SONG OF SOLOMON From Book Divine Sex

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CHAPTER FOUR

GOD’S EROTIC POETRY –

Nowhere in the Bible do we find a clearer illustration of God’s

attitude toward sex and the human body, than in the Song of

Solomon.

 

Few people understand the graphically erotic nature of

this love poem. Its explicit yet unashamed eroticism has been the

cause of problems for commentators even before NT times.

 

Spiros Zodhiates says this about the book, “Because of its explicitly erotic

character, ancient Jews and Christians alike rejected its literal

interpretation and allegorized it…

 

The early Christian inability to

deal with this book at the literal level was influenced more by the

Greek philosophy of the time than by the Bible itself…The erotic

nature of the book was probably a source of embarrassment, but

these legal God-ordained gaieties should not be shunned, only properly

understood…” (Hebrew Greek Key Study Bible, introduction to Song of

Solomon emph. mine, D.C.).

 

 Other commentators are likewise

straightforward in labeling this book as erotic poetry.

The issue of whether the book is to be interpreted literally or

allegorically is irrelative. That God used erotic language in either

case, says something about God that we must consider carefully.

 

 If the language God uses in this book is unfitting to be used in a literal

sense how can we possibly argue that it is good to use it in an

allegorical sense? If the allegory is appropriate, then so is the

language in which the allegory is framed.

 

Sex and sexual language,

in this case very explicit sexual language, cannot be inherently nasty

and still be used as an allegory for Christ and the Church. The

human body cannot be considered shameful and yet be used as an

allegory of Christ’s delight in His Bride, the church. It cannot be

vulgar to describe the sexual body parts of the opposite sex, and at

 

the same time good to use such descriptions to allegorize Christ’s

love for His Bride. Like it or not we have here a book in which God,

through the Holy Spirit, uses the most explicit sex language some

 

people will ever hear. The language God uses here and the sexual

situations He describes, cannot be thought of in any other way than

that God delights in and approves of what He is writing about. In

doing so, God reveals more about His attitude toward sex, the

naked human body, and the beauty and sexual eroticism involved

in looking at another’s sexual organs, than most church leaders and

 

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most Christians can handle. Most of them will not accept the literal

references of this book. In his commentary on the Song of Solomon,

Adam Clarke overtly condemns much of it as being too sexually

graphic for even true translation. Some have even decided that the

 

book should not even be accepted as Divinely inspired, on the sole

basis of its erotic language.

 

So here we have a book, inspired by God, that deals intentionally

and positively with all aspects of sexuality, without shame or

apology. This is truly erotic poetry. It was inspired by God. What is

 

recorded in this little book stands as God’s testimony to sexual

experience and the beauty of the human body. Let’s look at what is

there.

 

A woman asks for the kisses of her lover, “Let him kiss me with

the kisses of his mouth,” (1:2). Later, she says, “his mouth is full of

sweetness,” (5:16), and he says, “her mouth is like the best wine,” (7:9).

 

In both these last two cases the same Hebrew word for “mouth” is used (Strong’s #2441). It means the inside of the mouth. The

marginal note says it literally means “palate.” She is asking for, and they enjoy, deep mouth kissing. The Anchor Bible,

 

commenting on these verses, says these verses were “explicit references to kisses…including amative oral activities,” (i.e. oral sex).

 

That is, not only the lips, but also the tongues were involved, and not only the mouth, but other parts of the body were involved, including kissing the genitals.

 

The Jerusalem Bible also implies that the kissing

was all over the body: “Your lips cover me with kisses.” So right at the

start of this poem, we have references to an activity that most

“holy” people can’t believe to be in the Bible. But the references are

there! And it only gets “worse!” (?)

 

The sexual closeness of the couple has excited the woman and

she says: “While the king was at his couch, my spikenard gave forth its

smell,” (1:12). This refers to the custom of perfuming her sexual

parts. Her rising body heat caused the smell of her perfume,

mingled with her natural sexual musk, to fill the air.

 

“How handsome you are my beloved, and how luxurious is our

couch,” (1:16) is an unabashed reference to her delight in looking at

him and delighting in the place where they make love. He asks to

“see your form…for your form is lovely,” (2:14). He wants to look at

her body because she had a great figure! That he asks to look at her

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naked body becomes apparent as we continue reading through the

book, noting the many description of her body, from head to toe.

There is an abundance of highly sexual images in this poem,

even though veiled from the modern reader. The translators

evidently could not bring themselves to actually translate many of

these words literally and demurred from literal translation in other

places because of the figurative references to explicit sex practices.

