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Song of Songs [15/15]; Make haste, my beloved

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posted on Sep, 1 2013 @ 05:02 PM
I’m still exploring the intended meaning of the Song of Songs.
The final passage I’m considering is the remainder of the eighth chapter, ch8 vv11-14.
(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.

vv11-12 These verses continue the optimistic theme which can be found in the previous verse.
“Peace” has been mentioned, and Solomon’s name is related to the word for “peace”.
We see a contrast between two different vineyards.
Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon which brought him an income of a thousand pieces of silver from his tenants, who presumably had something left over for themselves.
The second vineyard is the one which the Woman calls her own.
This vineyard, like the first, will give to Solomon his thousand pieces of silver, but it also allows two hundred pieces of silver for the tenants.
Whether this means two hundred each, or two hundred between them, I think we should take this to be a larger share than they were getting before.
Thus the point would be that the second vineyard is more profitable, and more beneficial to the people engaged in it, than the first vineyard had been.

The moral of the story would then be that “the last is better than the first”.
For the Woman reproached herself in the first chapter, that she had not “kept” (protected) her vineyard, yet her vineyard is now a source of pleasure and pride.

We may recall the promise of Jeremiah, that the new covenant will be better than the old covenant, because it will be written upon men’s hearts- Jeremiah ch31 vv31-34.
For the Christian reader, there’s also the gospel echo of “You have kept the good wine until now”- John ch2 v10.

Here is no need, in short, to regret the blessings of the past, because the blessings that are coming will be even greater.
The new Jerusalem will be even better than the old Jerusalem.
The new Life will be better than the old life.

v13-14 The poem closes with the two appeals.
In the first, the Loved One calls the Woman an inhabitant of the gardens, and tells her that he and his companions are longing to hear her voice.
This recalls the previous occasions when he’s been summoning her; the call of the gazelle in ch2, the invitation to explore the mountains in ch4, the appeal to the dancer at the end of ch6.

In the second appeal, the Woman calls the Loved One a gazelle or young stag, and repeats the invitation of ch2 v17, that he should join her on the “mountains of spices”.

Both appeals are against the continued state of separation.
“Make haste, my beloved” is the emotional equivalent of the Christian’s “Even so, come Lord Jesus”.
Which makes it a very appropriate conclusion to this poem.

So we find the Woman speaking in the closing verse of the Song of Songs, as we found her speaking in the opening verses.
The Song ends, as it began, with the affirmation of the Woman’s love.
This is a story told mainly from the Woman’s perspective, concerning the relationship between the Woman and her Loved One.
“My beloved is mine and I am his”.

At first sight, the Song of Songs looks like an ordinary love-poem, and is often interpreted that way.
I suggest that it belongs to the genre of “love poetry” to the same extent that Kings and Chronicles belong to the genre of “history”, or Proverbs belongs to the genre “collection of proverbs and wise sayings”.
In each case the literary genre has been given a spiritual dimension.
It is easy to see that the “historical” books are not just pure secular history, but have been used to say something about the relation between God and his people.
We find in Proverbs not just secular wisdom, but warnings against different kinds of unrighteousness.
Similarly the writer or compiler of Song of Songs has taken the genre of “love-poetry” and adapted it, turning it into another picture of the relationship between God’s people and their God.

Many scholars believe, for language reasons, that the poem was more probably written in the period after the Return from the Babylonian Exile.
In which case the “life-situation” of the poem can be seen as a response to the disaster of the Fall of Jerusalem.

The story of the poem goes like this;
The early chapters are nostalgic, looking back to the “honeymoon” period of the relationship, when the two lovers, God and his people, could enjoy each other’s company and enjoy the land together.
This honeymoon period is identified, retrospectively, with the kingdom of Solomon.
The nightmare episode of the fifth chapter is central in every way, because it represents the catastrophe caused by the power of Babylon, when the relationship between God and his people appeared to be broken.
The two themes of the chapters thereafter are the sense of loss and the sense of renewed hope.
They are assured, over and over again, that they have not lost their God after all.
The final note of the poem is the prospect of complete reconciliation

A different response can be found in the allegories of Ezekiel ch16 and ch23.
These allegories are complaining about the idolatries of the old kingdoms, in terms of sexual jealousy, and the language can be so bluntly and brutally sexual that the passages cannot be read in church services.
I believe this love- poem was deliberately intended as a more optimistic and benevolent version of the same kind of allegory.
So the intended purpose of the poem would be to encourage God’s people to believe in his love towards them, despite the discouraging aspects of their situation, and to remain faithful.

Therefore the most natural way of understanding this poem is that the people who placed the book among the sacred writings of Israel, believing it to have a sacred meaning, were correctly grasping the writer’s intentions.

posted on Sep, 2 2013 @ 02:53 PM
reply to post by DISRAELI

Well, this sort of sounds like the starting point of God's relationship with Israel. But Israel never kept their end of the bargain. The general theme of the old testament was that Israel was the chosen people with a "marriage contract" with God. See Leviticus 26. But from Solomon onwards they were always unfaithful. Even Solomon bent a knee to pagan gods at the behest of his pagan wives.

The book of Hosea continues the theme with the day of Jezreel prophecy. Israel and Judah were to be cut off with a curse. But at a later date when the curse runs out they would be taken back. I think what you're looking for is there.

posted on Sep, 2 2013 @ 04:10 PM
reply to post by ntech

The question is when this book was written.
Some scholars argue that the language includes words influenced by Persian, which implies that it was written after the Return from exile, when the Persians were ruling. In other words, long after the time of Hosea.

In this series as a whole, I'm suggesting that the poem actually makes sense on that basis. It isn't about the beginning of the relationship, but about an interruption in the middle of the relationship, namely the disaster of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians and the Exile.
I believe it's expressing a hope of being restored from that catastrophe.

edit on 2-9-2013 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 3 2013 @ 05:02 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 Sep, 4 2013 @ 05:21 PM
For information;

Although this thread reaches the end of the poem, it is not quite the last thread.
As with some of the other topics I've done, there will also be an "Index" thread to draw the various threads together and act as a cross-reference.

posted on Sep, 13 2013 @ 02:36 PM
This whole series is now indexed at the following location;

The Unseen Husband

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