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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Dance

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This act is usually denoted in Hebrews by some form of חוּל, chul, which literally signifies to twist (and is often applied to writhing under pain, as of birth, or trembling under fear), and hence probably refers to the whirling motions of the Oriental sacred dances (Judges 21:21; Judges 21:23; Psalms 30:11; Psalms 149:3; Psalms 150:4; Jeremiah 31:4; Jeremiah 31:13; Lamentations 5:15; Exodus 15:20; Exodus 32:19; Judges 11:34; 1 Samuel 18:6; 1 Samuel 29:5; Song of Solomon 6:13). A similar idea of moving in a circle is radically contained in the word חָגָג, chagag', translated "dancing" in 1 Samuel 30:16. Another term thus rendered (Ecclesiastes 3:4, Job 21:11; Isaiah 13:21; 1 Chronicles 15:29) is רָקִד, rakad', which simply means to skip or leap for joy, as it is elsewhere rendered, and is nearly equivalent to a fourth term thus translated (2 Samuel 6:14; 2 Samuel 6:16), כָּרִר, karat', which means to jump or spring. In the New Test. the terms translated "dance" are χορός (radically expressive of the same idea of circular motion), applied to a festive occasion in connection with music (Luke 15:25), and ὀρχέομαι, literally to leap up and down, but conventionally used in later times to denote a regular dance according to rule, either in concert (Matthew 11:17; Luke 7:32) or by a single person, especially in the elaborate pantomime dance of Roman times (Matthew 14:6; Mark 6:22). (See Smith's Dict. of Class. Antiq. s.v. Saltatio, Pantomimus.)

As emotions of joy and sorrow universally express themselves in movements and gestures of the body, efforts have been made among all nations, but especially among those of the South and East, in proportion as they seem to be more demonstrative, to reduce to measure and to strengthen by unison the more pleasurable those of joy. The dance is spoken of in holy Scripture universally as symbolical of some rejoicing, and is often coupled for the sake of contrast with mourning, as in Ecclesiastes 3:4, "a time to mourn and a time to dance" (comp.Psalms 30:11; Matthew 11:17). Children dance spontaneously (Job 21:11; Matthew 11:17; Luke 7:32).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Dance'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/d/dance.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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