8. David and the Divine Lyre

The importance of the kinnōr in early Jewish tradition, and royal ideology specifically, is most fully embodied by David. The Bible and Josephus offer detailed descriptions of musical organization under David (ca. 1005–965) and Solomon (ca. 965–930). [1] Some consider these to be retrojections of the Second Temple’s sophisticated musical arrangements back into an imagined Golden Age of the First Temple. [2] Certainly 1 Kings, Chronicles, and Josephus incorporate legendary details, and the Chronicler does rely on the musical organization of his own time to understand the past. Yet the comparative material so far considered strongly suggests that traditions about organized ‘guildic’ music under David and in the First Temple are built upon an historical core. [3] This would accord with much other material in the books of Samuel and 1 Kings, deriving from sources and traditions—often propagandistic—going back to the times of David and Solomon themselves. [4]
In this chapter I shall argue that the First Temple’s sacred musical groups should be understood as imitating and perpetuating royally supported musical guilds of the kind known at Ugarit. The Ugaritic word n‘m, which we saw applied several times to royal and/or cultic singers, reappears of David himself—an appropriate designation both for Saul’s lyre-playing favorite, and David’s later role, when king, of praise-singer for Yahweh himself. The Bible preserves extremely rich evidence for understanding the early theology of the lyre, and for the reworking, within the evolving cult of Yahweh, of older Syro-Levantine ideas about the instrument’s powers. I shall argue, indeed, that David and Solomon inherited concepts that in Ugarit would have been associated precisely with the Divine Kinnaru. David in particular is our most vivid analogy for Kinyras and his involvement with Cypriot monarchy in the LBA.

David, Solomon, and the Ideals of Great Kingship

The Ugaritian material has already prompted enough Biblical parallels to justify the view that the United Monarchy’s musical apparatus grew organically out of a larger cultural matrix, anchored in the palace-temple complexes of the LBA. [5] It is at just this time that Jewish society—at least the higher tier conspicuous in the Biblical narrative—most closely resembles that of other ANE states. The matter is put expressly thus when the Israelites are portrayed as importuning Samuel for a king, “that we also may be like other nations.” [6] A king who aspired to be a respected player on the international scene required a royal apparatus equal to his rivals, complete with palace, temple, and all the specialized artisans and functionaries needed to build and staff them. Nebuchadnezzar’s sack of Jerusalem in 586 meant dismantling these same institutions. [7] The cosmopolitan standards of royal ideology and cultural attainment that David, Solomon, and their successors strove to emulate can be traced back in part ultimately to the last centuries of the third millennium, when the dynasties of Akkad and Ur III established perennial models of kingship and empire. It is symptomatic that the Hebrew words for palace/temple, throne, and scribe are all ultimately Sumerian in origin. [8]
Solomon especially appears as a Great King in the LBA mold. The wide array of precious gifts he gave and received evokes the erstwhile Club of Powers as known from the Amarna letters. [9] It was largely through such exchanges that he built the First Temple in Jerusalem. [10] Hiram of Tyre gave both materials and labor for the time-consuming project, which lasted seven years—a conventional ‘cosmic’ number. [11] In return, Solomon sent annual consignments of grain and oil, payment for the workers, and “twenty cities in the land of Galilee.” [12] The use of Lebanese cedar must have been de rigueur, its acquisition by conquest or exchange almost a royal rite-of-passage. [13] Clearly the temple was a cosmopolitan construction to rival other states’ cult centers—“a royal vehicle to communicate to the widest possible audience the authoritative presence of the ruler who had built it.” [14]
Solomon’s splendid qualities are effectively a completed checklist in the application for Great Kingship. [15] A roster of subordinate kings and princes, with their lavish diplomatic gifts, demonstrates his status as a Great King, [16] while his occupation of a new imperial center is established by the claim that all the world’s kings—and the Queen of Sheba—came to hear his wisdom, which excelled that of “all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt”: [17]
He was wiser than anyone else, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, children of Mahol … He composed three thousand proverbs, and his songs numbered a thousand and five. He would speak of trees, from the cedar that is in the Lebanon to the hyssop that grows in the wall; he would speak of animals, and birds, and reptiles, and fish. People came … from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom. [18]
It is clear from the pairing of “the east country” with “Egypt” that this Solomonic portrait asserts a new cultural eminence in the Levant, formerly caught between empires. Yet the range of learning sketched here “echoes mainstream Babylonian texts studied by scribes in Mesopotamia and beyond.” [19] Solomon’s combined achievements, while conceivable perhaps for a single man of leisure, become incredible given the demands of kingship. This portrait is therefore best taken to symbolize the cultural efflorescence claimed for Solomon’s reign.
This is remarkably close to Shulgi’s self-presentation in his royal praise-hymns. [20] Solomon and Shulgi will be important parallels for the comparably broad portfolio credited to Kinyras. Note especially that Solomon’s dossier, like Shulgi’s, contains an important musical component. With more than a thousand songs to his credit, Solomon here rivals David himself. This aspect of his wisdom is reflected in the traditional attribution of some Psalms to him, along with David (see below), as well the Song of Songs, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Psalms of Solomon, and the Odes of Solomon. [21] The kinnōr is close to hand in some of these attributions. Moreover, all four wisemen bested by Solomon in the passage above have primarily musical associations. Ethan and Heman appear elsewhere as leaders of two Davidic musical guilds (see below), so that here Solomon, like Shulgi, outshines his own court’s leading lights. Heman, Calcol, and Darda are called “Sons of Mahol”; yet maḥôl, as W. F. Albright argued, can equally be taken as a common noun relating to choral activity, making these figures archetypal “members of a guild of dancers or singers—probably combining both.” [22] The description of Ethan as an “Ezrahite” is applied elsewhere to Heman, Calcol, and Darda; the designation evidently means ‘native/autochthonous’, leading Albright to see the four sages as representing an older background of Canaanite music and wisdom traditions. [23]
franklin fig12
Figure 12. Lyre-playing lion king with animal subjects. Ninth-century orthostat relief from Guzana (Tell Halaf). Drawn from Moortgat 1955 pl. 100–101.
The artistic and intellectual activity credited to Solomon is predicated on an abundance of peace and prosperity, so that the underlying message is an assertion of power. We have seen similar uses of music in Shulgi’s cosmopolitan virtuosity, Hammurabi’s dedication of a (presumably divine) BALAĜ following his defeat of Mari, and the divine singer who praises Baal after (probably) his defeat of Yamm, the Sea. Just such a sequence of events is connected by Josephus with David and his kinnōr:
And now, after David had been freed from campaigns and dangers, and enjoying thenceforth universal peace, he composed his odes and hymns to God. [24]
That this vision is no mere deduction by Josephus, but a traditional Syro-Levantine image, is shown by several monuments from the Aramaean sphere. First are two ninth-century orthostat reliefs from Guzana (Tell Halaf), capital of Bit Bachiani during the reign of Kapara, before it came under Assyrian control (by the eighth century). [25] Each shows a slightly different group of animals dancing and playing instruments before a lion, who sits upon a rock—evidently enthroned—and plays a tall rectangular lyre (Figure 12 = Figure 5.1v). [26] This is an image of political stability and lyric control. The same idea is found, in negative form, in the eighth-century Sefire steles, to be examined in Chapter 12. [27]
That David and Solomon alike maintained both male and female singers and musicians in the royal household is asserted and implied by the Bible. [28] There is no reason to doubt this. The evidence from Mari, Nuzi, Amarna, and elsewhere confirms that such ‘collections’ were actively developed. [29] We also have independent documentary evidence from Assyrian sources for the palace musicians, both male and female, maintained by Hezekiah (715–687), who delivered them up as tribute to Sennacherib after the campaign of 701. [30] Presumably, many of Solomon’s female musicians were ranked among the three hundred concubines who, with seven hundred wives, made up the royal harem. [31] Although these figures are probably swollen, their reported origins—Egypt, Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and Hatti—are a realistic reflection of Solomon’s political reach: extensive, but not unlimited.
The Mari texts and Amarna reliefs showed that the harem was an important locus of cosmopolitan musicality. The cultural influence of royal women also extended to the religious sphere when they imported native deities to a new home through interdynastic marriage. [32] One may compare the Hittite kings’ wholesale adoption of Hurrian and other gods, both from foreign wives and conquered peoples. [33] Solomon is said to have built cult-places for all (!) his wives’ gods, famously including the Astarte (Ashtoreth) of Sidon. [34] This phenomenon too is musically relevant, since such transferred deities, we have seen, could be accompanied by the appropriate cult personnel and ritual repertoire. [35] It is quite remarkable, therefore, to find the following legend in the Talmud:
When Solomon married Pharaoh’s daughter, she brought him a thousand musical instruments and said to him, “Thus we play [lit. ‘do’] in honour of that idol, thus in honour of that idol”—yet he did not forbid her. [36]
According to Rabbinic tradition, Solomon’s marriage transpired on the very day the temple was consecrated, which was thereby overshadowed: the delights of Pharaoh’s daughter caused Solomon to oversleep, so that the morning sacrifice could not be carried out. From that day forward, it was said, God determined to overthrow Jerusalem. The tale must be related to the Rabbinic rejection of instrumental music following the city’s destruction in 70 CE, with an ‘original musical sin’ traced back to the very founding of the First Temple. [37] Nevertheless, given the evidence from Mari, the legend is doubtless encrusted upon some genuine reminiscence of purposeful musical diversity in the monarchic period, very probably going back to Solomon himself.

Musical Management in the First Temple

A major state needed a system for the training and management of musicians. Traditionally the sacred musical groups were inaugurated by David to accompany the Ark’s removal to Jerusalem, and were perpetuated in service before the Tabernacle at its new home. [38] The ‘singers’ were divided into ‘families’ by specific instruments: the major groups were strings (kinnōr, nēbel), cymbals (meṣiltayīm), and trumpets (shofar). [39] Recall the designation of Ugaritian guilds, including perhaps the singers, as bn (‘sons of’), and the Bible’s representation of Jubal as an ultimate musical ancestor of lyre- and pipes-players. [40] The Bible’s implication of existing musical resources on which David could draw is corroborated by the extensive parallelism of the earliest specimens of Hebrew poetry, clearly akin to Ugaritian practice. [41] Such songs are evidently relics of an ancient epic cycle, cultivated at various league sanctuaries. [42] Some form of ‘family’ musical groups may already have served such sacred sites, and were simply repurposed by David. At such an early date, however, there is no reliable means of distinguishing ‘Israelite’ music from a Canaanite ‘background’. And with Solomon’s monumental new temple, it is not improbable that the music of Yahweh’s cult would have been ‘renovated’ in conformity with standards and practices of major Canaanite sanctuaries. [43] We have already seen that two of the musical leaders traditionally appointed by David—Heman and Ethan—probably represent Canaanite traditions of music, wisdom, and dance. [44] They are provided with complete Levitical genealogies by the Chronicler, but these will be later constructions. [45] Even if these figures are entirely legendary, and their founding position in the Chronicler represents an anachronistic insertion—comparable to the traditional attribution of psalms to David and Solomon—they do indicate “that Hebrew temple-music as such” might be recognized “as going back to early, pre-Israelite, sources.” [46]
A deeper pre-Davidic musical background is also assumed in Saul’s performance with the musical prophets. Samuel foretells that the young king-elect will have a remarkable encounter at Gibeath-elohim (‘Hill of God’):
You will meet a band of prophets coming down from the shrine with nēbel, frame-drum (tof), pipes (ḥalil), [47] and kinnōr playing in front of them; they will be in a prophetic frenzy. Then the spirit of the Lord will possess you, and you will be in a prophetic frenzy along with them and be turned into a different person. [48]
The phenomenon of musical prophecy will be discussed below. [49] Here I would emphasize that the ensemble’s make-up is not dissimilar to what David’s musical ‘families’ will offer, and which one must posit for Ugarit. [50] This array has been called a ‘Canaanite (temple) orchestra’, [51] although the Ugaritian texts and north Syrian ivories show that ‘Syro-Levantine’ would be the better term. [52] The famous cult-stand with musicians from Ashdod is a happy parallel here, given the Bible’s statement that there was a Philistine garrison at Gibeath-elohim. [53] The stand’s players match 1 Samuel closely: lyre, double-pipes, frame-drum, and perhaps cymbals. (But note that the lyre is round-based, probably reflecting the Philistines’ Aegean background. [54] ) Similar ensembles are often represented, with minor variations, in the corpus of Cypro-Phoenician bowls (phiálai), ranging from the tenth century to the sixth (see further Chapter 11).
David’s full musical establishment is said to have been under the management of a certain Chenaniah who “was to direct the music, for he understood it.” [55] The exact interpretation of his position vis-à-vis the Levitical guilds remains controversial; but some definite musical function is likely given the Septuagint’s “Leader of the Singers.” [56] While it is elsewhere stated that he and his sons were “officials and judges” outside the Temple, [57] this actually resembles the Chief Singer of such OB states as Mari, whose duties were not exclusively musical, but comprised important civic functions. David himself, in the court of Saul (ca. 1025–1005), had occupied a comparable position. There was not yet an elaborate musical bureaucracy for him to preside over, but he was evidently a royal singer and confidant of the king—at least initially. His catharses of Saul’s “evil spirit” suggest something not unlike the purification-priests of Mesopotamian tradition. [58]
David was also remembered as building instruments and instructing the Levites in their use. [59] One recalls the royal order for instruments, including the kinnāru, at Mari. [60] Solomon too is called an instrument-builder. Josephus preserves an extra-Biblical tradition in his vivid portrait of forty thousand lyres (knr and nbl) made of precious woods, stones, and electrum, commissioned for the Levites to sing the Lord’s praises. [61]
Summing up, although David is treated in the Biblical narratives as a musical pioneer, his actions make best sense against an older Canaanite tradition of temple music. There is plenty of comparative material to show that the musical organization credited to the First Temple by tradition is inherently plausible, even if the precise numbers and divisions are open to question. Given the royal ambitions of David and Solomon, it is hard to believe that Yahweh would have lacked the sophisticated honors paid to Baal and other gods in the temples of their peers. [62]

