New American Standard Bible
"They sing to the timbrel and harp And rejoice at the sound of the flute.
King James Bible
They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ.
Darby Bible Translation
They shout to the tambour and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the pipe.
World English Bible
They sing to the tambourine and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the pipe.
Young's Literal Translation
They lift themselves up at timbrel and harp, And rejoice at the sound of an organ.
Job 21:12 Parallel
CommentaryBarnes' Notes on the Bible
They take the timbrel - They have instruments of cheerful music in their dwellings; and this is an evidence that they are not treated as the friends of Job had maintained. Instead of being, as they asserted, overwhelmed with calamity, they are actually happy. They have all that can make them cheerful, and their houses exhibit all that is usually the emblem of contentment and peace. Rosenmuller and Noyes suppose this to mean, "They sing to the timbrel and harp;" that is, "they raise up" (ישׂאו yı̂s'û) "the voice" to accompany the timbrel. Dr. Good renders it, "They rise up to the tabor and harp, and trip merrily to the sound of the pipe." So Wemyss. It is literally, "They rise up with the tabor;" and the word "voice" may be understood, and the meaning may be that they accompany the timbrel with the voice. The Vulgate and the Septuagint, however, render it, they "Take up the timbrel." Dr. Good supposes that the allusion is to the modes of dancing; to their raising themselves in an erect position, and then changing their position - advancing and retreating as in alternate dances, and quotes the following exquisite piece of poetry as illustrating it:
"Now pursuing, now retreating,
Now in circling troops they meet;
To brisk notes, in cadence meeting.
Glance their many-twinkling feet."
Still, it seems to me, that the exact idea has not been expressed. It is this, "They raise, or elevate (ישׂאו yı̂s'û) scil. themselves;" that is, they become exhilarated and excited at the sound of music. It is in their dwellings, and it is one of the indications of joy. Instead of lamentations and wo, as his friends said there would be in such dwellings, Job says that there was there the sound of music and mirth; that they exhilarated themselves, and were happy. On the word rendered "timbrel" (תף tôph) and the word "harp" (כנור kı̂nnôr), see the notes at Isaiah 5:12.
At the sound of the organ - The word "organ" we now apply to an instrument of music which was wholly unknown in the time of Job. With us it denotes an instrument consisting of pipes, which are filled with wind, and of stops touched by the fingers. It is the largest and most harmonious of the wind instruments, and is blown by bellows. That such an instrument was known in the time of Job, is wholly improbable, and it is not probable that it would be used for the purposes here referred to if it were known. Jerome renders it, "organ;" the Septuagint, ψαλμοῦ psalmou, "the sound of a song;" Noyes, "pipe;" Lee, "lyre;" Good and Wemyss, "pipe." The Hebrew word (עוּגב ‛ûgâb) is derived from עגב ‛âgab - to breathe, to blow; and it is manifest that the reference is to some wind instrument. Various forms of wind instruments were early invented, and this is expressly mentioned as having been early in use. Thus, it is said of Jubal Genesis 4:21, "He was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ" - עוּגב ‛ûgâb. It was probably at first a rude reed or pipe, which came ultimately to be changed to the fife and flute. It is here mentioned merely as an instrument exciting hilarity, and in the mere use of such an instrument there can be nothing improper. Job does not mean, evidently, to complain of it as wrong. He is simply showing that the wicked live in ease and prosperity, and are not subjected to trials and calamities as his friends maintained.
DANCING is the expression of inward feelings by means of rhythmical movements of the body. Usually these movements are in measured step, and are accompanied by music. In some form or another dancing is as old as the world, and has been practiced by rude as well as by civilized peoples. The passion for amateur dancing always has been strongest among savage nations, who have made equal use of it in religious rites and in war. With the savages the dancers work themselves into a perfect frenzy, into …
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"Why did you flee secretly and deceive me, and did not tell me so that I might have sent you away with joy and with songs, with timbrel and with lyre;
"They send forth their little ones like the flock, And their children skip about.
"They spend their days in prosperity, And suddenly they go down to Sheol.
Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe.
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