On the Song of Songs: Part 2, the Metaphor (Sex in the Garden)

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On the Song of Songs: Part 2, the Metaphor (Sex in the Garden)

In our opening commentary on the Song of Songs of Solomon, titled The Allegory, we made the assertion that the poem itself is an allegory which represents the love which Yahweh God has for the children of Israel as a nation, His Bride, and which the Bride is portrayed as having for her Husband, which is Yahweh her God. We shall see further evidence of that allegory as the poem commences. However in spite of that underlying meaning, the work is also a love poem between an actual husband and wife, Solomon and his bride, and its metaphors represent their love and desire for one another as well as their describing acts of love-making. So here we shall assert that the metaphors employed in the description of those acts shall also give us greater insight into the meanings of similar metaphors and allegories which are found in other portions of the Biblical literature.

Up to this point, the dialogue between the Husband and the Bride grows in intensity as it progresses from its beginning in verse 7 of chapter 1. After the Husband begins to extol the beauty of the Bride, she in turn describes him as sitting at his table, as the King James Version has it, as her own bodily scent fills the air and she confesses that his odor is appealing to her. Then she exclaims that “he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts”, whereupon we should realize that the table is a metaphor, and not a literal table, and she compares her lover to something which can burn intensely, which is camphire or asphalt, in the vineyards, a place where one may not expect to find camphire. So then she once again declares her lover’s appeal and begins to speak of their bed and its surroundings before she describes herself with flowery metaphors.

The meaning of the allegory where camphire is mentioned draws a picture of the Bride herself as a vineyard, and her Husband is burning within her as they engage in their love-making. The veracity of that interpretation shall become even clearer as the Song progresses through to the end of chapter 4 and we see the Bride described as a garden, the Husband being invited to eat of its fruits. Then in the second verse of Song chapter 2, which we have also already discussed, the Husband speaks and describes the Bride with similes and metaphors of trees and fruit, and as we have just explained, we shall see more of those metaphors as the Song progresses.

Following that, in verse 4 of chapter 2 the Bride declares that her husband brought her to a “banqueting house”, as it is in the King James Version, and that must also be a metaphor since it is there that she becomes exhausted from love-making, she describes herself lying in close embrace with her lover, and he falls asleep whereupon she goes to address the Chorus, admonishing them not to awaken him. This is where we had left off with the Song in our first presentation. But before we continue, there is another important aspect of that scene which we should further discuss.

In verse 3 of chapter 2, the Bride declares that “3 As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.” The Bride is depicted as having spoken those words in the context of a love poem which is replete with erotic imagery. Here we shall assert that this language evokes the words of Genesis chapter 3 because in the world in which these works were written, sexual acts were naturally described with such allegories as poetic euphemisms. So in the King James Version, In Genesis chapter 3, we read:

“1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. 6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”

In Genesis, the woman ate of the tree, as did her husband after her, and they both found death as a result of their having eaten because they were warned not to eat of that particular tree, which is also ostensibly an allegory for certain people. So we would assert, that just as this Song of Songs uses trees and the eating of fruit to represent people and sexual activities, so did Moses when he wrote those words in Genesis chapter 3. But as we have also explained on a few occasions in our commentaries on Scripture, these metaphors and poetic euphemisms for sexual relations are even older than Abraham himself, as they are also found in the Epic of Gilgamesh, an ancient Akkadian poem which was based on similar Sumerian legends that date to as early as the late third millennium BC, approaching the very time of Abraham. There is archaeological evidence that Gilgamesh, one of the so-called giants, was a famous Sumerian king who lived and ruled around the middle of the third millennium BC.

[The following few paragraphs are adapted from our 2007 essay, Shemitic Idioms and Genesis Chapter Three and cite Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament [ANET], Princeton University Press, 1969, James Pritchard, editor:]

The title character, Gilgamesh, was said to have been formed by the gods, and to be two-thirds a god and one-third human (ANET, p.73). It is not a coincidence that this evokes the account found in Genesis chapter 6, as we also find similar stories in many Greek legends as well as in other ancient examples of Mesopotamian literature. The character Gilgamesh is mentioned several times in the Book of Giants, a part of the Enoch literature, which was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, namely the scrolls designated 4Q530 and 4Q531, so the legend was known to the ancient Hebrews.

