Harp is the rendering in the Auth. Vers. of the following terms in the original: usually כַּנּוֹר, kinnor' (whence the Greek κινύρα), the lyre or cythara (invariably rendered "harp"), N. Test. κιθάρα (1Co 14:7; Re 5:8; Re 14:2; Re 15:2), whence the verb κιθαρίζω (1Co 14:7; Re 14:2), and the compound noun κιθαεῳδός ("harper," Re 14:2; Re 18:22); elsewhere only of the Chald. קַיתָרֹס, kitharos' (text of Da 3:5,7,10,15), or קִתרוֹס,kathros' (margin), from the latter Greek term. See Music.
The "harp" was David's favorite instrument, on which he was a proficient (see Dreschler, De cithara David, Lips. 1712; also in Ugolino, 32). It probably did not essentially differ from the modern Arabic cithere (Niebuhr, Tramv. 1, 177, pl. 26; Descript. de l'Egypte, 17:365, pl. BB, fig. 12, 13). SEE DAVID.
Gesenius inclines to the opinion that כַּנּוֹר is derived from כָּנִר, kanar', "an unused onomatopoetic root which means to give forth a tremulous and stridulous sound, like that of a string when touched." The kimnor was the national instrument of the Hebrews, and was well known throughout Asia. There can be little doubt that it was the earliest instrument with which man was acquainted, as the writer of the Pentateuch assigns its invention, together with that of the עוּגָב, ugab', incorrectly translated "organ" in the A.V., to the antediluvian period (Ge 4:21). Kalisch (Hist. and Crit. Com. on the Old Test.) considers kinnor to stand for the whole class of stringed instruments (neginoth), as ugab, says he, "is the type of all wind instruments." Writers who connect the κινύρα with κινυρός (wailing), κινύρομαι (to lament), conjecture that this instrument was only employed by the Greeks on occasions of sorrow and distress. If this were the case with the Greeks, it was far different with the Hebrews, amongst whom the kinnor served as an accompaniment to songs of cheerfulness and mirth, as well as of praise and thanksgiving to the supreme Being (Ge 31:27; 1Sa 16:23; 2Ch 20:28; Ps 33:2), and was very rarely used, if ever, in times of private or national affliction. The Jewish bard finds no employment for the kinnor during the Babylonian captivity, but describes it as put aside or suspended on the willows (Ps 137:2); and in like manner Job's harp "is changed into mourning"(Job 30:31) while the hand of grief pressed heavily upon him. The passage "my bowels shall sound like a harp for Moab"(Isa 16:11) has impressed some Biblical critics with the idea that the kinnor had a lugubrious sound; but this is art error, since ככנור יהמו refers to the vibration of the chords, and not to the sound of the instrument (Gesen.. and Hitzig, in Comment.).
Touching the shape of the kinnor, a great difference of opinion prevails. The author of Shilte Haggibborimn (c. 6) describes it as resembling the modern harp; Pfeiffer gives it the form of a guitar; and St. Jerome declares that it resembled in shape the Greek letter delta (quoted. by Joel Brill in the preface to Mendelssohn's Psalms). Josephus records (Ant. 7:12, 3) that the kinnor had ten strings (compare Theodoret, Quaest. 34 on 1 Kings), and that it was played on with the plectrum; others assign to it twenty-four; and in the Shilte Haggibborim it is said to have had forty-seven. Josephus's statement, however, ought not to be received as conclusive, as it is in open contradiction to what is set forth in the 1st book of Samuel (16:23; 18:10), that David played on the kinnor with his hand. As it is reasonable to suppose that there was a smaller and a larger kinnor, inasmuch as it was sometimes played by the Israelites whilst walking (1Sa 10:5), the opinion of Munk. "On jouait peutetre des deux manieres, suivant les dimensions de l'instrument" is well entitled to consideration. The Talmud (Berachoth) has preserved a curious tradition, to the effect that over the bed of David, facing the north, a kinnor was suspended, and that when at midnight the north wind touched the chords they vibrated, and produced musical sounds.
The כבנור על השמינית — "harp on the Sheminith" (1Ch 15:21) was so called from its eight strings. Many learned writers, including the author of Shilte Haggibborim, identify the word. "sheminith" with the octave; but it would indeed be rash to conclude that the ancient Hebrews understood the octave in precisely the sense in which it is employed in modern times. SEE SHEMINITH. The skill of the Jews on the kinnor appears to have reached its highest point of perfection in the age of David, the effect of whose performances, as well as of those by the members of the "schools of the prophets," are described as truly marvelous (compare 1Sa 10:5; 1Sa 16:23; 1Sa 19:20).
