"Hey. Hey! What is this, some kind of sick prank? I get the greatest thing ever just to have it taken away? Why did you do this to me, God? Next time you're gonna get my hopes up could you please take me to a grease monkey? Because I like to get lubed up before I get fucked! Huh? Some lube would be nice. Or at least a courtesy lick, God. How about a little courtesy lick the next time you decide to fuck me?"
- Eric Cartman
The Song of Songs is perhaps the most perplexing book of the Hebrew Bible.
For thousands of years, on their wedding days, Jewish couples quoted lines like "I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me", picturing themselves as Davids and Bat-Shevas about to consummate their bonds in Jericho-wall-tumbling passion.
It is said that Ezra, the first Rabbi, saved the book from de-canonization, claiming that it was much more interesting than the ones about Moses walking around a desert for 40 years. Plus, it foretold the coming of the Messiah.
Some Jews, and most Christians, tend to desexualize the song, claiming that it isn't about sex, but about the love between the people of Israel (the bride), and God, or the Messiah (the groom). We may have slept around on occasion, and he may have slapped as around from time to time, but ultimately, we're a happy couple deeply in love.
Some reject this view, and see the song as a collection of loosely-related erotic poems following the Egyptian tradition. It's hard to remove eroticism from a text that opens with
"He'll kiss me with his mouth's kisses, for your love is better than wine"
Those who understand how the ancient Israelites' viewed romantic love realize that the song is both erotic and religious. It does this through a liberal use of Hebrew puns. In particular, the fact that Hebrew has a single word for "Kin", "Lover", "Love", and... "David". Yeah, the giant-slaying loverboy king whose great-great-great grandson is supposed to bring to us the time of Peace. With this in mind, the aforementioned line can be read as
"God will kiss us with his mouth's kisses, for your Davids (the king and the Messiah) are fairer than wine".
Speaking of Biblical monarchs and their names, here's another one: King Solomon, to whom the song is attributed, is called in Hebrew "Shlomo", which means "His Peace" or "His Unity". This means that the song's dedication,
The Song of Songs, that is to Shlomo
can be read as
The Song of Songs, that is to his unification
So you can read the song as dirty or divine, depending on your mood, and translate it accordingly.
However, the purpose of the song is not to show off some mad punning skills. Rather, it's meant to get the reader to perceive the eroticism and prophecy at the same time, thus equating them.
This effect is difficult to achieve in translation, so most translations omit it, and add a liberal sprinkling of "thy"s, "O"s, "Behold"s and "ye"s.
I'll attempt to preserve it in my translation through indentation and repetition of all lines containing ambiguity.
- Chapter I: I'm Black and Beautiful
- Chapter II: My Beloved Is Mine, And I'm His
- Chapter III: In Bed, I Ask For My Beloved, And Can't Find Him
- Chapter IV: You're All Beautiful and Flawless
- Chapter V: That's My David
- Chapter VI: Where'd Your Lover Go?
- Chapter VII: Your Breasts Are Like Two Twin Fawns
- Chapter VIII: I Am A Wall, And My Breasts Are Towers