Song of Solomon & Shulamite II

Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

7 September 2004

2. Narrative Structure

A. Dialogue & Refrain

The Song of Songs is composed of five dialogues, the first four culminating in the refrain, an oath (שבועה) addressed to the chorus, the fifth in a coda that semantically echoes the refrain. The narrative structure of the poem may be represented as follows:




Refrain (Coda)

Dialogue 1


The Lovers’ Vows

Solomon bids the Daughters of Jerusalem not to disturb Shulamite until she takes her pleasure.

Dialogue 2


Shulamite’s Song

Solomon bids the Daughters of Jerusalem not to disturb Shulamite until she takes her pleasure.

Dialogue 3


Solomon’s Song

Shulamite bids the Daughters of Jerusalem to tell Solomon of her lovesickness.

Dialogue 4


The Lovers’ Fantasy

Solomon bids the Daughters of Jerusalem not to disturb Shulamite until she takes her pleasure.

Dialogue 5


Shulamite’s Declaration

(Shulamite bids Solomon to follow her.)

Targum Canticles (diversely dated, possibly as late as the eighth century), the Aramaic translation and commentary of the Bible, offers the following topology:



Allegorical Interpretation



The Ten [Biblical] Songs1

Section 1


The Wilderness [Sinai]

Section 2


The [First] Temple

Section 3


[First] Exile

Section 4


The [Second] Temple

Section 5


The Final [Second] Exile, Redemption, and [prophecy of the Third] Temple

Modern scholars suggest various chiasmic structures of anywhere from three to fifteen elements, generally following the same basic pattern:



Courtship (1:1-3:5)



Nuptials (3:6-5:1)



Matrimony (5:2-8:14)

Most however fail to account for the poetic, rather than the semantic, structure of the text, which appears most clearly in their reading of 5:1 as the narrative (and sexual) climax of the poem, whereas Shulamite’s orgasm and the third (and central) refrain fall respectively three and seven verses below.

Others have read the text as a collection of a few or dozens of erotic poems. This view ignores the remarkable linguistic and dramatic unity of the text, which an anthologist is unlikely to have so smoothly superimposed.

B. Imagery

The four refrains and the coda represent progressive steps in the rite of initiation into the mysteries of love, taboos each associated with a fetish object or totem:





Refrain 1




Refrain 2




Refrain 3




Refrain 4








The verses leading up to the first refrain (2:3-7) represent a tryst under the apple tree:

As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so [is] my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit [was] sweet to my taste.

He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me [was] love.

Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I [am] sick of love.

His left hand [is] under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me.

I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake [my] love, till he please.

כתפוח בעצי היער כן דודי בין הבנים בצלו חמדתי וישבתי ופריו מתוק לחכי

הביאני אל בית היין ודגלו עלי אהבה

סמכוני באשישות רפדוני בתפוחים כי חולת אהבה אני

שמאלו תחת לראשי וימינו תחבקני

השבעתי אתכם בנות ירושלם בצבאות או באילות השדה אם תעירו ואם תעוררו את האהבה עד שתחפץ

Marc Chagall - Canticle I (1960)

The תפוח “apple tree” (2:3, 2:5, 7:8. 8:5), which the Vulgate famously translates by the pun malum “apple/evil” sets the stage for this Edenic scene in the apple orchard. The poet uses the verb ישב “sit” (2:3, 5:12, 8:13) to specify Shulamite’s position. In reference to Solomon the same word means “marry” with respect to the evil that strange wives and outlandish women caused him to commit.2 The verb חמד “[take] delight” (2:3) also means “desire (or covet)”3 a neighbor’s wife or “lust after”4 strange and evil women. The first woman Eve had the same pre-lapsarian desire of the same עץ “tree” (2:3, 3:9, 4:14), i.e. of the knowledge of good and evil.5 In the latter case the פרי “fruit” (2:3, 4:13, 4:16, 8:11, 8:12) brings Adam and Eve shame of their nakedness. In the former Solomon’s fruit brings pleasure to Shulamite, the carnal knowledge commonly known as fellation. Efforts to circumscribe this interpretation (e.g. in the Jewish Publication Society), by cleverly parsing the masculine apple tree instead of דוד “lover” as the antecedent of ו‑ “his”, fail to account for the preposition ‑כ “as (or like)” and the adverbial intensifier כן “so”, which clearly indicates the subject of the sentence, of which his is the anaphora. Shulamite reacts to her first sexual experience, which seems to leave her hymen intact (the sole measure of virginity in the Orient, then as now), with lovesickness perhaps due to the gag reflex.

