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Song of Songs [3/15]; Feed me with raisins

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posted on Jun, 9 2013 @ 05:59 PM
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I’m still exploring the intended meaning of the Song of Songs.
The next passage I’m considering is part of the second chapter, ch.2 vv1-7.
(The translation being used is the RSV)

I need to explain my naming of the “speakers” in these passages.
The two main characters of the Song are frequently called “the Lover” and “the Beloved”, giving the first name to the male.
Those labels make the male the active pursuer, following the conventions of romance.
They mask the reality of this poem, that the woman is patently doing most of the pursuing.
That should be one of the clues that this is not a conventional romance.
So I’m calling these characters “the Woman” and “the Loved One” in that order.

I’ve already proposed that the relationship between them is the relationship between God and his people.

The end of the first chapter (on one interpretation) was a woodland scene.
This passage continues in the same scene.
It opens, in fact, with three comparisons based on flowers and trees.

It seems to me that the passage from v3 is the real sequel to the previous chapter.
That verse begins by describing the Loved One as a tree “among” other trees- meaning, that is, that he stands out as a contrast.
This may have prompted the insertion of the second verse, a similar “among” comparison about the Woman.
Since the second verse calls her a lily, this may have prompted the insertion of the first verse, which also calls her a lily.
The result is our three successive comparisons.

v1 The Woman describes herself both as a rose of Sharon and as a lily of the valleys.
We will find the word “lily” becoming one of the recurring themes of this poem.

Sharon is a plain on the Mediterranean coast, and therefore on the western side of the land.
In the previous chapter, we had a reference to En-gedi, at the southern extremity.
The other two points of the compass (Gilead and Lebanon) will be found in a later chapter.
So all these geographical references, taken together, will mark out the boundaries of that greater realm of Israel which was attributed to David and Solomon.

v2 The Woman is called “a lily among brambles”, meaning, of course, that she stands out against other women in the same way.

v3 This begins a long speech by the Woman, which appears to continue the woodland scene found at the end of the previous chapter
She calls the Loved One “an apple tree among the trees of the wood”, which means, once again, that he stands out against the others.
The point seems to be that the apple tree is almost unique in combining size (“I sat in his shadow”) with sweetness of fruit.

The “banqueting house” or the “house of vines” would be the Loved One’s vineyard.
So when she talks of being sustained with the sweetness of raisins and apples, we can imagine them as coming from the vines and the trees which are surrounding the couple.

Being embraced by the Loved One’s hands in v6 is presumably part of the same scene.
The Hebrew simply says “His left hand under my head, his right hand embracing me”.
Some translators have decided to make this a wish for the future, but the verse fits better into the context if she’s describing things as they happen.

In the next verse, it seems, at first glance, that one of the embracing couple must have fallen asleep.
The verse is an injunction from one or the other, that the daughters of Jerusalem should not waken “my love”.
At least one translation gives the injunction as “Do not wake my beloved until she pleases”, which suggests a romantic picture of sleeping girl and watchful, protective male.
But the conventional picture is misleading, because this request cannot be coming from the Loved One.

A number of arguments identify the Woman as the speaker in this verse.
The Woman has been speaking since the beginning of the chapter (apart from the intrusive v2), and continues to the beginning of v10, so it seems unlikely that she gets interrupted at this point.
The Woman addresses “the daughters of Jerusalem” on half a dozen other occasions, but the Loved One never does.
Two of those occasions (ch3 v5, ch8 v4) are repetitions of this very verse, coming at the end of other speeches from the Woman.
On one of those occasions (ch8 vv3-4), vv6-7 of this chapter are repeated together.
So this looks like a refrain, associated with her side of the dialogue.

The Authorised Version reverses the romantic picture; “Nor awake my love till he please.”
This is pleasingly unconventional, but apparently ruled out, unfortunately, by the gender of “my love”.

Therefore another translation sometimes found is “..nor awaken love until it please”, applying the word “love” to the emotion instead of to the person loved.
But in what sense can we say that her love is “asleep”? It certainly seems to be very active.
It’s been proposed that the idyllic scene is a dream from which she does not want to be awoken, and that might be the best solution.
What happens later in the poem will suggest the possibility that she’s thinking back to better times in the past.

There’s one more puzzle in the beginning of the verse; “I adjure you…by the gazelles or the hinds of the field”.
The phrase “I adjure by…”, like the phrase “I swear by…”, should be followed by the name of a deity.
They’re both appeals to spiritual authority, in support of the statement or request being made.
In effect the phrase “gazelles and hinds” has been substituted for the name of God in that sentence.
This may be because of the understanding of Israel’s God as a Living God, providing the Life which fills the creatures and inspires their motion.
But since the Woman is on the verge of spending the next half-chapter describing the Loved One himself as a gazelle, this phrase comes close to identifying the Loved One with the deity.

