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How the Money was Spent
The Temple revenues were in the first place devoted to the purchase of all public sacrifices, that is, those offered in the name of the whole congregation of Israel, such as the morning and evening sacrifices, the festive sacrifices, etc. This payment had been one of the points in controversy between the Pharisees and the Sadducees. So great importance was attached to it, that all Israel should appear represented in the purchase of the public sacrifices, that when the three chests were emptied they took expressly from one 'for the land of Israel,' from another 'for the neighboring lands' (that is, for the Jews there resident), and from the third 'for distant lands.' Besides, the Temple treasury defrayed all else necessary for the services of the sanctuary; all Temple repairs, and the salaries of a large staff of regular officials, such as those who prepared the shewbread and the incense; who saw to the correctness of the copies of the law used in the synagogues; who examined into the Levitical fitness of sacrifices; who instructed the priests in their various duties; who made the curtains, etc.,--not omitting, according to their own testimony, the fees of the Rabbis. And after all this lavish expenditure there was not only enough to pay for the repairs of the city-walls, the roads, and public buildings, etc., about Jerusalem, but sufficient to accumulate immense wealth in the treasury!
The Temple Hymnody
To the wealth and splendor of the Temple corresponded the character of its services. The most important of these, next to the sacrificial rites, was the hymnody of the sanctuary. We can conceive what it must have been in the days of David and of Solomon. But even in New Testament times it was such that St. John could find no more adequate imagery to portray heavenly realities and the final triumph of the Church than that taken from the service of praise in the Temple. Thus, when first 'the twenty- four elders,' representing the chiefs of the twenty-four courses of the priesthood, and afterwards the 144,000, representing redeemed Israel in its fulness (12 x 12,000), sing 'the new song'-- the former in heaven, the latter on Mount Zion--they appear, just as in the Temple services, as 'harpers, harping with their harps' (Rev 5:8; 14:2,3). Possibly there may also be an analogy between the time when these 'harpers' are introduced and the period in the Temple-service when the music began--just as the joyous drink- offering was poured out. There is yet a third reference in the Book of Revelation to 'the harps of God' (Rev 15:2), with most pointed allusion, not to the ordinary, but to the Sabbath services in the Temple. In this case 'the harpers' are all they 'that had gotten the victory over the beast.' The Church, which has come out of great tribulation, stands victorious 'on the sea of glass'; and the saints, 'having the harps of God,' sing 'the song of Moses, the servant of God.' It is the Sabbath of the Church; and as on the Sabbath, besides the psalm for the day (Psalm 92) at the ordinary sacrifice, they sung at the additional Sabbatic sacrifice (Num 28:9,10), in the morning, the Song of Moses, in Deuteronomy 32, and in the evening that in Exodus 15, so the victorious Church celebrates her true Sabbath or rest by singing this same 'Song of Moses and of the Lamb,' only in language that expresses the fullest meaning of the Sabbath songs in the Temple.
Properly speaking, the real service of praise in the Temple was only with the voice. This is often laid down as a principle by the Rabbis. What instrumental music there was, served only to accompany and sustain the song. Accordingly, none other than Levites might act as choristers, while other distinguished Israelites were allowed to take part in the instrumental music. The blasts of the trumpets, blown by priests only, formed--at least in the second Temple--no part of the instrumental music of the service, but were intended for quite different purposes. Even the posture of the performers showed this, for while the Levites stood at their desks facing towards the sanctuary, or westwards, the priests, with their silver trumpets, stood exactly in the opposite direction, on the west side of the rise of the altar, by the 'table of the fat,' and looking eastwards or down the courts. On ordinary days the priests blew seven times, each time three blasts--a short sound, an alarm, and again a sharp short sound (Thekiah, Theruah, and Thekiah *), or, as the Rabbis express it, 'An alarm in the midst and a plain note before and after it.'
* Inferring from the present usage in the Synagogue, Saalschutz (Gesch. d. Musik bei d. Hebr.)--Thekiah, Theruah, Thekiah
According to tradition, they were intended symbolically to proclaim the kingdom of God, Divine Providence, and the final judgment. The first three blasts were blown when the great gates of the Temple--especially that of Nicanor--were opened. Then, when the drink-offering was poured out, the Levites sung the psalm of the day in three sections. After each section there was a pause, when the priests blew three blasts, and the people worshipped. This was the practice at the evening, as at the morning sacrifice. On the eve of the Sabbath a threefold blast of the priests' trumpets summoned the people, far as the sound was carried over the city, to prepare for the holy day, while another threefold blast announced its actual commencement. On Sabbaths, when, besides the ordinary, an additional sacrifice was brought, and the 'Song of Moses' sung--not the whole every Sabbath, but divided in six parts, one for every Sabbath,--the priests sounded their trumpets additional three times in the pauses of the Sabbath psalm.
