Dance — found in Judg. 21:21, 23; Ps. 30:11; 149:3; 150:4; Jer. 31:4, 13, etc., as the translation of hul, which points to the whirling motion of Oriental sacred dances. It is the rendering of a word (rakad’) which means to skip or leap for joy, in Eccl. 3:4; Job 21:11; Isa. 13:21, etc.
It is spoken of as symbolical of rejoicing (Eccl. 3:4. Comp. Ps. 30:11; Matt. 11:17). The Hebrews had their sacred dances expressive of joy and thanksgiving, when the performers were usually females (Ex. 15:20; 1 Sam. 18:6).
The ancient dance was very different from that common among Western nations. It was usually the part of the women only (Ex. 15:20; Judg. 11:34; comp. 5:1). Hence the peculiarity of David’s conduct in dancing before the ark of the Lord (2 Sam. 6:14). The women took part in it with their timbrels. Michal should, in accordance with the example of Miriam and others, have herself led the female choir, instead of keeping aloof on the occasion and “looking through the window.” David led the choir “uncovered”, i.e., wearing only the ephod or linen tunic. He thought only of the honour of God, and forgot himself.
From being reserved for occasions of religious worship and festivity, it came gradually to be practised in common life on occasions of rejoicing (Jer. 31:4). The sexes among the Jews always danced separately. The daughter of Herodias danced alone (Matt. 14:6).