Article Index

Song of Songs

Introduction

Songs of Songs has the same name as Bhagavad Gita, both books have this title that means, ‘the greatest song of all’. Neither the Bhagavad Gita nor Song of Songs are especially beautiful musical pieces of music or poetry. Their beauty however lies in the fact that they sing of the most beautiful topic known to humankind - the ecstatic union of the soul with the Spirit.

Song of Songs is different to any other Scripture in many ways. The most striking difference however lies in that it does not describe The Way to union, or even the process of deification, er even the moral lessons so often found in Scripture. Song of Songs is dedicated to describing the experience of unification with the Divine Lover. Theosis is the Way, the process of becoming in Christ, and most Scripture is dedicated to throwing light on this path. The goal or aim of theosis culminates in henosis, the union with the Energies of God. This is what Song of Songs is about, a description of the henosis experience.

The uninitiated reader will probably find the book overly sensual, repetitive and pointless. Song of Songs is pointless because it does not tell a progressive story. It tells of of an existential spiritual experience, a spiritual sensation.

The initiated reader will immediately recognise the familiar overtone of yearning, and the repetitive undertone of sensual fulfilment. The mystic having been emptied of all desires and ego needs, and have placed the humble feminine Spiritual Mind (6th chakra), in charge of the being, and fills up with a new passion that is aflame in the inner-self. Experienced mystics will recognise the familiar pulse - the teasing coming and going of the Lover, the opening and closing of heaven’s gate, the ecstasy of meeting and the awe-full contentment of it, and the desperate almost pathetic yearning that sets in when He has left again.

Collection

The current book is a compilation of Songs probably reworked by various cultural settings over a long oral period. We understand that there once was a shorter original version of Song that became popular for use in wedding ceremonies because it suits the setting. This ancient passion-mysticism influenced Syrian, Persian and Indian cultures to adopt a ‘king’ and ‘queen’ setting for the bridegroom and his bride. Over time the original Song became a collection of Songs, each influenced by its situation. The editor of Song of Songs used those versions known to him/her and compiled this rich work we use today.

Song of Songs consists of six or seven different poems. Some division exists among scholars whether we should read poems six and seven as one poem or not. Chapter 8 consist of six unrelated verses which an editor seems to have added to the end.

Setting

The book is probably written in Palestine by one who knows Persia intimately. The most probable date of this compilation is about 400 BC. The original Song that gave rise to this collection of derivatives, however, comes along with The Way and therefore must date from about 3 000 BC.

Solomon and the girl of Shulam

King Solomon is the patriarch of the Mediterranean Wisdom Tradition. Song of Songs was written, like many other Wisdom works, as a tribute to him. According to the story Solomon is the main character, the seeker and bride. This is the first striking allegory in the book – the introduction of the bride by name, the girl of Shulam, or the Shulammite. The name of the girl is a feminine version of Solomon – showing that Solomon the seeker has acquired the status of placing the feminine Spiritual Mind in charge of his being. She now seeks , and experiences union with her Divine Lover the Spirit.

Commentators

Song of Songs is the most celebrated of Scriptures among mystical commentators in the church. As early as the 2nd century already the mystical fathers wrote extensive commentaries on Songs. Among the earliest great scholars was Ambrose, Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Gregory of Nyssa, the Tall Brothers, Pseudo Dionysus the Areopagite. During Medieval times Bernard of Clairvoux, St. John of the Cross, Therese of Avila and a host of other mystic theologians wrote commentaries on Songs. St. Bernard wrote more than 80 books commenting on Songs but died before he could finish. Overall it seems as if mystical theologians have written more than one thousand books expounding the enormous wealth of Song of Songs.

This edition of the Wayist Bible does not attempt to draw from the masses of mystical information available to explain the text in the footnotes.


Song of Songs: Poems 1- 4

1

The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.

Beloved

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for his love is better than wine. Because of the savour of your good ointments your name is as ointment poured forth, that is why the virgins love you. 1-3

Draw me in your footsteps while we run after you. We are called in to the king’s chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in him, we will remember his love more than wine: how right it is to love you. 4

Beloved

O I am black but lovely,
like the daughters of Jerusalem,
like the tents of Kedar,
like the curtains of Salmah.1

Regard not my blackness,
because the sun has burned me:
my mother’s children were angry with me;
they made me the keeper of the vineyards;
but I have not kept my own vineyard.2 5-6

Tell me, O you whom my soul loves,
where do you lead your flock to rest at noon:
for why should I be drifting along aside the the flocks of your companions? 7

Lover

If you know not, O you fairest among women, go along and follow the flock, and feed your kids beside the shepherds’ tents.

