Thursday, April 24, 2008

Music In The Bible

I have been reading through the entire old testament, and am intrigued by how often music is mentioned. I generally read 2 to 5 chapters a day.
I have always been curious as to what music in those days sounded like, and if their concepts of music was anything like ours. The bible says there is nothing new under the sun, and I am inclined to believe that they probably had a very advanced understanding of music. I have read of a scholar who uncovered controversial evidence suggesting that the ancient Egyptians produced written sheet music, dating back to about 4500 years ago. Maureen M. Barwise claims to have deciphered musical hieroglyphs that date as far back as 2600 B.C. A number of the tunes were translated into the treble-clef keyboard.
According to Barwise, the Egyptians understood timing, pitch, rhythm, and harmonic chords in addition to basic melody.

In the Bible, music was an important part of life. David was well known for writing music. He was also known for inventing many instruments, (1 Chron. 23:5; 2 Chron. 7:6; 2 Chron. 29:26-27; Neh. 12:36;) though what they were, I don't know. The Levites were also known for being skillful in music (2 Chron. 29:25-30) I couldn't help but notice that music was used for just about every event, when the ark of God was carried from place to place (1 Chronicles 15:11-28), in all kinds of worship, and even in celebration of a finished project! As I have been reading through 1rst and 2nd Chronicles, the children of God would constantly go astray, and someone would always come around and straiten them back out. Alters that had been built would be torn down, God's house would be restored, and music would be played in celebration.
Of course, I could find all kinds of scripture references for you, but that would be kind of pointless, because if I did that, I might just as well quote the whole old Testament for you! That's how often music is mentioned.

Here is a story from 2 Chronicles 20. I thought music was used in an interesting way here. (sorry so long)

 1It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle.
 2Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazontamar, which is Engedi.
 3And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
 4And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.
 5And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court,
 6And said, O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?
 7Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever?
 8And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying,
 9If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help.
 10And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not;
 11Behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit.
 12O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.
 13And all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.
 14Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the LORD in the midst of the congregation;
 15And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's.
 16To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel.
 17Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you.
 18And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD, worshipping the LORD.
 19And the Levites, of the children of the Kohathites, and of the children of the Korhites, stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel with a loud voice on high.
 20And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.
 21And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever.
 22And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.
 23For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another.
 24And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped.
 25And when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much.
 26And on the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of Berachah; for there they blessed the LORD: therefore the name of the same place was called, The valley of Berachah, unto this day.
 27Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat in the forefront of them, to go again to Jerusalem with joy; for the LORD had made them to rejoice over their enemies.
 28And they came to Jerusalem with psalteries and harps and trumpets unto the house of the LORD.
 29And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries, when they had heard that the LORD fought against the enemies of Israel.
 30So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him rest round about.

If you find anything interesting about music in the Bible, please let me know!

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