Hebrew Bagpipes in the Temple|
and the Harp of David.
The bagpipes originated in the Near or Middle East i.e. in the general area of
Ancient Israel. Most sources would agree with this.
The "Oxford History of Music" makes mention of the first documented bagpipe
being found on a Hittite slab at Eyuk in the Middle East. This sculptured
bagpipe has been dated to 1000 BC. This was the approximate time of King David
according to Conventionally Accepted Chronology. The presence of bagpipes
amongst the Ancient Israelites and even as part of the numerous musical
instruments used in the Temple is therefore not surprising. On the other hand
the usage of bagpipes in Scotland and Ireland though probably going back to
ancient times has only been attested to in the last 1000 years or less.
Nevertheless, the bagpipes are associated mainly with the Scottish though also
with the Scotch-Irish, Irish, and others. Bagpipes today are in effect a North
American instrument used on official occasions.
Military, para-military, and police forces often use them at funerals etc.
The linkage through the bagpipes of Ancient Israel, and the Temple, with the
Northern British, and Northern Americans is still of interest since it reflects
an instinctive ancestral self-realization.
We may say (as shown below) that Biblical Hebrew supports the common usage of
bagpipes amongst the Hebrews in Biblical Times. The Talmud and Rashi the
foremost commentator on the Bible and Talmud also agree with this. A problem or
rather possible source of confusion could arise from the possible different
applications of specific terms for different musical instruments.
The Mishnah (Keilim 20;2) mentions a Chamat Chalalim which is a bag of pipes or
musical bagpipe as an instrument that does not become ritually impure.
In Modern Hebrew the word bagpipes is translated as Chamat Chalalim.
Chamat (according to Jastrow) means the stomach of an animal.
Chalalim is the plural for pipes.
The Classical Commentary on the Mishnah of Rabbi Obadiah bar Tenorah (1465-1550)
# Chamat Chalalim. An inflated animal
stomach into whose opening pipes are inserted and wind emitted through holes in
the pipes results in the sound of song. #
The Mishnah was written down in about 220 CE but is derived from Oral
Traditions reaching back all the way to Second Temple Times, the Period of Ezra
and beyond into the Biblical Era.
Daniel chapter 36 describes Nebuchadnessar as employing different musical
instruments in the worship of the idolatrous image he had erected. Amongst these
we find the "sumponia" translated into English as Dulcimer. A Dulcimer is a kind of stringed instrument but according to the
Rabbinicial Commentators the word sumponia means a type of bagpipe.
See our article:
Bagpipes in the Bible
We have therefore established that bagpipes were known of to the Ancient Hebrews
and their neighbors.
Majority opinion is that in Biblical Terminology bagpipes were referred to as the "nabal"
and that the word "nabal" where it appears in the Bible in reference to a
musical instrument means the bagpipes.
We also have the word "Kinor" which means harp. The Hebrews used other musical
instruments including stringed ones similar to lutes and violins.
In Later Medieval Hebrew the terms Kinor and Nabal were sometimes confused. The
word nabal was sometimes understood to mean harp whereas the word kinor was
applied to the violin. The Harp became the national instrument of Ireland and we
are told by Vencenzo Galilei , 1581, father of the astronomer:
"This most ancient instrument was brought to us from Ireland where such are
most excellently worked and in great number; the inhabitants of the said island
have made this their art during the many centuries they have lived there and,
moreover, it is a special undertaking of the kingdom; and they paint and engrave
it in their public and private buildings and on their hill; stating as their
reason for doing so that they have descended from the royal prophet David" (Dialogo
della Musica Antica).
Today the harp is also considered the national instrument of the State of
Kinor David: King David's Harp.
"Rabbi Shim'on Hasida said: 'David hung
his harp above his bed and when midnight would arrive the north wind would blow
upon the harp (vibrating the strings) and causing music to emanate. David would
immediately rise and begin studying Torah. He would continue his studies even as
the first light of dawn appeared in the sky.'" (Talmud Tractate Berachot 3:b)
14 But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from
the Lord troubled him. 15 And Saul's servants said to him, 'Surely, a
distressing spirit from God is troubling you. 16 Let our master now command your
servants, who are before you, to seek out a man who is a skillful player on the
harp. And it shall be that he will play it with his hand when the distressing
spirit from God is upon you, and you shall be well.'
