Graphic Sexuality in the Song of Solomon
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Most Christians believe that any and all depictions of nudity are suspect and sinful, and erotica, no matter how tastefully portrayed, is even more sinful. They are sinful because they might stir up sexual desire, which they call “lust” - something to be avoided at all costs. It doesn’t matter whether it is prose, poetry, art, film, or photography . . . anything that could in any way provoke interest or arousal must be condemned.
With this assumption in mind let us look at that most wonderful of Biblical books, the Song of Solomon. All though those amazing eight chapters we find phrases which, if fully understood, seriously call into question the legitimacy of our anti-nudity and anti-erotica premise. How can we believe the Bible is against the very thing it contains? There are some amazing word pictures in this book; sensual snapshots designed to intentionally stir up passion, passion which is to be fully enjoyed. We will examine several topics of note. Unless indicated otherwise, all verses will be from the New American Standard Bible.
The book opens with kissing. And not just a hen-peck upon the cheek.
May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine." Song 1:2.
The word that is here translated "mouth" means the inside of the mouth, the area where food is tasted. This is sensuous, wet, open mouthed, hot and heavy, passionate kissing. Yee-haw!
Elsewhere in the book it says that in their kissing she discovers that His mouth is full of sweetness. And he is wholly desirable. Song 5:16 and he finds that "And the roof of your mouth like the best wine." Song 7:9 NKJV. This is passionate “French Kissing” beyond all doubt. Kissing that is full of heat and desire. Kissing that inflames the passions. Kissing that invites further sensuality. The Anchor Bible says it seems likely these "explicit references to kisses ... include amative oral activities."
The Jerusalem Bible implies more than mouth to mouth kissing. "Your lips cover me with kisses" Song 1:2. We are talking about all over body kissing; kissing the nape of the neck, kissing the lush full breasts, kissing the erect nipples, kissing the stomach, and kissing including the sensual joy of oral stimulation of the genitals. This is vulva moistening penis hardening kissing of the finest kind meant to stir strong sexual desire.
Strong Sexual Desire
Moving on down (no pun intended) to verse 9 we read
"I have compared thee, O my love, to a mare harnessed to one of the chariots of Pharaoh.” Song 1:9 - NIV.
This is an unusual expression seeing as chariots were not drawn by mares, but by stallions. Why the change? Because mares excite stallions and this is a powerful ancient sexual symbol. He is telling her, without shame or embarrassment, that she has excited him with her sex appeal. It is difficult to focus on anything else. He is not just hard, he is hard for her. He is her stallion.
But he is not the only one really turned on and ready for action. In Verse 12 things get really heated up. The woman, in the full heat of sexual arousal, says,
"While the king is at his table, my spikenard sends forth its fragrance." Song 1:12.
When the husband smelled
the fragrance of spiknard
he could tell his wife was ready
- wet, warm, and willing.
In ancient days women would perfume their sexual parts. She was giving off so much heat that it caused the smell of her spikenard to fill the air. When the husband smelled the fragrance he would tell his wife was ready - wet, warm, and willing.
“Behold, you are handsome, my beloved! Yes, pleasant! Also our bed is green." Song 1:16 NKJV
They were inflamed with passion for each other and there is something about strong sexual stimulation that can make a person both amorous and adventuresome, so much so that these two made love outdoors on the grass. Hey, it is nice to find new and exciting places to make love!
Expressions such as: "I am sick of love," "Thou hast ravished my heart," "How pleasant art thou, O love, for delights!" are clear enough to openly show us that this is a book about sexual delight and deliberately arousing passion. The more clearly you read it the more you realize that it is chock full of sexual references. Most people don’t fully understand this because it is in a discrete, symbolic style. But for those in ancient times who knew how to read it, it had to cause many a joyful moment, both privately and with one’s spouse. It would be very hard not to be aroused by such graphic sexual imagery.
Seed of Copulation
And the Song of Solomon is not the only place where sexuality is spoken of in such allegorical terms. Genesis 1:28 refers to reproduction as being “fruitful,” Genesis 30:2 calls children the “fruit” of the womb, and in Leviticus 15:16 - 18 (KJV) semen is called “seed.”
"And if any man's seed of copulation go out from him, then he shall wash all his flesh in water, and be unclean until the even. And every garment, and every skin, whereon is the seed of copulation, shall be washed with water, and be unclean until the even. The woman also with whom man shall lie with seed of copulation, they shall both bathe themselves in water, and be unclean until the even.”
