Tambourine Player from Ancient Israel

Tambourine Player from Ancient Israel

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The History Behind Tensions Between Israelis And Palestinians

The conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians is long and complex. NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro explains what has lead up to the latest attacks, and how it's different than before.

We're going to begin this hour in the Middle East, where that conflict is escalating, and we're going to be breaking down what we're seeing there right now. And yes, this is complicated. And no, what you're about to hear is not comprehensive, but it will be useful. This current round of fighting began in Jerusalem.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: You are stealing my house.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: And if I don't steal it, someone else is going to steal it.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #1: A battle to save Palestinians from eviction triggers the latest rallying call against Israel.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Protests had been going on for weeks there over a plan to evict Palestinians from their homes in a Jerusalem neighborhood called Sheikh Jarrah.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Both Israel and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital. Palestinians accuse Israel of trying to expel them home by home in order to cement its control over the city. Israel captured the east of the city in 1967 and annexed it. The Palestinians, though, and most world governments say that the status of Jerusalem should be the subject of negotiations in any peace deal. For its part, Israel says the whole of Jerusalem is its capital and has been building settlements in the area. So tensions were already high when fierce clashes then broke out in early May at one of the most sensitive areas in the city.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Jerusalem, of course, is important to both sides for many reasons, including that it is the site of a compound sacred to both Jews and Muslims. The Temple Mount, as it's called by Jews, is the holiest site in Judaism because it was the location of two ancient temples that were destroyed. It is also the location of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, the third-most sacred site in Islam, and where Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad ascended into heaven. Last week, Israeli police raided the compound.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #2: Police coming in in huge numbers, firing tear gas. We're seeing stun grenades.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Saying that they were chasing violent protesters, injuring hundreds and generating images that shocked Muslims around the world.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The militant group Hamas, which controls a tiny strip of land in Gaza, then entered the fray.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #3: The wail of an air raid siren persuaded Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall to flee and run for cover.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: They started by firing hundreds of rockets into Israel. Hamas is regarded as a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States. It rejects Israel and embraces armed resistance against it. Now, Gaza is completely isolated. It's surrounded and blocked off by both Israel and Egypt, which borders it. And most of its residents cannot leave.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Israel then retaliated with hundreds of airstrikes on Gaza.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #4: As you can hear now, the raids are directly targeting the tower.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: This is so far the deadliest part of the fighting, where almost 200 people have been killed in Gaza, including children. And Israel has seen almost a dozen dead, also including children. But a new flashpoint has also opened up.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: (Non-English language spoken).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: This is from the town of Lod inside Israel, which has been placed under a state of emergency. Fights between Palestinian citizens of Israel and Jews who live in mixed communities have broken out there and across the country, which is, we should say, highly unusual. Roving mobs have been attacking the other side and destroying property, including places of worship.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Also, in recent days, there have been pitched battles between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces in the West Bank too, which is part of the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel. The many fronts now in this conflict are raising fears of a new intifada - or uprising - similar to what was seen with devastating consequences only two times before.

Copyright © 2021 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR&rsquos programming is the audio record.

The Origins of 7 Musical Instruments

Long before the Tambourine Man played a song for Bob Dylan, tambourine-like instruments were being used by Ojibwe and Cree people in what is now Canada, in several Middle Eastern cultures, in South India, China, and in Eastern Europe. In ancient Egypt, tambourines were used by temple dancers, and were used in festivals and processions by the Greeks and Romans.

Over in Western Europe, the tambourine began to gain popularity in the mid-18th century as an orchestral instrument, particularly when that infamous rebel of the classical music world, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, began to employ it in several compositions. Today, while the tambourine is still occasionally used in orchestral music, it's more commonly associated with Western folk music.

2. Kettle Drum

The kettle drum varies greatly across cultures, but the earliest versions may date back to at least 4000 B.C.E. in Mesopotamia. Babylonian artifacts have also been found with instructions for building kettle drums inscribed on them. Used throughout the ancient Middle East and in many Islamic cultures, kettle drums first arrived in western Europe thanks to soldiers returning home from the Crusades. It's no surprise then that in Western cultures, kettle drums have typically been associated with the military: The kettle drum was used in battle as an imposing noise to signal the opposing army's impending doom, as well as to keep their own soldiers marching in time.

3. Guitars

The first guitar was a variation on a lute, a stringed instrument with a curved back, designed in western Europe in the 13th century. A few hundred years later, the Spanish "vihuela" had come into being, and by the mid-16th century, the "guitarre" had become a popular instrument in Spain, and was subsequently introduced into France. Musically-inclined Spanish and Portugese colonists brought their guitars with them on their trips to Africa and the New World. In the Carribean, regional variants on the guitar sprang up, as indigenous people adopted the instruments to fit traditional music: the tres, from Cuba, and the cuatro, from Puerto Rico, are two such instruments. Further south, the charango came into being—an instrument sometimes made out of the shell of an armadillo—and in Mexico, the huge bass guitar known as a guitarron became a mainstay of mariachi music.

