Hebrew translation question: "pipes" or "flutes"?

I’ve got a question about the most accurate way to translate a particular Bible passage, and was wondering if any of our language scholars could help.

The passage is I Kings 1:40, which the Authorised Version renders as:

Now obiously, given my hobby, I like that image. Of course the pipes would be so loud that the earth would be rent with them. (In fact, given even pipes and pipers, and maybe even the Earth would be rent…)

But then I stumble across the New International Version, which renders the same passage as:

Flutes?? c’mon, give me a break. NO WAY a wussy little flute is going to make the ground shake.

Now I have absolutely no background in Hebrew, so I turn to you, my fellow Dopers, and ask if the Hebrew word for the musical instrument in this passage is best translated as “pipes” :stuck_out_tongue: or “flutes” :frowning: ?

Did “God’s Secretaries” get it right, or are the modern versions more accurate?

whoops - that line should have been "given enough pipes and pipers, and maybe even the Earth would be rent…)

The Hebrew bible says “halilim” which basically means flutes.

I guess it could be both though… But translating to a “flute” seems to me more obvious than to “pipe”.

Mr. NorthernPiper–what is the difference between pipes and flute?
What instrument do you play?

Today, of course ,a flute is a complex metal device with lots of mechanical parts. But 2 thousand years ago when the Bible was written, music was probably made on simple hollow wooden tubes. Think of statues of the greek god Pan, playing his “pipes”. Or the more recent (middle ages?) story of the Pied Piper of Hamlim.

I believe Northern Piper is thinking of bagpipes.

I think “the earth shaking” refers not specifically to the effect of the pipes/flutes, but to the noise made by the paeople “rejoicing greatly.” Lots of people singing and dancing…with musical accompaniment on whatver wind instrument that thing corresponds to.

Orual is correct - I have a love-hate relationship with the Great Highland Bagpipe.

With respect to your question about the difference between the two instruments, chappachula, nowadays the two are distingushed by the way they make noise. A flute is, in essence, a whistle - by blowing across a hole, the player makes a noise. It’s greatly magnified by the length of the flute, and controlled by the various keys, but the sound comes from the flow of air over the hole.

Pipes, on the other hand, make a noise by the vibrations of a reed inside the instrument. As a child, did you ever put a blade of grass between your hands and blow? That’s the origin of the reed instruments.

So, by this analysis (which I admit probably is a modern distinction), the pan pipes would more correctly be called the pan flutes, since they don’t use a reed. The Pied Piper of Hamelin, on the other hand, probably was a piper, since the bagpipe was widespread in medieval Europe. (The German term for bagpipes is dudelsack.)

The reason I wondered if the reference in Kings could be to pipes is that from my reading (off-line) about the history of bagpipes, the earliest known illustration of bagpipes was from some Hittitte carvings. Those early pipes probably didn’t have drones, just a bag for the pipe to make the sound louder and continuous.

If the Hittittes had them, it’s not a big leap to say that the Israelites may have been aware of them as well. However, Eli’s comment seems to squoosh that idea. {sigh}

Actually, Northern Piper, it’s indeed possible that the Israelites knew and used a bagpipe-like instrument, just that they called it by a different name. The Bible refers in several places to an instrument called nevel (pl. nevalim), and this word also means “a skin bag” (as in I Sam. 1:24). The KJV translates the instrument as “psaltery,” and the NIV as “lyre,” both of which are string instruments; but I’ve often wondered, given the apparent derivation of its name, whether perhaps the nevel is actually an early form of bagpipes. (Although it could also mean something like a lute, whose body is shaped roughly like a large bag.)