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Music Of Biblical Times

Updated on February 22, 2018

The ancient music of Biblical times was often a form of praise. Writings of the time are filled with testimonies of music's power to perform miracles, to heal and to bring about transformation. One important characteristic of ancient language itself was rhythm. That rhythm carried on to include music of praise, of prayer, of sorrow, of war and of celebration. Music is mentioned in the Bible over 800 times and there are many scriptures that refer to music.

From Psalm 33:3 - Sing to Him a new song: Play skillfully with a shout of joy.

The People -

David - It is said King David played the harp to soothe Saul's anxiety. He was an accomplished musician in his time and an instrument maker. A poet by nature, David charmed others with the songs he wrote and played for them. He was a wise and creative king and is the Biblical figure most remembered for his musical abilities.

Jubal - Though no known text goes into details, Jubal is referred to in the Bible (Genesis 4:211) as the father of music. He is considered the pioneer in defining music in relation to musical instruments. Jubal is credited with being the father of the lyre and pipe.

Miriam - Miriam is credited with taking timbrel in hand and leading other women in music and dance. She was a prophetess and presided in the assembly of women. She was considered a skilled musician. Dancing was slow along with the rhythm of the song and performed as a form of praise.

King Solomon - This wise and politically savvy king is said to have written over 1000 songs. He never did things in a small way and brought singers, cymbal players, dancers, harpists and psaltery players into his vast kingdom. Solomon also employed 120 priests to play trumpets. (II Chronicles 5:11-14)

The Shepherds - The flute was considered the sheherd's instrument. Much art work has depicted a shepherd boy leaning against a tree and playing a bamboo flute. It was used for entertaining both the shepherd and the sheep. He carried his flute everywhere along with his staff and other equipment.

The Instruments -

The Harp - Most harps in Biblical days had 10 or 12 strings. Harps were played to worship as well as to soothe and entertain. It was often played with the hand while walking and sometimes had a sounding board.

The Lyre - Supposedly invented by Jubal, the lyre is one of the oldest instruments in human history. It usually had 10 strings and was played with the fingers.

The Trumpet - In ancient times, the trumpet was long and often made of silver, It was usually used to call people to assembly. Trumpets were often seen used in pairs and was the instrument of the priests.

The Timbrel - The timbrel was used most often by dancers and is similar to a tambourine, It was the principal musical instrument of percussion in ancient times. It was used in the Old Testament in both singular and plural form. It is said that the Egyptians used it to scare away evil spirits.

The Flute - Aristotle believed flute music could arouse strong emotions in people and that it had a cathartic effect. Flutes were very popular and were usually made of bone, bamboo, ivory or metal.

The Dulcimer - The dulcimer can also be called a bagpipe. It was made of inflated goatskin onto which was attached a reed mouthpiece. The dulcimer was considered a melody pipe having several finger holes enabling a variety of notes to be produced.

The Cymbals - In Biblical times, cymbals were used to praise the Lord. By clanging two brass bowls together, a rhythm was created. The cymbals are mentioned quite often in the Bible (2 Chronicles 5:12). Cymbal players often accompanied other musicians during a procession.

The Cultures -

The Egyptians - Music, in all its forms, played a significant role in the everyday life of ancient Egyptians. Their musical instruments were well developed and used for worship, processions and parties. They also believed music had an economic purpose. Workers were more productive when singing or listening to music.

The Greeks - The word "music" comes from the "muses", the daughters of Zeus and patron goddesses of intellectual and creative pursuits. Music was very important to the Greeks and an integral part of ancient Greek society. Music was always present at marriages, religious ceremonies and funerals. Epic poetry was turned into ballads and staged musical dramas were common.

The Israelites - Like the music of other cultures in ancient times, Hebrew music was a celebration and joyous sound. Temple music included an all male orchestra and singers. Feast days began with a musical proclamation. Hebrew leaders were careful to discourage music they associated with sensuality or pagan worship.

The Babylonians - The Babylonians regarded music as an accompaniment to story-telling rather than on its own. It was used for entertainment as well as religious ceremonies. Most Babylonian music was instrumental though there was evidence of some singing.

The Romans - The Romans were not known for their originality or creativity when it came to music. Though they did enjoy it, much of the music in ancient Roman days was based on the Greek tradition. Roman music was mostly monophonic and they did not attach spirituality to it as the Greeks did.

This article merely skims the history and beauty of ancient musical tradition. To study it fully would require a tome as big as the Bible.

For more musical history please read

From Psalm 98 - "Sing to the Lord a new song,.....Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music, ....make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, .... with trumpets and a blast of the ram's horn - shout for joy before the Lord, the King."


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    • WillStarr profile image


      5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I missed this one entirely. What fun to hear that ancient music! Well done.

    • suziecat7 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Forbcrin - I did my homework and you're very condescending. There are many theories on the origin of the word "music" but it is widely agreed that the Greeks gave it its name. It is a contested issue and some believe it has Persian origins and was later translated from Arabic to Greek.