Marc Chagall, Canticle I (1960)


As he cradles Shulamite with his left hand and fondles her with his right, Solomon speaks the refrain proper (2:7). He always refers to the feminine צביה “roe (or gazelle)” (2:7, 3:5, 4:5, 7:3) and אילה “hind” (2:7, 3:5). By contrast Shulamite compares Solomon to the masculine צבי “roebuck (or stag)” and איל “hart” (2:9, 2:17, 8:14 always in conjunction). The pronominal subject (‑ת) of the verb חפץ “please” (2:7, 3:5, 8:4) and its antecedent אהבה “love” (2:4, 2:5, 2:7, 3:5, 3:10, 5:8, 7:6, 8:4, 8:6, 8:7, 8:7) are feminine. (The King James Version switches the gender perhaps to avoid the obvious conclusion.6) Biblical guidelines for the treatment of female captives taken prisoner in war make clear that the pleasure that awaits Shulamite is of a sexual nature.7 The forms תעירו “stir up” (2:7, 3:5, 8:4, 8:5) and תעוררו “awake” (2:7, 3:5, 4:16, 8:4) belong to two conjugations of the same verb עור meaning “bare or be naked”, which Shulamite seems to be already, although certainly not asleep. Faced with the curiosity of the omnipresent Daughters of Jerusalem, Solomon hangs an emphatic Do Not Disturb sign on a bough of the apple tree.

The verses leading up to the second refrain (3:4-5) represent a visit to the forbidden room:

[It was] but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.

I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake [my] love, till he please.

כמעט שעברתי מהם עד שמצאתי את שאהבה נפשי אחזתיו ולא ארפנו עד שהביאתיו אל בית אמי ואל חדר הורתי

השבעתי אתכם בנות ירושלם בצבאות או באילות השדה אם תעירו ואם תעוררו את האהבה עד שתחפץ

Marc Chagall, Canticle V (1966)

Shulamite has a recurrent incest fantasy that she realizes here by taking her lover to her mother’s bed. The poet explicitly associates the chamber (or bedroom) with conception, i.e. the maternal womb. Shulamite imagines a return in venter maternæ with Solomon playing the role of her father. Solomon’s reference to her father as an unidentified prince (7:1) belongs to the hyperbole of courtship rhetoric.

Genetic incest (as defined by the Bible itself and excluding cousins, who commonly marry in the Orient, then as now) occurs five times in the Bible.8 It is struck with the same general prohibition as (in biblical order seen from the man’s point of view) sex with a step-mother, sex with a half-sister, sex with in-laws, sex with a mother and her daughter, sex with a menstruating woman, adultery, male homosexuality, and bestiality.9 Punishment for this wickedness, abomination, confusion, or iniquity includes death for adultery, homosexuality, and bestiality (including death to the beast), immolation for sex with a mother and her daughter, ostracism for sex with a menstruating woman, any of the above or infertility for incest committed with various degrees of blood or legal kin.10 Behavior is only criminalized when a significant minority or majority desires to or chooses to engage in it, while another minority and/or the same majority wishes to repress it. If not, no punitive threat is needed to curb the behavior. The specificity of these taboos shows how little sexual fantasy and practice has changed in the past three millennia. Specialized web sites catering to all of the above tastes abound.

