to the Song of Solomon
referred to as ‘the Song of Songs']
Read the Song of Songs? The
obvious answer is because it has been deemed by the Jewish Rabbis
and the Early Church Fathers as part of the canon of scripture,
but more than that it is unique in the Bible. It is purely a love
song with no mention of God within it [like the book of Esther].
Why then, some might ask, has it been included in the canon of
scripture? The early Rabbis considered it a very holy book, part
of the ‘wisdom literature' of the Bible, much of which covers
the experiences of daily life. The simplest answer, in line with
this, is that
sex and love are clearly part of God's design [see Gen 2:24] and
if we consider this as inspired writing by Solomon,
it must surely be to declare the message that a growing and developing
love [see 2:7, 3:5 & 8:4 – the regular refrain, “
stir up or awaken love until it is ready” (various
versions)] is part of God's design and not the casual hasty act
of sex that many succumb to [usually linked to adultery or even
rape in the Bible – 2 Sam 11:2-5, 2 Sam 13:1-]
and that committed love (that's what all true love is) is good,
part of God's design and wholesome.
things to be considered:
Notes: The main male and
female speakers (identified primarily on the basis of the gender
of the relevant Hebrew forms) are indicated by the captions He
and She respectively. The words of others are marked Friends.
In some instances the divisions and their captions are debatable.
For this reason different editions change the identification so
your version may vary in this aspect from that which we have used.
Approach: For each chapter
we will first provide a breakdown and help-notes etc. as usual,
but because of the unusual nature of these pages we have also
provided a ‘stage drama' to also seek to catch the possible sense
of the chapter. We are also aware that many have sought to spiritualize
this book but that has resulted in many different suggestions
and so, rather than add to such speculation, we have completely
refrained from doing this.
Language: The language of
comparison found here a) is most unlike anything young people
today might express b) should be remembered is within Jewish poetry
and so, we might say, is excessively ‘flowery' in comparison to
are probably as many ideas about this Song as there are Commentators.
In what follows
we will be following the NIV notation of who is speaking – ‘He',
‘She', ‘the Friends' [or chorus]
we simply seek to convey the sense and the notes, and especially
the ‘drama', in no way are intended to be either a translation
or even a paraphrase of the original. The text [blue] is the translation
by the Bible scholars who we respect and would not change,
we like many others have simply tried to catch the sense and yet,
as on one hand we have written it as a drama and on the other
as a simple study, we have [without referring the one to the other]
come with different ideas and the truth is that there will be
many others. It is not a poem for being dogmatic about; poets
don't give us that right.
we have, in the study, refrained from adding lots of additional
notes or explanations that might well detract from what you the
reader might see in it.
‘Drama': What follows in
each chapter in the ‘drama' is purely a speculative approach to
the poem or song, perhaps a way of thinking of it in a modern
setting. Occasionally there will be poetic license, so please
don't be too harsh about what you find if it doesn't match what
you expect. There are many interpretations of this Song, this
is just one. We don't ask you to necessarily agree with it, simply
to enjoy it and understand something of the wonder of love and
relationships. To keep within the proprietary nature of that day,
we have been gentle with our interpretation at times. Were it
that modern love could be more like this!
the ‘drama', imagine if you will a stage that has a large back
projection screen so that the scenery can change in a moment.
In the background are a chorus, the “Friends”, who seem to speak
out from time to time. Most of the action is by the girl and her
man. The stage is empty except for the chorus in the background
and the screen is blank. Now continue.
We have examined the breakdowns
or outlines given in a number of different versions of the Bible
and been left dissatisfied with all of them. It is, therefore,
very tentatively that we wondered daring to suggest an outline
but concluded that we are sure you could come up with an entirely
different set of headings – which we might agree with! Hence we
will not try to put titles to each of the eight chapters. Enjoy
the Song from another land, another culture, in another age!
to Songs 1