Music in Biblical Life

The Roles of Song in Ancient Israel


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About the Book

Music was integral to the daily life of ancient Israel. It accompanied activities as diverse as manual labor and royal processionals. At key junctures and in core institutions, musical tones were used to deliver messages, convey emotions, strengthen communal bonds and establish human-divine contact.
This book explores the intricate and multifaceted nature of biblical music through a detailed look into four major episodes and genres: the Song of the Sea (Exod. 15), King Saul and David’s harp (1 Sam. 16), the use of music in prophecy, and the Book of Psalms. This investigation demonstrates how music helped shape and define the self-identity of ancient Israel.

About the Author(s)

Jonathan L. Friedmann is a professor of Jewish music history at the Academy for Jewish Religion California, extraordinary professor of theology at North-West University (NWU), South Africa, and a research fellow at NWU in musical arts in South Africa: resources and applications. He is the author, editor, or compiler of 19 books on music and religion. Visit his website at

Bibliographic Details

Jonathan L. Friedmann
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 208
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7409-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0219-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1

Introduction 5

 1  Functional Music 17

 2  The Song of the Sea and Group Cohesion:

  Exodus 15:1–21 31

 3  Therapeutic Functions of David’s Lyre:

  1 Samuel 16:14–23 58

 4  Sing unto God:

  Music in Prophetic Literature 83

 5  Music and Public Worship:

  Singing in the Book of Psalms 114

Conclusion 153

Chapter Notes 165

Bibliography 184

Index 197

Book Reviews & Awards

“Friedmann explores music’s role in shaping the self-identity of ancient Israel and its integration into daily life”—Reference & Research Book News.