Marc Chagall, Canticle V (1966)


In the Bible Shulamite alone uses the noun נפש “soul” as the subject of the verb אהב “love” (1:7, 3:1, 3:2, 3:3, 3:4). The Septuagint translates ηγαπησεν η ψυχη μου. Efforts have been made since at least Philo (c. 20 BCE-50 CE), the Jewish Egyptian diplomat and philosopher, to associate the three biblical expressions all connoting breath, 11רוח “spirit (of God given to man)”, 12aנשמה “breath (of God given to man and animals)”, 12bנפש “soul (of man and animals)”, with the Platonic tripartition of the psyche, νους “reason”, ερος “lust”, εθος “custom”. Medieval writers, such as Saadia ben Joseph (892-942), aka Gaon, the Jewish Egyptian philosopher and philologist, do not agree on the correspondences, evidence of the artifice of the analogies.13

Shulamite loves Solomon with that part of herself, the soul, that is specifically ungodlike, her human and animal nature.

In his Interpretation of Dreams Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), the Jewish Austrian psychoanalyst, alludes to the botanical and aquatic imagery of 4:12,

A garden inclosed [is] my sister, [my] spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.

גן נעול אחתי כלה גל נעול מעין חתום

The poet builds a complex metaphor of three vehicles, גן נעול “garden inclosed”, גל נעול “spring shut up”, מעין חתום “fountain sealed”, images of physical maidenhead. The last term (מעין) occurs in conjunction with its synonym 14מקור “fountain or spring”. This noun also connotes “placenta”15 and “menstrual blood”16.

All of the major, recurring images of the poem refer to the look, feel, smell, or taste of the human body. Botanical and zoological, especially culinary, metaphors predominate, as do the senses of gustation and olfaction. The garden teems with flora and fauna. Love is compared to the eating of plant and animal life. The lover is a fellow sentient being who desires to participate in this reciprocal feast of the senses, as in 4:16,

Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, [that] the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.

עורי צפון ובואי תימן הפיחי גני יזלו בשמיו יבא דודי לגנו ויאכל פרי מגדיו

Shulamite picks up the horticultural metaphor and invites Solomon to smell her herbs and taste her fruit.

The verses leading up to the third refrain (5:1-8) represent her deflowering under the myrtle tree:

I am come into my garden, my sister, [my] spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.

I sleep, but my heart waketh: [it is] the voice of my beloved that knocketh, [saying], Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, [and] my locks with the drops of the night.

I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?

My beloved put in his hand by the hole [of the door], and my bowels were moved for him.

I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped [with] myrrh, and my fingers [with] sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.

I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, [and] was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.

The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.

I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I [am] sick of love.

באתי לגני אחתי כלה אריתי מורי עם בשמי אכלתי יערי עם דבשי שתיתי ייני עם חלבי אכלו רעים שתו ושכרו דודים

אני ישנה ולבי ער קול דודי דופק פתחי לי אחתי רעיתי יונתי תמתי שראשי נמלא טל קוצותי רסיסי לילה

פשטתי את כתנתי איככה אלבשנה רחצתי את רגלי איככה אטנפם

דודי שלח ידו מן החר ומעי המו עליו

קמתי אני לפתח לדודי וידי נטפו מור ואצבעתי מור עבר על כפות המנעול

פתחתי אני לדודי ודודי חמק עבר נפשי יצאה בדברו בקשתיהו ולא מצאתיהו קראתיו ולא ענני

מצאני השמרים הסבבים בעיר הכוני פצעוני נשאו את רדידי מעלי שמרי החמות

השבעתי אתכם בנות ירושלם אם תמצאו את דודי מה תגידו לו שחולת אהבה אני

Marc Chagall - Canticle III (1960)

The verb בוא “come” occurs in the verses preceding each of the refrains (2:4, 3:4, 5:1, 8:2) and the coda (8:11). The story of Onan suggests that it has sexual connotations.17 A very common word, it occurs five more times (1:4, 2:8, 4:8, 4:16, 4:16), the last two in a sexual context. In 5:1 it denotes penetration of the מעין גנים fountain of gardens (4:15), vehicles explicitly associated with the tenors אחתsister and כלה spouse (4:12).