The guitar largely remained part of the rhythm section until the birth of the recording industry in the United States. Guitar makers and players "“ as well as the industry execs "“ wanted louder guitars, and a few people began to look at electronic amplification as a means to this end. In 1931, a man named Adolph Rickenbacker collaborated with George Beauchamp to make the first electric guitar pickup: a magnet with a coil of wire wrapped around it, which when electrified by a current amplified the sound produced by the vibration of the guitar strings. By the end of the 30s and into the 40s, the "electric sound" was being pioneered by jazz, country, and blues guitarists like Merle Travis and Muddy Waters.

But it was rock and roll that really popularized the electric guitar—in particular, the new solid-body guitar (as opposed to the "hollow body" of earlier guitars). Several guitar makers had experimented with the solid-body style, but it was Leo Fender, a radio repairman, who would put the style on the map in 1950, and forever changed the course of American pop music. [Image courtesy of Slash's World.]

4. Violin

The European violin—a four stringed instrument played with a bow, and held between the chin and shoulder—was developed in the 16th century to accompany dances or to echo the melody sung by a vocalist. In the 17th century, the full range of the violin was utilized in operas, concertos, and sonatas, and was used as a solo instrument for the first time.

The instrument really took off, however, in the years between 1650 and 1750, when all of Europe was succumbing to the violin craze. The hub of violin-making activity was the town of Cremona in northern Italy, where some estimates place the number of violins produced at 20,000. As home to some of the most famous violin-makers of all time, Cremona boasted the likes of Nicola Amati (who died in1684) and his apprentices, Guarneri del Gesu and Antonio Stradivari. Stradivari, of course, is better known as Stradivarius—the Latin version of his family name being the one he chose to sign his instruments with. Stradivarius was famous for his attention to detail and his experimentation, choosing different types of wood, varnishes, and structural techniques to slightly alter the sound each Stradivarius violin produced a unique tone, which is part of why they are so prized today. In the last 37 years of his life, Stradivarius cranked out an average of one instrument a week—violins and cellos—which was an astounding feat, considering the amount of attention he devoted to each instrument. There are about 1,000 "Strads" still in existence, which can each fetch up to $2 million.

5. Accordion

Beloved instrument of Steve Urkel and Weird Al Yankovic, the accordion's history lies in the wind instruments of Asian and African societies. In fact, "free reeds," which create the distinctive sound when air passes over them, have been used in Chinese instruments for over 2000 years.

The modern accordion was first designed in Austria in the early 19th century—unlike modern accordions, however, it only featured a keyboard on one side, with the other end was used to operate the bellows. Today, there are three types of accordions: the piano accordion (which has a piano-like keyboard on one end of the instrument) the concertina (a hexagonal instrument which has no keys, only buttons on each end) and the button accordion (which is pretty much what it sounds like). All three types work by expanding and squeezing together the bellows, forcing air over the free reeds inside and causing them to vibrate, with the keys and buttons determining the pitch.

6. Harmonica

In the small town of Trossingen, Germany, in 1857, a clockmaker named Matthias Hohner started producing "mouth organs," based on an earlier design by Christian Buschmann in 1821. While another Trossinger, Christian Messner, had already started manufacturing harmonicas by 1930, Hohner was the first to mass-produce them, and the first to ship them across the Atlantic to the US, in 1868. It wasn't long before the mouth organ, now known as the harmonica, became an essential component of a variety of musical styles in the west, including folk, country-western, and (of course) the blues.

7. Saxophone

The saxophone is the baby of the reed family, brought into the world in 1841 at the Brussels Exhibition by the Belgian inventor Adolphe Sax. Originally made in 14 different sizes and keys, today three or four horns dominate the scene (with the soprano, the tenor, the alto and the baritone are the most prominent). In 1845, Sax organized a "battle of the bands" in which he led a group of musicians playing his new saxophone (as well as other brass instruments) in competition against an ensemble playing the traditional instruments of the French military band. Sax's band was so enthusiastically received by the audience that the French government decided—shockingly—to adopt the saxophone as part of their standard band lineup.

The tambourine appeared as an instrument in modern military bands during the 1800s. It was further popularized in the United Kingdom and the United States when the Salvation Army began to use it prominently during their rallies.

The instrument gained a strong following as a popular folk music instrument during the 1960s. The folk-rock artist Bob Dylan wrote the song "Mr. Tambourine Man" in 1964. The song became a major radio hit for the band, The Byrds, and has been recorded by numerous artists since. The tambourine continues to be celebrated in song. Hiphop artist, Eve, released the song and accompanying music video, "Tambourine," in 2007.

