I mean, a lot.
In fact, it’s quickly becoming a way of life.
So perhaps it’s time to spend some time developing a theology of the dance. Which for me means digging into the Hebrew scriptures. If “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God,” then perhaps all theology ultimately finds it’s earliest expression in words. Lexicography = birthplace of theology.
So bring on the words…
Three Hebrew words in particular that are translated “dance” in the Hebrew scriptures. Hang on. This won’t be dry. Promise. Well, mostly not dry. We’re talking saturation – or at least dampness.
Three Hebrew words. Right.
First there’s raqad which has the basic meaning of skipping or leaping. It’s what hills metaphorically do in the presence of God and what lambs do when they are full of themselves and life – and it’s what we do when we feel the same way. Well, at least those of us who aren’t afraid to move and show it. Raqad is the word used in that classic passage (Ecclesiastes 3) that celebrates the time to do this and the time to do that – or more specifically “there is a time to mourn (literally to beat on your chest in anguish) and there is a time to dance (there’s our word – raqad – literally to leap or spring in the air).”
Then there’s karar which has the essential force of moving in a circle. Karar only surfaces twice, however, both in the story of David dancing in 2 Samuel 6.14-15 – though in the parallel telling of the tale in Chronicles it’s raqad – which means, putting raqad and karar together, David was skipping in a circle.
(No wonder he was called a dancing fool by his wife!)
Third word. Chuwl. Kinda like “hula” only with the “h” being pronounced like you’re clearing your throat and no “a” at the end of it. Try it. It’s chuwl (cool! there’s another way to it; say the “c” in “cool” like you’re clearing your throat and you have it. Chuwl!). Chuwl means to twist, to turn, to turn around. Once again the idea of the circle is prominent – but what an instructive range of meanings!
Which we’ll explore in the next post…