 

Adam Clarke, a highly esteemed and respected, conservative

commentator, wrote:

 

“There are many passages in it which should not be

explained…the references being too delicate; and Eastern

phraseology on such subjects is too vivid…Let any sensible and

pious medical man read over this book, and if at all acquainted

with Asiatic phraseology, say whether it would be proper, even

in medical language, to explain all the descriptions and

allusions in this poem.” (Clarke’s Commentary).

 

The questions we just must ask about such a statement, is: “Did

God intend that His people read this book, and understand it? And

did God realize that His language was too crude and indelicate to

be translated into language that the common person could

understand?”

 

 If God caused it to be written, He intended it to be

understood, and if God inspired the language of this book, then our

assumption must be that this inspired language is appropriate.

 

Surely such statements as the above reflect more upon Mr. Clarke’s

faulty sense of propriety than it does upon the book itself. And surely

such attitudes impugn the spirituality and holiness of the God who

 

inspired this book.

 

 If there is anything wrong with the language in

the Song of Solomon then there is fault with God, for He should

have known better than to use such language! How insane it is for

humans to think they have reached such a state of superior

morality, that they can correct God and overtly label anything He

does or says as “improper.”

 

 Perhaps we humans actually

understand sex better than the God who created it! Perhaps God

should now condescend to adopt our moral standards, rather than

we adopting His! Perhaps God should have consulted such

superior intellects as Mr. Clarke’s before He wrote this erotic poem.

 

Surely Mr. Clarke would have been glad to guide God into a choice

 

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of language that would have been “acceptable” to the human

reader! Surely we can think better than this.

 

The imagery in this book may be meant to be an allegory of

something else, but it is definitely sexual imagery, and is used in

other places in the Bible. “Fruitful” is elsewhere a reference to

sexual reproduction (Gen. 1:28), and “fruit of the womb” refers to

offspring, (Gen. 30:2).

 

Semen is called “seed” in Lev. 15:16. Today

we say a man “sows his wild oats”; a virgin has a “cherry”; testicles

are “nuts,” etc. Exactly the same sort of sexually euphemistic

imagery is used throughout the Song of Solomon.

 

One of the fruits that represented sexual activity in Israel was

the pomegranate. Because of its many seeds it has been a symbol of

fertility from the most ancient times.

 

In Mythology, the mother of

Attis conceived him by putting a pomegranate between her breasts.

A fertility deity that Naaman worshipped was called “Rimmon,” (2

Kg. 5:18), the same word that is translated “pomegranate” in Song of

Solomon (Strong’s # 7416, 7417).

 

So when the woman says “I would cause you to drink the spiced

wine of my pomegranate,” (8:2) she is not offering him a juice drink!

She is offering him her fertility, her sexual love. Some believe she is

asking for oral sex! But sex indeed is what she is after, for the next

line (8:3) shows that the couple is reclining, and his left hand

should be under her head while his right hand “embraces” her. It is

in this position that she tells him to drink of the juice of her

pomegranate. As Adam Clarke says above, those who are “at all

acquainted with Asiatic phraseology” can see the erotic reference

here.

“The fig tree puts forth her green figs…arise my love, and come

away.” (2:13) “Figs were used from early times as symbols of sexual

fertility. The word “fig” signified “vagina” in several

 

Mediterranean languages, and one only needed to split open a

purple fig to see why.” (Kevin Aaron, Journey From Eden, p. 196).

The obscene gesture of “giving the finger” by which the male penis

and testicles are manually represented, is also called “making the

fig.”

 

“Mandrakes” (7:13) also are figurative of sexual fertility. They

are called “love apples”, and the Arabs refer to them as “the Devil’s

testicles.” The mandrake root itself resembles a man’s sex organs.

Many cultures believed that mandrakes were an aphrodisiac; they

were thought to arouse sexual desire. This is the explanation

 

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behind Rachel’s attempt to bargain with Leah for her mandrakes in

exchange for the sexual favors of Jacob, (Gen. 30:14-16).

“Pomegranates,” “figs,” “apples,” “grapes,” “mandrakes,” all to

be enjoyed “in the garden” – all these are erotic images, used over

and over in this poem, as now the woman and then the man use

 

these fruits to refer to their persistent passion for sexual love. All

this comes to a focus when we read that the young woman is herself

a “garden,” and she invites her male lover to “come into his garden

and eat its choice fruits!” (4:12-16).

 

For a parallel in Eastern poetry, read these lines from a

Palestinian poem:

“Your breast, O You, is like a pomegranate fruit,

And your eyes have captured us, by God and by the

Merciful One.

