Sheminith

Shem'inith (Heb. with the art. hash-Sheminith', הִשּׁמַינַית, fem. sing. of שַׁמַינַי, eighth.) The title of Psalm 6 contains a direction to the leader of the stringed instruments of the Temple choir concerning the manner in which the psalm was to be sung. "To the chief musician on Neginoth upon Sheminith" or "the eighth," as the margin of the A.V. has it, and as the same word is elsewhere rendered (Le 25:32, etc.). A similar direction is found in the title of Psalm 12. The Sept. in both passages renders ὑπὲρ τῆς ὀγδόης, and the Vulg. pro octava. The Geneva Version gives "upon the eighth tune." Referring to 1Ch 15:21, we find that certain Levites were appointed by David to play "with harps on the Sheminith," which the Vulgate renders as above, and the Sept. by ἀμασενίθ, which is merely a corruption of the Hebrew. The Geneva version explains in the margin "which was the eighth tune, over the which he that was the most excellent had charge." As we know nothing whatever of the music of the Hebrews, all conjectures as to the meaning of their musical terms are necessarily vague and contradictory. With respect to Sheminith, most Rabbinical writers, as Rashi and Aben-Ezra, follow the Targum on the Psalms in regarding it as a harp with eight strings; but this has no foundation, and depends upon a misconstruction of 1Ch 15:21. Gesenius (Thesaur. s.v. נצח) says it denotes the bass, in opposition to Alamoth (1Ch 15:20), which signifies the treble. But as the meaning of Alamoth itself is very obscure, we cannot make use of it for determining the meaning of a term which, though distinct from, is not necessarily contrasted with it. Others, with the author of Shilte Haggibborim, interpret "the sheminith" as the octive; but there is no evidence that the ancient Hebrews were acquainted with the octave as understood by ourselves so comparing the manner in which the word occurs in the titles of the two psalms already mentioned with the position of the terms Aijeleth Shahar, Jonath-elem-rechokim, etc., in other psalms, which are generally regarded as indicating the melody to be employed by the singers, it seems probable that Sheminlith is of the same kind, and denotes a certain air known as the eighth, or a certain key in which the psalm was to be sung. Maurer (Comm. in Psalm 6) regards Sheminith as an instrument of deep tone like the violoncello, while Alamoth he compares with the violin; and such, also, appears to be the view taken by Junius and Tremellius. SEE PSALMS.

Bible concordance for SHEMINITH.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

 
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