The Ten Lords A-Leaping
Leaping dances were strictly for the men. These dances were for the purpose of fertility as well as for war. These physically exerting dances were meant to rile up the men for battle to create some kind of mental exhilaration.
The Roman god of vegetation and war was Mars. The Roman priests of their Salii ritual would leap as high as they could in the air in hopes of inducing the corn to grow. It was believed that the height of their leap would be the height of the corn. Swords were a part of their costume.
In Britain, the lords a-leaping are assumed to be morris dancers, highly costumed ceremonial folk, who performed between the courses of a Christmas feast. One form of morris dancing included swords (just like the the Salii ritual mentioned above) also. In this dance, twelve men in two teams performed intricate patterns, ending with the swords being braided together to form a Lock or Nut above the Lord of Misrule (during the Twelfth Night Celebration). In other morris dancing, instead of swords, antlers were worn.
By the end of the 18th century, this style of dance was no longer of interest to the upper classes for entertainment. It was being performed at festivals or fairs only.
Some believe that the lords a-leaping did a dance called the gavotte for the Twelfth Night celebrations because it was accompanied by a drum and bag-pipe. The gavotte lasted until the end of the 18th century and then faded away in popularity.
The Ten Lords A-Leaping Are The Ten Commandments
Once more, we see people dancing and expressing a sense of joy. I suspect that what these jubilant and ecstatic creatures celebrate is the message of the teaching found in the 10 Commandments.
Let’s have a look.
The Ten Commandments
20 And God spoke all these words:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before[a] me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19 and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”
20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”
21 The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.
(Exodus 20) source
I would like to offer a short interpretation of the ‘teaching’ of Moses the way I understand it.
Moses, first of all, requests the faithful seeker to devote his/her life to God. He suggests that man should avoid following false idols and only keeps his/her eyes on God within. Truth, stability, peace, serenity – all that is good – can only be found with-in God. All the other fanciful attractions that this world can offer are mere distractions that appear and disappear as they please. (Exodus 20:3-6)
Moses warns us to keep our relationship with God holy and not to use His name to threaten or please others. Then, he remind us to devote time to God. He suggests to take a ‘day off’ and keep it holy and restful. According to my observation, one can only create a relationship with God in the time of silence and rest. (Exodus 20:7-11)
Then he lays down a the laws that are relevant to a time when people were rather uneducated and ignorant. In my opinion, he offered these laws of common sense in order to encourage kindness, goodness and a loving relationship between people of the time. (Exodus 20:12- 17)