I have compared you, O my love, to a mare in Pharaoh’s chariots.
Your cheeks are lovely with rows of jewels, your neck with chains of gold.
We shall make you golden earrings and beads of silver.

Beloved

While the king sits at his table, my perfumed lotion sends forth the smell of it. A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me; he shall lie all night between my breasts.

Lover

My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphor in the vineyards of Engedi.

Behold, you are fair, my love; behold, you are fair; you have doves’ eyes. Behold, you are fair, my beloved, yes, pleasant: also our bed is green. The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir.

Beloved

I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.

Lover

As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.

 

Beloved

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. 3

He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. 4

Sustain me with wine mugs, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love. 5

His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me. 6

Lover

I charge you, O you daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and by the does of the field, that you stir not up, neither awake my love, till she pleases. 7

 

2

Beloved

The voice of my beloved! behold, he comes leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. 8

My beloved is like a young stag: behold, he stands behind our wall, he looks forth at the windows, showing himself through the lattice. 9

My beloved spoke, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. 10

Come see, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; the fig tree is putting forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. 11-13

O my dove, hiding in the secret caves of the rock, let me see your shining face, let me hear your voice; for sweet is your voice, and your looks are so lovely. 14

Capture the the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes. 15

My beloved is mine, and I am his: he pastures his flock among the lilies. Until the day break, and the darkness flee away, turn, my beloved, and be mine, like a hare upon the mountains of Bether. 16, 17

 

3

Beloved

By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loves: I sought him, but I found him not. I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the squares I will seek him whom my soul loves: I sought him, but I found him not.3 1, 2

The watchmen4 that go about the city found me: to whom I said, ‘Did you see him whom my soul loves?’ 3

It was but a little while that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loves: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me. 4

Lover

I charge you, O you daughters of Jerusalem, by the deer, and by the gazelles of the field, that you neither stir up, nor awake my love, till she pleases. 5

Observer

Who is this that comes out of the wilderness, like pillars of smoke perfumed with myrrh and frankincense? Behold his bed, it looks like Solomon’s; sixty champion warriors stand around it, best of the athletes of Israel. Every one an expert at war, holding a sword upon his thigh, ready for the battle at night. 7, 8

King Solomon made himself a bed of the wood of Lebanon.
He made the pillars of silver, the bottom of gold, the coverings of purple, the middle of it paved with love for the daughters of Jerusalem. 9, 10

 

Go forth, O you daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon with the crown wherewith his Mother crowned him in the days of his marriages, the days of the gladness of his heart. 11

4

Lover

How beautiful you are my love; behold, you are fair; your eyes are like doves’ behind your veil: your hair is as a flock of goats, that burst forth from mount Gilead. 1

Your teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, after they came up from the washing; each one has its twin, not one is unpaired. 2

Your lips are like a thread of scarlet, and your speech is lovely: your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate, behind your veil. 3

Your neck is like the Tower of David sloping up in layers, upon which there hang a thousand bucklers, each a shield of a hero. 4

Your two breasts are like twin young does that feed among the lilies. 5

Until the day break, and the darkness flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense. 6

You are all beauty my love; there is no blemish in you. 7

Come with me my betrothed, come with me from Lebanon: look from the heights of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards. 8

You have ravished my heart, my sister, my betrothed; you have ravished my heart with a single glance, with a single chain of your necklace. 9

How beautiful is your love, my sister, my betrothed! How superior is your love, better than wine! and the smell of your ointments than all spices! 10

Your lips, O my betrothed, sweet as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under your tongue; and the smell of your garments is like the smell of Lebanon. 11

A garden enclosed is my sister, my betrothed; an enclosed spring shut up, a fountain sealed. 12

Your paradise is an an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphor, with spikenard, saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices: a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon. 13 - 15

Beloved

Awake, O north wind; come, you wind of the south; breathe upon my garden, that the scents thereof may spread about. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits. 16

 

Lover

I am come into my garden, my sister, my betrothed: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk.

Observer

O friends; drink, yes, drink deeply, O beloved.


