The Song of Songs: Life in the Harem of God

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A look at the typology of the Song of Songs.

God gave us the gift of a love song.  However, because He gave it with a great deal of erotic content the Church has sought over the centuries to discourage believers from even peeking at their gift. However, there comes a time when a believer is mature enough to handle the information contained in this little package.  Don’t let the over-pious keeping you from tearing wrappings off your divine package.

He meant for this sensual book to bring us into a deeper and more authentic relationship with Him, as we come to realize that we are meant to be God’s lover.  We begin to realize that His omnipresence allows for all of us individually to be His one and only, His favorite! if you will.  As He uses the literal harem of Solomon as a springboard to explain the intimate relationship He wants with His people.

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Begin an authentic relationship with the Lord

Harem Dancers by Fabio Fabbi

This is not a normal teaching from your normal church.  Some experiences cannot be shared by the congregation.

This blog is not for the immature or new believer. It is for the believer who sits up one days and says “I want more, in my relationship with God. I want to be closer to my God, my King, my Redeemer, and my Beloved.”

The Song of Songs teaches that we are all in God’s harem.  We are all brides of Messiah, individually. For purposes of the blog I have substituted Harem where one would normally write congregation, church, or believers. The great love poem was left for us to understand that the  relationship with out Lord is to be as intimate as any passionate encounter.

Homosexuality in the Bible

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them. Lev. 20:13

I must admit that I have never really paid attention to this verse. However, there are some out there that are teaching that the Hebrew is about pedophilia. Having heard this idea of pedophilia I just couldn’t let it go. 

I was expecting it to say that “an ish should not lie with an ish”. However, the Hebrew says an ish is not to lie with a zakar. As in our paper, Three Kinds of Men explains ish is translated man or husband, zakar is male and an is most commonly paired with neqevah which is female they are used of both people and animals.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Gen. 1:27 

And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Gen. 6:19 

Other Hebrew Words

If pedophilia were meant than one of these words would have been used.

The Hebrew for boy is na’ar, na’arah is a girl. There is also yelad which is young man or youth, often means one not old enough to grow a beard, paired with yalada which is girl, damsel, or marriageable girl.

If pedophilia were meant than one of these words would have been used.

Jephthah’s Daughter

Jephthah’s Daughter – Bon Boullogne (1649–1717)

The puzzling story of Jephthah’s daughter falls into two opinions among scholars. Most of the Christian commentators feel that Jephthah killed his daughter, where most of the Jewish commentators say that she lived out her life serving in the tabernacle.

29   Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh, and passed on to Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he passed on to the Ammonites.  30 And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD, and said, “If thou wilt give the Ammonites into my hand,  31 then whoever comes forth from the doors of my house to meet me, when I return victorious from the Ammonites, shall be the LORDs, and I will offer him up for a burnt offering.” Judg. 11:29-31

He won the war.

34   Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah; and behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances; she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter.  35 And when he saw her, he rent his clothes, and said, “Alas, my daughter! you have brought me very low, and you have become the cause of great trouble to me; for I have opened my mouth to the LORD, and I cannot take back my vow.”  36 And she said to him, “My father, if you have opened your mouth to the LORD, do to me according to what has gone forth from your mouth, now that the LORD has avenged you on your enemies, on the Ammonites.”  37 And she said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me; let me alone two months, that I may go and wander on the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my companions.”  38 And he said, “Go.” And he sent her away for two months; and she departed, she and her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains.  39 And at the end of two months, she returned to her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had made. She had never known a man. And it became a custom in Israel 40 that the daughters of Israel went year by year to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in the year. Judg. 11:34-40

The Daughter of Jephthah 1876 by Edouard Bernard Debat-Ponsan 1847 – 1913

Those that feel Jephthah killed her, stress that she told him to do according to what he vowed. 

Those who think she lived out her life in the tabernacle, stress that her companions bewailed her virginity and not her life. This period of lamenting did not continue, nor are we informed when it stopped. It seems to have been a very localized custom as it is not mentioned during the time of the kings or when they return from Babylon.

Some point out that women were not allowed in the temple. That is true of the second temple. But they seemed to have been allowed in the tabernacle and Solomon’s temple, e.g., Hannah seems to have been in the outer court of the tabernacle. [1Sam. 1:9 -11] The Alamoth were singing in the tabernacle or temple. (See Also: Psalms 46, According to the Alamoth)

Precedence

According to the Torah, humans could be living sacrifices.

