Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs) is believed by some to be a poem between King Solomon and the daughter of Pharaoh, whom he married. Among Christians, it’s holds a parallel and prophetic interpretation as an allegory of Christ as the bridegroom and the church as his bride.
I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon. Song of Solomon 1:5
Tents of Kedar? What are those?
Kedar was the second son of Ishmael (Gen 25:13), and “Kedar” when not referring directly to him was referring to his descendants: the nomadic Bedouin Arab tribes. For example Joseph was sold to “Ishmaelites” by his brothers, before being sold into Egypt (Gen 37:27-28).
Ok, so what do these tents look like?
The Bedouin Arabs traditionally made their tents out of black goats hair.
Who was Pharaoh’s daughter?
She’s the only one of Solomon’s wives mentioned in any detail in the bible, though neither she, nor the Pharaoh are mentioned by name. Here’s what it ways:
Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt and married his daughter. He brought her to the City of David until he finished building his palace and the temple of the LORD, and the wall around Jerusalem. 1 Kings 3:1
And the palace in which he was to live, set farther back, was similar in design. Solomon also made a palace like this hall for Pharaoh’s daughter, whom he had married. 1 Kings 7:8
Pharaoh king of Egypt had attacked and captured Gezer. He had set it on fire. He killed its Canaanite inhabitants and then gave it as a wedding gift to his daughter, Solomon’s wife. 1 Kings 9:16
So what makes you think the woman in Song of Solomon is Pharaoh’s “black” daughter?
(1) Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Out of a thousand women, Pharaoh’s daughter is the only one of his wives the bible mentions anything about in the book of Kings, so there’s a possibility she might be mentioned in other books too.
(2) Out of a thousand women, Pharaoh’s daughter is the only one for whom he built a palace. That’s what a love-struck King does for his favorite wife. So it makes sense that out of a thousand women she’s the only one he wrote a poem about.
(3) Pharaoh’s daughter was from Egypt, and if you know anything about history, you know there were Black Pharaohs.
(4) The woman in Song of Solomon says she is black, and distinguishes herself from the “daughters of Jerusalem” (in my mind because she is a foreigner) and she further has to make a case that she’s beautiful “despite” her black skin.
(5) Black skin was peculiar in Israel, and racism wasn’t uncommon even back then. Miriam had a racist response to Moses marrying an Ethiopian woman (Num 12:1). Old Testament further indicates the peculiarity of black skin, probably due to unfamiliarity. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots?” (Jer 13:23). So I’m not surprised that the bride in Song of Solomon mentions her skin.
(6) Solomon might have had a thing for Ethiopian girls. The Queen of Sheba is said to have come from a civilization called “Saba” in the current territories of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Yemen. According to Ethiopian historical tradition, which goes into more detail about their sexual relationship, Solomon slept with the Queen of Sheba and impregnated her. I got an Eritrean pregnant too, so trust me, I know.
(7) The Groom calls her “prince’s daughter” in Song of Solomon 7:2.
So a black “prince’s daughter” for whom Solomon wrote a poem, sounds a lot like the daughter of Pharaoh from the book of Kings, who is the only wife of Solomon mentioned in any detail, and for whom he also built a palace.
Still, this evidence is highly disputed, as many interpret “I am black” to mean “I am tan because I’ve been in the sun.”
Sex…or, er I mean “totally not sex”
“How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O prince’s daughter! The curves of your hips are like jewels, The work of the hands of an artist. Your navel is a rounded goblet that never lacks blended wine. Your waist is a mound of wheat encircled by lilies. Song of Solomon 7:2
Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest is my beloved among the young men. I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste. Song of Solomon 2:3
My beloved is mine, and I am his; he grazes among the lilies. Song of Solomon 2:16
Awake, north wind, and come, south wind! Blow on my garden, that its fragrance may spread everywhere. Let my beloved come into his garden and taste its choice fruits. Song of Solomon 4:16
I would lead you and bring you to my mother’s house– she who has taught me. I would give you spiced wine to drink, the nectar of my pomegranates. Song of Solomon 8:2
I’m not going to tell you what those verses mean. Nope. Not gonna do it. I don’t want to get a letter from John Piper, or my own pastor for that matter. This blog barely tows the non-denominational Reformed line as it is.
“But eating isn’t a euphemism for anything!”
No. No, of course not.
This is the way of an adulterous woman: She eats and wipes her mouth and says, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong.’ Proverbs 30:20
“I did not have sexual relations with that woman…”
All I did was graze among the lilies.
Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” John 2:7-10
Ok, I will tell you what the prior verse means, and how experience helps you interpret the bible.
Those of us who have tasted wine know that you can taste the alcohol. People that have never tasted wine before, don’t know that.
My first taste of wine, ever, was at a communion when I was 23 years old. I could feel it slightly burn and warm my throat as it went down. I commented on it, and the people there laughed at me. I was completely new to this.
Even if you’ve had too much to drink, you can taste the difference between cheap wine, and expensive wine. In fact, when you’ve started to have too much to drink, your body is more sensitive to the taste of the alcohol in the wine, in order to keep you from vomiting and alcohol poisoning.
If you’re out with friends and had too much to drink, you can drink water or juice instead. Guess what your body says when you drink juice as a means of pacing yourself?
“Aaah, that’s better. You don’t want to drink too much too fast, or you might vomit. Your liver thanks you.”
If instead you decide to keep drinking, your body will say:
“Oh, you taste that alcohol, right? It tastes stronger than ever, because you’re about one glass of wine from vomiting.”
If you go into a wine bar full of people who have had “too much to drink” and try to give them grape juice, they’ll be pissed, because the alcohol taste will be gone. A lot of them are there because they want to get drunk.
Go to any wine bar and serve the customers Welch’s grape juice from an expensive wine bottle. See what happens. I dare you.
If you’ve never tasted wine before, you wouldn’t know that the party goers that drank Jesus’ wine could taste the alcohol in the wine. That’s why they didn’t start a mutiny.