Christian living- dealing with one 'oops' at a time…

Archive for February, 2017

Song of Songs (Introduction)

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Song Of Songs

This commentary is based on my notes after reading The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: Song of Songs, by Tremper Longman III, 2001

This translation of Song of Songs was picked because it is more literal, and takes fewer liberties than most. I did not focus on the prophetic nature as much as the relational teachings.

The standard type is Longman’s translation. The italics is my gleanings from his notes. Some points are entirely mine, while others are my interpretation of his comments in the book. For the sake of brevity I did not differentiate.

One of my pet peeves is that we clean up scripture to the point that it is not understood. This translation of the Song of Songs allows us to learn what the Bible teaches about marital relationships.

If married, or planning on marriage, it would be good to discuss the Song of Songs and its teachings. It would also be good to examine Proverbs 31, how Boaz treats Ruth in the book of Ruth and how Esther behaves as a wife.

Contained in the Song of Songs are many wasfs- descriptive poems that the lovers recite to each other. Writing a wasf to your spouse may be a creative way to understand how the other sees you.

Song of Songs (Poem 23, Ch 8)

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Photo by Matija Barrett

This commentary is based on my notes after reading The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: Song of Songs, by Tremper Longman III, 2001

Poem 23 (Ch 8)

(Let Others Know There is Love)

The Man

v 13 You who dwell in the gardens,

companions are listening,

let me hear your voice!

The Woman

v 14 Sneak away, my lover, and be like the gazelle,

or a young stag on the mountains of spices.

The man addresses the woman and acknowledges that her companions are listening, He wants her to express her wishes publically, to let others know that she loves him. She responds by again asking him to sneak away with her- quickly. Their love has not dulled and it is not to be hidden.

Song of Songs (Poem 22, Ch 8)

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This commentary is based on my notes after reading The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: Song of Songs, by Tremper Longman III, 2001

Poem 22 (Ch 8)

(The Rest of the Wives…)

The Woman

v 11 Solomon had a vineyard in Baal-hamon;

he entrusted the vineyard to guards,

each one brings a thousand pieces of silver for his fruit.

v 12 My vineyard is mine alone;

the thousand is for you, Solomon,

and the two hundred for the ones who guard its fruit.

Here is a reference to Solomon’s harem. Obviously the woman is not happy that it exists and makes reference to the fact that she does not wish to share her vineyard. The two hundred are likely ‘wives’ he has not yet slept with. This woman lives apart from the rest of his woman. We know that his Egyptian wife, who was also his first wife, had her own palace so many guess that this is the identity of the woman of the poem. Remember, in this culture, polygamy is the norm. Here it is not portrayed in glowing terms. The woman does not like it. She implies that the someone has paid so that these women would bear Solomon’s offspring.

Song of Songs (Poem 21, Ch 8)

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This commentary is based on my notes after reading The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: Song of Songs, by Tremper Longman III, 2001

Poem 21 (Ch 8)

(Caring for Each Other’s Family)

The Man

v 8 Our sister is small,

and she has no breasts,

What should we do for our sister

on the day she is spoken for?

v 9 If she is a wall, we will build a silver battlement for her.

But if she is a door, we will enclose her with a cedar board.

There is a sister. Since the woman was not properly cared for, it can be assumed that her sister is not either. The man is taking responsibility for her. If she is shy, lacking confidence, he will adorn her with strength. If she is permiscuous, naive, undiscerning- trusting and letting everyone in, he will keep guard her closely.

The Woman

v 10 I am a wall, and my breasts are like towers,

Thus I will be in his eyes like one who brings peace.

The woman’s presence in his life is one of strength, protection and peace. That she is a ‘wall’ indicates that she will not open herself to anyone but him.

Song of Songs (Poem 20, Ch 8)

This commentary is based on my notes after reading The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: Song of Songs, by Tremper Longman III, 2001IMG_2933

Poem 20 (Ch 8)

(The Character of Love)

The Women of Jerusalem

v 5 Who is this that comes up from the wilderness,

leaning on her lover?

The couple is publically affectionate. They are defying the norms.