Song of Songs: Poems 5 - 8

5

Beloved

I sleep, but my heart is awake: it is the voice of my beloved that knocks, saying, ‘Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is wet with dew, and my hair with the drops of night. I have taken off my coat; shall I put it on again? I have washed my feet; shall I dirty them again?’ 1 - 3

My love thrust his hand through the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved in anticipation. 4

I rose to open to my beloved; and my hands smelled of myrrh, and my fingers dripped of sweet smelling myrrh which was upon the handles of the lock. 5

I opened to my love; but he had withdrawn himself, and was gone. My soul failed when he spoke: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer. 6

The watchmen5 that went about the city found me, they beat me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my cloak from me. 7

I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that you tell him, that I am sick with love. 8

Observer

What is your lover more than another lover, O you fairest among women? what is your lover more than another lover, that you so charge us? 9

Beloved

My love is white6 and lusty, the best among ten thousand. 10

His head is as the most fine gold, his hair is bushy, and black as a raven. 11

His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the water courses, bathed in milk, perching awake. 12

His beard is as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh. 13

His hands are golden, smooth, and set with jewels.

His stomach is a block of ivory covered with sapphires. 14

His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.

His speech is most sweet: yes, he is altogether lovely.
This is my lover and my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem. 15

Observer

Where has your lover gone, O you fairest among women? Where has your lover turned aside? that we may seek him with you.

 

My love went down to his garden, to the beds of spices, to pasture his flock in the gardens, and to gather lilies.

I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine: he pastures his flock among the lilies. 16

 

6

Beloved

You are as beautiful as Tirzah, O my love, as beautiful as Jerusalem, as a formidable army with banners. 1

Turn away your gaze from me, for it has overcome me: your hair is as a flock of goats that appear from Gilead. 2

Your teeth are as a flock of sheep which come up from the washing, each one has its twin, and there is not one unpaired. 3

As a pomegranate half are your cheeks under your veil. 4

There are sixty queens, and eighty concubines, and virgins without number by your side. 5

Lover

My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and blessed her; yes, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her. 6

Who is she that looks forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and formidably beautiful as an army with banners? 7

 

Beloved

I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley, and to see whether the vine flourished and the pomegranates budded. 8

Of suddenly I was aware, my desire enraptured me like the chariots of Amminadib!7 9

7

8Lover

Return, return, O Shulammite; return, return, that we may look upon you. This is what you will see in the Shulammite, dancing between two lines of company: 1

How beautiful are your feet with shoes, O prince’s daughter! the joints of your thighs are like jewels, the work of the hands of an expert craftsman. 2

Your navel is like a round goblet, which wants not liquor: your belly is like an heap of wheat set about with lilies. 3

Your two breasts are like twin young hares. 4

Your neck is as a tower of ivory; your eyes like the fish-pools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bathrabbim: your nose is as the tower of Lebanon which looks toward Damascus. 5

 

Your head is held high like Carmel, and its hair as dark as purple; the King is held in the galleries. 6

How beautiful and how pleasant are you, O lover of enraptures! 7

Your posture is like a palm tree, and your breasts like clusters of grapes. 8

I have said before, I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of the branches thereof: now also your breasts shall be as clusters of vine, and the smell of your breath scented like apples; and your palate like the best wine. 9

I am flowing down the throat of my beloved, sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak. 10

Beloved

I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me. 11

Come, my love, let us go forth into the field; let us lodge in the villages. 12

Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth: there will I give thee my loves. 13

The mandrakes9 put forth their scent, and at our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for you, O my beloved. 14

 

O even as you are my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! when I should find you in public, I would kiss you; yes, and I shall not be despised. 15 (8:1) 10

I would lead you, and bring you into my mother’s house, who would instruct me: I would give thee to drink of spiced wine and of the juice of my pomegranate. 16 (8:2)

His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me. 17 (8:3)

Lover

I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that you neither stir up, nor awake my love, until she pleases. 18 (8:4)

Who is this that comes up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?11 19 (8:5)

I raised you up under the apple tree: there where your mother gave birth to you: there where she conceived you.12 20 (8:6)

Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm: for love is strong as death; passion is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which has a most vehement flame.13 21(8:7)

 

Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for this love, contempt is all he can buy.14 22 (8:8)

 

8

Six unrelated verses

We have a little sister, and she has no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for? If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver and if she be a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar. 1 (8:9)

I am a wall, and my breasts like towers: then was I in his eyes as one that found favour. 2 (8:10)

Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon; he let out the vineyard unto keepers; every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver. 3 (8:11)

My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: you, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred. 3 (8:12)

You that dwell in the gardens, the companions listen to your voice: cause me to hear it. 4 (8:13)

 

Make haste, my beloved, and be like a young hare upon the mountains of spices. 5 (8:14)

END