|Verse||Hebrew text||A translation||What shall we say?|
|ט||מַה דּוֹדֵךְ מִדּוֹד|
מַה דּוֹדֵךְ מִדּוֹד
|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.|
|י||דּוֹדִי צַח וְאָדוֹם|
|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.
|יא||רֹאשׁוֹ כֶּתֶם פָּז|
|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.|
עַל אֲפִיקֵי מָיִם
יֹשְׁבוֹת עַל מִלֵּאת
|his eyes as doves|
by the rivers of waters
washed with milk
sitting in fullness,
|יג||לְחָיָו כַּעֲרוּגַת הַבֹּשֶׂם|
נֹטְפוֹת מוֹר עֹבֵר
|his cheeks as the terraced spices|
as 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.|
|יד||יָדָיו גְּלִילֵי זָהָב|
מֵעָיו עֶשֶׁת שֵׁן
|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)|
|טו||שׁוֹקָיו עַמּוּדֵי שֵׁשׁ|
מְיֻסָּדִים עַל אַדְנֵי פָז
|his legs are pillars of marble|
fixed in sockets of fine gold.
his form is as Lebanon
excellent as the cedars.
|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 א||אָנָה הָלַךְ דּוֹדֵךְ|
אָנָה פָּנָה דוֹדֵךְ
|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.
|ב||דּוֹדִי יָרַד לְגַנּוֹ|
|My beloved is gone down into his garden|
to the terraced spices
to feed in the gardens
and to gather lilies.
|God with us|
|ג||אֲנִי 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
|ד||יָפָה אַתְּ רַעְיָתִי|
|How 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)|
|ה||הָסֵבִּי עֵינַיִךְ מִנֶּגְדִּי|
שַׂעְרֵךְ כְּעֵדֶר הָעִזִּים
|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).
|ו||שִׁנַּיִךְ כְּעֵדֶר הָרְחֵלִים|
שֶׁעָלוּ מִן הָרַחְצָה
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|
רַקָּתֵךְ מִבַּעַד לְצַמָּתֵךְ
|As the slice of pomegranate|
your temples within your locks.
|ח||שִׁשִּׁים הֵמָּה מְלָכוֹת|
וַעֲלָמוֹת אֵין מִסְפָּר
|There may be sixty queens and|
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.|
|ט||אַחַת 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 is she of her mother,
Pure is she of the one bearing her.
The 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'.
|י||מִי זֹאת הַנִּשְׁקָפָה כְּמוֹ שָׁחַר|
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."|
|יא||אֶל גִּנַּת אֱגוֹז יָרַדְתִּי|
לִרְאוֹת בְּאִבֵּי הַנָּחַל
לִרְאוֹת הֲפָרְחָה הַגֶּפֶן
|To a garden of nuts I went down|
to see in the green shoots of the wadi,
to see if the vine has flourished
the pomegranates budded
|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.|
מַרְכְּבוֹת עַמִּי נָדִיב
|I did not know|
I was set to be
from the chariots of my people, a prince.
|Who again is the speaker - does the princess become prince?|
|7 א||שׁוּבִי שׁוּבִי הַשּׁוּלַמִּית|
שׁוּבִי שׁוּבִי וְנֶחֱזֶה בָּךְ
מַה תֶּחֱזוּ בַּשּׁוּלַמִּית
|Turn, turn O Shulamite |
Turn, turn 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.|
|ב||מַה יָּפוּ פְעָמַיִךְ בַּנְּעָלִים|
חַמּוּקֵי יְרֵכַיִךְ כְּמוֹ חֲלָאִים מַעֲשֵׂה יְדֵי אָמָּן
|how beautiful are your feet with shoes|
daughter of a prince
the curves of your thighs are 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?
|ג||שָׁרְרֵךְ אַגַּן הַסַּהַר|
אַל יֶחְסַר הַמָּזֶג
בִּטְנֵךְ עֲרֵמַת חִטִּים
|your navel is the round bowl |
not lacking mixed wine
your lap a heap of wheat
and fenced with lilies
|your paired breasts|
are like a pair of young
|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.|
|ה||צַוָּארֵךְ 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?|
|ו||רֹאשֵׁךְ 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.
|ז||מַה יָּפִית וּמַה נָּעַמְתְּ|
|How beautiful and how pleasant|
love in these its delights.
|ח||זֹאת קוֹמָתֵךְ דָּמְתָה לְתָמָר|
|This, your stature resembles a palm tree|
and your breasts are like its clusters
|ט||אָמַרְתִּי אֶעֱלֶה בְתָמָר|
וְיִהְיוּ נָא שָׁדַיִךְ
וְרֵיחַ אַפֵּךְ כַּתַּפּוּחִים
|I said, I will go up to the palm tree.|
I will take possession of its branches
and let them be, ah, your breasts
as clusters of the vine
and the fragrance of your nose as apricots.
|י||וְחִכֵּךְ כְּיֵין הַטּוֹב |
הוֹלֵךְ לְדוֹדִי לְמֵישָׁרִים
דּוֹבֵב שִׂפְתֵי יְשֵׁנִים
|And your palate as the best of wine|
flowing for my beloved ever so smoothly
and gliding lips asleep.
וְעָלַי תְּשׁוּקָתוֹ ס
|For I am my beloved's|
and towards me is his desire
|So come, my beloved|
let us go forth into the field.
Let us spend the night under a covering.
נִרְאֶה אִם פָּרְחָה הַגֶּפֶן
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 love to you.
|I think we should be prepared to be surprised by this text.|
|יד||הַדּוּדָאִים נָתְנוּ רֵיחַ|
וְעַל פְּתָחֵינוּ כָּל מְגָדִים
חֲדָשִׁים גַּם יְשָׁנִים
דּוֹדִי צָפַנְתִּי לָךְ
|The mandrakes give fragrance|
and at our gates is all excellence
both 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 א||מִי יִתֶּנְךָ כְּאָח לִי|
יוֹנֵק שְׁדֵי אִמִּי
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 not one would despise me.
אֶל בֵּית אִמִּי תְּלַמְּדֵנִי
|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
that is spiced with the juice of my pomegranate.
|instruct here contrasts with instruction based on fear in Song 3:8|
שְׂמֹאלוֹ תַּחַת לְרֹאשִׁי
|His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me.||closes the frame opened in Song 2:6|
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.
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.
This series on the Song I | 2:4 II 3:5 | III | 5:10 IV 8:4 V - See also the music here.
Posted by Bob MacDonald