The Bible is saying that whether through masturbation or the act of marriage, if “seed” is ejaculated, the man is unclean until evening and needs to take a bath. No sin offering expected because there was no sin involved.
“His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me.” Song 8:3 NKJV
Obviously they were lying down. His left hand is under her head, his right hand embraces her, and it is in this position she tells him
"I would give you spiced wine to drink from the juice of my pomegranates.” Song 8:2
And no, the bride was not just giving her man a glass of pomegranate juice to drink! In ancient times the pomegranate was well known as a symbol of fertility. In reality this is the perfect position in which he can explore and fondle her body with his free hand, caress her supple breasts, stroke her thighs, and stimulate her clitoris, moist vagina, and surrounding area in preparation for further sensual adventures.
"The fig tree has ripened its figs, and the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance. Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along!" Song 2:13
Again, another ancient symbol of sexual fertility. In some Middle Eastern languages fig was used to speak of the vagina. Open up a purple fig and it is easy to see why.
“The mandrakes have given forth fragrance; and over our doors are all choice fruits, both new and old, which I have saved up for you, my beloved.” Song 7:13
Mandrakes are known as "love apples," and were thought to stir up sexual desire. (Genesis 30:14-16). If figs look like female sexual organs, mandrakes look like male. After all, they often look like two legs with a large penis between them.
Enjoying Her Erotic Garden, Enjoying Sex
“A garden locked is my sister, my bride, a rock garden locked, a spring sealed up. Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates with choice fruits, henna with nard plants, nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all the trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes, along with all the finest spices. You are a garden spring, a well of fresh water, and streams flowing from Lebanon. Awake, O north wind, and come, wind of the south; make my garden breathe out fragrance, let its spices be wafted abroad. May my beloved come into his garden and eat its choice fruits!” Song 4: 12 – 16
So, there you have it, Pomegranates, figs, nuts, apples, grapes, and mandrake all enjoyed in a "garden.” This young woman is a garden, and her spouse is invited to enter the garden and eat the pleasant fruits This means he is to manually and orally stimulate his bride in preparation, and then enjoy the pleasures of lovemaking as his penis enters the warm embrace of her secret garden, bringing both of them great pleasure in the sensations leading up to it and the actual moment of orgasm and ejaculation when his “seed” comes forth. Enjoyment of sex was called “eating,” and what a feast of face, and neck, and breast, and thigh, clitoris, and sweet vagina he enjoyed.
“I entered your garden and plucked your pomegranates.”
Yes, he did! The man fully erect enters his garden engulfed by the fragrance of myrrh, aloes, cinnamon, and frankincense. It was well known that these spices were used to perfume a bed in preparation for lovemaking.
"I have sprinkled my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. Come, let us drink our fill of love until morning; let us delight ourselves with caresses.” Proverbs 7:17 – 18
The spouse in the Song of Solomon says,
“Until the cool of the day when the shadows flee away, I will go my way to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of frankincense.” Song 4:6
Ah yes, the mountain of myrrh, that raised area above the secret garden, covered in soft curly hair, a clear reference to the pubic area. I will visit your mons Veneris, your pubic mound and we will make love all night long!
This woman is described as “a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed.” NKJV Only her spouse can come into this garden. The Interpreter's Bible says that in Oriental imagery "the wife is described in terms of a fountain, and sexual enjoyment in terms of drinking water."
“Drink water from your own cistern and fresh water from your own well. Should your springs be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be yours alone and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; be exhilarated always with her love. For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress and embrace the bosom of a foreigner?” Proverbs 5:15-20
Have a Blessed Orgasm and Joyous Ejaculation
The word fountain not only describes the delights of a wife, but is also an apt description of a man at the moment of orgasm. Let your fountain, your erect penis at the moment when it erupts in a sensual flow of semen, be blessed. Be blessed in all of your sexual ecstasy and release.
Again and again eating and drinking are used as euphemisms for sexual activity.
“I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride; I have gathered my myrrh along with my balsam. I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey; I have drunk my wine and my milk.” Song 5:1
The invitation went forth. He responded. With his manhood he has entered the garden and enjoyed the bliss of sexual union.
There are some who regard our sexuality as a lower part of our humanity. But by describing intercourse and orgasm as "eating" honey and "drinking" milk and wine, the Bible is saying that our sexual appetite is just as legitimate and blessed as our appetite for food, and it is God given and meant to be fulfilled. An erection is a glorious thing, as is a moist and ready-for-pleasure vulva and vagina. Our sexuality is holy.