In the Akkadian epic, Gilgamesh is a mighty man “endowed with super-human size” (ANET, p. 73), who ruled as king over the Mesopotamian city Uruk, which is the Erech mentioned in the Bible at Genesis 10:10. Gilgamesh is portrayed as a greedy, rapacious character, and a harsh ruler who cannot be challenged, having neither rival nor equal. Therefore the people of the land appealed to the god Anu for assistance. With this, the goddess Aruru was beckoned to create another mighty giant, and she complied, creating Enkidu to be a rival to Gilgamesh. Enkidu, created in the wilderness of the steppe, out of the way of civilization and any contact with humans, became a great friend and protector of wildlife. Soon Enkidu put animal hunters and trappers in fear, having protected the animals from them and having cut them off from their means of living. Seeking relief, a hunter went to Uruk and appealled to Gilgamesh for his assistance against the mighty savage Enkidu (ANET, pp. 73-74).

But rather than leave the city to confront Enkidu, Gilgamesh advises the hunter to subdue the savage giant by quite another method. This we read from Tablet I, part iii, lines 40-45 of the epic (ANET, p. 75):

“Go, my hunter, take with thee a harlot-lass.
When he waters the beasts at the watering-place,
She shall pull off her clothing, laying bare her ripeness.
As soon as he sees her, he will draw near to her.
Reject him will his beasts that grew up on his steppe!”

The hunter does as Gilgamesh instructs him to do, and by carrying out the plot he is quite successful. From part iv, lines 16-39 of the same tablet (ANET, p. 75):

“The lass freed her breasts, bared her bosom,
And he possessed her ripeness.
She was not bashful as she welcomed his ardor.
She laid aside her cloth and he rested upon her.
She treated him, the savage, to a woman’s task,
As his love was drawn unto her.

For six days and seven nights Enkidu comes forth,
Mating with the lass.

Twice here we see the harlot’s nakedness described as her ripeness, as a piece of fruit, associated with an act of love-making. Some other translations of this epic translate the word for ripeness as sex, thereby losing the idiom. While that same account in Gilgamesh soon after had used other idioms which are also found in Genesis chapter 3, as the editors themselves had noted, and which are related to sexual awakening, saying of Enkidu that “now he had wisdom, broader understanding” and that “Thou art wise, Enkidu, art become like a god”, they are beyond the scope of our discussion here concerning the Song. What is important, is to realize that these descriptions in Gilgamesh, and the similar and more comprehensive language here in the Song, as well as the similar language in Genesis chapter 3 are all metaphors with trees and fruit being used as euphemisms for sexual relations.

So to repeat these three examples together, first from Gilgamesh: “She shall pull off her clothing, laying bare her ripeness. As soon as he sees her, he will draw near to her…. The lass freed her breasts, bared her bosom, And he possessed her ripeness. She was not bashful as she welcomed his ardor. She laid aside her cloth and he rested upon her… She treated him, the savage, to a woman’s task, As his love was drawn unto her.” Now from Genesis chapter 3: “6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” Finally, from the Song: “3 As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. 4 He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. 5 Stay me with flagons [or raisin cakes], comfort me with apples: for I am sick [or weak] of [or from] love. 6 His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me.”

Again, we shall assert that all of these metaphors are describing sexual relations. There are others to come, which shall add to the evidence supporting our assertion. Eve “saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and… she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat” and the Bride of the Song saw her lover “As the apple tree among the trees of the wood” and then she “sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to [her] taste.” There are other such allegories in the writings of Solomon, although they are more concise. For example, after speaking of a harlot and the sort of men who would employ her, we read in Proverbs chapter 9 that “17 Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” Then in Proverbs chapter 30 we read “20 Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness.” But here in the Song, the allegories are much more developed and the parallels with Genesis chapter 3 are unmistakable and plausibly undeniable.

