Sex, Scholars and Conspiracy

In case you’re wondering why the Song of Songs is so difficult to understand, this might explain why:

…but as [the theological revisers] were unable to suppress the book, they endeavored to darken its real meaning, for dogmatic purposes, saying as Georg Hoffmann put it in his translation of the Book of Job, Let us save the attractive book for the Congregation, but we will pour some water into the author’s strong wine. Not satisfied with the obscuration of the original book, the theological revisers tried to cut up and dislocate the text as much as possible, destroying the original order and logical sequence, so that in the present form of the book there is no proper arrangement, no logical connection between the individual verses

The above quote is from an research article titled “Difficult Passages in the Song of Songs.” It was published by Professor Paul Haupt, Ph.D. in a 1902 volume of the Journal of Biblical Literature.

There was a flourishing of scholarship during the late 1800s and early 1900s that attempted to decode the Song of Songs. But, tragically, those insights never reached the church. Then a couple of world wars and political upheavals seems to have diverted the attention of intellectuals to other matters.

Apparently, Dr. Haupt wasn’t the only one to recognize that something was screwy with the way the Song of Songs was arranged. A scholar named Professor Bickell, of Vienna, tried to show, in 1884, that the confusion was due to a bookbinder who misplaced the sheets of the manuscript. But Haupt claims the distortion was intentional.

In another article, Dr. Haupt attempts to put the Song of Songs together in what he judged to be the proper arrangement.

Normally, I would be instinctively opposed to any attempt to rearrange the received text. But I find at least two reasons Dr. Haupt’s thesis is plausible.

First, we have the Apostle Paul’s prophesy to consider:

But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. (1 Tim 4:1-3)

The joys of marriage are primarily sexual. In order to convincingly forbid marriage, one must make sex seem undesirable for piety. But the Song of Songs, with it’s graphic and exuberant praise of the joys of sex, would stand directly in the way of that agenda. Thus it would be necessary to render the text indecipherable and offer an allegorical interpretation in its place.

Finally, Dr. Haupt’s rearrangement and translation simply makes more sense than the received text. For example, here’s a section he titles “The Bride Addressing the Bridegroom on the Morrow After Marriage”:

Behold thou art fair, my own darling,
aye, sweet; our bed will be green.
Of our home all the rafters are cedarn,
and (its walls) are all paneled with cypress.

As the apple amid trees of the forest,
so amid youths is my sweeting.
I delight to dwell under its shadow,
and sweet to my taste is its fruitage.

To the tavern where wine flows he brought me,
‘Love’ was the sign hanging out there.
He refreshed me with cates made of raisins
and with apples appeased all my cravings.

On his left arm my head was reclining,
while around me his right arm was clinging.
As long as the King stayed there feasting,
my spikenard its scent was exhaling:

My sachet of myrrh was my darling,
scenting my breasts with its perfume.
My darling was a cluster of henna
(blooming) in En-gedi’s gardens.

With kisses of thy mouth do thou kiss me,
for thy love than wine is far sweeter.
Thy name is thrice-clarified perfume;
and therefore all maidens do love thee.

Take me with thee! Come, let us hasten!
to thy chamber, O King, do thou lead me!
There let us rejoice and make merry,
and be drunken, not with wine, but with loving.

My darling is mine, and his am I,
who feeds on the dark purple lilies
Till the breeze (of the morning) arises,
and the shadows are taking their flight.

Do thou spring to the feast, O my darling, —
like a gazelle or a young hart be thou! —
(To the feast) on the mountains of myrrh,
(to the feast) on the hillocks of incense.

O maidens, lo, I beseech you,
by the gazelles and the hinds of the fields,
That ye not stir nor startle our loving
before our fill we have drunken.

 

Even if one is unfamiliar with the erotic euphemisms, the logical sequence makes it quite clear that something quite exciting is going on between a man and a woman.

If you’d like to delve into the topic deeper, check out Dr. Haupt’s article as well as his metrical translation.*

* It appears that Dr. Haupt has abbreviated the Song for the sake of rhythm. Hebrew is more concise than English and thus difficult to translate poetically. The complete text is clarified in the footnotes. There’s no introductory note about this so it took me a few takes to figure out.

 

Song of Solomon: A Primer on the Naughty Bits

Here’s some Bible passages you might find surprisingly arousing…

May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
For your love is better than wine.

Wet, open mouth kissing. The bride would only know how he tasted if her tongue was involved! Also implies an ecstasy similar to being drunk on wine. Some commentators suggest other kinds of oral activity are involved as well.

