Nevel (music)

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The Nevel ( Hebrew נבל nével , ancient Greek νάβλα nábla ), also fog , was a stringed instrument in ancient Israel and in neighboring cultures. It is mentioned 28 times in the Old Testament and mentioned in 22 cases in connection with the Kinnor . Nevel can also be a generic term for stringed instruments ( kley nevalim 1 Chr 16,5  LUT and kley nevel Ps 71,22  LUT ).


Nevel is often translated as “harp” in German, but this is incorrect. The old translations are not helpful here, as both the Septuagint and the Vulgate offer several translations for a Hebrew word, in the following order of frequency:

  • Septuagint: νάβλα, ψαλτήριον, όργανον, κινύρα;
  • Vulgate: psalterium, lyra, nablium, kithara .

Description of the instrument

Flavius ​​Josephus differentiates between Nevel and Kinnor as follows: the Nevel had more and thicker strings and was played without a pick. According to a Greek source ( Athenaios , Deipnosophistoi) the sound body should have consisted of lotus wood ribs. The shape of the large body was reminiscent of a leather sack, as it was used for water or wine (this was also called nevel ). The instrument was placed on the floor while playing, while the kinnor was held in the left hand and played with the right.

The meaning of nevel ʿāsōr , mostly interpreted as " nevel with ten strings", is unclear ; however, speaks against it that nevel and ʿāsōr in Ps 92,4  LUT are two different instruments.


"The nevel served as a tenor or bass instrument in the orchestra of the second temple (from the end of the 6th century BC)." It was practically the guild instrument of the Levites ( 1 Chr 25,1-6  LUT ). In the Second Temple, as the Mishnah recalls, between two and six nevalim were installed (M Arachin II 3).

A terracotta relief attributed to the Nabatean culture shows a music-making trio playing Nevel, Kinnor and Chalil (double whistle). The combination of these three instruments is also attested in the hymn scroll of Qumran. According to Thomas Staubli , hymn 19 shows that the kinnor had the tragic function, the nevel the joyous and the double whistle the ecstatic.


Individual evidence

  1. a b Joachim Braun: The musical culture of ancient Israel / Palestine . S. 44 .
  2. a b Joachim Braun: The musical culture of ancient Israel / Palestine . S. 46 .
  3. a b c Joachim Braun: The music culture of old Israel / Palestine . S. 45 .
  4. Joachim Braun: The musical culture of old Israel / Palestine . S. 203 .
  5. a b Joachim Braun: The musical culture of ancient Israel / Palestine . S. 159 .
  6. ^ Thomas Staubli: Music in Biblical Times . S. 36 .