The Kinnōr and the Divine Lyre

Against this backdrop we may consider the Biblical kinnōr and its divine overtones. The Divine Lyre cannot be seen directly. Already in the Davidic period Jewish culture had begun to distinguish itself sharply from its neighbors, despite a shared religious heritage. And the narratives relating to the United Monarchy were shaped by the concerns of later theologians who reworked traditional materials into the forms we now possess. Most familiar perhaps is the anti-monarchic bias of the post-exile period, when the earlier defeat of Israel and Judah, and the destruction of the First Temple, had to be explained; this had a major impact on the recension and canonization of traditional materials. [63] Even so, there are many cases where an older Levantine theological environment is more or less evident. [64] It is perfectly conceivable therefore that beliefs and practices that in the LBA would have been connected to the cult of a Divine Lyre should have found their way into the Bible, albeit in altered form and contexts.
Soon after Kinnaru was discovered at Ugarit, A. Jirku hypothesized that the various magical effects attributed to the kinnōr—for example David’s purification of Saul’s “evil spirit”—would once have been seen as the “Einwirkung des Gottes Kinaru” (sic). [65] A. Cooper cautioned that “the case for relating the use of the lyre to any purported function of [Kinnaru] is tenuous.” [66] More recently, however, N. Wyatt has given some credence to the idea that the prophetic and exorcistic uses of the Biblical kinnōr “may faintly echo the old theology, albeit long reinterpreted.” [67]
Since the Biblical portrait of Solomon’s wisdom and musicality was evidently formulated in dialogue with Canaanite ideals, we may begin with a remarkable piece of iconographic evidence that is earlier than David himself (as conventionally dated). This is the so-called ‘Orpheus Jug’, an eleventh-century vase-painting from Megiddo, which brilliantly illustrates the older musical background, giving it a specifically ‘lyrical’ slant and containing a magical element that accords very well with the idea of a Divine Lyre (Figure 13). [68] This late Philistine production, combining thematic elements deriving from both sub-Mycenaean (IIIC:1b) and local Levantine tradition, shows a lyrist with animals in three registers—lion, gazelle, horse, fish, dog, bird, crab, and scorpion—all apparently proceeding towards a schematized palm tree, very probably of cultic significance (see below). The iconography of lyrist and animals has been predictably explained by appeal to Orpheus—that is, as an Aegean intrusion due to Philistine settlement in the region during the twelfth century. [69] Yet such an interpretation could at best tell only half of the story.
franklin fig13
Figure 13. Lyrist with animals and tree (‘Orpheus jug’). Philistine strainer-spout jug, Megiddo, ca. 1100. Jerusalem, IAA 13.1921. Drawn from Dothan 1982 fig. 21.1 (pl. 61).
In a careful reassessment, A. Yasur-Landau has noted that while strainer-jugs do belong to the repertoire of Aegean symposium vessels, and traces of Philistine and Cypriot stylistic elements can be detected in the present example, its narrative imagery and composition find better parallels in LBA Canaan, for instance the motif of palm-tree and ibex. [70] And while the lyrist is preeminent within the animal procession, the composition as a whole is focused on what is generally taken as a Sacred Tree or Tree of Life—itself a Near Eastern motif of deep antiquity and associations with a goddess figure, whence it functions as a symbol of fertility. [71]
What has not been sufficiently stressed in past discussions is the Levantine morphology of the instrument itself. [72] And we have seen that the motif of lyrist with animals goes back to the third millennium in North Syria (it is further attested by two southern Anatolian seals of the early second). [73] In later Jewish and Arabic folklore, too, David and Solomon were often credited with power over, and the ability to communicate with, the animal kingdom—persistent traditions that can hardly be fully explained by Philistine or later Hellenistic influence. [74] Given these data, the comparison with Orpheus is superficial at best. The Bible’s wise and musical Solomon provides a more immediate parallel, [75] and of course the lyre-playing David.
Without denying the possibility of Aegean musical influence at this time, [76] the great contribution of the Orpheus jug, being somewhat older than the United Monarchy, is to establish the deep antiquity and indigenous nature of ideas in the Biblical narratives. Like David and Solomon themselves, it is an idealized portrait—of the lyrist as Master of Wisdom, whose knowledge and powers included, but were not limited to, ‘the music itself’.
A further power shared by the kinnōr and the Divine Kinnaru may be inferred by way of the Mesopotamian comparanda: “the ability to enable communication between the spiritual and natural worlds.” [77] The Biblical prophets were regarded as couriers relaying the decrees of Yahweh and the divine assembly. Comparison with the Ugaritian texts shows that this role was formerly executed by lesser, ‘messenger’ deities. [78] Kinnaru himself is not directly attested in that role. Yet music and prophecy are frequently linked in the Bible, especially in connection with the kinnōr. The Psalms, many of which were traditionally regarded as the prophetic productions of David, offer several striking expressions of this relationship.
The opening verses of Psalm 49 preserve a crucial first-person, professional perspective:
Hear this, all you peoples;give ear, all inhabitants of the world,
both low and high,rich and poor together.
My mouth shall speak wisdomand the care of my heart understanding.
I shall incline my ears to a parable (māšāl);and in/on the lyre I shall disclose my dark saying (ḥîdāh). [79]
The psalmist goes on to deliver a universalizing meditation on the fragility of life and inevitability of death. But the prelude is readily detached: it is an introductory formula, like the many exhortations to song in other psalms, or the psalmists’ repeated invocations of Yahweh to “incline” to their song and so lend them his voice. [80] Psalm 49, however, strikes an unusual note as a singer’s glancing self-portrait. He trumpets his public role and ability to command universal attention, before turning inwards to describe his prophetic process through the lyre. What exactly is involved is clarified by a cognate passage in Psalm 78, which, after an almost identical beginning, carries on:
I will open my mouth in a parable;I will utter dark sayings/riddles from of old,
things that we have heard and known,that our ancestors have told us. [81]
Even if Psalm 49 is relatively late, perhaps post-monarchic, [82] the parallel formulae in Psalm 78 indicate that the lyre-singer is assuming a traditional stance as custodian of an ancient lyric art of prophecy. He both reproduces the often obscure lore of his predecessors, and recasts it in his own terms. While he presents interpretations of the “dark sayings,” he equally re-riddles what he has received to “disclose” admonitory puzzles of his own.
A key component of the psalmodists’ enigmatic pronouncements was the inherited technique of parallelism, which permitted both singer and audience to construct multi-directional and semantically productive correspondences between verse cola. Psalm 49:3–4 itself appropriately exemplifies the technique, schematizing, as A. N. Palmer nicely puts it,
the contrast between speech and thought, listening and singing, at the same time as it suggests that what is spoken and thought of, listened to and sung, is something which binds together the four words: wisdom, meaning, parable, riddles … These comparisons encourage the reader to go further and find analogies between the mouth and the lyre, between the heart and the ears … The psalmist describes not himself, but his mouth, as uttering wisdom … which the general tenor of his poetry suggests is the wisdom of God … the reader is led to consider … that the “I” of the last phrase is that of the source of [the] Psalmist’s inspiration, God. [83]
In support of Palmer’s view that as the invocation progresses the psalmodist’s voice becomes that of Yahweh, note that it is normally the latter to whom the expression “incline the ears” is applied in the Psalms. [84] If this is right, it places the phrase “in the lyre” in a rather more startling light. The emphasis would be less on the psalmodist using the lyre and its music to communicate with Yahweh, than on Yahweh placing his message into the lyre, from which the singer must attempt to extract it. In doing so, however, Yahweh himself becomes a kind of lyrist, so that the human lyre-prophet is attempting to replicate the song and message that God has devised for him. We are reminded of the balang-god of Ningirsu, visualized as a singer, with his communication to the human realm enabled precisely by the instrument of which he is the spirit.
While parallelistic composition is well known from Ugaritian poetry and early songs embedded in the Bible itself, the aforementioned Psalm verses are uniquely precious for vouchsafing a connection with professional lyric, and explicitly acknowledging the deep antiquity of the tradition. Again we must thank the Orpheus jug for linking the Biblical psalmists with this older cultural milieu. Given this ancient background, one must be struck by the direct invocation of the lyre in Psalm 108 (1–3):
I will sing and make melody.Awake, my soul!
Awake, O kinnōr and nēbel!I will awake the dawn.
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;I will sing praises to you among the nations.
Wyatt is surely right to suggest that these lyre-invocations (the formula is repeated in Psalm 57:8–9) echo “an older usage when minor gods of the pantheon were called upon to glorify their overlord.” [85] He quickly concedes that they might also be explained as simple poetic apostrophes. But even if the latter view is correct from a sixth-century or later Jewish perspective, the traditional nature of the verses salvages some heuristic value with respect to the ancient lyric art from which the Psalms descend. And given that a Divine Lyre is known to have existed, within an institutional framework that predicts many features of the First Temple, how can one really distinguish between ‘simply poetic’—if such an idea is even valid for the earlier period—and a more potent ‘ritual-poetic’, of which the Psalms present so much other clear evidence? Insofar as the lyrist serves as the mouthpiece of Yahweh, we have a form of divine communication very similar to what we saw of divine instruments in Mesopotamia.
Some of the Davidic musical groups are said to have been appointed expressly to “prophesy” to the music of kinnōr, nēbel, cymbals, and trumpets—an instrumental range closely comparable to Saul’s band of prophets. [86] Yet other passages show that it was the kinnōr that was the prophetic instrument par excellence. I Chronicles (25:3) attributes to David the appointment of the sons of Jeduthun, who “prophesied with the kinnōr in thanksgiving and praise to the Lord.” Here “prophesy” seems to cover a broader musical range than the English word might imply, including praise poetry and perhaps the interpretation of sacred songs. These functions are not sharply separated in the Old Testament, where it is precisely praise songs, properly executed, which bring about miraculous results. Two notable illustrations will suffice.
Jehoshaphat, the fourth King of Judah in the ninth century, having received the Lord’s word via the prophet Jahaziel that he would be victorious against the Moabites and Ammonites, “appointed those who were to sing to the Lord … As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the Ammonites, Moab, and Mount Seir.” [87] Here apparently praise-singing was needed to cause a prophesied event to come to fruition.
From the next generation comes a striking example of prophecy-in-performance during the campaign of Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat, against the Moabites, when the united army of Israel, Judah, and Edom was stranded in the wilderness without water. [88] This was seen as a divine ordinance, and the prophet Elisha was summoned to enquire the Lord’s purpose. “‘But get me a musician,’” Elisha ordered. “And then, while the musician was playing”—the kinnōr is clearly implied [89] —“the power of the Lord came on him; and he said, ‘Thus says the Lord, I will make this wadi full of pools.’” Here music returns order to a disordered natural world. A sort of sympathetic magic proceeding from harmonic and rhythmic structure is probably implied. But the result was apparently accomplished through channeling divine will.
These passages are remarkable for their relatively precise practical descriptions of the arts of musical prophecy and catharsis. Music is transformative, purifying, but only by evoking through performance the “spirit of the Lord”—on behalf of whom the kinnōr-singer not only speaks (the literal sense of ‘prophet’), but acts.
While the Psalms provide evidence of lyric communication with the divine, their collection into a psalter, as we have it, tends to obscure their original connections with actual ritual practice. [90] Readers may thus be inclined to regard their lyre imagery as conventional, governed by internal poetics of genre with no ‘real’ connection to the outside world. The narrative snapshots just considered are a crucial corrective, broadening our conception of the traditional lyrist ‘in action’. They provide a further link to the Orpheus jug; its animal-charming scene, though not unparalleled in the Psalms by images of nature echoing the praise of God, [91] clearly emphasizes the practical, efficacious nature of the musician’s art. With this we come one step closer to what must have been the purview of Kinnaru in the rich ritual life of Ugarit.

