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People's Dictionary of the Bible


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Dance, Dancing. In Eastern nations the mingling of the sexes in the dance is seldom if ever known, although dancing was common, as a religious act, and also as a voluptuous entertainment. Just as impassioned language became "poetry," and song broke forth from the lips, so among Oriental peoples the limbs partook of the excitement, Psalms 35:10, and joy was exhibited in dancing. We read of dances among the Hebrews at solemn religious festivals. Thus David danced before the Lord at the bringing up of the ark into Jerusalem. 2 Samuel 6:14. His wife Michal reproached him for dancing. 2 Samuel 16:20-22. There were also dances of Hebrew women. We have an example of this alter the passage of the Red Sea. There was a responsive song of triumph; the men, however, are not said to have danced, but the women did. Exodus 15:20. Similar were the dances that celebrated David's victory over Goliath, 1 Samuel 18:6; see also Psalms 68:25; the "timbrels" being musical instruments invariably accompanied with dancing. The sexes were not mixed in social dances. Thus it is evident that the daughters of Shiloh were not accompanied by even their male relatives. Judges 21:21. Theirs would seem to have been a religious festival. There were also dances of mere pleasure and revelry. 1 Samuel 30:16, R. V. reads "feasting" instead of "dancing;" Job 21:11; Jeremiah 31:4; Jeremiah 31:13; Luke 15:25. Of the modes or figures of the Hebrew dance we know little; whether it was in a ring, or whether the performers were arranged in more than one row. In the East at present a female leads the dance; and others follow, imitating exactly her movements. Possibly, double rows, something similar to the country-dance, may be alluded to in Sol. Song of Solomon 6:13; where Ginsberg translates "like a dance to double choirs." The daughter of Herodias danced alone. Matthew 14:6. It may be observed that a Hebrew word, mahhol, rendered "dance" in our version, Psalms 150:4, and elsewhere, is supposed by some to mean a musical instrument.

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Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Dance'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. 1893.

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