מאמר - FESTIVALS5716 (1955-1956)
FESTIVALS 5716 (1955-1956)
MUSICIANS AND MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS OF BIBLICAL TIMES
Ever since mankind has existed music has played an integral part in the daily life of all people. The development of music among the Israelites went hand in hand with that of poetry, the two being equally ancient. Music was used in very early times in connection with divine service, and popular festivals were celebrated with singing and instrument music, usually with accompanying dances.
In I Samuel 16:16-23 we are told that by playing on the harp the young David drove away the spirit of melancholy from Saul and that after David had slain Goliath he was welcomed by the women dancing and chanting "with timbrels, with joy and with instruments of music" (I Sam. 18:6). When David brought the Ark to Zion, "he played before the Lord on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals (II Sam. 6:5). He embellished the Temple service with a rich musical liturgy and after his death the people sounded the flutes on the occasion of the enthronement of Solomon. Moreover, music accompanied the dances at harvest festivals (Judges 21:21). Joshua 6 tells the story of the conquest of Jericho, "And seven priests shall bear before the Ark seven trumpets of rams' horns...and it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye shall hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat."
The ram's horn is mentioned 40 times and the trumpet 15 times in the Bible. The latter was used by watchmen and for signals in war time, but later on exclusively in the Temple for the announcement of the New Year. II Chron. 29:26 tells that "the Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets."
The harp was the most popular instrument for the accompaniment of songs, but was never used for mourning. When the exiled sat by the rivers of Babylon they wept and "hung the harps upon the willows" (Psalms 137:1-2). While the flutes were used for dancing at feasts, in the Temple they were the specific instruments for elegies.
The instruments in the series are one string instrument, two instruments which are blown, and one percussion instrument. The biblical verses inscribed in Hebrew on the tabs refer to the ways musical instruments were used in ancient Israel: "Praise him with the timbrel and dance . . . Praise him upon the high sounding cymbals" (Psalms 150:4, 5); "Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day" (Psalms 81:4); "Also in your day of gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginning of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets" (Num. 10:10); "Praise him with the . . . harp" (Psalms 150:3).
The string instrument featured on a stamp in this series is the kinor or lyre. It was much smaller than the harp and could easily be carried while marching. The most common of the stringed instruments, it is analogous to the kissar of the Arabs.
A pulsatile instrument, the so-called menaanim, was probably the Egyptian Sistrum and, in similar form, the Greek Seistron. It had a loop-shaped metal frame with loose, jingling rods running through it to produce noisy effects marking the rhythm.
The double pipe halil appearing on the stamp was made of cane or wood and used for popular tunes in contrast to the characteristic priestly instrument for service in the Temple, the metal trumpet, appearing on the 120 pruta stamp of the earlier series.
From all these instruments we learn that they were not intended to produce melodies, like modern musical instruments, but that they were only used to emphasize the rhythm of the singers, and to accompany the tempo of the dancers or the march of the army. They were never solo instruments in the modern sense.
The biblical verses inscribed in Hebrew on the tabs refers to use or to the image of the instruments appearing on the stamps: "Praise him with the psaltery and harp" (Psalms 150:3); "And David and all the house of Israel played . . . and on psalteries, and on timbrels" (II Samuel :5); ". . . and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe" (Isaiah 30:29).
See also Ancient Musical Instruments of Israel.