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  Hear Wild Olive

Hebraic and Biblical dance
By Peter Avallone


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We will look first in Genesis (seed-bed) Gen.2:10-11. The land of "Havilah" = Heb. "Circular" From the primary root word to "twist, or whirl in a circular or spiral manner. To dance. Part of the Jewish/Israeli culture Jews/Israelis from all over the world share this basic way of dancing, and it is commonly known with its variations in theirs, and most other cultures as folk dancing. But its origins were biblical and very much connected with worship.
Psalm 149 "Let us praise Him in the dance" Dance = "Mechol" is the Hebrew word at the root of dance in scripture and it means, a "company of dancers singing and dancing in a circle. Formerly, social activities were connected to the belief system. Dancing was always connected to worship. The Greeks later separated music and dance into activities in their own right, and the dance, music, singing, psalms, processionals generally degenerated into folk dancing, which is much in evidence today in the Israeli culture and cultures of the world.
In Israel there were many dances, and they were all linked with their worship of the Almighty, Yahweh. There were dances of religious ecstacy as when David danced before the Ark of the Covenant in 1. Chron. Ch.16, and dances of thanksgiving for the harvest, and the vintage. There were dances of pure joy and praise. In Isaiah 9:2 there would have been a dance for the harvest feast of Tabernacles where we read the famous lines "Unto you a child is born..." Also, there were dances of warfare.
Many references show us that the dance was entirely a worship experience. But where is it today? In this time of restoration of all things, Yahweh is desiring us to refresh within us the experience of worshipping Him in the dance. Not as an individual form so much as what it was originally a method for, community worship and praise unto Him. Those of us who are experiencing this restoration are enjoying a whole new area of corporate worship which is bringing joy and deliverance, release and depths of experiencing the Father which are both restorative and releasing, joyful and exciting. There are many references in scripture to "Mechol" A company of dancers singing and dancing in a circle: Exodus 15:20 (Mecholah=plural of Mechol) "...after her with timbrel and dance..." Judges 11:34 (Mecholah=plural of Mechol) "...met him with dances..." 1. Sam. 21:11 (Mecholah=plural of Mechol) "Sing to one another in dances..." Jer. 31:4 (Mechol=singular) "In the dances of them..." Jer. 31:13 (Mechol=singular) "The virgin shall rejoice in the dance..."
Jer. 31:13, one of many references to men dancing in scripture. "And the young men with the old together..."
Up and until now, we have dealt mainly with the Old Covenant (Testament) scriptures. Luke 15:25 mentions a delightful instance of people dancing, in the story of the return of the Prodigal son. The Greek word for dance here is "chorus" which also means, to dance round, or in a ring.
In Acts 6:5 we read about a man called "Prochorus" one of seven deacons. His name actually means, "Minister or leader of the circle dance". Interesting. Another rather interesting example of the word "Mechol" is in Judges 7:22 and in 1 Kings 4:12, where a city of Issachar at the northern end of the Jordan Valley, 12 miles south of Beth-shean, Abel Mechol. This means, "Meadow of dancing" (a company, dancing a round dance) and was the birthplace of Elisha the prophet.
Other meanings of the word "dance" in scripture are: "Chul" which again means to "twist or whirl in a circular or spiral manner" and "Raqad" which means to "Dance and skip" as inEccl. 3:4 "...and a time to dance" Job 21:11 "And their children skip about" and in I Chr.15:29 "...saw King David dancing and playing..." (laughing, making merry)Isa 13:21 "...dwell there, and satyrs shall dance..." and "Orcheomai - orcheo" which means, to lift up the feet, to leap with regularity of motion, as in 'how' to dance. This word is found in Matthew 11:17"...piped unto you, and ye have not danced"
An interesting fact arises in Mark 6:22 when the daughter of Herodias danced before Herod and caused such a devastating result as the death of John the Baptist. It is the only clear instance of individual artistic dancing as a performance, a form introduced from pagan greek customs.
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