Kings 10:12;  Isaiah 5:12) and the lyre ( Genesis 4:21;  Genesis 31:27;  1 Samuel 10:5;  1 Samuel 16:23;  2 Samuel 6:5). The main wind instruments were the flute ( Isaiah 5:12;  Jeremiah 48:36;  Matthew 9:23), the pipe ( Genesis 4:21;  1 Kings 1:40;  Job 21:12;  Matthew 11:17), the horn ( 2 Samuel 6:15) and the trumpet ( Numbers 10:2;  Numbers 31:6;  Amos 3:6;  Matthew 24:31). Percussion instruments included cymbals ( 2 Samuel 6:5;  Psalms 150:4;  1 Corinthians 13:1), tambourines ( Genesis 31:27;  1 Samuel 10:5;  2 Samuel 6:5;  Job 21:12) and timbrels ( Exodus 15:20;  Judges 11:34;  Psalms 150:4). In the music that David organized for Israel’s temple worship, the main instruments were harps, lyres and cymbals ( 1 Chronicles 15:16;  1 Chronicles 15:19-21;  1 Chronicles 16:5).

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [2]

is probably nearly coeval with our race, or, at least, with the first attempts to preserve the memory of transactions. Before the invention of writing, the history of remarkable events was committed to memory, and handed down by oral tradition. The knowledge of laws and of useful arts was preserved in the same way. Rhythm and song were probably soon found important helps to the memory; and thus the muses became the early instructers of mankind. Nor was it long, we may conjecture, before dancing and song united contributed to festivity, or to the solemnities of religion. The first instruments of music were probably of the pulsatile kind; and rhythm, it is likely, preceded the observation of those intervals of sound which are so pleasing to the ear. The first mention of stringed instruments, however, precedes the deluge. Tubal, the sixth descendant from Cain, was "the father of all such as handle the harp and the organ." About five hundred and fifty years after the deluge, or B.C. 1800, according to the common chronology, both vocal and instrumental music are spoken of as things in general use: "And Laban said, What hast thou done, that thou hast stolen away unawares to me, and carried away my daughters, as captives taken with the sword? Wherefore didst thou flee away secretly, and steal away from me; and didst not tell me, that I might have sent thee away with mirth and with songs, with tabret and with harp?"  Genesis 31:26-27 .

Egypt has been called the cradle of the arts and sciences, and there can be no doubt of the very early civilization of that country. To the Egyptian Mercury, or Thoth, who is called Trismegistos, or "thrice illustrious," is ascribed the invention of the lyre, which had at first only three strings. It would be idle to mention the various conjectures how these strings were tuned, or to try to settle the chronology of this invention. The single flute, which they called photinx, is also ascribed to the Egyptians. Its shape was that of a horn, of which, no doubt, it was originally made. Before the invention of these instruments, as Dr. Burney justly observes, "music could have been little more than metrical, as no other instruments except those of percussion were known. When the art was first discovered of refining and sustaining tones, the power of music over mankind was probably irresistible, from the agreeable surprise which soft and lengthened sounds must have occasioned." The same learned writer has given a drawing, made under his own eye, of an Egyptian musical instrument, represented on a very ancient obelisk at Rome, brought from Egypt by Augustus. This obelisk is supposed to have been erected at Heliopolis, by Sesostris, near four hundred years before the Trojan war. The most remarkable thing in this instrument is, that it is supplied with a neck, so that its two strings were capable of furnishing a great number of sounds. This is a contrivance which the Greeks, with all their ingenuity, never hit upon. "I have never been able," says the doctor, "to discover in any remains of Greek sculpture, an instrument furnished with a neck; and Father Montfaucon says that in examining the representations of near five hundred ancient lyres, harps, and citharas, he never met with one in which there was any contrivance for shortening the strings during the time of performance, as by a neck and finger board." From the long residence of the Hebrews in Egypt, it is no improbable conjecture that their music was derived from that source. However that may be, music, vocal and instrumental, made one important part of their religious service. If the excellence of the music was conformable to the sublimity of the poetry which it accompanied, there would be no injustice in supposing it unspeakably superior. to that of every other people; and the pains that were taken to render the tabernacle and temple music worthy of the subjects of their lofty odes, leaves little doubt that it was so. That the instruments were loud and sonorous, will appear from what follows; but as the public singing was performed in alternate responses, or the chorus of all succeeded to those parts of the psalm which were sung only by the appointed leaders, instruments of this kind were necessary to command and control the voices of so great a number as was usually assembled on high occasions.

The Hebrews insisted on having music at marriages, on anniversary birth days, on the days which reminded them of victories over their enemies, at the inauguration of their kings, in their public worship, and when they were coming from afar to attend the great festivals of their nation,  Isaiah 30:29 . In the tabernacle and the temple, the Levites were the lawful musicians; but on other occasions any one might use musical instruments who chose. There was this exception, however: the holy silver trumpets were to be blown only by the priests, who, by the sounding of them, proclaimed the festival days, assembled the leaders of the people, and gave the signal for the battle and for the retreat,  Numbers 10:1-10 . David, in order to give the best effect to the music of the tabernacle, divided the four thousand Levites into twenty-four classes, who sung psalms, and accompanied them with music. Each of these classes was superintended by a leader, placed over it; and they performed the duties which devolved upon them, each class a week at a time in succession,  1 Chronicles 16:5;  1 Chronicles 23:4-5;  1 Chronicles 25:1-31;  2 Chronicles 5:12-13 . The classes collectively, as a united body, were superintended by three directors. This arrangement was subsequently continued by Solomon after the erection of the temple, and was transmitted till the time of the overthrow of Jerusalem. It was indeed sometimes interrupted, during the reign of the idolatrous kings, but was restored by their successors,  2 Chronicles 5:12-14;  2 Chronicles 29:27;  2 Chronicles 35:15 . It was even continued after the captivity,  Ezra 3:10;  Nehemiah 12:45-47; 1Ma_4:54; 1Ma_13:51 . It should be remarked, however, that neither music nor poetry attained to the same excellence after the captivity as before that period.

There were women singers as well as men in the temple choir; for in the book of Ezra, among those who returned from the Babylonish captivity, there are said to have been two hundred,  Ezra 2:65; and in  Nehemiah 7:67 , we read of two hundred and forty-five singing men and women. The Jewish doctors will, indeed, by no means admit there were any female voices in the temple choir; and as for those משררית

meshoreroth, as they are called in the Hebrew, they suppose them to be the wives of those who sung. Nevertheless, the following passage makes it evident that women, likewise, were thus employed: "God gave to Heman fourteen sons and three daughters; and all these were under the hands of their father for song in the house of the Lord, with cymbals, psalteries, and harps, for the service of the house of God,"   1 Chronicles 25:5-6 . Instrumental music was first introduced into the Jewish service by Moses; and afterward, by the express command of God, was very much improved with the addition of several instruments in the reign of David. When Hezekiah restored the temple service, which had been neglected in his predecessor's reign, "he set the Levites in the house of the Lord, with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king's seer, and Nathan the prophet; for so was the commandment of the Lord by his prophets,"  2 Chronicles 29:25 .

The harp, כנור , kinnor, was the most ancient of the class of stringed instruments,   Genesis 4:21 . It was sometimes called שמינית , or "eight stringed,"  1 Chronicles 15:21;  Psalms 6:1;  Psalms 12:1; although, as we may gather from the coins or medals of the Maccabean age, there were some harps which were furnished with only three strings. The nablum or psaltery, ναβλιον , ναυλα , נבל , is first mentioned in the Psalms of David. In  Psalms 33:2;  Psalms 144:9 , it is called עשור "a ten-stringed instrument;"

but in  Psalms 92:3 , it is distinguished from it. Josephus assigns to it twelve strings, which, taken in connection with the fact above stated, leaves us to conclude that it sometimes had ten and sometimes twelve strings. It was not played with a bow or fret, but with the fingers: the act of playing it is expressed in Hebrew by the word מזר . It resembled in form a right-angled triangle, or the Greek delta, Δ , inverted. The body of it was of wood and hollow, and was enclosed with a piece of leather tensely drawn. The chords were extended on the outside of the leather, and were fixed at one end into the transverse part of the triangular body of the instrument. Such is its form at the present day in the east; but it has only five strings in its modern shape,  2 Samuel 6:5;  1 Kings 10:12 . There was another instrument of this kind used in Babylonia: it was triangular in form. In Greek it is called σαμβυκη; in Hebrew, סכבא and שבכא . It had originally only four, but subsequently twenty, strings,  Daniel 3:5;  Daniel 3:7;  Daniel 3:10;  Daniel 3:15 . Among their wind instruments was the organ, so called in the English version, in Hebrew, עוגב ,  Genesis 4:21 . It may be styled the ancient shepherd's pipe, corresponding most nearly to the συριγξ , or the pipe of Pan among the Greeks. It consisted at first of only one or two, but afterward of about seven, pipes made of reeds, and differing from each other in length. The instrument called משרוקיתא , used in Babylon,  Daniel 3:5 , was of a similar construction. חלול , נחילות , and נקב , chalil, nechiloth, and nekeb, are wind instruments made of various materials, such as wood, reeds, horns, and bones. As far as we may be permitted to judge from the three kinds of pipes now used in the east, the Hebrew instrument called nechiloth is the one that is double in its structure; chalil is perhaps the one of simpler form, having a single stem with an orifice through it; while nekeb answers to the one without an orifice,   Isaiah 5:12;  Isaiah 30:29;  Jeremiah 48:36;  Psalms 5:1;  Ezekiel 28:13 . סומפוניה , or, according to the marginal reading, סיפניא ,  Daniel 3:5;  Daniel 3:10 , was a wind instrument made of reeds, by the Syrians called sambonja, by the Greeks samponja, and by the Italians zampogna. According to Servius, it was of a crooked shape, קרן , the horn or crooked trumpet, was a very ancient instrument. It was made of the horns of oxen, which were cut off at the smaller extremity, and thus presented an orifice which extended through. In progress of time, rams' horns were hollowed and employed for the same purpose. It is probable that in some instances it was made of brass, fashioned so as to resemble a horn. It was greatly used in war, and its sound resembled thunder, חצוצרת , chatsoteroth, the silver trumpet, was straight, a cubit in length, hollow through out, and at the larger extremity shaped so as to resemble the mouth of a small bell. In times of peace, when the people or the rulers were to be assembled together, this trumpet was blown softly. When the camps were to move forward, or the people to march to war, it was sounded with a deeper note.

There were several sorts of drums. The תפים תפ , toph, rendered in the English version tabret and timbrel.   Genesis 31:27 , consisted of a circular hoop, either of wood or brass, three inches and six-tenths wide, was covered with a skin tensely drawn, and hung round with small bells. It was held in the left hand, and beaten to notes of music with the right. The ladies through all the east, even to this day, dance to the sound of this instrument,  Exodus 15:20;  Job 17:6;  Job 21:12;  2 Samuel 6:5 . The cymbals, צלצלים , tseltselim, מצלות , were of two kinds formerly, as there are to this day, in the east. The first consisted of two flat pieces of metal or plates: the musician held one of them in his right hand, the other in his left, and smote them together, as an accompaniment to other instruments. This cymbal and the mode of using it may be often seen in modern armies. The second kind of cymbals, consisted of four small plates attached, two to each hand, which the ladies, as they danced, smote together. But מצלות ,  Zechariah 14:20 , rendered in the English version bells, are not musical instruments, as some suppose, nor indeed bells, but concave pieces or plates of brass, which were sometimes attached to horses for the sake of ornament.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

(For Illustrations, See Dance; David; Flute; Harp; Jeduthun.) Its invention is due to a Cainite, Jubal son of Lamech, "father (first teacher) of all such as handle the harp (lyre) and organ" (pipe). "The lyre and flute were introduced by the brother of a nomadic herdsman (Jabal); it is in the leisure of this occupation that music is generally first exercised and appreciated" (Kalisch:  Genesis 4:21). "Mahalaleel," third from Seth, means "giving praise to God," therefore vocal music in religious services was probably earlier than instrumental music among the Cainites ( Genesis 5:12). Laban the Syrian mentions "songs, tabret (tambourine), and harp" ( Genesis 31:27); Job ( Job 21:12) "the timbrel (tambourine), harp, and organ (pipe)". Instead of "they take," translated "they lift up (the voice)," as in  Isaiah 42:11, to accompany "the tambourine," etc. (Umbrett.) Thus the "voice," stringed and wind instruments, include all kinds of music. The Israelite men led by Moses sang in chorus, and Miriam led the women in singing the refrain at each interval, accompanied by tambourine and dances ( Exodus 15:21).

