HELP FROM FRIENDS 5:8 – 6:3
- Were the friends helping, or giving her a little pay back?
- The ivory – is that a reference to his ‘member’ ?
- In their second question, where did the friends think he had gone?
- Where did she think he had gone?
She continues her story and by the end she is talking to the young women of Jerusalem. I’m not sure how much of this she was thinking and how much she said out loud.
They found me — the watchmen who go about in the city. They struck me: they bruised me: they took my shawl from upon me — those watchmen of the walls. I want you to promise me, O young women of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that you will tell him that I am faint from love.
Compare the way the watchmen treated her with the earlier encounter she had with them — the first time it was in the morning (silly girl asking us about her guy). this time it was night time (she must be a prostitute or a loose woman).
She didn’t find him on her own. Her encounter with the watchmen didn’t go well. So now she enlists the help of her friends. First she asks for a promise from them.
I want you to promise me, O young women of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that you will tell him that I am faint from love.
She used this term ‘faint with love’ before. Here, she certainly isn’t saying that she is worn out from making love. She isn’t saying that since he wasn’t around she had been with some other guy. She is expressing her feelings for him. Friends have their limits. Her guy had called her ‘most beautiful of women’ or in this translations ‘fairest among women’.
(Now, some translations think that he said it, some think the young women said it — the heading about who said it are not in the original Hebrew text. The so called experts are taking their best guess. So you have to decide who you think said it. If this was easy, anyone could do it).
Whoever said it before, this time the young women are definitely saying it. They aren’t using it as a compliment. They seem to be giving her a hard time now. What makes you think the relationship you have with him so special?
How is your beloved better than another beloved, O fairest among women? How is your beloved better than another beloved, that you so earnestly ask us to promise this?
She responds assertively. None of the ‘I’m a victim, my brothers picked on me’ stuff. None of the I’m just an ordinary girl (ordinary good looking girl). Like the flowers in the field I look like all the other girls. She has the attitude of: You want to know what I have that is special with him, I’ll tell you.
My beloved is radiant and lustrous, distinguished among ten thousand. His head is purest gold. His hair is like palm leaves, but black as a raven. His eyes are like doves beside streams of water, bathed in mile, perched over a pool. His cheeks are like a bed of spice, tower of perfumes. His lips are lotus flowers, dripping liquid myrrh. His hands are cylinder of gold set with golden topaz. His abdomen is a plate of ivory covered with sapphires. His legs are marble pillars set upon pedestals of purest gold. His appearance is like Lebanon, distinguished as its cedars. his mouth is sweetness itself. Everything about him is desirable to me! This is my lover and companion O young women of Jerusalem.
The first 50 times I read this, it seemed like she was describing him like some kind of ‘god’ or someone on a pedestal. And the part about the abdomen seemed strange with the red sapphires or the blue lapis lazuli. But in a commentary written by the Bible Chair at a Christian college he suggested that the ivory wasn’t ivory that was cut and made into some object, but that it was ivory it its natural state — an ivory tusk. She was referring to his ‘member’. As soon as I read this the section started making much more sense to me. She was describing him by starting and ending with his overall appearance (something the young woman could see for themselves). Then she described things she knew from experience that they didn’t know.
- the smell of his cheeks
- the taste of his mouth
- his fingers and what she had experienced from his touch
- his member, sorry it is graphic, but in its tusk like state. The translations split between red sapphire and blue lapis. The ‘member’ can vary between these two colors depending on what is going on — and only a circumcised member will have either color.
All of these things she knew about first hand, they could only guess. And they all refer to things used in sexual activity. Since I first read about translating it as member and not abdomen, I’ve found 4 out of 40 translation that share the tusk/member opinion.
You would think that this would put the young women in their place and end the discussion. The young women could have left it at this, but they took one more shot at her.
Where has your beloved gone, O fairest among women (most beautiful of women)? where has your beloved turned, that we may seek him with you?
Oh we are just asking so that we can help you. Women have a hard time letting go when they feel slighted — they keep being reminded of it because they tend to tie everything in life together and it is easy to retrieve the information and the feelings. guys can carry a grudge, but they tend to think of thinks as separate incidents when they store them away in their memory. So they aren’t reminded of them as often. Neither way is better or worse — just different.
My beloved has gone to his garden, to beds of spice, to graze in the gardens and to gather lotus flowers. I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine — he grazes among the lotus flowers.
This time her answer isn’t as strong. They hit a weak spot. They found an area where she had some doubts. Did he go off to be with other woman, or do they still belong to each other. She seems to be leaning toward — we belong to each other. But they succeeded in raising some doubts.