Arts, Arts, Main, Women, z58
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Dance of the Two Armies

Credit: Jonathan Chen/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: Jonathan Chen/Flickr/Creative Commons

A Dance Company

After years of sojourning in a strange land and acquiring a large family with many goods, the Jewish patriarch Jacob set out for his homeland. Scriptures tell us that when he was on the way, he encountered the Hosts of Heaven.

“So Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. When Jacob saw them, he said, “This is God’s camp. And he called the name of that place Mahanaim” (Genesis 32:1-2)

The english word Mahanaim is taken from the Hebrew word ‘Machanayim’ which means ‘double camp’(#4266 – Strong’s Concordance) and refers to #4264 – Machaneh (Makh-aneh) which is translated: “An encampment (of travellers of troops, hence an army, whether lit. (of soldiers) or figurative (of dancers, angels, cattle, locusts, stars or even sacred courts) army; band, battle, camp, company, hosts, tent.”

It has been suggested that this double camp of the angels of God were as a ‘dance company’.

Antichoric Dance

Alfred Sendrey in his book, “Music in Ancient Israel” interprets Genesis 32:1-3 as, “What Jacob saw in his vision were two groups of angels who – similar to Antiphoral singing – performed a sort of ‘antichoric’ dance (“one to another”), i.e., in two groups which alternately led the dancing. Therefore, Jacob called the place Mahanim, “Two Camps” (Philosophical Library Inc, page 475, (New York, 1969).

King Solomon, as the composer of the Song of Songs understood his forefather’s revelation since he wrote, “Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon thee. What will you see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies ” (Solomon’s Song 6:13). This King James Version also translates it as “the dance of Mahanaim”, while the New King James Version translation of the Bible describes it as “the dance of the double camp”.

Alfred Sendrey continued to quote other research scholars with; “Morris Jastrow Jr. interprets Mahanaim as “the dance in the camp”, “a dance or a ‘round’ in the camp, which may have been the technical name for the sword dance of the bride, which would be danced by the bride in the presence of those who form the camp”. (Morris Jastrow Jr, The Song of Songs, page 218, (Philadelphia, 1921)

“Even more fallacious is Leroy Waterman’s explanation: “This may refer to a traditional war dance between two armies before they joined battle”.(The Song of Songs, translated and interpreted as a dramatic poem, (Ann Arbor, Mich, 1948).”.

Heaven & Earth Dance

Immediately following the ‘dance of the Mahanaim’, King Solomon described the feet of the Shulamite as, “How beautiful are thy feet with shoes, O prince’s daughter!” (Solomon’s Song 7:1). If this expression is read in close context with the former verse, one would assume that the writer was referring to the woman’s ‘beautiful dancing feet’.

Is it possible that Jacob and his direct ancestor Solomon both recognized the two companies as the Hosts of Heaven and a Company of Israelites who were performing a type of “antiphoral” dance? I suggest they knew the Dance of the Mahanaim to be a place where not only two companies of angels danced but also a place where the Hosts of Heaven and the Hosts of Earth would take turns leading in a dance!

Since Jacob and Solomon both saw this revelatory truth, quite probable this is the pattern the LORD of the Hosts has for both the angelic, spiritual and natural realm. With that we should rejoice, dance, and expect that as we dance before the Most High God, HE will send His Heavenly Hosts to dance in step with His people.


Myrna Petersen is a writer/director who co-produces with other independent creative artists. Myrna has written content for web and magazine articles; authored, translated and published books; written screenplays and launched a stage musical. She has extensive communication and administrative experience in the business, medical, government and non-profit fields. Visit her website at


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