Friday, May 04, 2007

Song of Songs Chapter 7

Bonnard, Nude in Front of a Mirror

The Song of Songs Chapter 7

7:1 In this section the Shulamite dances, and is admired as she does. It is the first time we hear the young woman referred to as the Shulamite. The question is posed why the young man gazes at her, which prompts his response. Her thighs are singled out for praise because of their quality of bringing to mind fine workmanship. This interest in craftsmanship as a theme is more prevalent in Homer than in the Bible.

7:2 Her navel is round like the moon. Some suppose it refers to her vulva, and the association with wine mingles here with sexual intoxication. It is compared with a mound of wheat, suggesting softness and fertility. Again, lilies suggest sexuality.

7:3 See 4:4-5

7:4 Presumably, she has a long and beautiful neck, or at least holds herself erect.

7:5 Her beautiful hair has ensnared her “king.” Her dark hair looks almost purple. Women were supposed to keep their hair hidden under veils because of its erotic allure. Here, the image of the hair entrapping the lover is found in Egyptian love poems. The notes “With her hair she throws lassoes at me, with her eyes she catches me, with her necklace she entangles me, and with her seal ring she brands me” Song 43 in the Chester Beatty Cycle, translated by W. K. Simpson, ed., The Literature of Ancient Egypt, 324).

7:6 After praising the Shulamite for several verses, the young man goes on to praise Love itself. Two other songs of praise, at 4:7 and 5:16, also end in abstractions, which was typical of the traditional genre.

7:7 She is compared to a palm tree—with hard to reach, but delectable, fruit.This image brings to mind Odysseus marvelous conception of the alluring Nausicaa in Book 6 of the Odyssey.

I never yet saw any one so beautiful, neither man nor woman, and am lost in admiration as I behold you. I can only compare you to a young palm tree which I saw when I was at Delos growing near the altar of Apollo - for I was there, too, with many people after me, when I was on that journey which has been the source of all my troubles. Never yet did such a young plant shoot out of the ground as that was, and I admired and wondered at it exactly as I now admire and wonder at yourself.

7:8 He remembers thinking to himself how much he wants her. This is clearly an allusion to making love.

7:9 See 4:11, 5:16 for more about the association between the mouth and sweet wine.

7:10 This refrain has been interpreted as a reversal of the notion found in Genesis that man has dominion over woman. It suggests mutuality.

7:11 See 1:13-14.

7:12 Vines and pomegranates seem to refer to sexuality in 1:6, 4:13, 7:9,

7:13 The mandrake grows in the area, has purple flowers and golden fruit, and has long been associated with sex because its roots look like thighs. Just as the mandrakes give off their scent, she will give him her love. The fruit she stores only for him is a metaphor for her sexual favors.