Solomon's Love Song
I suppose there are any number of ways to spiritualize Song, and they're probably all very useful. Nothing especially wrong with allegories; I mean, the apostle Paul allegorized an event from the Old Testament to illustrate his point in Gal 4:21-31, so I think it's probably okay.
But as for us, we'd much rather take this little book in the Old Testament prima facie, viz: as a romantic fantasy rather than some sort of mystical writing.
Now; according to 2Tim 3:15-17; all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
● Song 1:1 . . Solomon's song of songs.
Solomon penned quite a few songs; something like 1,005 (1Kings 4:32). Whether he wrote the music too or just the lyrics; I don't know; maybe. He was a very intelligent guy, but that doesn't necessarily mean he was a musician; nor even that he could carry a tune; but then he didn't have too. Solomon had a number of professional singers on the payroll. (Ecc 2:8)
"song of songs" suggests a colloquialism like Sadaam Hussein's "mother of all wars". In other words: this particular song may have represented Solomon's best work to date.
In a number of places throughout Song, speakers don't address anyone in particular. In point of fact, quite a bit of dialogue throughout Song is what's called soliloquy; defined by Webster's as a poem, discourse, or utterance of a character in a drama that has the form of a monologue, or gives the illusion of being a series of unspoken reflections. In other words: talking with and/or to one's self.
We will also be running across places where the soliloquy isn't vocal; rather, imagined; viz: thoughts.
The Juliet in this musical story is assumed to be a girl called Shulamite (Song 6:13), from the Hebrew word Shuwlammiyth (shoo-lam-meeth') which is apparently a pet name rather than a real name. It means peaceful; defined by Webster's as untroubled by conflict, agitation, or commotion, i.e. quiet, tranquil, and devoid of violence and force.
The "untroubled" aspect of her pet name caught my attention because it strongly suggests, at least to me anyway, that Song's Juliet didn't lose her composure under duress; in other words; she was unlikely to throw a hissy fit when things didn't go her way.
That's a fitting pet name for the girl because later on in Song, she's spoken of as a dove; a bird well-known the world over as having a gentle personality.
Personally I don't much care for the name Shulamite because it's not all that feminine, and it suggests an ethnic identity rather than a pet name; so from here on in I will be calling her Shulah.
BTW: Solomon's Hebrew name Shelomoh (shel-o-mo') compliments Shula's; it means peaceful, which is pretty much the same meaning as hers. However, I don't really care for the sound of that name so I'll be referring to him as Shiloh from here on in. (cf. Gen 49:10)
● Song 1:2a . . May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth.
A lover's kiss doesn't always have to be mouth-to-mouth. For example kissing the hand used to be common courtesy in some parts of the world, same as greetings consisting of kissing on the cheek. However, I think we can safely assume that Shulah had an affectionate kiss in mind rather than courtesy. A kiss on the shoulder would suffice for that purpose. That kind of a kiss, though maybe not very passionate, is at least intimate.
● Song 1:2b . . for your love is better than wine.
That phrase makes better sense when kept with the first half of the verse; which refers to kissing on the lips.
So; better in what way?
Alcohol, in just the right amount, can soothe people's nerves and put them in a good mood.
"He bringing forth food from the earth, wine that gladdens the heart of man" (Ps 104:14-15)
But given the choice, I think most of us would rather be with a lover than with a bottle because lovers, on the whole, make us feel much, much better than booze.
I cannot remember ever feeling like singing whenever I was drinking; but this one girl I was dating back in the day made me feel so good that I was constantly humming old love songs that I hadn't thought of in years. Pretty amazing.
"There are three things which are too wonderful for me; four which I do not understand: The way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship in the middle of the sea, and the way of a man with a maid." (Prov 30:18-19)
● Song 1:3 . . Your oils have a pleasing fragrance, your name is like purified oil; therefore the maidens love you.
ASIDE: We're convinced that Song is just as much a fantasy as Mozart's Magic Flute. The reason being that in Ecc 7:28, Solomon complained that he was unable to find even one good woman among a thousand. In other words: in my estimation, Shulah was a daydream; viz: the kind of girl that Solomon always wished to meet, but never did. She was a girl who only existed in his imagination; and that's where she stayed.