Mike Parker is a full-time writer, publisher and independent businessman. His background includes a career as an investments broker with such NYSE member firms as Edward Jones & Company, AG Edwards & Sons and Dean Witter. He helped launch DiscoverCard as one of the company's first merchant sales reps.

Tambourine Player from Ancient Israel - History

New International Version
Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron's sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing.

New Living Translation
Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine and led all the women as they played their tambourines and danced.

English Standard Version
Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing.

Berean Study Bible
Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her with tambourines and dancing.

King James Bible
And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.

New King James Version
Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.

New American Standard Bible
Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took the tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing.

NASB 1995
Miriam the prophetess, Aaron's sister, took the timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing.

NASB 1977
And Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took the timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing.

Amplified Bible
Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron [and Moses], took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her with timbrels and dancing.

Christian Standard Bible
Then the prophetess Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women came out following her with tambourines and dancing.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron's sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her with their tambourines and danced.

American Standard Version
And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
And Maryam the Prophetess, the sister of Ahron, took tambourines in her hand and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with timbrels.

Brenton Septuagint Translation
And Mariam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, having taken a timbrel in her hand - then there went forth all the women after her with timbrels and dances.

Contemporary English Version
Miriam the sister of Aaron was a prophet. So she took her tambourine and led the other women out to play their tambourines and to dance.

Douay-Rheims Bible
So Mary the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand: and all the women went forth after her with timbrels and with dances:

English Revised Version
And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.

Good News Translation
The prophet Miriam, Aaron's sister, took her tambourine, and all the women followed her, playing tambourines and dancing.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron's sister, took a tambourine in her hand. All the women, dancing with tambourines, followed her.

International Standard Version
Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron's sister, took a tambourine in her hand and went out with all the women behind her with tambourines and dancing.

JPS Tanakh 1917
And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.

Literal Standard Version
And Miriam the inspired one, sister of Aaron, takes the timbrel in her hand, and all the women go out after her, with timbrels and with choruses

NET Bible
Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a hand-drum in her hand, and all the women went out after her with hand-drums and with dances.

New Heart English Bible
Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dances.

World English Bible
Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dances.

Young's Literal Translation
And Miriam the inspired one, sister of Aaron, taketh the timbrel in her hand, and all the women go out after her, with timbrels and with choruses

Genesis 31:27
Why did you run away secretly and deceive me, without even telling me? I would have sent you away with joy and singing, with tambourines and harps.

Exodus 2:4
And his sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.

Numbers 26:59
and Amram's wife was named Jochebed. She was also a daughter of Levi, born to Levi in Egypt. To Amram she bore Aaron, Moses, and their sister Miriam.

Judges 11:34
And when Jephthah returned home to Mizpah, there was his daughter coming out to meet him with tambourines and dancing! She was his only child he had no son or daughter besides her.

Judges 21:21
and watch. When you see the daughters of Shiloh come out to perform their dances, each of you is to come out of the vineyards, catch for himself a wife from the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin.

1 Samuel 18:6
As the troops were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs, and with tambourines and other instruments.

2 Samuel 1:20
Tell it not in Gath proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, and the daughters of the uncircumcised exult.

2 Samuel 6:14
And David, wearing a linen ephod, danced with all his might before the LORD,

1 Chronicles 6:3
The children of Amram: Aaron, Moses, and Miriam. The sons of Aaron: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.

1 Chronicles 15:16
David also told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their relatives as singers to lift up their voices with joy, accompanied by musical instruments--harps, lyres, and cymbals.

Psalm 30:11
You turned my mourning into dancing You peeled off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

Psalm 68:11
The Lord gives the command a great company of women proclaim it:

Psalm 68:25
The singers lead the way, the musicians follow after, among the maidens playing tambourines.

Psalm 81:2
Lift up a song, strike the tambourine, play the sweet-sounding harp and lyre.

Psalm 149:3
Let them praise His name with dancing, and make music to Him with tambourine and harp.

Psalm 150:4
Praise Him with tambourine and dancing praise Him with strings and flute.

Ecclesiastes 3:4
a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

Jeremiah 31:4
Again I will build you, and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel. Again you will take up your tambourines and go out in joyful dancing.

Micah 6:4
For I brought you up from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery. I sent Moses before you, as well as Aaron and Miriam.

And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dances.

Judges 4:4 And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.

1 Samuel 10:5 After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them and they shall prophesy:

2 Kings 22:14 So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college) and they communed with her.

Exodus 2:4 And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him.

Numbers 12:1 And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.

Numbers 20:1 Then came the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin in the first month: and the people abode in Kadesh and Miriam died there, and was buried there.

Judges 11:34 And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child beside her he had neither son nor daughter.

Judges 21:21 And see, and, behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in dances, then come ye out of the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin.