. . . and Aaron shall offer the Levites before the LORD as a wave offering from the people of Israel, that it may be theirs to do the service of the LORD. Num. 8:11

And the Levites purified themselves from sin, and washed their clothes; and Aaron offered them as a wave offering before the LORD, and Aaron made atonement for them to cleanse them. Num. 8:21 

It seems unlikely that the daughter of Jephthah was a burnt offering sacrifice. More likely she served in the tabernacle for the rest of her life. But the Text is unclear.

So why are the Scriptures vague in some instances? Well, the main point of the Bible is that the Creator wants a personal intimate relationship with each and every human. (which is also the whole point of this blog). If something is not really pertinent to that essential point it is often left out because it is inconsequential to that end. The point of the tail of Jephthah’s daughter is to stress that one should not make hasty vows to God without full consideration of the consequences.

Later in Jewish tradition, vows were not made without a written contract. This gave the vower time to consider.

Ashtoreth, Ashtaroth, Ashtart, or Astarte

The Bible makes it quite clear that from the time of the judges (Late Bronze Age ca. 1550BC) through the kings till the Babylonian exile (586BC) the children of Israel were a polytheistic people. It is not till after the exile that they became a monotheistic nation.

Image on pithos sherd found at Kuntillet Ajrud below the inscription, Utterance of Ashyaw the king: Say to Yehallel and to Yaw’asah
and to… I bless you by Yahweh of Samaria and his asherah.

Astarte/Ashtart is Canaanite/Phoenician name for the universal mother goddess, and also where we get our word Easter. There is some disagreement among scholars as to whether she was predominantly a warrior goddess or a fertility/sexual goddess. However s, he is often represented in the nude, or nursing children, which makes one think more of fertility/sexual than warrior. The warrior idea seems based on a quote from the Keret Epic where she is summoned to smash an enemies skull. 

The Romans and Greeks matched her with Juno, Demeter, Venus or Aphrodite,  the Egyptians with Hathor, and in India she is Kali. The Bible represents her as the consort of Baal, there is however a Hebrew carving showing her as the consort of Yahweh.

Ashtoreth, Ashtaroth

In Hebrew, she is called Ashtoreth/Ashtaroth. There is a difference in these spellings. Ashtoreth is how the Hebrew pronounced her name. Ashtaroth is an example of Paronomasia, as the Hebrew word for “shame “i.e. boshet has been incorporated into Astarte. This very similar to the say we have changed alcoholic to any kind of addiction such as chocoholic.

In 1Kings 11 we see that Solomon due to his taking of foreign women allowed the worship of Astarte among others, into Jerusalem. Because of this, after his reign, the kingdom was divided. These cult places seem to have lasted till the reign of Josiah, when the high priest Hilkiah led a revival and removed all these high places. [1King 22-23]

The Queen of Heaven

The children gather wood, the fathers kindle fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke me to anger. Jer. 7:18

There is some question as to whether or not Astarte is the Queen of Heaven. This could also refer to Asherah. [cf. Jer. 44:17-25] However there is little difference between the two. They are both the mother goddess. Where Astarte is Canaanite and Asherah is Akkadian. So right up till they were exile to Babylon the Jews continued in their syncretism. These sweet cake are still with us, as we now call them hot crossed buns, and are served on the same day as they were in ancient times, Easter

Substitutes for God’s name in the New Testament

When reading an English Bible there is a little bit of Jewish history that is needed to understand a few things and this is one of them. When Messiah walked the earth, it had become the habit of the Jewish people to avoid God’s name. This is because they feared the pagans they had lived among  since the deportation to Babylon might start saying God’s name and therefore violate in the commandment.

“You shall not take the name of the LORD/YHWH your God in vain; for the LORD/YHWH will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. Ex. 20:7 

The Jews had become very creative in their work arounds for this problem. Most English readers of the Bible have no idea what is going on. The average Christian doesn’t even know that God has a personal name. (His name is YHWH.) This habit of not using substitutes for God’s name was so universal that His personal name is never used is in the New Testament.

