Flute (מִשׁרוֹקַיתָא, mashrokitha', from its hissing or whistling sound; Theodot. σὐριξ, a pipe), a musical instrument, mentioned among others (Da 3:5,7,10,15) as used at the worship of the golden image which Nebuchadnezzar had set up. (Comp. the αὐλός of 1 Esdr. 5:2, as a Persian instrument.) According to the author of Shilte-Haggiborim, this instrument was sometimes made of a great number of pipes — a statement which, if correct, would make its name the Chaldee for the musical instrument called in Hebrew עוּגָב, ugab', and erroneously rendered in the A.V. "organ." SEE PIPE.
There is notice taken in the Gospels of players on the flute (αὐλητής, "minstrel"), who were collected at funerals (Mt 9:23-24). The Rabbins say that it was not allowable to have less than two players on the flute at the funeral of persons of the meanest condition, besides a professional woman hired to lament; and Josephus relates that, a false report of his death being spread at Jerusalem, several persons hired players on the flute by way of preparation for his funeral. In the Old Testament, however, we see nothing like it. The Jews probably borrowed the custom from the Romans. When it was an old woman who died they used trumpets, but flutes when a young woman was to be buried. SEE FUNERAL.
Flutes, or rather flageolets, were very early in use in ancient Egypt, where they were of various forms and lengths, both single and double, with different numbers of holes, and used by players of both sexes.
So also among the Greeks and Romans these instruments were common (Wilkinson, Anc. Eg. 1:126 sq., abridgm.; Kitto, Pictorial Bible, note on Da 3:10).
They are likewise frequent in the modern East (Lane's Egyptians, 2:82). SEE MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS.