music in the Bible

Music is of definite importance in the Bible and will continue into Heaven and the New Heavens and New Earth.


Music developed very quickly after the Creation of Adam and Eve. Their descendant Jubal was the inventor of musical instruments (Genesis 4:21).

Hebrews and music

After the Global Flood, the first mention of music is in the account of Laban’s interview with Jacob (Genesis 31:27).

The Hebrews were enthusiastic about the cultivation of music. Their whole history and literature provide abundant evidence of this.

After their triumphal passage of the Red Sea, Moses and the children of Israel sang their song of deliverance (Exodus 15).

The period of Samuel, David, and Solomon was the golden age of Hebrew music, as it was of Hebrew poetry.

Music was now for the first time systematically cultivated. It was an essential part of training in the schools of the prophets (1 Samuel 10:5; 19:19-24; 2 Kings 3:15; 1 Chronicles 25:6).

There now arose also a class of professional singers (2 Samuel 19:35; Eccl. 2:8).

Temple singers, choirs, music and musicians

The temple was the great school of music. In the conducting of its services large bands of trained singers and players on instruments were constantly employed (2 Samuel 6:5; 1 Chronicles 15; 16; 23;5; 25:1-6).

Then David spoke to the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their relatives as the singers, with musical instruments, harps, lyres, and cymbals, playing to raise sounds of joy. —1 Chronicles 15:16 NASB

The priests stood at their posts, and the Levites also, with the musical instruments for the Lord, which King David had made for giving praise to the Lord—“for His faithfulness is everlasting”—whenever David gave praise through their ministry; the priests on the other side blew trumpets and all Israel was standing. —2 Chronicles 7:6 NASB

Named musicians

There were Chief musician, and many musicians are mentioned by name in the Bible.

(partial list)

  1. Jubal
  2. King David —“a skillful musician on the harp” (1 Samuel 16:16; 16:18; 2 Kings 3:15; etc.) and a writer of numerous beloved songs which were sung publicly, having been given to the music director with flute or stringed instrument accompaniment instructions
  3. Judah, a Levite
  4. Asaph, one of David’s chief musicians
  5. Asharelah
  6. Azarel, a Levite musician
  7. Bukkiah
  8. Chanani (2), a chief musician of David, and a chief musician in time of Nehemiah
  9. Chashabyahu (Chashabyah), a temple musician (1 Chronicles 25:3)
  10. Eliathah
  11. Ethan
  12. Gedaliah (1 Chronicles 25:3)
  13. Giddalti
  14. Gilalay (Nehemiah 12:36)
  15. Hanani
  16. Hananiah (Chananyah), director of a division of musicians under David
  17. Hashabiah
  18. Heman
  19. Hothir
  20. Jeduthun
  21. Jerimoth
  22. Jeshaiah (1 Chronicles 25:3)
  23. Joseph
  24. Joshbekashah
  25. Kenaniah, supervisor of the musicians
  26. Maai (Maay) (Nehemiah 12:36)
  27. Mahazioth
  28. Mallothi
  29. Mattaniah
  30. Mattithiah
  31. Milalay (Milalai) (Nehemiah 12:36)
  32. Miqneyahu, a Levite musician (1 Chronicles 15:18; 15:21)
  33. Nethaniah
  34. Romamti-ezer
  35. Shebuel
  36. Shimei
  37. Tseri (Zeri) (1 Chronicles 25:3)
  38. Uzziel
  39. Yechiel (Yechavel), a chief musician
  40. Yeduthun, leader of temple choir whose descendants formed a perpetual temple choir
  41. Zaccur
  42. Zeri
  43. Many unnamed singers and musicians of various ages were trained for service at the Tabernacle or the Temples and for special occasions

Music in private life

In private life, music also seems to have held an important place among the Hebrews (;

By the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat down and wept,
When we remembered Zion.
Upon the willows in the midst of it
We hung our harps.
For there our captors demanded of us songs,
And our tormentors, jubilation, saying,
“Sing for us one of the songs of Zion!”

How can we sing the Lord’s song
In a foreign land?… —Psalm 137 NASB excerpt

Their banquets are accompanied by lyre and harp, by tambourine and flute —Isaiah 5:12 NASB excerpt

…I provided for myself male and female singers… —Eccl. 2:8 NASB excerpt

Those who recline on beds of ivory
And sprawl on their couches,
…Who improvise to the sound of the harp,
And like David have composed asongs for themselves… —Amos 6:4-6 NASB excerpt

The gaiety of tambourines ceases,
The noise of revelers stops,
The gaiety of the harp ceases.
—Isa. 24:8 NASB

…as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. —Luke 15:25 NKJV excerpt

Songs in Revelation

The book of Revelation mentions songs of joy, thanks, or praise (perhaps as many as 27) which take place during the future 70th “Week” described by Daniel, the Tribulation, the 2nd Coming of Christ, and the Day of the Lord and the Millennium—all surround the coming physical Kingdom of God.

…the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp… And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the scroll and to break its seals; for You were slaughtered, and You purchased people for God with Your blood from every tribe, language, people, and nation. —Revelation 5:8-9 NASB excerpt

and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. —Revelation 14:3 ESV

And I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who were victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God. —Revelation 15:2

And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations! —Revelation 15:3 NASB

Hebrew and Greek music-related words

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Article Version: July 29, 2021