In this passage, we see the Woman and the Loved One in a time of rest and mutual enjoyment.
This is the relationship in the ideal state.
We could see it as a foretaste of the “heavenly banquet” of Revelation, “the marriage-supper of the Lamb”.
On this occasion, though, the time of rest will be brief, and they will need to make the most of it.
When the poem turns the next corner, they will be on the move again.




posted on Jun, 9 2013 @ 07:37 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 





Those labels make the male the active pursuer, following the conventions of romance. They mask the reality of this poem, that the woman is patently doing most of the pursuing. That should be one of the clues that this is not a conventional romance. So I’m calling these characters “the Woman” and “the Loved One” in that order. I’ve already proposed that the relationship between them is the relationship between God and his people.


I have been told that the book Song of Songs is a metaphor for the relationship between God and "you", since I was young. Your theory is in good company.

Just some things I'd like to point out.

Romantic love was forbidden back then. Marriage was an business/political arrangement between men. However, Song of Songs suggests that this is an unnatural tradition. Do you agree?

As for as the woman pursuing the man, women are pinned with the responsibility of pregnancy and of raising the children, so it seems natural to me that she would at least have a natural inclination to be discriminate in who she chooses as suitable mate, who's offspring she thinks will be the fittest, right?

Additionally, women ovulate. As that is happening, the urge to mate is raging within her! She is ready to go! Men are almost always ready to go. So, wouldn't an unmarried "wooing" woman be an attractive thing to a man?

So, who are we really, metaphorically, the man or the woman, in relationship to our "raging desire" to pursue God? Does God pick us, or do we pick God?


edit on 9-6-2013 by windword because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 9 2013 @ 08:09 PM
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Originally posted by windword
I have been told that the book Song of Songs is a metaphor for the relationship between God and "you", since I was young. Your theory is in good company.

I'm actually putting the emphasis on the "corporate" nature of what the woman represents, as frequently in the prophets. In other words, Israel at the time of writing.
I'm taking that as the primary meaning of the poem.
It would then be possible, as a secondary interpretation, to project that onto the individual relationship, just as people take the "I" speaking in the Psalms and apply it to themselves.

There was certainly plenty of love poetry in other cultures.
Commentators on this book love to find parallels with Egyptian love-poetry.
There was love-poetry in Greece, including the famous Sappho.
My supposition is that the writer is taking an existing genre of literature and using it to say something about God, just as other parts of the Old Testament give a spiritual application to genres like "history" and "collections of proverbs".

The nearest approach to female "wooing" that I can think of in the Old Testament is Ruth. Though her motives are practical, Boaz expresses gratitude that she has chosen him rather than a younger man.


Does God pick us, or do we pick God?

The New Testament answer would be that God pursues us first, and then prompts us to pursue him.
You could argue for the same sequence in the background of this poem.
As I progress through the poem, I'm going to be suggesting that the Woman's pursuit is particluarly driven by a sense of having lost contact with the Loved One, The event is described in ch5, and I believe this reflects the disaster of the fall of Jerusalem and the Exile in Babylon, which would bring the Jews to a sense of crisis in their relationship with their God.




edit on 9-6-2013 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 9 2013 @ 08:23 PM
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reply to post by windword
 


We have free will, so although God has already chosen us as our birth is proof of this, if we want to find him "within" this life we must also choose him.



posted on Jun, 9 2013 @ 08:39 PM
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I have a somewhat unique perspective on this chapter, and in turn this whole book.

I personally believe Solomon was speaking of "She" as Mother Earth and "He" as Father consciousness.


Song of Songs 2
3 Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest
is my beloved among the young men.
I delight to sit in his shade,
and his fruit is sweet to my taste.
4 Let him lead me to the banquet hall,
and let his banner over me be love.


The world (She) sits in the shade of consciousness (He). Since we only see the world and not the one actually seeing, that means that we are the shade and "She" (Earth/light) sits in our shade.

The banquet hall is where the marriage of She (Earth) and He (consciousness) takes place. The banquet hall is within us.



9 My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.
Look! There he stands behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
peering through the lattice.


We (shade/He) are the ones sitting behind Her wall (image) peering through the window (eye).

I think that's a good framework to look at this book with personally. Solomon is writing a love story between the Bride (Earth) and Groom (consciousness).

