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Thread: Quick q. on Song of Songs/Solomon

  1. #1

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    Default Quick q. on Song of Songs/Solomon

    Just wondering what the Jewish interpretation of this book is - as in, do you see it as Jesus being the Bridegroom and the individual being the Bride, or is the Bride Israel? Or something else? For the last year or so I've been pondering this book with the first allegory in mind....(I'm coming from a Christian point of view here by the way). This book never gets preached on and is usually laughed at as the 'sex' book so it would be nice to hear some more serious thoughts on it.

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    I think from a Christian point of view Christ is the Bridegroom and the church is the bride.
    But from a Jewish perspective it's about God's love for Israel.

    I am Christian so I don't know for sure about the Jewish perspective, but that's just what I think.

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    Christian here too, so I don't know the Jewish position on that book. I personally see it as an illustration of the love for a husband for his wife, (which pictures Christ's love for the church inasmuch as the church as his bride) but primarily about the joy/beauty of married love. There is a fair bit of sexual suggestion in it (I think) and some parts that are difficult to understand in context, and I always wonder how much Solomon understood about marriage and love, since he had I think 300 wives and 500 concubines, or something like that. I mean, really, what did he know about a deep commitment to one woman?
    No, I've never heard a sermon on it either. Can't see too many ministers getting through that one without trouble. Not appropriate for all ages, I'd say. But I've heard a couple of lovely songs (look for Arise My Love, by Michael Card.)

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    Yes it's a good illustration about a husband's love (because of course that's what it was written about originally) so agree about the sexual suggestion, though on a deeper level have been reading it as Jesus' love for me, and the sexual imagery is read (for me) not as a physical one, but an allegory for the deepest intimacy two people can experience. Mike Bickle (from IHOP) does a series on it and my goodness...it's awesome.

    Despite having x amount of wives etc. Solomon must have experienced some sort of radical love to have written this book. It's soo beautiful to read....'you are altogether beautiful, my darling, adn there is no blemish in you'. 'You have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes, with a single strand of your necklace. How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride, how much better is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than all kinds of spices!'.

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    I think I will move this to the Christian section But I know the OP was about Jewish custom, I just think it may be better there.

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    In that case, unless Yael or Hoprah wants to answer, feel free not to answer! No offense but speculation/googling isn't what I'm after, if that makes sense? As there's always more than one interpretation, I'm curious as to what is taught in synagogues today.

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    Makes perfect sense.... I thought that was what you wanted & the Christian interpretation wasn't what you wanted. Will move it back then

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    Hi guys,

    Just letting you know that I have seen this post, and I do have answers for you - i'm just a little crazy today preparing for a big festival (sukkot, or feast of the tabernacles) that starts tomorrow night and goes for 10 days.

    I will try to get you an answer before then though.

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    Ah thanks Yael, no rush though.

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    Ok, sorry for the delay in reply to this.

    So, I borrowed a book on Shir HaShirim - Song of Songs - as I haven't actually studied it in-depth before.

    The best way to describe the Jewish approach to it is for me to quote the introduction from a certain publisher (they basically revolutionized the Jewish world with the way the set out and presented prayers, scripture etc), and they use a good translation & extensive accepted commentaries on everything.

    Without question, King Solomon's Song of Songs, Shir HaShirim, is one of the most difficult books of scripture - not because it is so hard to understand but because it is so easy to misunderstand. Not only is it a love song, it is a love song of uncommon passion. No other book seems to be so out of place among the 24 books of prophecy and sacred spirit. Nevertheless, one of the greatest and holiest of all sages of the Talmud, Rabbi Akiva, said "all of the songs [of scripture] are holy, but Shir HaShirim is the holy of holies". How is a love song holy?

    This question is perplexing only if Shir HaShirim is taken literally, but neither the sages nor the commentators take it so. The Song is an allegory. It is the duet of love between God and Israel. Its verses are so saturated with meaning that nearly every one of the major commentators finds new themes in its beautiful but cryptic words. All agree, however, that the true and simple meaning of Shir HaShirim is the allegorical meaning. The literal meaning of the words is so far from their meaning that it is false.