To me, my darling, you are like
My mare among the chariots of Pharaoh.

Chariots were normally pulled by stallions, not mares. So to place a mare among the “chariots of Pharaoh” would excite the sexually eager stallion. Stallions were known for their sexual heat. According to Ezekiel, stallions were known for having large emissions… an obvious result of sexual excitement at the sight of a breed-worthy mare.

While the king was at his table,
My perfume gave forth its fragrance.

A reference to the ancient custom of women to perfume their sexual parts. As she becomes aroused, her body heat rises, sending forth the smell of perfume to signal her readiness.

The beams of our houses are cedars,
Our rafters, cypresses.

Outdoor sex. Women love the thrill of having sex in different locations.

I would give you spiced wine to drink from the juice of my pomegranates.

Pomegranates are filled with an abundance of seed and were known in ancient times as a symbol of fertility. Pomegranates also have a high content of estrogen. It’s worth noting that the etymologic definition of estrogen was “begetter of mad desire.”

Until the cool of the day when the shadows flee away,
Turn, my beloved, and be like a gazelle
Or a young stag on the mountains of Bether.

The “mountains of Bether” can also be translated as the “mountains of separation.” The fact that a woman’s sexual parts were perfumed makes the preceding reference to lilies more clear and clarifies the reference for this line. One only needs to take a brief glance at the female anatomy to identify where the “mountain of separation lies.” The man is invited to use his tongue (presumably) to playfully prance about her “mountains of separation” like a gazelle or young stag. Or, as the Moffatt translation puts it: “Play like a roe or a hart on my perfumed slopes.”

Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest,
So is my beloved among the young men.
In his shade I took great delight and sat down,
And his fruit was sweet to my taste.

A clever play on words. Her lover stands out from other men like an apple tree amidst the plain trees of the forest. And thus she desires to “sit in his shade” and taste his fruit. Her lover towers over her like a tree as she sits down (or kneels) and tastes his fruit. A man shouldn’t need need too much prompting to figure out where his “fruit” would come from (i.e. “be fruitful and multiply”) and how a woman would go about tasting that fruit. Also worth noting that his fruit was sweet to her taste. Making the effort to make your semen taste good is worthwhile.

thy breasts to clusters of grapes

A cluster of grapes hangs down, just as a woman’s breasts hang down when she is in a “ready position.” Additionally, grapes become increasingly round and elastic as they ripen, similar to a woman’s breasts when she becomes aroused. This is a setup for what happens next…

I said, ‘I will climb the palm tree,
I will take hold of its fruit stalks.

In the ancient near-east, female palm trees were fertilized with the flowers from male palm trees. In order to fertilize the female tree, one had to get some flowers from the male tree and then climb the female tree and tie some pollen-bearing flowers among the female flowers. Thus, to “climb the palm tree” means to fertilize it. (Even to this day, a similar practice is performed in growing dates.) The sight of the woman’s shape as well as her breasts hanging down like clusters of grapes signals that is time to “fertilize” her.

Come, my beloved,
Let us go forth to the field

In ancient usage, “plowing a field” was a natural metaphor for sexual intercourse. The back and forth motion opens up the ground in order to receive seed. In Eastern custom, a man was thought of as a “plough” and a woman as a “field.” In Latin, the word vomer can mean both “penis” and a “plow.” It is clear that there is a useful sexual metaphor we have lost over the years. The opportunity for erotic wordplay on this theme are endless. Take, for example, this ancient east erotic poem:

“As for me, my vulva,
For me, the piled high hillock,
Me, the maid, who will plow it for me?
My vulva, the watered ground — for me?
Me the Queen, who will station the ox there?”

“O Lordly Lady, the king will plow it for you,
Dumuzi, the king will plow it for you.”

“Plow my vulva, man of my heart!”

This is really just scratching the surface. But this is a good “teaser” to get you started.

Solomon’s writing style is to pack a lot of meaning into a small number of words. Rather than give detailed instructions, he gives you the clue so that those who are diligent can fully explore it’s implications.

From the Song of Solomon, we learn that being fruitful and multiplying is about much more than simply having kids. It is about unlocking a world of ecstasy.

Sources and Further Reading:

K.J. Aaron’s Sexuality in the Bible

New Life Community Church’s “Sexual Allusions and Symbols in the Song of Songs

 

 

 

 

Is It OK to Talk “Dirty”?

A married man asks how other Christian men feel about talking “dirty” with their wives.