Two instruments of the lyre species are delineated on a bass-relief of the Assyrian monuments, representing the return of a monarch celebrated by a procession of musicians (Layard, Nineveh and Bab. p. 388 sq.). The ancient Babylonian instrument is probably that represented in a single instance on the Assyrian monuments at Khorsabad, depicting three short- bearded performers on the lyre ushered into the great chamber by two eunuchs. The musicians are clad in a short tunic held fast by a girdle, and their hair is drawn back, and terminates above the shoulders in a single row of curls. They proceed with measured step, singing and twanging their lyres, which are suspended by a broad band passing over the right shoulder. The instrument itself somewhat resembles the Greek lyre: it has a square body and upright sides, the latter being connected by a crossbar, to which are fixed strings that seem to have been rather numerous, for we can count eight at least, and in the part that is corroded away there is room for three or four more. Exactly similar instruments are now seen in Nubia and Dongola; and the mode of playing is that the right hand holds a short plectrum to strike the intervals, while the left is used to stop and twang the cords (Bonomi's Nineveh, p. 187).
Harps or guitars are constantly, in the Holy Scriptures, instruments of joy. They are mentioned in very ancient times as musical instruments, used both by Jews and Gentiles, and their employment in the Temple worship frequently occurs. Moses has named their original inventor in Ge 4:21, viz. Jubal; and in Ge 31:27, Laban says to Jacob, "Why did you not tell me, that I might have sent you away with mirth and songs, with tabret and with harp?"Even in that very ancient writing, the book of Job (21:12), that patriarch, speaking of the prosperity of the wicked, says, "They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ." So, when complaining of his own condition (30:31), he says, "My harp also is turned into mourning, and my organ to the voice of them that weep." Isaiah speaks of the harp under the same character, as an instrument of joy (24:8). Divine subjects used to be brought forward with the accompaniments of the harp (Ps 59:5), and the high praises of God were so celebrated (Ps 33:2; Ps 53:4; Ps 57:8; see also Ps 71:22-23; Ps 92:4-6; Ps 98:5; Ps 147:7; Ps 150:3). That harps are used to celebrate the praises of heroes is well known. Harps, in Solomon's day, were made of the almug-tree, as our translators have it (1Ki 10:11-12). They were often gilded, and hence called golden harps (Re 5:8). A harp of eight strings is mentioned (1Ch 15:21), called in our version "harp on the Sheminith." But amongst the Greeks it had, for the most part, seven strings. Josephus (Ant. 7, 12) describes a harp of ten strings. The distinct sounds uttered by these strings or chords are alluded to by Paul in 1Co 14:7. Its soothing effect was exemplified in 1 calming down the furious spirit of Saul (1Sa 16:17; 1Sa 17:24; 1Sa 18:9; 1Sa 19:9). The spirit of prophecy appears to have been excited by instrumental music of this kind (2Ki 3:15). Harpers held the instrument in the hand, or placed it on a pillar, or sat down by a riverside (Ovid, Fasti, 2, 115).
Sometimes they suspended them from trees, to which there is an allusion in Ps 137:1-2. The harp was used in processions and public triumphs, in worship and the offices of religion, and was sometimes accompanied with dancing (Ps 149:3). They were also used after successful battles. (see 2Ch 20:28; 2Ch 1 Macc. 13:51). Isaiah alludes to this custom (Isa 30:32). So in the victory of the Lamb. (Re 14:1-2): "I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps;" the Church in heaven being represented as composing a grand chorus, in celebration of the triumphs of the Redeemer. At solemn feasts, and especially of the nuptial kind, harps were employed. To this the prophet Isaiah alludes (Isa 5:11-12). The use of harps in worship has already been adverted to, and that the heathen employed them on such occasions appears from Da 3:5,7,15. "Harps of God"(Re 15:2) are either a Hebraism to show their excellence,. as the addition of God often signifies (the most excel-lent things in their kind being in the Scriptures said to be of God), as a prince of God (Ge 23:6, in the original), the mountains of God (Ps 36:6, in the. original), cedars of God (Ps 80:11, in the original), and the like; or else they mean harps given as from God; or harps of God may be harps used in the service of God, in opposition to harps common and profane (1Ch 16:42; 2Ch 7:6).