(Click here to read the whole Sex in Song of Solomon series.)
After a long delay we’re back to the Song of Solomon series, this time reading chapter 2. As background: The book is commonly understood as a celebration of marital/sexual love and it contains a lot of rather graphic imagery. It’s an especially important book because it’s very sex-positive and provides a powerful illustration of the joy God takes in the sexual relationship between a husband and a wife.
The book is written in the form of a dialogue between the Lover and his Beloved, with occasionally interjections from the wife’s Friends. The language is dominated by agricultural metaphors that can make the book difficult to understand for modern readers who aren’t familiar with the context (which certainly includes me). I’m going to do my best to untangle the imagery, but some of it is guesswork.
As I wrote in the previous post. the end of chapter 1 flows into the beginning of chapter 2 with the Beloved comparing her Lover to a mighty cedar, and the Lover comparing his Beloved to a rose — both ageless metaphors for male and female sexuality. Chapter 2 then gets even more explicit. Says the Beloved of her Lover:
As an apple tree among the trees of the forest,
so is my beloved among the young men.
With great delight I sat in his shadow,
and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
He brought me to the banqueting house,
and his banner over me was love.
Sustain me with raisins;
refresh me with apples,
for I am sick with love.
The Lover is once again a tree, and the Beloved delights to sit in his shade and eat his fruit. In fact, the Lover has brought his Beloved to the banqueting house. What do you think they’re feasting on? Hint: each others’ bodies. Double hint: oral sex. My most-visited post is titled “Yes, You Should Swallow”, and here’s some Biblical affirmation. The Beloved goes on:
His left hand is under my head,
and his right hand embraces me!
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
by the gazelles or the does of the field,
that you not stir up or awaken love
until it pleases.
The embrace described is sexual intimacy. The Beloved is so aroused that she knows she has lost all self-control, and she admonishes other young women to avoid this passion until it finds its proper place in marriage.
Then we hear the Lover cries out to his Beloved and entice her: the time is right for us to make love.
My beloved speaks and says to me:
“Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
and come away,
for behold, the winter is past;
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.
The fig tree ripens its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
and come away.”
The Beloved surrenders herself to her Lover and they have sex until dawn.
My beloved is mine, and I am his;
he grazes among the lilies.
Until the day breathes
and the shadows flee,
turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle
or a young stag on cleft mountains.
Chapter 2 is even more sexual than chapter 1! If you thought God and our ancestors were prudes, I hope this exploration of Song of Solomon changes your mind. God intends for sex between husbands and wives to be mind-blowing!
When are you going to continue the series? It would be great if you covered the entire book. I look forward to future updates.
I’m planning to continue it soon! Some chapters are easier than others, to be honest. I try to put in some research as I go, rather than just making things up.
Thanks a lot for the comment. The SoS series hasn’t gotten many comments, so I’m glad you’re appreciating it.
SOS is such a dynamite book. I love it and send many texts to my wife from it.
What verses do you text to your wife? Share!
The Song of Solomon is truly the basis of all things sex-positive within Christian marriage. Thank you.
Love this article!
The best way to interpret scripture is by scripture. Throughout the Bible we see that when fruit is in reference to a person, it is ALWAYS tied to his character and his works. Jesus said “you’ll know them by their fruit,” also he said: “in this is the Father glorified in that you bear much fruit.” We see in the Old Testament that “Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall.” So, regardless of what the is written in ancient Oriental language, we should stick with how the Bible is interpreting God’s Word.
So, that being said, we must realize that she is talking about Solomon who is a wise man. She is comparing his wisdom as an “fruitful apple tree” compared to other men, in which she was delighted to listen in at his feet (sit under his shadow as a learner of his wisdom, listing to his fruitful word that were sweet to her taste). It’s kind of like Marry who sat at Jesus feet to her the word that he spoke. So, this has NOTHING TO DO with “oral sex.”
