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Ancient Jews Music 32: Above and beyond - the high priest was engaged in proofreading in the Temple

This chapter actually concludes most of the research, except for a chapter on dance that will follow. Several reasons combined to push this issue to the margins of the present study

The High Priest, from the Second Temple period. Illustration:
The High Priest, from the Second Temple period. Illustration:

This chapter actually concludes most of the research, except for a chapter on dance that will follow. Several reasons combined to push this issue into the folds of the margins in the current study:

First - the specific weight of this issue is found chronologically at the end of the period in question. That is, mainly in the Talmudic-Midrashi era; Second - the issue is given at a certain level, although it has points of departure for music, it is true that it is an exception to the previous chapters in that it deals with a different world of concepts, in that it hovers over supernatural spheres; Thirdly - the essence of the subject is shrouded in mists of ambiguity. Here we will delve into an undefined matter that is quite necessary from a scientific point of view, and I would not be mistaken if I say that the study of magical, eschatological-apocalyptic aspects has not yet been clarified for itself in any subject that is in the ancient period and therefore serves as a bone of contention between scholars. A dispute that is, naturally, logical, as long as whole families of symbols can be interpreted here and/or there.

In this chapter, I would like to particularly emphasize the historical foundations that are hidden at the foundation of every concept, while trying to examine the degree of confrontation between sages and beliefs that prevailed in the popular stratum of the population.

Supernatural magical aspects

    The people of Israel, both in the biblical period and in the post-biblical years, bordered with different peoples, was ruled by foreign cultures and suffered from its destruction and dismemberment by foreign forces, which carried with them unfamiliar cultural charges. These are the people of the Fertile Arch, the Nile Basin, the Hellenes and the Romans.

    A strong connection between music and magical, astrological and cosmological elements was embedded in the Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilizations. And in general, the ancient world believed in its magical-cathartic and guardian power that was immersed in music. And Judaism, willingly or unwillingly, was exposed for a long time to the radiation of this faith. This belief, as one element of all the shades of witchcraft and supernatural power, made its way to the popular layers of the population. And when it sinks there, the sages ask for a root from the root. This experience of the Sages was full of constant struggle, not easy. However, it seems that the way they chose, and the means with which they sought to deal with the problem, were very interesting, and more on that later.

    Let's try to prove it in a few paragraphs below:

    A. The holy/sacred number

    Sacred/sacred numbers were embedded in the concepts of the ancient world. The book of Maccabees 7 written by Hellenistic Jews, as seen in Alexandria, connected the torture, suffering and death of the seven heroes, the seven sons, with music and the number seven (1). The author of the aforementioned essay claimed that the Mesopotamian, cosmological concept is hidden in the phrase "on the eighth" (Psalms XNUMX:XNUMX). And it is interesting that Yosef ben Matityahu the name in the mouth of Elazar ben Yair, the leader of the zealots on the heights of the mosque, the belief that their death for the sanctification of the name is "to the sound of singing and blessing" (Wars XNUMX, XNUMX, XNUMX). There is no objection to the fact that behind all this was hidden the worldview of Joseph ben Mattathias which was influenced by the Hellenistic and Roman cultural elements.

    In the above text, in connection with the number 7 (seven), a clear Hellenistic-Egyptian influence stood out.

    Rabbi Yehoshua ben Hananiah, the famous Tannah, demanded, after the destruction of the Second Temple, about the lamb (or the goat) - "When it lives, its voice is one, and when it dies - its voice is seven" (Mishnat Kenim 6:XNUMX). Rabbi Yehoshua was known as a philosopher who was front and center in Greek philosophy (and since his name was "Ascholastica Draurieta". That is, the philosopher of the Torah) in the views that followed it and in its belief, which gave the above source a special, interesting dimension, which also concerns the subject under discussion. It should be noted, truth or fiction, that the same sage, Rabbi Yehoshua, had philosophical and even philo-pragmatic debates with the dilettante emperor Hadrian. Whether or not there was, it is impossible to know, although there are interesting testimonies to this effect in the Talmudic and Midrashic literature. In any case, whether or not there was, this case very much reflects the spirit, opinions and behavior of the condemned Roman emperor. I will mention in the margin that following the publication of the article by the well-known Prof. Zvi Yabetz about the movements and worldviews of Hadrian, which were published in his article "The Wandering Hadrian", I commented to him and clarified his thoughts on the connection between the dilettant Hadrian and Rabbi Yehoshua ben Hananiah. Prof. Yaebetz thanked me and promised to mention the above context that I knew about in one of his scientific articles.   

