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    Sport in the Bible – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. What does the Bible say about playing sport?

    A. The Bible abounds with references to sporting pursuits.

    In Bernard Postal’s book, “Encyclopedia of Jews in Sports” (1965), he shows that athletics were a widespread Biblical activity.

    Saul and Jonathan were said to be swifter than eagles. The people of Naphtali were like a hind let loose.

    Psalm 19 speaks of a person who enjoys running a course. Jeremiah asks how someone can run as fast as the horses if they get tired when running with footmen. The Book of Proverbs warns runners to be careful not to stumble.

    Other well-known sports were hand-to-hand combat, weight-lifting, archery, riding and fencing, and a great deal is said about swimming.

    This does not mean to say that sport was a national passion, but there were many young men (women were generally not on the sporting agenda) who were into athletics.

    In post-Biblical Jewish society the circumstances were often difficult (see Israel Abrahams’ “Jewish Life in the Middle Ages”) but sport resumed its importance at the beginning of the 20th century.

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