By Lynette Shor

The first time we see a reference to dance in Scripture is in:

Sh’mot (Exodus) 15:20-21: “Also, Miriam The prophetess sister of Aharon, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines, dancing, as Miriam sang to them: “Sing to Adonai, for He is highly exalted! The horse and its rider He threw in the sea!”

We can see references to dance in celebration at times of thanksgiving for good harvest:

Shoftim (Judges) 21:20-21: They ordered the men of Binyamin, “Go, hide in the vineyards, and keep watch. If the girls of Shiloh come out to do their dances, then come out of the vineyards, and each of you catch for himself a wife from the Shiloh girls, and go on to the land of Binyamin.”

Another example is when Yiftach’s daughter danced for joy at his return in:

Shoftim (Judges) 11:34: “As Yiftach was returning to his house in Mitzpah, his daughter came dancing out to meet him with tambourines…”

This next verse describes how King David led the Ark of the Covenant into Yerushalayim:

Sh’mu’el Bet (2Samuel) 6:14-15 says: “Then David danced and spun around with abandon before Adonai, wearing a linen ritual vest. So David and all the house of Isra’el brought up the ark of Adonai with shouting and the sound of the shofar”

In Sh’mu’el Alef (1Samuel) 21:11, we read about the children of Israel singing and dancing in tribute to the heroic feats of their King:

“The servants of Akhish said to him, “Isn’t this David, king of the land? Weren’t they dancing and singing to each other, ‘Shaul has killed his thousands, but David his tens of thousands’?”

We see in Yermiyahu (Jeremiah) 31:13 that God’s redemption causes His people to dance with joy and gratitude:

“Then the virgin will dance for joy, young men and old men together; for I will turn their mourning into joy, comfort and gladden them after their sorrow.”

In Tehillim (Psalms), we find generous praise:

149:3: “Let them praise his name with dancing, make melody to him with tambourine and lyre…”

150:4: “Praise him with tambourines and dancing! Praise him with flutes and strings!”

Historians have also discovered that dancing was a significant part of life in the time of the Second Temple and that within The Court of the Women, all Jews, male and female, were permitted. In this, the largest of the temple courts, there could be seen constant dancing, singing and music…