17 So Saul said to his servants, 'Provide me now a man who can play well, and
bring him to me.'
18 Then one of the servants answered and said, 'Look, I have seen a son of Jesse
the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a mighty man of valor, a man of
war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person; and the Lord is with him.'
19 Therefore Saul sent messengers to Jesse, and said, 'Send me your son David,
who is with the sheep.' 20 And Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of
wine, and a young goat, and sent them by his son David to Saul. 21 So David came
to Saul and stood before him. And he loved him greatly, and he became his
armorbearer. 22 Then Saul sent to Jesse, saying, 'Please let David stand before
me, for he has found favor in my sight.' 23 And so it was, whenever the spirit
from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand.
Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would
depart from him.
The instrument David played upon in Hebrew is KINOR which really does mean a
harp or something similar to it.
At present we are concerned with Bagpipes and the term "nabal".
The Nabal is recalled in the psalms amongst the instruments used by David.
22 Also with the lute I will praise You'
And Your faithfulness, O my God!
To You I will sing with the harp,
O Holy One of Israel.
The word translated as lute in Hebrew is clei-nabal or literally instruments of
the nabal i.e. of the animal stomach bag.
2 Raise a song and strike the timbrel,
The pleasant harp with the lute.
The word translated as lute is nabal.
3 On an instrument of ten strings,
On the lute,
And on the harp,
With harmonious sound.
The word translated as lute is nabal.
And so on. The Concordance of Iben Shushan lists 27 instances where the word "nabal
" is used to denote a specific type of musical instrument.
The word nabal could also mean the stomach of an animal that had been treated
and was being used as a receptacle for liquids.
'Therefore you shall speak to them
this word: 'Thus says the Lord God of Israel: 'Every bottle shall be filled with
wine'' (Jeremiah 13:12).
The word translated above as "bottle" in Hebrew is "Nabal" (naval) meaning a
containing vessel made out of animal skin.
The Talmud (Zevachim 68;a) speaks of the ram which while alive makes only one sound
but when it is dead it makes seven.
Rashi explains that from the body of a ram seven musical instruments are
# Its two horns make two trumpets,..its
skin makes drums, its intestines make nabalim [i.e. bagpipes], its small
intestines to make musical strings, ...
The modern Schottenstein Commentary to the Talmud (Arakin 10;2; Hebrew Version)
refers to Rashi saying that the nabal was designed like the bellows of a smith and
that perhaps Rashi intended the bagpipes.
The Levites in the Temple Service had a mens and boys choir alongside an
organized ensemble of musical instruments including trumpets, shofars, harps, as
well as bagpipes.
Not only Rashi but other Commentators (e.g. Rabbeinu Gershom ca. 1020 CE, on
Arakin 13;b) identify the nabal with the bagpipes.
Garaidh Briain shows that originally the bagpipes or something like them were
just as important in Ireland as they were in Scotland.
THE GREAT IRISH WARPIPE
Forgotten instrument of Ireland.
BY Garaidh Briain
As we said at the beginning,it is not such a big deal to find the bagpipes having been used by the Ancient Hebrews and as having been part of the Temple appurtenances of worship.
The popularity of bagpipes amongst the ancient Hebrews and the present-day Scottish and North Americans does not really prove anything concrete.
On the other hand music speaks to the heart and soul of the listener.
Bagpipes are associated with ancestry.
The Hebrews did use bagpipes.
They had national and relgious significance.
The popularity of bagpipes and their association today with peoples whom we identify as Israelites could be considered to show a subconscious recognition of, and need for, ancestral connection.
It is worth noting.
Brit-Am Now no. 1647.
#3. Bagpipes in the Bible. Rashi; A New Source