This post is part of a reflective Lenten series, originally published as Facebook posts on my personal account.
Lenten practice, day #21.
Reference: Songs 7:1-14
As we near the end of the book, we see the complement of what structured the beginning of the book. Instead of the bride going on and on about the bridegroom, we see the groom going on and on about his bride.
Yes, here most of the descriptions are physical. It’s also erotic poetry, so that’s not exactly surprising. Once again, the symbols are lost on us today–basically just look at every comparison they make and know that the item used to illustrate the bride either refers to bounty and wealth or fertility and prosperity. Some of them also refer to straight up beautiful things (like comparing her thighs to gems) (also a comment on her thighs being “rock-hard,” although I can basically guarantee that’s not intended by the author). All in all, an EXTREMELY flattering and intimate poem, especially to ancient ears.
Perhaps my favorite part, however, comes in verse 10, as the groom begins yet another flattering description of her beauty and she cuts him off, finishing his sentence, but with a twist that shows her affections for him. How beautiful it is to see them working in tandem like that, each willing the other to feel loved, cherished, and beautiful! Right at this interchange, the title of the paragraph changes to “Love’s Union.” As their words join together, they unify. How appropriate!
At the end of this chapter, still under the heading “Love’s Union,” she finally invites him to consummate their relationship, using symbolic language to do so.
One last thing I’d like to point out:
When the Bible says something like, “The mandrakes give forth fragrance,” know that these are real-life plants, not something that can cause immediate deafness if you pull it out of the ground and it begins screaming (I’m lookin’ at you, Harry Potter fans). Mandrakes were herbs known to arouse love and promote fertility. No comment on hearing loss.