Song of Songs is the first of five scrolls in the third part of the Old Testament. The songs in Song of Songs include romantic monologues and dialogues of two lovers, a young man and a young woman, who want to be with each other, yearn for each other, invite each other, propose and welcome intimacy between them . The landscape of the songs is of vintners, shepherds, villages, spring flowering, fruits and wildlife.
One Jewish tradition interprets the songs as an allegory of the relationship between God and Israel; while one Christians tradition interprets them as an allegorical expression of the bond between Christ and the Church. This blog is written in the spirit of the beginning of the spring, it presents some verses from the second chapter of Song of Songs; it does not relate the text as an allegory, and it certainly is not meant at all to be an in-depth interpretation of the text but a basic reflection about it.
The spring is the time when "the winter is past, the rain is over and gone" (Song of Songs 2:11). Some Jewish communities chant the Song of Songs during Passover, the time of the spring. The Song of Songs is a constant inspiring source for artists, composers and singers in Israel.
In the spirit of the spring I will quote from the second chapter of Song of Songs verses that in the course of the dialogue between the lovers mention spring, flowers, spring fruits, fruit trees or wildlife.
2 I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.
2 As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.
3 As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
5 Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love.
7 I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he [it] please.
9 My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice.
12 The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing [of the nightingale] is come, and the voice of the turtle [pigeon] is heard in our land;
13 The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
15 Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.
16 My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies.
17 Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains [cut by ravines] of Bether. (Song of Solomon, King James Version KJV)
The young woman is talking to the young man she loves, illustrating herself by the metaphors of her being "the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys" with which she identify (1) - because of her beauty, her love of nature, her smelling good and her fairness. The "rose of Sharon" is possibly a fragrant wildflower that grows in the sands on the Mediterrean coast. "Sharon" is a Mediterranean coastal part of Israel.
The other flower, "lily of the valleys" is possibly the fragrant Narcissus, a wildflower that grows in the swamps as well as in the valleys and on mountains.
The young man responds (2) by praising the young woman he loves, telling her that she is special, she resembles a lily, while the other young women are mere "thorns".
Now the loved woman responds (3), she praises the man she loves, and compares him with other young men - he is like an "apple" tree (possibly different from today's apple tree) among fruitless trees, and she chose his shade and sweetness. The man describes her as unique among the young women and she describes him as unique among the young men.
She is love-sick, and dainties and apples will help her (5).
The loving and loved happy young woman advises the young women of Jerusalem to wait for the love "until it pleases" (7), they should not be hasty, should not push and force love, but wait until the correct time of love comes. She swears them in by the gazelles to be patient;
She swears them in also by the hinds of the field:
The man is on his way to his beloved young woman (9), at her eyes he is light and fast (roe), he is also youthful (hart). Before long he reached her home, but she hides and does not hurry towards him, perhaps because she is shy or modest or teasing him playfully; he looks for her through the windows and still does not see her; he does not give up, because he yearns for her, so he peers through the cracks or small windows of her house in order to see the woman he loves (9).
The young man describes the spring - it is time for the flowers' appearance (12);
and for the singing of the nightingale .
The voice of the pigeon is heard in the land of Israel.
It is time to see unripe figs on the fig-tree (13)
And it is the time to smell the fragrance of the blossoming vines
The young man wants to see his beloved, she is a dove "in the clefts of a rock", hidden, again possibly because she is shy and modest, while he longs to see her (14)
He wants the little foxes that spoil the vineyards to be caught and taken away (15). The foxes may be people who obstruct the lovers.
The young lovers are bound to each other, the man's fragrance is of one who is a shepherd in a field of roses and the roses' fragrance stays with him (16).
The young woman asks the young man to wait for the evening time and then to hurry up like a gazelle or a young harp (see image bellow), through mountains cut by ravines and valleys, in order to meet her (17). She is extending to him an invitation for love.
The dialogue between the lovers begun with the young woman's identification with wild flowers and ends closer to their suggested romantic intimacy.