The Old Testament Web The Bible; Sex and Violence
: Ancient Persian Love Poem : The Bible, Part One
Everyone talks about the bible, but we wonder how many people actually read it. The first part of the Bible, the Old Testament, is filled with stories of massacres, where every man, woman, and child is killed.
And then there’s the Song of Solomon, based on an ancient love poem. This is not being reinterpreted now to add hidden meanings. Centuries ago men and women were chuckling in the church pews when this was read.
It takes the form of a poetic dialogue between two lovers, the Bride, and the Groom, who express their feelings for one another in the imagery of a rich and fecund natural world.
The Groom compares his beloved to a garden:
‘A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard,’ (4:12–13).
For her part, the Bride describes the Groom as ‘white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand. His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven… His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem’ (5:10-16).
Finally, the Groom describes the fruition of their desires:
‘How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights! This thy stature is like to a palm tree, and thy breasts to clusters of grapes. I said, I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof; now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine, and the smell of thy nose like apples; and the roof of thy mouth like the best wine for my beloved, that goeth down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak’ (7:6-9).