Truth, Understanding, Insight

Dancing Soldiers & a Singing Army

17th July 2010, hej


There was some footage placed on U-tube of 6 IDF soldiers dancing as a group on duty in Hebron, more often the scene of warfare as the city is a point of tension in Israel. It was swiftly taken down and the implication was that they would face discipline. If it is not considered good form that soldiers dance on duty, what would the world think of an army who goes into battle singing a love song? Which army? An army of Israel of course.

To be precise Jehoshaphat's army. The army led by Joshua approaching Jericho was a silent army, which walked about the city with absolute and uncanny silence, then, on the 7th day after walking 7 times around it, the priests blew 7 trumpets and the people shouted causing the walls to fall. Clearly a small band of 7 ram's horns and shouting did not show the musical talent that was to later develop.

Jehoshaphat when faced with the combined might of the armies of Ammon, Moab and Edom approaching wasn't feeling too confident. In modern terms Jordan with the Palestinians were come to take on a Judah only half the size of Modern Israel, so the odds were not too good,

Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD. (2Chron. 20:3-4)

Jehoshaphat then led a national prayer in front of the Temple in Jerusalem. He began

“O He who will be Mighty Ones of our fathers, are not you Mighty in heaven? and rule not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?...” (2Chron. 20:6)
Art not thou our God, who did drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gave it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever? And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying, If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help. And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom thou would not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not; Behold how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou have given us to inherit. O our God, will thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that come against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee. (2Chron. 20:7-12)

Notice Jehoshaphat has a point. Yahweh had not allowed Israel to have the lands of Edom, Ammon, and Moab and they had not been allowed to attack them. Israel had respected that, but now Israel is sure to lose their promised possession. We can know this as Jehoshaphat had a reputation for winning as the Arabians and Philistines had brought tribute (2 Chron. 17) and he had actively led troops into combat in at least one war when allied with King Ahab against Syria (1Kings 22). There is clearly overwhelming superiority in the size of the army coming. Of note is that from 1922 in Mandate Palestine Jews were not to settle East of the Jordan in Ammon, Moab and Edom's former territory (Ammon gave its name to Amman the capital of Jordan), it appears that land was given to the descendants of Lot and Jacob/Israel's twin Esau for ever.

After this prayer they are given an answer.

“Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith Yahweh unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but the Mighty Ones'. To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel. Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of He Who Will Be with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for He Who Will Be will be with you. (2Ch 20:15-17)

Having been given this answer they go out, and as good military leaders will do, Jehoshaphat gives his troops a pep talk,

And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in He Who Will Be your Mighty Ones, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.”
And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto Yahweh, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise Yahweh; for his mercy endures for ever. (2Ch 20:20-21)

Notice that it is the people, the army, who decide to sing. But the army did not sing a military song but called for the priestly singers to lead them in songs of all things, about beauty and mercy.

There are 4 psalms that qualify. Psalm 29 and 96 are both about the beauty of Holiness and Psalm 118 and 136 have refrains 'Praise Yahweh for his mercy endures for ever'.

A Psalm of David. Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thunders: the LORD is upon many waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; yea, the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon. He makes them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn. The voice of the LORD divides the flames of fire. The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the LORD makes the hinds to calve, and discovers the forests: and in his temple does every one speak of his glory. The LORD sits upon the flood; yea, the LORD sits King for ever. The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace. (Psalm 29:1-11)

These are love songs to Yahweh, especially Psalm 29 which is likely as it has the key line 'Beauty of Holiness'. They feature of images of nature, beauty and truth. Psalm 118 is a song of confidence and faith,

O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endures for ever. Let Israel now say, that his mercy endures for ever. Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever. Let them now that fear the LORD say, that his mercy endures for ever. I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place. The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me? Yahweh takes my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes. All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD will I destroy them. They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD I will destroy them. They compassed me about like bees; they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the LORD I will destroy them. Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the LORD helped me. The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation. The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly. The right hand of the LORD is exalted: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly. I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD. The LORD hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death. Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the LORD: This gate of the LORD, into which the righteous shall enter. I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation. The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD. God is the LORD, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar. Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endures for ever. (Psa 118:1-29)

It is as if the army had heard Yahweh to “Be not afraid nor dismayed” and heard Jehoshaphat that they must 'believe' and decided they needed some help to do this. And the army decided they needed a song to help achieve this.

An army who went out to war with a love song.

If they went out with singing perhaps they came back dancing with joy, for they certainly came back with instruments of music.

Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat in the forefront of them, to go again to Jerusalem with joy; for the LORD had made them to rejoice over their enemies. And they came to Jerusalem with psalteries and harps and trumpets unto the house of the LORD. (2Ch 20:27-28)

They may have danced with joy, as their king David did publicly. How right that a nation has dancing soldiers when in their history no less than their king might break out into dance.

If a nation that has soldiers breaking into dance, it should not surprise us perhaps that Israel has in its history an incident where its army is led by singers, or that they should choose to sing a song in the face of danger. As a result of the Gaza flotilla even the most serious of journalists was found to be singing... and the list of world famous singers, composers and musicians is dis-proportionally populated by Jews. There is indeed a well known song...

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.
How shall we sing the LORD'S song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy. (Psalm 137:1-6)

They may have taken down the u-tube video, but there will yet be dancing

Again I will build thee.., O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry. Thou shall yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria: the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common things. For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the LORD our God. For thus saith the LORD; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O LORD, save thy people, the remnant of Israel. Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, ..They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn. Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd does his flock. For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.
Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the LORD, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all. Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow. And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the LORD. (Jer 31:4-14)

There is a deep connection with dancing soldiers and Hebron that we should take note of. Dancing is recorded only 6 times in the Tanakh. One of them is a psalm King David wrote at the dedication of his house,

Hear, O Yahweh, and have mercy upon me: Yahweh, be thou my helper. Thou have turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou have put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; (Psalm 30:10-11)

Hebron was the first city of King David. Where was it David put off sackcloth? In Hebron.

But more interesting even than that is that Hebron is within co-ee of the Judean wilderness near Tekoa where Jehoshaphat's army was led out by singers to watch the ascent from Engedi of an enemy army which, miraculously, self destructed.

And that area is yet to see dancing soldiers returning, after it sees another army led out by singers and it is to be given a name – a Hebrew name – Armagedon (Armageddon, har megidon).

See here


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