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To discover the answer to this complex question, we must look at historical documents, references, and vernacular of that time.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.

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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.

When is praise and worship dance appropriate?

Just as there are various styles of dance, there are also various types of dance that you can present to our Lord. I will only focus on two in this article, but please note, there are as many types of dance as there are types of prayer, like the war dance, the petition dance, the historical dance, etc. If you want more information on these dances, please comment below, so I’ll know that’s what you want to read next 🙂

The two most well known types of godly dances are praise and worship. The difference between praise dance and worship dance is this:

Praise dance is usually a dance to thank the Lord immediately after He has done something for you as a person or as a group. Something you may have been praying about and He granted or some unexpected favor you received. This a a dance of thanks to God usually depicted by faster, cheerful movements.

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Worship dance is usually danced to celebrate the Lord and reverence His Holiness and Nature. It’s usually focused on Him and His wonderful character as revealed to us. The dance is usually solemn with slower, graceful, and meaningful movements.

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The dances are their meanings should govern the appropriateness of the occasion, but when do you dance them? Well that depends….on your location. If you are in public, you must wait for the leading of the Holy Spirit. He has the right timing and right purpose of every dance done before an audience. If you are in the privacy of your dwelling, you may dance when you heart longs to!

My heart almost always longs to dance in the public and in private, but I wait for the urging and go forth accordingly. If you are a dancer for the Lord, when and where do you dance?

Reflections for the New Year

Being a Christian Dancer doesn’t just mean I dance to Christian music, but rather that I have given every part of my life to Christ. And when I move, each movement is in glorification of Him. My breath is constantly aware of His giving of life. My thoughts are completely absorbed with Him, His nature, His works, His excellence, His mercy, and also His wrath. Being a Christian Dancer means I don’t impress others with me in the dance, but impress them with the God in me.

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