So continuing with the Song from where we had left off in chapter 2 at the end of our last presentation, the Bride, who in verse 7 had addressed the Chorus by admonishing them not to awaken her sleeping lover, now seems to be making an announcement to them, where it is evident that this scene is from a later time.

Bride: 8 The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.

The text of verse 8 is the passage which Melito the Philosopher also known as Melito of Sardis, a Christian writer who flourished in the second half of the 2nd century, had evidently cited in reference to the ascension of the Christ. While I think it strange that this particular verse was associated with the ascension of Christ, Melito was apparently one of the most esteemed of the early Christian writers. However although he was cited frequently by later so-called “Church Fathers”, most of his works have been lost, which may also be an indication of how useful or convenient they may have been to the later Roman Catholic Church.

Continuing with the Song, while the Bride still seems to be addressing the Chorus, this is also the beginning of a monologue which endures through the end of Song chapter 3. In this monologue, the Bride shares her fantasies of her Husband, and expresses her longing for him.

Bride: 9 My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice.

The imagery in the first part of verse 9 continues the thought which was begun in verse 8, where the Husband is pictured leaping and bounding through the hillside as a stag. But here it is apparent that her lover is not actually present with her, so as she continues this seems to represent a mere fantasy:

Bride: 10 My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. 11 For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; 12 The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; 13 The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.

The Hebrew word rendered here as come away would have been better translated as come along, or merely come, which is the literal meaning of ילך or yalak (Strong’s # 3212). The word for turtle is actually turtledove, תור or towr (Strong’s # 8449), a bird which has long been associated with romance. In Greek mythology, the τρυγών, or dove, was used to symbolize Aphrodite, their pagan goddess of love. Likewise, the dove has represented romance throughout the history of English literature. The Merriam-Webster dictionary acknowledges that the word turtle, a word which was derived from French, was used to describe the turtledove in Middle English, although it also described the aquatic animal from at least as early as the 12th century.

Here the blossoming of Spring is depicted as an opportune time for love-making, so the Bride is imagining that her husband was extending to her an invitation, although he is apparently not yet present. Therefore she continues to express her longing, and now we see another word for dove, which is יונה or jonah, as we saw at the end of chapter 1. Both Hebrew terms, for dove and turtledove, were also used in that chapter.

Bride: 14 O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely. 15 Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes. 16 My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies. 17 Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.

Where it says “take us the foxes”, the meaning is to catch the foxes, as the term is translated here in both the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible and the New American Standard Bible. Where the Bride then declares that “our vines have tender grapes” and asserts that “my beloved is mine” she seems to be insisting that her Husband enjoy her fruits while they are ripe, before they can be snatched up by others, the foxes. Then where she says of him that “he feedeth among the lilies” she is further encouraging him to come to her in a playfully seductive manner.

With this we shall commence with Song of Songs chapter 3, and the bride continues to long for her lover as she reflects on her fantasies:

Bride: 1 By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.

Now the scene which follows would be impossible for a noblewoman, especially for a king’s wife, in the ancient world, as she and the other women of his household would be closely guarded. The womens’ quarters of great houses were typically the innermost chambers of the house, separated from most of the rest of the house, and all of the house surrounding them would be guarded. So this lends substance to the evidence that the allegory of the Song is a description of the loving relationship between Yahweh and the children of Israel as His collective Bride:

Bride: 2 I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not. 3 The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth? 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.

From a modern perspective, at least, the passage exhibits deeper strains of feminism. Once one realizes that the children of Israel are the Bride of Yahweh their God, all of their rebellion against God as their Father and as Husband of the nation, and their wanderings in the worship of other gods, can be seen in feminism. The Bride goes out on her own, seeking to find and control the Husband, and therefore when she finds him she brings him to her own mother’s house, rather than persuading him to bring her to his house. Evidently, she embarks on this path because she felt that she was left alone. It may also be observed that Adam must have also left Eve alone, as the serpent had access to speak with her by herself in order to seduce her.

