Troublesome Topic: What Would Solomon Say if He Could See My Paraphrase of His Song?

Would Solomon be happy with what I have done? Would he slap me on the back and say, “Good job little buddy?” No! He would more likely say, “Paul, what are you doing? This is imagery. You’re not supposed to analyze it; you’re supposed to feel it.” To which I would have to answer, “Yes, you’re right, but I can’t feel it. I don’t understand your language, your customs, your jokes, your idioms, or your slang, well enough to just feel it. All I have left is analysis.”

Consider a foreigner who studied English in his country and by their standards knew it quite well. Then he moves to the USA. It will take him several years of living in the USA before he can understand our jokes. But explaining a joke to him ruins the joke—right? After a number of years he will begin to feel the impact of the jokes he hears without needing explanation. A similar process happens with our own children as they come to understand when something is a pun or some other kind of joke. Understanding symbolism is a similar process.

However, I suggest to you, my reader, that even though I am admittedly doing this wrong, you will find this to be powerful. The Song of Solomon will suddenly appear rich, balanced and perfectly relevant. If it is powerful for us when we are doing it wrong, then how much more powerful would it have been for those who could feel the imagery immediately and respond to it naturally without even thinking? It is no wonder they called it “the Song of Songs.”

The next lesson is: Why Did the Rabbis Say This Song Is a Picture of God and Israel?