King, Kinnōr, and the “Spirit of God”

We have prepared the ground for understanding the kinnōr-playing David, not only as a potent symbolic figure in later tradition, but as a royal performer in his own historical drama. I shall now argue that his priestly role and ritual actions, and the legends that developed therefrom, provided a refuge in which ancient ideas about divinized lyres were able to shelter, and so partially weather the ongoing expulsion of Canaanite cultic elements from Jewish life and the Biblical sources. [92] Besides David’s traditional association with the Psalms, to be discussed below, the most important evidence is the use of the kinnōr as a structuring device in the Samuel narratives about David’s rise to kingship and his takeover of Yahweh’s cult.
The Saul episode, we saw, attests the practice of musical prophecy by (soon-to-be) royalty. This ability, apparently in an ecstatic state, is taken as a sign of divine favor, a power given to a rightful king, who is possessed by the “spirit of the Lord.” Importantly, however, this is carried out in conjunction with a musical ensemble, apparently necessary for establishing the appropriate mental conditions. One may compare the situation at Hattusha and Ugarit, where ritual performances were executed by kings (and queens) together with cult officials. [93]
As Saul falls from grace, his increasing affliction by an “evil spirit” is balanced by the passage of “the spirit of the Lord” to David, whose ascent to kingship becomes inevitable. [94] This transfer of divine favor is mediated precisely by the kinnōr. Because Saul suffers from the “evil spirit”—having lost God’s favor—he summons a kinnōr-player. Because David plays the kinnōr so well, he is summoned. [95] Note that the advice to Saul is generic:
“Let our lord now command the servants who attend you to look for someone who is skillful in playing the lyre: and when the evil spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will feel better.” [96]
On one narratological level, David has already been chosen by God. But from Saul’s perspective it is merely a professional type that is needed. Evidently, the desired cathartic power was made possible by the kinnōr itself, a kind of potential energy that would be released by a “skillful player.” [97] David is so qualified, because, as Saul is advised, “the Lord is with him.” [98] To us, the phrase clearly implies the transfer of Yahweh’s favor to David; to Saul, however, it means only that here was an inspired kinnōr-healer. This brilliant ambiguity may go beyond its narratological appeal. For the two planes of meaning neatly intersect, if being an ‘inspired kinyrist’ was considered a royal virtue—an idea well paralleled by Shulgi, and vital for the question of Kinyras. [99]
The episode of David’s selection clearly presents the idea that a ritual lyrist is only effective when divinely empowered. The Bible of course recognizes a single legitimate god. But one may reverse the terms of the relationship: a lyrist is effective only when empowered by his god, which in the old theology would have been the patron deity of his own professional duties. [100] One should note here a remarkable Ethiopian legend relayed by a traditional musician, Melaku Gelaw, to A. Kebede:
God Himself made the begena [box-lyre] and gave it to Dawit. “Use this instrument to adorn and praise My name,” God said. God tuned the ten strings to the ten forces of goodness and virtue that governed the universe. The inspired Dawit composed his psalms, sang to the greatness and glory of God, and accompanied himself with the begena. [101]
Mutatis mutandis, the conception of an inspired performer activating the powers of the kinnōr in service to Yahweh strongly recalls the Sumerian material, discussed above, notably the divinized balang, servant to the master-god Ningirsu, whose epiphany is effected through performances conducted symbolically, and perhaps literally, by the king. In the Biblical narrative, playing the kinnōr is a kingly virtue. But whereas Saul merely prophesies among the musicians, David himself wields the lyre, as though this puts him ‘in closer touch’ with God. And of course David himself was traditionally prophetic, his medium being precisely the kinnōr-accompanied psalm (see further below).

Performing the Divine Lyre

We are now in a better position to appreciate the most magnificent knr-­performance on record. David astutely expressed his establishment of a new capital, and his centralization of political and religious control, through the transfer of the Ark to Jerusalem—“a brilliant maneuver that effectively galvanized the loose confederation of Israelite tribes into a monarchical state.” [102] To be epoch-making, this needed to be a stunning public event, a massive display of solidarity unifying the divided tribes behind a new king. The main accounts are 2 Samuel, 1 Chronicles, and Josephus. [103] While the LXX version of 2 Samuel contains material not to be found in the MT, this is not all secondary expansion; for 2 Samuel, especially, the MT is “a poor text, marked by extensive haplography and corruption,” with fragments from Qumran showing that the LXX preserves many details omitted by the MT. [104] It is on this older tradition that Josephus also draws. [105] And as it happens, the LXX and Josephus preserve several crucial details about David and his kinnōr.
The shared narrative structure for all three is as follows. After David consulted with the country’s leading men, [106] and drew up the new musical groups of string-players, cymbalists, frame-drummers, and trumpeters, “the whole people”—some seventy thousand in the LXX—“came together as they had planned.” [107] The expression suggests a staged crowd as much as a spontaneous popular movement. The Ark was borne out on a river of sound. Yet not all was clockwork: there was a three-month delay en route after a driver tried to stabilize the Ark but was struck dead for his vigilance. After the Lord’s anger seemed to abate, David offered appropriate sacrifices, and the whole troupe, now reassembled, set out again with the same pomp. There follows the curious incident of Saul’s daughter Michal, David’ wife, who saw the king “leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.” [108] The ritual closed with sacrifices once the Ark was positioned in the Tabernacle, where David’s musical groups would continue to observe the cult. [109] When Michal confronted David for his nudity before his maidservants, and the general indignity of his musical performance, she was afflicted with barrenness—conveniently enough.
The narrative of David’s divine favor, which structures our accounts, was probably already being formulated on the ground. [110] It has been well argued, for instance, that the Bible’s discontiguous Ark episodes, including its loss to and recovery from the Philistines, once formed a unified narrative produced within the Davidic court to provide theological justification for the new cult-center at Jerusalem. [111] The massive musical procession, with its jubilant atmosphere, is clearly a sort of victory march. S. Mowinckel and others have seen it as modeled on a Canaanite New Year ritual. [112] Similarly, C. L. Seow reads it as a ritual drama with David enacting Yahweh as the triumphant divine warrior; the basic structure reflects (he argues) the influence of Baal mythology on that of Yahweh. [113] Propaganda aside, David’s elaborate ritual display seems equally an apotropaic gesture to forestall divine wrath at this intervention in the cultic status quo. David and his advisors probably felt a very real sense of apprehension. [114]
The traditions about the musical nature of the ritual are of considerable interest. The three accounts basically agree on its guildic nature, with massed players of kinnōr, nēbel, frame-drummers, and other instruments. [115] Apparently the song and dance is executed by these same performers (at least those whose mouths were free). The Chronicler asserts the involvement of Chenaniah, the ‘Chief Singer’. [116] Of David’s own participation Josephus paints a most vivid picture:
The king led the way, and with him was the whole multitude, hymning God, and singing every kind of local song, and leading the Ark into Jerusalem with a complex din of instrumental playing and dances and psalms and even of trumpets and cymbals. [117]
More interesting still is his account of the parade’s resumption:
He brought the Ark to his own house, with the priests carrying it, and seven choruses which the king had drawn up leading the way, and himself playing on the kinýra. [118]
These details are not purely Josephus’ own invention. He is clearly interpreting the Septuagint version, on which he mainly relied, and which here certainly preserves an old form of the tradition. [119] The LXX also has seven choruses, carrying the Ark. [120] The statement that “David struck up (anekroúeto) the music” was rightly interpreted by Josephus to mean that he led the procession with his ‘kinýra,’ for the verb clearly implies a stringed-instrument. [121] The idea is further supported by the king’s position “among harmonized/tuned-up instruments” (en orgánois hērmosménois), an expression that foregrounds the ensemble’s chordophones. [122] Eusebios espouses the same interpretation, and draws attention to David’s position as musical leader of his own musical leaders. [123]
The seven choruses are a striking example of seven-magic in a practical musical context. Indeed, the whole event is buttressed by sevens. A sacrifice of seven bulls and seven rams, mentioned by the Chronicler, corresponds to the oxen and fatlings, which, according to 2 Samuel, David offers before taking his seventh step after resuming the procession. [124] Such numbers may seem like so much storytelling color, but a detailed prescriptive ritual from LBA Emar in North Syria urges us to give them some credence. This text governs the ‘enthronement’ of the high priestess of Baal, and contains many heptadic gestures. [125] It is equally important for assigning specific ritual actions to a group of liturgical singers (zammārū), notably heading processions every time the scene of action had to change. [126] Musical procession must have been a regular function of temple-singers in many parts of the ANE. Several types of Emesal prayers/laments were used in various processions and circumambulation rites at different periods in Mesopotamia. [127] In Babylonia, a musical corps participated in processional rites during the Akitu-festival. [128] Many musical processions are found in N-A reliefs as well. [129] They are also attested in the Hittite world. [130]
As argued above for Mesopotamian material, seven numerology takes on a special interest in musical contexts, especially those involving stringed-instruments. [131] It is especially suggestive beyond the two rivers, where it furthers the likelihood that the heptatonic-diatonic tone-system was locally known—as indeed it was at Ugarit. Many marginal examples are best not pressed. [132] Tending in the right direction is Solomon’s transfer of the Ark into the Temple during Ethanim, the seventh month of the year—a replay of David’s Ark-procession, again with massed musical praise drawing Yahweh to a new home. [133] Much clearer are the pious measures taken by Hezekiah to restore the Temple from neglect in the reign of his father Ahaz (735–715). [134] Seven bulls, seven rams, seven lambs, and seven male goats were sacrificed. Cult-musicians bore “cymbals, nēbel-lyres, and kinnōr-lyres,” and the music is carefully synchronized with the heptadic sacrifices: “When the burnt offering began, the song to the Lord began also, and the trumpets, accompanied by the instruments of King David … all this continued until the burnt offering was finished.” [135] The music evidently basted the offerings in waves of magical sevenness.
The parallels from Ebla, Emar, Hattusha, Ugarit, and elsewhere for musical parades and the ritual use of sevens make David’s Ark-procession perfectly plausible as an historical event, and suggest that the surviving accounts preserve actual details from the occasion, and/or its periodic reenactment in the royal cult. [136] They amount to, and/or derive from, a descriptive ritual. [137] One may compare the detailed ritual actions that are incorporated into a text like Aqhat. [138] (By contrast, the Emar ritual is strictly prescriptive. [139] ) Yet descriptive rituals need not be mere literary productions. They could also be functional, “quasi-canonical models, or manuals for the operation of the temple cults.” [140] That some such account of the Davidic ritual was composed at a near contemporary date would accord with the theory of a unified Ark-narrative, and explain the existence of the Bible’s more literary narratives, for which it could have been a source at however many removes. It would also provide an attractive practical explanation for why the ritual actions of Solomon and Hezekiah share three structuring elements with those of David. All three rituals include seven-magic alongside song-acts governing the establishment, building, or maintenance of the cult center. The continuity between these events is made explicit. Solomon’s completion of the Temple is seen as the fruition of David’s own vision; the Levites minister “with instruments for music … that King David had made for giving thanks to the Lord.” [141] Hezekiah’s musicians were stationed, says the Chronicler, “according to the commandment of David.” [142]
The parallels strongly suggest that David based his actions upon earlier Canaanite rituals, products of the same cultural environment that inspired or dictated his musical reorganization. [143] With this we may consider more closely the musical dimension of David’s own performance. The king sings, dances, and plays the kinnōr before Yahweh, at the head of all his subjects, in front even of his own priests, musicians, guild leaders, and the Chief Singer himself. As a victory procession for Yahweh, David plays the role of ‘royal’ praise-singer, not unlike the position he had actually held under Saul. But as a victorious king himself, this was equally his own triumph, so that David assumes a position analogous to that of Yahweh. The ritual is a remarkable practical application of what, in the Sumerian texts, can otherwise appear a rather poetic conceit: the king who excels his own singers, and executes state rituals single-handedly. It also fleshes out the Ugaritian ritual texts, where the king dominates the action, yet the cultic establishment was fully involved. [144] David’s performance, I suggest, is as close as we are likely to come to witnessing the Divine Lyre in action. Here more than anywhere the kinnōr is a powerful symbol of the king’s divine favor. But the practicality of the lyre tradition makes the kinnōr more than just a symbol. It was the actual instrument with which to cross the chasm separating human and divine. With it, a king could communicate queries, receive instruction, and channel divine power toward specific ends.
Why does Michal react so strongly against this performance? That she found it unacceptable is important: such a ritual was evidently unprecedented in some way. This should relate to the equal newness, from the Jewish perspective, of David’s musical arrangements for the same ceremony. If those were indeed modeled on earlier Canaanite temple-music traditions, David’s own performing role may well be of a piece. Clearly he is putting on a mantle of kingship, publically demonstrating divine favor while simultaneously seeking to secure it. His actions will accord with the people’s desire that “we also may be like other nations,” the request that led to the original appointment of Saul. The popular nature of David’s rite is clear: it is repeatedly stressed that “all the people” are present (with “every kind of local song”). In gratifying the crowd to this extent, David goes far beyond any royal display credited to Saul, and thereby shows himself to be ‘more kingly’. It is therefore appropriate and revealing that it is Michal, the last vital link between David and her deposed father, who objects to these novel royal antics. [145] David, in his rejoinder, takes up the implied contrast with Saul, and asserts that the performance is divinely-approved and his royal prerogative:
It was before the Lord, who chose me in place of your father and all his household, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord, that I have danced before the Lord. [146]
To conclude, David’s kinnōr is an integral part of the early narratives about the rise of the United Monarchy. David’s entrance in 1 Samuel is motivated by Saul’s need to find a kinnōr-player. He advances because “the Lord is with him,” and no longer with Saul. This power is expressed through the kinnōr in David’s catharses of Saul and his ‘victory procession’ for Yahweh. The lyre’s ability to serve as a pivotal narratological device derives from the instrument’s more ancient potency in the royal cults of the wider region. David is not merely a king who happens to play the kinnōr. He is king in large part because he plays it, incomparably well. This will be a crucial comparandum for understanding Kinyras of Cyprus.