Music rude and boisterous accompanied the dances in honor of the golden calf, so that Joshua mistook it for "the noise of war," "the voice of them that shout for the mastery and that cry for being overcome" ( Exodus 32:17-18). The triumphant shout of the foe in the temple is similarly compared to the joyous thanksgivings formerly offered there at solemn feasts, but how sad the contrast as to the occasion ( Lamentations 2:7). The two silver trumpets were used by the priests to call an assembly, and for the journeying of the camps, and on jubilant occasion ( Numbers 10:1-10;  2 Chronicles 13:12). (On The Rams' (Rather Jubilee) Horns Of Joshua 6, See Horns.) The instruments at Nebuchadnezzar's dedication of his golden image were the "cornet," like the French horn; "flute" or pipe blown at the end by a mouthpiece; "sackbut," a triangular stringed instrument with short strings, in a high sharp key; "psaltery," a kind of harp; "dulcimer," a bagpipe, emitting a plaintive sound, a Hebraized Greek word, Sumfonia ( Daniel 3:4).

The schools of the prophets cultivated music as a study preparing the mind for receiving spiritual influences ( 1 Samuel 10:5;  1 Samuel 19:19-20): at Naioth; also at Jericho ( 2 Kings 2:5;  2 Kings 2:7), "when the minstrel among Jehoshaphat's retinue played, the hand of Jehovah came upon Elisha" ( 2 Kings 3:15); Gilgal ( 2 Kings 4:38); Jerusalem ( 2 Kings 22:14). "Singing men and women" were at David's court ( 2 Samuel 19:35), also at Solomon's ( Ecclesiastes 2:8; Gesenius translated for "musical instruments and that of all sorts," Shiddah Wishidot , "a princess and princesses".) They also" spoke of Josiah in their lamentations, and made them an ordinance in Israel" ( 2 Chronicles 35:25).

Music was often introduced at banquets ( Isaiah 5:12), "the harp and viol" ( Nebel , the "lute", an instrument with 12 strings), etc. ( Luke 15:25.)  Amos 6:5; "chant ( Parat , 'mark distinct tones,' the Arabic root expresses an unmeaning hurried flow of rhythmical sounds without much sense, as most glees) to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of music like David"; they fancy themselves David's equals In music ( 1 Chronicles 23:5;  Nehemiah 12:36). He added to the temple service the stringed psaltery, Kinor ("lyre"), and Nebel ("harp"), besides the cymbals. These as distinguished from the trumpets were "David's instruments" ( 2 Chronicles 29:25-26;  1 Chronicles 15:16;  1 Chronicles 15:19-21;  1 Chronicles 15:24;  1 Chronicles 23:5). The age of Samuel, David, and Solomon was the golden one alike of poetry and of music. The Hebrew use of music was inspirational, curative, and festive or mournful. David's skill on the harp in youth brought him under Saul's notice, and he played away Saul's melancholy under the evil spirit ( 1 Samuel 16:16-23).

As David elevated music to the praise of God, so the degenerate Israelites of Amos' time degraded it to the service of their own sensuality (like Nero fiddling when Rome was in flames), yet they defended their luxurious passion for music by his example. Solomon's songs were a thousand and five ( 1 Kings 4:32). In the procession accompanying the ark to Zion, the Levites led by Chenaniah, "master of the song," played cornets, trumpets, cymbals, psalteries, and harps, accompanying David's psalm composed for the occasion (1 Chronicles 15; 16;  2 Samuel 6:5). Of the 48,000 in the tribe 4,000 praised Jehovah on David's instruments ( 1 Chronicles 23:5-6). Heman led the Kohathites, Asaph the Gershonites, and Ethan or Jeduthun the Merarites ( 1 Chronicles 15:17;  1 Chronicles 25:1-8). The "cunning" or skilled musicians were 288: 24 courses, 12 in each, headed by the 24 sons of Heman, Asaph, and Jeduthun.

The rest of the 4,000 were "scholars." David's chant ( 1 Chronicles 16:34;  1 Chronicles 16:41) was used for ages, and bore his name: at the consecration of Solomon's temple ( 2 Chronicles 7:6); before Jehoshaphat's army when marching against the Ammonite invaders, to the thanksgiving is attributed God's giving of the victory, "when they began to sing and to praise, Jehovah set ambushments against ... Ammon" ( 2 Chronicles 20:21-22), compare in Abijah's victory over Jeroboam the priests' sounding of trumpets ( 2 Chronicles 13:12-24); at the laying the second temple's foundation ( Ezra 3:10-11). Heman, Asaph, and Ethan played with cymbals of brass to mark the time the more clearly, while the rest played on psalteries and harps ( 1 Chronicles 15:19;  1 Chronicles 16:5).

The "singers" went first, "the damsels with timbrels" in the middle, "the players on (stringed) instruments followed after" ( Psalms 68:25). In intelligent worship the word has precedence of ornamental accompaniments ( 1 Corinthians 14:15); music must not drown but be subordinate to the words and sense. Amos ( Amos 8:3) foretells the joyous "songs of the temple" should be changed into "howlings." In  Psalms 87:7 translated "the players on pipes" or "flutes" (Gesenius), but Hengstenberg, "dancers" ( Choleel ); the future thanksgiving of the redeemed heathen ( 1 Kings 1:40). Women were in the choir ( 1 Chronicles 13:8;  1 Chronicles 25:5-6;  Ezra 2:65). The priests alone blew the trumpets in the religious services ( 1 Chronicles 15:24;  1 Chronicles 16:6), but the people also at royal proclamations ( 2 Kings 11:14). A hundred and twenty priests blew the trumpets in unison with the Levite singers, in fine linen, at the dedication of Solomon's temple ( 2 Chronicles 5:12-13;  2 Chronicles 7:6). So under Hezekiah in resanctifying the temple ( 2 Chronicles 29:27-28).

As the temple, altar, and sacrifices were Jehovah's palace, table, and feasts, so the sacred music answers to the melody usual at kings' banquets. The absence of music such as accompanied bridal processions is made a feature of a curse being on the land ( Isaiah 24:8-9;  Jeremiah 7:34;  Ezekiel 26:13). Judah's captors in vain called on her singers to sing her national melodies, "songs of Zion," in Babylon. She hung her harp on the willows of that marshy city, and abjured "mirth in a strange land" ( Psalms 137:2-4). Away from Zion, God's seat, they were away from joy. Love songs (Psalm 45 title) as well as professional mourners' ( Amos 5:16) dirges were composed. Harlots attracted men by songs to the guitar ( Isaiah 23:15-16). (See Mourning ,) The grape was gathered and trodden with joyous song ( Isaiah 16:10). (See Hymns .)

Music, instrumental and vocal, was all in unison, not harmony, which was unknown to the ancients; the songs were all melodies, choral and antiphonal, as Moses' and Miriam's song, and Nehemiah's musicians in two responsive choirs at the dedication of the wall ( Nehemiah 12:40-42). For "instruments of music" ( Daniel 6:18) translated "concubines." Xenophon's picture of Darius as addicted to wine and women, without self control, accords with Daniel's mention of his abstinence as something extraordinary. In  Psalms 45:8 Gesenius translated for "whereby" ( Mini ), as in  Psalms 150:4), "out of the ivory palaces the stringed instruments make thee glad"; Hengstenberg shows this untenable, KJV is better. In  1 Samuel 18:6 "instruments of music," Shalishim , is from Shalowsh , "three," probably "triangles," invented in Syria (Athenaeus, Deipnos, 4:175).

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [4]

The ancient Hebrews had a great taste for music, which they used in their religious services, in their public and private rejoicing, at their weddings and feasts, and even in their mourning. We have in Scripture canticles of joy, of thanksgiving, of praise, of mourning; also mournful elegies or songs, as those of David on the death of Saul and Abner, and the Lamentations of Jeremiah on the destruction of Jerusalem; so, too, songs of victory, triumph, and gratulation, as that which Moses sung after passing the Red Sea, that of Deborah and Barak, and others. The people of God went up to Jerusalem thrice a year, cheered on their way with songs of joy,  Psalm 84:12   Isaiah 30:29 . The book of Psalms comprises a wonderful variety of inspired pieces for music, and is an inexhaustible treasure for the devout in all ages.

Music is perhaps the most ancient of the fine arts. Jubal, who lived before the deluge, was the "father" of those who played on the harp and the organ,  Genesis 4:21   31:26-27 . Laban complains that his sonin-law Jacob had left him, without giving him an opportunity of sending his family away "with mirth and with songs, with tabret and with harp." Moses, having passed through the Red Sea, composed a song, and sung it with the Israelitish men, while Miriam, his sister, sung it with dancing, and playing on instruments, at the head of the women,  Exodus 15:20-21 . He caused silver trumpets to be made to be sounded at solemn sacrifices, and on religious festivals. David, who had great skill in music, soothed the perturbed spirit of Saul by playing on the harp,  1 Samuel 16:16,23; and when he was himself established on the throneseeing that the Levites were not employed, as formerly, in carrying the boards, veils, and vessels of the tabernacle, its abode being fixed at Jerusalem-appointed a great part of them to sing and to play on instruments in the temple,  1 Chronicles 25:1-31 . David brought the ark to Jerusalem with triumphant and joyful music,  1 Chronicles 13:8   15:16-28; and in the same manner Solomon was proclaimed king,  1 Kings 1:39-40 . The Old Testament prophets also sought the aid of music in their services,  1 Samuel 10:5   2 Kings 3:15 .

Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun were chiefs of the music of the tabernacle under David, and of the temple under Solomon. Asaph had four sons, Jeduthun six, and Heman fourteen. These twenty-four Levites, sons of the three great masters of the temple-music, were at the head of twenty-four bands of musicians, which served in the temple by turns. Their number there was always great, but especially at the chief solemnities. They were ranged in order about the altar of burnt-sacrifices. As the whole business of their lives was to learn and to practice music, it must be supposed that they understood it well, whether it were vocal or instrumental,  2 Chronicles 29:25 .

The kings also had their music. Asaph was chief master of music to David. In the temple, and in the ceremonies of religion, female musicians were admitted as well as male; they generally were daughters of the Levites. Ezra, in his enumeration of those whom he brought back with him from the captivity, reckons two hundred singing men and singing women,  2 Samuel 19:35   Ezra 2:65   Nehemiah 7:67 .

As to the nature of their music, we can judge of it only by conjecture, because it has been long lost. Probably it was a unison of several voices, of which all sung together the same melody, each according to his strength and skill; without musical counterpoint, or those different parts and combinations which constitute harmony in our music. Probably, also, the voices were generally accompanied by instrumental music. If we may draw any conclusions in favor of their music from its effects, its magnificence, its majesty, and the lofty sentiments contained in their songs, we must allow it great excellence. It is supposed that the temple musicians were sometimes divided into two or more separate choirs, which, with a general chorus, sung in turn responsive to each other, each a small portion of the Psalm. The structure of the Hebrew Psalms is eminently adapted to this mode of singing, and very delightful and solemn effects might thus be produced. Compare  Psalm 24:10,10,10 .

Numerous musical instruments are mentioned in Scripture, but it has been found impossible to affix heir names with certainty to specific instruments now in use. By a comparison, however, of the instruments probably held in common by the Jews with the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians, a degree of probability as to most of them has been secured. They were of three kinds:

A. Stringed instruments:

1. KINNOR, "the harp,"  Genesis 4:21 . Frequently mentioned in Scripture, and probably a kind of lyre.

2. NEBEL, "the psaltery,"  1 Samuel 10:5 . It appears to have been the name of various large instruments of the harp kind.

3. ASOR, signifying ten-stringed. In  Psalm 92:4 , it apparently denotes an instrument distinct from the NEBEL; but elsewhere it seems to be simply a description of the NEBEL as ten-stringed. See  Psalm 33:2   144:9 .

4.  Psalm 8:1   81:1   84:1 . From the name, it is supposed that David brought it from Gath. Others conclude that it is a general name for a string instrument.

5. MINNIM, strings,  Psalm 150:4 . Probably another kind of stringed instrument.

6. SABECA, "sackbut,"  Daniel 3:5,7,10,15 . A kind of lyre.

7. PESANTERIN, "psaltery," occurs  Daniel 3:7 , and is supposed to represent the NEBEL.

8. MACHALATH. Found in the titles of  Psalm 53:1   88:1; supposed to be a lute or guitar.

B. Wind instruments:

9. KEREN, "horn,"  Joshua 6:5 . Cornet.

10. Shophar "trumpet,"  Numbers 10:10 . Used synonymously with KEREN.

11. CHATZOZERAH, the straight trumpet,  Psalm 98:6 .

12. JOBEL, or Keren Jobel horn of jubilee, or signal trumpet,  Joshua 6:4 . Probably the same with 9,10.

13. Chail "pipe" or "flute." The word means bored through,  1 Samuel 10:5 .

14. MISHROKITHA,  Daniel 3:5 , etc. Probably the Chaldean name for the flute with two reeds.

15. UGAB, "organ" in our version  Genesis 4:21 . It means a double or manifold pipe, and hence the shepherd's pipe; probably the same as the syrinx or Pan's pipe; or perhaps resembling the bagpipe.