1 Samuel 18:6 And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick.

The sister of Aaron. --She is called "sister of Aaron," rather than of Moses, because Aaron was the head of the family (Exodus 6:20 Exodus 7:7). There is no reasonable doubt that she was the sister who kept watch on Moses when he was in the ark of bulrushes (Exodus 2:3-8). On her later history, see Numbers 12:1-15. The prophet Micah regarded her as having had a part in the work of Israel's deliverance (Micah 6:4).

Timbrels and with dances. --By "timbrels" are meant tambours, or tambourines, favourite instruments in Egypt, and usually played by women there (Wilkinson: Ancient Egyptians, vol. i., p. 93). The combination of music with song in religious worship, here for the first time brought before us, became the fixed rule of the Tabernacle service from the time of David (2Samuel 6:15 1Chronicles 23:5 1Chronicles 25:1-6), and was adopted into the Temple service from its first establishment (2Chronicles 5:12). Sanctioned under the new covenant by the general praise of psalmody, and by the representations given in the Apocalypse of the Church triumphant in heaven (Revelation 5:8 Revelation 14:2-3), it has always maintained itself in the Christian Church, and still holds its ground firmly. Dancing, on the contrary, though adopted into religious worship by many nations, sanctioned by the present passage, by the example of David (2Samuel 6:16), and by expressions in the Psalms (Psalm 149:3 Psalm 150:4), has never found an entrance into Christian ceremonial, unless among a few fanatic sects. The reason of this is to be found in the abuses which, through human infirmity, became by degrees connected with the practice, causing it to become unfit for a religious purpose. In the primitive times, however, solemn and stately dances were deemed appropriate to festival periods and religious rejoicings, and among the more moral tribes and nations had nothing unseemly about them.

The arrangement of the choir on this occasion into two bands--one of males, the other of females--and the combined employment of music, song, and dancing by the female band, are in close accord with Egyptian customs.

Verse 20. - Miriam, the prophetess . Miriam is regarded by the prophet Micah 6:4, as having had a share in the deliverance of Israel, and claims the prophetic gift in Numbers 12:2. Her claim appears to be allowed both in the present passage, and in Numbers 12:6-8. where the degree of her inspiration is placed below that of Moses. She is the first woman whom the Bible honours with the title of "prophetess." Prophetesses were common in Egypt at a much earlier date and thus, that a woman should have the gift would have seemed no strange thing to the Hebrews. For examples of other prophetesses, see Judges 4:4 2 Kings 22:14 Isaiah 8:3 Luke 2:36. The sister of Aaron . Compare Numbers 26:59. Miriam is generally regarded as the sister of Moses mentioned in Exodus 2:4-8, whose name is not there given. If so, she was considerably older than either Moses or Aaron. Took a timbrel By "a timbrel" our translators meant what is now called "a tambourine." Such instruments were common in Egypt (Wilkinson, Ancient Egyptians, vol. 1. p. 93), and in the representations are generally played by women. The separation of the men and women into distinct bands was an Egyptian custom as likewise was the execution of dances by performers who accompanied their steps with music ( ibid. vol. it. pp. 235, 301).

Then Miriam
מִרְיָ֨ם (mir·yām)
Noun - proper - feminine singular
Strong's 4813: Miriam -- a sister of Aaron, also a man of Judah

Tambourine Player from Ancient Israel - History

Specifically, what is the day of Israel's calamity? Jeremiah 30:5-7 provides the answer:

For thus says the L ORD : "We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask now, and see, whether a man is ever in labor with child? So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins like a woman in labor, and all faces turned pale? Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it and it is the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it."

Jesus also spoke about this distressing day in His Olivet Prophecy:

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened. (Matthew 24:21-22)

The warnings in Obadiah 12-14 are directed toward the Edomites alive when that day arrives, perhaps not very long from now. We may have seen a precursor of the fulfillment of this prophecy, when, on and after September 11, 2001, television news programs broadcast images of Palestinians gloating and dancing in the streets in the West Bank, giving out candy, and shrieking in giddy celebration. Such a scene is likely to happen again when the Great Tribulation fully comes upon the nations of Israel.

At that time, the people of Edom may not have a great deal of power over the nations of Israel, and the prophecies do not indicate that they will. Today, their strength is limited to suicidal terrorist attacks, but they still have the ability to mock, to pillage, and to take advantage of any sign of weakness. God says in Obadiah 6-9 that He will remove their wealth, their wisdom, and their courage, but they will still be able to gloat when they see Israel fall.

The theme of Obadiah 15-16 appears in Jeremiah 25:28: "And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup from your hand to drink, then you shall say to them, 'Thus says the L ORD of hosts: "You shall certainly drink!"'" Edom, God proclaims, shall certainly drink of the wine of His wrath.