Sweet Psalmist of Israel: David’s Lyric Legacy

It was later believed that both the canonical Psalms and other songs embedded in the Biblical narratives were produced during the United Monarchy. And this is true in many cases, if not of the whole corpus. Although specific attributions to David and Solomon, as well as to their traditional guild-leaders, can never be conclusively verified, some Psalms are clearly of high antiquity. [147] Certain songs may actually antedate their supposed author. [148]
Even the most careful scholars are prepared to support Davidic authorship and/or date in certain cases—like Psalm 132, relating to the Ark-procession. [149] There is also the elegy for Saul and Jonathan in 2 Samuel, quoted from the Book of Jashar, a lost anthology of poetry including other purportedly royal productions. The song’s antiquity and even authenticity are suggested both by its topical content and the seemingly apologetic instruction that it be disseminated and taught throughout Judah. [150] Such a gesture of public lamentation may in itself be seen as an assertion of kingship, if it was the royal prerogative and duty for a new monarch to raise the lament for the passing of his predecessor—an idea that would fit well with the ritual texts from Ebla and Ugarit relating to royal funerary and/or mortuary cult. [151]
The same contexts could also provide a good home for the famous song, supposedly the dying words of David himself, at the end of 2 Samuel. It begins:
Oracle of David son of Jesse
Oracle of him whom ʾĒl exalted,
Anointed of the God of Jacob,
Favorite of the Mighty One of Israel (nĕʿîm zimrat yiśrā’ēl),
The spirit of Yahweh spoke through me
His word was upon my tongue. [152]
Scholars have dated this song variously between David’s demise and the late Judaean monarchy, with a strong case for an early origin on the grounds of diction and content. [153] But an absolute date is less vital here than how David is represented. According to the traditional reading of the MT, zmrt is to be vocalized as zĕmīrôt, ‘songs’ (< P-S √zmr, ‘sing/play’ [154] ), while nĕʿîm comes from the root n‘m (‘sweet, pleasant, gracious’)—whence “Sweet Psalmist of Israel” in the King James Version and its adherents. Now a musical interpretation goes back at least to the Hellenistic period, being reflected in the Septuagint translation, the importance of which to the tradition we have seen. [155] But with modern appreciation of parallelism, it has become clear that the phrase should be equivalent to the description of David as “Anointed of the God of Jacob.” Hence, most scholars now abandon a musical reading to vocalize zmrt as zimrāt and connect it with Semitic cognates relating to ‘power’ and ‘protection’ (< P-S √d mr). [156] Similarly, nĕʿîm is interpreted in terms of the n‘m which we saw applied to gods and heroes in Ugaritian texts. [157] Therefore, nĕʿîm zimrat yiśrā’ēl can be well rendered as ‘Favorite of the Mighty One of Israel’, ‘Favorite of the Defense of Israel’, or the like. [158]
This reinterpretation certainly produces a satisfying parallelism with “Anointed of the God of Jacob.” Yet this probably does not exhaust its meaning. If the Ugaritic usage of n‘m is indeed relevant—as is generally agreed—it becomes possible to maintain a musical nuance here on the basis of the word’s specialized application to divine musicians, especially the praise-singer of Baal. [159] When this is seen against the casting of David as a kinnōr-player in the narratives discussed above, and his ongoing stance as praise-singer of Yahweh in the Psalms, it become hard to avoid taking nĕʿîm as akin to the Ugaritic usage, with all its cultic overtones. The Hebrew word may thus mean something very like ‘Gracious Minstrel’ in itself—that is, whether one relates zmrt to ‘songs’ or ‘power’. [160] The parallelism with ‘Anointed’ is not violated by this reading; indeed it accords well with the idea, argued above, that one of David’s qualifications for kingship is his power as an inspired lyrist. The reading has the further advantage of accounting for the early musical interpretation of the LXX.
Given all this, it remains worth considering whether Heb. zmr was once capable of some semantic ambivalence between ‘song’ and ‘power’—not by virtue of historical linguistics, but ritual-poetic convention. [161] We have seen this precise duality in the Ugaritian text RS 24.252 with its crucial wordplay on zmr/ḏmr, whereby the ‘song’ of Rāp’iu was simultaneously a source of the king’s ‘power’. [162] The phrase nĕʿîm zimrat yiśrā’ēl may therefore imply not only that David was the Gracious Minstrel of the Might of Israel, but that his own power as Yahweh’s terrestrial agent derived precisely from his praising of Yahweh in song.
Only on his deathbed is David characterized as nĕʿîm, contemplating his role as mouthpiece of Yahweh, god’s covenant with his royal house, and the legacy of his own reign. I suggest connecting this with the appearance of n‘m in RS 24.257, evidently a text relating to the royal mortuary cult of Ugarit, with its eternal, archetypal monarch presiding over a paradisiacal feast of kinnāru-led music—quite possibly, I have argued, as the kinnāru-player himself. [163] The Rabbinic tradition presents vivid images of David at the eternal banquet that was to follow judgment day—immune to fleshly decay, and with his kinnōr leading the angelic host and all his royal descendants and other Israelite kings in singing new hymns to Yahweh, across from whom David was to be enthroned. [164] This portrait, although a composite from several late sources, nonetheless exhibits striking sympathies with the Ugaritian Rāp’iu text.
The temporal disparity between the Ugaritian texts and 2 Samuel 23:1 on the one hand, and the late evidence for David as Yahweh’s praise-singer in paradise on the other, is of course enormous. Yet the intervening period is at least partially spanned by a living tradition of psalm-singing. Note for instance the bird-headed finials on the instruments of the captive Judaean musicians from the reign of Hezekiah, shown on a relief of Sennacherib (704–681)—a decorative feature going back to the LBA, with parallels from Egypt, Cyprus, and the Hittite world. [165] A fundamental justification for the later attribution of psalms to David must have been the continued importance of the kinnōr in the cult. A specific connection with David is seen in those psalms that, when not authentic, nevertheless adopt as a performative stance his persona as kinnōr-playing prophet-king, mouthpiece of Yahweh, and thus a kind of divine messenger. [166] This Davidic guise probably arose in the context of the royal rituals by which the House of David maintained its founder’s ideological legacy. Although ensemble playing is sometimes specified for various psalms, it is probable that they were equally performed in a Davidic manner—that is, by an individual kinnōr-player, or one who led an ensemble, as David was said to have done in the ark-­procession. A psalmist who performed such songs in these circumstances will have effectively reenacted the ancient king. This would further explain the traditions of the song-writing Solomon, just as Ishme-Dagan repeated the musical claims of Shulgi. [167] The Qumran texts—whose many psalms, entirely absent from the canonical Psalters (LXX/MT) yet sharing much of their diction, show the tradition flourishing post-exile—include songs attributed to Mannaseh, an otherwise unnamed “King of Judah” (Hezekiah?), and perhaps David himself (‘the Man of God’). [168]
The traditional reenactment of David seems one of the clearer legacies of the Divine Lyre. The instrument’s magical qualities certainly rang on in the corpus. In Psalm 98, one finds the same ancient conception represented by the Orpheus jug—the lyrist exercising control over the natural world:
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
          break forth into joyous song and sing praises,
Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,

          with the lyre and the sound of melody.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn

          make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord. [169]
The universal glorification of Yahweh is itemized in greater detail in Psalm 148, where the kinnōr, though not explicitly mentioned, is implied by the parallel of Psalm 98 and the genre itself:
Praise the Lord from the earth,

          you sea monsters and all deeps,

fire and hail, snow and frost,

          stormy wind fulfilling his command!
Mountains and all hills,

          fruit trees and all cedars!

