Thy love is better than wine

Song of Solomon, or as it is known in Hebrew, the Song of Songs, tells us of the love of Solomon for a woman later identified solely as The Shulamite.  There are some that believe this is an ideal woman for Solomon, who had 700 wives and 300 concubines.  Whether it was an actual woman or just an ideal in his mind, it is the expressions of love in the Song that concerns us for this study.

In Chapter 1 of the Song, we see that both Solomon and his bride feel a strong attraction to each other,  a very physical attraction to each other, but not solely sexual.    Song of Solomon 1:2 begins with the bride’s declaration that she desires his kiss, because “thy love is better than wine.”  Love in this verse is expressed using the Hebrew word “dowd” which we have already discussed as meaning an intense love, one that involves one’s whole being.   In the Judaic culture, sexuality involves one’s whole being, including affection, for to treat it casually or without emotion as if the the partner were a sex object would be to strip them of their humanity and diminish one’s own character.

Verse 7 uses a phrase, spoken by the bride, that is key to the Song, and brings out that the bride loves Solomon from the core of her being.  The phrase is “thou whom my soul loveth”.  The bride indicates that from her nephesh, that is, her soul, with her breath, she loves him.  The word for love here is ahavah, based on ahav, meaning a giving  of oneself in love.   She is giving him her love from the core of her being, her inner soul.

Solomon compliments her physical beauty and calls her the fairest among women.   She compares him to a company of horses in Pharoah’s chariots, and calls him, my love (rayah).  Rayah in this sense means friend.  So here we see further that she isn’t just thinking of him in a physical sense, but as a friend, a companion. She compares him to a bundle of myrrh that lies between her breasts, and calls him “my well-beloved” (dowd) and “my love” (dowd).

I won’t mention all of the physical references, which are many.  It’s obvious to any reader that Solomon and his bride enjoy a strong physical desire and attraction to one another, and that the references are very intimate and sexual.   But with the extensive use of the words “ahavah” and “dowd”, it involves tenderness and affection for one another.  (see posts discussing these two words.)

There are many that use Song of Solomon as a type of the relationship between Jesus and the Church, which it may or may not be.  There is certainly the tenderness and affection one would expect in such a typology.  It is not a pure erotic song as some have liked to fashion it, but exemplifies the depth and emotion of a deep, intimate relationship between Solomon and his bride, which includes physical love up to tender endearments which we’ll see scattered throughout the Song.   While some of the endearments may seem strange to our ears, it is clear that Solomon loves the woman from his heart and soul and isn’t ashamed to say so.

Pamela Parizo © 2017