Dance Between Mahanaim

A love song

In the present season of Passover Jewish people read the Song of Songs, otherwise known as the Song of Solomon, which is lovely, and rich in symbolism and meaning.

In it there is progression in the relationship between the Beloved and the Lover of her Soul, from “He is mine and I am His” (2:16); to “I am His and He is mine” (6:3); to “I am His” (7:10). This is fulfilled in John’s Gospel in verses 3:16, 4:14 and 7:37-38.


There is relevance to addiction recovery in what might be considered to be the tipping point in the narrative, in verse 6:13 – the Dance between Mahanaim – a Hebrew word which is translated into English as armies or military camps.

In the Recovery teaching we speak of the conflict between the animal soul and the altruistic soul, describing it as a daily battle between “Black Dog and White Dog”.

In Song of Songs 6:13 repent (Hebrew = shauwb) is repeated four times – it is translated as “return” in many translations – and then there follows the reference to the Dance, which may be recognised as our inner conflict between two possible outcomes.

It is following repentance that the Shulammite (a feminine form of “shalom”) becomes His in verse 7:10.

“Mahanaim” first appears in Genesis 32:2 where Jacob makes a choice between reconciliation with Esau (honesty), or to avoid him altogether by going around him (avoidance). It is here that he wrestles with a Man, and renames the place Peniel, considering that he had seen God face to face.

He had chosen honesty = Step 1 of the Recovery program.

Powerless…but we have a Champion!

In 1 Samuel 17:46 the word mahanaim appears again in the situation in which David confronts Goliath between two camps, a clear foreshadowing of the One who is our Champion, as we are powerless, and who fights our battles victoriously. Quite a dance!

The Dance between Mahanaim is central to the 12 Step Recovery program and to all of us as we face the daily struggle with our Goliaths. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

 It is central to Passover, recognising the need for repentance, and to seek the Redemption of our souls through the Blood of the Lamb.

It is fulfilled whenever we break bread together and share the cup, in a spirit of repentance and with humble hearts.