C. Instruments which gave out sound on being struck:

17. TOPH,  Genesis 31:27 , the tambourine and all instruments of the drum kind.

18. PHAAMON, "bells,"  Exodus 28:33 . Attached to the hem of the high priest's garment.

19. TZELITZELIM, "cymbals,"  Psalm 150:5 . A word frequently occurring. There were probably two kinds, hand-cymbals.

20. SHALISHIM,  1 Samuel 18:6 . In our version, "instruments of music." "Three-stringed instruments." Most writers identify it with the triangle.

21. MENAANEIM, "cymbals,"  2 Samuel 6:5 . Probably the sistrum. The Hebrew word means to shake. The sistrum was generally about sixteen or eighteen inches long, occasionally inlaid with silver, and being held upright, was shaken, the rings moving to and fro on the bars.

Further particulars concerning some of these may be found under the names they severally bear in our English Bible.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [5]


1. The most ancient music. - The inventor of musical instruments, like the first poet and the first forger of metals, was a Cainite. We learn from  Genesis 4:21, that Jubal, the son of Lamech, was "the father of all such as handle the harp and organ," that is, of all players upon stringed and wind instruments.

The first mentioned of music, in the times after the deluge, is in the narrative of Laban's interview with Jacob,  Genesis 32:27, so that, whatever way it was preserved, the practice of music existed in the upland country of Syria, and of the three possible kinds of musical instruments, two were known and employed to accompany the song.

The three kinds are alluded to in  Job 21:12. On the banks of the Red Sea, Moses and the children of Israel sang their triumphal song of deliverance from the hosts of Egypt; and Miriam, in celebration of the same event, exercised one of her functions, as a prophetess, by leading a procession of the women of the camp, chanting in chorus, the burden of the song of Moses.

The song of Deborah and Barak is cast in a distinctly metrical form, and was probably intended to be sung, with a musical accompaniment as one of the people's songs. The simpler impromptu with which the women from the cities of Israel greeted David, after the slaughter of the Philistines was apparently struck off on the spur of the moment, under the influence of the wild joy with which they welcomed their national champion, "the darling of the sons of Israel."  1 Samuel 18:6-7.

Up to this time, we meet with nothing like a systematic cultivation of music, among the Hebrews, but the establishment of the schools of the prophets appears to have supplied this want. Whatever the students of these schools may have been taught, music was an essential part of their practice. Professional musicians soon became attached to the court.

2. The golden age of Hebrew music. David seems to have gathered round him, "singing men and singing women."  2 Samuel 19:35. Solomon did the same,  Ecclesiastes 2:8, adding to the luxury of his court by his patronage of art, and obtaining a reputation himself as no mean composer.  1 Kings 4:32. But the Temple was the great school of music, and it was consecrated to its highest service in the worship of Jehovah .

Before, however, the elaborate arrangements had been made by David for the Temple choir, there must have been a considerable body of musicians, throughout the country.  2 Samuel 6:5. (David chose 4000 musicians from the 38,000 Levies in his reign, or one in ten of the whole tribe. Of these musicians, 288 were specially trained and skillful.  1 Chronicles 26:6-7. The whole number was divided into 24 courses, each of which would, thus, consist of a full band of 154 musicians, presided over by a body of 12 specially-trained leaders, under one of the twenty-four sons of Asaph, Heman or Jeduthun as conductor.

The leaders appear to have played on the cymbals, perhaps to make the time.  1 Chronicles 15:19;  1 Chronicles 16:5. All these joined in a special chant which David taught them, and which went by his name.  1 Chronicles 23:5 Women also took part in the Temple choir.  1 Chronicles 13:8;  1 Chronicles 25:5-6 These great choirs answered one to another in responsive singing; thus the Temple music most have been grand and inspiring beyond anything known before that time.

3. Character of Hebrew music. - As in all Oriental nations, the music of the Hebrews was melody, rather than harmony, which latter was then unknown. All old and young, men and maidens, singers and instruments, appear to have sung one part only in or in octaves. "The beauty of the music consisted altogether in the melody;" but this, with so many instruments and voices, was so charming that "the whole of antiquity is full of the praises of this music. By its means, battles were won, cities conquered, mutinies quelled, diseases cured." - Editor).

4. Uses of music. - In the private, as well as in the religious, life of the Hebrews, music held a prominent place. The kings had their court musicians,  2 Chronicles 35:25;  Ecclesiastes 2:8, and in the luxurious times of the later monarchy, the effeminate gallants of Israel amused themselves, with devising musical instruments, while their nation was perishing, ("as Nero fiddled while Rome was burning").

But music was also the legitimate expression of mirth and gladness. The bridal processions, as they passed through the streets, were accompanied with music and song.  Jeremiah 7:34. The music of the banquets was accompanied with song and dancing.  Luke 15:26. The triumphal processions which celebrated victory were enlivened by minstrels and singers.  Exodus 15:1;  Exodus 15:20;  Judges 5:1;  Judges 11:34.

There were also religious songs.  Isaiah 30:29;  James 5:13. Love songs are alluded to; in  Psalms 45:1, title, and in  Isaiah 5:1. There were also, the doleful songs of the funeral procession, and the wailing chant of the mourners. The grape-gatherers sang at their work, and the women sang as they toiled at the mill, and on every occasion, the land of the Hebrews, during their national prosperity, was a land of music and melody.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [6]

Of the music of the Old Testament Scripture it is no easy matter to form a right apprehension. That the Hebrews were fond of music is readily admitted. And that they excelled in the art, can as readily be allowed; since we find upon record, strong testimonies of the power and effect upon the mind, both from the strength and charm of the melody, and the skill of the performer. David's harp quieted the disturbed state of Sauls mind. ( 1 Samuel 16:14-23) And in like manner, we find other testimonies of the influence of music. When Saul sent messengers to seize David, the melody of the prophets so affected their minds that they joined the chorus. And when other messengers were sent, the same effect followed. Yea, Saul himself felt the contagion, and for the moment his passion of anger subsided. (See  1 Samuel 19:19-24)

But, while all possible allowance is made to this view of the music of the Hebrews, we cannot conceive that all that is said of musical instruments in the Old Testament Scriptures means literally so to be received. The antiquity of music, no doubt, gave birth, very early, to the invention. Jubal, before the deluge, is said to have been "the father of all that play on the (kinnor) harp, and (hugab) organ." ( Genesis 4:21) Indeed, the very sound of the human voice is musical, and must have given rise very early in the world to the invention. But after all, it is not to be supposed, that every instrument of flute, harp, sackbut, psaltry, and dulcimer, literally mean those things which we take them for. In numberless instances we may conclude, that they rather mean stringed instruments of the heart. See  Psalms 150:1-6 and the like. Hence the great variety of the names we meet with at the head of numberless Psalms, can never be supposed to refer to such things. Whether we comprehend their meaning or not, common sense might suppose that somewhat higher is intended.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [7]

 Genesis 4:21 Genesis 31:27 Exodus 15

But the period of Samuel, David, and Solomon was the golden age of Hebrew music, as it was of Hebrew poetry. Music was now for the first time systematically cultivated. It was an essential part of training in the schools of the prophets ( 1 Samuel 10:5;  19:19-24;  2 Kings 3:15;  1 Chronicles 25:6 ). There now arose also a class of professional singers ( 2 Samuel 19:35;  Ecclesiastes 2:8 ). The temple, however, was the great school of music. In the conducting of its services large bands of trained singers and players on instruments were constantly employed ( 2 Samuel 6:5;  1 Chronicles 15;  16;  235;5;  25:1-6 ).

In private life also music seems to have held an important place among the Hebrews ( Ecclesiastes 2:8;  Amos 6:4-6;  Isaiah 5:11,12;  24:8,9;  Psalm 137;  Jeremiah 48:33;  Luke 15:25 ).

People's Dictionary of the Bible [8]

Music.  1 Samuel 18:6;  Isaiah 30:29. The practice of music was not restricted to any one class of persons.  1 Chronicles 13:8;  1 Chronicles 15:16. The sons of Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun were set apart by David for the musical service. They were divided, like the priests, into 24 courses, which are enumerated.  1 Chronicles 25:1-31. Of the 38,000 Levites, "four thousand praised the Lord with the instruments."  1 Chronicles 23:5. Each of the courses or classes had 154 musicians and three leaders, and all were under the general direction of Asaph and his brethren. Each course served for a week, but upon the festivals all were required to be present, or four thousand musicians. Heman, with one of his leaders, directed the central choir, Asaph the right, and Jeduthun the left wing. These several choirs answered one another, as is generally supposed, in that kind of alternate singing which is called "antiphonal," or responsive. The priests, in the meantime, performed upon the silver trumpets.  2 Chronicles 5:11-14;  Numbers 10:2.

Webster's Dictionary [9]

(1): ( n.) The written and printed notation of a musical composition; the score.

(2): ( n.) The science and the art of tones, or musical sounds, i. e., sounds of higher or lower pitch, begotten of uniform and synchronous vibrations, as of a string at various degrees of tension; the science of harmonical tones which treats of the principles of harmony, or the properties, dependences, and relations of tones to each other; the art of combining tones in a manner to please the ear.

(3): ( n.) Melody; a rhythmical and otherwise agreeable succession of tones.

(4): ( n.) Harmony; an accordant combination of simultaneous tones.

(5): ( n.) A more or less musical sound made by many of the lower animals. See Stridulation.

(6): ( n.) Love of music; capacity of enjoying music.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [10]

1: Συμφωνία (Strong'S #4858 — Noun Feminine — sumphonia — soom-fo-nee'-ah )

lit., "a sounding together" (Eng., "symphony"), occurs in  Luke 15:25 . In the Sept.,  Daniel 3:5,7,10,15 , for Aramaic sumponya (not in ver. 7), itself a loan word from the Greek; translated "dulcimer" (RV, marg., "bagpipe").

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [11]

See Praise, and articles on various Musical Instruments.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [12]

It seems probable that music is the oldest of all the fine arts. It is more than any other an immediate work of nature. Hence we find it among all nations, even those which are totally ignorant of every other art. Some instruments of music are in Scripture named even before the deluge, as being invented by Jubal, one of Cain's descendants and some will regard this as confirmed by the common opinion of the Orientals. Chardin relates that the Persians and Arabians call musicians and singers Kayne, or 'descendants from Cain.' The instruments invented by Jubal seem to have remained in use after the flood, or at least the names were still in use, and occur in the latest books of the Old Testament. Music, in practical use, is almost constantly mentioned in connection with the song and the dance , and was doubtless employed to elevate the former and regulate the latter. Women especially are seen to have employed it in this connection from the earliest times (;; ). At a later period we trace the appearance of foreign girls in Palestine, as in Greece and Italy, who visited the towns like the Bayaderes of the present day . Music was also through all periods used in social meetings, and in public rejoicings (;;;;;;; ). By David music was variously and conspicuously connected with the temple worship in particular, the Levites, in their several choirs, performed their music divided into different classes at the great sacrifices (;; ). The prophets also appear to have regarded music as necessary to their services and they used it sometimes for the purpose, apparently, of bringing their minds into the frame suited for prophetic inspirations . In the case of David playing before Saul, we have marked and interesting evidence that the effect of music in soothing the perturbations of a disordered intellect was well known among the Hebrews .

With respect to the nature of the Hebrew music, it was doubtless of the same essential character as that of other ancient nations, and of all the present Oriental nations; consisting not so much in harmony (in the modern sense of the term) as in unison or melody.

The old, the young, maidens, etc., appear to have sung one part. The instruments by which, in singing, this melody was accompanied, occupied the part of a sustained base; and, if we are disposed to apply in this case what Niebuhr has told us, the beauty of the concerts consisted in this—that other persons repeated the music which had just been sung, three, four, or five notes, lower or higher. Such, for instance, was the concert which Miriam held with her musical fellows, and to which the 'toph,' or tabret, furnished the continued base. To this mode of performance belongs to Psalms 24, which rests altogether upon the varied representation; in like manner, also, Psalms 20; Psalms 21. This was all the change it admitted; and although it is very possible that this monotonous, or rather unisonous music, might not be interesting to ears tuned to musical progressions, modulations, and cadences, there is something in it with which the Orientals are well pleased.

A music of this description could easily dispense with the compositions which mark the time by notes; and the Hebrews do not appear to have known anything of musical notation; for that the accents served that purpose is a position which yet remains to be proved. At the best the accent must have been a very imperfect instrument for this purpose, however high its antiquity.

The Hebrew music is judged to have been of a shrill character; for this would result from the nature of the instruments—harps, flutes, and cymbals—which were employed in the temple service.

The manner of singing single songs was, it seems, ruled by that of others in the same measure, and it is usually supposed that many of the titles of the Psalms are intended to indicate the names of other songs according to which these were to be sung [[[Psalms, Book Of]]]

The allusions to music in the Scriptures are so incidental and concise, that it will never be possible to form out of them a complete or connected view of the state of musical science among the ancient Hebrews. The little knowledge which has been realized on the subject has been obtained chiefly through the patient labors and minute investigations of Calmet, Forkel, Pfeiffer, Jahn, Winer, DeWette, and other authors.

