Monday, March 22, 2010

The Song of Songs which is of Solomon - Part IV

In the analogy I have stumbled into, this part must correspond to the testimony of the Church. I don't mean this as if there were a sequence in time, but as a recognition of the work of the Spirit in all ages before and after the inclusion of the Gentiles in the anointing following the life of Jesus, that unique manifestation of the outpouring of God's love which is from before the beginning. 
VerseHebrew textA translationWhat shall we say?
טמַה דּוֹדֵךְ מִדּוֹד
הַיָּפָה בַּנָּשִׁים
מַה דּוֹדֵךְ מִדּוֹד
שֶׁכָּכָה הִשְׁבַּעְתָּנוּ
why is your beloved so beloved
O most beautiful among women?
What makes is your beloved so beloved
that you have charged us so?
This is a common question - why your faith? Why your tradition? Why your language? Why your religion? But the question is open with the condition: that you have charged us so. There can be no presumption, exploitation, or power taken for self in love. God does not usurp such power nor must any image of God usurp it.
ידּוֹדִי צַח וְאָדוֹם
דָּגוּל מֵרְבָבָה
My beloved is clear and ruddy,
intent among ten thousand
Clear צַח - definitely not white. A rare word and a rarer root.
Intent - no intensity is greater than the love of God whether it manifests itself in what is perceived as good or as wrath which is another disguise of the fire of love. I am guessing at this word דָּגַל. It rhymes with the traditional translation of Song 2:4 and it links then to the use of banner in Numbers. In English we have a similar duality in the word 'standard' which may mean flag or example.
יארֹאשׁוֹ כֶּתֶם פָּז
קְוֻצּוֹתָיו תַּלְתַּלִּים
שְׁחֹרוֹת כָּעוֹרֵב
his head is purged fine gold
his locks bushy
black as a raven
This 'refined' fine gold - כֶּתֶם is rarely used but in each case it is in texts where we might just pass over it though it might be pivotal. Why is there an adjective applied to a word that is already glossed as fine gold? It occurs twice in Job 28, the hymn to wisdom, where I missed its potential significance. The word that qualifies it is derived from an identical word with a sense of deep stain. That is a gold that includes the knowledge of good and evil רע and its relationship to us לָנוּ, to me לִי and to you לָךְ my sister bride.
יבעֵינָיו כְּיוֹנִים
עַל אֲפִיקֵי מָיִם
רֹחֲצוֹת בֶּחָלָב
יֹשְׁבוֹת עַל מִלֵּאת
his eyes as doves
by the rivers of waters
washed with milk
sitting in fullness
יגלְחָיָו כַּעֲרוּגַת הַבֹּשֶׂם
מִגְדְּלוֹת מֶרְקָחִים
שִׂפְתוֹתָיו שׁוֹשַׁנִּים
נֹטְפוֹת מוֹר עֹבֵר
his cheeks as the terraced spices
ass the sweetest of flowers
his lips are lilies
dropping myrrh passing through.
there's that definite article again - It is as if each speaker is pointing to a specific, not simply stating a generic or abstract truth about love.
ידיָדָיו גְּלִילֵי זָהָב
מְמֻלָּאִים בַּתַּרְשִׁישׁ
מֵעָיו עֶשֶׁת שֵׁן
מְעֻלֶּפֶת סַפִּירִים
His hands are cylinders of gold
inlaid with jasper
his belly a block of ivory
encrusted with sapphires
belly, same word as in Song 5:4. There are lots of things that could be pointed out in these songs of praise for the body parts. There is no part of us that is to be despised but every part is to be consecrated in that one death for all. This unity in holiness is well shown to us in the high priestly prayer of John 17 where Jesus consecrates himself for our sakes that we might be consecrated in him. This consecration is prefigured also in the sign of male circumcision, signifying the death of all will to power for self. (Colossians 2:11)
טושׁוֹקָיו עַמּוּדֵי שֵׁשׁ
מְיֻסָּדִים עַל אַדְנֵי פָז
מַרְאֵהוּ כַּלְּבָנוֹן
בָּחוּר כָּאֲרָזִים
his legs are pillars of marble
fixed in sockets of fine gold
his form as Lebanon
excellent as the cedars.
'form' closes the bracket opened in Song 2:14. The prayer is answered.
