What Type of Dance did Miriam really do?

As previous posts alluded to this fact, Old Testament figures living approximately around 1-2000 BC did not do Jazz or Hip Hop, which are modern creations around 1-2000 AD.  So these dances are new and not typical of traditional dances that the people of God,  the Israelites, danced.

So what dances did they dance?

To discover the answer to this complex question, we must look at historical documents, references, and vernacular of that time. These things will give us insight into how Miriam and her peers moved to celebrate their victory in escaping from the Egyptians by God’s hand drowning them in the Red Sea.

Exodus 15:20 says ~

“And Miriam the prophetess the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances”

First,  let’s frame the historical year,  for this sets the precedence over all forms of dance we have today. Since there are numerous calendars and ambiguous dates and slightly different references according to each civilization’s understanding of time,  we surmise the Exodus occurred around 1200-1500 BC.

Second, let’s clarify some of the vocabulary of that era:

Timbrel,  pictured below,  looks like a modern day tambourine.


Biblical dancing as described in Hebrew & Aramaic  suggests these particular motions of the body:

Machol ~ to whirl the body

Hhalaeem ~ jewels or also, tremble, writhe

These movements are both classic to Oriental dance or known as Middle Eastern dance.

Today these dances are known as Belly Dance , with distinctions by country or by type: Turkish belly dance, Egyptian belly dance, Lebanese belly dance, Cabaret, Tribal/Gothic belly dance, and Classic American belly dance.

Third, examine this information I found on the website “thebestofhabibi.com”,  which refers to authors Meyer Gruber & Carlos Suares,  on the dance of the Shulamite woman  in the book of Song Of Solomon:

“‘the curve of your hips seem to torment themselves.. [using] curves as circular movements..making skillful circular rotations of the hips.. [they are] trembling or writhing’…which are all movements basic to belly dance”.

From these words of witness, we can deduce Miriam and the other women with her, probably BELLY DANCED. They belly danced  to mark their freedom from slavery, their new relationship with the Lord, and their new journey to a promise land. And God didn’t seem to disapprove. The Bible records numerous times when the Lord spoke His disapproval when He felt it. Yet this was recorded as an example of praise to God, not something to be hidden.

The Bible, one of the oldest religious documents found on earth, was written around 1000 BC through 500 BC, according to allabouttruth.com. The Word of God is the first to record this type of dance for the Lord. In comparison with other major religious works, the Koran was written in 650 AD, the Veda circa 500 BC & after, the Tao-te-ching around 600 BC, and the Bahagavad Gita between 200 BC to 200 AD.

So why aren’t we belly dancing in the church today? It belongs to Him and His people as clearly shown in His Word. And why is this beautiful precious dance more acceptable for worldly performances that for godly worship?

Hmmm…Something to think about.

4 responses to “What Type of Dance did Miriam really do?

  1. Very interesting… It makes sense that it was appropriate at the time, because they probably didn’t wear revealing clothing. I’ve noticed that typical belly dancing costumes today show lots of skin. It’s interesting to see how much culture has changed, turning good things into bad things. Even though the actual content isn’t much different, people take it in a different way. I agree, it is something to think about.

  2. I recently found a church where they played African drums and I was really getting in and worshipping God and I actually began doing some hip movements in church and I was thinking ok that was wierd- why am I doing this in Church but I’ve been feeling more and more that dance is a passion that God has placed inside of me and I just feel like I’ve been set on fire by the Holy Spirit to bring a good reputation to the art of belly dance. I don’t know all the ins and outs of how to do this just yet but I’m taking it all one step, one day at a time. Right now- recieving healing for my own personal issues and also to use it in family settings as a celebration dance. For my sons 5th birthday coming up I’ve decided on a middle eastern type theme with a retelling of the story of Daniel and the Lions den and I was thinking of performing a veil dance then teaching the mums and other kids to dance with hand veils. For this I’m planning to wear a blue skirt with a blue long sleeved choli top but also wearing a full length singlet under the shorter top and a pair of leggings under the skirt then a yellow coin belt and a yellow veil to dance with. Just waiting for the costume to arrive so I can put it all together to see what it will look like.

    When I used to perform we did dance in full length dresses at times- some had no see through panels at all and some girls had beads sewn on to decorate the dress. Some dresses were long and made of velvet etc and you could wear a hip scarf over the dress. Some of the girls also used to wear the beaded bra but then with a body stocking to cover their bodies. I have also seen coin decorated bra tops over a fitted top before. There are various combinations- Right now I’m praying about all of the costume options.

    There are many different reasons why different women wear different things. In my case I used to wear a bra top covered in beads with the skirt/pants but for me it was because I felt safer that way- this was due to the sexual abuse that happened to me by my father while wearing full clothing. Recently I have met many women who also have been sexually abused while children. I’ve returned to dance to both worship God and also to express the feelings that have been kept locked up inside. I’ve been hearing God say to let go of all my pain and give it to him and while its too painful for me to speak of- I’m letting it out through dance. I use dance as the way to let the anger go rather than letting it all boil up inside.

    So right now I’m waiting on God to provide me with some answers on acceptable costume choices and how to help others to experience deep inner healing through dancing to worship him. Along with that comes the need for healing in regard to clothing- especially if the victim does not feel safe in modest clothing- it is such a delicate matter and God knows what has happened to make people the way that they are or the way that they dress. I believe that healing is a process and that I cannot speak to condemn a woman for not dressing more modestly because I have been in that place before.

    So that’s a prayer point of my own right now- is the issue of clothing and belly dance- especially as my aim is to open up a dance school to reach non-christian women while also having a group for dancing to worship God.

    • Yes Justine!

      It’s true reputation, I pray, will be restored. Although it may take some time for the church to understand & accept it.

      Oh please record this performance, once you complete it! The concept sounds intriguing & I would love to post it on my site!! It may bring healing to a greater audience online 🙂

      Body stockings & fitted tops sound great for modest costuming.

      I pray the Lord continue to bring healing to you… I agree with your thoughts on the person, costuming, and healing. I’m also excited about your goal! Do keep me posted with news in that, I’d love to link your information & keep abreast on how God is moving you, pun intended 🙂

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