The sweetness of her mouth

In the year 1572, an intellectual Spainard and Augustine monk by the name of Fray Luis de León was arrested by the Spanish Inquisition and imprisoned for 4 years.

His crime?

Translating into Spanish the Song of Solomon, an erotic poetry book ascribed to King Solomon and his lover. The Song of Solomon, also called the Song of Songs or the Canticle of Canticles, is now considered part of both Jewish and Christian Bibles.

In modern times, Christianity has often shunned this book of the Bible due to its sexual nature. Some prudish theologians have even attempted to spiritualize-away the Song of Solomon’s romance and love and eroticism, portraying it only as “Christ’s love for the Church”. This is more than a small stretch. By all means, physical love and sex are the real theme of this book; all the spiritualizing in the world can’t stifle this reality.

This past week, as a collector of classic Messianic Jewish music, I was pleasantly surprised to get my hands on an un-spiritualized Song of Solomon put to acoustic music on Avner & Rachel Boskey’s 1993 album, Old & New.

Their Song of Solomon medley intertwines beautiful Hebrew and English lyrics together as Avner Boskey sings the part of Lover, Solomon, and Avner's wife Rachel sings the part of Beloved, Solomon’s lover.

For your enjoyment, fine blog readers, the Song of Solomon put to Hebrew and English song by Messianic Jewish couple Avner & Rachel Boskey:

Arise, My Love!


  1. Please read my summary for Song of Songs composition. Historically up until the past century, both the Synagogue and Church allegorized this text. It was either a love story between God and Israel, or as you observed, Christ and the Church.

    Traditionally, the Synagogue has been a bit more progressive and ahead of the curve in terms of sexuality than the Church. But in the 1990s evangelicalism did start catching up, as is evidenced in the wide array of both popular and academic literature on sexuality. (And probably in no small part due to the rise of extra-marital pregnancies and AIDS.)

  2. Hey, read your FAQ on the Song of Songs. That's really good! And informative.

    I didn't know liberal theologians contest Solomon's authorship of the Song of Songs. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, many of the liberal interpretations of Scripture seem to start out with the premise of "This isn't authentic/legitimate. How do we prove it?"

    Anyways, thanks for that. I also didn't know the synagogue by and large allegorically interpreted this as a love story between God and Israel. Christians followed suit, it seems, with the "Christ and the Chuch" allegory!

    Allegories are good, but sometimes it's nice to just read the text for what it is. Keep It Peshat, Stupid! :-)

  3. Liberals have questioned the traditional authorship of every book of the Bible, and also questioned their historicity. Anything you believe or hold sacred has been ripped apart by someone at some time.

    Conservatives engage with the traditional authorship, and will often accept it, but not to the point of Moses writing "every jot or tittle" or ignoring the possibility of some minor editing with place names or little factoids seen in the Tanach books later on.

    I know that Song of Songs is not a book that my faith in God will be particularly affected by either way regarding its authorship. It's the Bible's sex manual.

    Ecclesiastes authorship, though, is a huge debate, as most--including many conservatives--do not accept Solomonic authorship (myself included). But this mostly has to do with the Hebrew composition of Ecclesiastes which is decidedly from a later period.

  4. I have to agree with the sexual as well as the allegorical interpretation of SOS’s.

    My own experiences with God are very much in line with some of the allegories portrayed. It’s always important though that we keep in mind the culture and the writers of scripture. Any interpretation or doctrine that does not first honor and recognize that scripture is speaking of Israel is off a bit.

    On a side note, too bad we don’t have the other 1005 songs Solomon wrote. 1Kings 4:32

    Sermon series from IHOP, for those who want to give a listen.

  5. Allegories are valuable. Allegories or even deeper interpretations of the text must be taken without neglecting the basic, literal meaning of the text.

    That's my thought.

    Thanks for the IHOP link, I'll check it out.

  6. Judah,

    Why can't it be both literal and allegorical? I don't try to "spiritualize it away," but neither do think it is "more than a small stretch," to see Christ's relationship to His children in there.

    In Christ,

  7. Hey Gary - I think that is what Judah's post immediately before is getting at. I agree its not either/or its "both". I listen to the MP3 of this (free on internet download) all the time. It is both. An incredibly beautiful and sensual poem and at the same time very spiritual.

    I'm going to check out the story on this Spanish Inquisition thing. Whatever I find on that I note that during the pontificate of John Paul II, he did a huge series of weekly lectures on the "theology of the body" and of course Song of Solomon was one his scripture texts. It is a very dense series of talks but very much on the theme of "both". Worthwhile. It has recently been re-issued in a better translation with better Chapter Headings. At the same time, the best book "about" it was re-issued (author Christopher West). For those who want a short introduction (100 pages), Christopher West also wrote: "Theology of the Body for Beginners". It is 100 pages and well worth it.


  8. By the way, the new title of JPII's tome is called "Man and Woman He Created Them". "A Theology of the Body."

    Looks like there is a free overview lecture by Christopher West you can download at his site. Just google Christopher West.

  9. I like "The Message" translation of

    1Co 6:16 There's more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, "The two become one."

    So read into it. If sex is more than just physical, then...

  10. It can be both. Of the select few teachers that don't shun the SOS, they usually spiritualize it without discussing the Peshat, the simple, literal meaning of the text. That is, they don't talk about the sexy stuff. :-)

    Additionally, I'd say the author of the text did not intend for the Song of Songs to be a message about a future Messiah and his love for his followers. That's more than a stretch. One can read that into it retroactively, but to say that was the intent of the author is another thing. Likewise, the synagogue can retroactively read "the love between God and Israel" into the text retroactively, but it probably wasn't the intent of the author.

  11. If I could stop for a moment and clarify. From the comments, it's apparent I didn't communicate my point clearly.

    Bottom line: I'm not against spiritualizing Scriptures, even the Song of Songs, provided we don't ignore the simple, literal meaning of the text.

    Shalom folks!

  12. Then again let me clarify. It’s not just about SOS, although SOS can be easier to see. All scripture can have multiple meanings. It’s kind of like Quantum Physics. On the surface it seems one way, but at the sub-atomic it’s another. I think that just like Quant, where scientists are beginning to realize that there is more to the world then they can understand, so too with scripture. The spirit realm is like that, hey just check out dreams. I know some people will disagree with me on this point, but most dreams have a spiritual meaning. Even the rabbi’s acknowledge this.

    Again, fully honoring the original writings and culture. Once that is done, and kept in honor, we can look to Holy Spirit for a meaning for my own life. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway, reconciliation. God and man in unity.

  13. Judah, Thanks for the link to your blog. You may realize that my wife and I blog, too. I really appreciate your comments about my New Jerusalem paper. You are free to share it with anyone online or off-line.


  14. Hey Tim, been awhile since I've seen you in person; I think it was when we played football last fall, heheh.

    Yeah, I'm aware of your blog, visited & commented once or twice. I'll have it in my RSS feeds.

    Take care, man, and thanks again for sending the New Jerusalem paper.