The Hebrew word “HaTof”(hey tav pey sofit) is translatedtambourine,tabret, and timbrel. It comes from the root word pronounced “Be’Too-pim” (bet tav pey yud mem sofit).  “Be’Too-pim” is the word for a hand drum, and can also be used “to drum”, “to play as on the tambourine”.

We see the word “HaTof”in many Scriptures as timbrel and tabret.

We will see in these Scriptures that the praise and worship was joyful, but done in an orderly manner. We also find that it occurred as part of community life and celebration. Those wielding the tambourines and instruments were skillful – it was learned and done in an orderly manner even while being joyful. Both men and women wielded the tambourine.


  • Types and shapes of tambourines – There are many styles and shapes of tambourines. Bet Shalom’s dance team uses a round 8 to 9 inch tam with a double row of jingles.
  • How to hold for playing – The tam may take a bit of practice to be comfortable with carrying it properly for dancing. Holding the tam in your right hand, position so the drum side is facing toward your left hand. Find the hole, position it towards the top and place your center finger partway into the hole and wrap your palm over the wood portion grasping the wood firmly with your right thumb. This will enable the tam to be held and played easily.
  • How to carry when moving from place to place – When the tam is not in use, carry it with the same grasp as when you are playing it, only slightly tip the tam to about a 20 degree horizontal angle so the jingles do not make noise when walking.
  • It’s use in Bet Shalom’s congregation – skillful, learned, and submission to leadership


Miryam led the women in praising God for His deliverance from the Egyptians:

“Also Miryam the prophet, sister of Aharon, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines, dancing, as Miryam sang to them: “Sing to ADONAI, for he is highly exalted! The horse and its rider he threw in the sea!””  Sh’mot (Exodus) 15:20-21

The Lord defeating His enemies to the sound of the tambourine and other instruments:

“ADONAI will make his glorious voice heard, and he will reveal his arm descending with furious anger in a flaming firestorm, with cloudbursts, tempests and hailstones. For ADONAI’s voice will terrify Ashur, as with his scepter he strikes them down. Every sweep of the punishing rod that ADONAI imposes on him will be to tambourines and lyres, as he brandishes his arm against them in battle.” Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 30:30-32

Rejoicing over victory from the enemy:

“As David and the others were returning from the slaughter of the P’lishti, the women came out of all the cities of Isra’el to meet King Sha’ul, singing and dancing joyfully with tambourines and three-stringed instruments.” Sh’mu’el Alef (1 Samuel) 18:6

Celebrating David’s victory over the Philistines:

“David and the whole house of Isra’el celebrated in the presence of ADONAI with all kinds of musical instruments made of cypress-wood, including lyres, lutes, tambourines, rattles and cymbals.” Sh’mu’el Bet (2 Samuel) 6:5

Another recounting of David’s victory over the Philistines:

“David and all Isra’el celebrated in the presence of God with all their strength, with songs, lyres, lutes, tambourines, cymbals and trumpets.” Divrei-HaYamim Alef (I Chronicles) 13:8

Greeting her father after victory over the Ammonites:

“As Yiftach was returning to his house in Mitzpah, his daughter came dancing out to meet him with tambourines. She was his only child; he had no other son or daughter.” Shof’tim (Judges) 11:34


The Psalm of praise at the deliverance of the Ark:

“They see your processions, God, the processions of my God, my king, in holiness. The singers are in front, the musicians last, in the middle are girls playing tambourines.” Tehillim (Psalms) 68:24-25

Praise for a feast day:

“For the Leader. On the gittit. By Asaf: Sing for joy to God our strength! Shout to the God of Ya’akov! Start the music! Beat the drum! Play the sweet lyre and the lute!” Tehillim (Psalms) 81:1-2

The prophets used the tambourine following the anointing of Sha’ul to be king:

After that, you will come to Giv’ah of God, where the P’lishtim are garrisoned. On arrival at the city there, you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place, preceded by lutes, tambourines, flutes and lyres; and they will be prophesying. Then the Spirit of ADONAI will fall on you; you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man!” Sh’mu’el Alef (I Samuel) 10:5-6

Exhortation to praise God that includes dancing with the timbrel:

“Let them praise His name with dancing; let them sing praises to him with timbrel and lyre.” Tehillim (Psalms) 150:4

Another exhortation to praise God including dancing, tambourines and instruments:

“Halleluyah! Praise God in his holy place! Praise him in the heavenly dome of his power! Praise him for his mighty deeds! Praise him for his surpassing greatness! Praise him with a blast on the shofar! Praise him with lute and lyre! Praise him with tambourines and dancing! Praise him with flutes and strings! Praise him with clanging cymbals! Praise him with loud crashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise ADONAI! Halleluyah!”  Tehillim (Psalms) 150:1-6


The restoration of Israel:

Once again, I will build you; you will be rebuilt, virgin of Isra’el. Once again, equipped with your tambourines, you will go out and dance with the merrymakers.” Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 31:4