Sorry if you think I took over your thread, that's not my intention, I just wanted to add my own thoughts on the book.


edit on 9-6-2013 by 3NL1GHT3N3D1 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 9 2013 @ 08:51 PM
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reply to post by 3NL1GHT3N3D1
 

I think you're neglecting the cultural context of the book.
The cultural context is important in helping to ascertain what the writer himself is likely to have meant, which is more important than reading into it our own meanings and modern concepts.

Briefly, the writer belongs to a tradition in which their God was understood as a distinct, male consciousness.
While the representation of Israel or Jerusalem, collectively, as that God's "wife" is a theme which runs through the Old Testament prophets.
So the most natural interpretation is that the writer is continuing those themes.



posted on Jun, 9 2013 @ 08:55 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 


True, but those cultural themes have an underlying theme as well don't you think?

If "She" is Jerusalem and Jerusalem is part of the world, then maybe Jerusalem is a personification of the physical world as a whole?

I don't think interpretation should be so limited and confined, it should be broadened into a bigger sense.
edit on 9-6-2013 by 3NL1GHT3N3D1 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 9 2013 @ 09:00 PM
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reply to post by 3NL1GHT3N3D1
 

In the second half of this chapter, "She" is invited to come out and and enjoy the new life in the created world.
Which makes her distinct from the created world.
The "God's people" interpretation is actually the one that fits the narrative most naturally, with the least straining.




edit on 9-6-2013 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 9 2013 @ 11:09 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 


Where does it say She is invited into the world?


Song of Songs 2
14 My dove in the clefts of the rock,
in the hiding places on the mountainside,
show me your face,
let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely.


This verse implies that she is the clefts and the mountainside, a.k.a. the world or "Earth".

It says She's in the cleft"s" and hiding place"s", plural emphasized. The only way She could be in more than one place at a time is if She is the clefts and hiding places themselves in my opinion.
edit on 9-6-2013 by 3NL1GHT3N3D1 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 9 2013 @ 11:56 PM
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Where are part 1 and part 2? I like to read your threads sometimes even if I don't always agree with all you say.

Thanks in advance.



posted on Jun, 10 2013 @ 07:18 AM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 


This reminds me of the Millennial period where the house of Judah will be rejoined with the house of Israel to live out the thousand years of peace here on earth. Didn't Solomon rule over both houses before they split? I'm guessing this is the desire for them to be reunited and they will be according to the Bible.

After this period is over, Satan is released from the Abyss for a short while to try and deceive the nations again, and yes, everyone will be "on the run" again, but he'll ultimately be destroyed in the process.



posted on Jun, 10 2013 @ 08:22 AM
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reply to post by Deetermined
 

Thank you for those comments.
Some scholars think the book was written in the period after the Babylonian Exile.
On that assumption, my theory is that the writer's immediate thought is the comparatively idyllic (seen in retrospect) period before the Fall of Jerusalem, and he's expressing his people's longing for the old relationship to be restored.
Of course this understanding of the poem, once it's established, can be used as a foundation for other applications.



posted on Jun, 10 2013 @ 09:59 AM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 


For some reason, this particular verse struck a chord with me...

Solomon 4:15 A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.

So, I decided to do a comparison...

Jeremiah 2:13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

Jeremiah 17:13 O Lord, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters.

Zechariah 14:8-9 8) And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. 9) And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one.

This last verse also reminds me of these...

Ezekiel 37:16-23

16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and for all the house of Israel his companions:

17 And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.

18 And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these?

19 Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.

20 And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes.

21 And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land:

22 And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all.

23 Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God.

The joining of Solomon (meaning peace) and Shulamite (also meaning peace) reminded me of the stick of Joseph and the stick of Judah being combined into one stick, like a marriage. A marriage that will end up lasting forever.

Ezekiel 37:26-28

26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.

27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

28 And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.



posted on Jun, 10 2013 @ 10:42 AM
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reply to post by Deetermined
 

These are very good finds.
I particularly appreciated the "living waters" references, and I think you may be on to something there.
One of the themes of the second half of the poem is that the "groom" can see a beauty in the bride which she thinks is lost.

The recovery of unity between Judah and the northern tribes is one of the concerns of the post-exilic period, so the timing would be exactly right.
However, I still think that the male figure is God himself, so that the Woman has to be the whole people.




edit on 10-6-2013 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 10 2013 @ 11:45 AM
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reply to post by 3NL1GHT3N3D1
 

On the contrary, the fact that the gazelle calls her out of the rock clefts shows that she can't be identified with the rock clefts.
If she was the rock clefts herself, then she could hardly leave them.

