Heidegger's Bible Handbook: Song of Songs: Literal or Figurative?

4. It is not treated according to the letter concerning the mutual love of Solomon and his Egyptian Bride. Psalm 45 is an Epitome of the Song.


Now, that the earthly and external love of Solomon and his Egyptian Bride is not treated according to the letter in this book, as indeed Castalio,[1] Grotius, and other assert; indeed, not a few things are able to be brought in argument, that Solomon perhaps did not even dream of his earthly marriage of this sort, when he was writing this Song. For many things are here said concerning the Bridegroom and the Bride that by no means are applicable to the earthly and external love of Solomon and his Egyptian wife. For thus the Bridegroom is called King, Song of Songs 1:13, and Shepherd, Song of Songs 1:7, and brother of his Bride, Song of Songs 5:2; 8:1, 8. The Author commends Solomon himself as white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand,[2] which he is not likely to have said concerning himself. He also speaks of Solomon in the second person: thou, O Solomon, etc., Song of Songs 8:12. The Bride is said to have been made a keeper of the vineyard, Song of Songs 1:6, of sheep, verse 8, to have been smitten by the watchmen, Song of Songs 5:7, the daughter both of a Prince, Song of Songs 7:1, and of a vineyard worker, Song of Songs 1:6, terrible as an army, Song of Songs 6:10, black, but comely, Song of Songs 1:5, having a head after the likeness of Carmel, a nose after the likeness of a tower, eyes after the likeness of a fishpool, teeth after the likeness of flocks of sheep, etc., Song of Songs 7:1, etc. Of which, and others like them, neither the former are applicable κατὰ λέξιν, literally to King Solomon, nor the latter to his Egyptian Queen. Nor is any reason able to be rendered why this sense would be esteemed more proper, which in other Scriptures of the same sort, which treat of the union of the soul with Christ under the similitude of marriage, and especially Psalm 45, which is a epitome of this book, is judged to be figurative. And what things are here said concerning spiritual love, beauty, invitation, etc., we see expounded in other passages of Scripture. Who the Bridegroom is, and who the Bride, is best judged from the interpretation of the Holy Spirit, who everywhere makes the former to be Christ, and the latter the Church, as it is evident to one consulting Isaiah 54:5; 61:10; 62:4, 5; Jeremiah 2:32; Ezekiel 16:8; Hosea 2:16, 19; Matthew 9:15; 22:2; 25:1; John 3:29; 1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:23; Revelation 19:7; 21:2; 22:17. Hence all the best and most conscientious Interpreters explain it of spiritual love. And the opinion of the Hebrews is concurring, who in Maimonides’ Jesude Hattorah, chapter 6, say: כל שלמה האמור בשיר השירים קדוש, all of which mention is made in the Song of Songs is holy to Solomon. That is, thus the divine goodness willed to lisp to us, accommodating itself to us by speaking: when since among human affairs nothing is more agreeable, admirable, and effectual than loves. There is no Venus here, no lusts: there are loves, there are flames, but ignited by heavenly fire, wherewith the Seraphim burn,[3] and Holier souls are taken up into Heaven, after the likeness of Elijah.[4]

[1] Sebastian Castalio (1515-1563) distinguished himself as a scholar by means of his linguistic talents, evident in his Annotationes in Vetus et Novum Testamentum. However, the greatness of Castalio’s talents did not extend to the logico-synthetic work of theology, and he ran into controversy with Calvin. He was inclined towards Pelagianism, and his views were influential in the development of Socinianism. As a translator of the Bible, he takes overmuch liberty, attempting to mold the speech of the prophets to comply with the standards of classical Latin. [2] Song of Songs 5:10. [3] See Isaiah 6. שָׂרַף signifies to burn. [4] 2 Kings 2:11.



 

Dr. Dilday's Lecture: "The Prophets, and the Song of Solomon"



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