The fact that they are leaning on each other indicates mutual dependency. It also implies that they were more affectionate in the wilderness. This couple spends frequent amounts of time away together.

The Woman

Under the apple tree, I aroused you.

There your mother conceived you,

There the one who gave you birth conceived you.

Apparently this is a popular trysting place, likely on family property, showing that they are not unusual in their love, but the norm. There is also a hint that she is hoping to have conceived herself.

v 6 Set me like a seal on your heart,

like a seal on your arm.

For stronger than death is love,

tenacious like the grave is jealousy.

Its flame is an intense fire,

a god-like flame.

Love is a powerful force. A seal on the arm is a sign to all that he belongs to her. A seal on the heart is a sign that he loves her. The jealousy she desires is a right jealousy, not wanting to share the intimacy they have with any other. True love is also intense, like a flame.

v 7 Many waters are not able to extinguish love,

nor rivers flood it.

Even if a person gave all the wealth of his house for love,

he would be completely despised.

Love should withstand all trials, but you cannot buy it. If you try to buy true love the right person will despise you for it. True love cannot be bought.

Song of Songs (Poem 19, Ch 8)

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This commentary is based on my notes after reading The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: Song of Songs, by Tremper Longman III, 2001

Poem 19 (Ch 8)

(Public Displays of Affection)

The Woman

v 1 Oh, that you were like my brother,

who sucked at the breast of my mother!

Then I would find you in public and kiss you,

and they would not shame me.

The woman is wishing that it was socially acceptable for the couple to show affection (a friendly kiss) in public as one would with a brother or sister. This shows the backwardness of societal rules, where a married couple, who should rightly be affectionate, are required to be more chaste than two people who are not as intimate. It is therefore acceptable, for married couples show a modicum of affection in public.

The reason for defining that they have the same mother is that polygamy is common during this time and siblings with different mothers would not be as close as they would not be raised in as close a proximity. Brothers and sisters with the same mother would also have the same father, and as full siblings they would not be able to marry as half siblings could.

v 2 I would lead you; I would bring you

to the house of my mother who taught me.

I would make you drink spiced wine,

from my own pomegranate wine.

Since pomegranates symbolize fertility, this is likely a euphemism for sexuality. Her mother’s house is likely a home in the city, where the two can get away instead of having to go all the way home.

This section also implies that it is her mother who taught her about intimacy. In a culture without sex education, the internet and where books are expensive there is no other place to learn. It also implies that parents should teach their children the facts of life.

v 3 His left hand is under my head,

and his right hand embraces me.

They are laying together.

v 4 I adjure you, daughters of Jerusalem,

do not awaken and do not arouse love until it desires.

The woman is again warning the single women not to rush into love, but to wait until it is right. The implication is that if you do not wait, it will not be as wonderful as what she has.

Song of Songs (Poem 18, Ch 7)

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Photo by Matija Barrett

This commentary is based on my notes after reading The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: Song of Songs, by Tremper Longman III, 2001

Poem 18 (Ch 7)  (Renewed Love)

The Woman

v 12 Come, my love

Let’s go out to the field,

Let’s spend the night in the villages.

Notice that the woman does more of the inviting in these poems than the man, while the man does the majority of the complimenting.

Here the woman wishes to get away from their daily life and spend some time alone with him.

v 13 Let’s go early to the vineyards;

Let’s see if the vine has budded,

The bud has opened,

The pomegranates have blossomed

There I will give my love to you!

Vineyards are often a euphemism for female sexuality, and pomegranates represent fertility. This section seems to indicate that there was a time she was not feeling very sexual, perhaps after childbirth, but the sexual feeling are returning and some ‘alone time’ would be appreciated.

v 14 The mandrakes give off their scent,

Mandrakes are known at this time to increase fertility (remember Rachel and Leah who both suffered from infertility at times were fighting over mandrakes).

And our entrance is a very precious gift,

This is the entrance to their home. It may be a euphemism, but more likely it symbolizes their life together.

The new and well as the old I have treasured up for you my love.

This is a mature relationship. They still enjoy the things they did in the beginning, but they have expanded their repertoire and, in the context of getting away, she is promising him a wide variety of sensual enjoyment.

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