Upon the heels of the Great Tribulation comes the Day of the Lord, as Obadiah declares in verse 15. It is a time of reckoning, or as the prophet phrases it, "As you have done, it shall be done to you." This is a biblical law. The Romans called it lex talionis, meaning "law of retaliation" or "law of just retribution." In biblical terms, we know it as the "eye for an eye" principle (Exodus 21:23-25 Leviticus 24:19-20 Matthew 5:38). Jesus says that whatever we measure out to others will be measured back to us (Luke 6:38). Paul writes of it as, "Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap" (II Corinthians 9:6 Galatians 6:7-8). God says that this is how He will judge Edom in the Day of His wrath: "Your reprisal shall return upon your own head."

He continues in Obadiah 16: "For as you drank on my holy mountain, so shall all the nations drink continually yes, they shall drink, and swallow, and they shall be as though they had never been." This last part can be better translated, "Yes, they [Edom and its confederates] shall drink and drink and drink until they drink themselves right out of existence." What a dire threat! God essentially tells them that, though they may gloat at first, He will deal with them in His day of vengeance and wipe them from the face of the earth! God does not take these things lightly.

Edom may have drunk on God's holy mountain numerous times. Edomites likely drank in feasting and gloating over Israel when Babylon and later Rome captured and destroyed Jerusalem. Perhaps they thought that the land of Canaan would finally be their inheritance. It could also be descriptive of the present status of the Temple Mount, currently held by the Palestinians, who have strict rules against the Jews' use of the Temple area. In effect, they gloat over their ability to forbid Jews from entering and praying there, yet it is truly not theirs to regulate. God's retaliation will be harsh.

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It is useful to understand the topography of the land mass at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea as well as the locations of cities that figure prominently in the biblical narratives. Let’s look first at the lay of the land.

Topography of the Ancient Near East

Here is a list of significant geographical features of the Ancient Near East in the immediate area of Israel. You will understand other parts of this book more easily if you take the time to locate them now.

  • The Coastal Plain
  • The Central Highlands/Central Hill Country
  • The Jordan Rift/Great Rift Valley
  • The Transjordanian Highlands/Transjordan
  • The Jordan River
  • The Sea of Galilee
  • the Dead Sea
  • The Mediterranean Sea

You may also want to note the Negev (“dry land”) to the south of the Central Highlands.

Moving eastward from the Mediterranean Sea, you would come ashore on the Coastal Plain. Moving farther East the ground begins to rise into a mountainous region called the Central Highlands or the Central Hill Country. Still further East the land drops sharply into the Jordan Rift, a deep valley at the bottom of which runs the Jordan River. The Sea of Galilee is near the northern end of this valley, and the Dead Sea is at the southern end. Continuing eastward, the land rises on the eastern side of the Jordan into a region called the Transjordanian Highlands. This region is sometimes called simply Transjordan, meaning “across the Jordan (River).” The regions of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Gilead, and Bashan (not labelled on the map here) are all located in the Transjordanian Highlands.

Cities to Locate

You should be able to identify the following cities on a map of Israel:

  • Hazor lies to the north of the Sea of Galilee, but south of Lake Huleh.
  • Shechem was located to the southeast of the later city of Samaria.
  • Samaria The city of Samaria, not the region known by that name, lay near Shechem, but slightly to the northwest. Both cities were located in the region later called Samaria.
  • Jerusalem is located in the central highlands west of the northern end of the Sea of Galilee. For most of the period covered by the biblical documents, Jerusalem was the most important religious center for the Israelite people.
  • Qumran was located on the north-west shore of the Dead Sea, almost directly east from Jerusalem and south from Jericho. The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered near Qumran.

You will also need to identify these cities on a map of the larger region (See the maps below):

  • Ur was an ancient city in southern Mesopotamia.
  • Haran was located at the northernmost end on the fertile crescent.

You should also have a rough idea of the routes of two important highways: the Via Maris (way of the sea) and the King’s Highway (North/South through the Transjordan). These highways are not pictured on the maps presented here. The Via Maris ran from Egypt in the South to Damascus in the far North. For most of this distance it followed the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. As one traveled north the highway moved inland passing through Hazor, then turned East to cross the Jordan River and continue northeast to Damascus. The Kings Highway ran north and south through the Transjordan.

Women with Hand-Drums, Dancing: Bible

After the Israelites escape from Egypt and from the Pharaoh’s army at the Sea of Reeds (NRSV, “Red Sea”), the prophet Miriam leads a celebration. Accompanied by “all the women,” who are dancing and playing hand-drums (Exod 15:20–21), she sings of YHWH ’s victory. Most English translations, including the NRSV, use the word tambourines in this passage. That word, however, is anachronistic, for there is no evidence that tambourines were invented until the Roman period at the earliest, and perhaps not for several centuries later. The Hebrew word tof represents a hand-held frame-drum, a hoop-shaped drum with a diameter wider than its depth and well known as a popular membranophone (percussion instrument) from artistic representations preserved from the ancient Near East.

