|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
21:7-16 Job says, Remarkable judgments are sometimes brought upon notorious sinners, but not always. Wherefore is it so? This is the day of God's patience; and, in some way or other, he makes use of the prosperity of the wicked to serve his own counsels, while it ripens them for ruin; but the chief reason is, because he will make it appear there is another world. These prospering sinners make light of God and religion, as if because they have so much of this world, they had no need to look after another. But religion is not a vain thing. If it be so to us, we may thank ourselves for resting on the outside of it. Job shows their folly.
Verse 12. - They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ. The "timbrel" (תפ) is probably the tambourine, an instrument used from a remote antiquity by the Orientals. It consisted of a round hoop of wood, into which were sometimes inserted jingling rings of metal, and upon which was stretched at one end a sheet of parchment. It is represented on the monuments both of Egypt and Phoenicia ('Hist. of Egypt,' vol. 1. p. 522; 'Hist. of Phoenicia,' pp. 219, 223). The harp (כִנּור) was, in the early times, a very simple instrument, consisting of a framework of wood, across which were stretched from four to seven strings, which were of catgut and of different lengths, and were sounded either with the hand or with a plectrum. The "organ" (עוּנָב) was, of course, not an organ in the modern sense of the word. It was either a pan's pipe, which is a very primitive instrument, or more probably a double reed blown from the end, like a flageolet, examples of which are found in the remains both of Egypt and Phoenicia ('Hist. of Egypt,' vol. 1. p. 524; 'Hist. of Phoenicia,' l.s c.).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
They take the timbrel and harp,.... Not the children, but the parents of them; these took these instruments of music into their hands, and played upon them while their children danced; thus merrily they spent their time: or, as Jarchi and Aben Ezra, they lift up the voice with the tabret and harp; that is, while they played on these with their hands, they sung songs with their mouths; they used both vocal and instrumental music together, to make the greater harmony, and give the greater pleasure, like those in Amos 6:5;
and rejoice at the sound of the organ; a musical instrument, very pleasant and entertaining, from whence it has its name in the Hebrew tongue; but of what form it was cannot be with certainty said; that which we now so call is of later invention, and unknown in those times: probably Job may have respect to Jubal, the inventor of this sort of music, and others of the posterity of Cain before the flood, who practised it, and were delighted in it; in which they were imitated and followed by wicked men after it, and in Job's time, Genesis 4:21.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
12. take—rather, "lift up the voice" (sing) to the note of [Umbreit].
organ—not the modern "organ," but the "pipe" (Ge 4:21). The first clause refers to stringed, the latter, to wind instruments; thus, with "the voice" all kinds of music are enumerated.
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