Wild animals and all cattle,

          creeping things and flying birds! [170]
These Psalms show that the praise-singing lyrist, while but one instantiation of a more cosmic exultation that also included every form of musical celebration, [171] nevertheless plays a privileged role, occupying an intermediate, focusing position between the natural world and the divine object of its praise. It is this power which eventually facilitated David’s absorption of Orphic qualities in the Byzantine period. [172]
David’s quasi-divine status gradually crystallized with the idea that Yahweh had established an eternal covenant with his line. [173] This eventually gave rise, with the fluctuating fortunes of Israel and Judah, and the interruption of the Davidic royal line, to the idea that the projected messiah would be a second David, even his reincarnation. [174] One musical outgrowth of this is the early Christian trope of Jesus as a lyre-player, which equally incorporated Apollo’s role as overseer of cosmic harmony; on the human plane, a devout Christian was a lyre—often kinýra—on which Jesus played his divine message. [175]
Another development is seen in the coins of the Bar Kokhba revolt (132–136 CE)—the last Jewish insurrection against Rome, when cultural oppression after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE culminated in Hadrian’s new temple to Jupiter on the temple mount (ca. 130). The revolt was led by Shimon, son of Koseva, whose name was reinterpreted as Kokhba to imply fulfillment of the prophecy that “There shall step forth a star (kokhav) out of Jacob.” [176] The tradition that the prominent sage ‘Aqiba (ca. 50–135 CE) was among those who promoted Bar Kokhba as the messiah is probably accurate; and it may be no coincidence that ‘Aqiba is the earliest source for the vision of David’s eternal throne alongside Yahweh. [177]
One of the rebels’ primary gestures of independence was to usurp the imperial prerogative of coinage. Making a political virtue of economic necessity, they withdrew Roman issues from circulation and over-stamped the heads of hated gods and emperors. [178] The Romans themselves had shown that coins were a vital medium for propaganda. [179] Hence, one cannot doubt that the Bar Kokhba coins “bore a clear political message and every detail on them was intentional.” [180] The limited repertoire of motifs related to the temple and its tools, simultaneously expressing the nationalist ideal of rebuilding Yahweh’s cult center, and supporting the messianic image of Bar Kokhba himself. [181] Prominent among the coin-types are two kinds of lyre, in several variations due to multiple dies (Figure 14). These instruments probably represent kinnōr and nēbel, [182] albeit in contemporary forms showing the Hellenistic morphological influence one sees in many NE lyres of the Roman period. [183] The Bar Kokhba coins thus evoked the liturgical practices associated with David, while promoting a rebuilding campaign. [184] It is tempting to relate these lyre-coins to a Rabbinic tradition that Zedekiah, last king before the Babylonian Exile, and Baruch, the scribe of Jeremiah, had hidden the sacred instruments of the First Temple before its destruction, to be revealed at the coming of the messiah. [185]
franklin fig14
Figure 14. Coin of the Bar Kokhba revolt (132–136 CE). Bible Lands Museum, Jerusalem, 5651. Drawn from SAM no. 133–134.
The legendary musical powers of David and Solomon persisted through antiquity and beyond in the Jewish, Greek Christian, Syrian Christian, and Arabic traditions alike.
A Jewish legend intended to explain the invocation of the kinnōr in Psalm 57:8–9 and 108:1–3 (see above) is attributed to Simeon the Pious in the third century BCE. Here the kinnōr is seen as an Aeolian harp, stimulated by a midnight wind and calling David to his liturgical duties “of its own accord.” [186] Here it effectively has a life and a voice of its own, although, given its sympathetic vibration with the natural order, Yahweh is not far away. Similarly Greek Christian hymnographers described David’s ‘kinýra’ as “god-sounding,” “god-inspired,” and an “animated psaltery … a kinýra charming souls / Towards god-inspired love.” [187] Gregory of Nazianzus, archbishop of Constantinople in the later fourth-century CE, in listing David’s youthful virtues, refers to “the power of his kinýra”—the Gk. dýnamis has connotations of ‘capacity’ and ‘potential’—and describes the lyre itself as “even overcoming the Evil Spirit with its enchantment.” [188] Nikephoros Basilakes, rhetorician of the early twelfth-century, imagines David both “with the holy spirit, and the kinýra of the holy spirit.” [189] Despite the lateness of this source, the ‘lyre of the spirit’ is an early and well-attested motif, vividly developed in the Syriac theological poetry of St. Ephraim (ca. 307–373). [190]
In Arabic tradition, which incorporated oral lore from Jewish and Christian populations in fable-rich southern Arabia, David remained the paragon of musical ability, as seen from many passages in the Arabian Nights. [191] The Quran accepts David as a true prophet whose visions of God are relayed in the Book of Psalms. [192] Mohammed rightly saw that, while David’s prophetic songs induced the sympathetic vibration of nature, the source of his power was held to come from beyond the psalmist himself. It was God who:
caused the mountains and the birds to join with David in Our praise. All this We did. [193]
We made the mountains join with him in praise evening and morning, and the birds, too, in all their flocks; all were obedient to him. We made his kingdom strong, and gave him wisdom and discriminating judgment. [194]
In the Quran, Solomon speaks with beasts, birds, and insects, and is master of the elements through his command of the djinn. David was credited with similar superpowers by both the Rabbinic and Quranic exegetes. [195] In a tenth-century Arabic source, David can assemble the djinn by means of his ‘harp’ (mi‘zaf). [196] A particularly striking parallel to the Orpheus jug is a legend compiled by al-Thaʻlabī in the eleventh century from earlier authorities:
[David] would recite the Psalms with seventy melodies so that those with fever would sweat and the unconscious would revive … Wild beasts and beasts of prey would draw near and be seized by the neck, while birds shielded him from the sun’s rays, the flowing water stood still, the wind died down. [197]
A similar portrait of Solomon is found in the Targum Sheni of Esther, which reached its present form ca. 700 CE:
[The king] had dominion over the demons, spirits and Lilin, and knew the language of each … and when his heart was merry with wine, he would command the wild animals, the fowl of heaven, and the creeping things of the earth, as well as the demons, spirits and Lilin, to dance before him. [198]
Despite the lateness of these texts, their details go well beyond what is obvious in the Bible itself. Nor can they be dismissed by appeal to later Hellenistic influence. The persistence of these traditions about magical music and David’s inspired lyre is best explained as having been reinforced by the widespread and deeply rooted indigenous lyre-cultures whose prestige and power is so vividly epitomized by the cult of Kinnaru at Ugarit—and the rich mythology of Kinyras, to whom we may finally turn.


