Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Song of Solomon 1-2

The Facts (Chapter number: Verse)

The Song of Songs, which is Solomon's.

Colloquy of Bride and Friends

Song of Solomon 1 - Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine, your anointing oils are fragrant, your name is perfume poured out; therefore the maidens love you. Draw me after you, let us make haste. The king has brought me into his chambers. We will exult and rejoice in you; we will extol your love more than wine; rightly do they love you. I am black and beautiful, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon. Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has gazed on me. My mother's sons were angry with me; they made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept! Tell me, you whom my soul loves, where you pasture your flock, where you make it lie down at noon; for why should I be like one who is veiled beside the flocks of your companions? If you do not know, O fairest among women, follow the tracks of the flock, and pasture your kids beside the shepherds' tents.

Colloquy of Bridegroom, Friends, and Bride

I compare you, my love, to a mare among Pharaoh's chariots. Your cheeks are comely with ornaments, your neck with strings of jewels. We will make you ornaments of gold, studded with silver. While the king was on his couch, my nard gave forth its fragrance. My beloved is to me a bag of myrrh that lies between my breasts. My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms in the vineyards of En-gedi.

Ah, you are beautiful, my love; ah, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves. Ah, you are beautiful, my beloved, truly lovely. Our couch is green; the beams of our house are cedar, our rafters are pine.

Song of Solomon 2 - I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.

As a lily among brambles, so is my love among maidens.

As an apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his intention toward me was love. Sustain me with raisins, refresh me with apples; for I am faint with love. O that his left hand were under my head, and that his right hand embraced me! I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the wild does: do not stir up or awaken love until it is ready!

Springtime Rhapsody

The voice of my beloved! Look, he comes, leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Look, there he stands behind our wall, gazing in at the windows, looking through the lattice. My beloved speaks and says to me: "Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the covert of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely. Catch us the foxes, the little foxes, that ruin the vineyards-- for our vineyards are in blossom."

My beloved is mine and I am his; he pastures his flock among the lilies. Until the day breathes and the shadows flee, turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle or a young stag on the cleft mountains.

My Comments

This brief study guide to the Song of Solomon is about the best thing I could find that addresses who is speaking in these books. I recommend giving it a read because this book is so vague and full of unidentified pronouns (which I hate!) that I will probably not be able to get much out of this. At least not much that isn't pretty much pulled straight out of my ass.

The Song of Solomon is a love story between a man and a woman oddly placed in the middle of the Old Testament. It seems there is debate over whether this is metaphorical/allegorical or literal or whether this is between an actual husband and wife or if this is between God and church or God and the virgin Mary.

I actually find any of these cases irrelevant because you cannot tell who the hell is speaking in any of these parts. It is obvious the speaker goes back and forth, but we are given no clear indication of who is speaking when. There are very few gendered pronouns (hers and hims) and a great amount of "I" and "you." Seriously, it's ridiculous. Now, it is safe to assume, since the Bible frowns upon homosexuality, that any verses referencing the love for a man are being spoken by a woman and vice versa.

From reading the first chapter it would seem the first half of it is from a woman's perspective, describing her love and hos she wants him to kiss her. She is black and beautiful, though, according to the article I found this is an inaccurate translation, which makes sense because two verses later she asks to not be looked upon because she is dark. She talks about her love tending flocks, which was typically a male job.

The second half seems to be from a male perspective. He compares his love to a mare with jewels for whom he wishes to adorn with more jewelry. His nard (which is apparently something that is used for its fragrance and not some silly word for male anatomy) is fragrant and his love is a bag of myrrh that lies between his breasts. She is a cluster of henna blossom. His love is incredibly beautiful in his eyes.

I guess the woman is speaking the parts about being a rose and being a lily among brambles.

The entirety of chapter 2 seems to all be spoken by the woman. Her love is one of a kind and she stays with him and enjoys his shade. He comforts her, feeds her, sustains her. Her love is awakened and is apparently wild because she urges others to not awaken love before they are ready. Her lover calls for her to rise and come to him. She is his and he is hers. Her beloved is like a gazelle in the fields or a young stag on the mountains.

Honestly, the imagery is quite nice and I like the passion and romance behind it. It is reminiscent of the young love we as a culture so often admire and it is kind of cool to see that this isn't a uniquely modern thing. These passages are filled with an seemingly unsatisfiable lust, which is odd considering this book is part of the Bible. It is a love based purely on the physical, in smells and looks and feels, not in the intellectual. These two do not seem to have been friends for years who have suddenly developed feelings for one another. These two are physically drawn together by a force greater than they (and no, I don't mean God, just good old fashioned hormones). Which is a love story older than time, I guess.

Funny, seems I have the least amount of issues with the book that is the least God-fearing. This book seems to celebrate a love between a man and a woman without any guilt attached. These two love each other and that seems to be okay. Granted, they are being married so their love is all a-okay according to the Biblical laws, but it's nice to see an actual celebration of love in the Bible instead of the parade of woman-hating we often get in the place of love.

Do love how comparing a woman to a bedazzled horse (albeit a NICE bedazzled horse) is considered a compliment. Boy, how the times change. :P

Friday: Song of Solomon 3-4

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