Anyway, back to the guy. The Hebrew word for the "oils" actually describes something greasy, i.e. a paste or a cream or possibly a wax; or something with the consistency of honey. So apparently Shiloh's fragrance was produced by something smeared on rather than splashed on.
The words "purified oil" are from a Hebrew word that actually means "poured forth". Well; an open container of any strong-smelling chemical would eventually fill a whole room with its odor.
Shiloh's name-- i.e. his reputation --was like an open container of perfume in an enclosed room; in other words: everybody knew Shiloh just as Boaz was well-known to be a man of standing in Jerusalem (Ruth 2:1) and "therefore the maidens love you" likely means that Shiloh was a man that any girl would be proud to be seen with, i.e. he was very eligible; viz: a good catch.
● Song 1:4a . .Take me away with you-- let us hurry! Let the king bring me into his chambers.
At this point in the Song, there's been no mention of a married relationship between the guy and the girl; but that doesn't mean that Shulah's thoughts are improper, rather, perfectly normal and to be fully expected. I pity a guy in love with a girl who has no interest in sleeping with him.
● Song 1:4b . . We rejoice and delight in you; we will praise your love more than wine. How right they are to adore you!
We mustn't forget that a man wrote this song, likely thinking himself it's main character, viz: the starring role; so of course he'd picture himself the most irresistible male on the block; and a king to boot. Well; I've seen for myself how girls react to celebrities.
Good Morning America often has musical groups performing outside in the street and one particular day it was Enrique Iglesia.
While Enrique was singing, security hoisted a young girl up on the stage and he began singing his song directly to her. She began choking up and fighting back tears, and then he got down on both knees right in front of her; all the while crooning a very emotional Latin love song and looking right up into her eyes.
And then something happened that was just overwhelming. The girl was wearing a tank top that went down only about mid ways leaving her tummy exposed so you could see her belly button. Enrique gently pressed the palm of his hand on her bare tummy while he was kneeling there singing and looking right up into her eyes. She really lost it then and just about died.
Do you think that girl would have hesitated to bear Enrique's children? I tell you she would have gladly endured quints for that man right then and there. And it's not just the cute celebrities that have that effect on young girls.
My son and I attended an Aerosmith concert back in 1998 and I was utterly astounded at the number of gorgeous buxom young girls crowding security in front of the stage trying to get Stephen Tyler's attention. I don't know how many of you out there have seen a mug shot of Stephen Tyler but I can assure you he looks more like the Witch of Endor than a rock star, but there he was, charming those girls right out of their better judgment.
So then, we shouldn't be surprised that Shulah said to herself: "Let the king bring me into his chambers." Young girls were thinking the very same thing about Elvis Presley back in the early days of his career.
● Song 1:5 . . I am black but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon.
The Hebrew word for "black" is shachor (shaw-khore') which means dusky, defined by Webster's as somewhat dark in color, i.e. somewhere between light and dark; viz: tanned.
Quite a few people here in Oregon frequent tanning salons to darken their skin, while in California they bake themselves in sunlight. But apparently in Shulah's day, women didn't tan on purpose because it was considered unattractive.
The "tents of Kedar" is likely a reference to the portable goatskin shelters utilized by herdsmen in the field, while the "curtains of Solomon" is a reference to the beauty of woven tapestries hanging in his palace.
Shulah had probably never actually seen those tapestries for herself but everybody knew about Solomon's extreme wealth and his ostentatious manner of living.
So, Shulah's feminine attributes outweighed her complexion; and to tell the truth, very few of the men I've encountered during my 75 years on the third rock from the Sun care all that much about the color of a woman's face anyway. It's a very minor consideration; if it's considered at all.
● Song 1:6 . . Do not stare at me because I am swarthy, for the sun has burned me. My mother's sons were angry with me; they made me caretaker of the vineyards. But I have not taken care of my own vineyard.
Shulah's "own vineyard" no doubt refers to taking care of herself. Grape harvest in that land is sometime around July and September; so you can just imagine the damage done to Shulah's skin out there in the fields under a hot summer Sun.
When women "stare" at each other, it's usually for the purpose of evaluating their appearance; viz: the daughters of Jerusalem were nit-picking Shulah's appearance and likely making unkind remarks about it like when Joan Rivers was on Fashion Police; though for Joan it was all in fun, but I suspect the women in Jerusalem were catty; defined by Webster's as spiteful and malicious.