[ back ] 1. 1 Chronicles 6:1–32, 15:16–24, 25:1–31; Josephus Antiquities of the Jews 8.94, 176. See generally Engel 1870:277–365; Behn 1954:53–62; AOM:282–312 (Kraeling and Mowry); Wegner 1950:38–44; North 1964; Sendrey 1969; Sendrey 1974:98–103; Polin 1974:49–76 passim.
[ back ] 2. AOM:291 (Kraeling and Mowry); references in North 1964:373n3; Weitzman 1997:101–102; MAIP:107–108, 115–116.
[ back ] 3. PIW 2:79–81; de Vaux 1961:382; Myers 1965:111–112.
[ back ] 4. For compelling arguments against Biblical minimalists and archaeological skeptics, see Halpern 2004, especially 57–72, 208–226.
[ back ] 5. See p116–119, 129, 146–147. For this view, see especially Albright 1956:125–129; YGC:249–253; cf. de Vaux 1961:382–383; Levine 1963a:211–212; Tsumura 1973:176–178.
[ back ] 6. 1 Samuel 8:20, cf. 5.
[ back ] 7. 2 Kings 24:13–25:21.
[ back ] 8. See Ellenbogen 1962:67, 78–79, 89; Stieglitz 1990:89n52, proposing Ebla as the intermediary for the passage of such terms to the west; Metzger and Coogan 1993 s.v. Temple; Dalley et al. 1998:61.
[ back ] 9. 1 Kings 10:11–25. For the dynamics of royal gift-exchange, see generally Liverani 1990.
[ back ] 10. For the controversies surrounding the nature and stature of the First Temple, see Mierse 2012:249–254, 262–267, who convincingly situates Solomon’s building program between LBA traditions and the novel political conditions of the EIA.
[ back ] 11. Fisher 1963:40–41, compares the seven days required for the building of Baal’s palace, also from Lebanese cedar: KTU/CAT 1.4 vi.16–33 (= RS 2.[008]+).
[ back ] 12. 1 Kings 6:37–38, 9:11.
[ back ] 13. 1 Kings 5, with cedars at 6–10, 18 (acquired through gift-exchange), 6:15–16, 7:2, 9:10–14, cf. 2 Samuel 7:7, 1 Chronicles 17:6, 22:4 (David’s provision for “cedar logs without number” acquired from the Sidonians and Tyrians). Cedars in the palace of David: 2 Samuel 7:2; 1 Chronicles 17:1; palace of Solomon: 1 Kings 7:2–3, 11–12. Cedars from Lebanon, paid for by Cyrus the Great, were also used for the Second Temple: Ezra 3:7, 6:4.
[ back ] 14. Mierse 2012:265.
[ back ] 15. 1 Kings 4.
[ back ] 16. The huge menu required for Solomon’s men (1 Kings 4:22–28; cf. de Vaux 1961:122) calls to mind the Old/Middle Assyrian text about the retainers of Sargon the Great: Foster 2005:71–75 (§ I.6). For gift-giving, note also 10:23–25.
[ back ] 17. 1 Kings 4:30, cf. 10:23–25; Queen of Sheba: 1 Kings 10:1–3.
[ back ] 18. 1 Kings 4:31–34.
[ back ] 19. Dalley et al. 1998:74.
[ back ] 20. See above, p33–35. For a detailed comparison, Kramer 1991.
[ back ] 21. Psalms of Solomon: PIW 2:118–120. Odes of Solomon: e.g. Franzmann 1991:5–7.
[ back ] 22. Albright 1956:127 and 210n96 (“members of the orchestral guild,” deriving maḥôl from ḥwl, ‘to circle’); followed by de Vaux 1961:382 (“sons of the choir”); YGC:251–252 (quotation); for root and other derivatives, see with further references MAIP:39–40; Mazar 2003:126. One may note here the possible appearance of Baal as a dancing god: Baal Marqod, attested in a third-century BCE inscription, and derived from WS √rqd, ‘skip/dance’ (Sendrey 1969:441; Tubb 2003:12l; Mazar 2003:126). But this interpretation has been well challenged by DDUPP:115–116.
[ back ] 23. Albright 1956:14, 126–129; PIW 2:80–81, 95–97 YGC:250–253. Cf. Cogan 2000:222, “The context suggests that they were non-Israelites.” In the heading of Psalms 88, Heman is made an Ezrahite; at 1 Chronicles 2:6 “Zimri, Ethan, Heman, Calcol, Dara” [i.e. Darda] are the “Sons of Zerah,” hence all interpreted as ‘Ezrahites’ by Albright 1956:127 and 210n95 (noting especially Numbers 9:14 and the Septuagint’s regular translation of ’ezraḥ as αὐτόχθων); cf. Cogan 2000:222. Albright (YGC:250 and n125) connected ‘Ethan’ with several instances of the Ugaritic name ’Atyn, which he vocalized as Attuyana and considered of Hurrian origin; cf. Albright 1956:127. Note also ’Attanu, the “Chief Priest … the adept” (lmd . ’atn rb | khnm), named alongside king and scribe in the colophon of CTA 6.6.54–55, and evidently “the master singer who dictated to the scribe”: see Cross 1974:1n1; Cross 1998:139–140.
[ back ] 24. Josephus Antiquities of the Jews 7.12.3: Ἀπηλλαγμένος δ᾽ ἤδη πολέμων ὁ Δαυίδης καὶ κινδύνων καὶ βαθείας ἀπολαύων τὸ λοιπὸν εἰρήνης ᾠδὰς εἰς τὸν θεὸν καὶ ὕμνους συνετάξατο.
[ back ] 25. See RlA 4:54 (Hrouda, *Ḥalaf, Tell) with further references.
[ back ] 26. Moortgat 1955:95–98 and pl. 100–101; HKm:72 with pl. 14 no. 42 and further references.
[ back ] 27. See p300.
[ back ] 28. David: 1 Samuel 19:36; Solomon: Ecclesiastes 2:8, reflecting a traditional view of Solomon, to whom the work was attributed: cf. de Vaux 1961:121–122.
[ back ] 29. For the ideology, see especially Ziegler 1999.
[ back ] 30. ARAB 2:143 §312; CS 2:119B. These can be connected with the captive lyrists shown in the emperor’s reliefs depicting the siege of Lachish (BM 124947): see inter al. PIW 2:80 (interpreting as temple-singers); Rimmer 1969:34; MgB 2/2:122 and pl. 142; Oded 1979:101 and n179; DCPIL:49 (questioning the identification as Judaean); Cheng 2001:74–75; my Figure 5.8f. Hebrew accounts of the events: 2 Kings 18:13–37, Isaiah 36:1–2; cf. Herodotos 2.141.
[ back ] 31. 1 Kings 11:1–3. See generally de Vaux 1961:115–117.
[ back ] 32. Liverani 1990:221, 224–225, 274–282.
[ back ] 33. See e.g. Bryce 2002:135–136 et passim.
[ back ] 34. 1 Kings 11:4–8. This datum has been important (e.g. Kramer 1963; Kramer 1969:85–106) to the tradition of interpreting the Song of Songs as deriving at some remove from hierogamic ritual—e.g. borrowed during the time of Solomon from Canaanite royal practice, itself more or less influenced by Sumerian/Babylonian archetypes. For this long-contested issue, see recently Lapinkivi 2004:91–98 (developing further parallels with Mesopotamian love-poetry), and especially Nissinen 2008, tracing the history of debate.
[ back ] 35. See p100–102.
[ back ] 36. Shabbath 56b = BT 2:264.
[ back ] 37. Cf. LJ 4:128–129, 6:280–281 n12–13 with further references; SOM 1:553–571 (including the more moderate stance of Maimonides).
[ back ] 38. 2 Samuel 6:5, 15; 1 Chronicles 6:1–32, 15:16–24, 28, 25:1–31; 2 Chronicles 7:6; cf. Josephus Antiquities of the Jews 8.94, 176; Zonaras Epitome historiarum 1.116.3. The whole matter is well discussed by Kleinig 1993. David’s original organization is also invoked by the Chronicler in the context of Hezekiah’s reign, as well as Ezra and Nehemiah in describing the restoration of music in the Second Temple: 2 Chronicles 29:25; Nehemiah 12:27–47; cf. Ezra 2:41, 64, 3:10–13.
[ back ] 39. For the nēbel, see p52n26. The use of signal trumpets, for instance, is sure to be very ancient. For the silver instruments of Moses, Numbers 10:1–10; Josephus Antiquities of the Jews 3.12. Note that a disbursement of silver to decorate musical horns is found at Ebla: Tonietti 2010:80–81. There are also Egyptian representations from the NK (Myers 1965:113), and actual specimens have been found in the tomb of Tutankhamun (Manniche 1976) and in the Uluburun wreck (ca. 1300: Pulak 1998:205); cf. MAIP:14–16. Note too the Talmudic tradition that there had been in the temple a pipe and cymbals from the time of Moses: ‘Arakin 10b = BT 16:58.
[ back ] 40. See p43–44, 115.
[ back ] 41. E.g. the ‘Song of Miriam’ (Exodus 15), the ‘Song of Deborah’ (Judges 5), the ‘Oracles of Balaam’ (Numbers 23–24), the ‘Song of Moses’ (Deuteronomy 32), etc. Relative dating schemes for these and other songs have been attempted: see inter al. YGC:1–28, 42–52; Freedman 1976. While their methodology might be refined by the development of further criteria, Albright’s basic principle remains valid: the Ugaritian texts show that extensive parallelism is an archaic feature of Hebrew poetry. Pardee 1988b, Appendix I (168–192) provides a good overview of trends in research to that date; note especially the call for situating Ugaritian and Hebrew parallelism in a larger, hence more ancient, Semitic context, which should include Aramaic, Akkadian, and other evidence (174–175).
[ back ] 42. Cross 1973, especially 79–144.
[ back ] 43. Cf. de Vaux 1961:382, “It is not too bold to think that the first choir of singers for the Temple at Jerusalem was recruited from among non-Israelites.” One should recall here the controversial Jebusite hypothesis: the high priest Zadok was retained from a priestly family that had long presided at Jerusalem, and was only later outfitted with an Aaronid genealogy. This idea, elaborated by Rowley 1939, has won, despite vigorous challenges (Cross 1973:207–215, et al.), increasing support (with various modifications): see with further references Jones 1990:25, 40–42, 131–135, 151n35, 154n44; Albertz 1994:129, 295n7–8, with references.
[ back ] 44. See p152 and n22.
[ back ] 45. Cf. Cogan 2000:222: “by the time of the Chronicler [i.e. 1 Chronicles 2:6] they were given Israelite ancestry, as grandsons of Judah, taking the ‘Ezrahite’ to refer to Zerah son of Judah and Tamar.”
[ back ] 46. Albright 1956:128—stressing, however, that this does not itself “prove that David organized the first religious music of Israel.” Some of the extant psalms are also ascribed to them: Asaph (12), Heman (1), Ethan (1), and Jeduthun (3). Cf. de Vaux 1961:382; YGC:250.
[ back ] 47. For this instrument, see NG 3:525 and MGG 1:1514 (both Braun). It may be significant, as noted by Sellers 1941:41, that this its first Biblical attestation.
[ back ] 48. 1 Samuel 10:5–6.
[ back ] 49. See p161–165.
[ back ] 50. See p115–118. It is the same ensemble which Isaiah 5:11–12 attributes to the drinking parties of Jerusalem’s dissolute inhabitants—those “wild grapes” (5:2, 4) who “do not regard the deeds of the Lord” (5:12). The prophet has apparently redeployed the ‘orchestra’ appropriate for sacred performances into a profane context, parallel to his larger critique. The passage was understood along similar lines at Qumran, where Isaiah’s target was interpreted as the Essenes’ sectarian rivals in Jerusalem, “the congregation of Scoffers” (4Q162.6–10: DJD 5:15–16; Vermes 2011:499, with comments on 54, 61).
[ back ] 51. Bayer 1982:32; Poethig 1985:19, 23–27.
[ back ] 52. See p134-135, 267–268.
[ back ] 53. 1 Samuel 10.5. For the cult-stand, see Dothan 1970; Dothan 1982:249–251; Bayer 1982:32; Poethig 1985:23–27; MAIP:166–174; SAM:156–157 (no. 121).
[ back ] 54. See p250–251.
[ back ] 55. 1 Chronicles 15:22, cf. 27.
[ back ] 56. LXX: ἄρχων τῶν ᾠδῶν. A musical function is accepted by the NRSV. For the controversy, see recently with further literature Kleinig 1993:44–51; Leithart 2003:59–62.
[ back ] 57. 1 Chronicles 26:29.
[ back ] 58. 1 Samuel 16:23.
[ back ] 59. 1 Chronicles 23:5; 2 Chronicles 7:6; 29:26; Nehemiah 12:36; Amos 6:5; Josephus Antiquities of the Jews 7.305; Psalms 151:3 LXX.
[ back ] 60. See p76–77.
[ back ] 61. Antiquities of the Jews 8.94, 176, cf. 7.305; also 1 Kings 10:12, Solomon’s lyres from the exotic, still-unidentified almug wood (cf. Burgh 2006:24).
[ back ] 62. Cf. PIW 2:80–81.
[ back ] 63. An accessible introduction is Friedman 1987.
[ back ] 64. See inter al. YGC; Smith 1990.
[ back ] 65. Jirku 1963.
[ back ] 66. Cooper 1981:385.
[ back ] 67. DDD col. 912.
[ back ] 68. IAA 13.1921, strainer-spout jug, Megiddo stratum VIA, ca. 1100: Loud 1936:1110, fig. 9, 11–12; Rutten 1939:442–443 and fig. 11; Dothan 1982:150–153 and fig. 21.1 (pl. 61); SAM:111 (no. 71). Note the ribbons or bands that hang from the musician’s waist and legs, presumably ceremonial and recalling the betasseled lyrist on the roughly contemporary Kouklia kalathos from near Paphos, and a swordsman on a shard from Lefkandi (LH IIIC): Deger-Jalkotzy 1994:21 and 18 fig. 4.3; cf. p255. Yet further non-musicians are so adorned on another Megiddo pot (level VIIA), so that perhaps this element “merely reflects local iconographic tradition” (Dothan 1982:150).
[ back ] 69. So already Loud 1936:1110, fig. 9: “suggestive of Orpheus, but from a site more associated with David”; Dothan 1982:150–153.
[ back ] 70. Yasur-Landau 2008: “The subtle message of the vase is conveyed by referring the owner and his drinking guests to a well-known ANE mythological theme, celebrated for centuries in Canaanite Megiddo: the peaceful demonstration of the power of the goddess, represented by the sacred tree, the unity between man and nature, and music” (225).
