The Sensual Eroticism of the Song of Solomon

By Charles Moffat - May 2011.

If you've ever read "The Song of Solomon" you might have asked 'What is this type of writing doing in the Bible?' Most people would not expect to find such explicit, yet highly poetic, descriptions of a sexuality and lovemaking in the Holy Bible.

Depending on whom you talk to "The Song of Solomon" is literary smut but it is also one of the greatest examples of historical erotica. As a book in the Bible it celebrates sexuality as the most beautiful act a husband and wife can do together, a celebration of "God's Creation". In that line of thinking, eroticism itself (if done with poetic finesse and imagination) can be seen as a celebration of "God's Creation".

"Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine" says the female poet. Later she says "bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts."

If you read between the lines of The Song of Solomon you will notice that in Chapters 2 to 3, oral sex appears to be described: "the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste."

The male poet, Solomon, says, "Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies.... Thou has ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou has ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck.... Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue."

Solomon describes his beloved as "a garden", presumably a reference to her bushy pubic hair and her fruit-like breasts.

His female lover writes "Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat its pleasant fruits."

Its pretty obvious then they're meant to enjoy oral sex.

These poetic and metaphorical descriptions of intimacy lead us back to the question as to why this type of writing is in the Bible? The answer is because mankind is supposed to be "fruitful and multiply", because marriage isn't just a symbol before 'God', because marriage is also a sanctuary for lovemaking, and this lovemaking is both a celebration of the human body, and an act for creating children.

It is presumable that 'God' would wish children to be born from lovemaking, and not from rape or rampant fornication.

At the time the Holy Bible was put together it was previously just a collection of stories. Evidently the people deciding which chapters should go in it had a lengthy discussion about how prudish a book they were making. They wanted to off-set some of the more anti-sex ideas in the book with a chapter that celebrated sex. This was a conscious decision to endorse lovemaking and eroticism.

It also says something about the nature of sex of lovemaking. The moment of ecstasy is a moment wherein the whole body, the whole mind, is caught in rapture. It is perhaps no surprise therefore that many people in the moment of orgasm cry out "OH GOD!"

We should note that at the time the Song of Solomon they lived in a fairly liberal culture where both common peasants and the wealthy ran amok having sex with one another. True, they knew the dangers of sexuality, like pregnancy and the STDs of the time, but it was not a 'wholly anti-sexual culture'. Rather it was surprisingly knowledgeable about what causes babies to be born and had learned methods of effective contraception (likely finishing with oral sex or pulling out at the opportune moment).

At such a time we know that prostitution was a constant and that it was also vitally important that sexually transmitted diseases be kept to a minimum which may explain the many warnings in Proverbs and other Biblical passages against fornicating with "the strange woman" and "the harlot".

But while fornication was frowned upon, lovemaking within the sanctity of marriage was actually encouraged because it increases the chances of faithfulness and reduces adultery (which leads to other problems).

Eroticism therefore was not feared by ancient cultures but celebrated for increasing fertility and faithfulness between lovers. The Song of Solomon however is not about fertility of faithfulness however. It is a celebration of lovemaking's ability to give pleasure and to enrich the lives of those we love. It was created by and for people who savored the pleasures of the flesh and was meant to be enjoyed within marriage.

The Song of Solomon can also be appreciated as a larger metaphor. Some people see it as symbolizing the relationship of God to Israel, of Jesus Christ to the Christian Church, etc.

In the end The Song of Solomon is enduring testimony to the pleasures of lovemaking. While it is said that poets make good lovers, we can only assume Solomon was a great one.

(This essay is from the website The Song of Solomon and is courtesy of The Religion eZine, an online magazine which discusses religion, philosophy, atheism and mythology.)


Beatrice V said...

Well done Charles, haven't read your posting yet, but it was time some thing was said about the stupendous Song of Solomon!

Paige said...

I have always enjoyed the Song of
Solomon. Astoundingly romantic