My beloved is mine, and I am his; he pastures his flock among the lilies. Until the cool of the day when the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of Bether.” Song 2:16 – 17
One ancient poem says,
“My god, sweet is the drink of the wine-maid,
Like her drink, sweet is her vulva, sweet is her drink,
Like her lips sweet is her vulva, sweet is her drink,
Sweet is her mixed drink, her drink.”
In the poetry of the time not only are sexual things described in terms of eating and drinking, it is also logical to conclude that he was using his mouth and tongue to explore and caress her “secret garden.” It is so silly to think that oral sex is of recent invention.
Once again a reference to the cleansed and perfumed sexual parts. Moffat translates this passage as "Play like a roe or a hart on my perfumed slopes." The word slopes is descriptive of mounds, the “mountains of Bether,” or “mountains of division” through which runs a very pleasant “valley.” Another translation refers to “dark purple lilies.” Imagine these dark purple lilies located at the divided mountains; a sumptuous feast of female genital sensuality.
Anyone who has seen a lily will recognize that it is a beautiful picture of the female sexual anatomy. As she lay back on the couch of love her spouse caressed her body with his hands and kissed his way down to the open lily of her sexuality, stimulating the surrounding area and flicking and licking her clitoris with his tongue and either bringing her to orgasm, or up to the point of climax before entering her with his erection to bring her over into the fullness of delight. He was “feeding among the lilies.” Cunnilingus is a delight to both man and woman.
Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. In his shade I took great delight and sat down, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He has brought me to his banquet hall, and his banner over me is love. Song 2: 3 – 4
This is a beautiful picture of the bride kneeling before her standing groom. She slowly takes her lover’s penis in her mouth, runs her tongue around the sensitive head, and engulfs as much of the shaft as she can. She gives him both the physical and visual pleasure of oral stimulation. He can feel his passion rising as her lips and tongue stimulates his excitement. He can see her wonderful body and watch as his penis slides in and out of the warmth, moisture, and softness of her mouth. When it comes to oral stimulation, men love to watch.
As for the apples, the Anchor Bible says that ". . . in this context, one could hardly miss the sexual sense of the metaphor."
Breasts, Beautiful Breasts
How beautiful and how delightful you are, my love, with all your charms! Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. I said, ‘I will climb the palm tree, I will take hold of its fruit stalks.’ Oh, may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the fragrance of your breath like apples, And your mouth like the best wine!” Song 7: 6 – 10
If a man is an apple tree with dangling fruit, his wife is a palm tree that is wonderful to "climb." Climb aboard and enjoy the ride!
Of course, those Christians who only do sex quickly, in the dark, under the covers, are shocked at such a thought, but it is clear that he is richly enjoying the sweet fruit of the “palm tree,” fully enjoying holding, caressing, kissing, viewing, and cupping her breasts in his hands, and savoring the rest of her in ecstatic delight.
Oh what glorious language to those who are willing to hear and understand! This husband has the pleasures of "climbing" this palm tree, "opening" the garden, "eating" the pleasant fruits, and "drinking" his wine and milk - such sweet sensual language. One would almost think God wanted us to enjoy the pursuit and pleasure of all aspects of lovemaking!
“Come, my beloved, let us go out into the country, let us spend the night in the villages. Let us rise early and go to the vineyards; let us see whether the vine has budded and its blossoms have opened, and whether the pomegranates have bloomed. There I will give you my love. The mandrakes have given forth fragrance; and over our doors are all choice fruits, both new and old, which I have saved up for you, my beloved.” Song of Solomon 7: 11 – 13
“I was a wall, and my breasts were like towers; then I was in his eyes as one who finds peace.” Song 8:10
Men like breasts. This is a good thing, and a chance for a woman to give him great delight.
“My beloved is to me a pouch of myrrh which lies all night between my breasts.” Song 1:13
Woman would wear little bags of myrrh between their breasts, and this is where the man would spend some of his time.
Erotic Dream and Self Stimulation
“I was asleep but my heart was awake. A voice! My beloved was knocking: ‘Open to me, my sister, my darling, my dove, my perfect one! For my head is drenched with dew, my locks with the damp of the night.’ “I have taken off my dress, how can I put it on again? I have washed my feet, how can I dirty them again? My beloved extended his hand through the opening, and my feelings were aroused for him. I arose to open to my beloved; and my hands dripped with myrrh, and my fingers with liquid myrrh, on the handles of the bolt. I opened to my beloved, but my beloved had turned away and had gone! My heart went out to him as he spoke. I searched for him but I did not find him; I called him but he did not answer me.” Song 5: 2 – 6
Poetry is often open to several interpretations. This sounds like an erotic dream, and some degree of self stimulation on the part of the woman. “. . . and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with liquid myrrh, on the handles of the bolt.” Don’t believe me? Oh, come on! Remember, this is a book of erotic poetry, so something sexual is being described here. I mean, really, just listen to the language. The wife’s hand drips with spices, and there are words like "knock," "open," "door," "hand," "hole," and "feet", words that history tells us at that time clearly had sexual meaning.