The scene of Miriam with her chorus of women drummers and dancers is echoed in several other instances in which song, dance, and drums appear in connection with women musicians. After a victory over the Philistines, David is welcomed by women singing, dancing, and playing frame-drums (1 Sam 18:6–7). Two other passages probably present, elliptically, a similar situation: Deborah sings out after YHWH brings victory for the Israelites over the Canaanites in Galilee (Judg 5:1), and Jephthah’s daughter welcomes her father with dancing and drumming after his God-granted defeat of the Ammonites (Judg 11:34). The elements of drum, dance, and song constitute a women’s performance genre: the musical celebration of military victory. Another elliptical passage, 2 Sam 1:20, claims that Philistine women would perform a victory song if they heard the news that Saul and Jonathan had died. The celebratory nature of the genre is extended, in prophetic eschatology, to the rejoicing that accompanies God’s restoration of Israel (Jer 31:4, 13).

The 2 Sam 1:20 passage, which refers to Philistines, suggests that this performance genre was part of the general culture of the eastern Mediterranean in biblical times. Archaeological evidence supports that possibility. Egyptian wall paintings, scenes on metal and ivory vessels from Cyprus and Phoenicia as well as Mesopotamia, and most notably small terra-cotta figurines from many Near Eastern sites all depict musicians playing a significant repertoire of musical instruments. Musicologists have assigned them to various categories: wind instruments, stringed instruments, instruments that are self-striking (such as cymbals), and percussion instruments. In virtually every instance, the frame-drum players are female. This evidence, along with cross-cultural materials as well as a reference to the Canaanite goddess Anath with a hand-drum, suggests that the playing of these percussion instruments was a specifically female role in the ancient Mediterranean world.

The identification of the frame-drum as a woman’s instrument has implications for the understanding of several biblical texts mentioning musical performance. The Bible mentions dozens of musical instruments of the various types but only one percussion instrument is named—the tof, or hand-drum—even though other kinds of drum were known elsewhere in the biblical world. Whenever this word is found, it is quite likely that the presence of female instrumentalists is implied. This is particularly true in a series of psalms that depict cultic processions and celebrations in praise of YHWH . In Ps 68:25, a procession into the temple involves singers, female hand-drummers, and other musicians. The word for drum players is unambiguously feminine. The words for the singers and musicians are masculine, but they may include females and males, given the nature of Hebrew as a gendered language with masculine nouns often used for both genders. The references to musical ensembles in several other psalms (Pss 81:2 149:3 150:4) can be interpreted, because they include the hand-drum, as including female instrumentalists in cultic musical performance.

Clearly the frequent claim that women did not take part in public religious occasions in ancient Israel needs to be contested in light of readings that take extrabiblical artifactual evidence into account. In addition, recognizing the existence of women’s performance traditions allows us to acknowledge that women had the benefit of participating together in professional associations. Gathering to rehearse, compose, and perform provided women with the opportunity to experience leadership and camaraderie, as well as the esteem of their colleagues and also of their audiences. Such experience is empowering.

Goitein, S. D. “Women as Creators of Biblical Genres.” Prooftexts 8 (1988): 1–33.

Meyers, Carol. “Of Drums and Damsels: Women’s Performance in Ancient Israel.” Biblical Archaeologist 54 (1991): 16–27.

Meyers, Carol, General Editor. Women in Scripture. New York: 2000.

Redmond, Layne. When the Drummers Were Women: A Spiritual History of Women. New York: 1997.

The lesser controversy: Drums in church

Why the instrument is worthy of its place in worship music.

(Credit: Getty Images)

Drums in church. These words have provoked everything from mild disagreements to bitter schisms. Conscious of the cultural divisions, I will attempt to offer a biblically-based perspective on the instrument. This perspective is informed by my experience as a professional drummer and one who has played in many churches over the past 13 years. The article begins with a brief history of the drums. 1

The modern drum set

The drum set is not one instrument it is a collection of instruments. The drum set consists of cymbals made from metal blends and drums made from wood over which a synthetic or animal skin is stretched. The drums as we know them—thought of conceptually as one instrument—only came about in the early 1900s. The drum set’s inception was made possible when the German-American Ludwig brothers popularised the first commercially successful pedals that drummers operate with their feet. Before this point, drums and cymbals were played separately by different musicians. Individually, these instruments date back to ancient times.

Drums and cymbals in the Bible

Drums and cymbals are mentioned many times in the Bible. The ancient biblical drums were timbrels and tambourines. A timbrel is a wooden frame drum with an animal skin stretched over it. A tambourine adds metal jingles to the wooden frame. Exodus 15:20 and Psalm 81:23 tell us that these drums were struck with sticks and beat with hands. Psalm 150:54 indicates that cymbals in Bible times were clashed against each other.

