Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Three Daughters of Heman

1 Chronicles 25:5-6

Background: around 953 BC

King David wanted to build a temple to the Lord but was told that he should not. Instead he turned the task over to his son Solomon. Solomon assigned families of the Levities, who were one of the 12 tribes and who had been set apart by God to assist the Priests with their duties, different tasks. Three families of the Levites, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun were assigned to "prophecy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals (1 Chr. 25:1)." Heman had 14 sons and 3 daughters that he taught to worship God with music. Earlier Heman and his family were also assigned to play music whenever the ark of the covenant was being moved (1 Chr. 15:16), and when the tabernacle was set up (1 Chr. 6:31-33).

Facts about them:
  • They were Levites, which meant they had been assigned the task of ministering in the sanctuary and were to assist the priests with their duties. Unlike the rest of the tribes the Levites received no land of inheritance. Instead, they, as a people, were offered up to the Lord as an offering. They were the Lord's peculiar property;
  • They had 14 brothers. Their names were Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Shebuel, Jerimoth, Hananiah, Hanani, Eliathah, Giddalti, Romamti-ezer, Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir, and Mahazioth;
  • Their father's name was Heman and he was the "the king’s a seer in the words of God, to lift up the horn" (1 Chr. 25:5);
  • They were instructed by their father to play songs with cymbals, psalteries, and harps;
  • They played music in the temple;
  • Their music was service to God.

Speculations about them:

  • They, or possibly their daughters or granddaughters, might have been some of the "singing women" mentioned in 2 Chr. 35:25 who mourned for the death of Josiah, and those mentioned in Ezra 2:65 and Nehemiah 7:67.

My thoughts:

I was curious about what a psaltery, harp, and cymbal were, and what the music would sound like. I found this picture of a psaltery, which they say is played kind of like a violin. Here is more information about them if you are interested.

The type of harp they would have used isn't like the type of harps we know today. They were more like lyres. I found an interesting article on King David's harp. The one pictured below is an ancient Palestinian harp, and would have been very similar to what they would have used.

These are ancient cymbals from Iran

Here is a video about the psaltery that I thought gave an idea of what their music would have sounded like.
What we can learn from them:
  • Music is a way to worship God;
  • It can be a woman's (and a man's) calling in life to prophesy and worship God through music;
  • Women can prophesy;
  • Women were, and still are, allowed to serve in the temple and participate in sacred rituals;
  • The Lord wants and expects women to work along side their brethren in serving in the temple and prophesying.


  • What do you imagine their music sounded like?
  • Why is music so important? Why would God specifically call people to worship him through music?
  • Why were all 14 brothers named and none of the 3 daughters?
  • What does music mean to you in your life? How do you use it to prophesy or worship God?


  1. Awesome!!! This makes me so happy. I actually play the psaltery. It's a hobby I took up in high school, sort of like your falconry. You can play it one handed like in the video, but you can also lay it in your lap and play it double-bow style with a bow in each hand. That's my favorite way to play it.

  2. Your Wednesday women couldn't have been more fitting. Before doing our activity for mutual tonight with the youth, we "sang" a hymn together. It sounded absolutely awful, and failed to convey a spirit of worship. It just goes to show that there is a spirit to music that must accompany it, despite how well the piano accompanist might play. All in all, we had come together to participate in an activity tonight, and struggled to remember there was a worshipful purpose to the evening as well--a night to strengthen relationships with each other and reach out to those who might have needed some friendly words. If we include the Lord in all we do, then it not only will be fun, it will also be worth it.

  3. Please make a post about Queen Vashti! :) she's my favorite... PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE! i'm a fan. :)

  4. I like your question about why the brothers are named but not the women. This has long been a subject I enjoy pondering, usually in connection to our Heavenly Mother. I feel that not using the name can be a symbol of respect. It is clear to me that these women served well and are dearly loved. Not knowing their names means we cannot use their names in vain and therefore, we can treat them with extra reverence and respect.

  5. I particularly appreciated your question about why the brothers are named but the women are not. There seem to be many women in the Gospel who are not named. I believe this is a way to show added respect and reverence for those women. It is clear to me that these women served the Lord well and they are truly loved. Perhaps they are women of such worth that Heavenly Father could not bear to have their names used lightly.