Freud implies that the חר “hole” in 5:4 may represent an orifice. The noun also means “cave”18 and “hole (or [eye] socket)”19, cavity to preserve both senses, as in the Vulgate’s foramen. (The King James Version, among others, interpolates door, as indicated by square brackets.) Solomon’s act produces a reciprocal agitation in Shulamite’s מעי “bowels”. This noun, unattested in the singular, refers to a woman’s belly or “womb”20, as in the Vulgate’s “venter” (cf. English legal usage in venter). It also refers to a man’s “belly” (5:14) or “loins”21. It occurs in the acceptation of digestive apparatus primarily in cases of illness22 or evisceration23. Shulamite is not taken ill, but responds to her lover with the vaginal contractions of orgasm.

Marc Chagall, Canticle III (1960)  

Shulamite rises from her supine pleasure to spread her lubricated fingers on the כפות המנעול “handle (or bolt) of the lock”. She caresses Solomon.

Shulamite reacts to the loss of her virginity with lovesickness perhaps due to the rupture of her hymen.

Myrrh, an aphrodisiac of the Venus and Adonis myth, plays a role in biblical pre-coital purification rites.24 Milk and honey are the animal products associated with the fertility of the land of Israel.25

The verses leading up to the fourth refrain (8:1-4) represent a return to the maternal house for a taste of pomegranate:

O that thou [wert] as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! [when] I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised.

I would lead thee, [and] bring thee into my mother’s house, [who] would instruct me: I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate.

His left hand [should be] under my head, and his right hand should embrace me.

I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake [my] love, until he please.

מי יתנך כאח לי יונק שדי אמי אמצאך בחוץ אשקך גם לא יבזו לי

אנהגך אביאך אל בית אמי תלמדני אשקך מיין הרקח מעסיס רמני

שמאלו תחת ראשי וימינו תחבקני

השבעתי אתכם בנות ירושלם מה תעירו ומה תעררו את האהבה עד שתחפץ

Shulamite returns to her incest fantasy through a series of verbs in future conjugations, which are generally rendered by subjunctive and conditional moods. She imagines herself and her lover as twins feeding at the breast of her mother, extending Solomon’s mammary metaphor of עפרים תאמי צביה “twin fawns of a roe (or gazelle)” (4:5, 7:3). Her mother then teaches them the art of cunnilingus.

The string of three complements overdetermines the beverage in 8:2. Is it יין הרקח “mulled wine”? or עסיס “sweet (new) wine”? or רמון “grenadine”? Why affix a possessive (י‑) to the singular fruit? where the direct article singular (4:3, 6:7), the plural without an article (4:13, as in Modern Hebrew מיץ רימונים “pomegranate juice”), or the direct article plural (6:11, 7:12, as in Modern Hebrew מיץ הרימונים “juice of the pomegranate”) would all make better sense, unless we are indeed to understand the juice of her pomegranate.

Marc Chagall - Canticle II (1957)


 Marc Chagall, Canticle II (1957)

The Babylonian Talmud (c. 550 CE) Tractate Kiddushin folio 81b tells the following tale:

Everytime R[abbi] Hiyya b[en] Abba fell upon his face [i.e. prostrated himself in prayer] he used to say, ‘The Merciful save us from the Tempter.’ One day his wife heard him. ‘Let us see,’ she reflected, ‘it is so many years that he has held aloof from me; why then should he pray thus? (Surely he can restrain his passions.)’ One day, while he was studying in his garden, she adorned herself and repeatedly walked up and down before him. ‘Who are you?’ he demanded. ‘I am Harutha (A well known prostitute of that town.), and have returned to-day,’ she replied. He desired her. Said she to him, ‘Bring me that pomegranate from the uppermost bough.’ He jumped up, went, and brought it to her. When he re-entered the house, his wife was firing the oven, whereupon he ascended and sat in it. ‘What means this?’ she demanded. He told her what had befallen him. ‘It was I,’ she assured him; but he paid no heed to her until she gave him proof. (The pomegranate.) ‘Nevertheless,’ said he, ‘my intention was evil.’

