Song of Songs, Chapter Three

Once again, take warning all who read this post. The language that follows is somewhat explicit. If discussions of sex offend you, then you might want to skip this blog post. Of course, you might also want to make a point of avoiding ever reading the Song of Songs in your Bible.

Chapter Three

All night long on my bed
I looked for the one my heart loves;
I looked for him but did not find him.
I will get up now and go about the city, through its streets and squares; I will search for the one my heart loves.
So I looked for him but did not find him.
The watchmen found me as they made their rounds in the city.
“Have you seen the one my heart loves?”
Scarcely had I passed them
when I found the one my heart loves.
I held him and would not let him go
till I had brought him to my mother’s house, to the room of the one who conceived me.
Daughters of Jerusalem,
I charge you by the gazelles
and by the does of the field:
Do not arouse or awaken love
until it so desires. (3:1-5)

This is one of what seems at first to be almost a dream sequence; the woman talks about awakening in the night and not having the one she loves with her, which sends her out on a hunt, prowling about the city and questioning the night watchmen. So the obvious question arises, is this referencing a late night stroll about the city of Jerusalem, or are we dealing with some sort of double entendres again? When we consider that she brings him back to her “mother’s house”, to the “room of the one who conceived” her, and then ends this segment with the importance of not arousing love too quickly, it would seem to me that something other than wandering around the city streets is in view. Perhaps it means that she spent the night trying to keep him up, or trying to get him up; perhaps he needed a dose of viagra? But given that such things didn’t exist then, she had to work at it the old fashioned way, until finally she got the desired arousal and was able to bring “him” into her vagina. Then the closing lines perhaps reference the need for patience and working with a guy on those rare occasions (well, the guy explains that ‘it never happened to me before…’) when things don’t quite come together as quickly as both parties would like, in contrast to it working too quick.

Who is this coming up from the desert
like a column of smoke,
perfumed with myrrh
and incense made from all the spices of the merchant?
It is Solomon’s carriage,
escorted by sixty warriors,
the noblest of Israel,
all of them wearing the sword,
all experienced in battle,
each with his sword at his side,
prepared for the terrors of the night.
King Solomon made for himself the carriage;
he made it of wood from Lebanon.
Its posts he made of silver,
its base of gold.
Its seat was upholstered with purple,
its interior lovingly inlaid by the daughters of Jerusalem.
Come out, you daughters of Zion,
and look at King Solomon wearing the crown,
the crown with which his mother crowned him on the day of his wedding,
the day his heart rejoiced. (3:6-11)

That something more than just to give a description of the carriage of Solomon is the point of this section seems obvious from several respects. One, it begins by asking “who is this” and answers it by an announcement of Solomon’s carriage. That is hardly a who, at least at first glance. But then one sees interesting statements that force a re-evaluation of what’s actually being talked about here. For instance, “perfumed with myrrh” and “terrors of the night” are a couple of the phrases that make me go, “hmmmm.” And with mention of the “crown with which his mother crowned him” when combined with the mention of her taking him “to her mother’s house, the room of the one who conceived her” in the previous section, leads me to think that something other than a carriage is the point here. Consider the talk of his carriage, made by him, with its “post” and “base” and then moving on to the “crown.” Consider, too, that it “arises” from the desert, like a “column” of smoke. This makes me think that perhaps we’re looking at an elaborate and poetic description of his penis and its reaction to her–especially given that an erect, circumcised penis would have a head that look as if it has a crown on it. Certainly it would be “rejoicing” on the day of his wedding. Given the point of the Song of Songs, I don’t think I’m making too great a leap to imagine that the poem is more likely to be talking about a penis than about a some sort of fancy wheeled contrivance belonging to Solomon.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm a deacon at Quartz Hill Community Church. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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