 

Your cheek shines as it were a damascene apple;

How sweet to pluck it in the morning and to open the

garden.” (The Anchor Bible)

An Egyptian poem has this similar line:

“I entered your garden and plucked your pomegranates…”

(The Anchor Bible)

 

Now if we were trying to explain the meaning of these lines,

(4:12-16), how would we go about it? Would you not have to

comment that the woman’s body, specifically her vagina, is the

 

“garden,” and that her invitation to her lover to “come into your

garden” and “eat its fruit,” is an invitation to enter her vagina and

make love to her. And wouldn’t you also need to mention that the

probability is also extremely high that oral lovemaking was a part

of this invitation?

 

The erotic power of this woman’s invitation arises from the fact

that this man’s “garden” (her body) smells delightfully of myrrh,

aloes, cinnamon and frankincense (4:13, 14). These spices were

much in use in those days, to perfume the sexual organs, and

provide a sensual aroma for the love bed. Prov. 7:18,19 reads: “I

 

have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take

our fill of love until the morning.” The Song of Solomon has the man

describing her beauty, specifically her breasts, then saying “Until

the day breaks, and the shadows flee away, I will get me up to the

 

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mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of incense.” (4:5, 6). He is not talking

about a midnight hiking trip into the mountains! He is going up to

the “mountain” and the “hill” of her pubic area!

This woman is a “garden enclosed,” but she will open to her

lover. She invites him into his garden – her body – to eat her fruits,

and drink the water of her love (4:12-16). The Interpreter’s Bible says

 

this: “In Oriental imagery the wife is described in terms of a

fountain, and sexual enjoyment in terms of drinking water.” This

same symbolism is used in Prov. 5:15-20: “Drink water from your

own cistern…Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of

your youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts

 

satisfy (margin: “water”) you at all times; and be ravished always with

her love.” Eating and drinking are euphemisms for sexual activity as

are the “hind and doe,” images that repeatedly appear in Song of

Solomon.

 

After inviting him into her garden, the man responds as he says,

“I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse; I have gathered my

myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have

drunk my wine with my milk,” (5:1). He has enjoyed all the delights

of her body. God evidently sees sex as a pleasant appetite to be

filled, not as something dirty and disgusting to be endured only

 

when it is necessary!

A marriage poem from Sumeria uses this same imagery, as the

bride speaks to the groom, enticing him with an erotic description

of her charms:

“My god, sweet is the drink of the wine-maid,

Like her drink, sweet is her vulva, sweet is her drink,

Like her lips sweet is her vulva, sweet is her drink,

Sweet is her mixed drink, her drink.” (The Anchor Bible)

 

In such lines as these, the references to oral lovemaking cannot

be missed. In both this Sumerian poem and in the Song of Solomon,

the delights of sexual love most obviously involve enjoying the

entirety of the partner’s body, and “eating” and “drinking” sexual

 

enjoyment until each lover is full. Objections to oral sex are imposed

upon people in spite of the Bible’s teaching. Such objections do not

come from the Bible.

 

Another scene depicts the male lover in this Song, as feeding

among the lilies (2:16,17); “My beloved is mine and I am his: he feedeth

among the lilies. Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my

beloved, and be like a roe or a young hart upon the mountain of Bether.”

 

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The roe and the hart were known for their beauty and

sensuality. The reference in this case to the all night “feeding”

among the lilies, is an erotic reference to love making. From ancient

times, in many cultures the lily or lotus has been used as a symbol

for sexual activity. The term “lotus licking,” is just another way of

saying cunnilingus. Lilies are used in reference to the mons veneris.

The Anchor Bible says that feeding among the lilies on the “mountain

of Bether,” refers to the “mountain of division,” referring

 

transparently to the divided vulva. Because women perfumed the

“mountain” of their “division,” or vulva, Moffatt’s Translation

translates this line this way: “Play like a roe or hart on my perfumed

slopes.” References to the male lover “feeding among the dark lilies”

located at the “divided mountain,” virtually demand that we

understand this to be a reference to oral sex. And such a reference,

 

in this context, means God recommends such delightful activity for

the enjoyment of His children. We suspect these references are

among those phrases that Adam Clarke felt should not even be

explained by a doctor using medical language! In other words, even

if God Himself refers to oral sexual activity, we should not read it that

way, should not approve of it, and should never teach it to others.

This means that, even if God said it, it is wrong!

In another scene, (2:3,4), the man is likened to an apple tree,

beneath which the woman sits with great delight. “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.

He brought me to the banqueting table, and his banner over me was love.”

