Psalm 81:2
Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) Take a psalm.—Rather, Strike up a tune (with voice and harp).

Bring hither the timbrel.—Literally, Give a timbrel (or, drum), which evidently means “sound the timbrel,” and may, perhaps, be explained by a phrase sometimes found in Hebrew—“Give a voice,” i.e., speak. Such phrases as “Let them have the drum,” “Give them the drum,” may illustrate the expression. (For the instrument, tôph, see Exodus 15:20, and consult Bible Educator, 2:214 seq.)

Harp . . . psaltery.—See Note, Psalm 33:2.

81:1-7 All the worship we can render to the Lord is beneath his excellences, and our obligations to him, especially in our redemption from sin and wrath. What God had done on Israel's behalf, was kept in remembrance by public solemnities. To make a deliverance appear more gracious, more glorious, it is good to observe all that makes the trouble we are delivered from appear more grievous. We ought never to forget the base and ruinous drudgery to which Satan, our oppressor, brought us. But when, in distress of conscience, we are led to cry for deliverance, the Lord answers our prayers, and sets us at liberty. Convictions of sin, and trials by affliction, prove his regard to his people. If the Jews, on their solemn feast-days, were thus to call to mind their redemption out of Egypt, much more ought we, on the Christian sabbath, to call to mind a more glorious redemption, wrought out for us by our Lord Jesus Christ, from worse bondage.Take a psalm - literally, "Lift up a psalm; perhaps, as we should say, "Raise the tune." Or, it may mean, Take an ode, a hymn, a psalm, composed for the occasion, and accompany it with the instruments of music which are specified.

And bring hither the timbrel - For the purpose of praise. On the meaning of this word rendered "timbrel" - תף tôph - see the notes at Isaiah 5:12.

The pleasant harp - On the word here rendered "harp" - כנור kinnôr - see also the notes at Isaiah 5:12. The word translated "pleasant" - נעים nâ‛ı̂ym - means properly pleasant, agreeable, sweet, Psalm 133:1; Psalm 147:1. It is connected here with the word harp, as meaning that that instrument was distinguished particularly for a sweet or pleasant sound.

With the psaltery - On the meaning of the word used here - נבל nebel - see the notes at Isaiah 5:12. These were the common instruments of music among the Hebrews. They were employed alike on sacred occasions, and in scenes of revelry. See Isaiah 5:12.

2. unites the most joyful kinds of music, vocal and instrumental. All which instruments were then prescribed and used in their solemn meetings.

Take a psalm,.... Or "lift one up" (y); hold up the book, and read and sing it; or rather, lift up the voice in singing a psalm:

and bring hither the timbrel; or "give one" (z), put the hand to one:

the pleasant harp with the psaltery; make use of all these musical instruments in singing, and so make an agreeable melody: these were used in the times of the Old Testament, and were typical of the spiritual joy and melody in the heart, expressed by vocal singing, under the New Testament; see Revelation 5:8.

(y) "attollite", Piscator; "tollite", Cocceius, Amama, Gejerus. (z) "date", Pagninus, Montanus, &c.

Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. Take a psalm &c.] Or, Raise a psalm and sound the timbrel. The timbrel, or tabret, was a tambourine or hand drum; the psaltery, like the harp, a stringed instrument.

Verse 2. - Take a psalm; or, lift up a song. And bring hither the timbrel; rather, strike the timbrel. The pleasant harp with the psaltery. The instruments ordinarily used in the service of the sanctuary were harps, psalteries, and cymbals (1 Chronicles 15:16; 1 Chronicles 16:5; 1 Chronicles 25:6; 2 Chronicles 5:12; 2 Chronicles 24:25; Nehemiah 12:27). Here the timbrel (תֹפ) seems to take the place of the cymbal. Psalm 81:2The summons in Psalm 81:2 is addressed to the whole congregation, inasmuch as הריעוּ is not intended of the clanging of the trumpets, but as in Ezra 3:11, and frequently. The summons in Psalm 81:3 is addressed to the Levites, the appointed singers and musicians in connection with the divine services, 2 Chronicles 5:12, and frequently. The summons in Psalm 81:4 is addressed to the priests, to whom was committed not only the blowing of the two (later on a hundred and twenty, vid., 2 Chronicles 5:12) silver trumpets, but who appear also in Joshua 6:4 and elsewhere (cf. Psalm 47:6 with 2 Chronicles 20:28) as the blowers of the shophar. The Talmud observes that since the destruction of the Temple the names of instruments שׁופרא and חצוצרתּא are wont to be confounded one for the other (B. Sabbath 36a, Succa 34a), and, itself confounding them, infers from Numbers 10:10 the duty and significance of the blowing of the shophar (B. Erachin 3b). The lxx also renders both by σάλπιγξ; but the Biblical language mentions שׁופר and חצצרה, a horn (more especially a ram's horn) and a (metal) trumpet, side by side in Psalm 98:6; 1 Chronicles 15:28, and is therefore conscious of a difference between them. The Tפra says nothing of the employment of the shophar in connection with divine service, except that the commencement of every fiftieth year, which on this very account is called שׁנת היּבל, annus buccinae, is to be made known by the horn signal throughout all the land (Leviticus 25:9). But just as tradition by means of an inference from analogy derives the blowing of the shophar on the first of Tishri, the beginning of the common year, from this precept, so on the ground of the passage of the Psalm before us, assuming that בּחרשׁ, lxx ἐν νεομηνίᾳ, refers not to the first of Tishri but to the first of Nisan, we may suppose that the beginning of every month, but, in particular, the beginning of the month which was at the same time the beginning of the ecclesiastical year, was celebrated by a blowing of the shophar, as, according to Josephus, Bell. iv. 9, 12, the beginning and close of the Sabbath was announced from the top of the Temple by a priest with the salpinx. The poet means to say that the Feast of the Passover is to be saluted by the congregation with shouts of joy, by the Levites with music, and even beginning from the new moon (neomenia) of the Passover month with blowing of shophars, and that this is to be continued at the Feast of the Passover itself. The Feast of the Passover, for which Hupfeld devises a gloomy physiognomy,