It is less difficult to determine the general character of the Hebrew instruments of music, than to identify the particular instruments which are named in the Hebrew Scriptures. We see certain instruments different from our own in use among the modern Orientals, and we infer that the Hebrew instruments were probably not unlike these. When, however, we endeavor to identify with these a particular instrument named by the Hebrews, our difficulty begins; because the Hebrew names are seldom to be recognized in those which they now bear, and because the Scripture affords us little information respecting the form of the instruments which it mentions.

The matter naturally arranges itself under the following heads—

Stringed Instruments

Wind Instruments

Instruments of Percussion

Stringed Instruments

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [13]

( שַׁיר , Shir, Singing,  1 Chronicles 15:16;  2 Chronicles 5:13;  2 Chronicles 7:6;  2 Chronicles 34:12;  Ecclesiastes 12:4;  Amos 6:5; a Song, as it is usually elsewhere rendered; Chald. זְמִר , Zemar', the Striking of musical instruments,  Daniel 2:5;  Daniel 2:7;  Daniel 2:10;  Daniel 2:15; Gr. Συμφωνία , symphony of sound,  Luke 15:25; but נְגַינָה , Neginah',  Lamentations 5:14, or מִגְגַּינָה , manginah', Lamentations 2:63, is a satirical "song;" comp.  Job 30:9. (See Neginoth) ). This is the oldest and most natural of all the fine arts, and therefore is found among all nations, however ignorant of every other art. In elucidating the subject in this and a following article (that on Musical Instruments ) we give a general treatment, referring to other heads for details on particular points.

The Hebrews were an eminently musical people. Their history is full of illustrations of this feature of their national character and life. Their literature is a monument of it; for a large portion of their poetry was conceived in the form of psalmody or sacred lyric song; and though exaggerated representations have sometimes been put forward of the perfection which musical science and art attained among them, it cannot be doubted that their musical progress and attainments went much beyond the narrow limits which some eminent modern writers of the history of music have thought themselves warranted to assign.

1. Antiquity Of Hebrew Music . The Hebrew nation made no claim to the invention of music or musical instruments, but assigned to it an antiquity as remote as the antediluvian days of Jubal, who "was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ" ( Genesis 4:21). The inventor of musical instruments, therefore, like the first poet and the first forger of metals, was a Cainite. Chardin relates that the Persians and Arabians call musicians and singers Kayne, or "descendants from Cain." From the occurrence of the name Mahalaleel, third in descent from Seth, which signifies "giving praise to God," Schneider concludes that vocal music in religious services must have been still earlier in use among the Sethites (Biblischgesch. Darstellung der Hebr. Musik, page 11). It has been conjectured that Jubal's discovery may have been perpetuated by the pillars of the Sethites mentioned by Josephus (Ant. 1:2), and that in this way it was preserved till after the Flood; but such conjectures are worse than an honest confession of ignorance.

The first mention of music in the times after the Deluge is in the narrative of Laban's interview with Jacob. Moses has recorded words of Laban, the fatherin-law of Jacob, from which it appears that instruments of various kinds were already in use among the ancient family beyond the Euphrates from which the Hebrews sprang: "Wherefore didst thou flee away secretly, and steal away from me, and didst not tell me, that I might have sent thee away with mirth and with songs, with tabret and with harp?" ( Genesis 31:27). Whatever else, then, the posterity of Jacob may have learned from "the wisdom of the Egyptians" during their long stay in Egypt that ancient cradle of the arts and sciences it may be assumed as certain that they were familiar with at least the rudiments of music before they went down to sojourn there, although it is reasonable to suppose that they were indebted to that ingenious and inventive people for some further progress in the art. It is a remarkable and interesting fact that their exodus from Egypt, which was their birthday as a nation, was an event celebrated by an outburst both of poetry and song. But whatever may have been its origin, and in whatever way it was preserved, the practice of music existed in the upland country of Syria; and of the three possible kinds of musical instruments, two were known and employed to accompany the song. The three kinds are alluded to in  Job 21:12. On the banks of the Red Sea, Moses and the children of Israel sang their triumphal song of deliverance from the hosts of Egypt; and Miriam, in celebration of the same event, exercised one of her functions as a prophetess by leading a procession of the women of the camp, chanting in chorus the burden to the song of Moses, "Sing ye to Jehovah for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea." Their song was accompanied by timbrels and dances, or, as some take the latter word, by a musical instrument of which the shape is unknown, but which is supposed to have resembled the modern tambourine, (See Dance), and, like it, to have been used as an accompaniment to dancing. The expression in the A.V. of  Exodus 15:21, "and Miriam Answered them," seems to indicate that the song was alternate, Miriam leading off with the solo, while the women responded in full chorus. But it is probable that the Hebrew word, like the corresponding Arabic, has merely the sense of singing, which is retained in the A.V. of  Exodus 32:18;  Numbers 21:17;  1 Samuel 29:5;  Psalms 147:7;  Hosea 2:15. The same word is used for the shouting of soldiers in battle ( Jeremiah 51:14), and the cry of wild beasts ( Isaiah 13:22), and in neither of these cases can the notion of response be appropriate. All that can be inferred is that Miriam led off the song, and this is confirmed by the rendering of the Vulg., Praecinebat . The triumphal hymn of Moses had unquestionably a religious character about it, but the employment of music in religious service, though idolatrous, is more distinctly marked in the festivities which attended the erection of the golden calf. With this may be compared the musical service which accompanied the dedication of the golden image in the plains of Dura (Daniel 3), the commencement of which was to be the signal for the multitude to prostrate themselves in worship. The wild cries and shouts which reached the ears of Moses and Joshua as they came down from the mount sounded to the latter as the din of battle, the voices of victor and vanquished blending in one harsh chorus. But the quicker sense of Moses discerned the rough music with which the people worshipped the visible representation of the God that brought them out of Egypt. Nothing could show more clearly than Joshua's mistake the rude character of the Hebrew music at this period ( Exodus 32:17-18), as untrained and wild as the notes of their Syrian forefathers. Comp.  Lamentations 2:7, where the war-cry of the enemy in the Temple is likened to the noise of the multitude on a solemn feast-day: "They have made a noise in the house of Jehovah as in the day of a solemn feast." The silver trumpets made by the metal workers of the tabernacle, which were used to direct the movements of the camp, point to music of a very simple kind ( Numbers 10:1-10), and the long blast of the jubilee horns, with which the priests brought down the walls of Jericho, had probably nothing very musical about it (Joshua vi), any more than the rough concert with which the ears of the sleeping Midianites were saluted by Gideon's three hundred warriors (Judges 7). The song of Deborah and Barak is cast in a distinctly metrical form, and was probably intended to be sung with a musical accompaniment as one of the people's songs, like that with which Jephthah's daughter and her companions met her father on his victorious return (Judges 11).

2. Golden Age Of Hebrew Music . The period of Samuel, David, and Solomon forms a new era in Hebrew music, as well as in Hebrew poetry (see Delitzsch, Comosentar Uiber Den Psalter, 1859-60). The simpler impromptu with which the women from the cities of Israel greeted David after the slaughter of the Philistine was apparently struck off on the spur of the moment, under the influence of the wild joy with which they welcomed their national champion, "the darling of the songs of Israel." The accompaniment of timbrels and instruments of music must have been equally simple, and such that all could take part in it ( 1 Samuel 18:6-7). Up to this time we meet with nothing like a systematic cultivation of music among the Hebrews, but the establishment of the schools of the prophets appears to have supplied this want. Whatever the students of these schools may have been taught, music was an essential part of their practice. At Bethel ( 1 Samuel 10:5) was a school of this kind, as well as at Naioth in Ramah ( 1 Samuel 19:19-20), at Jericho ( 2 Kings 2:5;  2 Kings 2:7;  2 Kings 2:15), Gilgal ( 2 Kings 4:38), and perhaps at Jerusalem ( 2 Kings 22:14). Professional musicians soon became attached to the court; and though Saul, a hardy warrior. had only at intervals recourse to the soothing influence of David's harp, yet David seems to have gathered around him "singing men and singing women," who could celebrate his victories and lend a charm to his hours of peace ( 2 Samuel 19:35). Solomon did the same,( Ecclesiastes 2:8), adding to the luxury of his court by his patronage of art, and obtaining a reputation himself as no mean composer ( 1 Kings 4:32).

But the Temple was the great school of music, and it was consecrated to its highest service in the worship of Jehovah. Before, however, the elaborate arrangements had been made by David for the Temple choir, there must have been a considerable body of musicians throughout the country ( 2 Samuel 6:5); and in the procession which accompanied the ark from the house of Obededom, the Levites, with Chenaniah at their head, who had acquired skill from previous training, plaved on psalteries, harps, and cymbals, to the words of the psalm of thanksgiving which David had composed for the occasion (1 Chronicles 15, 16). It is not improbable that the Levites all along had practiced music, and that some musical service was part of the worship of the tabernacle; for unless this supposition be made, it is inconceivable that a body of trained singers and musicians should be found ready for an occasion like that on which they make their first appearance. The position which the tribe of Levi occupied among the other tribes naturally favored the cultivation of an art which is essentially characteristic of a leisurely and peaceful life. They were free from the hardships attending the struggle for conquest and afterwards for existence, which the Hebrews maintained with the nations of Canaan and the surrounding countries, and their subsistence was provided for by a national tax. Consequently they had ample leisure for the various ecclesiastical duties devolving upon them, and among others for the service of song, for which some of their families appear to have possessed a remarkable genius. The three great divisions of the tribe had each a representative family in the choir: Heman and his sons represented the Kohathites, Asaph the Gershonites, and Ethan (or Jeduthuun) the Merarites ( 1 Chronicles 15:17;  1 Chronicles 23:6;  1 Chronicles 25:1-6). Of the 38,000 who composed the tribe in the reign of David, 4000 are said to have been appointed to praise Jehovah with the instruments which David made ( 1 Chronicles 23:5), and for which he taught them a special chant. This, chant for ages afterwards was known by his name, and was sung by the Levites before the army of Jehoshaphat, and on laying the foundation of the second temple (comp.  1 Chronicles 16:34;  1 Chronicles 16:41;  2 Chronicles 7:6;  2 Chronicles 20:21;  Ezra 3:10-11); and again by the Maccabean army after their great victory over Gorgias ( 1 Maccabees 4:24).

Over this great body of musicians presided the sons of Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, twenty-four in number, as heads of the twenty-four courses of twelve into which the skilled minstrels were divided. These skilled or "cunning" ( מֵבַין ,  1 Chronicles 25:6-7) men were 288 in number, and under them appear to have been the scholars ( תִּלְמַיד ,  1 Chronicles 25:8) whom, perhaps, they trained, and who made up the full number of 4000. Supposing 4000 to be merely a round number, each course would consist of a full band of 166 musicians, presided over by a body of twelve skilled players, with one of the sons of Asaph, Beman, or Jeduthun as conductor. Asaph himself appears to have played on the cymbals ( 1 Chronicles 16:5), and this was the case with the other leaders ( 1 Chronicles 15:19), perhaps to mark the time more distinctly, while the rest of the band played on psalteries and harps. The singers were distinct from both, as is evident in  Psalms 68:25, "the singers went before, the players on instruments followed after, in the midst of the damsels playing with timbrels;" unless the Singers in this case were the cymbal-players, like Heman, Asaph, and Ethan, who, in  1 Chronicles 15:19, are called "singers," and perhaps while giving the time with their cymbals led the choir with their voices. The "players on instruments" ( נֹגְנַים , Nogenim), as the word denotes, were the performers upon stringed instruments, like the psaltery and harp, who have been alluded to. The " players on instruments" ( חֹלְלַים , cholelim), in  Psalms 87:7, were different from these last, and were properly pipers or performers on perforated wind-instruments (see  1 Kings 1:40). "The damsels playing with timbrels" (comp.  1 Chronicles 13:8) seem to indicate that women took part in the Temple choir; and among the family of Heman are specially mentioned three daughters, who, with his fourteen sons, were all "under the hands of their father for song in the house of Jehovah" ( 1 Chronicles 25:5-6). The enormous number of instruments and dresses for the Levites provided during the magnificent reign of Solomon would seem, if Josephus be correct (Ant. 8:3, 8), to have been intended for all time. A thousand dresses for the high-priest; linen garments and girdles of purple for the priests, 10,000; trumpets, 200,000; psalteries and harps of electrum, 40,000; all these were stored up in the Temple treasury. The costume of the Levitical singers at the dedication of the Temple was of fine linen ( 2 Chronicles 5:12).