The Influence of David
The music of the Temple owed its origin to David, who was not only a poet and a musical composer, but who also invented musical instruments (Amos 6:5; 1 Chron 23:5), especially the ten- stringed Nevel or lute (Psa 33:2; 144:9). From the Book of Chronicles we know how fully this part of the service was cultivated, although the statement of Josephus (Anti. viii. 3, 8.), that Solomon had provided forty thousand harps and lutes, and two hundred thousand silver trumpets, is evidently a gross exaggeration. The Rabbis enumerate thirty-six different instruments, of which only fifteen are mentioned in the Bible, and of these five in the Pentateuch. As in early Jewish poetry there was neither definite and continued metre (in the modern sense), nor regular and premeditated rhyme, so there was neither musical notation, nor yet any artificial harmony. The melody was simple, sweet, and sung in unison to the accompaniment of instrumental music. Only one pair of brass cymbals were allowed to be used. But this 'sounding brass' and 'tinkling cymbal' formed no part of the Temple music itself, and served only as the signal to begin that part of the service. To this the apostle seems to refer when, in 1 Corinthians 13:1, he compares the gift of 'tongues' to the sign or signal by which the real music of the Temple was introduced.
The Harp and Lute
That music was chiefly sustained by the harp (Kinnor) and the lute (Nevel). Of the latter (which was probably used for solos) not less than two or more than six were to be in the Temple orchestra; of the former, or harp, as many as possible, but never less than nine. There were, of course, several varieties both of the Nevel and the Kinnor. The chief difference between these two kinds of stringed instruments lay in this, that in the Nevel (lute or guitar) the strings were drawn over the sounding-board, while in the Kinnor they stood out free, as in our harps. Of wind-instruments we know that, besides their silver trumpets, the priests also blew the Shophar or horn, notably at the new moon, on the Feast of the New Year (Psa 81:3), and to proclaim the Year of Jubilee (Lev 25:9), which, indeed, thence derived its name. Originally the Shophar was probably a ram's horn (Jos., Ant. v. 5, 6.), but afterwards it was also made of metal. The Shophar was chiefly used for its loud and far-sounding tones (Exo 19:16,19; 20:18; Isa 58:1). At the Feast of the New Year, one priest with a Shophar was placed between those who blew the trumpets; while on fast- days a priest with a Shophar stood on each side of them--the tones of the Shophar being prolonged beyond those of the trumpets. In the synagogues out of Jerusalem the Shophar alone was blown at the New Year, and on fast-days only trumpets.
These were: the day of killing the first, and that of killing the second Passover, the first day of unleavened bread, Pentecost, and the eight days of the Feast of Tabernacles. Quite in accordance with the social character of these feasts, the flute was also used by the festive pilgrim-bands on their journey to Jerusalem, to accompany 'the Psalms of Degrees,' or rather of 'Ascent' (Isa 30:29), sung on such occasions. It was also customary to play it at marriage feasts and at funerals (Matt 9:23); for according to Rabbinical law every Jew was bound to provide at least two flutes and one mourning woman at the funeral of his wife. In the Temple, not less than two nor more than twelve flutes were allowed, and the melody was on such occasions to close with the notes of one flute alone. Lastly, we have sufficient evidence that there was a kind of organ used in the Temple (the Magrephah), but whether merely for giving signals or not, cannot be clearly determined.
The Human Voice
As already stated, the service of praise was mainly sustained by the human voice. A good voice was the one qualification needful for a Levite. In the second Temple female singers seem at one time to have been employed (Ezra 2:65; Neh 7:67). In the Temple of Herod their place was supplied by Levite boys. Nor did the worshippers any more take part in the praise, except by a responsive Amen. It was otherwise in the first Temple, as we gather from 1 Chronicles 16:36, from the allusion in Jeremiah 33:11, and also from such Psalms as 26:12; 68:26. At the laying of the foundation of the second Temple, and at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the singing seems to have been antiphonal, or in responses (Ezra 3:10,11; Neh 12:27,40), the two choirs afterwards apparently combining, and singing in unison in the Temple itself. Something of the same kind was probably also the practice in the first Temple. What the melodies were to which the Psalms had been sung, it is, unfortunately, now impossible to ascertain. Some of the music still used in the synagogue must date from those times, and there is no reason to doubt that in the so- called Gregorian tones we have also preserved to us a close approximation to the ancient hymnody of the Temple, though certainly not without considerable alterations.
But how solemn must have been the scene when, at the dedication of Solomon's Temple during the service of praise, 'the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of Jehovah; so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of Jehovah had filled the house of God'! (2 Chron 5:13,14) Such music, and such responsive singing, might well serve, in the Book of Revelation, as imagery of heavenly realities (Rev 4:8,11; 5:9,12; 7:10-12), especially in that description of the final act of worship in Revelation 14:1-5, where at the close of their antiphony the two choirs combine, as at the dedication of the second Temple, to join in this grand unison, 'Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth' (Rev 19:6,7; comp. also Rev 5:13).