As for verse 4 where it says “I held him, and would not let him go”, in both the Greek of the Septuagint and the Latin of the Vulgate the word for let him go is in a future tense. So it may better be read “I held him, and shall not let him go”, where it is evident that the bride, who is only having a fantasy, is expressing a wish but that this is not a statement in fact, as we shall soon see that the Husband was not yet present.

So now, as the Bride continues in her fantasy, once again she is depicted as addressing the Chorus, with the a very similar admonition which she had uttered at 2:7:

Bride: 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.

The final phrase is problematical. The form of the Hebrew verb is feminine, and for that reason the New American Standard Bible has it to read “That you will not arouse or awaken my love, Until she pleases." However that does not fit the context. Rather, this being a fantasy, we would lean towards the rendering given in the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible, where love itself is the subject of the verb and it says “do not stir up or awaken love until it is ready!”

Here it is also noted in the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible that the scroll known as 4QCantb “Reflects a shorter text that eliminates the description of King Solomon’s dramatic arrival.” Then it attests that: “The longer text found in the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint also appears in 4QCanta and 4QCantc.”

So now the Chorus is depicted as answering the Bride, and the answer also anticipates the fulfillment of the longing desire of the Bride.

Chorus: 6 Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant?

The Chorus, in a question, announces the coming of the Husband. Myrrh and Frankincense were valuable ointments, but they were not native to Palestine and had to be purchased from other countries, most notably from Arabia. Later, they were among the gifts of the Magi to the infant Christ child, so perhaps they were grown in the east also, in a place accessible to the Parthians, or it is also probable that the Parthians had also trade established with the Arab tribes, who were at that time not nearly as mixed with other races as the modern Arabs. Although this is a digression, it is during the rule of Solomon, in 1 Kings chapter 10, that the lands to the east are first identified as Arabia in Scripture. Before that time they were identified independently by the names of the ancient tribes or kingdoms which occupied the territory, such as Midian or Havilah, for examples.

Now, before the Husband arrives, the Bride continues to address the Chorus, by speaking of him in admiration:

Bride: 7 Behold his bed, which is Solomon's; threescore valiant men are about it, of the valiant of Israel. 8 They all hold swords, being expert in war: every man hath his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night.

In this passage the Bride’s own words show that the scene in the earlier verses in this chapter, where she said that she went out wandering the markets at night in search of her lover, is indeed implausible, and therefore we should not take them literally. It should also be understood that here, where she describes sixty valiant warriors around Solomon’s bed, she does not mean that they are in his bedroom standing around the bed itself, but rather, that they are stationed as guards around Solomon wherever he sleeps. Here in this context, it is not a reference to his bed in his home, but rather, to the coach in which he is travelling. Therefore the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible translates the clause to say “Look! It is Solomon’s travelling-couch, surrounded by sixty of Israel’s most mighty men.”

The Bride continues addressing the Chorus, with her description of the approaching Husband:

Bride: 9 King Solomon made himself a chariot of the wood of Lebanon. 10 He made the pillars thereof of silver, the bottom thereof of gold, the covering of it of purple, the midst thereof being paved with love, for the daughters of Jerusalem.

Here the Hebrew word אפריון or 'appiryown (Strong’s # 668) is a chariot, but it has also been interpreted as a sedan or palanquin, which is typically a sort of covered carriage for a passenger.

Now the Bride addresses the Chorus once more:

Bride: 11 Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart.

Of course, Solomon’s mother did not crown him as King, but in ancient times people were crowned, or wreathed, for various purposes. Here perhaps some ancient custom is revealed, where a mother would crown a son at his wedding celebration. So the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible renders the verse to read, in part: “… gaze on King Solomon wearing the crown with which his mother crowned him on his wedding day, on the day of his heart’s happiness.” Perhaps the Bride was expressing a wish, that Solomon did indeed have her in his heart, and on his mind, for which reason he is described as wearing that crown as he approached.