3. The Silver Age Of Hebrew Music . So we may perhaps fitly designate the period of the captivity and the restoration, as denoting that the national music was still preserved and cultivated by considerable numbers of the people, especially of the Levitical families, although much of its ancient glory and splendor had passed away. In the first anguish and dejection of their captivity, it was natural that the tribes should feel what is so touchingly expressed in Psalms 137 : that by the rivers of Babylon they should hang their harps upon the willows; and that, when required by their captors to sing them one of the songs of Zion, they should exclaim, with patriotic disdain, "How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?" But by and by they would take down their harps again from the willow- boughs, and seek solace for the sorrows of their long exile in recalling the loved melodies of their native land, and the sacred psalmody of their desolated Temple. The Babylonians, besides, were a people as fond of music as themselves. Many of their instruments are mentioned in the book of Daniel (chapters  Daniel 3:7;  Daniel 3:10;  Daniel 3:15); and in the long period of seventy years the Hebrew exiles must have been able to enrich their own national music by many new ideas and new instruments. It is at least certain that when "the Lord turned again the captivity of Judah," there was a fresh inspiration and outburst of sacred poetry and song: " Then was our mouth filled with laughter and our tongue with singing" ( Psalms 126:2). Not a few of the later parts of the Psalter are of that age, some of which are not much inferior to the best compositions of David himself; and in proof of the extent to which musical gifts were spread among the returned exiles, it may suffice to refer to the fact stated in  Nehemiah 7:67, that "they had two hundred forty and five singing men and singing women," by whom we are no doubt to understand professional as distinguished from amateur performers. Nor were the musical traditions of the Temple forgotten, or their official depositaries extinct. The Levitical families of Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun were still numerous, and still devoted to their choral art and office. "The children of Asaph alone the singers were a hundred twenty and eight" ( Ezra 2:41). At the foundation of the second temple, "they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord after the ordinance of David. king of Israel" ( Ezra 3:10); and when, after many interruptions, the house was at last finished and dedicated, the whole liturgical service of David's and Solomon's reigns was as far as possible restored. "They set the priests in their divisions and the Levites in their courses for the service of God which is at Jerusalem" ( Ezra 6:18).

In the apocryphal book of Ecclesiasticus (chapter 1) we find an interesting reference to the musical service of the second temple in the days of Simon the high-priest, the son of Onias, "who in his life repaired the house again and took care of the Temple that it should not fall." When Simon "finished the service of the altar, by stretching out his hand to the cup and pouring out the blood of the grape at the foot of the altar, a sweet-smelling savor," "then shouted the sons of Aaron, and sounded the silver trumpets, and made a great noise to be heard for a remembrance before the Most High. Then all the people together hasted and fell down to the earth upon their faces to worship their Lord God Almighty. The singers also sang praises with their voices, with great variety of sounds was there made sweet melody, and the people besought the Lord till the solemnity of the Lord was ended and they had finished his service."

The Talmud also contains some notices of the liturgical music of the Herodian temple. The ordinary Levitical orchestra (according to Erachin, 10a, and Tamid, 7:3), consisted of only twelve performers, provided with nine lyres, two harps, and one cymbal, with the addition, on certain days, of flutes. These musicians were stationed upon the דּוּכִן (Dukan), or the ascent of several steps which led from the outer court to the court of the priests, and were placed under the leadership of the chief musician, who gave the time with "the loud-sounding cymbals." Below the steps, and at the foot of the Levites, stood the chorister boys of the same tribe who sang the refrain. The daily week-day psalm ( שׁיר הקרבן ) was sung in nine parts or strophes, and the pauses were marked by the trumpet-blasts of the priests. The musical service of the Herodian temple was by no means the same as that of earlier times; and if the present accentuation of the Psalter be regarded as representing the manner in which the psalms were sung or cantilated in the time of Herod, it would not suffice to give us any notion of the usage which prevailed in the days of the first temple, before the exile. Innovations upon ancient usage were from time to time introduced; and among these mention is made in the Talmud of the use of an instrument in the later temple, which would seem to have been of the nature of a wind-organ, provided with as many as a hundred different keys, and the power of which was such, according to Jerome, that it could be heard from Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives, and even farther. (See Saalschitz, Archaeologie, 1:281-284; also Appendix to the same author's Geschichte und Wirdigung der Musik bei den Hebriern.)

4. The Uses And Characteristics Of Hebrew Music. Sacred music, as in the above liturgical examples, was the most important application of the art among the Hebrews. The trumpets, which are mentioned among the instruments played before the ark ( 1 Chronicles 13:8), appear to have been reserved for the priests alone ( 1 Chronicles 15:24;  1 Chronicles 16:6). As they were also used in royal proclamations ( 2 Kings 11:14), they were probably intended to set forth by way of symbol the royalty of Jehovah, the theocratic king of his people, as well as to sound the alarm against his enemies ( 2 Chronicles 13:12). A hundred and twenty priests blew the trumpets in harmony with the choir of Levites at the dedication of Solomon's temple ( 2 Chronicles 5:12-13;  2 Chronicles 7:6), as in the restoration of the worship under Hezekiah, in the description of which we find an indication of one of the uses of the Temple music: "And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt-offering upon the altar. And when the burnt- offering began, the song of Jehovah began also, with the trumpets and with the instruments of David, king of Israel. And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded; all until the burnt-offering was finished" ( 2 Chronicles 29:27-28). The altar was the table of Jehovah ( Malachi 1:7), and the sacrifices were his feasts ( Exodus 23:18); so the solemn music of the Levites corresponded to the melody by which the banquets of earthly monarchs were accompanied. The Temple was Jehovah's palace, and as the Levite sentries watched the gates by night they chanted the songs of Zion; one of these it has been conjectured with probability is Psalms 134.

In the private as well as in the religious life of the Hebrews music held a prominent place. The kings had their court musicians ( Ecclesiastes 2:8), who bewailed their death ( 2 Chronicles 35:25); and in the luxurious times of the later monarchy the effeminate gallants of Israel, reeking with perfumes and stretched upon their couches of ivory, were wont at their banquets to accompany the song with the tinkling of the psaltery or guitar ( Amos 6:4-6), and amused themselves with devising musical instruments while their nation was perishing, as Nero fiddled when Rome was in flames. Isaiah denounces a woe against those who sat till the morning twilight over their wine, to the sound of "the harp and the viol, the tabret and pipe" ( Isaiah 5:11-12). But while music was thus made to minister to debauchery and excess, it was the legitimate expression of mirth and gladness, and the indication of peace and prosperity. It was only when a curse was upon the land that the prophet could say, "The mirth of tabrets ceaseth, the noise of them that rejoice endeth, the joy of the harp ceaseth: they shall not drink wine with a song" ( Isaiah 24:8-9). In the sadness of captivity the harps hung upon the willows of Babylon, and the voices of the singers refused to sing the songs of Jehovah at their foreign captors' bidding (Psalms 137). The bridal processions as they passed through the streets were accompanied with music and song ( Jeremiah 7:34), and these ceased only when the land was desolate ( Ezekiel 26:13).

The high value attached to music at banquets is indicated in the description given in Sirach 32 of the duties of the master of a feast. "Pour not out words where there is a musician, and show not forth wisdom but of time. A concert of music in a banquet of wine is as a signet of carbuncle set in gold. As a signet of an emerald set in a work of gold, so is the melody of music with pleasant wine." And, again, the memory of the good king Josiah was "as music at a banquet of wine" ( Sirach 49:1). The music of the banquets was accompanied with songs and dancing ( Luke 15:25). So at the royal banquets of Babylon were sung hymns of praise in honor of the gods ( Daniel 5:4;  Daniel 5:23), and perhaps on some such occasion as the feast of Belshazzar the Hebrew captives might have been brought in to sing the songs of their native land (Psalms 137).

The triumphal processions which celebrated a victory were enlivened by minstrels and singers ( Exodus 15:1;  Exodus 15:20;  Judges 5:1;  Judges 11:34;  1 Samuel 18:6;  1 Samuel 21:11;  2 Chronicles 20:28;  Judges 15:12-13), and on extraordinary occasions they even accompanied armies to battle. Thus the Levites sang the chant of David before the army of Jehoshaphat as he went forth against the hosts of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir ( 2 Chronicles 20:19;  2 Chronicles 20:21); and the victory of Abijah over Jeroboam is attributed to the encouragement given to Judah by the priests sounding their trumpets before the ark ( 2 Chronicles 13:12;  2 Chronicles 13:14). It is clear from the narrative of Elisha and the minstrel who by his playing calmed the prophet's spirit till the hand of Jehovah was upon him, that among the camp-followers of Jehoshaphat's army on that occasion there were to be reckoned musicians who were probably Levites ( 2 Kings 3:15). Besides songs of triumph, there were also religious songs ( Isaiah 30:29;  Amos 5:23;  James 5:13), "songs of the Temple" ( Amos 8:3), and songs which were sung in idolatrous worship ( Exodus 32:18).

In like manner the use of music in the religious services of the Therapeutse of later times is described by Philo (De Vita Contempl. page 901 red. Frankf.]). At a certain period in the service one of the worshippers rose and sang a song of praise to God, either of his own composition or one from the older poets. He was followed by others in a regular order, the congregation remaining quiet till the concluding prayer, in which all joined. After a simple meal the whole congregation arose and formed two choirs, one of men and one of women, with the most skilful singer of each for leader; and in this way sang hymns to God, sometimes with the full chorus, and sometimes with each choir alternately. In conclusion, both men and women joined in a single choir, in imitation of that on the shores of the Red Sea, which was led by Moses and Miriam. In the Scriptures love-songs are alluded to in Psalms 45, title, and  Isaiah 5:1. There were also the doleful songs of the funeral procession, and the wailing chant of the mourners who went about the streets, the professional קַינָה of those who were skilful in lamentation (2 Chronicles 35:25;  Ecclesiastes 12:5;  Jeremiah 9:17-20;  Amos 5:16). Lightfoot (Hor. Heb. on  Matthew 9:23) quotes from the Talmudists (Chetubh. c. 4, h. 6) to the effect that every Israelite on the death of his wife "will afford her not less than two pipers and one woman to make lamentation." The grape-gatherers sang as they gathered in the vintage, and the wine-presses were trodden with the shout of a song ( Isaiah 16:10;  Jeremiah 48:33); the women sang as they toiled at the mill, and on every occasion the land of the Hebrews during their national prosperity was a land of music and melody. There is one class of musicians to which allusion is casually made ( Sirach 9:4), and who were probably foreigners the harlots who frequented the streets of great cities, and attracted notice by singing and playing the guitar ( Isaiah 23:15-16). (See below.)

There are two aspects in which music appears, and about which little that is satisfactory can be said: the mysterious influence which it had in driving out the evil spirit from Saul, and its intimate connection with prophecy and prophetical inspiration. Miriam "the prophetess" exercised her prophetical functions as the leader of the chorus of women who sang the song of triumph over the Egyptians ( Exodus 15:20). The company of prophets whom Saul met coming down from the hill of God had a psaltery, a tabret, a pipe, and a harp before them, and smitten with the same enthusiasm he "Prophesied among them" ( 1 Samuel 10:5;  1 Samuel 10:10). The priests of Baal, challenged by Elijah at Carmel, cried aloud, and cut themselves with knives, and prophesied till sunset ( 1 Kings 18:29). The sons of Asaph. Heman, and Jeduthun, set apart by David for the Temple choir, were to "Prophesy with harps, with psalteries and with cymbals" ( 1 Chronicles 25:1); Jeduthun "prophesied with the harp" ( 1 Chronicles 25:3), and in  2 Chronicles 35:15 is called "the king's seer," a term which is applied to Heman ( 1 Chronicles 25:5) and Asaph ( 2 Chronicles 29:30) as musicians, as well as to Gad the prophet ( 2 Samuel 24:11;  1 Chronicles 29:29). The spirit of Jehovah came upon Jahaziel, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the reign of Jehoshaphat, and he foretold the success of the royal army ( 2 Chronicles 20:14).

From all these instances it is evident that the same Hebrew root ( נבא ) is used to denote the inspiration under which the prophets spoke and the minstrels sang. Gesenius assigns the later as a secondary meaning. In the case of Elisha, the minstrel and the prophet are distinct personages, but it is not till the minstrel has played that the hand of Jehovah comes upon the prophet ( 2 Kings 3:15). This influence of music has been explained as follows by a learned divine of the Platonist school: "These divine enthusiasts were commonly wont to compose their songs and hymns at the sounding of some one musical instrument or other, as we find it often suggested in the Psalms. So Plutarch... describes the dictate of the oracle anciently, 'how that it was uttered in verse, in pomp of words, similitudes, and metaphors, at the sound of a pipe.' Thus we have Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun set forth in this prophetical preparation ( 1 Chronicles 25:1). Thus R. Sal. expounds the passage, 'When they played upon their musical instruments they prophesied after the manner of Elisha.' And this sense of this place, I think, is much more genuine than that which a late author of our own would fasten upon it, viz. that this prophesying was nothing but the singing of psalms. For it is manifest that these prophets were not mere singers, but composers, and such as were truly called prophets or enthusiasts" (Smith, Select Discourses, 6, chapter 7, page 238, 239 [ed. 1660]).

