The bells first mentioned in Scripture are the small golden bells attached to the hem of the high priest's ephod ( Exodus 28:33 Exodus 28:34 Exodus 28:35 ). The "bells of the horses" mentioned by ( Zechariah 14:20 ) were attached to the bridles or belts round the necks of horses trained for war, so as to accustom them to noise and tumult.
The former of these terms occurs only once (Zechariah 14:20) where it is thus translated. It is derived from a verb meaning "to tingle" or "dirl" (1 Samuel 3:11), and there is, therefore, no objection etymologically to rendering the noun by "bells." But the little bell attached to the harness of horses would hardly be a suitable place for a fairly long inscription, and as buckles shaped exactly like cymbals (see MUSIC) were used as ornaments for horses, "cymbals" is probably a better rendering.
The other Hebrew word for bell is found only in Exodus 28:33; 39:25,26, where "bells of gold" are directed to be attached to the hem of Aaron's official robe, that the people may hear him when he enters and quits the sanctuary. Bells were not employed by the Hebrews to summon the congregation to worship, nor do Mohammedans so use them at the present day. The church bell is a peculiarly Christian institution, said to have been introduced by Bishop Paulinus of Nola in Campania, who lived about the end of the 4th century. Little bells, however, like those attached to the hem of Aaron's robe, frequently form part of the harness of horses, or are fastened to the necks of the he-goats or wethers that lead the flock in eastern lands.
These files are public domain.