ⓘ Kinnor


ⓘ Kinnor

Kinnor is an ancient Israelite musical instrument in the yoke lutes family, the first one to be mentioned in the Old Testament.

Its exact identification is unclear, but in the modern day it is generally translated as "harp" or "lyre", and associated with a type of lyre depicted in Israelite imagery, particularly the Bar Kochba coins. It has been referred to as the "national instrument" of the Jewish people, and modern luthiers have created reproduction lyres of the "kinnor" based on this imagery. The word has subsequently come to mean violin in Modern Hebrew.


1. Identification

The kinnor is generally agreed to be a stringed instrument, and thus the stringed instrument most commonly mentioned in the Old Testament. The kinnor is also the first string instrument to be mentioned in the Bible, appearing in Genesis 4:21.


2.1. Details Construction

Josephus describes the kinnor as having 10 strings, made from a sheeps small intestine, and played with a plectrum pick, though the Book of Samuel notes that David played the kinnor "with his hand". The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia also notes that the early church fathers agreed the cithara kinnor had its resonator in the lower parts of its body. Like the nevel, the kinnor likely consisted of a soundboard with two arms extending parallel to the body, with the arms crossed by a yoke from which the strings extend down to the body.

One etymology of Kinneret, the Hebrew name of the Sea of Galilee, is that it derives from kinnor, on account of the shape of the lake resembling that of the instrument. If this etymology is correct it may be relevant to the question of the shape of the instrument.


2.2. Details Use of the word in modern Hebrew

The word כינור kinor is used in modern Hebrew to signify the modern Western violin.