All that can be safely concluded is, that in their external manifestations the effect of music in exciting the emotions of the sensitive Hebrews, the frenzy of Saul's madness ( 1 Samuel 18:10), and the religious enthusiasm of the prophets, whether of Baal or Jehovah, were so nearly alike as to be described by the same word. The case of Saul is the most difficult. We are not admitted to the secret of his dark malady. Two turning-points in his history are the two interviews with Samuel, the first and the last, if we except that dread encounter which the despairing monarch challenged before the fatal day of Gilboa. On the first of these Samuel foretold his meeting with the company of prophets with their minstrelsy, the external means by which the spirit of Jehovah should come upon him, and he should be changed into another man ( 1 Samuel 10:5). The last occasion of their meeting was the disobedience of Saul in sparing the Amalekites, for which he was rejected from being king ( 1 Samuel 15:26). Immediately after this we are told the Spirit of Jehovah departed from Saul, and an "evil spirit from Jehovah troubled him" ( 1 Samuel 16:14); and his attendants, who had perhaps witnessed the strange transformation wrought upon him by the music of the prophets, suggested-that the same means should be employed for his restoration. "Let our lord now command thy servants before thee to seek out a man, a cunning player on a harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well... And it came to pass when the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took a harp and played with his hand. So Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him" ( 1 Samuel 16:16;  1 Samuel 16:23). But on two occasions, when anger and jealousy supervened, the remedy which had soothed the frenzy of insanity had lost its charm ( 1 Samuel 18:10-11;  1 Samuel 19:9-10). It seems, therefore, that the passage of Seneca, which has often been quoted in explanation of this phenomenon, "Pythagoras perturbationes lyra componebat" (De Ira, 3:9), is but generally applicable.

On the scientific character of Hebrew music much has been written, but to very little purpose, and with extremely meagre results. The truth is that no adequate data exist to enable, us to arrive at any satisfactory conclusions upon it. The Hebrews never were in possession of any system of notation, by which their musical traditions might have been fixed, and handed down to posterity; and in the absence of this it is hopeless to attempt to determine more than a very few points of a quite general kind. Several attempts, however, have been made by ingenious and learned men to overcome this insuperable barrier by converting the accentual system of the Psalter into a musical notation. One of the earliest of these writers was Speidel (Unverwerfliche Spuren von der alten Davidischen Singkunst [1704]). Another was Anton (in Paulus's Neues Repertorium fs h biblisch. und morgenlzd. Literatur [1790-91]). The latest is Haupt (1854), who discovers in the accents viewed as marks of number, when combined with the arithmetical values of the Hebrew letters, all the notes of the diatonic scale, and sees in the series of notes thus indicated the original psalm- melodies. But however ingenious all these attempts may be, they all issue, as Delitzsch remarks, in self-illusion. For the accents, as Saalschitz urges, were not designed to serve any such musical use. 'It is plain that the Masoretes had no other object in view in devising them than the preservation of the right pronunciation and understanding of the text. If the accents set forth a melody, it was only the melody of declamation, which among southern nations approaches nearer to proper singing than among the northern peoples.

It was not the Temple music which the accents set forth, the communication of which could have no interest to the Masoretes, who were mere linguists. It would have been strange, besides, if they had made use of so many musical notes as the accents, when seven might have sufficed. Of the ancient Temple music not a trace remains, either in the text of Holy Scripture or anywhere else" (Saalschutz, Von der Form der Hebraischen Poesie, nebst einer Abhandlung uber die Musik der Hebraier, 1825). Proceeding on the same false assumption that the poetical accents were of the nature of a musical notation, Forkel, the German historian of music, drew a conclusion very different from those of the authors now referred to. He inferred from the manifest imperfection and inadequacy of such a musical language how extremely rude and imperfect must have been the musical science and art which it represented. He concluded, in fact, that the Hebrew music was nothing more than a species of cantilation or intoned recitative, and that it never was able to advance beyond this rudimentary stage (Geschichte der Musik, 1:148). This was an absurd extreme; for how is it conceivable that a people who made such splendid progress in the art of lyric poetry, i.e., of poetry expressly designed to be married to music to music expressive of the same emotions which were expressed in the poetry should have lagged so far behind the other nations of antiquity in the sister science and art? See Saalschttz. On such a subject it is not safe to argue from the practice of the modern Jews (Shilte hug-gib. 2); and as singing is something so exceedingly simple and natural, it is difficult to believe that in the solemn services of their religion they stopped at the point of cantilation (Ewald, Hebr. Poesie, page 166).

The nature of the Hebrew music was doubtless of the same essential character as that of other ancient nations, and of all the present Oriental nations; consisting not so much in harmony (in the modern sense of the term) as in unison or melody (Volney, Trav. 2:325). This is the music of nature, and for a long time after the more ancient period was common among the Greeks and Romans. From the Hebrews themselves we have no definite accounts in reference to this subject; but the history of the art among other nations must here also serve as our guide. It was not the harmony of differing or dissonant sounds, but the voice formed after the tones of the lyre, that constituted the beauty of the ancient music (see Philo, Opp. 2, page 484 sq.). This so enraptured the Arabian servant of Niebuhr that he cried out, in contempt of European music, "By Allah, that is fine! God bless you!" (Reisebeschreib. nach Arabien, page 176). The whole of antiquity is full of stories in praise of this music. By its means battles were won, cities conquered, mutinies quelled, diseases cured (Plutarch, De Musica). Effects similar to these occur in the Scriptures, and have already been indicated. The different parts which we now have are the invention of modern times. (See Alamoth); (See Gittith); (See Sheminith), etc.

Respecting the base, treble, etc., very few discriminating remarks had then been made. The old, the young, maidens, etc., appear to have sung one part. The beauty of their music consisted altogether in melody. The instruments by which, in singing, this melody was accompanied occupied the part of a sustained base; and if we are disposed to apply in this case what Niebuhr has told us, the beauty of the concerts consisted in this, that other persons repeated the music which had just been sung three, four, or five notes lower or higher. Such, for instance, was the concert which Miriam held with her musical fellows, and to which the "toph," or tabret, furnished the continued base; just as Niebuhr has also remarked of the Arabian women of the present day, "that when they dance or sing in their harem they always beat the corresponding time upon this drum" (Reisebesch. 1:181). To this mode of performance belongs the 24th Psalm, which rests altogether upon the varied representation; in like- manner, also, the 20th and 21st Psalms. This was all the change it admitted; and although it is very possible that this monotonous, or rather unisonous music, might not be interesting to ears tuned to musical progressions, modulations, and cadences, there is something in it with which the Orientals are well pleased. They love it for the very reason that it is monotonous or unisonous, and from Morocco to China we meet with no other. Even the cultivated Chinese, whose civilization offers so many points of resemblance to that of the ancient Egyptians, like their own music, which consists entirely of melody, better than ours, although it is not wholly despised by them (Du Halde's China, 3:216). A music of this description could easily dispense with the compositions which mark the time by notes; and the Hebrews do not appear to have known anything of musical notation; for that the accents served that purpose is a position which yet remains to be proved. At the best, the accent must have been a very imperfect means for this purpose, however high its antiquity. Europeans had not yet attained to musical notes in the 11th century, and the Orientals do not profess to have known them: till the 17th. On the other hand, the word סֵלָה , Selah, which occurs in the Psalms and Habakkuk, may very possibly be a mark for the change of time, or for repeating the melody a few tones higher, or, as some think, for an accompaniment or after-piece of entirely instrumental music (see De Wette, Comment. Ub. D. Psalm page 32 sq.; Saalschuitz, Form Der Hebr. Poesie, p. 353 sq.; Ewald, Hebr. Poesie page 178 sq.). (See Selah). The Hebrew music is judged to have been of a shrill character (see Redslob, in Illgen's Zeitschr. 1839, 2:1 sq.), for this would result from the nature of the instruments-harps, flutes, and cymbals-which were employed in the Temple service (comp. Mishna, Erach. 2:3, 5, and 6). The manner of singing single songs was, it seems, ruled by that of others in the same measure, and it is usually supposed that many of the titles of the Psalms are intended to indicate the names of other son-s according to which these were to lie sung (see Vensky, in Mitzler's Musikal Biblioth. 3:666 sq.; Eichhorn, Einl. 1:245; Jahn, Einl. 1:353; Gesenius, Gesch. d. Hebr. Sprache, page 220 sq.). (See Psalms).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [14]

mū´zik  :

I. Importance

1. The Sole Art Cultivated

2. A W ide Vocabulary of Musical Terms

3. Place in Social and Personal Life

4. Universal Language of Emotions

5. Use in Divine Service

6. Part at Religious Reformations

II. Theory Of Music

1. Technical Terms, 'alamoth, sheminith, selah

2. Not Necessarily Unimpressive

III. Musical Instruments

1. Strings: kinnor, nebhel, 'asor, gittith, shalishim, sabbekha'

2. Winds: 'ughabh, halil, nehiloth, mashrokitha', sumponyah, shophar, keren, hacocerah

3. Percussion: toph, meciltayim, celcelim, mena'an'im


I. Its Importance

That the Hebrews were in ancient times, as they are at the present day, devoted to the study and practice of music is obvious to every reader of the Old Testament. The references to it are numerous, and are frequently of such a nature as to emphasize its importance. They occur not only in the Psalter, where we might expect them, but in the Historical Books and the Prophets, in narratives and in declamations of the loftiest meaning and most intense seriousness. And the conclusion drawn from a cursory glance is confirmed by a closer study.

1. The Sole Art Cultivated

The place held by music in the Old Testament is unique. Besides poetry, it is the only art that Art seems to have been cultivated to any extent in ancient Israel. Painting is entirely, sculpture almost entirely, ignored. This may have been due to the prohibition contained in the Second Commandment, but the fidelity with which that was obeyed is remarkable.

2. Vocabulary

From the traces of it extant in the Old Testament, we can infer that the vocabulary of musical terms was far from scanty. This is all the more significant when we consider the condensed and pregnant nature of Hebrew. "Song" in our English Versions of the Bible represents at least half a dozen words in the original.

3. Place in Social Life

The events, occasions, and occupations with which music was associated were extremely varied. It accompanied leave-taking with honored guests  Genesis 31:27; celebrated a signal triumph over the nation's enemies  Exodus 15:20; and welcomed conquerors returning from victory  Judges 11:34;  1 Samuel 18:6 . It was employed to exorcise an evil spirit  1 Samuel 18:10 , and to soothe the temper, or excite the inspiration, of a prophet  2 Kings 3:15 . The words "Destroy not" in the titles of four of the Psalms (compare  Isaiah 65:8 ) most probably are the beginning of a vintage-song, and the markedly rhythmical character of Hebrew music would indicate that it accompanied and lightened many kinds of work requiring combined and uniform exertion. Processions, as e.g. marriages (1 Macc 9:39) and funerals  2 Chronicles 35:25 , were regulated in a similar way. The Psalms headed "Songs of Degrees" were probably the sacred marches sung by the pious as they journeyed to and from the holy festivals at Jerusalem.

4. Emotional Range

It follows from this that the range of emotion expressed by Hebrew music was anything but limited. In addition to the passages just quoted, we may mention the jeering songs leveled at Job  Job 30:9 . But the music that could be used to interpret or accompany the Psalms with any degree of fitness must have been capable of expressing a great variety of moods and feelings. Not only the broadly marked antitheses of joy and sorrow, hope and fear, faith and doubt, but every shade and quality of sentiment are found there. It is hardly possible to suppose that the people who originated all that wealth of emotional utterance should have been without a corresponding ability to invent diversified melodies, or should have been content with the bald and colorless recitative usually attributed to them.

This internal evidence is confirmed by other testimony. The Babylonian tyrants demanded one of the famous songs of Zion from thor Jewish captives  Psalm 137:3 , and among the presents sent by Hezekiah to Sennacherib there were included male and female musicians. In later times Latin writers attest the influence of the East in matters musical. We need only refer to Juvenal iii. 62 ff.

5. Place in Divine Service

By far the most important evidence of the value attached to music by the Hebrews is afforded by the place given to it in Divine service. It is true that nothing is said of it in the Pentateuch in connection with the consecration of the tabernacle, or the institution of the various sacrifices or festivals. But this omission proves nothing. It is not perhaps atoned for by the tradition (Wisd 18:9) that at the first paschal celebration "the fathers already led the sacred songs of praise," but the rest of the history makes ample amends. In later days, at all events, music formed an essential part of the national worship of Yahweh, and elaborate arrangements were made for its correct and impressive performance. These are detailed in 1 Chronicles. There we are told that the whole body of the temple chorus and orchestra numbered 4,000; that they were trained and conducted, in 24 divisions, by the sons of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun; and that in each group experts and novices were combined, so that the former preserved the correct tradition, and the latter were trained and fitted to take their place. This is, no doubt, a description of the arrangements that were carried out in the Second Temple, but it sheds a reflex, if somewhat uncertain, light on those adopted in the First.