When a gold-prospector goes off to pursue his hobby, his friends will say about him that he's "in the mountains". That isn't intended to mean that he's in every mountain at the same time. It simply designates "the mountains" as the general area where he is to be found. He may be close to one of them, but they don't pretend to know which one.
In the same way, when the gazelle describes the dove as "in the clefts",all he's doing is designating "the clefts of the rock" as the general area where she is to be found. There is no suggestion that she's in all of them at the same time, so your quibble doesn't apply.
It's just a question of reading language naturally.

What we see in the second half of the chapter is that the gazelle (the consciousness of God) is inviting the Woman (a human consciousness) to share with him the enjoyment of the created world, which is the third element in the picture.
This poem was written in a tradition of theism, so it must be understood in theistic terms.





edit on 10-6-2013 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 10 2013 @ 11:58 AM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 


"The clefts of the rock", meaning He is singling out one rock then denoting all of the clefts on said rock.

"The hiding places on the mountainside", meaning He is singling out one mountainside then denoting all of the hiding places on said mountainside.

Your analogy doesn't apply because you say they don't pretend to know which mountain the prospector is in. The poem singles out "a" rock, meaning he claims to know which one, unlike your analogy.

I still do not see where He calls for She to come out. I see She calling He to come out, but not the other way around. Could you point to the exact verse? She is asking He (the gazelle) to come out.
edit on 10-6-2013 by 3NL1GHT3N3D1 because: (no reason given)


Also, what makes you think my interpretation is not theistic? It's as theistic as it gets in my opinion. What you are doing is separating She from god, I am uniting her with god, so I'd say my interpretation is a bit more theistic than yours.
edit on 10-6-2013 by 3NL1GHT3N3D1 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 10 2013 @ 12:04 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 


I'm starting to think that I need to give up trying to interpret songs and poems. I've always found the Songs from Psalms hard to understand too, but I certainly didn't get all of this out of it, did you?...


The Shulamite Woman married King Solomon. She was a young virgin, probably about 16 years old, whom Solomon found when he was out in the country touring his vineyards. Anyway, after the marriage, she could never get over the love for her Right Man, her Shepherd Lover. So she escaped from Solomon's harem in a daring rescue by her brothers (SOS 6:10-13). Solomon turned around and married another princess, a young belly dancer (SOS 7:1-8), and lived unhappily ever after. The Shulamite Woman was united with her Shepherd Lover, her Right Man, and lived happily ever after.


www.biblenews1.com... Story



posted on Jun, 10 2013 @ 12:14 PM
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Originally posted by 3NL1GHT3N3D1
"The clefts of the rock", meaning He is singling out one rock then denoting all of the clefts on said rock.

Your're reading too much into this. "The rock" doesn't identify one particular stone. It just means the rockface in general, in the area where there are cliffs and crevices.
You need to read the language naturally, instead of trying to force it into an artificial meaning which suits your purposes.


I still do not see where He calls for She to come out. I see She calling He to come out, but not the other way around. Could you point to the exact verse? She is asking He (the gazelle) to come out.

The entire poem beginning and ending with the words "Arise, my love, and come away" (vv10-13) is addressed by the gazelle to the Woman. That is why it is introduced with the words "My beloved [ie the gazelle] speaks and says to me [ie to the Woman]". Have you missed that detail of punctuation?

In vv10-13, the gazelle is saying to the Woman "Arise and come away". That is, "Come out from where you are [she is behind the wall mentioned in v9]".
v14 is the same invitation with a different image; he cannot see her face, as he wants to do, unless she comes out of the clefts of the rock.
In vv10-13 he supports his invitation by describing the wonders of the new spring life. The implication is that he wants her to come out so that she can enjoy them with him.


edit on 10-6-2013 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 10 2013 @ 12:32 PM
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reply to post by Deetermined
 

No, at first glance that's exactly the kind of interpretation I'm trying to get away from, namely the "sentimental human romance" approach which seems so popular in modern times.
At second glance, there's something very odd about the theological language on that site, but I can't quite put my finger on what group it represents.
"Right Man- Right Woman"? suggests a private jargon of some sort.

Anyway, the idea that the shepherd and the king are two different characters and she loves one instead of the other is a classic modern misinterpretation. I think I debunked that one in my previous thread.
God is both shepherd and king at the same time.
edit on 10-6-2013 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 10 2013 @ 01:27 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 


I take their "Right Man - Right Woman" jargon to mean soulmate.

They make it sound like the pairing between Soloman and the Shulamite wasn't working and making her happy, so she left him to find her "Right Man" or her soulmate.



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