● Song 1:7 . . Tell me, you whom I love, where you graze your flock and where you rest your sheep at midday. Why should I be like a veiled woman beside the flocks of your friends?
A veiled woman following flocks in that day was sort of like the loose women that followed cow towns and mining camps in the olde American west, except that not all veiled women were involved in vice.
When Judah encountered Tamar at a rest stop along the highway, he mistook her for a qedeshah (ked-ay-shaw') which isn't your typical working girl, but rather a devotee raising money for an established religion (Gen 38:21) typically a pagan kind of religion centered upon the worship of a goddess like Ashtoreth (a.k.a. Astarte). So one might say that a qedeshah's services were for a worthy cause.
in those days, cult prostitutes had a measure of respect in their community, and it wasn't unusual for every woman in the community to be expected to take a turn at supporting their "church" in that manner; so cult prostitution wasn't really looked upon as a dirty business, rather, as a sacred obligation.
Still, Shulah wouldn't want it getting around that she was a cult hooker; and it would certainly look that way were she to shadow the flocks. Well; her love interest solved that problem by inviting her to move into camp.
● Song 1:8 . . If you yourself do not know, most beautiful among women; go forth on the trail of the flock, and pasture your young goats by the tents of the shepherds.
That would not only provide Shulah a measure of security, but also protect her reputation because our Romeo no doubt solemnly charged his men to keep their pea-pickin' paws off her just as Boaz did in the book of Ruth. (Ruth 2:9)
This next section in the song appears to me a grandiose day dream wherein Shulah imagines herself utterly irresistible and gives herself quite a variety of compliments. I mean, just look at some of this language.
● Song 1:9 . . I liken you, my darling, to a mare harnessed to one of the chariots of Pharaoh.
Well; I think we can safely assume that the horses pulling Pharaoh's chariot were well above the quality of your average nag-- the picture of equine health; blue ribbon stock; i.e. the best of the best.
● Song 1:10 . .Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings, your neck with strings of jewels.
Those are an interesting compliments. It's stating, in so many words, that the earrings didn't enhance Shulamite's cheeks, nor the necklace her neck. In other words: the jewelry didn't improve Shulamite's appearance, no, she made the jewelry look better.
There's an old saying that goes something like this: Clothes make the man. Well; I propose a new saying: Women make the jewelry.
● Song 1:11 . . We will make you earrings of gold, studded with silver.
You know, it's one thing to walk into a jewelry store and select something from a display case, but quite another to special-order a piece.
I have to say something personal to the single guys out there.
When you finally get around to proposing to your best girl, for heaven's sake don't offer her your mother's ring. No, get one for your girl's very own. Hand-me-downs, regardless of their sentimental value, make no one feel special.
I inadvertently caught a clip of Kim Kardashian planning her wedding wherein she remarked "I want it to be all about me." Well; your marriage won't be all about your bride if you drag your mother into it. Just saying.
● Song 1:12 . .While the king was at his table, my perfume spread its fragrance.
To be "at table" doesn't necessarily refer an item of furniture. The Hebrew word also suffices for just sitting around in a circle, e.g. a picnic. It appears to me that the herders mentioned in verse 8 were on a lunch break.
The Hebrew word for Shulah's perfume identifies an aromatic called nard; commonly translated spikenard. Whether the girl was actually wearing perfume is kind of hard to tell. She may have been imagining this: I mean, who takes care for their grooming while driving sheep and goats?
● Song 1:13-14 . . My lover is to me a sachet of myrrh resting between my breasts.
I'm not really sure how many guys would feel all that manly about themselves being thought of as a little bag of potpourri but at least he'd know that his best girl was happy with him resting his head in that area.
The Hebrew word for Shulah's myrrh shows up for the first time in the Bible at Ex 30:23 where it's a principal ingredient in the recipe for a special holy oil. Myrrh is an aromatic resin. Shulah was a farm girl; I doubt that she could afford any myrrh of her own;
● Song 1:14 . . My lover is to me a cluster of henna blossoms from the vineyards of En Gedi.
En Gedi first appears in the Bible as a community at Josh 16:52. Though kind of rocky, it was an attractive oasis due to its abundance of fresh water. The area is a nature preserve now.
I'm guessing that they valued a bouquet of Henna flowers in Shulah's day like we value red roses in ours.
