Israel’s Glorious History of Music

Since the historians pick up where the tribe of Israel began, that too is what I would like to consider in this article. I thought that it was quite amazing that Israel had the earliest traces of music according to the worldly historians. It makes you wonder how people can then doubt the beginnings of time and the true beginnings of music! As I said before, how can they use the Bible for some history accounts and ignore the rest as false information?

Anyway, this article is going to focus on Israel’s great and glorious history of music. Music, as you can see in the Bible, is a very rich part of their heritage. There are many, many accounts where God ordained music, and people to be in charge of the music, for the worship of God. Music was seen to have taken many forms in the Old Testament for the worship of God. The Israelites sang, chanted, and played instruments. One of the most common of these at the time was chanting. This type of praise to God was often a chanting praise and then a response. Often this was done between the men and then the women. The men would chant and the women would respond. This was believed to be so with the Song of Moses in Exodus 15:1-19 where Moses leads the song of thanksgiving and praise to God for bringing them out of the hands of the Egyptians. After Moses leading, Miriam in verses 20 and 21 and the women follow his lead and “answered them, Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and the rider hath he thrown into the sea.” The Israelites also chanted in the case of the blessings and the cursings on Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal (Deut. 27 & 28), which is worship that the Lord commanded them to do and a worship given to them (Deut. 11:29). There are many, many cases in the bible where Israel is directed by Moses in singing/chanting.

There are also cases where the worship in the temple is concerned—that the Levites were in charge of the music. The Levites were in charge of all types of music both in singing and instrumental. Numbers 3:8, “And they shall keep all the instruments of the tabernacle of the congregation and the charge of the children of Israel, to do the service of the tabernacle.” The Levites also helped Moses during the chanting on Mt. Ebal, Deuteronomy 27:14. “And the Levites shall speak and say to all the men of Israel with a loud voice.” And so continued the cursings while the other half of Israel chanted the blessings on Mt. Gerizim. The Levites played a very important role (as did Moses) in the conducting of the worship of God in the temple in the singing.

Israel was greatly blessed by the music God had given them to worship Him with. Just imagine music directed by God. We too have this great music directly from God, although we do not have the exact music put to tunes that the Israelites had at that time, and we don’t have all the exact songs they sang in worship at the beginnings. We do, however, have Moses and Miriam’s song, the chants of the blessings and cursings, and also the richly spiritual Psalms. It’s wonderful to know that God has given to us music with which to praise Him. How greatly Israel and more so we are blessed to have them!

Although, yet we are tempted in our old man of sin to follow the music of the world. Israel, too, I think was probably tempted by the worldly music of that time. Even though this is mostly speculation I would still like to consider that angle. In my next article, I would like to show the different types of music that they might have been tempted by at that time and may be even show how that might be similar to some of the music of today.