Euphemisms for Sexual Relations in the Bible
or Wink Wink Nod Nod (an English euphemism for secret information everybody already knows)
The Hebrew Bible is full of word play i.e. Paronomasia. There are lots of parallelisms, similes, puns, idioms, and euphemisms, etc. many of which are impossible to translate.
When the paronomasia is a euphemisms, some translators will chose to woodenly translate it word for word, others substitute an English euphemism, and some of the more modern translations opt for stating directly what was meant. All three of these solutions leave the English reader missing some of what is being communicated, and often cloud the issues rather than bring clarity. Finding the right word can be quite difficult, what one culture’s euphemism might be, may use that same words for something completely different, e.g. Where in Hebrew uncovered or nakedness can mean a sexual encounter, to the ancient Greeks it meant drunkenness. When in English we speak of someone’s nose being red, we mean drunkenness, however ancient Hebrew it means angry. In English the heart is the seat of emotions, where in ancient Hebrew it was the bowels. So translators must decide how best to express these ideas. It all come down to, is the idea or the word more important? Continue reading
Until the day breathe,
and the shadows flee away,
turn, my beloved,
and be thou like a gazelle or a young hart upon the mountains of spices. Song 2:17
That last word spices is actually vatar. Vatar/bater is usually a verb, and means separation, to cut in two, or split. Here it is a noun and is referring to the inviolable ceremonial vatar covenant, which is made by passing between split carcasses [Gen 15 c.f. Jer. 34:18-19]. These animal are not considered as sacrifices, but rather blood witnesses, which means that if the covenant is not honored then those participating are to be as the animals. Continue reading
An excerpt from the book;
He hath brought me to the banqueting-house,
and his banner over me is love.
Prepare yourself for little old ladies with pitchforks and rolling pins to protest these truths, after all they teach little children to sing this verse without any idea what it really means. This is one of those verses that has been purposely mistranslated. No, that isn’t quite the word for it, misconstrued? Inaccurate? Fiddled with? Misrepresented? Oh pick one! Literally it is explicit, “He brought me to his wine house (we would say cellar), and covered me with his standard”, which is a euphemism for sexual relations. So without getting too explicit, He brings her to where the wine is kept and they have a VERY good time.
So let us progress to the wine cellar with our Beloved and be taken in the rapture of love. This is one experience we cannot share with the others of the harem. This is one time we must trust Him completely. Down in the wine cellar alone with our King is where the true ecstasy is. We will not find this rapture of love in the midst of the congregation. This kind of high will never be achieved in the frenzy and ecstasy of congregational worship. It takes just one step into that secret, quiet, place with our God to realize how much more there is to this relationship. It is not a corporate experience. We must spend time alone with our Beloved. This kind of rapture is only achieved through long hours of deep study. In the quietness of the Word is where we find such magnificent satisfying ecstasy; words fail.
“Be still, and know that I am God. Psa. 46:10a
The word “to know” in the Bible can also be a euphemism for sexual relations. So the Psalmist is saying that it is in the still, quiet, moments that we can have a deeply intimate relationship with our Beloved.
Is now available.
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 spring board to explain the intimate relationship He wants with His people.
The Song of Songs like any poetic love songs is laced with sexual euphemistic and idiomatic language that are foreign or peculiar to their time and place is 1000BC. This commentary will guide one through the exotic and unfamiliar locations, explaining the references to animals and plants that have little or no meaning to the post modern English reader.
Traditionally the contents of the Song are presented as an allegory of a corporate love for the people of God instead of the love of a single couple seeking each other through the ups and downs that any quality relationship will suffer over time. This allegorical method of interpretation makes a concerted effort to negate the erotic content. Choosing to pretend that is it just not there. However it is there! God’s great incomprehensible love is put into the love song of the ages. Simplifying His incomprehensible infinite love for us into an easy to understand finite earthly love of a man for a woman.
The Song brims with long forgotten and much needed information on forming an intimate sacred relationship that few are even aware can be achieved. The church too often seeks to be busy and active leaving no time for the things of love. Not taking the Psalmist advice to –
“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psa. 46:10a.
The know in this passage is the same as — “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived” Gen. 4:1a.
So our search for intimacy with God begins by being still and listening to His Song.