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Song of solomon essays



The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s: Our Rabbis taught (Shevu. 35b): Every Solomon (for they were at a loss to explain why Scripture did not mention his father, as it did in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes) mentioned in the Song of Songs is sacred (refers to God), the King to Whom peace (שָׁלוֹם) belongs. It is a song that is above all songs, which was recited to the Holy One, blessed be He, by His congregation and His people, the congregation of Israel. Rabbi Akiva said: The world was never as worthy as on the day that the Song of Songs was given to Israel, for all the Writings are holy, whereas the Song of Songs is the holiest of the holy. Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah said: To what can this be compared? To a king who took a se’ah of wheat and gave it to a baker. He said to him, “Extract for me so much fine flour, so much bran, so much coarse bran, and you shall produce enough fine flour for one white loaf, sifted and superior.” So are all the Writings holy and the Song of Songs the holiest of the holy, for it is all comprised of fear of Heaven and the acceptance of the yoke of His kingdom.

2 "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for your love is better than wine.

ב יִשָּׁקֵנִי מִנְּשִׁיקוֹת פִּיהוּ כִּי טוֹבִים דֹּדֶיךָ מִיָּיִן:

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: She recites this song with her mouth, in her exile and in her widowhood: “If only King Solomon would kiss me with the kisses of his mouth as of old,” because in some places they kiss on the back of the hand or on the shoulder, but I desire and wish that he behave toward me as he behaved toward me originally, like a bridegroom with a bride, mouth to mouth.

3 Because of the fragrance of your goodly oils, your name is 'oil poured forth.' Therefore, the maidens loved you.

ג לְרֵיחַ שְׁמָנֶיךָ טוֹבִים שֶׁמֶן תּוּרַק שְׁמֶךָ עַל כֵּן עֲלָמוֹת אֲהֵבוּךָ:

Because of the fragrance of your goodly oils: A good name is referred to by the expression, “good oil.”

Because of the fragrance of your goodly oils: that those dwelling at the ends of the earth smelled, [i.e.,] those who heard of Your good fame when You performed awesome deeds in Egypt.

your name is ‘oil poured forth.’: Your name is [thus] called. It is said about you that you are oil that is constantly being poured forth so that your fragrant scent wafts forth to a distance, for so is the nature of fragrant oil. As long as it is in a sealed bottle, its scent does not carry. If one opens it and pours the oil into another vessel, its scent carries.

maidens: virgins, since the text compares Him to a youth whose beloved holds him dear, and according to the allegory, the maidens are the nations.

4 Draw me, we will run after you; the king brought me to his chambers. We will rejoice and be glad in you. We will recall your love more fragrant than wine; they have loved you sincerely.

ד מָשְׁכֵנִי אַחֲרֶיךָ נָרוּצָה הֱבִיאַנִי הַמֶּלֶךְ חֲדָרָיו נָגִילָה וְנִשְׂמְחָה בָּךְ נַזְכִּירָה דֹדֶיךָ מִיַּיִן מֵישָׁרִים אֲהֵבוּךָ:

Draw me, we will run after you: I heard from your messengers a hint that you said to draw me, and I said, “We will run after you to be your wife.”

the king brought me to his chambers: And even this very day, I still have joy and happiness that I cleaved to you.

We will recall your love: Even today, in living widowhood, I recall your early love more than any banquet of pleasure and joy.

they have loved you sincerely: a strong love, a straightforward love, without crookedness (Heb. עקיבה) or deceit (Heb. רכסים), [after Isaiah 40: 4: and the crooked terrain (הֶעָקֹב) shall become a plain and the rugged mountains (וְהָרְכָסִים) a valley], that my ancestors and I loved you in those days. This is its simple meaning according to its context, and according to its allegorical meaning, they mention before Him the loving kindness of [their] youth, the love of [their] nuptials, their following Him in the desert, a land of aridness and darkness, and they did not even prepare supplies for themselves, but they believed in Him and in His messenger, and they did not say, “How will we go out into the desert, which is not a land of seed or food,” but they followed Him, and He brought them into the midst of the chambers of the encompassment of His clouds. With this, they are still joyful today and happy in Him despite their afflictions and distress, and they delight in the Torah, and there they recall His love more than wine and the sincerity of their love for Him.