The Lord or Master

This one is so prevalent that it is on almost every page of every English Bible. The English Bibles uses this very same Jewish tradition of not speaking the name of the Lord “YHWH” but substitutes Adoni which means lord or master. The English has left a clue that they have done this by capitalizing all the letters in the LORD when the original Hebrew is YHWH. (See Also: God? What’s in a name?)

The Name

Ha Shem is Hebrew for “the Name” and is occasionally substituted for YHWH.

And those who went before and those who followed cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Mark 11:9

And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. John 17:11

Heaven

And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground, Mark 4:26 Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?”  Luke 20:4

The question was not whether John was some kind of angelic being but whether he was sent by God. This is why sometimes it is the kingdom of God and others it is the kingdom of heaven.

Another parable he put before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; Matt. 13:24 

In this parable the son admits that he has sinned against God.

I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; Luke 15:18 

This use of Heaven as a substitute for God or YHWH has lead many to misunderstand “heaven.” Heaven strictly speaking is not the place where God lives. God is Omnipresent, and as such is everywhere throughout time and space at all times. Calling Him “Heaven” is to say that He is above and beyond what we can perceive. (See Also: What Happens When We Die? and God is Omnipresent)

The Power

And Jesus said, “I am; and you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Mark 14:62 

This is a quote from the Psalms, where we can see the right hand belongs to the LORD or in Hebrew YHWH.

The LORD says to my lord: “Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool.” Psa. 110:1 

FYI: They also called the temple in Jerusalem, “The Place” or “The Holy Place.”
For a tent was prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence; it is called the Holy Place. Heb. 9:2

Good Eye, Bad Eye

22   “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light;  23 but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! Matt. 6:22-23

34 Your eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is sound, your whole body is full of light; but when it is not sound, your body is full of darkness. Luke 11:34

When translators do not know what a passage means they tend to woodenly translate word for word. In doing this, idioms or Hebraisms get lost in translation, and this is certainly one of those.

Quite simply in Hebrew thought, to have a good or sound eye is to be generous, and to have a bad eye is to be stingy.

In Christ

In the Harem by Fabio Fabbi  (1861 - 1946)

In the Harem by Fabio Fabbi (1861 – 1946)

Or in the harem to stay with our little allegory. One needs to understand that the harem is where all the women’s work was done, unlike what our western fantasies are. The cooking, cleaning, and laundry where all done in the harem and by the harem.

But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness. Rom. 8:10

This is a term only Paul uses. The inherited churches have made this out to mean salvation. As if it is the same thing; Messiah in you, and you in Messiah.

In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. Rom. 15:17

But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has commissioned us; 2Cor. 1:21

Back up the Bible Bus. Being in Messiah has something to do with that hated word, WORKS. After all isn’t a commission a JOB?

To be “in Messiah” is to follow His teachings, to be His student, His servant, to obey His words, to do as He did. Noah and his family had to be in the ark to be saved, the man-slayer had to be in the city of refuge to be safe from the avenger of blood. [Num. 35:6] To me “in Messiah” is not a metaphor or figure of speech, it is a reality. It is a job, a profession, ones life’s work.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Col. 3:17

So what are we to do? Well! to start with, there are Ten Commandments, they were never suggestions.

Satyrs in the Bible

DionysusSatyr2Unlike the bad translation that gave us Unicorns in the Bible, the satyrs are actually there in the Hebrew. The Hebrew word sa’ir can mean goat or in these passages it means those mythological half man half goat creatures from the ancient religions that surrounded Israel.

So it is understandable that they like the rest of pagan mythology are condemned by the Bible.

So they shall no more slay their sacrifices for satyrs, after whom they play the harlot. This shall be a statute for ever to them throughout their generations. Lev. 17:7

. . . and he appointed his own priests for the high places, and for the satyrs, and for the calves which he had made. 2Chr. 11:15

Then we come upon what at first glance seems a very strange Isaiah passages. In an oracle concerning Babylon’s demise. Isaiah seems to be treating these mythological creatures as if they were real. This is a cultural misunderstanding.

But wild beasts will lie down there, and its houses will be full of howling creatures; there ostriches will dwell, and there satyrs will dance. Is. 13:21

The satyrs that dance is a reference to the constellation we call the little dipper. The ancients called this constellation the goats and goat-herder or Pan and the satyrs, because to them these stars danced around the Northstar every night. Isaiah is chiding Babylon’s pride by saying in a very poetic manner is that when great Babylon is gone the stars will still turn in their place.