Now we switch to the king's thoughts.
● Song 1:15 . . How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are doves.
A humorous ladies' tank top I spied had words on it that said: "Tell me I'm beautiful, and buy me a donut."
There are girls who will never once in their entire lives have a guy tell them "Oh how beautiful you are". I'm guessing that Shulah may have been one of those girls.
● Song 1:16 . . How handsome you are, my beloved, and so pleasant! Indeed, our couch is luxuriant.
The Hebrew word for "luxuriant" actually means verdant, defined by Webster's as green with growing plants; in other words: fertile; which is just the opposite of a land that's so arid, and its soil so bad, that nothing but scrub can grow there.
The absence of vegetation I would think precludes the possibility of meadows, glades, and/or woodlands where you could string a hammock in a shaded area protected from the Sun and just kick back and relax; listening to the sounds of nature-- a breeze in the tree tops, a bubbling brook, chirping birds, and buzzing bugs.
Wise city managers are careful to design tracts with parks in mind because they provide people a pleasant escape from the weary round of life.
● Song 1:17 . .The beams of our house are cedars; our rafters are firs.
That is make-believe at its best.
Beams and rafters are the primary structural members of a roof; which when viewed from indoors becomes the ceiling. Ceilings, no matter how ornate, are not what I would call comforting. They're impersonal, and they're cold, and after a while they become quite dull.
But when Shulah is with her lover, that same ceiling becomes to her a forest, i.e. a grove. Shiloh's nearness makes all the difference. He changes Shulah's perspective of what would otherwise be the interior of a very insipid wooden box.
● Song 2:1a . . I am a rose of Sharon
Apparently nobody really knows the species of flower meant by a rose in that passage. Some say it's the narcissus, and other say it's the saffron. Personally I prefer the saffron because of it's full bloom, and it's very blue color.
● Song 2:1b . . a lily of the valleys.
Again, the species of flower is only a guess. The emphasis here is actually upon the color rather than the species, i.e. white. For that reason, I suspect that the rose and the lily are the self same flower because the narcissus is a white flower that looks very much like a lily.
I also suspect that the flower spoken of in that passage is a wild flower rather than a cultivated species; which no doubt speaks of Shulah's natural beauty. Some girls need quite a bit of make-up to look pretty and alluring, but she didn't. Shulah was quite a stand-out.
● Song 2:2 . . Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens.
That's quite a compliment. No doubt lots of girls in Jerusalem rivaled Shulah's beauty, but they might just as well have been concealing themselves with full burkas.
must be a kind of blind love,
I can't see anyone but you.
Are the stars out tonight?
I don't know if it's cloudy or bright,
I only have eyes for you.
may be high,
But I can't see a thing in the sky.
I only have eyes for you.
know if we're in a garden,
Or on a crowded avenue.
Maybe millions of people go by,
But they all disappear from view,
And I only have eyes for you.
(Harry Warren and Al Dubin)
That's one of the all-time great loves songs, recorded by The Flamingos in 1959.
● Song 2:3a . . Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men.
The Hebrew word for "apple" is somewhat vague. It's possibly a generic term that can pertain to any number of fruit-bearing trees, e.g. oranges, quince, citron, etc which are trees that produce fruits that not only taste good, but smell pretty good too when they're cut open.
Seeing as how Song is a fantasy rather than a fact, we could make Shulah's "apple" tree any species we want, including cherries, which produce not only tasty fruit, but also lovely blossoms too. The exact species isn't all that important. What really matters is the contrast.
Fruit trees produce food, while woodland trees as a rule don't produce any really useful nourishment; unless you're maybe a beaver, a chipmunk, or an insect.
● Song 2:3b . . I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste.
The flesh of fruit is typically soft compared to nuts and seeds, which are usually hard.
Most guys would rather be thought of as an oak's acorn than a fruit. But an oak tree-- whose lumber is certainly far more sturdy than that of most fruit trees --isn't romantic. Oaks are brutish-- like oxen --and who really wants to snuggle with bovines.
● Song 2:4a . . He brought me to the banqueting house,
The Hebrew word for "banquet" is yayin (yah'-yin) which refers to a fermented beverage; one containing alcohol.
Another of that's word's appearances is located in the book of Esther where she arranged a sort of special tea party for her potentate; only the tea in that case was wine.