    That is why ArtScroll's translation of Shir HaShirim is completely different from any other ArtScroll translation (they normally translate from the Hebrew with the literal meaning). We translate according to Rashi's allegorical interpretation. As he writes in his own introduction:

    Solomon foresaw through Divine prophecy, that Israel is destined to suffer a series of exiles and will lament, nostalgically recalling her former status as G-d's chosen beloved. She will say, "I shall return to my first husband [i.e.] tp G-D[ for it was better with me then than now” (Hoshea 2:9). The children of Israel will recall his beneficence and 'the trespass which the trespassed' (Leviticus 26:40). And they will recall the goodness which He promised for the End of Days.

    The prophets frequently liken the relationship between G-D and Israel to that of a loving husband angered by a straying wife who betrayed him. Solomon composed Shir HaShirim in the form of that same allegory. It is a passionate dialogue between the husband (G-D who still loved his exiled wife (Israel) and a 'vertible widow of a living husband' (Samuel II 20:3) who longs for her husband and seeks to endear herself to him once more, as she recalls her youthful love for him and admits her guilt.

    G-D too, is 'afflicted by her affliction' (Isaiah 63:9) and He recalls the kindness of her youth, her beauty and her skillfull deers for which he loved her (Israel) so. He proclaims that he has 'not affiliated her capriciously' (lamentations 3;33) nor is she cast away permanetly. For she is still His 'wife' and He her 'husband' and He will yet return to her.”

    During the mid 19th century period of the most vicious Czarist persecutions of Jews, it was common for the leading Rabbis to visit St Petersberg to please the case of their people with the Czar's ministers. During one of these visits a Russian official asked one of the rabbis how he could account for the many Aggadic tales in the Talmud that were patently 'inconceivable'.

    The Rabbi answered "you know very well that the Czar and his advisors have often planned decrees that would order the expulsion of the Jews. If g-d had not thwarted your plans, the decrees would have been written and placed before the Czar for his signature. He would have dipped his pen into the inkwell and signed. His signature would have made final the greatest Jewish catastrophe in centuries. A poet might have written that a drop of ink drowned 3 million people. All of us would have understood what he meant. But a hundred years later, someone might have read it and considered it nonsense. Could a small drop of ink drowned people? In truth, the expression is apt and pithy; it is only a lack of knowledge that could lead a reader to dismiss it out of hand.

    So it is with many of the parables of our Sages. They were written in the form of farfetched storied to conceal their meaning from those unqualified to understand. Those same unqualified people laugh at the stories, instead of lamenting their own puny stature.

    In general history as well, many figures of speech have an obvious meaning to those familiar with them, but would be incomprehensible to the uninitiated. Everyone knows that a shot cannot be heard more than several hundred years away. Nut every American knows that 'a shot heard round the world ‘began the American Revolution.

    Shir HaShirim is read on Passover, because the Sages interpret it as the story of Israel after the Exodus, a time of such great spiritual passion, that G-D said many centuries later "I Remember you for your sake the kindness of your youth, the live of your bridal days, how you followed me into the wilderness in an unsown land" (Jeremiah 2:2).

    The message of Shir HaShirim is so lofty, so exalted, so spiritual so holy that G-D in His infinite wisdom knew that it could be presented to us only in its present form. Only in this manner could it engender the passionate love for G-D which is Israel's highest mission.

    Has it been misinterpreted and twisted? Most assuredly yes! But" G-D did not refrain from creating the sun because it would have worshippers.

    Let us, therefore read and understand Shir HaShirim with the ecstasy of love between G-D and Israel, for it is this intimacy that it express more than any other song in Scripture.
    Feel free to ask any more questions.. they have a longer section of introduction, which is very interesting, I just can't type that much

  11. #11

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    Thanks for typing that all up Yael! Very interesting. I love reading stuff on this book. Just beautiful. Oh wow, just read your ticker....hope bubs comes soon

    So does this book get discussed often in your circle? It doesn't where I am. I think ppl are too embarrassed or something!


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