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Psaltery


Psaltery. This was a stringed instrument of music to accompany the voice. The Hebrew Nêbel or nebel is so rendered in the Authorized Version in all passages where it occurs, except in Isa. 5:12; 14:11; 22:24, marg.; Amos 5:23; 6:5, where it is translated viol. The ancient viol was a six-stringed guitar. In the Prayer Book version of the Psalms the Hebrew word is rendered “lute.” This instrument resembled the guitar, but was wuperior in tone, being larger, and having a convex back, somewhat like the vertical section of a gourd, or more nearly resembling that of a pear. These three instruments, the psaltery or sautry, the viol, and the lute, are frequently associated in the old English poets, and were clearly instruments resembling each other, though still different. The Greek psalterium (ψαλτήριον), from which our word is derived, denotes an instrument played with the fingers instead of a plectrum or quill, the verb being used of twanging the bow-string. It is impossible to say positively with what instrument the nebel of the Hebrew exactly corresponded. From the fact that nebel in Hebrew also signifies a wine-bottle or skin, it has been conjectured that the term when applied to a musical instrument denotes a kind of bagpipe. The psalteries of David were made of cypress, 2 Sam. 6:5; those of Solomon of algum or almug trees. 2 Chron. 9:11. Among the instruments of the band which played before Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image on the plains of Dura, we again meet with the psaltery. Dan. 3:5, 10, 15, pesantêrı̂n.