First, it’s absolutely not true that every metaphor about fruit and a person in the Bible is a reference to that person’s character or works. Here are a few examples, but there are many more: Genesis 17:20, Deuteronomy 7:13, Psalm 1:3, Proverbs 13:2, Nahum 3:12, Matthew 21:34. Jesus employs the fruit metaphor you describe, but it’s not universal in the Bible. Often the fruit metaphor refers to a person’s wealth or bounty.
Second, “interpret scripture by scripture” simply means that because the Bible doesn’t contradict itself, we can understand the meaning of one part of scripture by looking in other parts of the Bible that speak on the same topic. For example, two passages that talk about lying should be considered together, rather than in isolation. That doesn’t mean that similar metaphors have to be interpreted the same way in every instance, especially when the topic is clearly different.
Third, Song of Solomon has a very long tradition of being read and interpreted as a celebration sexual intimacy between a husband and wife — in Judaism an allegory about God and Israel, and in Christianity an allegory about Christ and the Church. The Bible uses this allegory throughout the Old and New Testaments.
But here is the thing. How many women today (especially within a church setting) or even back then would really make this kind of a comment about their husbands for all the world to know? Seriously, is this the best she can do in comparing her man with other guys? Does your wife go around telling people this as well? We first see the man complementing his woman on her outstanding beauty (wether it was her physical or her inward beauty he meant), so couldn’t she find something more in line with his personality than to complement him on how yummy his sperm is? This generally doesn’t happen in today’s world so I’m pretty sure it didn’t happen back then either.
The book is poetry, not a public transcript of two lovers talking. Modern music certainly says this sort of thing.
Frank said, “Throughout the Bible we see that when fruit is in reference to a person, it is ALWAYS tied to his character and his works.”
Umm…what about Song of Solomon 7:7-8?
“Your stature is like that of the palm,
and your breasts like clusters of fruit.
I said, “I will climb the palm tree;
I will take hold of its fruit.”
Frank said, “This generally doesn’t happen in today’s world so I’m pretty sure it didn’t happen back then either.”
As El Fury said SOS is love poetry not a public transcript. The lovers are alone. Also basing how ancient people would behave on how people in our modern culture behave shows a massive misunderstanding of history and culture.
Frank, I get the impression that you are not a big fan of sex in marriage. Why is that? Scripture is full of positive references to married sexuality. In fact we are told to be intoxicated or enraptured with the sexual love of our spouses (Prov. 5).
It seems though that there is still a lot of the Gnostic heresy in the church (anything physical, especially things that are pleasurable, are inherently wrong and evil). Such teachings continue to falsely claim that enjoyment of marital sex is somehow wrong or less spiritual. We need to purge these unbiblical and pagan thoughts from our minds and return to what God says in His Word.
Isn’t the definition of sodomy oral and anal sex though? Doesn’t semen contain blood? Is there anything about the man having anal sex with his wife in those passages? And if so where can I find all this in scripture so I feel I’m not commiting any sins when I get married to my future wife. Also you said feasting or nibbling on the body, is any part fine as long as we both agree?
So, do the events in this chapter take place before marriage or after?
Song of Solomon isn’t written as a narrative, so it isn’t really necessary to worry about chronology.
El Fury recently posted…What Is Lust?
My favorite verses of SoS are SoS 2:16-17 (NKJV):
“16 My beloved is mine, and I am his.
He feeds his flock among the lilies.
(To Her Beloved)
17 Until the day breaks
And the shadows flee away,
Turn, my beloved,
And be like a gazelle
Or a young stag
Upon the mountains of Bether.”
SLS’s paraphrase of what the wife is saying here: We belong to each other, we are safe and secure in each other’s arms. We are free to revel and play with each other. Climb on top and make passionate love to me all night long till we are both satiated.
The wordplay of his initiation coupled with her invitation is just beautiful. Wives often don’t understand the emotional impact of sex on a husband. A positive invitation (or promise of a rain check if sex just isn’t possible) from a wife shows love, acceptance, and emotional closeness to a man.
Awesome! Yes, SoS is beautiful in so many ways.