Is it sinful? Does the Bible say anything about the issue?

I’ve always been a bit baffled why modern Christians are so sensitive about “inappropriate” topics. As best I can tell, this pious prudery comes from a sloppy exegesis of the following passage:

and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.

-Ephesians 5:4

“filthiness” (aischrotés) means “baseness” or someone who lacks moral character.

“silly talk” (mórologia) literally means foolish (moronic) words.

“course jesting” (eutrapelia) means using wit to refer to sexual functions in a rude and irreverent way.

These concepts are contrasted with thankfulness. Does your language indicate that you have an intelligent appreciation for God’s good creation? Or do you come across as an immoral, stupid person who can only manage to crack cynical jokes about body parts?

But this is not to say “dirty” topics are off limits to Christians. It’s all about how you say it.

To illustrate, consider the following examples:

Example 1:

“Your mouth is a cum receptacle for me to masturbate into.”

The above statement indicates a lack of character. It shows no respect for the sexual needs of the woman. It’s supposed to be clever/funny but there’s no point to the joke. It reveals a godless worldview. The statement does nothing to praise the beauty and goodness of sex. In fact, it lowers the act to a meaningless level.

Contrast that with the following expression from Song of Solomon 4:11:

Your lips, my bride, drip honey; Honey and milk are under your tongue

Both expressions could be referring to the same act. But the latter expression is beautiful rather than base. Instead of using cleverness to lower a sexual act to nihilism, it elevates a physical act we might be tempted to think of as meaningless or gross to it’s proper place of beauty and goodness.

But it is “dirty” in the sense that it’s not something you would talk about in the presence of elderly ladies.

But in the proper context, Christians should feel free to invent and use all kinds of sexual metaphors… so long our language indicates that we have understanding and see sex as a good thing!

P.S. It’s also worth noting that the Bible never instructs us to be offended by “course jesting”… only that we are to avoid doing it ourselves.

A Merry Christmas to You…

I will be taking a brief hiatus from writing as I visit family in California for the Holidays.

Lord willing… and assuming and I don’t get mauled by social justice warriors… I’ll get back in full swing after the New Year.

In the meantime, enjoy this gem of resource I found on deciphering some of the naughty euphemisms in the Song of Solomon:

http://keithhunt.com/Sex11.html

Merry Christmas!

God is a “Sex Addict”

Christian guys often worry about wanting sex too frequently.

“Am I normal?”

“How much is too much?”

“Am I being selfish by wanting so much sex?”

But if we’re going to take God’s word seriously, we’d have to conclude that God promotes the very “sex addiction” that Pastors and marriage counselors seem so quick to warn against.

Consider Proverbs 5:19… the penultimate passage on married sexuality:

As a loving hind and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love.

Two key words here:

The word translated as “exhilarated” is shagah, which means to “go astray.”

Shagah is typically used in the context of being drunk or committing a sin out of ignorance. Picture a man who is so blind or intoxicated that he is not even aware of what he’s doing. He is veering off the path of reason into blind passion.

Now that’s interesting enough, but here’s the twist:

God doesn’t advise us to simply be shagah once in awhile… he wants us to be in this state of blind passion for our wife’s body always. The word translated “always” is tamid. It literally means “going on without interruption”, “of uninterrupted continuity.”

To put it another way:

The modern Christian marriage is the exact inverse of God’s design.

Most marriages are drudgery interrupted by occasional sexual passion.

But the proper marriage is continuous blind sexual passion occasionally interrupted by the necessary duties of life.

This is the only way I can make sense of the Apostle Paul’s commandment in 1 Corinthians 7:5:

Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.*

Apparently, the Apostle Paul expected a healthy marriage to be so sexually charged that they wouldn’t have much time to pray.

But there may come a time when it would make sense to stop engaging in perpetual foreplay. Perhaps you’ll need a few days to focus on prayer and studying Scripture without being distracted by a constant bulge in your pants.

But this is only if both husband and wife agree. And it should only be for a short while.

This also explains why both Paul and Jesus encouraged celibacy for those who were able. A married men is too busy messing around with his wife to have time for any outside enterprise for God’s Kingdom.

Marriage is designed to give normal men and women what they want most.

What do men want? To have a lot of sex.

What do women want? To feel sexy and get attention.

The Proverbs 5:19 lifestyle satisfies both needs.

It’s almost as if God knew what he doing.

