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26 Song of Songs

26 Song of Songs

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07/20/2010

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11
12
:4
ECCLESIAS
TES
99°
o
w
II)
~
(/)
~
INTRODUCTIONTO
THE
SONG
OFSONGS
TheSong
of
Songs,t
hat
istosay
'the
greatest
of
allsongs',isaseries
of
lovepoemsinwhichloverandlovedarenowunited,nowdivided,now
scug
ht,nowfound.
The
loveriscalled'king',1:4
and
12,
and
'Solomon'
,3:7
and
9;hisbelovediscalled
'the
Shularnmite',7:1,whichtitle,itis
thought,
isrelatedtothe
'Shunamr
nitc'
of
Dav
id'stime
andSolomon's,
IK1:3;2:21-22.
That
Solomon
wasawriter
of
songsHebrewtraditionwasaware,1K5:12;forthis reason
'the
greatest
of
all
songs'
was
attributed
tohim(hencethetitle,I:I); inthe
same
wayasProverbs,Ecclesiastes
and
Wisdomwerecreditedto
Solomon
inhis
capac
ityofsage.
This
titular
attrib
utioncausedtheSongtobeplaced
among
theWisdomBooks,afterEcclesiastesinthe
Greek
Bible,between Ecclesiastes
and
Wisdom(two
'Solomonic'books)
intheVulgate.IntheHebrew Bibleitisthefirst
of
thefive
megilloth,
or'rolls',whichwererecitedatthe
great
feasts;the
Song
was
read
atPassover.Peoplehavefounditsurprising
that
a
bookthat
makesnomention
ofGod
andwhose
vocabulary
issopassionate
shou
ldfigureinthesacred
canon.The
do
ubt
sinJewishcircles
of
the1st
century
A
.D
.were,however,settledbyan appealto
tradition.
Onthesesamegroundsthe
ChristianChurch
hasalwaysacceptedtheSongas
partof
holyscripture.
Of
alltheOldTestament
boo
ksthishasbeen
most
variouslyinterpreted.Onlytwo
of
theseint
erpretations
areacce
pta
ble.TheJewishr
abbi
sunders
tood
itallegorically;therelationshipofloverandbelovedisthatbetween
God
andIsrael,thet
raditional
p
roph
eticmarriagemet
aph
or
dat
ingfromHosea.The writersofthee
arly
Chur
ch,withtheexceptionofTheodoreofMopsuestia,
adopted
thesame
explanat
ion,
though
withthemtheallegorybecomesone
of
Christ
and
hisChurch.Thisallegoricalint
erpr
et
ation
isaccepted,un
der
various forms,bythemaj
ority
ofCatholicc
omment
atorstoday.Somearecontent withthegeneraltheme,theelabo
rat
ionbeingpurelylit
erar
y,of
Go
dthebridegroomofIsrael.OthersseeinthesequenceoftheSongthe
story
ofIsrael's
cha
ngingseasons
of
conversion,hope,disillusionment.Thislast
interp
retationisfullyexplainedinthe
footnotes
givenhere.
Oth
erscholarsp
ref
erthe
more
obvious
mean
ing.
For
themtheSongisa collectionofhymnstotrueJovesanctifiedbyunion.
And
since
God
hasgivenhisblessingtomarriage,thethemeis
of
thereligiousand
not
merely
of
thephysical
or
der.OtherbooksoftheOld
Testamenttouc
huponthis
same
subject
of
human
love,ProverbsandEcclesiasticusforexample;theap
proa
chisthe
same
as
that
of
theSongand,attimes,theveryp
hras
es.Itisanobletheme
and
the
prophets
rightlysawinitan
apt
imageof
God
'sloveforIsrael.
Thetop
icis
not
unworthy
of
a
book
t
hat
wastobereceived
into
the
sacred
c
anon
and
recognisedasinspired.
4
butalsohisgreatness,byshowingthatthisworldisnot worthyofhim.Itincitesthereadertodisinterested religionand
to
thatkindofprayerinwhichacreature, awareofitsnothingness,adoresthemystery
of
Go
d.
Cr.Ps39.
g.
Commend
atoryepilogue:eulogyof
Oo
heleth,
vv,
9-11.hardshipsof
writing
books,v.12.advicefor aQuietmind.vv.13-14. h.Meaningdoubtful.textcarr.
i.
Defectivephrase;weinsert'duty'.
