Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Song of Songs which is of Solomon - Part II

Continuing with the Song of Songs ... Part II begins at Song 2:8.  Part I is here.

As a rule, I am trying to be concordant. I certainly wasn't on my first pass 2 years ago. It is not always possible but I think it is generally desirable especially where theme or frame must be heard or seen. Concordance is a matter of training the ear and memory. There is no shortcut for every day practice. My performing children learned to love and persevere in the practice of music. So also must one who wishes to learn.

I am publishing these as I do them. This may result in my having to revise a prior decision. Feedback is welcome.

Rabbi Akiva (c100 CE) warns that we should not see the Song simply as entertainment. Whoever warbles the Song of Songs at banqueting houses, treating it like an ordinary song, has no portion in the world to come. (Tos. San. 12:10)

We see from his record in the Talmud that he had a very high regard for this text. The entire world is unworthy of the day that the Song of Songs was given to Israel, for all of Scripture is holy, but the Song of Songs is the Holy of Holies. (M. Yad 3:5)


Christendom agrees with the rabbinic joy in the Song. Palestrina's mass based on the Sicut Lilium cantus firmus recognizes the identity and the costly role of the Bridegroom. Here is a remarkable clip.  Good pulse - some slight forgivable tuning problems.

Again to read on, we must take on the persona of the daughters of Jerusalem and we are sworn by a hidden name not to rouse love till it please.

VerseHebrew textA translationWhat shall we say?
ח
קוֹל דּוֹדִי
הִנֵּה זֶה
בָּא
מְדַלֵּג עַל הֶהָרִים
מְקַפֵּץ עַל הַגְּבָעוֹת
The voice of my beloved
behold, there,
coming,
leaping over the mountains
skipping over the hillocks
The anticipation is palpable. These short sharp lines are not prose. Hark! is a nice rendering of קוֹל - but loses concordance with the remaining 5 uses of the word to come which must be translated as voice.
ט
דּוֹמֶה דוֹדִי לִצְבִי
אוֹ לְעֹפֶר הָאַיָּלִים
הִנֵּה זֶה
עוֹמֵד אַחַר כָּתְלֵנוּ
מַשְׁגִּיחַ מִן הַחַלֹּנוֹת
מֵצִיץ מִן הַחֲרַכִּים
My beloved is like a roe
or the young of the goodly hart
Behold there
standing behind our wall
looking through the windows
gazing through the lattice
Again, the roe צבי is like host צבא (plural צִבְאֹות). The hart plural הָאַיָּלִים is like God אֱלֹהִים. So whenever you see roe or hart, think. It is not unreasonable or improbable to accept the invitation to identify with the bride and consider this song as an image and parable of the enveloping love of the Most High.
י
עָנָה דוֹדִי
וְאָמַר לִי
קוּמִי לָךְ רַעְיָתִי
יָפָתִי וּלְכִי לָךְ
My beloved answered
and said to me:
rise up! Yours, my companion
my beautiful one, and come away- it is yours
What will we do with לָךְ this time? This too has been set to music. E.g. this among many recordings of the Purcell. The version by Patrick Hadley I cannot find online. (Spake is lovely, spoke is mundane, I will go with answered - more engaging.)
יא
כִּי הִנֵּה הַסְּתָו עָבָר
הַגֶּשֶׁם חָלַף
הָלַךְ לוֹ
For behold, the winter is past,
the rain is over
it is gone
I can't help thinking of Isaiah 40:1.
יב
הַנִּצָּנִים נִרְאוּ בָאָרֶץ
עֵת הַזָּמִיר הִגִּיעַ
וְקוֹל הַתּוֹר
נִשְׁמַע בְּאַרְצֵנוּ
The flowers have appeared in the land
the time of the singing approaches
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land
Earth /land appears only here in the text. Is there a distinction between 'the' and 'our' such that we could translate ארץ with different words? The gloss of approaches for נגע is equally difficult. I did not use 'come' since there is a much more common word for that and it is already used in this section.
יג
הַתְּאֵנָה חָנְטָה פַגֶּיהָ
וְהַגְּפָנִים סְמָדַר נָתְנוּ רֵיחַ
קוּמִי לָךְ רַעְיָתִי
  יָפָתִי וּלְכִי לָךְ ס
The fig tree enspices its early fruit
and the vines' tender buds give a smell
rise up! Yours, my companion,
my beautiful one, and come away- it is yours
Always read carefully the text that is between repeated words. What about your earth? your land? Are there flowers there? לָךְ occurs so often - literally 'to you' (as full of possible meaning as the heading of a psalm.)
יד
יוֹנָתִי בְּחַגְוֵי הַסֶּלַע
בְּסֵתֶר הַמַּדְרֵגָה
הַרְאִינִי אֶת מַרְאַיִךְ
  הַשְׁמִיעִנִי אֶת קוֹלֵךְ
כִּי קוֹלֵךְ עָרֵב
וּמַרְאֵיךְ נָאוֶה ס
My dove, in the clefts of the rock
in the secret steep place
Let me see your form
let me hear your voice
for your voice is sweet
and your form is lovely
Rock (selah) reflects the samech above and anticipates the samech below - I think of it as instruction to pause.

