(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" (Psalm 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 Psalm 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" (Psalm 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 Psalm 45:8 Gesenius translated for "whereby" (mini), as in Psalm 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).
Fausset, Andrew Robert M.A., D.D., "Definition for 'music' Fausset's Bible Dictionary".