Eros in the Song of SolomonbyDeniseNoe©
The rich eroticism of the Song of Solomon
"What is THIS type of writing doing in the Bible?" a shocked teen girl once asked when she came across the Song of Solomon. She had not expected to find such explicit, albeit poetic, descriptions of sexual relationships in the Bible.
The Song of Solomon has been described as "pornography" but it is really one of the greatest examples of genuine erotica. This book of the Bible celebrates sexuality in the most beautiful terms imaginable -- indeed, it displays how powerfully eroticism can fuel the poetic imagination.
"Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine," says the female narrator. Later, she rhapsodizes: "A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts."
In Ch. 2, v. 3, oral sex in the form of fellatio appears to be described: "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." The Song of Solomon describes a lady who happily enjoys sucking cock and is not the least afraid to say so.
A male narrator, presumably Solomon, says, "Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies. . . . Thou has ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou has ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck. . . . Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue." He describes his beloved as "a garden."
The female narrator pleads, "Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat its pleasant fruits." I believe that "garden" is cross-culturally a metaphor for the female genitals.
Then the man says, "I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved." This verse would seem to describe cunnilingus and may also describe fellatio with "drink abundantly, O beloved," poetically revealing how both loving partners relish the taste of his and her beloved's intimate juices.
The next passage describes the woman sleeping and then awakening. She says, "I rose up to open to my beloved: and my hands dropped with myrrh and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock." It is a sure bet that this lady masturbates and gets wonderfully wet when she does so.
Again reading our male narrator: "This thy stature is like to a palm tree, and thy breasts to clusters of grapes. I said, I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof: now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine, and the smell of thy nose like apples; And the roof of thy mouth like the best wine for my beloved, that goeth down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak."
Such lovely yet graphic descriptions of intimacy and sexual desire lead us back to the question posed by the adolescent girl I quoted at the beginning of this essay: "What is THIS type of writing doing in the Bible?" The answer is that it is not in any respect out of place. The Bible is not a prudish book but one that is frequently frank about such perennial aspects of the human condition as sex and violence.
Another reason that the Song of Solomon is not out of place in the Bible is that the culture that led to its writing was not, in fact, an "anti-sexual" culture although it was indisputably a culture that deeply feared the very real dangers of sexuality. In that era before anyone even dreamed of effective contraception, it was vitally important that conception take place within wedlock so that babies would have the security associated with an identified father as well as a -- always easily identified! -- mother. It was also vitally important that sexually transmitted diseases be kept to a minimum which may explain the many strong warnings in Proverbs and other Biblical passages against consorting with "the strange woman" and "the harlot."
Eroticism per se was not feared by this culture but celebrated for several reasons, the most obvious of which is that it led to the birth of the next generation and the continuation of the culture. However, the Song of Solomon is not specifically a celebration of the life-giving power of sexuality but of its ability to give sensual pleasure and to enrich the lives of those already here. This part of the Bible was created by and for people who savored the pleasures of the flesh if they were enjoyed within a socially acceptable context.
Like much great literature and many Biblical passages, the Song of Solomon can also be appreciated as metaphor. Many people see the romantic and sexual relationship between the man and the woman in the Song of Solomon as symbolizing the relationship of God to Israel and/or of Jesus Christ to the Christian Church. On whatever level the Song of Solomon is read, it richly rewards that reading.