Our lack of adequate information about these superscriptions is particularly obvious in what appear to be the technical and musical notations. Already obscure to the LXX translators, they are sometimes simply transliterated (as opposed to being translated) in the KJV and ASV. Even so, some contours of meaning seem likely. Some notes appear to designate tunes, some instrumentation, some technical musical or liturgical information. Nearly all of the interpretations given here must be tentative.
Tunes. Although the structure and nature of Canaanite/Israelite music is not know to us, the following appear to name known tunes, songs (cf. 137:3), or cantilation patterns according to which a given poem would be sung: 'ayyeleṯ haššaḥar, “The Doe of the Dawn” (Ps 22); 'al-tašḥēṯ, “Do Not Destroy” (Pss 57, 58, 59, 75), perhaps a reference to the promise in Isa 65:8; hagittîṯ, “The Gittite [Tune]” or “The Winepress” (Pss 8, 81, 84); yônaṯ 'ēlim reḥōqîm, “The Dove of the Distant Terebinth Trees” (Ps 56); mût labbēn, “Death for the Son” (Ps 9, perhaps Ps 46); šōšannîm, “Lilies” (Pss 45, 69); šûšan 'ēḏûṯ and šôšannîm 'ēḏûṯ, “Shushan/Lillies—A Testimony” (?) (Pss 60, 80).
Technical Notation. Some expressions appear to designate instrumentation (“musical instruments,” e.g., Am 6:5): binegînôṯ, “with stringed accompaniment” (Pss 4, 6, 54, 55, 61, 67, 76); 'el-hanneḥîlôṯ, “for flute” (Ps 5); 'al-haššemînîṯ, “for the eight-stringed (instrument)” (Pss 6, 12); 'al-šōšannîm and 'al-šûšān may refer to six-sided or six-stringed instrumentation (Pss 45, 69, and 60, 80, respectively); 'al-māḥalaṯ, perhaps related to flute or dance (Ps 53, 88). “Selah” clearly gives some technical musical or more likely liturgical direction, perhaps for an interlude, or for repetition, or for a posture like bowing.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your free trial.
Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy. You’re already logged in with your Bible Gateway account. The next step is to enter your payment information. Your credit card won’t be charged until the trial period is over. You can cancel anytime during the trial period.
Click the button below to continue.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your subscription.
You’ve already claimed your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus. To subscribe at our regular subscription rate of $3.99/month, click the button below.
Try Bible Gateway Plus, a brand-new service that lets you experience Bible Gateway free of banner ads! It also gives you instant access to over 40 Bible study and inspirational devotional books, including the NIV Study Bible. With Bible Gateway Plus, you can experience and understand God's Word in life-changing new ways, without the distraction of ads. Try it free for 30 days—you can cancel at any time. Following your 30-day free trial, Bible Gateway Plus is only $3.99/month.