(Note: In the first of his Commentationes de primitiva et vera festorum apud Hebraeos ratione, 1851, 4to.)

was a joyous festival, the Old Testament Christmas. 2 Chronicles 30:21 testifies to the exultation of the people and the boisterous music of the Levite priests, with which it was celebrated. According to Numbers 10:10, the trumpeting of the priests was connected with the sacrifices; and that the slaying of the paschal lambs took place amidst the Tantaratan of the priests (long-drawn notes interspersed with sharp shrill ones, תקיעה תרועה וקיעה), is expressly related of the post-exilic service at least.

(Note: Vid., my essay on the Passover rites during the time of the second Temple in the Luther. Zeitschr. 1855; and cf. Armknecht, Die heilige Psalmidoe (1855), S. 5.)

The phrase נתן תּף proceeds from the phrase נתן קול, according to which נתן directly means: to attune, strike up, cause to be heard. Concerning כּסה (Proverbs 7:20 כּסא) tradition is uncertain. The Talmudic interpretation (B. Rosh ha-Shana 8b, Betza 16a, and the Targum which is taken from it), according to which it is the day of the new moon (the first of the month), on which the moon hides itself, i.e., is not to be seen at all in the morning, and in the evening only for a short time immediately after sunset, and the interpretation that is adopted by a still more imposing array of authorities (lxx, Vulgate, Menahem, Rashi, Jacob Tam, Aben-Ezra, Parchon, and others), according to which a time fixed by computation (from כּסה equals כּסס, computare) is so named in general, are outweighed by the usage of the Syriac, in which Keso denotes the full moon as the moon with covered, i.e., filled-up orb, and therefore the fifteenth of the month, but also the time from that point onwards, perhaps because then the moon covers itself, inasmuch as its shining surface appears each day less large (cf. the Peshto, 1 Kings 12:32 of the fifteenth day of the eighth month, 2 Chronicles 7:10 of the twenty-third day of the seventh month, in both instances of the Feast of Tabernacles), after which, too, in the passage before us it is rendered wa-b-kese, which a Syro-Arabic glossary (in Rosenmller) explains festa quae sunt in medio mensis. The Peshto here, like the Targum, proceeds from the reading חגּינוּ, which, following the lxx and the best texts, is to be rejected in comparison with the singular חגּנוּ. If, however, it is to be read chgnw, and כּסה (according to Kimchi with Segol not merely in the second syllable, but with double Segol כּסה, after the form טנא equals טנא) signifies not interlunium, but plenilunium (instead of which also Jerome has in medio mense, and in Proverbs 7:20, in die plenae lunae, Aquila ἡμέρᾳ πανσελήνου), then what is meant is either the Feast of Tabernacles, which is called absolutely החג in 1 Kings 8:2 (2 Chronicles 5:3) and elsewhere, or the Passover, which is also so called in Isaiah 30:29 and elsewhere. Here, as Psalm 81:5 will convince us, the latter is intended, the Feast of unleavened bread, the porch of which, so to speak, is ערב פּסח together with the ליל שׁמּרים (Exodus 12:42), the night from the fourteenth to the fifteenth of Nisan. In Psalm 81:2, Psalm 81:3 they are called upon to give a welcome to this feast. The blowing of the shophar is to announce the commencement of the Passover month, and at the commencement of the Passover day which opens the Feast of unleavened bread it is to be renewed. The ל of ליום is not meant temporally, as perhaps in Job 21:30 : at the day equals on the day; for why was it not ביום? It is rather: towards the day, but בכסה assumes that the day has already arrived; it is the same Lamed as in Psalm 81:2, the blowing of the shophar is to concern this feast-day, it is to sound in honour of it.

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