Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Marriage From God's View: Part 11: Song of Songs, Chapter 6

"Where has your love gone,
most beautiful of women?
Which way has he turned?
We will seek him with you."

We left off in chapter 5 with the lady searching for her love and begging the women of Jerusalem to let him know that she is pining for him (She says "lovesick".), and then she goes on to describe his physical attributes that have her enraptured with him.  In this first stanza, it is presumably the women of Jerusalem who promise to help her look for him.

"My love has gone down
  to his garden,
to beds of spice,
to feed in the gardens
and gather lilies.
I am my love's and my love
   is mine;
he feeds among the lilies."

In this stanza it would appear she knows where he is.  Earlier, the garden was used to symbolize the bride's untouched body prior to the wedding.  Here it seems to be that he has, in fact, gone to his true garden.

"You are as beautiful as Tirzah,
     my darling,
lovely as Jerusalem,
awe-inspiring as an army
    with banners.
Turn your eyes away from me,
for they captivate me.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
streaming down from Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock
     of ewes
coming up from washing,
each one having a twin,
and not one missing.
Behind your veil,
your brow is like a slice
     of pomegranate.
There are 60 queens
and 80 concubines
and your women
     without number.
But my dove, my virtuous one,
     is unique;
she is the favorite of her mother,
perfect to the one who gave her birth.
Women see her and declare
    her fortunate;
queens and concubines also,
    and they sing her praises.

Her love has returned and he sets out to immediately remind her of her beauty.  The reference to Tirzah:  It had to be an important city because Joshua defeated the people of Tirzah (Joshua 12:24) and Jeroboam made it his capital. (1 Kings 14:12-17).  There had to be something that made it special enough to compare her to it.  Then, there is another simile to compare her to Jerusalem.  Psalm 50:2 describes Jerusalem as having "perfect beauty."  He then reiterates the beauty of her hair, her teeth, her brow.  He stipulates that none of his 60 queens or 80 concubines is as special as she.  She is unique that she is not only her mother's favorite, but other women admire her and sing her praises.

"Who is this who shines
      like the dawn--
as beautiful as the moon,
bright as the sun,
awe-inspiring as an army
     with banners?"

The women are admiring her beauty; they compare her to the dawn, the moon, the sun, and  say she inspires such awe as an army would (and an army in biblical times was awe-inspiring.)

"I came down
     to the walnut grove
to see the blossoms of the valley,
to see if the vines
    were budding
and the pomegranates blooming.
Before I knew it,
my desire put me
among the chariots
    of my noble people."

This stanza is perplexing because my Holman Christian Standard Bible has the lady as the speaker, but commentaries I have read online suggest Solomon himself is the speaker.  I don't think it is that important to the meaning of the chapter because the focus of the chapter is again....her beauty and Solomon's captivation with it.  In fact, the chapter closes with the women imploring her to come back so they can appreciate her beauty even longer:

"Come back, come back,
Come back, come back, that
    we may look at you!"

Next:  Song of Songs, Chapter 7