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Song of Songs [13/15]; I would kiss you

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posted on Aug, 18 2013 @ 05:23 PM
I’m still exploring the intended meaning of the Song of Songs.
The next passage I’m considering is the end of the seventh chapter and the beginning of the eighth-from ch7 v10 to ch8 v4
(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.

This poem has been describing the relationship between the Woman and her Loved One.
I’ve already proposed that this is the relationship between God and his people.

v10 Since the crisis in the sixth chapter (I’ve suggested that this represents the Babylonian Exile), the Woman believes herself to be separated from the Loved One.
So this verse, while it echoes the comfortable assurance of ch2 v16, is now a declaration of faith.

vv11-13 We return to the theme of the Loved One visiting the garden (as he proposed in ch5 v1).
It’s also the counterpart of the gazelle’s invitation, in the second chapter, to share in the enjoyment of the spring’s new life.
She invites him to join her in finding lodging in the fields and villages outside the city, so that their visit to the vineyards can begin at the earliest possible moment in the day.
There they will be able to see the progress of the vines and all the fruits, and there she will give him her love.

The reference to mandrakes may be an allusion to an episode in Genesis.
The neglected Leah, mother of Judah and Levi, used her son’s mandrakes to purchase a night of love with Jacob, and the result was the birth of Issachar (a tribe near Galilee)- Genesis ch30 vv14-18
The Woman hopes that the relationship will be revived and will be fruitful.

She offers him fruit which is “new as well as old”.
If the Loved One is her God, she is not just relying on the ancient tradition of her loyalty, but also offering fresh worship.
For the Christian reader, there’s an interesting gospel echo;
“Every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old”- Matthew ch13 v52.
The fruit is said to be “over our doors”, but in the second chapter the countryside itself was the couple’s “home”,

ch8 vv1-2 In the third chapter, the Woman had been able to find the Loved One in the streets and bring him home, to her mother’s house and chamber.
She would like to do that again, and give him spiced wine and the juice of the pomegranate.
But now she feels inhibited.
She’s living in a social environment which is much less friendly to the relationship.
But if he really was a brother, born of the same mother, she would be able to seek his company without fearing the disapproval of others.
In other words, she longs for a return to the old freedom, when her love could be freely expressed.

vv3-4 She concludes her speech with words repeating what she said in ch2 vv6-7, but there is a difference.
On the first occasion, they were expressing the comfortable assurance of an established relationship.
Now they represent an aspiration, and it’s much more appropriate now than it was then to translate them as a wish for the future.

So these passages are really a reflection of her sense of loss.
In her consciousness that her relation with the Loved One is not what it used to be, the Woman consoles herself and keeps up her spirits with memories of happier days, in the springtime of the relationship.

posted on Aug, 20 2013 @ 05:41 PM
My interest in the Song of Songs was originally inspired by the reading of the sermons of Bernard of Clairvaux.
Especially by his comments on the words “I am black, but beautiful”, as applied to the spiritual state of the church or the individual soul. The idea of being sinful and imperfect, but still beloved by God.
Knowing the history of the church, I was very conscious of its imperfections, so it all rang very true.
However, my own interpretation obviously strikes out a very different line from Bernard, in all sorts of different ways.
Nor is there space for me to take the devotional approach.
But I would argue that gaining a good sense of the writer’s conscious intentions would provide the most sure foundation of any approach, including the devotional.

posted on Aug, 21 2013 @ 05:27 PM
For information;

The next thread in this series will deal with the middle portion of the eighth chapter.
Once the end off the poem has been reached, there wil also be an Index thread, bringing them all together.

posted on Sep, 12 2013 @ 05:33 PM
This whole series is now indexed at the following location;

The Unseen Husband

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