Now as we commence with Song of Songs chapter 4, Solomon himself is the speaker.

Husband: 1 Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes within thy locks: thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead.

The word for locks is צמה or tsammah (Strong’s # 6777), and it means veil. Here it is probably describing a literal veil, and not the hair as a veil, since hair is mentioned immediately after, where it is described as a flock of goats. That seems to be a reference to the abundance and texture of her hair, and not to any particular color.

Husband: 2 Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them.

The compliment reflects upon the whiteness of her teeth, so where we see similes comparing things to wool elsewhere in Scripture, we should interpret wool as being a symbol for whiteness. This is also apparent in a comparison of the phrases “white as snow” and to “be as wool” in Isaiah 1:18, and also in Ezekiel 27:18, Daniel 7:9 and Revelation 1:14, where there is a reference to Christ Himself having hair as white as wool. In this passage, the reference to twins seems to be a reflection of the uniformity of her teeth, as each tooth has an identical counterpart on the opposite side of the jaw. None are barren, or as the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible has it, “not one among them has lost its young”, so therefore none of her teeth are missing.

Husband: 3 Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks.

Again, the word translated as locks is actually a veil. Pomegranate is a reddish-colored fruit which in ancient times was commonly found throughout the Mediterranean basin. Describing the temples of the Bride, it is a reference to the ruddiness of her skin. However, Rather than temples, the Septuagint Greek and Latin Vulgate each have a word for cheeks, where such ruddiness is typically more apparent. Later, in Song chapter 7, the Husband describes the belly of his Bride to be “like an heap of wheat set about with lilies”, and both of those metaphors can also be used to describe the whiteness of something.

At this point there is a note in the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible, that the scroll designated 4qCantb is wanting verses 4 through 7 of this chapter. While it offers two possible reasons, it informs us that the text is found in 4QCanta as well as in both the Septuagint and the Masoretic Text.

Husband: 4 Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.

While from a modern point of view this comparison may be more fitting for a man than a women, it is still the Husband who is describing the bride, and the majesty of her neck in glorious terms.

Husband: 5 Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies.

The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible has the clause to read “Your twin breasts are like two fawns, like the twins of a gazelle which feed among the lilies”, which also expresses youthfulness. Perhaps the vivacity of the breasts of the Bride is being described, rather than merely their appearance.

Husband: 6 Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.

In this context these acts are clearly also euphemisms for love-making, as the Husband seems to be seducing himself in his act of describing his Bride. Now the Husband attests to how pleased he is with His bride:

Husband: 7 Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.

So in the eyes of the Husband, the Bride is perfect. The same is true of Israel in the eyes of Yahweh, in spite of her sins, as Yahweh intends to perfect her. So we read in Isaiah chapter 42: “ 19 Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the LORD'S servant?”

As it is noted in the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible, the Dead Sea Scroll designated 4QCanta is waning all of the text after this point, through Song 6:10, although all, or perhaps at least most, of the pericope is attested in 4QCantb. Evidently, a large enough portion of the other two copies of the Song found in the scrolls did not survive so that a determination could be made from them in regard to this text. In the introduction to that volume, it was proposed that the pericope may have been missing on account of its erotic nature.

So the Husband continues to speak:

Husband: 8 Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards.

While Amana is not mentioned elsewhere in Scripture, it is a mountain in the Anti-Lebanon mountains, which are a range that runs for 93 miles, situated further east but parallel to the Lebanon mountains, which are about 110 miles in length. Shenir and Hermon are also in the Anti-Lebanon mountain range. The distinction in the names distinguishing the two ranges dates to the Hellenistic period.