The meaning of these phrases may be a general reference to love

making, but they can also clearly be taken as a reference to fellatio,

as she sits “under his shade” or between his legs, and pleasures him

with her mouth. The Anchor Bible says “one could hardly miss the

sexual sense of the metaphor.” The “meal” these lovers are eating

in the “banqueting house” is not physical food, but sexual love.

And “the banner of love” he spreads over her, is not a tapestry he

hung on the wall!

Having compared the man to an apple tree, the Song now says

the woman is a palm tree, which the man intends to climb! (7:6-9).

“How beautiful and how delightful you are my love, with all your charms!

Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. I

said, I will go climb the palm tree, I will take hold of its fruit stalks: O may

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your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the fragrance of your breath

like apples.”

This man is going to delight himself in the sight and feel of his

lover’s breasts. As one would pick the fruit from the branches he

sees her breasts as the fruit he will pick: they will be as clusters of

the vine, ready to pick and eat. When she asks him to “sustain me

with raisin cakes, refresh me with apples, because I am lovesick,” (2:5),

she is asking him to delight in her body.

The Song refers to a woman’s breasts as “clusters of grapes”

hanging down, sweet to taste, delightful to behold and delightful to

touch. He mentioned one woman who had breasts like “towers”

and expressed concern that his little sister’s breasts had not yet

developed, (7:8; 8:8-10). The woman says “A bundle of myrrh is my

well beloved to me; he shall lie all night between my breasts.” (1:13).

God is obviously not embarrassed by a woman’s breasts. He

created woman’s breasts as much to be sexual objects as for nursing

children. For a man to delight in a woman’s breasts is pure and

natural. And the desire to “eat” the nipples as he would eat grapes

is not only normal, it is recognized by God as part of the very reason

He made women’s breasts as He did, and made them a delight to men.

In other words, the reason men like women’s breasts is because God

made women’s breasts for men to enjoy.

There are more such references to sexual love making, and the

pure delight of a man and woman looking at each other’s naked

bodies, and describing them in the most explicit fashion. Such

forthright sexuality in the Bible has been a real stumbling block for

humans. This book has been the source of more controversy than

any other Biblical book – only because of its sexual language. The

Song refers to the human body, sexual organs, and love making in

all its forms, as beautiful, wholesome and erotically satisfying. The

body is not something that must be covered. It is not “nasty” to

talk about the human body nor to delight in its naked, sexual

beauty. Rejoicing in sexual activity is not something only

“perverts” do. Enjoying the act of sex for the pure pleasure of it is

good, healthy, and blessed by God. This book stands forever as

God’s personal commendation of human sexuality as something

good and delightful for His children. What is “perverted” is the

opposite attitude, that sees human nakedness and sexual activity as

inherently “unclean” or “unholy,” and something that all truly

spiritual people avoid talking about or thinking about.

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Consider this scene: “Come back, come back O Shulammite; come

back that we might gaze at you! Why should you gaze at the Shulammite,

as at the dance of Mahanaim,” (6:13).

In 7:1-6, the girl is wearing nothing but shoes, for the boy’s

description of her whole body moves from feet to head. Admiring

her “navel” refers to her vulva, according to Interpreter’s Bible. In

the context, the girl is dancing, (thus the shoes) and the people call

to her to “come back” or as we would say “encore!” so they can

continue to look at her naked body. As the girl dances the “dance of

Mahanaim,” she is evidently either totally naked, or covered only by

a sheer, see-through garment, for the lover sees her whole body,

and describes it in detail, (7:1-9). Not only he, but also a number of

onlookers watch this nude dance, and he teases them by asking

“why are you looking at the Shulammite while she dances?” He knows

that they look for the same reason he looks. This girl is

exceptionally beautiful and her figure is “lovely.” They are looking

with great admiration upon this naked girl. As she finishes her

dance they beg her to return so that they can continue to look at

her. The Interpreter’s Bible commentary says this was some special

dance apparently performed in the nude. The Pulpit Commentary

says the dancing girl may have worn clothing of a light texture

through which the details of her body and breasts could be seen,

“according to the mode of dancing in the East.” (Journey From Eden, p.

49). Such nude dances as these were common place in that culture.

Adam Clark thinks she wore “transparent garments,” which would

allow her body to be viewed. The girl was dancing in such fashion

that her breasts were visible and described as a perfectly matching

pair, “two young roes that are twins.” As she danced, her breasts

bounced like young roes jumping on the hill. This girl had breasts

like “towers” – large, firm breasts – and this was a major factor that

caused the man to delight in her, (8:10).

