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You will find an introduction of the Song of Solomon, here.

Here is a prayer to use before reading,  by Origen (c. 185 – c. 254) an early church father from Alexandria.
Lord, inspire us to read your Scriptures and meditate upon them day and night. We beg you to give us real understanding of what we need, that we in turn may put its precepts into practice. Yet we know that understanding and good intentions are worthless, unless rooted in your graceful love. So we ask that the words of Scriptures may also be not just signs on a page, but channels of grace into our hearts. Amen.

 

Chapter 1

1:1 The title, Song of Songs is a superlative, like king of kings, or vanities of vanities, or holy of holies.

1:2-2:7 Short speeches

1:2-8 The woman’s song. Notice the relationship is already a reality. The word translated at “love” in verse 2 refers to physical intimacy. “The King” is a reference to the male lover, not the actual king.

In verse 5, how does the woman describe herself?  In the NRSV she is “black and beautiful” in other translations she is “dark but lovely”. Does the use of “and” rather than “but” make a difference?  In verses 7 the man is described as a shepherd. Remember all these descriptions are poetic in nature.  Also there is no term for flock the Hebrew. It reads “Where do you graze?” A double entendre?

Verse 9-11 are the man speaking.

Verses 12-14 the woman speaks. Nard and myrrh were costly aromatics. Henna blossoms are strongly scented.  En-gedi is an oasis.

1:15-2:3 mutual admiration. verse 15 is the man, verse 16-17 the woman. Verse 2:1 the woman, verse 2 the man, verse 3 the woman.

2:5-7 the woman addresses the women of Jerusalem.

2:8-3:11 the woman’s first long speech Notice the woman mainly tells stories in which they are characters.

2:8-17 a springtime visit by the man. Verse 11 winter was the rainy season.  Verse 15, foxes may reference young men and vineyards young women. Verse 17 implies that the time has come for the man to return to his home.

3:1-5 the woman’s dream.

3:6-11 the third story. The woman describes her love as King Solomon on his wedding day.  A palanquin is an enclosed chair or couch carried by bearers.

4:1-5:1  The man’s first long speech  While the woman told stories, the man describes the woman.

4:1-5 he describes her body using metaphor and simile.

4:6 is a response to 2:17.

Bride and sister are terms of endearment.

4:8 Amana, Senir, and Hermon are peaks in a mountain range that are not accessible because of leopards and tigers. Contrast these mountains with the mountains of v 6.

4:9 “Ravished” meaning either “stirred my heart” or “captured my heart”.

4:12-5:1 are several metaphors that describe the woman. The reference to a “locked garden” may imply that she is his private garden.

In verse 16 the woman speaks.

 

 

 

Here are several good sources to aid your reading of the Song of Solomon

Anderson, Bernhard W., Katheryn Pfister Darr, Understanding the Old Testament Abridged fourth Edition. (Upper Saddle River,New Jersey: Prentice Hall) 1998.

Exum, J. Cheryl “The Song of Solomon” in The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version.Coogan, Michael D.; Brettler, Marc Z.; Perkins, Pheme; Newsom, Carol A. (2010-01-20) Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Fox, Michael V. “The Song of Songs” in  HarperCollins Bible Commentary Mays, James L. ed.(San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco) 2000.

Weems, Reinta J “The Song of Songs”,in The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary Vol 3, Keck, Leander E. ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press) 1996

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