That leopards had at one time ranged in Palestine is evident in the archaeology of Catal Huyuk (or Çatalhöyük), a site in south-central Anatolia, not far from what was once Iconium in Lycaonia, where ancient leopard motifs have been found painted on the walls of buildings that were buried underground. One notable book on discoveries at the ancient site was titled The Leopard’s Tale, by Ian Hodder, an archaeologist who led excavations at the site, although I am skeptical of at least some of his conclusions which are not particularly related to hard archaeological data.

Husband: 9 Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck.

Here Solomon considers his bride to be both his sister and his spouse, although she was evidently an Egyptian, and not even an Israelitess, as we have discussed in relation to certain passages in chapter 1 of the Song, and as the circumstances of his life suggest, it having been recorded that he took an Egyptian princess to wife as soon as he becmae king. The Bride is described in that manner several times here and in chapter 5. This may help to understand the circumstances where in the Book of Genesis, Abraham had attested that Sarah his wife was his sister, something which caused confusion with Pharaoh, in Genesis chapter 12, and later with Abimelech, in Genesis chapter 20.

Later, in 1 Corinthians chapter 9 Paul of Tarsus had compared himself to other apostles and he asked “5 Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?” In Paul’s time, a wife was expected to be a woman of one’s own race, and therefore a sister as well as a wife, and so it was in the time of Abraham, and of Solomon.

Husband: 10 How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices! 11 Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon.

Where the Husband describes the smell of his bride’s garments, as well as the taste of her mouth, we can see that the intimacy of the situation is escalating. The love, compared to wine, is the love of physical intimacy.

Husband: 12 A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. 13 Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, 14 Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices: 15 A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.

As we had explained where the word camphire appears in Song chapter 1, the Hebrew word כפר or kopher (Strong’s # 3724) may describe asphalt, of which the source was apparently some volcanic activity below the Dead Sea, but it may also refer to henna, a word which in English describes both a tree and the reddish dye which is produced from that tree. In this context, we would translate the word as henna, rather than as camphire, as it is also translated in this passage in the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible.

Note that the Bride is the garden, or the garden is the Bride, so the garden and its plants are allegories describing those features of the bride which are sexually attractive to the Husband. Now the sexual nature of the metaphors shall become even more apparent, as he exclaims:

16 Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out.

The Husband is intent on enjoying all that the Bride has to offer, and now she consents and in return she answers with an exclamation of her own.

Bride: Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.

The Bride herself being the garden, it is from her that the Husband would eat, it is her sexual fruits in which she beckons him to partake, and he has already expressed the fact that he is more than willing to do so.

In their last scene of love-making here in the Song, the Bride had said in reference to the Husband, in chapter 2: “3 As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.” In Genesis chapter 3, where Eve is deceived by the serpent: “6 … when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” Here Solomon describes his bride as a garden, and the Bride beckons her to “come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.”

Here, in a simple love poem written just a few centuries after the time of Moses, Solomon has resolved for us the meanings of these Biblical metaphors so that we may better understand them all. Now here, in a legitimate marriage and without shame the Bride offers her fruit to her Husband. Then in the opening verse of chapter 5, the Husband professes that he did eat, and that he ate and he drank to his full satisfaction.

This concludes our Commentary on the Song of Songs of Solomon through chapter 4, and Yahweh willing, we will return soon to commence with chapter 5.


As a digression, I do not know why Comparet and Swift had never understood this aspect of the Song, and not even Clifton realized it. I myself did not realize it until I read the Song once again after Clifton’s passing. Even in 2016, when I did the presentation titled The Importance of the Song of Solomon to Biblical Anthropology, I was only picking and choosing passages, or using passages which Clifton had already discussed in his paper on that subject, of which most of that presentation was a review. However now I am confident enough to state, that these last two presentations which I have offered on the Song should stand as an indictment of all of our detractors, of all the supposed Identity Christians who continue to deny our Two-Seedline interpretation of Genesis chapter 3. Our assertions regarding the meanings of the idioms in Genesis chapter 3 are fully vindicated by Solomon, whom our Scriptures inform us was the wisest of men, and he certainly was the wisest.

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