6. In Religious Reformations

We are told by the same authority that every reformation of religion brought with it a reconstruction of the temple chorus and orchestra, and a resumption of their duties. Thus when Hezekiah purged the state and church of the heathenism patronized by Ahaz, "he set the Levites in the house of Yahweh with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps"  2 Chronicles 29:25 . The same thing took place under Josiah 2 Chr 34. After the restoration - at the dedication of the Temple  Ezra 3:10 and of the walls of Jerusalem   Nehemiah 12:17 - music played a great part. In Nehemiah's time the descendants of the ancient choral guilds drew together, and their maintenance was secured to them out of the public funds in return for their services.

II. Musical Theory

1. Dearth of Technical Information

It is disappointing after all this to have to confess that of the nature of Hebrew music we have no real knowledge. If any system of notation ever existed, it has been entirely lost. Attempts have been made to derive one from the accents, and a German organist once wrote a book on the subject. One tune in our hymnals has been borrowed from that source, but it is an accident, if not worse, and the ingenuity of the German organist was quite misdirected. We know nothing of the scales, or tonal system of the Hebrew, of their intervals or of their method of tuning their instruments. Two terms are supposed by some to refer to pitch, namely, "upon," or "set to ‛Ălāmōth ,"   Psalm 46:1-11 , and "upon," or "set to the Shemı̄nı̄th " ( Psalm 6:1-10 ,  Psalm 12:1-8; compare also  1 Chronicles 15:19-21 ). The former has been taken to mean "in the manner of maidens," i.e. soprano; the latter "on the lower octave," i.e. tenor or bass. This is plausible, but it is far from convincing. It is hardly probable that the Hebrews had anticipated our modern division of the scale; and the word shemı̄nı̄th or "eighth" may refer to the number of the mode, while ‛ălāmōth is also translated "with Elamite instruments" (Wellhausen). Of one feature of Hebrew music we may be tolerably sure: it was rendered in unison. It was destitute of harmony or counterpoint. For its effect it would depend on contrast in quality of tone, on the participation of a larger or smaller number of singers, on antiphonal singing, so clearly indicated in many of the Psalms, and on the coloring imparted by the orchestra. That the latter occasionally played short passages alone has been inferred from the term ṣelāh , a word that occurs 71 times in the Psalms. It is rendered in the Septuagint by diápsalmos , which either means louder playing, forte , or, more probably, an instrumental interlude.

2. Not Necessarily Unimpressive

Our knowledge is, therefore, very meager and largely negative. We need not, however, suppose that Hebrew music was necessarily monotonous and unimpressive, or, to those who heard it, harsh and barbarous. Music, more than any other of the arts, is justified of her own children, and a generation that has slowly learned to enjoy Wagner and Strauss should not rashly condemn the music of the East. No doubt the strains that emanated from the orchestra and chorus of the temple stimulated the religious fervor, and satisfied the aesthetic principles of the Hebrews of old, precisely as the rendering of Bach and Handel excites and soothes the Christian of today.

III. Instruments

The musical instruments employed by the Hebrews included representatives of the three groups: string, wind, and percussion. The strings comprised the כּכּור , kinnōr , or נבל , nēbhel or nebhel  ; the winds: the שׁופר , shōphār , or קרן , ḳeren , חצצרה , ḥăcōcerāh , חליל , ḥālı̄l , and עוּגב , ‛ūghābh  ; percussion: תּף , tōph , מחלתּים , meciltayim , צלצלים , celcelı̄m , מנענעים , mena‛an‛ı̄m , שׁלשׁים , shālı̄shı̄m . Besides these, we have in Daniel: משׁרוקיתא , mashrōḳı̄thā' , סבּכא , ṣabbekhā' , פּסנתּרין , peṣantērı̄n , סוּמפּוניה , ṣūmpōnyāh . Further, there are Chaldaean forms of ḳeren and kithára .

1. Strings

(1) When Used

The chief of these instruments were the kinnōr and nebhel (the King James Version, the Revised Version (British and American) "the harp" and "the psaltery" or "viol"). They were used to accompany vocal music. In   1 Samuel 10:5 , Saul meets a band of prophets singing inspired strains to the music of the nebhel , "drum," "flute," and kinnōr . In the description of the removal of the ark, we are told that songs were sung with kinnōrōth , nebhālı̄m , etc.  2 Samuel 6:5 . Again, in various passages ( 1 Chronicles 15:16;  2 Chronicles 7:6 , etc.) we meet with the expression kelēshı̄r , i.e. instruments of, or suitable for accompanying, song. It is evident that only the flute and strings could render melodies. The music performed on these instruments seems to have been mainly of a joyful nature. It entered into all public and domestic festivities. In  Psalm 81:2 , the kinnōr is called "pleasant," and  Isaiah 24:8 speaks of the "joy" of the kinnōr . Very striking is the invocation  Psalm 108:2 : the poet in a moment of exhilarations calls upon the two kelēshı̄r to echo and share his enthusiasm for Yahweh. Only once  Isaiah 16:11 is the kinnōr associated with mourning, and Cheyne infers from this passage "the kinnōr was used at mourning ceremonies." But the inference is doubtful; the prophet is merely drawing a comparison between the trembling of the strings of the lyre and the agitation in his own bosom. Again, the Babylonian captives hang their kinnōr ōth on the willows in their dejection  Psalm 137:2 , and the prophets  Isaiah 24:8;  Ezekiel 26:13 threaten that as a punishment for sin the sound of the kinnōr will cease.

(2) Materials

We have no exact information as to the materials of which these instruments were made. In  2 Samuel 6:5 the King James Version, mention is made of "instruments made of fir wood" (the English Revised Version "cypress"), but the text is probably corrupt, and the reading in   1 Chronicles 13:8 is preferable. According to   1 Kings 10:11 , Hiram's fleet brought from Ophir quantities of 'almūgh ( 2 Chronicles 2:8;  2 Chronicles 9:10 , 'algūm ) wood, from which, among other things, the kinnōr and nebhel were made. Probably this was red sandal-wood. Josephus ( Ant. , VIII, iii) includes among articles made by Solomon for the temple nebhālı̄m and kinnōrōth of electrum. Whether we understand this to have been the mixed metal so named or amber, the frame of the instrument could not have been constructed of it. It may have been used for ornamentation.

We have no trace of metal strings being used by the ancients. The strings of the Hebrew ( minnı̄m ) may have consisted of gut. We read of sheep-gut being employed for the purpose in the Odyssey , xxi. 407. Vegetable fiber was also spun into strings. We need only add that bowed instruments were quite unknown; the strings were plucked with the fingers, or struck with a plectrum.

(a) The Kinnor

The Old Testament gives us no clue to the form or nature of the kinnōr , except that it was portable, comparatively light, and could be played while it was carried in processions or dances. The earliest authority to which we can refer on the subject is the Septuagint. While in some of the books kinnōr is rendered by kinnúra , or kinúra - evidently a transliteration - in others it is translated by kithara . We cannot discuss here the question of the trustworthiness of the Septuagint as an authority for Hebrew antiquities, but considering the conservatism of the East, especially in matters of ritual, it seems at least hasty to say offhand, as Wellhausen does, that by the date of its production the whole tradition of ancient music had been lost. The translation, at all events, supplies us with an instrument of which the Hebrews could hardly have been ignorant. The kithara , which in its general outlines resembled the lyre, consisted of a rectilinear-shaped sound box from which rose two arms, connected above by a crossbar; the strings ran down from the latter to the sound-box, to which, or to a bridge on which, they were attached.

The most ancient copy of a kithara in Egypt was found in a grave of the Xii th Dynasty. It is carried by one of a company of immigrant captive Semites, who holds it close to his breast, striking the strings with a plectrum held in his right hand, and plucking them with the fingers of the left. The instrument is very primitive; it resembles a schoolboy's slate with the upper three-fourths of the slate broken out of the frame; but it nevertheless possesses the distinctive characteristics of the kithara . In a grave at Thebes of a somewhat later date, three players are depicted, one of whom plays a kithara , also primitive in form, but with slenderer arms. Gradually, as time advanced, the simple board-like frame assumed a shape more like that afterward elaborated by the Greeks. Numerous examples have been found in Asia Minor, but further developed, especially as regards the sound-box. It may be noted that, in the Assyrian monuments, the kithara is played along with the harp, as the kinnōr was with the nebhel .

The evidence furnished by Jewish coins must not be overlooked. Those stamped with representations of lyre-shaped instruments have been assigned to 142-135 BC, or to 66-70 AD. On one side we have a kithara - like instrument of 3 or more strings, with a sound-box resembling a kettle. It is true that these coins are of a late date, and the form of the instruments shown on them has obviously been modified by Greek taste, but so conservative a people as the Jews would hardly be likely to adopt an essentially foreign object for their coinage.

One objection raised by Wellhausen to the identification of the kithara with the kinnōr may be noted. Josephus undoubtedly says ( Ant. , VII, xii) that the kinnura was played with a plectrum, and in   1 Samuel 16:23 David plays the kinnōr "with his hand." But even if this excludes the use of the plectrum in the particular case, it need not be held to disprove the identity of kinnōr and kinnura . Both methods may have been in use. In paintings discovered at Herculaneum there are several instances of the lyre being played with the hand; and there is no reason for supposing that the Hebrews were restricted to one method of showing their skill, when we know that Greeks and Latins were not.

Since the ancient Vss , then, render kinnōr by kithara , and the kithara , though subsequently developed and beautified by the Greeks, was originally a Semitic instrument, it is exceedingly probable, as Riehm says, "that we have to regard the ancient Hebrew kinnōr , which is designated a kithara , as a still simpler form of the latter instrument. The stringed instruments on the Jewish coins are later, beautified forms of the kinnōr , intermediate stage Egyptian modifications represent the intermediate stage."

(b) The Nebhel

The nebhel has been identified with many instruments. The literal meaning of the word, "wine-skin," has suggested that it was the bagpipe! Others have thought that it was the lute, and this is supported by reference to the Egyptian nfr , which denotes a lute-like instrument frequently depicted on the monuments. The derivation of nbl from nfr is, however, now abandoned; and no long-necked instrument has been found depicted in the possession of a Semite. The kissar was favored by Pfeiffer. Its resonance-box is made of wood, and, the upper side, being covered tightly by a skin, closely resembles a drum. From this rise two arms, connected toward the top by a crossbar; and to the latter the strings are attached. The kissar has, however, only 5 strings, as opposed to 12 ascribed by Josephus to the nebhel , and the soundbox, instead of being above, as stated by the Fathers, is situated below the strings.

The supposition that the nebhel was a dulcimer is not without some justification. The dulcimer was well known in the East. An extremely interesting and important bas-relief in the palace at Kouyunjik represents a company of 28 musicians, of whom 11 are instrumentalists and 15 singers. The procession is headed by 5 men, 3 carrying harps, one a double flute, and one a dulcimer. Two of the harpists and the dulcimer-player appear to be dancing or skipping. Then follow 6 women; 4 have harps, one a double flute, and one a small drum which is fixed upright at the belt, and is played with the fingers of both hands. Besides the players, we see 15 singers, 9 being children, who clap their hands to mark the rhythm. One of the women is holding her throat, perhaps to produce the shrill vibrate affected by Persian and Arabian women at the present day. The dulcimer in this picture has been regarded by several Orientalists as the nebhel . Wettstein, e.g., says "This instrument can fairly be so designated, if the statement of so many witnesses is correct, that nablium and psaltērium are one and the same thing. For the latter corresponds to the Arabic santir , which is derived from the Hebrew pesantērı̄n , a transliteration of the Greek psaltḗrion ." And the santir is a kind of dulcimer.

This is not conclusive. The word psaltērion was not always restricted to a particular instrument, but sometimes embraced a whole class of stringed instruments. Ovid also regarded the nabla as a harp, not a dulcimer, when he said ( Ars Am . iii. 329): "Learn to sweep the pleasant nabla with both hands." And, lastly, Josephus tells us ( Ant. , VII, xii) that the nebhel was played without a plectrum. The translation of nebhel by psaltērion does not, therefore, shut us up to the conclusion that it was a dulcimer; on the contrary, it rather leads to the belief that it was a harp.

Harps of various sizes are very numerous on the Egyptian monuments. There is the large and elaborate kind with a well-developed sound-box, that served also as a pediment, at its base. This could not be the nebhel , which, as we have seen, was early portable. Then we have a variety of smear instruments that, while light and easily carried, would scarcely have been sonorous enough for the work assigned to the nebhel in the temple services. Berries, the more we learn of the relations of Egypt and Israel, the more dearly do we perceive how little the latter was influenced by the former. But the evidence of the Fathers, which need not be disregarded in a matter of this kind, is decisive against Egyptian harps of every shape and size. These have without exception the sound-box at the base, and Augustine (on   Psalm 42:1-11 ) says expressly that the psaltērium had its sound-box above. This is confirmed by statements of Jerome, Isidore, and others, who contrast two classes of instruments according to the position above or below of the sound-box, Jerome, further, likens the nebhel to the captial Greek letter delta.

