It was a great occasion when the ark of the covenant finally arrived in Jerusalem, especially for King David, who gave way to his emotions in a most vigorous dance. “And David was dancing around before Jehovah with all his power, . . . leaping and dancing around before Jehovah.” (2 Sam. 6:14-17) In the parallel passage David is described as “skipping about.”—1 Chron. 15:29.
Dancing also held a very religious significance among the people of the pagan nations. The processions of ancient Babylon and other nations were usually of a religious nature, and often processional dances were staged as part of the event. The dances in Greece usually acted out some legend connected with their gods, who were themselves depicted as dancing. Fertility dances were designed to stimulate the sexual passions of both participants and observers. The Canaanites performed circle dances around their idols and sacred poles honoring the fertility forces of nature. The worship of Baal was associated with wild, unrestrained dances. In Elijah’s time there was such a display by the priests of Baal who, in the course of the demonic dance, lacerated themselves with knives as they kept “limping around” the altar. (1 Ki. 18:26-29) Other translations say they “performed a limping dance” (AT), “danced in halting wise” (JPS), “performed their hobbling dance.” (JB) On making the golden calf, the Israelites also indulged in a form of pagan dancing before their idol, thus meriting Jehovah’s condemnation.—Ex. 32:6, 17-19.
Dancing for amusement and relaxation as an expression of joy and gaiety is also a very ancient custom, being depicted on the walls of Egyptian tombs purportedly from before Abraham’s day. Paintings and reliefs show numerous dance steps being performed by both groups and solo performers. Such troupes and individual dancers provided entertainment at festivals and at private parties.
OTHER BIBLE MENTION OF DANCING
In Israel, dancing was performed mostly in groups particularly by women. When men joined in the dance, they were in separate companies; apparently there was no mingling of the sexes in their dances. The dances were both processional and circular (Judg. 21:21; 2 Sam. 6:14-16), but these styles did not make the dances akin to the processional pagan or circle dances. The motives and objectives behind the dances themselves, the announced purpose of the dances, the movements of the dancing bodies and the ideas such movements convey to observers are the important things to consider and compare in determining resemblance in dance patterns.
In the Christian Greek Scriptures the word or·kheʹo·mai, meaning “to leap with a regularity of motion,” is translated “dance.” Herod was so pleased with Salome’s dancing at his birthday party that he granted her request and had John the Baptist beheaded. (Matt. 14:6-11; Mark 6:21-28; see SALOME No. 2.) Jesus Christ likened his generation to the young children he observed playing games and dancing in the marketplace. (Matt. 11:16-19; Luke 7:31-35) In Jesus’ illustration of the prodigal son, however, a different Greek word is used, kho·rosʹ, from which the English word “chorus” is drawn. This Greek word has reference to a company of dancers, evidently a dancing troupe hired as entertainment for such a festive occasion.—Luke 15:25.
(Danʹi·el) [God is (my) judge]
1. David’s second son, born to him at Hebron by Abigail. (1 Chron. 3:1) He is called Chileab at 2 Samuel 3:3. With the slaying of the firstborn Amnon, he could feel in line for the kingship after David, but no mention is made of a usurpation, suggesting either that he respected the God-given appointment of Solomon or that he died before his father.
2. An outstanding prophet of Jehovah of the tribe of Judah. The writer of the book bearing his name. Very little is known of his early life, but he tells of being taken to Babylon, likely as a teen-age prince, along with other royal offspring and nobles. (Dan. 1:3-6) This was in Jehoiakim’s third year (as tributary king), which third year started in the spring of 618 B.C.E. (Dan. 1:1) With Jehoiakim’s inglorious death, Jehoiachin, his son, ruled for a few months before surrendering. Still within Jehoiakim’s third year, but by now early in 617 B.C.E., Jehoiachin and other “foremost men,” also young Daniel (2 Ki. 24:15), were taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar.
UNDER BABYLONIAN RULE
While many of the exiles were located by the river Chebar outside the city of Babylon, Daniel and his three companions were selected to receive special training in Babylonian learning for three years to equip them for governmental service. In accord with custom, they were given Babylonian names, Daniel’s being Belteshazzar, meaning “Protect his life.” Not wishing to pollute himself with the foods allotted, which might include some prohibited by the Mosaic law or defiled by pagan rituals, he made request that their diet be limited to vegetables and water. They were taught in all the Babylonian wisdom, but it was Jehovah God who gave them “knowledge and insight in all writing and wisdom; and Daniel himself had understanding in all sorts of visions and dreams.” (Dan. 1:17) Examined by the king at the end of three years, they were found to be “ten times better than all the magic-practicing priests and the conjurers that were in all his royal realm.”—Dan. 1:20.
Daniel continued in court service until the fall of Babylon. At chapter 1, verse 19, it is stated that his three companions also “continued to stand before the king” (of Babylon). Whether they lived to hold this position until Babylon’s fall is not stated, but Daniel did, and also after this he was in the Persian court until at least the third year of Cyrus.—Dan. 10:1.
In Nebuchadnezzar’s second year (probably dating from Jerusalem’s overthrow in 607 B.C.E.), he has a dream that ‘agitates his spirit.’ All the wise men being unable to reveal it, Daniel comes before the king and not only tells him the dream, by divine revelation, but interprets it, thereby saving himself and the other wise men from execution. This prompts Nebuchadnezzar to make Daniel “ruler over all the jurisdictional district of Babylon and the chief prefect over all the wise men.” (Dan. 2:48) His three companions receive high positions outside the court, while Daniel serves in the court of the king.
Just why Daniel was not also involved in the issue of integrity encountered by his companions, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, when commanded to worship the golden image set up in the plain of Dura, is not certain. (Dan. chap. 3) Many conjectures have been made, but since the Bible is silent on the matter, these would be speculation. Daniel’s previous course as well as his later loyalty to God even in danger of death, as described in chapter 6, provides full assurance that, if present, and whatever the circumstances, Daniel did not compromise by bowing before the image. Also Jehovah’s Word expresses his approval of Daniel as wholly devoted, listing him alongside Noah and Job.—Ezek. 14:14, 20; Matt. 24:15; Heb. 11:32, 33.
Later Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream regarding the immense tree that was cut down and then allowed to sprout again as representing the