A common use for drums and cymbals in the Bible was worship. Here are a few texts that highlight this:

Exodus 15:20,21*

Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam answered them:

“Sing to the Lord,
For He has triumphed gloriously!
The horse and its rider
He has thrown into the sea!”

1 Samuel 10:5

After that you shall come to the hill of God where the Philistine garrison is. And it will happen, when you have come there to the city, that you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with a stringed instrument, a tambourine, a flute, and a harp before them and they will be prophesying.

2 Samuel 6:5

Then David and all the house of Israel played music before the Lord on all kinds of instruments of fir wood, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on sistrums, and on cymbals.

1 Chronicles 13:8

Then David and all Israel played music before God with all their might, with singing, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on cymbals, and with trumpets.

1 Chronicles 15:28

Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the horn, with trumpets and with cymbals, making music with stringed instruments and harps.

1 Chronicles 25:1

Moreover David and the captains of the army separated for the service some of the sons of Asaph, of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, stringed instruments, and cymbals.

"What distinguishes the use of an instrument is the heart of the player."

2 Chronicles 5:12-14

. . . and the Levites who were the singers, all those of Asaph and Heman and Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, stood at the east end of the altar, clothed in white linen, having cymbals, stringed instruments and harps, and with them one hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets—indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord . . .

2 Chronicles 29:25

And he stationed the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, with stringed instruments, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, of Gad the king’s seer, and of Nathan the prophet for thus was the commandment of the Lord by His prophets.

When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord, according to the ordinance of David king of Israel.

Nehemiah 12:27

Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings and singing, with cymbals and stringed instruments and harps.

The singers went before, the players on instruments followed after
Among them were the maidens playing timbrels.

Sing aloud to God our strength Make a joyful shout to the God of Jacob.
Raise a song and strike the timbrel, The pleasant harp with the lute.

Let them praise His name with the dance Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp.

Psalm 150:4,5

Praise Him with the timbrel and dance
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
Praise Him with loud cymbals
Praise Him with clashing cymbals!

Jeremiah 31:4

Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel! You shall again be adorned with your tambourines, And shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice.

The real reason for the controversy

If drums are biblical, why do people condemn them? In my experience, the following three reasons are most common.

1. Bad experience

The drums can easily be played badly they can be played too loudly, out of time, or with too many fills and flourishes. An unskilled drummer can disrupt the musical worship experience of churchgoers. For some, one such bad experience can be enough to condemn the instrument. Even so, other instruments heard in church can be played badly in the same manner. There is no inherent problem with the instrument the defect lies in the player’s ability. The skilled drummer can tastefully accompany even most hymns.

2. Bad association

Many Adventists associate the drums with music that leads people astray from God. Certainly the drums can be used to worship Satan. But so can the organ, the guitar or the piano. The Bible shows that the wicked use exactly the same instruments as the righteous. 5 What distinguishes the use of an instrument is the heart of the player. Is he or she playing with the intention of worshipping God?

3. Condemning any music in which drums are used as a matter of principle

Holding such an opinion is a matter of taste not Scripture. Unlike the Bible, taste changes, music changes and musical instruments change. I dare say that many of us would describe ancient Israelite music—music used to worship God—as a dissonant jangling and clanking. One of the reasons for this is that the Western method of tuning that divides the octave into equal intervals was only widely adopted in the 18th century. 6 Biblical music would have sounded “out of tune”. Likewise, it is doubtful that the Israelites would have appreciated our hymns, songs or modern instruments.


There can be no doubt that the use of drums and cymbals in worship is found in the Bible. The many passages I have cited prove this. I would urge those who condemn the drum set to not place culture and musical taste above Scripture. I would urge drummers who play badly to get lessons. Instead of throwing rocks at a particular instrument, our focus should be on making music that glorifies God and is presented before Him with skill.

*All Bible passages are quoted from the NKJV.

Daniel Faber holds a Bachelor of Music with First Class Honours and is also a graduate lawyer. His drumming has been heard on national radio and television.

Are Musical Instruments in Church Prohibited?

For many people, church services tend to be rather quiet and subdued. Others attending another church enjoy contemporary music provided by a group of musicians playing guitars, trumpets, tambourines and drums.

On the one hand, music can be very comforting and relaxing on the other, it is often the source of disagreements and arguments. Everyone has an opinion of what good music is. Each generation tends to embrace its own music. The music Grandpa listened to is considered tame by his grandchildren, although his own parents thought he was on the road to degradation&mdashthat he was simply being rebellious.

Not surprisingly, the controversy over music has crept into worship services the world over. One church attempts to attract worshippers with a full music program, while down the street another church includes music in its services only by singing a cappella.