● Song 2:4b . . and his banner over me is love.
The largest use of banners is located in first ten chapter of the book of Numbers as flags hoisted aloft to indicate tribal rallying points.
The combination is a pretty cool metaphor. The banquet and the banner indicate that Shulah held a special place in her lover's heart.
● Song 2:5a . . Stay me with flagons,
Webster's defines a flagon as a large usually metal or pottery vessel (as for wine) with handle and spout and often a lid and/or a large bulging short necked bottle, and/or the contents of a flagon
The Hebrew word must be difficult because not every version translates 'ashiyshah (ash-ee-shaw') as a container or the contents of a container. A number of versions translate that word as a cake of raisins; which actually makes better sense than wine because the purpose is to "stay me" which means to strengthen, prop up, and/or support. Well; alcohol usually does very little to strengthen people; especially pitchers of the stuff.
● Song 2:5b . . comfort me with apples:
The Hebrew word for "apples" in that verse is the same as Song 2:3, where it's possibly a generic term that can pertain to any number of fruit-bearing trees, e.g. oranges, quince, citron, etc; which are trees that produce fruits that not only taste good, but smell pretty good too when they're cut open.
It appears that Shulah has been so focused upon this love interest of hers that she has neglected to eat and has now become aware that her body is weak and in need of nourishment.
● Song 2:5c . . for I am faint with love.
That pretty much describes lovesickness, which Webster's defines as languishing with love; viz: Shulah's love for Shiloh was so passionate, and so distracting, that she had lost her appetite and wasn't eating right; thus, it was wearing her down; and no wonder. Observe this next fantasy going thru her head.
● Song 2:6 . . His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me.
● Song 2:7 . .
We left the scripture for that passage blank because there is so much disagreement as how to translate the Hebrew into English. But myself, I prefer Rashi's version; which reads like this:
"I bind you under oath-- by the gazelles and the does --that you do not cause hatred nor disturb this love while it still pleases."
Some translations address that oath to the daughters of Jerusalem.
Song 2:7 seems to me a concern that rivals might make of themselves the proverbial fly in the ointment by trying to draw Shiloh's attention away from Shulah and thus spoil the happiness she's enjoying with the love of her life.
● Song 2:8-9a . . Listen! My lover! Look! Here he comes, leaping across the mountains, bounding over the hills. My lover is like a gazelle or a young stag.
Many years ago I was driving to a date with my best girl when I got a hankering to take a roundabout route through a valley that I had heard much about but never seen for myself.
It was a nice drive but had a very serious downside. My girl was expecting me and when I showed up late and told her where I'd been she said: "So you were in no hurry to get here?" Ouch!
Well; Shulah's dream guy could scarcely run fast enough to be with her. He was all go with throttle up like a Space Shuttle launch: the pedal to the metal. If Shiloh had an afterburner, he would've lit that off too and made a bee line straight for Shulah's door; no side trips.
● Song 2:9b . . Look! There he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattice.
(chuckle) That makes Shiloh appear to be sort of a peeping Tom but really his behavior is no different than a boy tossing little pebbles at a girl's window to get her attention.
● Song 2:10 . . My lover spoke and said to me; "Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me."
You know, there's nothing like early morning in the countryside during fair weather. The air, the sights, the sounds, and the smells are all very invigorating; and even better when done with someone special.
● Song 2:11-13 . . See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.
I sometimes wonder if maybe city planners don't have lovers in mind when they design city parks where people can at least feel in nature; though only a microcosm of the real thing.
moon out tonight,
Let's go strollin'.
There's a girl in my heart,
Whose heart I've stolen
moon out tonight,
Let's go strollin' through the park
glow in my heart,
I never felt before.
There's a girl at my side,
That I adore
(The Capris, 1958)
● Song 2:14a . . O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the secret place of the steep pathway,
The Hebrew word for "dove" is very often translated pigeon; a peaceable bird that prefers roosting in confined spaces; preferably with a roof over its head like docks, wharfs, bridges, and roadway overpasses; hence the mention of clefts.
● Song 2:14b . . show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.
Hard-core, ascetics play down women's looks, but you know; beauty still counts for something in romance.
And really, just beauty per se counts with most women. I usually accompany my wife when she goes shopping for cosmetics at Sephora-- which is sort of like what Home Depot is to men --and have come to the conclusion that if Sephora doesn't have what women need to look their best, then they're already looking their best.
