Music; Musicians; Musical Instruments

Boyd’s Bible Dictionary:

Concise Bible Dictionary:

There must have been with these prophets some knowledge of music, which doubtless under David was further cultivated and devoted to the service of God, their music being intimately connected with temple worship. He had several companies of singers, and players on instruments, which are often mentioned in the Psalm. As these were indited under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we may conclude that this way of celebrating the praises of God was in accordance with the dispensation that then was. Such an exhortation as “Praise Him with the psaltery and harp,” is beautifully in place in the Psalms; but in the New Testament dispensation it is, “singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord”; and “I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.” “They that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”
In the headings of fifty-five of the Psalm the words occur, “To the chief musician”; the word is natsach, and simply means “to the chief or the leader,” and may therefore apply as much to the singers as to the musicians. The musical instruments are considered under their various names.

From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

See verses 7, 10, and 15.
2. Mashrokitha, “flute,” was an instrument supposed by some to have been like the chalil, “pipe.” See note on 1 Kings 1:4040And all the people came up after him, and the people piped with pipes, and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth rent with the sound of them. (1 Kings 1:40) (#290). Others think it consisted of a number of pipes similar to the ugab, “organ.” See note on Psalm 150:44Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. (Psalm 150:4) (#455).
3. Kathros, “harp,” is thought by Rawlinson to represent the Babylonian harp, which, he says, “would seem to have resembled the later harp of the Assyrians, but it had fewer strings, if we may judge from a representation upon a cylinder. Like the Assyrian, it was carried under one arm and was played by both hands, one on either side of the strings” (Five Ancient Monarchies, vol. 3, p. 20). It is thought by some to have less resembled the harp than the cithern or cittern, which was an instrument of Greek origin, and in use among the Chaldeans. It was of the guitar species, and is still used in many eastern countries. It has strings varying in number from three to twenty-four.
4. Sabbeca, “sackbut,” is thought to have resembled the sambuca of the Romans. Rawlinson supposes it to have been a large harp, resting on the ground like the harps of the Egyptians. Wright (in Smiths's Dictionary of the Bible) states that the sambuca was triangular in shape, having four or more strings; it was played by the fingers, and gave forth a shrill sound.
5. Pesanterin, “psaltery,” was a species of harp, thought to be the same as the nebel. See note on Psalm 33:22Praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. (Psalm 33:2) (#432). Rawlinson suggests that it may have resembled the modern santour, and if so, he supposes that he has found a representation of it on an Assyrian monument. It was a sort of dulcimer, which was suspended from the neck of the musician, and projected horizontally from his waist. “It consisted (apparently) of a number of strings, containing not fewer than ten, stretched over a hollow case or sounding-board. The musician seems to have struck the strings with a small bar or hammer held in his right hand, while, at the same time, he made some use of his left hand in pressing them so as to produce the right note” (Five Ancient Monarchies, vol.1, pp. 537-538).
6. Sumpongah, “dulcimer,” is variously thought to have been a lute, a crooked trumpet, a long drum, an organ, and a bagpipe. Gesenius, and others with him, suppose the last-named instrument to be meant. The bagpipe is, at the present day, called in Italy sampogna, and in Asia Minor sambony. It may be noted, as a curious illustration of the wide difference of opinion in respect to many of the ancient musical instruments, that some authorities consider the bagpipe to be intended by the word ngab. See note on Psalm 150:44Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. (Psalm 150:4) (#455).
The monuments amply testify to the fondness of the Babylonians for music. They had numerous instruments, and organized large hands. Annarus, a Babylonian noble, entertained his guests at a banquet with music, vocal and instrumental, performed by a band of one hundred and fifty women.

Related Books and Articles: