(κιθἀρα, 1 Maccabees 4:54, i.e. cithara or guitar), a musical instrument most probably of Greek origin, employed by the Chaldaeans at balls and routs, and introduced by the Hebrews into Palestine on their return thither after the Babylonian captivity. The cithern was of the guitar species, and was known at a later period as the cittern, under which name it is mentioned by the old dramatists as having constituted part of the furniture of a barber's shop. Of the sama species is the Cither or Zither of Southern Germany, the Tyrol, and Switzerland.
With respect to the shape of the cithern or cithara mentioned in the Apocrypha, the opinion of the learned is divided: according to some, it resembled in form the Greek delta, Ä; others represent it as a halfmoon; and others, again, like the modern guitar. In many Eastern countries it is still in use with strings, varying in number from three to twenty-four. Under the name of Koothir, travelers describe it as a wooden plate or dish. with a hole beneath, and a piece of skin stretched above like a drum. Two sticks, joined after the manner of a fan, pass through the skin at the end, and where the two sticks stand apart, they are connected by a transversal piece of wood. From the upper end of this wooden triangle to the point below are fastened five chords, which, at a little distance above their junction, pass over a bridge, like the strings of a violin. The chords are made to vibrate by means of a leather thong fastened to one of the lateral sticks of the triangle (see Mendelssohn's edition of the Psalms, 2d Pref.).
The cithara, if it be not the same with, resembles very closely the instruments mentioned in the book of Psalms, under the denominations of כַּנּוֹר, נֵבֶל, עֻגָּב, respectively rendered in the A.V. "harp," "psaltery," "organ." In Chaldee, cithara is transferred as קִתרוֹם, the Keri for קַיתָרוֹם (Da 3:5), in the A. V. rendered "harp," and the same Engl. word is employed instead of cithern (1 Maccabees 4:54) in Robert Barker's edition of the English Bible (London, 1615). Gesenius (Thes. Heb. p. 215) considers cithara as the same with harp; but Luther translates κιθάραις by mit Pfeifen, "with pipes." SEE HARP.