Translation by Maurice Simon, 1936. Translator’s notes in parentheses.

Like the mandrakes of Leah, with which she buys a night with her husband Jacob from her rival wife (and younger sister) Rachel, a price of little or no worth has by definition symbolic value.26 The דודי “mandrake” (7:13), cognate of דוד “love” and renowned as an aphrodisiac, and the pomegranate are thus erotic symbols.

The fruit of Aphrodite, the pomegranate represents the genitals in Oriental Mediterranean mythology.27 It figures among the biblical seven species (wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, honey)28, symbols of the fertility of the land of Israel. Several hundred pomegranate trees adorned the landscape of the house of Solomon.29

The verses leading up to the coda (8:12-14) represent a domestic squabble over polygamy and the promise of reconciliation in the vineyard:

My vineyard, which [is] mine, [is] before me: thou, O Solomon, [must have] a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred.

Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice: cause me to hear [it].

Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.

כרמי שלי לפני האלף לך שלמה ומאתים לנטרים את פריו

היושבת בגנים חברים מקשיבים לקולך השמיעני

ברח דודי ודמה לך לצבי או לעפר האילים על הרי בשמים

Solomon had somewhat vaguely understated the count: threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number (6:8). Shulamite, who seems to be well-informed, gets it exactly right: seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines” (1 Kings 11:3). If the author is a northern poet, then this conjugal jealousy may be read as political blame.

Marc Chagall - Canticle IV (1958)


 Marc Chagall, Canticle IV (1958)

Shulamite borrows Solomon’s simile from 7:7-8,

This thy stature is like to a palm tree, and thy breasts to clusters [of grapes].

I said, I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof: now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine, and the smell of thy nose like apples;

זאת קומתך דמתה לתמר ושדיך לאשכלות

 אמרתי אעלה בתמר אחזה בסנסניו ויהיו נא שדיך כאשכלות הגפן וריח אפך כתפוחים

The love that blossoms under the apple tree, and is consummated under the myrtle tree, is pursued up the palm tree, and flourishes among the grape vines. In 8:14 Shulamite invites Solomon to begin anew.

Song of Solomon & Shulamite I

Song of Solomon & Shulamite III


1 Exodus 15; Numbers 21; Deuteronomy 32; Joshua 10; Judges 5; 1 Samuel 2; 2 Samuel 22; Isaiah 30; Psalm 92; Song of Songs. For the sake of consistency all biblical citations in the present article refer to Jacobean chapter and verse number. [Back]

2 Nehemiah 13:26-27, “Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin. / Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives?” Cf. 1 Kings 11:1. [Back]

3 Deuteronomy 5:21, “Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour’s wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any [thing] that [is] thy neighbour’s.” [Back]

4 Proverbs 6:24-25, “To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. / Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.” [Back]

5 Genesis 3:5-7, “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. / And when the woman saw that the tree [was] good for food, and that it [was] pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make [one] wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. / And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they [were] naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” [Back]

6 The Septuagint (την), the Vulgate (ipsa), Luther (ihr), and Martin (elle) all agree that this pronoun and its antecedent are feminine. [Back]

7 Deuteronomy 21:13-14, “And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife. / And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her.” [Back]

8 Genesis 11:27-29 (Nahor and his fraternal niece Milcah), 19:30-36 (Lot and his two unnamed daughters, who get him drunk to seduce him), 20:11-12 (Abraham and his paternal half-sister Sarah, who is given to him by God), Exodus 6:20 (Amram, father of Aaron and Moses, and his paternal aunt), 2 Samuel 13:10-14 (Amnon and his half-sister Tamar, who, under the threat of rape, suggests, perhaps disingenuously, that a legal union might be possible). None of the above is punished, except the last in a case of frontier justice. [Back]