[ back ] 71. So for this piece Dothan 1982:152; Keel 1998:39–40; Yasur-Landau 2008:224–225. For the Sacred Tree motif generally, see Danthine 1937 (fertility, 152–153, 157); Keel 1998; Keel and Uehlinger 1998, 232–236 et pass.; Giovino 2007 (doxographical review with emphasis on Assyrian iconography). For the motif’s reception on LBA Cyprus, see p386.
[ back ] 72. But note Bayer 1982:22–23.
[ back ] 73. See p153–154, 517–518. Cf. DCPIL:53.
[ back ] 74. See p181–184.
[ back ] 75. So rightly Mazar 1974:174–182 (Hebrew, non vidi), cited by Dothan 1982:152; also approved by MAIP:147.
[ back ] 76. This may explain the prescription of ‘gittith’ for the music of three Biblical psalms (Psalms 8, 81, and 84), which C. H. Gordon interpreted as “the instrument of Gath” (in the Philistine pentapolis). One of these psalms is attributed to David himself, and while this is probably anachronistic, it may well suggest that later generations of psalmodists were prepared to recognize a musical dimension to David’s fifteen-month sojourn among the Philistines (1 Samuel 27:1–6). See Gordon 1965b:225; cf. MAIP:39, suggesting “style” of Gath as an alternative. If an openness to Philistine music-culture seems unlikely in view of the Bible’s generally hostile stance, one could see this as a case of appropriating the musical symbols of a defeated people, comparing the situation in Shulgi’s Ur or NK Egypt: see p36–37, 105–111.
[ back ] 77. DDD col. 912 (Wyatt).
[ back ] 78. See Mullen 1980:209–226, 279, 283.
[ back ] 79. Psalms 49:1–4, with translation in 3–4 following the LXX: ‘disclose’ reflects ἀνοίξω and the literal ‘open’ of the Hebrew (< √ptḥ), cf. NRSV ‘solve’, Palmer 1993:377, ‘utter’. For this and the other key Hebrew words, notably the range of māšāl and ḥîdāh, see van der Ploeg 1963:145; Richards 1985:508. The potential relevance of these verses to Kinnaru was noted by Wyatt (DDD col. 912).
[ back ] 80. While most of the Psalms implicitly fulfill one or both of these functions, the following are notably explicit. Musical exhortations: Psalms 33:1–3, 47:1, 61:1–2, 66:1–2, 81:1–2, 95:1–2, 96:1–2, 98:1–2, 105:1–2, 147:1, 149:1, 150:1–6. Epicletic formulas: 4:1, 5:1–2, 34:1, 77:1, 80:1, 83:1, 86:1, 88:1–2, 89:1, 92:1–3, 101:1, 102:1–2, 116:1–2, 120:1, 130:1–2, 141:1, 142:1–2, 143:1.
[ back ] 81. Psalms 78:2–3.
[ back ] 82. So van der Ploeg 1963:138–139.
[ back ] 83. Palmer 1993:377–378, with additional analysis, followed by application to the poetics of St. Ephraim, for whom cf. p61 above.
[ back ] 84. Cf. van der Ploeg 1963:144.
[ back ] 85. DDD col. 912 (Wyatt), adducing the Rāp’iu text as a parallel (for which see p134–135).
[ back ] 86. 1 Samuel 19:20–24; 1 Chronicles 25:1 (“David and the officers of the army also set apart for the service the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with kinnōr, nēbel and with cymbals”), with 1 Chronicles 15:16–24 (David’s appointment of musicians from the Levites) and 25:3–6; 2 Chronicles 5:12, 20:21–23. Musical prophecy may be implicit at 1 Samuel 19:20–24; Psalms 49:2–5, with the lyre: see below; Ezekiel 40:44–46. For earlier times cf. Exodus 15:20–21; Deuteronomy 31:19–22 (of Moses). See generally Sendrey 1969:481–489, 507–515; Shiloah 1993:58–59.
[ back ] 87. 2 Chronicles 20:22–23.
[ back ] 88. 2 Kings 3:13–20.
[ back ] 89. This was seen by St. Ephraim: non quodcumque, sed habens harmoniam in chordis designat; ut ex Hebraeo verti posset, cinnaram (Latin translation: Assemani 1732–1746 1:524 A). Cf. DDD col. 912 (Wyatt).
[ back ] 90. PIW offered a seminal corrective.
[ back ] 91. See p178–179.
[ back ] 92. Albright 1940:296–297 and n45 seems to have inferred something very similar even before the recognition of Kinnaru. After noting that Kinyras had absorbed aspects of Kothar (see further Chapter 18), and tersely asserting the accuracy of his name’s connection with kinýra, Albright wrote: “There are many striking confirmations and illustrations of this derivation, with which I hope to deal later. One of the most remarkable parallels, hitherto unrecognized, comes from Hebrew tradition … A great deal more can be said on this subject, but it must be reserved for a more suitable occasion.” I do not know that he ever presented his ideas in more than desultory remarks (cf. Albright 1964:171n47; YGC:144n91, 147 and n102).
[ back ] 93. See p93–94.
[ back ] 94. Cf. 1 Samuel 16:14: “Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.”
[ back ] 95. 1 Samuel 16:14–23.
[ back ] 96. 1 Samuel 16:16.
[ back ] 97. Lyre catharses are well-attested in Greek tradition with Orpheus, Pythagoras, etc.: cf. Franklin 2006a:59–60; Power 2010:279–280, 381–385 et pass.; Provenza 2014.
[ back ] 98. 1 Samuel 16:18.
[ back ] 99. See p33–37.
[ back ] 100. Compare especially the Ugaritian PN *kṯrmlk, ‘Kothar-is-king’, born by a silversmith (RS 19.16 [PRU 5 no. 11], line 32, appearing in the Akkadianized form kšrmlk; cf. KwH:62 and 131n71). For Kothar and Kinyras, see Chapter 18.
[ back ] 101. Kebede 1977:380–381; cf. MGG 5:1032 [G. Kubik]). Note that in Ethiopic tradition the krar (< *kenar) is exclusively secular, “the devil’s instrument”: see p58n65.
[ back ] 102. Seow 1989:1.
[ back ] 103. 2 Samuel 6; 1 Chronicles 15–16; Josephus Antiquities of the Jews 7.78–89. For the probable allusion in Psalms 132, see Seow 1989:145–203.
[ back ] 104. Cross 1998:212 (quotation). See DJD 17:25–27: “The [sc. Qumran] fragments … confirm most emphatically the usefulness of the Old Greek for the establishment of a more nearly original Hebrew text.” Cross 1998:205–212, gives a good review of the ‘Old Greek’ text’s value, especially as a witness to Samuel; cf. also YGC:34–35. Further speculation about the earlier stages and interrelationships of the various textual traditions is best avoided here. For these complex problems, including the theory of the proto-Lucianic recension (whereby the ‘Old Greek’ text was “revised, with corrections and additions provided to make it conform to the 4QSam text tradition in contemporary Palestine,” Ulrich 1978:258), see e.g. the recent overview of Kauhanen 2012:13–23, with extensive bibliography.
[ back ] 105. Ulrich 1989:93 holds that Josephus did not use 1 Chronicles; material which they share can be explained by assuming that the Chronicler too used a version of 2 Samuel closer to the 4QSama/LXX versions than to the MT. Begg 1997, examining David’s transfer of the Ark specifically, argues for Josephus’ knowledge of the LXX Chronicler, but not the MT. Avioz 2015 now corroborates the historian’s use of both LXX and MT (or better MT forerunner): see especially 195–201, with previous literature on the debate (which will no doubt continue). Of course Josephus had his own voice in all this; for his larger exegetical concerns and methods, see inter al. the aforementioned studies of Begg and Avioz.
[ back ] 106. Josephus Antiquities of the Jews 7.78.
[ back ] 107. Josephus Antiquities of the Jews 7.79: συνελθόντος οὖν τοῦ λαοῦ παντός, καθὼς ἐβουλεύσαντο.
[ back ] 108. 2 Samuel 6:16 (quotation), 20–23; 1 Chronicles 15:29; Josephus Antiquities of the Jews 7.85–89.
[ back ] 109. 2 Samuel 6:13–17.
[ back ] 110. Cf. Seow 1989:97–104, who also detects a “blatantly clear … propagandistic intent” (102); Halpern 2004:333–340.
[ back ] 111. Campbell 1975, especially 193–210.
[ back ] 112. PIW 1:125–130, with Chapter V for the related ‘enthronement psalms’; Porter 1954.
[ back ] 113. Seow 1989, especially 207–209, with review of earlier interpretations on 2–8, arguing that Baal’s cult made its impression while the Ark was housed at Qiryat-Ye‘arim for about twenty years.
[ back ] 114. The incident of the driver, however, is suspicious: it seems designed to demonstrate Yahweh’s presence at the dangerous and enormous undertaking, and ultimately, when no further disaster befalls, to confirm the divine approval of David’s actions. Seow 1989:97–104 connects Yahweh’s wrath and the killing of Uzzah with a “dramatization of … mythological combat,” comparing “reenactments of cosmogonic battles … in state-sponsored rituals in Mesopotamia” (99).
[ back ] 115. There are variants in the tradition: LXX includes double-pipes (ἐν αὐλοῖς, 2 Samuel 6:5) and trumpet (μετὰ φωνῆς σάλπιγγος, 6:15); the MT (6:5) has mena‘an‘îm, interpreted as κύμβαλα in the LXX, sistra in the Vulgate, and variously by modern scholars: see MAIP:19.
[ back ] 116. 1 Chronicles 15:27. See p157.
[ back ] 117. Josephus Antiquities of the Jews 7.80–81: προῆγε δ’ ὁ βασιλεὺς καὶ πᾶν σὺν αὐτῷ τὸ πλῆθος ὑμνοῦντες τὸν θεὸν καὶ ᾄδοντες πᾶν εἶδος μέλους ἐπιχώριον σύν τε ἤχῳ ποικίλῳ κρουσμάτων τε καὶ ὀρχήσεων καὶ ψαλμῶν ἔτι δὲ σάλπιγγος καὶ κυμβάλων κατάγοντες τὴν κιβωτὸν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα. 2 Samuel 6:5 states only that “David played,” but is more specific as to guildic instrumentation.
[ back ] 118. Josephus Antiquities of the Jews 7.85: τὴν κιβωτὸν πρὸς αὑτὸν μετακομίζει, τῶν μὲν ἱερέων βασταζόντων αὐτήν, ἑπτὰ δὲ χορῶν οὓς διεκόσμησεν ὁ βασιλεὺς προαγόντων, αὐτοῦ δ’ ἐν κινύρᾳ παίζοντος (closely followed by Constantine Porphyrogenitos On Virtues and Vices 1 [55.16–22, Büttner-Wobst/Roos]).
[ back ] 119. Josephus and the LXX agree against not only the MT, but the Qumran text, the latter according rather with 1 Chronicles 15:26 (Ulrich 1978:182, 223–259, especially 235–236, 241; Ulrich 1989:88; Kauhanen 2012:34–35).
[ back ] 120. Wellhausen 1871:169 already saw that the seven χοροί must go back to an early Hebrew text.
[ back ] 121. 2 Samuel 6:13–14 LXX: καὶ ἦσαν μετ’ αὐτῶν αἴροντες τὴν κιβωτὸν ἑπτὰ χοροί … καὶ Δαυιδ ἀνεκρούετο ἐν ὀργάνοις ἡρμοσμένοις ἐνώπιον κυρίου κτλ. For ἀνακρούω and stringed instruments, see LSJ s.v. κρούω (5), κροῦμα (2), etc. Note also ἀνακρουόμενον at 6:16.
[ back ] 122. For the special relevance of ἁρμονία and related words (like ἡρμοσμένοις) to stringed-instruments, see Franklin 2003:301, 303–304.
[ back ] 123. Eusebios Commentaries on the Psalms, PG 23:73A: Δαυῒδ, αὐτὸς ἄρχων ἀρχόντων ᾠδῶν, κρατῶν ἐπὶ χεῖρας τὸ ψαλτήριον.
[ back ] 124. 2 Samuel 6:13; 1 Chronicles 15:26.
[ back ] 125. Text of the Installation of Baal’s High Priestess: Arnaud 1986 no. 369, superseded by Fleming 1992 (with new lineation); CS 1 no. 122. While other numbers, ‘significant’ and otherwise, are present in the ritual, the intentional concentration of sevens is obvious. There is an offering of one ox and six sheep (11, 36–37); “seven dinner-loaves, seven dried cakes” (11); seven and seven ḫamša’u-men eating (12–13); an unknown action lasts seven days (26); seven-fold wine and beer offerings (and some other non-seven offerings) are to be consumed by the seven qidašu and ḫussu-men (27–28, 38); the priestess is given a “seven-shekel silver tudittu-pin as her gift” when enthroned (44); a sacred axe is placed on a statue for seven days (46); various offerings are made over a seven-day period; some are consumed by the “seven and seven ḫamša’u-men” (49–59, cf. 54); each singer receives a share of sacrifice, sheepskins, and a dinner-load and jug of beer for seven days (79–83). Nor is this the only ritual text from Emar that combines seven-magic and song-acts: see Arnaud 1986 no. 388.51–52, 395.2’–4’. Cf. also RlA 12/5–6.464 §5.3 (Wiggerman, *Siebengötter).
[ back ] 126. Processions in the Installation of Baal’s High Priestess: lines 8, 29–36, 45, 62–64. Additionally, two hymns were specified (33A, 73); and the singers’ share of offerings and their payment were stipulated (79–84). The ritual also involved lamentation, probably for the death of the old priestess (Fleming 1992:173). There are many other references at Emar to the cult performances of singers, especially in connection with sacrificial ritual, as well as to female singers (zammirātū): see the discussion of Fleming 1992:92–94, with references; cf. SURS:313n861.
[ back ] 127. PHG:170–171.
[ back ] 128. Fleming 1992:93n81; Pongratz-Leisten 1994: 47; Cheng 2001:92n8; PHG:170.
[ back ] 129. Franklin 2008:198 with references.
[ back ] 130. E.g. in the KI.LAM festival, Singer 1983–1984 1:62. For Hittite occasions see further CANE 4:2661–2669 (de Martino).
[ back ] 131. See p40–41.