“Self-control” in 1 Cor 7:5 is sometimes translated as “incontinence.” It wouldn’t necessarily have the negative association we might read into it. It can simply mean that one has sexual appetites he cannot refrain from… which is part of God’s good design. Paul refers to singleness and marriage as different gifts, with singleness being preferable if one is so inclined.

 

Anointing Her with Your Good Oils

Time for another “X-rated” Bible study.

Today’s passage comes from Song of Solomon 1:3:

Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth

Many modern translations suggest the “good ointments” referred to in this opening passage are Solomon’s perfumes. If that were the case, the application would be something like, “OK. So I guess I should wear cologne?”

But a closer look at the text reveals a far more erotic meaning.

The Hebrew word translated into “ointments” is shemen (or semen) A quick look at a Hebrew Lexicon reveals that the word primarily means “fat” or “oil” (as in olive oil). It is often metaphorically used to mean fruitfulness.

And the Old Testament usage of the word is never used to mean “perfume.” It is nearly always used to refer to the oil that is poured out on a sacrificial offering or oil that is used for anointing.

Hmm… So with that definition in mind, can you think of an “oil” that would pour forth from a man? One that would symbolize fruitfulness?

And can you think of something you would pour that oil onto? Something that was presented as an offering? Like… I don’t know… a wife offering her body in submission to her husband?

No doubt, the Hebrews would be familiar these connotations of anointing and sacrificial fragrance. But here Solomon is using these words in a sexual context. The suggestion is that her lover is anointing her with his good “oils.”

But here’s where things get interesting:

There’s a play on words that is masked in the English. The Hebrew (transliterated) reads:

lereah semaneka towbim semen turaq semeka al ken alamowt ahebuka

One doesn’t need to be a native Hebrew speaker to see the obvious wordplay between semaneka (oil), semen (oil), and semeka (name).

In Hebrew, someone’s name always meant more than just a label. It meant someone’s identity and reputation.

So the point of this passage is to associate the man’s semen with his semeka.

Then comes the twist. I believe this is the entire point of the passage:

The words semen and semeka are switched in function. Normally, it is a man’s semen that would pour forth or be emptied out. But the text says it is his semeka (his name, his identity, his reputation) that is emptied out upon her.

In other words, a man’s identity is the same as his semen.

The woman longs for her lover to pour forth his “name” upon her. Which is a poetic interpretation of him pouring forth his semen upon her.

There are few things more emotionally satisfying for a man than to empty himself and pour out his semen into (or upon) a woman.

A man can intuitively grasp this. But most women don’t get it. Tragically, neither does the modern Church.

But if you think about it, what makes a man? Biologically, it’s having a penis and testicles. But what is the function of those members? To produce and pour forth semen… the good oil, the fat of life, the seed of fruitfulness.

I believe what we have here is God giving wisdom to his people. God views semen as a very good thing. And He wants men and women alike to feel the same.

NOTE: I am indebted to an article I stumbled upon entitled “The Annointed Wife” by Paul Fox for bringing some of these associations to my attention. While I can’t say I agree with all his secondary conclusions, I believe he correctly identified the primary image the passage is conveying.

 

Holy Sex

Stumbled upon this gem of a poem by Douglas Wilson:

When he gives to her, and she receives it
With passive and gentle ferocity,
He thanks his God who made their bodies fit
Within this law of reciprocity.
So then what appears as carnal pleasure
Is really far more–it is sacrifice,
Holy and sacred, an earth-bound treasure,
Reflecting glory. I render thanks twice
For here is the woman, and here is her head
Gathered in this, their tumultuous bed.

 

Like a Wet Dream

Some Bible passages are simply too erotic to be properly preached from the pulpit. Here’s one of them:

A loving doe, a graceful deer—
may her breasts satisfy you always,
may you ever be intoxicated with her love.
                                  -Proverbs 5:19 (NIV)

After studying each of the Hebrew words behind the verse, I believe the following paraphrase should get the point across:

The wife is sexually eager and playful. Her seductiveness excites her husband, causing her to become the object of his desire. He becomes like the male buck in heat, longing to mount his favored female.

When the opportunity is right, he seizes her and does with her body whatever his masculine urges drive him to do until he is completely satisfied and finds his release.

During this time of heat, he loses all control of himself. He does not act as a rational man, but rather as a man drunk with passion. Completely uninhibited, he acts purely on primal instincts, almost unaware of what he is even doing.

This passionate ritual is not merely a “special treat” but occurs frequently, even daily.

The wife is eager to please and makes herself available to her husband at all times. She anxiously awaits the moment when she will be ravished by his love.

This is God’s recommended alternative to sexual immorality.