Epilogue"Besidesbeingasage,Qohelethalsotaughthisknowledgetothepeople,
9
havingweighed,studiedandamendedagreatmanyproverbs.-Qohclcthtried
10
towriteinanattractivestyleandtosetdowntruthfulthoughtsinastraight forwardmanner. Thewordsofthesagesarelikegoads,likepegsdrivendeep;ashepherduses
II
theseforthegoodofhisflocks." Onelastthing,myson,bewarnedthatwritingbooksinvolvesendlesshard
12
work,andthatmuchstudyweariesthebody. Tosumupthewholematter:fearGod,andkeephiscommandments,since
13
thisisthewholedutyofman.'
-For
Godwillcallallhiddendeeds,goodorbad,
14
tojudgement.
12
c.'thevoiceofthebirdissilenced(ceases)'
corr.
d.Hereagain,
cr.
1:4f.indifferentnatureformsthe
backclothforhumandeath,Theoldmandiesatthe
verymomentthatnaturereviveswiththespring,'is
heavywithfood',
'
bears
its
fr-ut"
corr.
e.Theearthlypartofman
r
etu
rns
toearth.Butsince
nothing
onthisearthcansatisfyhim.notallof him
orternares
from
earth.
andthatwhichis
of
God.returnstoGod.
f.Thebookendsas
it
beganbuthascoveredmuch
groundinbetween.
It
hastaughtmanhiswretchedness
5:6
SII:13
andthestreetdoorsareshut; whenthesoundofthemillisfaint, whenthevoiceofthebirdissilenced,
c
andsongnotesarestilled, whentogouphillisanordealandawalkissomethingtodread. Yetthealmondtreeisinflower,thegrasshopperisheavywithfoodandthecaperbushbearsitsfruit,"
Ps49:11
whilemangoestohiseverlastinghome.Andthemournersarealreadywalking toandfrointhestreet beforethesilvercordhassnapped, orthegoldenlampbeenbroken, orthepitchershatteredatthespring, orthepulleycrackedatthewell,
~
; ~ ~ J : ~
t
:
orbeforethedustreturnstotheearthasitoncecamefromit,andthebreath
7146:4
toGodwhogave
it.'
1:2
Vanityofvanities,Qohelethsays.AllisvanityJ
 
IN
T
ROD
UCT
IO
N
TO
THE
SON
G0F
SON
GS
992If
we
accept
theallegoricalinte
rpretation
,itis
per
missibleto
look
fora
planned
ar
rangement
inthe
Song
matching
the
develo
p
ment
of
God's
re
lations
with
Israel,andto
estab
lishthedate
of
the
book
byitshis
torical
allusion
s.
Thismethodpoint
sto
thesecondhalf
of
the
5th
century
B.C.,
not
earlier.
If
however
thebook
isacollect
ion
of
songs,
possibly
of
varying
periods,the
historic
al
argument
is
inapp
licable;nevertheless,
thevocabulary
andstyle
thems
elvesindicateapost-exilicorigin.
Whatever
theory
of
interpretat
ionwe
adopt
weare
just
ifiedin
applying
the
Song
to
themutual
love
of
Christand
his
Ch
urchorto
theunion
of
thein
divid
ual
soul
with
God.
Mysti
cslikeStJohnofthe
Cross
werewise
to
usethe
Song
astheydid.
THE
SONGOF
SONGS
TITLE
AND
PROLOGUE
1
ThcSongofSongs,whichisSolomon's. THE
BR
IDE
Lethimkissmewiththekissesofhismouth. Yourloveismoredelightfulthanwine; delicateisthcfragranceofyourperfume," yournameisanoilpouredout, andthatiswhythemaidens"loveyou. Drawmeinyourfootsteps,letusrun, TheKing"hasbroughtmeintohisrooms;" youwillbeourjoyandourgladness." Weshallpraiseyourloveabovewine; howrightitistoloveyou. FIR
ST
POEM
4:10112
b :
~
+
4:10
III
~
III
;:
o
w
THE
BRIDE
Iamblack!butlovely,daughtersofJerusaleru,« likethetentsofKedar, likethepavilionsofSalmah.« Takenonoticeofmyswarthiness, itisthesunthathasburntme. Mymother'ssonsturnedtheirangeronme.' theymademelookafterthevineyards'! HadIonlylookedaftermyown!"
Tel/methen,
youwhommyheartloves:
Where
will
youleadyourflocktograze,
wherewillyourestitatnoon'?'
Is5:1
---1-
Gn37;16 Ps23:1·3
Ezk
34:
I
In
1 O
: 1 ~ 2 1
1
a.
Th
roughout
the
Song
this
image
is
symbolic
of(hech
arm
sthaientranceand
intoxica
te
the
heart.b.Themaidensmay
repres
ent
the
nations.cf.Is23:12:37;22;47:1:Jr14:17,
CIC.
AlthoughIsrael isthe
priv
ilegedbride.this
doesnot
excludeother nationsfromfallingu
nder
thes
pell
oftheBri
degr
oom.
cr.
