(צלָצִל, tselatsal', in the plur. 2Sa 6:5; Ps 150:5; or מצֵלֶת, metse'leth, in the dual, 1Ch 13:8; 1Ch 15:16,19,28; 1Ch 16:5,42; 1Ch 25:1,6; 2Ch 5:12-13; 2Ch 29:25; Ezr 3:10; Ne 12:27; both from צָלִל, tsalal', to tinkle; κύμβαλον, in the plur. 1 Esdras 4:9; Judith 16:2; 1 Maccabees 4:54; 1Co 13:1), a musical instrument consisting of two convex pieces of brass, which are struck together to make the rythm or time, and produce a loud clanging sound. They are generally employed in connection with the drum in out-door orchestras. Josephus (Ant. 7:12, 3) describes in like manner the cymbals (κύμβαλα) used in the Temple services as "large plates of brass." They were used from the most ancient times in the East as a part of a martial band in public religious occasions (1Ch 13:8), and also by females in connection with dancing (Lucian, Saltat. c. 68; comp. Chrysost. in Gen. XXIV, hom. 48; Clem. Al. Paedag. 2:4); also along with the drum (Pliny, v, i). Niebuhr (Reis. 1:181, pl. 27) learned that in Arabia two kinds of castanets were employed in a similar manner; one of small metal clappers held between the thumb and fingers, especially by females, as with the dancing girls of Egypt (Lane, Mod. Eg. 2:106); the other consisting of larger pieces of metal, like our cymbals. Pfeiffer (Musik der Hebr. p. 55) thinks this distinction is intended between the two kinds of cymbals mentioned in Ps 150:5, צִלצלֵי שָׁמע, "loud cymbals," and צִלצלֵי תּרוּעִה, "high-sounding cymbals." "The former probably consisted of four small plates of brass or of some other hard metal; two plates were attached to each hand of the performer, and were smitten together to produce a loud noise. The latter consisted of two larger plates, one held in each hand, and struck together as an accompaniment to other instruments. Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, the renowned conductors of the music of the sanctuary, employed the 'loud cymbals' possibly to beat time, and to give the signal to the choir when it was to take part in the sacred chant." The ancient Egyptians likewise had cymbals and cylindrical maces (crotala, or clappers), two of which were struck together, and probably emitted a sharp metallic sound. The cymbals were of mixed metal, apparently brass, or a compound of brass and silver, and of a form exactly resembling those of modern times, though smaller, being only seven, or five inches and a half in diameter. The handle was also of brass, bound with leather, string, or any similar substance, and being inserted in a small hole at the summit, was secured by bending back the two ends. The same kind of instrument is used by the modern inhabitants of the country, and from them have been borrowed the very small cymbals played with the finger and thumb, which supply the place of castanets in the almeh dance. These were the origin of the Spanish castanet, having been introduced into that country by the Moors, and afterwards altered in form, and made of chestnut (castana) and other wood instead of metal. The cymbals of modern Egypt (see Descr. de l'Egypte, 13:496 sq.) are chiefly used by the attendants of sheiks' tombs, who travel through the country at certain periods of the year to exact charitable donations from the credulous or the devout among the Moslems by the promise of some blessing from the indulgent saint. Drums and some other noisy instruments, which are used at marriages and some other occasions, accompany the cymbals, but these last are more peculiarly appropriated to the service of the sheiks, and the external ceremonies of religion, as among the ancient Egyptians; and a female, whose coffin contained a pair of cymbals, was described in the hieroglyphics of the exterior as the minstrel of a. deity. The cylindrical maces, or clappers, were also admitted among the instruments used on solemn occasions, and they frequently formed part of the military band, or regulated the dance. They varied slightly in form, and some were of wood or of shells; others of brass, or some sonorous metal having a straight handle, surmounted by a head or other ornamental device. Sometimes the handle was slightly curved, and double, with two heads at the upper extremity; but in all cases the performer held one in each hand; and the sound depended on their size, and the material of which they were made. When of wood they corresponded to the crotala of the Greeks, a supposed invention of the Sicilians, and reported to have been used for frightening away the fabulous birds of Stymphalus; and the paintings of the Etruscans show that they were adopted by them, as by the Egyptians, in the dance (Wilkinson, Anc. Egypt. 1:99 sq.). Among the Greeks and Romans cymbals of a similar description were anciently used in the worship of Cybele, Bacchus, Juno, and other earlier deities. They were probably derived from the East. At Rome they are first mentioned in Livy's account (39. 9) of the Bacchic orgies introduced from Etruria (Smith, Dict. of Class. Antiq., s.v. Cymbalum). See Mendelssohn's Preface to Book of Psalms; Kimchi; Lewis, Origines Hebraece (Lond. 1724,176-7); Forkel, Gesch. der Musik; Jahn, Archceology, Am. ed., cap. v, § 96, 2; Munk, Palestine, p. 456; Esendier, Dict. of Music, 1:112. Lampe has an excellent dissertation, De Cymbalis veterum (Traj. ad Rh. 1703; also in Ugolini Thes. xxxii). Monographs on the subject have also been written in Latin by Ellis (Fortuita Sacra, Rotterd. 1727, p. 257-378), Magius (Amst. 1664), Zorn (Opusc. 1:111-163). See MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS.

Bible concordance for CYMBAL.

Definition of cymbal

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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