All the evidence points to the nebhel having been the Assyrian harp, of which we have numerous examples in the ruins. We have already referred at length to the bas-relief at Kouyunjik in which it is played by 3 men and 4 women. It is portable, triangular, or, roughly, delta-shaped; it has a sound-box above that slants upward away from the player, and a horizontal bar to which the strings are attached about three-fourths of their length down. The number of the strings on the Assyrian harp ranges from 16 upward, but there may quite well have been fewer in some cases.

(c) Nebhel 'Asor

In  Psalm 33:2;  Psalm 144:9 , "the psaltery of ten strings" is given as the rendering of nebhel ‛āsōr  ; while in  Psalm 91:3 ‛āsōr is translated "instrument of ten strings." No doubt, as we have just said above, there were harps of less and greater compass - the mention of the number of strings in two or three instances does not necessarily imply different kinds of harps.

(d) Gittith

The word gittı̄th is found in the titles of   Psalm 8:1-9 , 81,  Psalm 84:1-12 . It is a feminine adjective derived from Gath, but its meaning is quite uncertain. It has been explained to denote (i) some Gittite instrument; the Targum, on  Psalm 8:1-9 , gives "on the kithara which was brought from Gath"; or (ii) a melody or march popular in Gath. The Septuagint renders "concerning the vintage," and may have regarded these psalms as having been sung to a popular melody. See above.

(e) The Shalishim

Shālı̄shı̄m occurs in   1 Samuel 18:6 , where it is rendered "instruments of music," the Revised Version margin "triangles, or three stringed instruments." The word seems from the context to represent a musical instrument of some sort, but which is very uncertain. Etymology points to a term involving the number three. The small triangular harp, or trigon, has been suggested, but it would hardly have made its presence felt among a number of drums or tambourines. If the shālı̄shı̄m was a harp, it might very well be the nebhel , which was also triangular. There is no evidence that the triangle was used by Semitic people, or we might have taken it to be the instrument referred to. If it was a percussion instrument, it might possibly be a three-ringed or three-stringed sistrum .

(f) The Sabbekha'

Among the instruments mentioned in  Daniel 3:5 ,  Daniel 3:7 ,  Daniel 3:10 occurs the ṣabbekhā' translated in the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) "sackbut," i.e. a trombone, why, it is impossible to say. The Septuagint renders the word by sambū́kē , and this is an instrument frequently mentioned by Greek and Latin writers. Though it is nowhere described, it was no doubt a harp, probably of high pitch. It was a favorite of dissolute women, and we frequently see in their hands in mural pictures a small triangular harp, possibly of a higher range than the trigon.

(g) Neghinoth

The word neghı̄nōth occurs in the title of 6 psalms, and in the singular in two others; it is also found elsewhere in the Old Testament. Derived from naghan, "to touch," especially to play on a stringed instrument (compare   Psalm 68:25 , where the players, nōghenı̄m , are contrasted with the singers, shārı̄m ), it evidently means stringed instruments in general.

2. Winds

(1) The 'Ughabh

The first mention of a wind instrument occurs in  Genesis 4:21 , where we are told that Jubal was the "father of all such as handle the harp and pipe." The Hebrew word here translated "pipe" is ‛ūghābh . It occurs in 3 other places:  Job 21:12;  Job 30:31;  Psalm 150:4 . In the Hebrew version of  Daniel 3:5 it is given as the rendering of sumpōnyāh , i.e. "bagpipe." Jerome translations by organon . The ‛ūghābh was probably a primitive shepherd's pipe or panpipe, though some take it as a general term for instruments of the flute kind, a meaning that suits all the passages cited.

(2) The Halil

The ḥālı̄l is first mentioned in   1 Samuel 10:5 , where it is played by members of the band of prophets. It was used  1 Kings 1:40 at Solomon's accession to the throne; its strains added to the exhilaration of convivial parties   Isaiah 5:12 , accompanied worshippers on their joyous march the sanctuary  Isaiah 30:29 , or, in turn, echoed the feelings of mourners  Jeremiah 48:36 . In 1 Macc 3:45, one of the features of the desolation of the temple consisted in the cessation of the sound of the pipe. From this we see that Ewald's assertion that the flute took no part in the music of the temple is incorrect, at least for the Second the Temple.

As we should expect from the simplicity of its construction, and the commonness of its material, the flute or pipe was the most ancient and most widely popular of all musical instruments.

Reeds, cane, bone, afterward ivory, were the materials; it was the easiest thing in the world to drill out the center, to pierce a few holes in the rind or bark, and, for the mouthpiece, to compress the tube at one end. The simple rustic pattern was soon improved upon. Of course, nothing like the modern flute with its complicated mechanism was ever achieved, but, especially on the Egyptian monuments, a variety of patterns is found. There we see the obliquely held flute, evidently played, like the Arabic nay, by blowing through a very slight paring of the lips against the edge of the orifice of the tube. Besides this, there are double flutes, which, though apparently an advance on the single flute, are very ancient. These double flutes are either of equal or unequal length, and are connected near the mouth by a piece of leather, or enter the frame of the mouthpiece.

Though the flutes of the East and West resembled each other more closely than the strings, it is to the Assyrian monuments that we must turn for the prototypes of the ḥālı̄l . The Greeks, as their myths show, regarded Asia Minor as the birthplace of the flute, and no doubt the Hebrews brought it with them from their Assyrian home. In the Kouyunjik bas-relief we see players performing on the double flute. It is apparently furnished with a beaked mouthpiece; like that of the clarinet or flageolet. We cannot determine whether the Israelites used the flute with a mouthpiece, or one like the nay  ; and it is futile to guess. It is enough to say that they had opportunities of becoming acquainted with both kinds, and may have adopted both.

(3) Nehiloth

Neḥı̄lōth occurs only in the title of   Psalm 5:1-12 . The context suggests that it is a musical term, and we explain negı̄nōth as a general term for strings, this word may comprehend the wood-winds. the Revised Version margin renders "wind instruments."

(4) Nekebh

In  Ezekiel 28:13 the King James Version, the Revised Version (British and American), neḳābhı̄m is rendered pipes. This translation is supported by Fetis: the double flute; Ambros: large flutes; and by Jahn: the nay or Arab flute. It is now, however abandoned, and Jerome's explanation that neḳebh means the "setting" of precious stones is generally adopted.

(5) The Mashrokitha'

Mashrōḳı̄thā' , found in   Daniel 3:5 , etc., is also referred to the wood-winds. The word is derived from shāraḳ , "to hiss" (compare  Isaiah 5:26 , where God hisses to summon the Gentiles). The Septuagint translates súrigx or panpipes, and this is most probably the meaning.

(6) The Sumponyah

Ṣūmpōnyāh (in Chaldaic sumponia) is another name for a musical instrument found in   Daniel 3:5 , etc. It is generally supposed to have been the bagpipe, an instrument that at one time was exceedingly popular, even among highly civilized peoples. Nero is said to have been desirous of renown as a piper.

(7) The Shophar Keren

The shōphar was a trumpet, curved at the end like a horn ( ḳeren ), and no doubt originally was a horn. The two words shōphar and ḳeren are used synonymously in   Joshua 6:4-5 , where we read shōphār ha - yōbhelı̄m and ḳeren ha - yōbhēl . With regard to the meaning of ha - yōbhēl , there is some difference of opinion. The Revised Version (British and American) renders in text "ram's horn," in the margin "jubilee." The former depends on a statement in the Talmud that yōbhēl is Arabic for "ram's horn," but no trace of such a word has been found in Arabic. A suggestion of Pfeiffer's that yōbhēl does not designate the instrument, but the manner of blowing, is advocated by J. Weiss. It gives a good sense in the passages in which yobhel occurs in connection with shōphār or ḳeren . Thus in  Joshua 6:5 , we would translate, "when the priests blow triumph on the horn."

The shōphār was used in early times chiefly, perhaps exclusively, for warlike purposes. It gave the signal "to arms"   Judges 6:34;  1 Samuel 13:3;  2 Samuel 20:1; warned of the approach of the enemy  Amos 3:6;  Ezekiel 33:6;  Jeremiah 4:5;  Jeremiah 6:1; was heard throughout a battle ( Amos 2:2 , etc.); and sounded the recall  2 Samuel 2:28 . Afterward it played an important part in connection with religion. It was blown at the proclamation of the Law ( Exodus 19:13 , etc.); and at the opening of the Year of Jubilee  Leviticus 25:9; heralded the approach of the Ark  2 Samuel 6:15; hailed a new king  2 Samuel 15:10; and is prophetically associated with the Divine judgment and restoration of the chosen people from captivity ( Isaiah 18:3 , and often).

(8) The Hacoceroth

We are told ( Numbers 10:2 ff) that Moses was commanded to make two silver trumpets which should serve to summon the people to the door of the tabernacle; give the signal for breaking up the camp; or call to arms. These instruments were the hăcōcerōth , which differed from the shōphār in that they were straight, not curved, were always made of metal, and were only blown by the priests. They are shown on the Arch of Titus and on Jewish coins, and are described by Josephus ( Ant. , III, xii, 6). The latter says: "In length it was not quite a yard. It was composed of a narrow tube somewhat thicker than a flute, widened slightly at the mouth to catch the breath, and ended in the form of a bell, like the common trumpets."

3. Percussion Instruments

(1) The Toph

The principal percussion instrument, the tōph , is represented in English Versions of the Bible by "tabret" and "timbre," two words of different origin. "Tabret" is derived from Arabic tanbūr , the name of a sort of mandolin. "Timbre" comes from Latin-Greek tympanum , through the French timbre , a small tambourine. The Arabs of today possess an instrument called the duf , a name that corresponds to the Hebrew tōph . The duf is a circle of thin wood 11 inches in diameter and 2 inches in depth. Over this is tightly stretched a piece of skim, and in the wood are 5 openings in which thin metal disks are hung loosely; these jingle when the duf is struck by the hand. The tōph probably resembled the duf .

Other drums are shown on the Egyptian and Assyrian monuments. In the Kouyunjik bas-relief the second last performer beats with his hands a small, barrel-like drum fixed at his waist. In the Old Testament the drum is used on festive occasions; it is not mentioned in connection with Divine service. It was generally played by women, and marked the time at dances or processions  Exodus 15:20;  Judges 11:34;  1 Samuel 18:6;  Jeremiah 31:4;  Psalm 150:4 . At banquets  Isaiah 24:8;  Isaiah 30:32;  Job 21:12 and at marriages (1 Macc 9:39) it accompanied the kinnōr and nebhel . In solemn processions it was also occasionally played by men.

(2) Meciltayim, Celcelim

In  1 Chronicles 15:19 we read that "Heman, Asaph, and Ethan, were appointed, with cymbals of brass to sound aloud." These cymbals are the meciltayim (in two places celcelı̄m ). They were very popular in Egypt. A pair made of copper and silver has been found in a grave in Thebes. They are about 5 inches in diameter and have handles fixed in the center. In the Kouyunjik bas-relief we see cymbals of another pattern. These are conical, and provided with handles.

Cylindrical staves slightly bent at one end were also used in Egyptian processions. Villoteau, quoted by J. Weiss, describes a bas-relief in which three musicians are seen, of whom one plays the harp, a second the double flute, while a third appears to be marking time by striking two short rods together; this was a method of conducting practiced regularly by other ancient nations.

(3) Mena'an'im

Lastly in  2 Samuel 6:5 we meet with a word that occurs nowhere else, and whose meaning is quite uncertain. the King James Version translates "cornets," the Revised Version (British and American) "castanets," and in the margin "sistra." The mena‛an‛ı̄m may have been the sistrum , an instrument formed of two thin, longish plates, bent together at the top so as to form an oval frame, and supplied with a handle at the lower end. One or more bars were fixed across this frame, and rings or disks loosely strung on these made a jingling noise when the instrument was shaken. This interpretation is supported by the derivation of the word, the Vulgate, and the rabbins.


Pfeiffer, Uber die Musik der alten Hebraer  ; Saalschutz, Form der heb. Poesie , etc.; Leyrer in Realencyklopadie fur protestantische Theologie und Kirche  ; Riehm, Handwort. des bibl. Alterthums  ; Histories of Music by Fetis, Ambros, Rowbotham, Naumann, and Chappell; Wilkinson, Ancient Egypt  ; Wettstein in Del. Commentary on Isaiah  ; Lane, Modern Egyptians  ; Stainer, The Music of the Bible  ; Edersheim, The Temple , etc.; Wellhausen, "The Pss" in Polychrome Bible  ; Benzinger, Hebraische Archaologie (Benzinger; Nowack); Nowack, Hebraische Archaologie (Benzinger; Nowack); J. Weiss, Die mus. Instr. des Altes Testament  ; C. Engel, Music of the Most Ancient Nations  ; Vigoureux, Les instruments de musique de la Bible  ; Driver, Joel and Amos  ; Cornill, Music in the Old Testament  ; and the various Bible Dictionaries.