    And we will return to our topic. The number 7 (seven), on the other hand, is associated with music by Amorites and preachers from the third century CE onwards. And this is in a clear and certain connection to the power of the Almighty, to redemption and as a rule - to giving praise to God. And for example in the Jerusalem Talmud (Berakhot, Chapter 3, 7, p. XNUMX-XNUMX, p. XNUMX) and Midrash Shemot Rabbah (XNUMX:XNUMX) from the above-mentioned Rabbi Yehoshua ben Hananiah. And our subject - a song with seven rhymes, seven columns and more about interesting aspects related to the number XNUMX (seven).

    It is interesting, by the way, that in the musical count seven notes are indicated from first to last (preceded by "du").

    b) The high priest's bells

    As I have mentioned several times in my research, the interwoven bells in the language of the saying - the robe of the high priest appeared once and only in the Bible, during the desert period without any definite meaning and causality, and yes, we have already pointed out above that these are not actual bells, but plates made of gold that ring together. However, the multi-sided tapping may indicate some kind of musical effect?

    Indeed, the writer Ben Sira (180-200 BCE) on the other hand emphasized the musical significance of the bells by saying that they were placed in the coat of the high priest "to give pleasantness in his steps" (Ben Sira 9-8).

    Yosef ben Mattheyo pointed out that the bells on the high priest's coat had known cosmological symbolism. This testimony of his was settled in his composition dated to the first century CE, and it is possible that it was used here for the popular belief that delegated to the bells a guardian magical power. However, this does not contradict the musical purpose of the high priest's coat plates.

    The silence of the conditional sources, those that presented us with a fairly detailed picture of the life of the temple, as far as the high priest's bells are concerned, may strengthen the assumption that the bells were connected with foreign symbols of supernatural beliefs, which they sought to uproot. However, this does not contradict the musical effect of those plates.

    So far as regards the origins of the Second Temple, in the days after the destruction, and in particular in the testimonies given by the sages of the third century AD and onwards, there is an echo of the high priest's bells case, although this is not a topical issue, since it is a late time after the destruction of the Temple, the Second Temple. This episode had a special character: the bells were known to have a specific role of atonement - atonement for sins. That is, their power was granted by divine inspiration, a virtue reserved only for heaven.

    It is possible that in the use of bells in general as a decorative accessory and toy for the baby's cradle, for binding books, for doors, and more, among post-Holocaust Judaism, there was hidden an element of a parasitic belief, a prayer, that originated from magical, supernatural powers, but the sources have decreed silence on the matter, and this will also be said regarding For the "Eros" in the mourning ceremonies.

    C) the Shofar

    Quite a bit of research has been devoted to the connection between the blowing of the shofar and magical-guardian elements. One of them, Feinsinger, insisted with great arrogance to prove his hypothesis, that the blowing of the shofar among the Jews, due to foreign influence, was completely saturated with supernatural signs and was instructed to drive away the pests and the rest of the pestilence. He also insisted on drawing similar conclusions in relation to sounding at the court, mourning customs, imposing a boycott, fasting and more, and I may also disagree with him regarding the closeness between the use of flutes in mourning ceremonies and various magical elements.

    This researcher was very eager to uncover magical elements in all the uses of the Shofar in Judaism. And it should be noted that magical elements were embedded in a similar way in the Babylonian tradition, but in the traditions of the Land of Israel this is not certain and is not sufficiently proven. Hella does indeed force his hypotheses at the feet of sage references, but these have no way to support his proposal with a solid purpose.

    From the research of the above I would extract the following picture: Sages sought to establish and confirm the instruction to blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, even though the ancient tradition is vague about the blowing itself on these times. Sages changed and changed the sources of the Bible and used the various "measures" that the Torah required in order to trust their teaching on the basis of ancient references.