The Anchor Bible says, "The word 'door' is recognized even by the most modest of commentators as a figure for a female unusually open and receptive to sexual overtures. The request to 'open' in the preceding verse could in certain circumstances have sexual connotations."
I Want You Inside Me, Now!
Song 5:4 “My beloved put in his hand by the latch of the door, and my heart yearned for him.” (ESV)
Hand is a euphemism for a penis. The Anchor Bible says "there can be no question that, whatever the context, the statement 'my love thrust his hand into the hole' would be suggestive of coital intromission, even without the succeeding line descriptive of the emotional reaction of the female.”
The Hebrew word used here for heart is translated womb in Ruth 1:11. Strong's Concordance defines it as "uterus". So, there really is no doubt . . . for the man to put his “hand” by the latch of the “door,” or in other translations, “in the hole in the door,” is obviously sexual.
He penetrated her moistness
with his erection;
she enveloped him with
the warmth of her vagina.
He penetrated her moistness with his erection; she enveloped him with the warmth of her vagina. As for the emotional reaction it says that her heart yearned with romantic feeling for him, or in other words she responded both physically and emotionally to their sexual lovemaking. She was at that point of high excitation where she wanted him inside of her, plain and simple, and wanted his thrusting to bring her to joyous climax.
It also looks like there is some flirtation and teasing going on here, as part of their foreplay. The husband comes to the “door” and expresses his reasons for wanting to “come in.” She tells why she cannot. For one thing, she says she has washed her “feet.” Feet are a commonly used euphemism for genitals.
“For my head is drenched with dew, my locks with the damp of the night.”
Indeed, I bet it was. He was ready and rearing to go! He is flowing with pre-cum and he is ready for the fullness of lovemaking.
“I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me. Come, my beloved, let us go forth to the field; let us lodge in the villages. Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine has budded, whether the grape blossoms are open, and the pomegranates are in bloom. There I will give you my love. The mandrakes give off a fragrance, and at our gates are pleasant fruits, all manner, new and old, which I have laid up for you, my beloved.” Song 7:10-13
This passage mentions “the field.” In the Ancient East, because of the back and forth motion, "plowing a field" meant having sex. A plow opened the earth to receive seed; the furrow of a field was compared to a woman’s genitals. The plow opens the earth, and then goes back and forth, after which the seed is planted. The picture is clear enough!
A Sumerian poem says,
“As for me, my vulva, for me the piled-high hillock,
me – the maid, who will plow it for me?”
The man answers, “O Lordly Lady, the king will plow it for you,
Dumuzi, the king will plow it for you.”
She is delighted and responds, “Plow my vulva, man of my heart!”
Strange as it may be, the Bible is filled with prophets who rant and rave while naked with their penis and balls in motion and in plain view, great stories of war and violent bloodshed, detailed descriptions of conquest and even God ordained genocide, but let there be one little book that talks about sexual lovemaking in open and, if the language be understood, graphic terms – touching, kissing, oral stimulation, penis, vagina, lubrication, erection, intercourse, orgasm – and many are shocked. We need to realize that sex is not shameful and the human body is designed as God’s greatest masterpiece and that includes breasts that bounce, vaginas that become wet with arousal, penises that go from flaccid to erect and then ejaculate. All of this is extolled and praised in the wonderful pages of this Holy Book. Hallelujah! So, when and where it is legitimate to do so, we are invited to enjoy our own body, its potential for sexual excitement and pleasure, as well as that of our spouse.
Yes, as some folks maintain, this poem can be referring to God’s love for Israel, or the love of Christ for the church, but this is first and foremost erotica. There are all kinds of things in the Song of Solomon you would not expect to find in the Word of God. And they are there in livid detail and graphic description. This is a very erotic book!
Now, let us examine the book in more detail, chapter by chapter, and verse by verse. Let us see what it really says. I promise you it will be a very “stimulating” study!
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Christians Enjoying Nudity and Erotica
And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.