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Story Telling? Song of Songs!
Topic Started: Oct 25 2008, 03:12 PM (1,796 Views)
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Resident Rebbi

I had a friend ask a pretty darned good question the other day and as I gave my explanation, I had this wonderful scenario play out in my head. Thought that I'd share and hope that you can share the experience.

He asked me,
I am interested to know what the "Daughters of Jerusalem" represent. It's from Song of Solomon where the Beloved is speaking to them. Can you give some explanation?

A thorny question! Love it. A little Sabbath eve Scripture exploration is a b’rachot from a mitzvah, a blessing resulting from obedience to a commandment.

As best I can figure, the Daughters of Jerusalem (DoJ) serve as a chorus in the poetic drama that is Song of Songs. They're the friendly crowd, but usually seemingly without a clue. Maybe the Valley Girls of Jerusalem? :innocent:

The way 1:1 is framed, it is the DoJ & the Shulammite (Shu) who seem announce the prologue in line 1a; the quoted material that follows is Shu alone. I'm no Hebrew expert, and so have to share what I have gleaned from others.

Having seen opera and ballet, you know that you have the principles and the chorus and some supporting characters, right? The chorus is a cool literary device using the same folks to portray lots of different folks at different times in the drama. And they have different meanings in each role in many dramas, some being good, some not, some menacing, some protective, some sympathetic, some threatening. In Song of Songs, I think that mostly the DOJ serve as the means of reflection or illumination with very little deep spiritual symbolism. My current opinion. Read on and let's see if I change my own mind. :) Let's look at each appearance of these lovely ladies who seem to serve at the King's court, maybe even as servants, maybe just as some of the elite and privileged that hang around kingly courts.

Can you read the first few verses where Shu is talking to Bridegroom (BG) and see her gesture to the chorus as she says in v.3, "Therefore the maidens love you". BG exits and she's alone with the DoJ as the silent reflection in the mirror, "I am dark but lovely, O DoJ".

BG left the room, but he's standing just outside the window, looking back at his dark but lovely bride and compares her to the lovelies that surround her, "Most beautiful amongst [those and all] women". Then she speaks to her memory of him, again using the DoJ as that reflective chorus. Maybe they're brushing her hair and preparing the garments and the pouch of myrrh nestled in her cleavage.

Chapter 2 opens with confusing dialog. The Hebrew would probably help clarify, but it looks like she's hearing his thoughts and beginning to believe them and then he chimes back in as she "gets it" in v.2. In v.7, BG is talking to the DoJ to allow his honey the Shu to nap until she darned well pleases. That enforces the servant role of these ladies-in-waiting in this role. The duet continues through the rest of the chapter with Shu & BG swapping verses as he daydreams and she slips into deeper sleep.

Chapter 3 finds us with some of those supporting characters with a little walk-on role, the male chorus this time. She's sleeping and concerned that maybe she's lost sight of BG and is deeply concerned. She questions the watchmen since they ought to be watching and thus should KNOW where he is. Alas, they don't (heavy, minor key music here). She's sleeping really deeply, but a troubled dream and BG says, leave her alone, let her sleep, it'll be okay. v.7 tells us that there are 60 men in the male chorus (MC)! Big production here. MC are decked out better than Aida was ever produced, and in their midst is BG, sitting on a wonderful cedar sedan chair; MC then tells the DoJ to turn their gaze to BG rather than look at the magnificent pecs of the MC (can you see Chippendales here, well oiled even??).

Ch 4 is BG's magnificent aria exulting in the beauty of his sleeping beauty the Shu.

Ch 5 and we're back in her dream, still a troubled sleep, v.2. She gets mugged by some of the watchmen (costume change for some of the MC), obviously jealous and desireous of her. She speaks to the reflective DoJ chorus to go get help and they respond in a typical, blonde way, they want to have a romantic chat about the attributes of Shu's honey! See what I mean about an opera? Shu gives a 6-verse, 20 minute aria of her own, all the while bleeding in her dream. "Merely a flesh wound... And that's who my beloved is, O DoJ."

Ch 6 and the enthralled blondes in the DoJ ranks get around to asking, "So, like, okay, we can probably recognize him by alabaster legs, golden feet, and his ruddiness standing head and shoulders above everyone in the country. Where did he go when he left you?" And Shu continues her dying ways by detailing the garden. v4 finds BG still observing his sleeping Shu. v8 informs us that the female chorus is also darned big with 60 queens, 8 concubines, and maidens beyond count! Big stage, this. Not sure, but I think v13a is the DoJ calling her back from the too deep sleep and 13b is BG asking the questions. She's still sleeping, however--look at 8:4. And the chapter ends with him calling her to a full expression of wedded bliss and you can watch them walk off into the bright light, begging for a sequel!

So, is there some spiritual meaning or psychiatric significance to the DoJ? I really do not know, but I sense that because they are within the circle of the BG, they're not strangers or foreigners. Some folks theorize that there is a difference between the body of Christ and the bride of Christ, kind of like the difference between the 4 main disciples, the 8 remaining of the 12, and the rest of the followers of Christ. Another analogy is where yes, some folks are going to be in heaven, but only have a pup tent as their "mansion".

On a related point, I'm fairly certain that the DoJ in SoS are not the same DoJ found in the Gospels. Seem to be a very different group. Those are simply the women of the city, Jewish mothers all, concerned about one of their own. This sort of reference does happen throughout both Old & New Testaments.

Does any of this help or just add to the fog? I'll continue to think, pray, and read to see if I can find anyone else with a worthwhile thought on the subject.

It's kind of like the 10 virgins in Mt 25. Is there significance in the number 10? There is always symbolism, but the Word is often just plain practical! Could it be so simple as He held up two hands, 5 fingers on each hand representing virgins, so that He could easily show them sleeping, then some not waking and separated because of their slumber? Just a visually inspired thought.

Let me know what you think. Can you see the drama that could unfold here? Great idea for a dramatic interpretation of the reading, I think. Shu, BG, a small chorus for the DoJ, and two groups for the MC so as not to confuse the watchmen and the body guard maybe. Or some sort of mask to show the costume change?

Comments are welcome.

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