Wednesday, August 31, 2011
My favorite part of the Bible
I do have favorite parts of the Bible. Surprising as that may seem to some, I have read many parts of the Bible and am reading it --wholly-- again because I believe that it is important to know what others believe in and to understand where others derive their faith and morals from.
To me, the Bible is another culturally reflective group of stories and mythos. It is a selective collection of works of both Jewish and Christian ideas. It has went through numerous translations (both good and bad attempts) and in it's creation and evolution, it has picked up in a few hidden and not-so-talked-about-places some beautiful poetry. Especially within the Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon). And that is my favorite part of the Bible.
A Hebrew to English translation can be found here.
Beautiful phrases and descriptions and personal love between two human beings just resonates from those passages. Intimate dialect between two lovers. These are ideas that are heavily concealed in all the Christianity I have been exposed to and it always left me wondering why. Why would you want to hide such passion and love? Why downplay the idea of intimacy into a very odd and forced allegory of Christ and the Church? Christ is not part of the Old Testament so how could this be relevant to him before he made himself known on Earth? Even in the original Hebrew, the gender forms of the words show there are two speakers-- one of male and one of female voice-- that speak back and forth to each other. (For those like me not educated in Hebrew, here is a source to see the breaks in whom is speaking to who.) Let these very deep feelings be what they are. Be exposed to the beauty of words, to the passion of two souls, and see the very deep physical and emotional wells of love for another human being.
1:2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth--for thy love is better than wine.
1:9 I have compared thee, O my love, to a steed in Pharaoh's chariots.
1:13 My beloved is unto me as a bag of myrrh, that lieth betwixt my breasts.
14 My beloved is unto me as a cluster of henna in the vineyards of En-gedi.
15 Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thine eyes are as doves.
16 Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant; also our couch is leafy.
17 The beams of our houses are cedars, and our panels are cypresses.
2:4 He hath brought me to the banqueting-house, and his banner over me is love.
2:7 I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles, and by the hinds of the field, that ye awaken not, nor stir up love, until it please.
Between Chapters 2 and 4, it can be suggested even, that the lovers are partaking in oral sex.
2:3 As an apple-tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. Under its shadow I delighted to sit, and its fruit was sweet to my taste.
4:11 Thy lips, O my bride, drop honey--honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon.
Chapter 4 extends the inability in my mind for the Song of Songs to be about Christ and the Church. The man is discussing the beauty and fruitfulness of his lover--describing her in soft, fruitful, and fragrant tones. Her lips are a scarlet ribbon, her breasts are two fawns browsing about the lilies. He calls her a locked up garden with orchards, choice fruits, and exotic, rare, and enticing spices. To which she replies: Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his precious fruits. How tantalizing and tempting is that? How deliciously descriptive and evocative?
Chapter 5 shows her speaking of how her lover made his way into her heart and has come to her, only to find that when she opens the door, he is gone. While wandering the streets looking for her love, she is beaten by the guards, but still she searches. The question is asked of her: How is your lover better than any other man? and she begins describing her love as ruddy and preeminent above ten thousand, using metals, stones, and gems to describe him. His hair is curled and black as ravens. His body is polished ivory, his hands are rods of gold, his legs are pillars of marble, while his mouth is sweetness itself.
They continue to take turns describing each other and their passion, continuing the equal idea that "I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine." (6:3) The imagery of fruit being tended, of secret, concealed gardens, and the mention for them to run away together invokes strong, passionate yearning between two lovers. The words of choice are deeply arousing and invoking of the senses
I hear so many things that resonate with my Pagan (and romantic) heart within the Song of Songs. The sheer unashamed passion and love between the two lovers inside beautiful, lush landscapes, frolicking with comparisons to and descriptions of animals is both primal and intricately human. There is a deep, natural, and passionate love set among overflowing gardens and rich imagery. It is simply beautiful and one would never know that it was from the Bible because it does not mention God at all.
But on the other hand, one could say that they are encompassing God by being so naturally free and absolutely in love-- in all aspects of the word.