3000 year old guide on love and romance: Songs 2:4-7

This is a continuation of the Song of Songs series. This is a look at 2:4-7, Beloved's amazing time with Lover and her exhortation to the maidens of Jerusalem. Italics indicate the NET Bible assumption of who is talking. All Bible quotes from the NET.

The Beloved about Her Lover:

2:4 He brought me into the banquet hall,
and he looked at me lovingly.

Lover is at work in his romancing. "Banquet hall" is a translation option. As the NET Bible notes a literal translation is “house if wine.” Now “house of wine” can refer to a vineyard. Back in 1:14 she referred to the vineyards in the oasis of En Gedi and this location has provided a source of the recent foliage and flower poetry. Thus, perhaps, we are not at a new location but still in the vineyard. She could be saying, “He brought me to the vineyard…” which fits in with the metaphorical activity before these verses and the explicit activity forthcoming. Regardless of location her husband is gazing at her with love. The traditional refrain here is “his banner over me is love” (NIV), but the Hebrew word translated “banner” is a tough nut. The latest scholarship results in more explicit poetry. In fact, “looked” could be “desire” or “wish.” Hence the explicit translation can be “His wish regarding me is lovemaking.” But this states explicitly what was said poetically the past 7 verses. Together, a re-translation of verse 4 could be, “He brought me to the vineyard and he desired to make love to me.” Solomon, the brilliant romantic, takes his beloved wife on a romantic getaway and he hits paydirt. She is faint with love.

2:5 Sustain me with raisin cakes,
refresh me with apples,
for I am faint with love.

The NET notes that both raisins and apples were ancient Near East aphrodisiacs. What wasn’t? She is love-sick and the only cure for her sickness is his love. She has invited him to make love to her with some erotic metaphors, and he didn’t miss the opportunity. Some guys only understand initiative when it’s made in a nude tackle. But her approach plays along with his invitation by excursion. They are like well rehearsed Tango dancers. My wife and I took dance lessons last year and worked very hard at learning simple steps TOGETHER. It’s one thing to know the steps but it is an entirely different dimension stepping together. But when we got it right we walked together passionately. If you have no clue what I am talking about I suggest taking formal dance lessons together with your spouse. (more after picture)

2:6 His left hand caresses my head,

and his right hand stimulates me.

Gulp! Can you believe this is in the Bible? Yet it is so helpful to newly married men who are exploding with testosterone and can’t think past their own groin. Those sweet touches permitted while dating need to continue after the wedding. His left hand lets her know he still enjoys those public parts of her while his right hand proves his pleasure with the private and erotic areas of her body. He lets her know that he is pleased with all of her. Husbands, try stroking your wife’s hair once in a while. You just might make her love sick.

The Beloved to the Maidens:

2:7 I adjure you, O maidens of Jerusalem,
by the gazelles and by the young does of the open fields:
Do not awaken or arouse love until it pleases!

Is Beloved backhanding the girls in the harem? Are these “maidens” the same ones in chapter 1 or are these virgins in Jerusalem’s general population? Whichever audience she addresses she wants them to make a promise. Her witnesses are the wild animals in their open air bedroom. Unsurprisingly, gazelles and does are symbolic of fertility in ancient Near East literature. The oath is somewhat mysterious. Didn’t she start out in this poem hoping for the Lover’s kisses? Didn’t she seek him out in the fields? So if she is talking to the harem, maybe she is throwing them off the trail to a great night of passion by telling them to wait around. Alternatively, she is calling the young virgins to save themselves for the bands of marriage before partaking of physical love. In God’s creation, love is pleased when consummated after a public commitment ceremony. The most freedom, the most passion, the most satisfaction in a sexual relationship can only be found within a holy marriage. All other circumstance are only a hint of the best conditions for lovemaking.


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