1
,4
5:14+,c.YahwehiskingofIsrael,IS12:12;Is
6:1,5:
Jr
23:2:
Ezk34:11-16.Heisfrequentlygiventhistitle inpost-exilic
liter
ature,cf.Dt
33:5;
Is24:23;33:22; 41:21:43:15:44:6:
Jr
51:57:Ob21:Zc14:9:MI1:14.
asalso
intheeschatologicalco
ntexts
inPs24:7;47:8; 4X:2;6X:24,etc.
The
Song
may
beinthe
sametraditio
n.d.Possibly.
and
in3:4:8:2.the
Tem
pleinJerusalem. focusofIsraelitedevotionin
post
-exilictimes.Ezk43:
r-vrcr,
\"1'\):
1540:3.9.10:52:8.12:
Zc
1:16-17:2:1O-IJ:
j{:J:
1's
U1
e.
Abounding
ioycharacterisesallthe
prop
hectesofsalvation.e.g.Is9:2;66:10:JI2;21.23;
10:
i;
Ps
14:7;16:9;21:1.
f.
Symbolicofaserious
ordea
l,
cr
v.6;
Jb
30:30;
1.01
4:8.
g.
The
'daughters
ofJerusalem'.dt
sttnauishcd
from
Zionbyaliteraryfiction.d.3:II:
Ito
2:4:9:13. c
orr
es
pond
to
thechorus
in
Greek
rruecdv.
appealed
to
bythespeaker
to
expresshis
t
houx
htsforhim. h.'
Sulmah
'corr.:'Solomon'
Hcbr.
i.
The
Cha
tducansdestroyed
Je
rusale
m.Theywere'brothers'
of
Israel,
cr.('In
II
:
211
,31:
15:7:
22:20-23. Secalso[)(26:5.
j.
Theforcedlabouroftheexile.
k.Theviney
ard
oftheBrideisPalestine. cf.Is5:1.;Jr12:10f:PsSOlosttoherIorawhile.
Ho
2:5.14,17.
I.
Y
ahwe
h.
shepherdof
hi!t
peop
le.
El
k34:I-r·.
willleadthemhomeInuuexttc.
cr
E/.\.\H:
I
J
~ 1
5
.
Noon
symbotlscs
thehciuhtof
happiness...
:f.Is
5 ~
:
10:Ps
n:
t>
;
Jb
11:17.herecs
....
hahlhl
t::i
...:llha
ppine
ss.d.
S ~
~: 1 7
:
Is
5:30:
X:20
4
1):
I:AIIl5:I
~ , :
O
.
 
THE
SONG
OF
SON
GS
o
w
III
;:
6:1I:7:13-14 =6:3;7:13 2:1+
2'.17
1:.
ThemountainsofJudah.Cf.Is40:3-5.9-11; 52;7;62:10-12. h.Springisasymbolofsalvation.Ho14:6-8.cf. 2:5.14.andthisdescriptionpreludestheinvit
ation
to
return.
i,
Crypticverse.tobe
und
er
sto
odinthe
Hutu
ofHo2:14.20
and
Jr12:7f.Thelittlefoxesarcmalevolent neighbours.
Sama
ritans.Ammonites.Arabs.Philistines, hostiletotherestorationofJ
udah
.
d.EZf
4:2:9:2; 10:181'Ne2:19;3:34f;4:1.etc.:Ps60:8-9.Cr.Is27:2-4; Ps80:6.12-13.
J.
Adaptationofthepropheticformula'Israelis thenationofYahwehandYahwehistheGodofIsrael'. exprcsslnathefinalrestorationofthecovenantafter atruechange
of
he
art.
Cr.Ho2:25:Jr31:33:Ezk36:28. k.Thisim
age
.likethe'morning'and
'aw
akening' ofPs17:15+.standsfortheeschatologicalhourof deliverance:theverseisrelatedto1:7:2:7:3:5:8:4. c.Aplay
011
words
(a
vya
toth,
gazelles;
sebaoth,
hinds)
evoking
the
nam
eoftheLordofhosts(Elohei
Sebaoth).
f.
Sleepsymbolisestheordealofexile.cf.Is51:17. 21-22:52:1-2:restorationdependsonthewillingcon versionoftheBride. d.Ho2:IN;Jr31:19.
leapingonthemountains,
bounding
overthehills.
g
MyBelovedislikeagazelle, likeayoungstag. Seewherehe
stand
sbehindourwall.Hel
ook
sinatthewindow, hepeersthroughthelattice. MyBelovedliftsuphisvoice, hesaystome,
'Co
methen,mylove, mylovelyone,come.
For
see,winterispast,
h
therainsareoverandgone.