What the Bible says about music

Even a cursory investigation of the Bible will show that music and musical instruments were used in various aspects of the lives of the ancient Israelites, including their worship of the true God.

There were times when the first king of Israel, Saul, was overtaken by a distressing spirit and his advisers suggested that David be brought to the king to play the harp and give him relief (1 Samuel 16:14-23).

Even a cursory investigation of the Bible will show that music and musical instruments were used in various aspects of the lives of the ancient Israelites, including their worship of the true God. God didn&rsquot allow King David to build the temple, the house of God (1 Chronicles 28:3). But David was allowed to prepare the plans for the temple and its worship services&mdashand they were very detailed. He arranged to have players of harps accompany singers. Trumpets, cymbals and &ldquostringed instruments&rdquo were also employed in the worship service (1 Chronicles 15:16 16:42 and 25:1).

For some time the Ark of the Covenant had been stored at the house of Abinadab. David and 30,000 men went to Baale Judah to escort the Ark to Jerusalem. As this impressive procession made its way to Jerusalem, it was accompanied with music played on &ldquoall kinds of instruments of fir wood, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on sistrums, and on cymbals&rdquo (2 Samuel 6:5).

After David&rsquos son Solomon built the temple, the priests installed the Ark in the Most Holy Place. Some were singing by the altar while others were playing &ldquocymbals, stringed instruments and harps&rdquo and 120 priests played their trumpets. Cymbals and other musical instruments were involved in offering praise to God. And God was certainly not displeased (2 Chronicles 5:11-14).

When Ezra and Nehemiah later repaired the fallen walls in Jerusalem, there was a joyful dedication with singing and different musical instruments adding to the festivities (Nehemiah 12:27).

There are dozens and dozens of scriptural references, from Genesis to Revelation, regarding who we should worship and when and where we should worship, but there is scant evidence as to exactly how we worship. However, we do know they bowed, they prostrated themselves, they praised God, they gave offerings and they sang and played songs of praise to God.

A misunderstood scripture about music

Today churches are the locations where believers of like minds congregate to be instructed in God&rsquos ways. In 2001, the World Christian Encyclopedia identified 10,000 distinct religions and 33,820 denominations (David B. Barrett, George T. Kurian and Todd M. Johnson). Those denominations often have differing and very distinct rituals for their worship.

It is not surprising there would be different beliefs regarding the use of musical instruments in church worship services. Sometimes these worship traditions come from misunderstanding scriptures or reading them out of context.

For example, some churches have quoted Amos 6:5 (&ldquoWho sing idly to the sound of stringed instruments, and invent for yourselves musical instruments like David&rdquo) to prove that instruments should not be used in worshipping God.

If this section of Scripture is read in context, that argument fails. Amos&rsquo warning was to the complacent and prideful people of Israel and Judah who were enjoying leisure, including music, while forgetting God and disobeying His laws. Their coming doom was because of sin, not because they aspired to create instruments like David, Israel&rsquos greatest king and musician, had.

A noted scholar in the Churches of Christ, Jack P. Lewis, took exception to the use of Amos 6:5 in this issue by pointing out what is written in 2 Chronicles 29:25. When King Hezekiah repaired the house of the LORD he appointed musicians: &ldquoAnd he stationed the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with stringed instruments, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, of Gad the king&rsquos seer, and of Nathan the prophet for thus was the commandment of the LORD by His prophets.&rdquo

Putting these two sections of Scripture together, we can see that God was not displeased that David called for musical instruments to be used in the temple in fact, God told him to do so!

God enjoys music

Man has always expressed emotions through vocal and instrumental music. We glean from the Scriptures that God also enjoys music.

God says in Psalm 50:23, &ldquoWhoever offers praise glorifies Me and to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.&rdquo

The 150th Psalm explains some of the ways we can praise God: &ldquoPraise the LORD! Praise God in His sanctuary praise Him in His mighty firmament! Praise Him for His mighty acts praise Him according to His excellent greatness! Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet praise Him with the lute and harp! Praise Him with the timbrel and dance praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes! Praise Him with loud cymbals praise Him with clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!&rdquo (Psalm 150:1-6).

The apostle Paul also shows the importance of music in the New Testament Church: &ldquoLet the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord&rdquo (Colossians 3:16).

God requires us to &ldquoworship the Father in spirit and truth&rdquo (John 4:23-24). The Bible does not require musical instruments in church for worship services, but musical instruments are certainly not prohibited.

Read more about music in the Bible in the article &ldquoSongs of Praise.&rdquo

Charles Haughee

Charles and his wife, Kaye, were married on the first day of January 1955. They had four children who produced eight surviving grandchildren they currently have 15 great-grandchildren.

Watch the video: King Davids Lyre; Echoes of Ancient Israel (August 2022).