One's voice has a role in romance along with their appearance. For example: one day at the Dentist's office, I observed a receptionist talking with her boyfriend on a landline and you should've seen her face. It was all lit up with the brightest, toothiest smile ever. Had her guy seen the effect that his voice was having upon that girl, he would've been greatly encouraged.
NOTE: It was mentioned back in post No.8 that very few of the men I've encountered during my 75 years on the third rock from the Sun care all that much about the color of a woman's face. It's a very minor consideration; if it's considered at all. Well; here in Song 2:14 we encounter Shiloh's infatuation with Shulah's face in spite of her swarthy complexion. Duh. No surprise there.
● Song 2:15 . .Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines. For our vines have tender grapes.
The Hebrew word for "foxes" actually means jackals. Why it's translated foxes I haven't a clue. But whether foxes or jackals makes no real difference because it's just a metaphor anyway.
Love usually doesn't shipwreck all at once, rather, it goes to ruin in small ways, a little at a time, until the damage is so great that there's no possibility of recovery.
Apparently the love that we've been examining is a blooming love; hence the words "tender grapes". In point of fact, the Hebrew word refers to a vine blossom. The same word can also be used as an adverb, e.g. abloom.
It doesn't take all that many foxes to spoil a blooming love; it's very fragile: a few wrong looks, a few wrong words, a few betrayals of trust, and/or a few simple misunderstandings.
BTW: Many of Hallmark Channel's blooming loves are almost ruined by perceived betrayals of trust combined with simple misunderstandings. The theme is very recurring probably because it's so true to life.
● Song 2:16 . . My beloved is mine, and I am his;
I'm not just one of your many toys.
You don't own me,
Don't say I can't go with other boys.
(Lesley Gore, 1963)
The lyrics of that song depict a defiant girl standing up to a possessive boyfriend. Well; that defiance may be warranted for people dating for the fun of it; but the girl in Solomon's song is very much in love. Her dreamboat isn't just another guy; he's the guy: the one.
True love is possessive, i.e. jealous; which is an attribute seen of God in the Old Testament. Jealousy wants the object of it's love all to itself and tolerates no rivals.
Jealousy is often the target of cruel, insensitive teasing --which has no consideration for the feelings of people really fallen in love. True love is vulnerable; teasing it is like viciously kicking somebody in the stomach when they're down.
● Song 2:16 . .He pastures his flock among the lilies.
The only sheep in this particular flock is Shulah; and a pasture with lilies in it suggests the best soil for grasses rather than just any soil that will support some growth. In other words; Shiloh gives Shulah special attention as opposed to merely being polite to the other girls in Jerusalem. (Compare Genesis 43:34 where Joseph served Benjamin five times more on his plate than the other brothers.)
● Song 2:17 . . Before the dawn comes and the shadows flee away, come back to me, my love. Run like a gazelle or a young stag on the rugged mountains.
Why her Shiloh would be away at night, is a mystery. But Shulah is apparently okay with it just so long as she doesn't wake in the morning and find his side of the bed cold and empty, and him gone.
● Song 3:1-2 . . One night as I lay in bed, I yearned deeply for my lover, but he did not come. So I said to myself: I will get up now and roam the city, searching for him in all its streets and squares. But my search was in vain.
Apparently Shiloh was later than usual and Shulah began to panic that maybe her man was lying in the streets somewhere beaten half to death by muggers on his way home. Women's imaginations tend to run a little wild like that at times, especially late at night.
● Song 3:3 . .The watchmen stopped me as they made their rounds, and I said to them: Have you seen him anywhere, this one I love so much?
It appears that Shulah felt that the night watchmen should know the identity of the man for whom she searched without her having to tell them. Perhaps they inquired (after first calming her down a bit) but we're not told. Solomon's love song is sketchy in places, lots of places.
Shulah's venture out at night says something about the Jerusalem of Solomon's day. It was safe for a lone woman after hours. Actually that's believable because the Bible characterizes Solomon's kingdom as peaceable. But this song is a fantasy.
● Song 3:4 . . It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.
It appears that Shulah had to practically drag Shiloh away from whatever it was keeping him out late,
The Hebrew word for "chamber" doesn't necessarily refer to a bedroom; though in this case it probably does because Shulah was tucked in that night when she became concerned that Shiloh wasn't home yet.