טזחִכּוֹ מַמְתַקִּים
וְכֻלּוֹ מַחֲמַדִּים
זֶה דוֹדִי
וְזֶה רֵעִי
בְּנוֹת יְרוּשָׁלִָם
His palate is sweetness
and all of him is desirable
This is my beloved
and this is my companion
O daughters of Jerusalem
curious singular with plural adjectives
6 אאָנָה הָלַךְ דּוֹדֵךְ
  הַיָּפָה בַּנָּשִׁים
אָנָה פָּנָה דוֹדֵךְ
וּנְבַקְשֶׁנּוּ עִמָּךְ
Where has your beloved gone
O most beautiful among women?
where has he faced? Your beloved,
that we may seek him with you?
In response to this question, the bride is filled with the presence of the Beloved. She is all we should be - beautiful. That is what attracts. (I have repaired a few touches in the prior parts removing 'fair' altogether and getting the adjectives consistently translated for beauty and lovely - or so I hope.)
I avoid again the word 'turn' - I prefer face. Seeking and not finding is the theme in John 20:13 (Compare Song 3:1-3). Immediately following in John is the Noli me tangere- The Titian image from the National Gallery is at the link.
בדּוֹדִי יָרַד לְגַנּוֹ
לַעֲרֻגוֹת הַבֹּשֶׂם
לִרְעוֹת בַּגַּנִּים
וְלִלְקֹט שׁוֹשַׁנִּים
My beloved is gone down into his garden
to the terraced spices
to feed in the gardens
and to gather lilies
God with us
גאֲנִי לְדוֹדִי וְדוֹדִי לִי
הָרֹעֶה בַּשּׁוֹשַׁנִּים ס
I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine
the feeder among the lilies
us in him and he in us (John 17:23)
See also of course the psalms with the headings among the lilies Psalms 45, 60, 69, 80
דיָפָה אַתְּ רַעְיָתִי
כְּתִרְצָה
  נָאוָה כִּירוּשָׁלִָם
אֲיֻמָּה כַּנִּדְגָּלוֹת
Beautiful is my companion
as the favourable
lovely as Jerusalem
terrible as those of great intensity
Zeal for thy house may not appear lovely and can lead to destruction. The one who was favoured was eaten up by such zeal. (Of course it is in the Gospel of John 2:17 too - see also Psalm 69:9)
ההָסֵבִּי עֵינַיִךְ מִנֶּגְדִּי
שֶׁהֵם הִרְהִיבֻנִי
שַׂעְרֵךְ כְּעֵדֶר הָעִזִּים
שֶׁגָּלְשׁוּ מִן־הַגִּלְעָד
Circle your eyes away from me
for they create a storm in me
your hair like the flock of goats
that are lying down from the Gilead

No No you can't do this! Beloved is rolling her eyes! Staring down the God who loves her. Persisting in questioning every assumption. And loved for it. I will speak of Rahab whose name comes from this proud and defiant stance. Rahab is both defiant and faithful in her defiance - and part of that scarlet thread (Song 4:3).
ושִׁנַּיִךְ כְּעֵדֶר הָרְחֵלִים
שֶׁעָלוּ מִן הָרַחְצָה
שֶׁכֻּלָּם מַתְאִימוֹת
  וְשַׁכֻּלָה אֵין בָּהֶם
Your teeth are like the flock of ewe
that come up from the wash
where all of them are twinned
and not one of them is bereaved
almost a double of Song 4:2
זכְּפֶלַח הָרִמּוֹן
רַקָּתֵךְ מִבַּעַד לְצַמָּתֵךְ
As the slice of pomegranate
your temples within your locks.
חשִׁשִּׁים הֵמָּה מְלָכוֹת
וּשְׁמֹנִים פִּילַגְשִׁים
וַעֲלָמוֹת אֵין מִסְפָּר
Sixty queens there are
and eighty concubines
and maidens without number
Solomon's riches and power ridiculed by the poet? But all his wives and concubines and every other person will be drawn to her and to her beloved. But there is a positive reading of Solomon here - of some interest in the context of reading this book under Solomon's name. Maidens only elsewhere in the poem in Song 1:2.
טאַחַת הִיא יוֹנָתִי תַמָּתִי
 אַחַת הִיא לְאִמָּהּ
בָּרָה הִיא לְיוֹלַדְתָּהּ
רָאוּהָ בָנוֹת וַיְאַשְּׁרוּהָ
מְלָכוֹת וּפִילַגְשִׁים וַיְהַלְלוּהָ ס
Unique is she, my dove, my pure one
unique she of her mother,
she is pure of the one bearing her
Daughters saw her
queens and concubines considered her happy
and they praised her
Whoever knows the grace of this beloved will praise her and will be like her, reflecting the same glory as is known from the face of her unique beloved

If this is the Church, and in a figure, Mary, then this prefigures the phrase from Luke that all 'generations will call me blessed'.