9 Vide Leviticus 18:6-30. [Back]

10 Cf. Leviticus 20:10-21. [Back]

11 Genesis 1:2, “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness [was] upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” [Back]

12 Genesis 2:7, “And the Lord God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” [Back]

13 The confusion may lie in the interpolation of the first concept by one of the later authors of Genesis such as the Elohist known to scholars as E. (אלהים “Elohim”) or by one of the compilers of the Priestly Code collectively known as P. [Back]

14 Cf. Proverbs 25:26, “A righteous man falling down before the wicked [is as] a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring” and Hosea 13:15, “Though he be fruitful among [his] brethren, an east wind shall come, the wind of the Lord shall come up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up: he shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels.” [Back]

15 Leviticus 12:7, “Who shall offer it before the Lord, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This [is] the law for her that hath born a male or a female.” [Back]

16 Leviticus 20:18, “And if a man shall lie with a woman having her sickness, and shall uncover her nakedness; he hath discovered her fountain, and she hath uncovered the fountain of her blood: and both of them shall be cut off from among their people.” [Back]

17 Genesis 38:9, “And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled [it] on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.” Onan practices withdrawal according to the economic incentive of primogeniture law, under which he would otherwise forfeit his inheritance. [Back]

18 Job 30:6, “To dwell in the clifts of the valleys, [in] caves of the earth, and [in] the rocks.” [Back]

19 Zechariah 14:12, “And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.” [Back]

20 Ruth 1:11, “And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? [are] there yet [any more] sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?” [Back]

21 2 Samuel 7:12, “And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.” [Back]

22 Job 20:14, “[Yet] his meat in his bowels is turned, [it is] the gall of asps within him.” [Back]

23 2 Samuel 20:10, “But Amasa took no heed to the sword that [was] in Joab’s hand: so he smote him therewith in the fifth [rib], and shed out his bowels to the ground, and struck him not again; and he died. So Joab and Abishai his brother pursued after Sheba the son of Bichri.” [Back]

24 Esther 2:12, “Now when every maid’s turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, [to wit], six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with [other] things for the purifying of the women;)” [Back]

25 E.g. Deuteronomy 6:3, “Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do [it]; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey.” [Back]

26 Genesis 30:14-16, “And Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them unto his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, Give me, I pray thee, of thy son’s mandrakes. / And she said unto her, [Is it] a small matter that thou hast taken my husband? and wouldest thou take away my son’s mandrakes also? And Rachel said, Therefore he shall lie with thee to night for thy son’s mandrakes. / And Jacob came out of the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, Thou must come in unto me; for surely I have hired thee with my son’s mandrakes. And he lay with her that night.” [Back]

27 In his Golden Bough (1922) James Frazer comments:

Another of those gods whose supposed death and resurrection struck such deep roots into the faith and ritual of Western Asia is Attis. He was to Phrygia what Adonis was to Syria. Like Adonis, he appears to have been a god of vegetation, and his death and resurrection were annually mourned and rejoiced over at a festival in spring. The legends and rites of the two gods were so much alike that the ancients themselves sometimes identified them. Attis was said to have been a fair young shepherd or herdsman beloved by Cybele, the Mother of the Gods, a great Asiatic goddess of fertility, who had her chief home in Phrygia. Some held that Attis was her son. His birth, like that of many other heroes, is said to have been miraculous. His mother, Nana, was a virgin, who conceived by putting a ripe almond or a pomegranate in her bosom [...] Some confirmation of this conjecture is furnished by the savage story that the mother of Attis conceived by putting in her bosom a pomegranate sprung from the severed genitals of a man-monster named Agdestis, a sort of double of Attis. [Back]

28 Deuteronomy 8:8, “A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey;” [Back]

29 Cf. 1 Kings 7:18-42 passim and 2 Chronicles 3:16, 4:13. [Back]

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