God designed the male body and the female body specifically and

intentionally to be sexually attractive to each other. There is such an

openness in this book in describing the body and the act of love

making, and such a delight in the whole process that we humans

surely should take thought about the legitimacy of our attitudes

toward these things. If God speaks this way about nakedness and

sexuality why is it wrong for us to do so? If God sees all this as

beautiful, clean, desirable and even “holy,” how can we view it as

dirty and needing to be kept in the closet?

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This erotic poem also represents the girl as being equally

unabashed about enjoying the sight of her naked lover. No

blushing rose here! In 5:11-15, the woman describes with obvious

delight, the man’s naked body from head to toe, including

euphemistic references to his penis (“belly”). Strong’s #4578 says

mayaw refers to “the abdomen…by extension the stomach, the

uterus ( or of men, the seat of generation…)” or as one translator

wrote, “His rod is arrogant ivory,” indicating that she marvels at

his erect penis. She likes to look at his body, he likes to look at her

body, and as the preceding paragraphs show, others like to look at

both of them too. Appreciation of the beauty and sexuality of the

human body is recognized here. Men and women looking at each

others bodies and loving the sight, is approved of in these

Scriptures.

Studying the Holy Spirit inspired language of this book forces

us to reconsider the validity of all our presumptions, opinions and

convictions about anything sexual. We can see from the foregoing

study that there is nothing about the body and its sexual organs, or

using those organs for their created purpose, that is dirty enough or

“unseemly” enough for God to hesitate to write a book about if for

all the world to read and understand. If The Perfectly Holy God

Who created our bodies and sexual apparatus and made us such

that our most powerful passion is sexual passion, sees sex as we

read about it in this book, then we must admit that this attitude is

the right attitude. God’s attitude toward sex is the perfect attitude

toward sex. If God brings sex out of the closet for all the world to

see, then we must resist every urge to stuff it back in there.

Nothing in all the Bible suggests to us that we should not talk

about sex with one another, even using the real words for all the

parts of the body. We have created euphemisms for sexual love and

sexual organs because we have a sense of shame and impropriety

about these things and just can’t bring ourselves to talk about them

without “covering” our language. Thus instead of saying penis we

say pecker, rod, dick, tool, etc. When we must refer to a woman’s

vulva, we say pussy, cunt, pet, door, etc. etc. If we refer to

masturbation we have to say things like spank the dog, beat the

meat, pump the handle, etc. Why? Since the Creator of all things

sexual does not show embarrassment about sex, why do we?

Our attitudes have not been derived from the Bible. We

assume the Bible avoids sex and treats it as basically dirty. The truth

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is that the Bible regards sex highly and counts it as one of the

greatest blessings humans can enjoy. If not for our jaundiced views

of sex and the human body we would be free to fully and openly

enjoy sex. If we were not ashamed of our bodies we would not feel

compelled to hide from the view of all others. All of our foolish

opinions about these issues come from church leaders who cannot

trust people to read their Bibles and draw correct impressions from

it about sexual matters. They have taken the practical position that

God did not sufficiently reveal to humans all the rules and

regulations we need in order to truly control sex. We believe we

must be more sensitive and secretive about sex than God is. We

think we know better than to use the same “crude” language of sex

that God used here.

The modern church has tried its best to help God out since

apparently, in many minds, He did not do an adequate job of

defining decency. Modern religious people are offended at the

suggestion that God would actually inspire such a book as Song of

Solomon. Yet the fact remains that this book is part of the inspired,

eternal Word. Any suggestion that its language and sexual

references are crude, unacceptable for decent society, vulgar, etc, is

an accusation against God’s Personal Holiness, Purity and

Righteousness. On the other hand, if we can accept that this book is

inspired by God Himself and that its sexual content is not

shameful, unholy or in any other way foreign to God’s character,

then we are in a position to be able to understand God’s true

attitude toward sex. God made sex. God made sex enjoyable. God

made human bodies. God made them beautiful to look at. God also

created men and women such that we experience automatic sexual

reaction to the naked bodies of others. God sees this as good. And it

is all in harmony with His essentially Holy nature. There is no dirt

connected with sex or human nakedness. All dirt exists in human

minds.

We do not defend vulgarity or disregard for public morals. We

do however, defend Biblical morality, and the Biblical manner of

referring to and thinking about sex. Our deeply rooted, underlying

assumption that sex is basically dirty, is the reason we cannot see sex

as Scripture actually presents it. If we can get over this one hump

we are well on the way to developing a healthy, Biblical view of

sex. May that day hasten for as many individuals as are able to look

at God’s Word objectively and escape their sexual prisons.

 

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