1-16 of 16 results  for:

  • Pre- and Early Medieval (before 800) x
  • Musical Concepts, Genres, and Terms x
  • Religion and Music x
Clear all

Article

Joachim Braun

The various musical instruments mentioned in the Bible (Old and New Testaments). The nature and significance of the biblical instruments has been the subject of considerable discussion from the early Middle Ages onwards. The following article focusses on the meaning of the words as they appear in the original languages of the various biblical texts (Heb., Aramaic, Gk.), using archaeological evidence and other literary sources to establish as far as possible the identity of the individual terms; it also addresses the interpretation of other musical terminology in the Bible. (See also Jewish music, §II.)

References to particular biblical passages follow the Revised Standard Version and the abbreviation IAA is used for the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The controversy surrounding the identity and significance of the ‘biblical instruments’ derives from the complexity of the original source. Even the term itself is ambiguous, since it may denote the instruments of the period described by any given text of the Bible, those of the period and environment in which the written tradition originated, or those that have remained in the memory of society from a certain stage of the oral tradition. Furthermore, should a reference to an instrument be regarded as a theological symbol or a historical document? Must it be placed in the relevant context by archaeological finds before it may be regarded as concrete fact? It is possible to discuss the subject only if an interdisciplinary approach is adopted involving ‘new and processual archaeology’, recent studies of the Pentateuch, and modern archaeomusicology. Although the organological information provided by the biblical texts themselves is scanty, the social and symbolic context of the music can often be established quite precisely (see Kolari, ...

Article

Article

Article

Halil  

Article

Article

Kinnor  

Article

James W. McKinnon

(from Heb. garaph: ‘to scoop’ or ‘shovel’)

A shovel employed in the Temple of Jerusalem and possibly a kind of ritual pipe organ. The magrepha is first mentioned in the Mishnaic tractate Tamid, a work written soon after the destruction of the Herodian Temple by the Romans in 70 ce that describes the Temple and its daily sacrifice. It is depicted as a bronze shovel used by a priest to clear away the accumulation of ashes from the continually burning sacrificial fire. At one point in the service it is cast down upon the pavement near the altar with a great clatter (presumably as a threatening cultic symbol): ‘No one in Jerusalem’, the Tamid reports, ‘could hear his neighbour’s voice because of the sound of the shovel’.

A number of somewhat later rabbinic sources speak of the Temple’s magrepha as a kind of pipe organ. Yasser has reconstructed the instrument on the basis of these sources, concluding that it consisted of a cube-shaped chamber housing the bellows from which projected a long shovel-like handle. The handle serves a number of purposes: its stem is hollow and contains a wind-pipe leading from the bellows; its spade-like ending functions as a wind-chest, from each side of which protrude five clusters of ten small pipes; and the entire handle is worked back and forth to inflate the bellows. Such an organ would have all 100 pipes playing simultaneously to produce a shrill and menacing sound, one fulfilling with greater efficiency the purpose of casting down the original shovel. If Yasser’s reconstruction seems strange, it corresponds nonetheless with the later sources and has a certain historical plausibility in view of the fact that instrument repair experts from Alexandria (the home of mechanical signalling devices) are known to have visited the late Temple. The possibility cannot be ruled out, however, that the ...

Article

Article

Article

Article

Qarna  

Article

Qaytros  

Article

Article

Article

Shofar  

Jeremy Montagu

(Heb., pl. shofarot)

The ram's horn of the Bible; it is the only ancient Jewish liturgical instrument that survived the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 ce and is still in use. For a discussion of the shofar in biblical times, see Biblical instruments, §3, (x); see also Jewish music, §II.

In post-biblical times, the shofar was still widely used for signalling, not only as an alarm but also with some symbolical intent on occasions of natural or man-made catastrophe such as droughts, famine or raging inflation. It was also used on occasions of rejoicing and jubilation (the word ‘jubilee’ is derived from the name of a special form of the instrument, the shofar ha-yovel), a practice still in use today among the Sephardim.

The Ashkenazim, however, use the shofar only during the month of Ellul, on Rosh Hashanah (New Year; the first day of the following month) and Yom Kippur. On Rosh Hashanah it is blown at several points during the service, symbolically to call Israel together and to summon all Jews to repentance and to God; all adult male Jews are under obligation to hear the shofar on this day. Four calls are blown in varying combinations at each point (...

Article

‘Ugav