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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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It is still the custom in the east to testify their respect for persons of distinction by music and dancing. When Baron Du Tott, who was sent by the French government to respect their factories in the Levant, approached an encampment of Turcomans, between Aleppo and Alexandretta, the musicians of the different hordes turned out, playing and dancing before him all the time he and his escort were passing by their camp. Thus, it will be recollected, "the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of music," when he returned in triumph from the slaughter of the Philistines. In the oriental dances, in which the women engage by themselves, the lady of highest rank in the company takes the lead, and is followed by her companions, who imitate her steps, and if she sings, make up the chorus. The tunes are extremely gay and lively, yet with something in them wonderfully soft. The steps are varied according to the pleasure of her who leads the dance, but always in exact time. This statement may enable us to form a correct idea of the dance, which the women of Israel performed under the direction of Miriam, on the banks of the Red Sea. The prophetess, we are told, "took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her, with timbrels and dances." She led the dance, while they imitated her steps, which were not conducted according to a set, well- known form, as in this country, but extemporaneous. The conjecture of Mr. Harmer is extremely probable, that David did not dance alone before the Lord, when he brought up the ark, but as being the highest in rank, and more skilful than any of the people, he led the religious dance of the males.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Dancing'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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