The
flowersappearonthee
arth
.
The
seasonofgladsongshascome, thecooingoftheturtledoveisheard in
our
land.
The
figtreeisformingitsfirstfigs andtheblossomingvinesgiveouttheirfragrance: Comethen,mylove, mylovelyone,come. Mydove,hidinginthecleftsoftherock, inthecovertsofthecliff,showmeyourface, letmehear
your
voice;foryourvoiceissweet
and
yourfaceisbeautiful.' Catchthefoxesforus,thelittlefoxesthatmakehavocofthevineyards, forourvineyardsareinflower.
i
MyBelovedismineandIamhis'! He
pastur
eshisflock
amon
gthelilies. Beforethedawn-windrises, beforetheshadowsflee,
k
m.
'a
vagabond'S
yr.:
Yulg,'awomanveiled'
Heb
r.n.Theforeignnations.Jr6:3.whosekingsarc
'co
mpan
ions'ofYahweh.Ps45:7.StrayingIsraelseeks
her
Hrtd
egro
om,Jr31:22.c.MeZion.royalres
idenc
eofIsrael. u.ExileinB
aby
lonistraditl
onal
lvco
mpa
redwhits
lavery
inEgypt,Is11:11.16;43:16f;48:21;51:9-10; 52:4;
Jr
23:7-8.
Q.
Possiblyr
eferr
ingtothejoyfulre
turn
fromexile. r.ThemiraculousfertilityofPalestineafterthe re
sto
rationoftheexiles.cf'.Ho2:23f;14:6f;Is29:17: 30:23f:
Jr
31:12.14;Ezk34:26f:
36:29f
:47:1-12. s.CedarandcypressfromLe
ban
on.precious
materi
alsoftheTempleand
the
palaceofSolomon. 2a.The'rose'(actuallythe
crocu
s)and'lily'(thered Palestiniananemone.cf.Mt6:28)aresymbolicof spring,andoftheeschatologicalage.cf.Is35:1:
Ho
14:6. b.Israelhastheuniquedistinctionof
being
G
od'
schosennation.Dt7:
6+.
c.Oncebrought
back
toPalestine.thebanquet hall
(lit.
'house
of
wine')
of
God
.cf.Is62:8;Jr31:12. Israelwillbeint
oxica
tedwiththewineofdivinelove. Cr.1:
2.4
.14. d.Therallying
sign
alforthecaptives.
d.
Is11:12; 49:22:62:10.
995
II161710121413151617151311141210
994
IhearmyBeloved. Seehowhecomes
SECOND
POEM
That1mayno
morewand
erlikeavagabond
m
besidetheflocks"ofyourcompanions. Ifyoudonotknowthis,0loveliestofwomen, followthetracksoftheflock, and
take
yourkidstograze closebytheshepherds'tents.
a
Tomymareharnessedto
Pharaoh
'schariotIcompareyou,mylove." Yourcheeksshowfairbetweentheirpendants andyourneckwithinitsnecklaces. Weshallmakeyougoldenearrings andbeadsofsilver. -WhiletheKingrestsinhisownroom mynardyieldsits
perf
ume.MyBelovedisasachetofmyrrh lyingbetweenmybreasts. MyBelovedisaclusterofhennaflowers amongthevinesofEngedi.
-Ho
wbeautifulyouare,mylove, howbeautifulyouare! Youreyesaredoves. -Howbeautifulyouare,myBeloved, andhowdelightful! Allgreenisourbed.
r
-Thebeamsof
our
houseareofcedar, thepanellingofcypress,
s
-Iamtheroseof
Shar
on,thelilyofthevalleys.
a
-Asalilyamongthethistles, soismyloveamongthemaidens.
b
-Asanappletree
among
thetreesoftheorchard, soismyBelovedamongtheyoungmen. Inhislonged-for
shad
e1amseated andhisfruitissweettomytaste. Hehastakenmetohis
banqu
ethall,
C
andthebannerheraisesoverme"islove. Feedmewithraisincakes, restoremewithapples, forIamsickwithlove. Hisleftarmisundermyhead, hisrightembracesme. -1chargeyou, daughtersofJerusalem, bythegazelles,bythehindsofthefield,
e
nottostirmylove,
nor
rous
eit,untilitpleasetoawake'!
THESONG
OF
SONG
S
DI
ALOGUE
OF
THEBRIDEAND
B
RIDE
GROOM
'I
THEBR
IIJEGROO
M
TH
E
BR
IDE
THECHORUS
2
1:8
3:9R:5
~
R
:
3
1:3
j
Jr
31:21
~
3
:
5
:
5:
2-5:
~
5
: R
:
~
R
:
4
.
5
I
I
"l
I
I

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