Friday, May 04, 2007

Song of Songs Chapter 8

Bonnard, The Open Window

The Song of Songs Chapter 8

8:1 If he were her brother she could kiss him openly. Also, she would be close to him as they nursed at their mother’s breasts.

8:2. Here she is clearly, as in 6:11, ready to make love, as indicated by the condition of nature around her.

As in 3:4, this seems to be a departure from tradition; ordinarily the man brings the woman to his house. Here, presumably, her mother will instruct her in the arts of love. The Shulamite says she will give her lover “the juice of my pomegranate,” which must mean her breasts.

8:3 See 2:6.

8:4 See 2:7, 3:5

The Song of Songs Chapter 8

8:5 Under the tree his mother conceived him, under the tree she bore him, and now with the beloved he awakens to the world of erotic love. See 3:6, and also 2:7, 3:5, 8:4 where awakening has an erotic meaning. See also 2:3 for the association of the man with apricots.

8:6 A seal (cylinder seal) indicates identity, hence, here, both ownership and intimacy. The powers of love are extolled—its sparks lead to great fires.

8:7 A splendid and much-quoted parallelism concerning the permanence of love in the face of watery threats. A suggestion of the Flood narrative? Love is worth more than material things.

8:8 The sister may be the Shulamite or a younger sister. It is unclear, though, who is speaking.

8:9 Are we supposed to see “wall” and “door” as antithetical? The imagery seems to derive from fortifications, presumably a metaphor for the girl's virtue.

8:10 Her brothers say she has no breasts, but she asserts the contrary. She suggests that she is closed to all but her lover. Possibly, she was too young when the brothers made their remark but has now grown. The metaphor is complex, and may be playful.

8:11 This parable of the vineyard at Baal-hamon suggests that love is more precious than riches. The young man says Solomon may have been rich, but at least the young man doesn’t have to share his wealth.

8:12 The previous verse refers to a literal vineyard; here, the Shulamite calls attention to her body by picking up the word from the previous verse and using it metaphorically.The vineyard represents the woman’s sexuality, as in 1:6.

8:13 He says everyone loves her voice, and asks to hear it again.

8:14 The Song ends with the lovers parting at dawn, looking forward to other meetings.