The lyre, from the Hebrew word pronounced kin-nor, was a stringed musical instrument known from very ancient times - it was invented by Jubal (from which the word jubilation is derived) in the seventh generation after creation. It was widely used by the Hebrew people for worship and pleasure. Although somewhat similar, and variously translated as such, the harp and lyre were technically different instruments. The harp was larger, with a resonant body, and according to the Jewish historian Josephus, the lyre had ten strings which were picked with a plectrum, while the harp had twelve strings which were played with fingers alone. A lyre is shown on an ancient coin in the illustration below.
The Lyre In Bible History
The Lyre was known from the most ancient times:
"Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have cattle. His brother's name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe." (Genesis 4:20-21 RSV)
"And Laban said to Jacob, "What have you done, that you have cheated me, and carried away my daughters like captives of the sword? Why did you flee secretly, and cheat me, and did not tell me, so that I might have sent you away with mirth and songs, with tambourine and lyre?" (Genesis 31:26-27 RSV) (see Jacob and Laban)
"And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, "Let David remain in my service, for he has found favor in my sight." And whenever the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand; so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him." (1 Samuel 16:22-23 RSV)
"And the king made of the almug wood supports for the house of The Lord, and for the king's house, lyres also and harps for the singers; no such almug wood has come or been seen, to this day." (1 Kings 10:12 RSV) (see Solomon, Layout Of Solomon's Temple and Temples)
"And he stationed the Levites in the house of The Lord with cymbals, harps, and lyres, according to the commandment of David and of Gad the king's seer and of Nathan the prophet; for the commandment was from The Lord through His prophets." (2 Chronicles 29:25 RSV)
"Praise The Lord with the lyre, make melody to Him with the harp of ten strings!" (Psalm 33:2 RSV)
Fact Finder: Is the Sea Of Galilee also named after a harp (because of its shape)?
See The Sea Of Galilee
This Week's Bible Quiz
1. How many sons did Noah have?
2. Was Noah's ark shorter or longer than a modern-day Boeing 747 airliner?
3. How many people were saved in the ark?
4. How many of each kind of "clean" animals were taken aboard the ark?
5. How many of each kind of "unclean" animals were taken aboard the ark?
6. How many days did the flood waters increase on the earth?
7. How many days did the waters flood the earth?
8. How many days after the ark landed atop Mount Ararat did Noah open a window and send out a raven?
9. On which release did the dove not return to Noah?
10. What was God's sign of His promise that never again would He destroy life on earth with the waters of a flood?
For the answers to this January 14 2003 quiz, see the Bible Quiz Answers Page