[ back ] 132. For example, that David was selected for kingship after his seven older brothers had been rejected (1 Samuel 16:10) is most simply explained as a narratological device and folklore motif; while it does derive special interest from David’s training as a lyrist, the two details are not explicitly connected in the text itself.
[ back ] 133. 1 Kings 8:2; 2 Chronicles 5:3, 11. Cf. PIW 1:174–175 and n176.
[ back ] 134. 2 Chronicles 29:21–28.
[ back ] 135. 2 Chronicles 29:27–28.
[ back ] 136. For the same conclusion on other grounds, see Seow 1989:209. For ritual re-enactment of the Ark-procession, PIW 1:174–175 (thinking rather of saga than a contemporary source for the original event).
[ back ] 137. For the term, see p67n35.
[ back ] 138. For which see Wright 2001 passim.
[ back ] 139. Fleming 1992:70.
[ back ] 140. Levine 1983:473.
[ back ] 141. 2 Chronicles 7:6.
[ back ] 142. 2 Chronicles 29:25.
[ back ] 143. See PIW 1:130–136 for further considerations.
[ back ] 144. See p113–114.
[ back ] 145. Cf. Campbell 1975:138–139.
[ back ] 146. 2 Samuel 6:21.
[ back ] 147. See Freedman 1976 generally, with discussion of the early song in 2 Samuel 22 at 75–77; for the latter’s transmission history, with the parallel Psalms 18, see McCarter 1984:473–475, with further references. For 2 Samuel 23:1–7, David’s swan-song, see p175–178. The attribution of certain psalms to the “Sons of Korah” (2 Chronicles 20:19; Psalms 42, 44–49, 84–85, 87–88) is made more credible by Korah’s relative obscurity in the Bible itself; for their Levitical descent, see Numbers 16:1–11 (but cf. 31–33); 1 Chronicles 6:22, 9:19, 9:31.
[ back ] 148. For Psalms 29, attributed to David, see Freedman 1976:60–61, 96, dating it to the twelfth century on stylistic criteria (“repetitive parallelism to an extraordinary extent,” 60).
[ back ] 149. See generally PIW 2:152–154. The antiquity of Psalms 132, a key text for the later royal cult (PIW 2:174–176), is defended by Cross 1973:94–97 (“reworked only slightly in the later royal cult,” 97, with archaic details enumerated in n24) and 232–237 (“our earliest witness to the Davidic covenant … lore of Davidic date,” 232).
[ back ] 150. 2 Samuel 1:19–27: see McCarter 1984:74, 77, 484 (also supporting the authenticity of the elegy to Abner at 2 Samuel 3:33–34); Cross 1998:137–138 (for typological analysis of its parallelism); Halpern 2004:64.
[ back ] 151. See p67–71, 134–146.
[ back ] 152. 2 Samuel 23:1–2, trans. and colometry of Cross 1973:235–236. For the text itself, of which the MT is the best witness, see Mettinger 1976–1977.
[ back ] 153. Those supporting a Davidic date include Albright 1956:126; Cross 1973:234–237 and n81 (of a piece with Psalms 132); Freedman 1976. McCarter 1984:483–486 lays out and convincingly meets the objections against an early date in dissenting literature, interpreting the psalm’s application of solar imagery to the king in terms of LBA Egyptian and Hittite royal usage. In his view (480–481, 483), the presentation of David as prophetic—dismissed as a late feature by some—can be excised as secondary and due to later messianic reinterpretations of the Psalms (cf. e.g. Acts 2:30). Yet the kinnōr is found not only in prophetic contexts of the ninth century, but earlier still with Saul and the band of musical prophets.
[ back ] 154. For this root, see p137 and n160.
[ back ] 155. There, however, one has εὐπρεπεῖς ψαλμοὶ Ἰσραήλ: David is the “seemly songs of Israel.”
[ back ] 156. Gaster 1936–1937; Cross and Freedman 1955:243n b; Richardson 1971:261–262; Cross 1973:234n67; Freedman 1976:58, 73; Mettinger 1976–1977:149–151 (treating zimrāt as an “intensive plural”); McCarter 1984:476–480.
[ back ] 157. See p128–129. Cf. Richardson 1971:261; Cross 1998:140, noting that the precise vocalization is uncertain.
[ back ] 158. This new understanding of zmrt has also affected the interpretation of an ancient formula that appears in several Biblical passages. Hence in the ‘Song of Miriam’ (Exodus 15:2) “The Lord is my strength and song” becomes “strength and might,” vel sim.; similarly in Isaiah 12:2, Psalms 118:14. For the evidently deep (Canaanite) antiquity of this “fossilized pair of words … preserved in this set context only,” see Lowenstamm 1969:464, the critique of Parker 1971, and further below, p177n161.
[ back ] 159. See p128–129. The potential of this parallel has been noted by ARTU:4n16; Koitabashi 1996:222; Parker 1997:166n36; RTU:328n19.
[ back ] 160. Levenson 1985:66, in interpreting n‘m as ‘person granted a favorable omen’, rejected ‘singer’ as lacking in Biblical parallels; but he did not note the Ugaritian ones.
[ back ] 161. Stimulating and provocative suggestions to this effect were put forward by Lowenstamm 1969, vis-à-vis the formula in Exodus 15:2; Isaiah 12:2, Psalms 118:14 (see p76n158). Lowenstamm’s argument (465–466) for a single P-S root *ḏmr containing within itself ideas of both ‘song’ and ‘power/glory’ cannot be sustained on linguistic grounds: see p138n160. I also recognize the general validity of the critique by Parker 1971 (cf. Mettinger 1976–1977:150n13). Yet neither study took account of the wordplay on ḏmr in RS 24.252 (see p137–139). Such a conflation of ‘song’ and ‘power’ seems to underlie the Zimri son of Zerah who has four musical brothers in Ethan, Heman, Calcol, Darda (1 Chronicles 2:6), the Canaanite cultural sympathies of whom were explicated by Albright 1956:127 (cf. p152). Pardee 1988a:142 thinks of folk etymology: “It is quite likely that in popular understanding the onomastic element zimrî was ‘mistakenly’ thought to be related to zamar ‘make music’.” Therefore I am still drawn to Lowenstamm’s conclusion that “No translation is likely to render the exact force of the Hebrew words, because their connotations and associations are too deeply rooted in the specific theology of the ancient Canaanite hymnic tradition” (469–470). My analysis of the wordplay in RS 24.252 has led, from an independent angle, to a result very similar to Lowenstamm’s conception of the early Hebrew formula: “The noun … primarily denoting the glory given to God in cultic song, may also be applied to the glory bestowed by the Lord upon those who glorify Him … The notion of praise in cultic music becomes reduced to that of glory pure and simple. It follows that the pair of words denotes the Psalmist’s strength and glory, the source of both he finds in his God” (468).
[ back ] 162. See p137–139.
[ back ] 163. See p140.
[ back ] 164. See sources and discussion in LJ 4:114–116, 6:272–273 n128–129. I thank Miryam Brand for her help with these texts.
[ back ] 165. BM 124947 (see above, n30). For the point, Sellers 1941:38; Rimmer 1969:34; DCPIL:49; Parallels: see p247 and n27.
[ back ] 166. Of the psalms attributed to David (Psalms 3–9, 11–32, 34–41, 51–70, 86, 101, 103, 109–110, 122, 124, 131, 133, 138–145), a clearly Davidic persona may be seen in e.g. 144–145, and especially the supernumerary Psalms 151 in the LXX (relating to the victory over Goliath). For 2 Samuel 22/Psalms 18, see p147n174; for 2 Samuel 23:1–7, p175. This phenomenon provides some justification for those who would translate nĕʿîm zĕmīrôt yiśrā’ēl as “Favorite of Israel’s Songs”: so e.g. Laymon 1971:180.
[ back ] 167. See p80–81.
[ back ] 168. 4Q381 fr. 24.4 (‘Man of God’), 31.4 (‘King of Judah’, name lost), 33.8 (Mannaseh). For Psalmody at Qumran: Schuller 1986 (royal ascriptions, 29 and 101); Schuller’s introduction to Charlesworth 1997:1 with references.
[ back ] 169. Psalms 98:4–6.
[ back ] 170. Psalms 148:7–10; cf. 149.
[ back ] 171. Note Psalm 149:3 and especially the famous instrumentarium of 150, which became a favorite subject of Byzantine musical iconography: see Currie forthcoming and p543–544.
[ back ] 172. See p193–194.
[ back ] 173. See e.g. LJ2 5:451, 459–463.
[ back ] 174. Thus Matthew 1:1–17 carefully establishes the Davidic descent of Jesus. Further sources and discussion in LJ 6:272–273; EJ2 5:451a–454a.
[ back ] 175. See Halton 1983, and further p209–210. For the link back to David, note e.g. the description of Jesus in Paulinus Carmina 20.41–42 as ille Dauid uerus, citharam qui corporis huius / restituit, etc.
[ back ] 176. Numbers 24:17. For the messianic aspect of the Bar Kokhba movement, see with ancient sources Yadin 1971:18–19, 23, 27; AJC:140–142; EJ2 3:157–159.
[ back ] 177. This is accepted by Strack 1983:72, who otherwise rejects much of the biographical tradition about ‘Aqiba; cf. EJ2 1:562a–563b. David’s throne: Sanhedrin 38b (BT 12:245); LJ 6:272n128.
[ back ] 178. Mildenberg 1984:13–14.
[ back ] 179. For the sophistication of Roman imperial propaganda via coins, see Noreña 2011.
[ back ] 180. AJC:141, cf. 137.
[ back ] 181. Yadin 1971:27; AJC:140–142.
[ back ] 182. Lyre-coins: Mildenberg 1984 no. 165, 172–186, 196, 201–220, 232–241, 244, 247–249; AJC no. 223a–h, 236, 238–242a, 272–275, 296–299, with discussion at 147–149. For identification as kinnōr and nēbel, Bayer 1968; RlA 6:580 (Collon, *Leier B); SAM:170–171 (no. 133–134).
[ back ] 183. DCPIL:56 (“Neo-Grecian”), cf. MGG 5:1035–1036; also 1:1510 pl. 2 (Braun) for other seemingly Hellenized lyre forms from Akko, Caesarea, Gaza, Samaria, Gadara, Petra, and elsewhere in Jordan.
[ back ] 184. Recall the musical organization that accompanied the Second Temple’s dedication. Cf. AJC:148, with reference to Nehemiah 12:27.
[ back ] 185. LJ 4:21, 6:411n64.
[ back ] 186. The tale appears in Berakhot 3b (BT 1:9–10), where it is given “in the name of R. Simeon the Pious” (cf. Strack 1983:107, identifying with the High Priest Simeon I, ca. 300 BCE); Sanhedrin 16a (BT 12:79); Midrash Rabbah Numbers 15.16 (Freedman and Simon 1983 6:659): “A harp [i.e. kinnōr] hung over David’s bed. When the hour of midnight arrived, a northerly wind blew upon it and it played of its own accord. Thereupon David would rise up with his disciples. For they used to occupy themselves with the Torah, toiling and driving sleep from their eyes, studying Torah until the dawn. This is why David said, ‘Awake, my glory; psaltery and harp, I will awake the dawn.’” Cf. LJ 4:101.
[ back ] 187. Analecta Hymnica Graeca, Canones Januarii, Day 25, Canon 30 (1), Ode 6.46 (ed. Proiou/Schirò): τὴν θεόηχον κινύραν (referring to the emulation of David by Gregory of Nazianzus); Canones Decembris, Day 26, Canon 51, Ode 5.16–17 (ed. Kominis/Schirò): τοῖς μελῳδήμασι / χρώμενοι Δαβίδ, τῆς ἐνθέου κινύρας σου; Ode 8.56–58: ψαλτήριον ἔμψυχον / καὶ κινύρα ψυχὰς θέλγουσα / πρὸς ἔρωτα τὸν ἔνθεον.
[ back ] 188. Gregory of Nazianzus Orations 43 (PG 36:596B): πρὸ τῆς βασιλείας ἡ τῆς κινύρας δύναμις, καὶ πονηροῦ πνεύματος κατεπᾴδουσα.
[ back ] 189. Nikephoros Basilakes Orations 1.608: τὸν Δαυῒδ μετὰ τοῦ πνεύματος καὶ τῆς τοῦ πνεύματος κινύρας. Cf. Analecta Hymnica Graeca, Canones Novembris, Day 30, Canon 44, Ode 7.8 (ed. Kominis/Schirò): τὴν κινύραν τοῦ πνεύματος, again of David.
[ back ] 190. See p61, 210.
[ back ] 191. SOM 1:75. For the cultural and historical issues which account for Mohammed’s familiarity with and use of these legends, see Adang 1996:1–22. For a good survey of sources for pre-Islamic Arabian legend, including the development of David and Solomon, see Norris 1983.
[ back ] 192. See 17.55, 27.15. For the Quran’s engagement with the Psalter specifically, cf. Masson 1958:429.
[ back ] 193. 21.79 (trans. Dawood); cf. 34.10.
[ back ] 194. 38.18 (trans. Dawood).
[ back ] 195. For the tale of David and the talking frog, see LJ 4:101–102, 6:262–263n84. Quran: see especially 21.81, 27.16–45 (language of birds); 34.12–14; 38.36. The Quranic passages relating to David and Solomon are compared with their Biblical antecedents by Masson 1958:423–436. Much fabulous material is found in the exegetical tradition of the Quran: see Thackston 1978:289–286, 300–308; EQ 1:495a–497b (I. Hass s.v. David), 5:76a–78b (P. Soucek s.v. Solomon); Wheeler 2002:266–279; Brinner 2002:462–468 (David), 491–498 (Solomon).
[ back ] 196. SOM 1:123 (source: the ‘Iqd al-Farīd).
[ back ] 197. Brinner 2002:463 (translation), cf. 464 (the mountains answer David’s songs); Thackston 1978:289 (the earth laughs and beasts bow down to David upon Solomon’s birth).
[ back ] 198. Targum Sheni to Esther 1:3 (translation after Ego 1996). For this work and its dating, see EJ2 19:513b–515a. Naturally individual elements of the targum may represent older traditions.