Note the a-b-b-a form of the last four word-groups of this verse

'lovely' is the same word as in Song 1:5, 4:3, 6:4
טו
אֶחֱזוּ לָנוּ שֻׁעָלִים
שֻׁעָלִים קְטַנִּים
  מְחַבְּלִים כְּרָמִים
וּכְרָמֵינוּ סְמָדַר
Catch for us the foxes
the little foxes
spoiling the vines
for our vines bud tenderly
while there is no definitive in the text, 'our vineyards' is sufficiently definite to retroject its tone back to the original command. Foxes are a nuisance. This verse was my tag line on my email for years prior to 2003.  See this post for the foxes.
טז
דּוֹדִי לִי וַאֲנִי לוֹ
הָרֹעֶה בַּשּׁוֹשַׁנִּים
My beloved is mine, and I am his
the grazer among the lilies
ל gets lots of usage with pronouns in this section
יז
עַד שֶׁיָּפוּחַ הַיּוֹם
וְנָסוּ הַצְּלָלִים
סֹב דְּמֵה לְךָ
דוֹדִי  לִצְבִי
אוֹ לְעֹפֶר הָאַיָּלִים
עַל הָרֵי בָתֶר ס
until the dawning day
when the shadows flee
encircle, and you be
my love, like the roe
or the young goodly hart
on the mountain cleft
סבב is used of troops encircling a city and does not mean turn in the way this might be taken metaphorically (as in שׁוּב which is used only in Song 6:13.)
3 א
עַל מִשְׁכָּבִי בַּלֵּילוֹת
בִּקַּשְׁתִּי אֵת שֶׁאָהֲבָה נַפְשִׁי
 בִּקַּשְׁתִּיו וְלֹא מְצָאתִיו
On my bed in the nights
I sought the one who is the love of my being
I sought him and did not find him
This phrase 'that is the love of my being' might have been taken for granted in Song 1:7 but must be faced here where it repeated in four consecutive verses.
ב
אָקוּמָה נָּא
וַאֲסוֹבְבָה בָעִיר
בַּשְּׁוָקִים וּבָרְחֹבוֹת
אֲבַקְשָׁה אֵת שֶׁאָהֲבָה נַפְשִׁי
בִּקַּשְׁתִּיו וְלֹא מְצָאתִיו
I will rise now and
circle around the city
in the streets and in the plazas
I will seek the one who is the love of my being
I sought him and did not find him
I have avoided the use of that lovely word soul because I am not a dualist. What applies to the soul applies to the body, the earth of which we are made, our dust, our land. I don't write this way out of imagination. We will find both cost and comfort in this book that has been called the Holy of Holies of the Scripture.
ג
מְצָאוּנִי הַשֹּׁמְרִים
הַסֹּבְבִים בָּעִיר
אֵת שֶׁאָהֲבָה נַפְשִׁי
רְאִיתֶם
The keepers found me
circling around the city
 the one who is the love of my being...
Did you see him?
Now you hear why I did not use 'turn' above but encircle for the same word appears here and must be deliberate.
ד
כִּמְעַט שֶׁעָבַרְתִּי מֵהֶם
עַד שֶׁמָּצָאתִי
אֵת שֶׁאָהֲבָה נַפְשִׁי
אֲחַזְתִּיו וְלֹא אַרְפֶּנּוּ
  עַד שֶׁהֲבֵיאתִיו
אֶל בֵּית אִמִּי
וְאֶל חֶדֶר הוֹרָתִי
Scarcely had I passed from them
when I found
the one who is the love of my being
I held him and would not let him go
until I had brought him
to my mother's house
and to the room of her conceiving of me
Tenacity and determination is required. A somewhat random thought: the commandment of Genesis 2:24 is not obeyed in some traditions. Rather the woman is brought to the man's family. It has set me thinking recently. But I digress.
ה
הִשְׁבַּעְתִּי אֶתְכֶם
בְּנוֹת יְרוּשָׁלִַם
בִּצְבָאוֹת אוֹ
בְּאַיְלוֹת הַשָּׂדֶה
אִם תָּעִירוּ
וְאִם תְּעוֹרְרוּ אֶת הָאַהֲבָה
עַד שֶׁתֶּחְפָּץ ס
I have charged You,
O daughters of Jerusalem,
by the hosts of roe
or by the goodly hart of the field,
if you arouse
or if you rouse this love
till it please
The play on words in the Hebrew I have rendered in the English: the Lord of hosts is present in the text in the names of the animals. This refrain occurs 4 times. It seems that the song divides thus in five parts.  Of course you can take this as a negative admonition but it contains no negative.

The Samech is for Selah about which no one quite knows either.
This series on the Song I | 2:4 II 3:5 | III | 5:10 IV 8:4 V

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