ימִי זֹאת הַנִּשְׁקָפָה כְּמוֹ שָׁחַר
יָפָה כַלְּבָנָה
בָּרָה כַּחַמָּה
אֲיֻמָּה כַּנִּדְגָּלוֹת ס
Who is this, looking forth as dawn,
beautiful as the moon,
pure as the sun,
terrible as those of great intensity?
Here is John again from the wedding in Cana, "Do whatever he tells you."
יאאֶל גִּנַּת אֱגוֹז יָרַדְתִּי
לִרְאוֹת בְּאִבֵּי הַנָּחַל
לִרְאוֹת הֲפָרְחָה הַגֶּפֶן
הֵנֵצוּ הָרִמֹּנִים
To a garden of nuts I went down
to see in the green shoots of the wadi
to see if the vine has flourished
budded the pomegranates
Who is speaking here? What a place this garden is! There is a qal perfect הֲפָרְחָה with an interrogative in the middle of the sentence! And look at the hiphil perfect of a weak verb with only one of its root letters remaining הֵנֵצוּ.
יבלֹא יָדַעְתִּי
נַפְשִׁי שָׂמַתְנִי
מַרְכְּבוֹת עַמִּי נָדִיב
I did not know
my being set me to be
from the chariots of my people, a prince
Who again is the speaker - does the princess become prince?
7 אשׁוּבִי שׁוּבִי הַשּׁוּלַמִּית
שׁוּבִי שׁוּבִי וְנֶחֱזֶה בָּךְ
מַה תֶּחֱזוּ בַּשּׁוּלַמִּית
כִּמְחֹלַת הַמַּחֲנָיִם
Return, return O Shulamite
Return, return so we may gaze on you
What will you gaze on in the Shulamite?
a dance of two armies?
Who is this Shulamite? Abishag? The story of Abishag needs a separate post. Only here do we get the word for return or repent. It is the desire of the chorus to see the beautiful woman again.
במַה יָּפוּ פְעָמַיִךְ בַּנְּעָלִים
בַּת נָדִיב
חַמּוּקֵי יְרֵכַיִךְ כְּמוֹ חֲלָאִים מַעֲשֵׂה יְדֵי אָמָּן
how beautiful are your feet with shoes
daughter of a prince
the curves of your thighs as jewels
the work of the hands of an artist
You see the repeated word that must stop the translation of Song 6:12 as a proper name (Amminidab)

The 'artist' is אָמָּן Amen, the same root as faithful. No art is possible without such discipline. Equally, here is the faithfulness of the artist. Would we trust him with our bodies?
גשָׁרְרֵךְ אַגַּן הַסַּהַר
אַל יֶחְסַר הַמָּזֶג
בִּטְנֵךְ עֲרֵמַת חִטִּים
סוּגָה בַּשּׁוֹשַׁנִּים
your navel is the round bowl
not lacking mixed wine
your lap a heap of wheat
fenced with lilies
דשְׁנֵי שָׁדַיִךְ
כִּשְׁנֵי עֳפָרִים
תָּאֳמֵי צְבִיָּה
your two breasts
are like two young
twin roe
A double of Song 4:5. Doubles are often frames - so does the description of the sister bride frame with these two doubles an important event? In this reading in five parts, it does. These doubles frame the cost of love, the striking by the watchmen, the questioning by the chorus. Note that there is no repetition of the sister bride motif on this side of the frame, nor is there a continuing of the hidden names in the charge.
הצַוָּארֵךְ כְּמִגְדַּל הַשֵּׁן
עֵינַיִךְ בְּרֵכוֹת בְּחֶשְׁבּוֹן
עַל שַׁעַר בַּת רַבִּים
אַפֵּךְ כְּמִגְדַּל הַלְּבָנוֹן
צוֹפֶה פְּנֵי דַמָּשֶׂק
your neck like the tower of ivory
your eyes the ponds in Heshbon
by the gate of Bath Rabbim
your nose like a tower of Lebanon
spying on Damascus
Notice how the descriptions move again to country names, replaying the game of pretend travel?