5 I am black but comely, O daughters of Jerusalem! Like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon.

ה שְׁחוֹרָה אֲנִי וְנָאוָה בְּנוֹת יְרוּשָׁלָיִם כְּאָהֳלֵי קֵדָר כִּירִיעוֹת שְׁלֹמֹה:

6 Do not look upon me [disdainfully] because I am swarthy, for the sun has gazed upon me; my mother's sons were incensed against me; they made me a keeper of the vineyards; my own vineyard I did not keep.

ו אַל תִּרְאֻנִי שֶׁאֲנִי שְׁחַרְחֹרֶת שֶׁשְּׁזָפַתְנִי הַשָּׁמֶשׁ בְּנֵי אִמִּי נִחֲרוּ בִי שָׂמֻנִי נֹטֵרָה אֶת הַכְּרָמִים כַּרְמִי שֶׁלִּי לֹא נָטָרְתִּי:

because I am swarthy: For my blackness and my ugliness are not from my mother’s womb, but from tanning from the sun, for that blackness can easily be whitened by staying in the shade.

my mother’s sons were incensed against me: These are the Egyptians among whom I grew up, and they went up with me in the mixed multitude; they were incensed against me with their enticement and their seduction until they made me…

7 Tell me, you whom my soul loves, where do you feed, where do you rest [the flocks] at noon, for why should I be like one who veils herself beside the flocks of your companions?"

ז הַגִּידָה לִּי שֶׁאָהֲבָה נַפְשִׁי אֵיכָה תִרְעֶה אֵיכָה תַּרְבִּיץ בַּצָּהֳרָיִם שַׁלָּמָה אֶהְיֶה כְּעֹטְיָה עַל עֶדְרֵי חֲבֵרֶיךָ:

Tell me, you whom my soul loves: The Divine Spirit repeatedly compares her to the flock that is beloved to the shepherd. The congregation of Israel says before Him as a woman to her husband, “Tell me, You Whom my soul loves, where do You feed Your flock among these wolves in whose midst they are, and where do You rest them at noon, in this exile, which is a distressful time for them, like noon, which is a distressful time for the flock?”

for why should I be like one who veils herself: And if you ask, “What does it concern you?” It is not dignified for you that I should be like a mourner, with a veil over my lip, weeping for my flock.

beside the flocks of your companions: beside the flocks of the other shepherds, who pasture flocks as you do; i.e. among the flocks of the heathens, who rely on pagan deities, and who have kings and princes who lead them.

8 "If you do not know, O fairest of women, go your way in the footsteps of the flocks and pasture your kids beside the shepherds' dwellings.

ח אִם לֹא תֵדְעִי לָךְ הַיָּפָה בַּנָּשִׁים צְאִי לָךְ בְּעִקְבֵי הַצֹּאן וּרְעִי אֶת גְּדִיֹּתַיִךְ עַל מִשְׁכְּנוֹת הָרֹעִים:

If you do not, etc. This is the shepherd’s reply: If you do not know where you should go to feed your flock, you, O fairest of women, for the shepherd has ceased pasturing them.

9 At the gathering of the steeds of Pharaoh's chariots have I silenced you, my beloved.

ט לְסֻסָתִי בְּרִכְבֵי פַרְעֹה דִּמִּיתִיךְ רַעְיָתִי:

steeds: Heb. לְסֻסָתִי, means a gathering of horses, and in the French language, chevalchie, troop of horses, cavalcade. דִמִיתִ is adesmay in Old French, like (Jud. 20:5): “Me they intended (דִמוּ) to kill,” for there I adorned you with beautiful ornaments.

10 Your cheeks are comely with rows, your neck with necklaces.

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