● Song 3:5 . . I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please.
In other words; Shulah hung out a sort of "Do Not Disturb / Late Sleeper" sign on the front door just in case some of the local girls were up early and singing, dancing, and playing out in the street having fun and making a ruckus like kids normally do.
The Hebrew for "daughters" is a nondescript word indicating females of any age; from children to adults. It's likely in this instance, they were children. Shulah maybe had to scold a few of them in order to get them to quiet down out there.
This next section smacks of braggadocio; roughly defined by Webster's as boasting. I rather suspect that Solomon tended to be a bit ostentatious; defined by Webster's as attracting or seeking to attract attention, admiration, or envy often by gaudiness or obviousness.
● Song 3:6a . . Who is this coming up from the desert like a column of smoke
Like they say: Where there's smoke, there's fire.
● Song 3:6b . . Perfumed with myrrh and incense made from all the spices of the merchant?
Apparently if the wind was just right, people could smell Solomon coming before he was in sight. No doubt nobody in the Israel of that day smelled like he did, nor could afford to. The bouquet of spices producing his scent was likely quite distinctive.
● Song 3:7-8 . . Look! It is Solomon's carriage, escorted by sixty warriors, the noblest of Israel, all of them wearing the sword, all experienced in battle, each with his sword at his side, prepared for the terrors of the night.
The armed escort probably wasn't the only members of the king's entourage; but his personal bodyguards are notable because they're all combat veterans.
I'm guessing Solomon made sure everybody all around knew that his guards had what it takes to survive in battle so that wannabee assassins wouldn't assume that attacking him would be no more risky than breaking through a pack of Boy Scouts.
You know, losing your life by a bullet is actually kind of tidy compared to losing your life by sword. Soldiers back then typically disemboweled their opponents, hewed their limbs; and sometimes hacked off their heads and/or split open their skulls like melons. That's a messy, grisly way to die; and just the thought of it can be very intimidating.
● Song 3:9 . . King Solomon made for himself the carriage; he made it of wood from Lebanon.
This carriage was custom made rather than taken out of storage from a previous king's garage.
● Song 3:10 . . Its posts he made of silver, its base of gold. Its seat was upholstered with purple, its interior lovingly inlaid by the daughters of Jerusalem.
The song says that Solomon's carriage was upholstered "lovingly". Well; I have to doubt that because he's known in other parts of the Bible for conscripting huge labor forces to accomplish extravagant building programs. I even kind of doubt that his bodyguards were volunteers.
But in this song, Solomon is thinking very highly of himself so the women are of course pleased, proud, and happy to do something for him; I mean, after all he's a king; what's not to admire? Right?
● Song 3:11a . . Come out, you daughters of Zion,
No men are called to come out? You know, I can't help but detect a touch of narcissism in this song's lyrics coupled with the fantasies of a man who sincerely believes himself desired not just by some women, but by all women.
● Song 3:11b . . and look at King Solomon wearing the crown, the crown with which his mother crowned him on the day of his wedding, the day his heart rejoiced.
I'd like to know exactly which of his weddings that Solomon was thinking about when he penned that lyric. He had something like seven hundred wives.
CHAPTERS 04 Thru 08
The remainder of Solomon's love song is a bit mushy. It's filled with the lovers' expressions of admiration and praises for each other; which more or less speak for themselves and require neither explanation nor comment.
To cap our remarks, I'd like to borrow a pertinent line from the 1995 movie "Sabrina" staring Julia Ormond, Harrison Ford, and Greg Kinnear.
While strolling with a friend in Paris, Sabrina expressed her feelings for Kinear's character David, who at the time was living back in the States. Sabrina and David weren't an item; they'd never dated nor had he even once shown the slightest interest in her; yet Sabrina regarded David as the love of her life, and had only good things to say about him. But Sabrina didn't know the real man; rather, her David was a fantasy.
After Sabrina told her friend how that thoughts of David keep her company, the friend remarked:
"Illusions are dangerous people because they have no flaws."
Well; Solomon's song has only good things to say about Shiloh and about Shulah, viz: they're both flawless; but that's an illusion-- in real life, nobody is flawless; and some flaws can be rather intolerable once we get to know them.
I Only Have Eyes For You