ורֹאשֵׁךְ עָלַיִךְ כַּכַּרְמֶל
וְדַלַּת רֹאשֵׁךְ כָּאַרְגָּמָן
מֶלֶךְ אָסוּר בָּרְהָטִים
your head upon you is like Carmel
and the hair of your head like purple
a king held by the locks
זמַה יָּפִית וּמַה נָּעַמְתְּ
אַהֲבָה בַּתַּעֲנוּגִים
how beautiful and how pleasant
love in delights
חזֹאת קוֹמָתֵךְ דָּמְתָה לְתָמָר
וְשָׁדַיִךְ לְאַשְׁכֹּלוֹת
this, your stature resembles a palm tree
and your breasts, clusters
טאָמַרְתִּי אֶעֱלֶה בְתָמָר
אֹחֲזָה בְּסַנְסִנָּיו
וְיִהְיוּ נָא שָׁדַיִךְ
כְּאֶשְׁכְּלוֹת הַגֶּפֶן
וְרֵיחַ אַפֵּךְ כַּתַּפּוּחִים
I said, I will go up to the palm tree
and I will take possession of its branches
and let them be, ah, your breasts
as clusters of the vine
and the scent of your nose as apricots
יוְחִכֵּךְ כְּיֵין הַטּוֹב
הוֹלֵךְ לְדוֹדִי לְמֵישָׁרִים
דּוֹבֵב שִׂפְתֵי יְשֵׁנִים
and your palate as the best wine
flowing for my beloved smoothly
gliding lips asleep
יאאֲנִי לְדוֹדִי
וְעָלַי תְּשׁוּקָתוֹ ס
I am my beloved's
and towards me is his desire
יבלְכָה דוֹדִי
נֵצֵא הַשָּׂדֶה
נָלִינָה בַּכְּפָרִים
Come, my beloved
let us go forth into the field
let us spend the night under a covering
יגנַשְׁכִּימָה לַכְּרָמִים
נִרְאֶה אִם פָּרְחָה הַגֶּפֶן
פִּתַּח הַסְּמָדַר
הֵנֵצוּ הָרִמּוֹנִים
שָׁם אֶתֵּן אֶת דֹּדַי לָךְ
we will be early to the vineyards
we will see if the vine has budded
the blossom opened
the pomegranates flowered
there I will give my beloved to you
I think we should be prepared to be surprised by this text.
ידהַדּוּדָאִים נָתְנוּ רֵיחַ
וְעַל פְּתָחֵינוּ כָּל מְגָדִים
חֲדָשִׁים גַּם יְשָׁנִים דּוֹדִי
צָפַנְתִּי לָךְ
The mandrakes give scent
and at our gates is all excellence
new and old, my beloved
I have hidden for you
I will give, I have hidden and it is yours. Note how mandrake sounds like beloved (duda same letters as dodi) - perhaps use its synonym 'love apple'
8 אמִי יִתֶּנְךָ כְּאָח לִי
יוֹנֵק שְׁדֵי אִמִּי
אֶמְצָאֲךָ בַחוּץ
אֶשָּׁקְךָ גַּם לֹא יָבֻזוּ לִי
Who will give you as brother to me
as one who sucked the breasts of my mother?
I would find you outside
I would kiss you and none would despise me.
באֶנְהָגְךָ
אֲבִיאֲךָ
אֶל בֵּית אִמִּי תְּלַמְּדֵנִי
אַשְׁקְךָ
מִיַּיִן הָרֶקַח
מֵעֲסִיס רִמֹּנִי
I would lead you
I would bring you
into the house of my mother,
who will instruct me
I will make you drink of the wine
spiced with the juice of my pomegranate.
instruct here contrasts with instruction based on fear in Song 3:8
ג
שְׂמֹאלוֹ תַּחַת לְרֹאשִׁי
וִימִינוֹ תְּחַבְּקֵנִי
His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me.closes the frame opened in Song 2:6
דהִשְׁבַּעְתִּי אֶתְכֶם
בְּנוֹת יְרוּשָׁלִָם
מַה תָּעִירוּ
וּמַה תְּעֹרְרוּ אֶת הָאַהֲבָה
עַד שֶׁתֶּחְפָּץ ס
I have charged you
daughters of Jerusalem
what do you arouse or
what do you rouse of this love
till it please
There is no play on words here and there is a significant change in the conjunction - we must ask why.
This series on the Song I | 2:4 II 3:5 | III | 5:10 IV 8:4 V

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