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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature
If by the word are intended mere secular amusements, which are the natural expression of vigorous health and joyous feeling, fitted, if not designed, to promote health, hilarity, and friendly feeling, as well as to aid in the development of the corporeal frame, we must look to other quarters of the globe, rather than to Palestine, for their origin and encouragement. The Hebrew temperament was too deep, too earnest, too full of religious emotion, to give rise to games having a national and permanent character. Whatever of amusement, or rather of recreation, the descendants of Abraham possessed, partook of that religious complexion which was natural to them; or rather the predominant religiousness of their souls gave its own hue, as to all their engagements, go to their recreations. The influence of religion pervaded their entire being; so that whatever of recreation they needed or enjoyed is for the most part found blended with religious exercises. Hence their great national festivals served at once for the devout service of Almighty God, and the recreation and refreshment of their own minds and bodies.
Games, however, are so natural to man, especially in the period of childhood, that no nation has been or can be entirely without them. Accordingly a few traces are found in the early Hebrew history of at least private and childish diversions. The heat of the climate too in Syria would indispose the mature to more bodily exertion than the duties of life imposed, while the gravity which is characteristic of the Oriental character might seem compromised by anything so light as sports. Dignified ease therefore corresponds with the idea which we form of Oriental recreation. The father of the family sits at the door of his tent, or reclines on the housetop, or appears at the city gate, and there tranquilly enjoys repose, broken by conversation, under the light and amid the warmth of the bright and breezy heavens, in the cool of the retiring day, or before the sun has assumed his burning ardors (; ). Even among the active Egyptians, whose games have been figured on their mural tablets, we find little which suggests a comparison with the vigorous contests of the Grecian games. One of the most remarkable is the following (fig. 189), showing what appears to be play with the single-stick.
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Games'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature". https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/kbe/g/games.html.