    It is possible that behind these attempts of the sages there is an echo, albeit a dim one, of the struggle between the popular approach and that of the sages; between the magical elements and the sacred leadership ones, however, it is important to emphasize that the Sages sought to make popular belief a lever for increasing religious-traditional belief. I want to say, even though these are magical elements, which are universal, there is no objection to the fact that some of them were composed of elements and symbols of foreign origin, those who attributed a supernatural touch to the blowing of the shofar, the sages asked, as it turns out, and this is how wisdom allows, to take advantage of the overall idea and strengthen the affinity with it Between the people and their faith, between the people and the Supreme Providence. And so, from the second century AD and in particular the third century onwards, sages highlighted the necessity of blowing the shofar, especially on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, as a way for the people's prayer to rise to the heights, so that God would judge the flock of his shepherds for kindness and not for tribe.

    More than that, the sages, in these generations, sought to plant deeply in the hearts of the people the belief that there is a clear connection between the blowing of the shofar and the longed-for redemption. Also, it is this belief that has fueled parallels between the use of the shofar and the story of the binding of Isaac. This story, as we know, has been folded into it over the years with elements of redemption and the elements of the covenant between God and his people. And in the musical aspect, as we know, Isaac was saved and his successor the elk, the one whose rays created the Shofar. And also the status of Mount Sinai which was one of the most famous peaks in the relationship between the people and their God.

    The shofar, as well as the blowing of it, became, therefore, from a foundation, which may have been imbued with magical and pseudo-apocalyptic symbols, to an eschatological and apocalyptic foundation.

    This idea, which is based on a historical core, which we will discuss later, is evident even in the field of archaeology, when this instrument, the shofar, appeared after the destruction of the Second Temple, alongside other temple implements such as the lamp, the menorah, and more. In other words - an expectation, a silent cry, which emanated from archaeological paintings and reliefs, for the day of redemption, for the building of the Temple. It should be noted and mentioned here that in the chapter that dealt with the musical "rake" next to the shofar such as on the floor of the ancient synagogue in Hammat Geder, I made some interesting conclusions regarding the musical contexts relevant to the above.

    d) The power of the name

    The belief in the enormous power embodied in the mention of the Holy Name, expressed, was accepted in the ancient world. We find supporting evidence for this in sources from the Hellenistic period, in the New Testament and in the Mishna literature and the Talmud (it is recommended to refer to this matter in A. Auerbach, in the chapters on Beliefs and Opinions, p. 103 et seq.).

    And for our purposes, in the sources of the Sages there are interesting testimonies about the swallowing of the name in Naima. That is, when the high priest would mention the specific name out loud, the priests would blow loudly, and this was to drown out the voices of the public, literally, who had gathered in the courtyards of the temple. Some have speculated that the high priest's voice had magical power, and perhaps even the whole class of pleasant priests. And although the sources do not reveal a tap in this regard, in any case, there is no doubt that this ceremony was full of special sacred symbols.

    A record of a similar issue that was also included in Sukkot ceremonies in the temple. An implied name was evidence of the inclusion of the explicit name in poetry.

    However, apart from these cases, which were obviously special, no other mysterious moment emerged from the temple musical texts.

    This chapter, its predecessor and the ones that follow it, show, will see, apparently, that the people of Israel, as they say, "went into a bad culture", somewhat pagan, in their thoughts, opinions and actions, and so it will be noted in the next chapter, that it will continue the previous one, the current one. However, this can also be predicted through the evidence of the Bible, which was not in terms of "a nation alone will dwell and the Gentiles will not be considered", but was a nation of all nations and cultures, with the exception of differences here and there. And from that, ideological, ritualistic, and thought aspects seasoned with "foreign" signs, definitely reflected his life and his ways of thinking and belief, and this will be emphasized and noted in the next chapter in the sections that seem, on their face, to disparage the belief in God, and not so as in the section "Something magical-musical medicine" and more.  

    More of the topic in Hayadan:More of the topic in Hayadan:

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