      In Biblical times, the dulcimer was a bagpipe. See here -

      And here -

    • suziecat7 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Thanks, Heather.

    • HeatherH104 profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      This is so interesting! Music was such an awesome healing tool that we have lost. I worked as a music therapist for 7 years and can attest to the healing power of music. The scientific community would disagree and since I'm not scientific it's hard to argue.

      Anyway, great hub! Voted up and shared. :)

    • suziecat7 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Thanks, Vocalcoach.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      7 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      I'm here to tell you that this hub is wonderful! Very interesting and you've put so much into it.

      I'll share it:)

    • profile image

      Molly Meadows 

      7 years ago

      Fascinating! I knew some of the Bible references and loved the music samples...beautiful!

    • platinumOwl4 profile image


      9 years ago

      I am a music and ancient Egypt fan. How, how did I miss this hub. Perhaps it was not time for me to read. However, I think it is a wonderful hub. Keep up the great research.

    • suziecat7 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Thank you all for reading and taking the time to comment.

    • Brinafr3sh profile image


      9 years ago from West Coast, United States

      Thank you Suziecat7. I played the flute in 7th grade. Now I know, in Biblical times that the flute was played for the sheperd and the sheep. Voted up and awesome.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Awesome hub! Biblical history is so fascinating. I am a fan.

    • Joni Douglas profile image

      Joni Douglas 

      10 years ago

      Love this hub. Music is communication. Isn't that what God wants with us? To communicate with Him?

    • Coolmon2009 profile image


      10 years ago from Texas, USA

      Nice article I enjoyed reading it, and I like your selection of pictures.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      welcome darlin' *smiles*

    • suziecat7 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Hi ralwus - I agree that the spirit should be in celebrating God. Church rules are man-made. Thank you so much for reading.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      A most interesting hub suzie. I often wondered what the music sounded like. They also danced before the Lord. I cannot imagine why certain churches have banned musical instruments from the congregation, but many do. There is just no spirit in that to my way of thinking.

    • suziecat7 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Thanks, Michael - glad you stopped by.

    • Michael Shane profile image

      Michael Shane 

      10 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

      Great info & interesting hub suziecat!

    • suziecat7 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Asheville, NC

      James - It was great of you to stop by. I am always honored to have you comment on my articles. Glad you enjoyed it.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      10 years ago from Chicago

      As a musician, I find this article to be truly fascinating. I learned a lot of new information from you. Thank you very much. I enjoyed it.

    • suziecat7 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Hi Dolores - I'm glad you enjoyed it. I really like those videos. Brings us closer to understanding ancient times.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      10 years ago from East Coast, United States

      You don't think about music associated with the Bible so this was a really cool hub. I love it that you posted those videos. I am listening to the King David one now.

    • suziecat7 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Music is a common thread of humanity. Thank you all for reading.

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 

      10 years ago

      A subject I never thought about until reading your hub. Thanks.

    • festersporling1 profile image

      Daniel Christian 

      10 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Very interesting to say the least. I liked this hub. The ancient times always have fascinated me. I am watching the series, Rome, right now. Not same period, but ya.... :)

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      10 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Interesting Hub.

    • suziecat7 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Thank you all for reading. In the long run, people are just people and music is part of it all.

    • Ann Nonymous profile image

      Ann Nonymous 

      10 years ago from Virginia

      Very interesting hub in a category all of its own! I find it fascinating that music was such an integral part of Biblical history and was around since the beginning of time. We amp everything up, electrify all our instruments and yet God and this hub shows just how amazing those musicians were. They really did top the charts, didn't they, Susie!

    • Cheeky Girl profile image

      Cassandra Mantis 

      10 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

      The ancients knew a lot more than we do! Great hub, Suziecat7. The times have changed, but the music not so much! I liked this Hub Immensely! Thanks!

    • reddog1027 profile image


      10 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Great hub. I always love to learn something about how people lived in the ancient world.

    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 

      10 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      This is an interesting hub!!

    • suziecat7 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Thank you all for stopping by. I enjoyed the research as well. The music videos are awesome, I think.

    • Naomi R. Cox profile image

      Naomi R. Cox 

      10 years ago from Elberton, Georgia

      This is a wonderful hub. It is very informative and the music video's are great. Thanks for sharing this with us. Keep up the good work!

    • breakfastpop profile image


      10 years ago

      Thank you for a fabulous and enjoyable hub. I love the music!

    • D.A.L. profile image


      10 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      suziecat, Thank you for sharing this well written informative hub with us. Enjoyed it immensely.

    • suziecat7 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Thank you both for stopping by. Like most music history, the music of Biblical times reflects the mood of the day. Thanks for reading.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Great Hub...vast amounts of information...well done


    • advisor4qb profile image


      10 years ago from On New Footing

      How cool! I love this hub!


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