Monday, October 31, 2005

Sidebar Links

Occasionally I need to reset the template and lose recent changes. Other times I want to make changed to the links, but want to store up the changes for one massive update. Therefore, this blog post will contain my sidebar links, such that I can have easy access to them, and present them in a fashion that might be more accessible than the narrow sidebar.

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Cracking Harry Potter 6 - The Half Blood Prince - The SMuggled Items

I had an earlier post a while back about Harry Potter 6, in which I revealed what seems to be a major secret in the book. (Also, a further development/proof here.) I will summarize a bit here, but first, some spoiler space:

A short, incomplete recap: The major secret, and trick, in the book is that Dumbledore does not appear in the book. He is played by someone using Polyjuice, most likely Wormtail. I give many many proofs for this in the previous post, so read that post for more details. Examples: in Slugworn's house, Dumbledore suddely straightens up and excuses himself to use the bathroom. This was because the Polyjuice was wearing off. Dumbledore was not expected by Mrs. Weasley until morning. A big deal is made of Mrs. Weasley not checking if people entering her house (and this explicitly = Dumbledore and Tonks) are not Death Eaters. In the cave, Dumbledore has the strength of "a much younger man." Dumbledore's right hand is shriveled, just as Wormtail cut off his right hand in an earlier book for a potion for Voldemort, one replaced with a silver one. Dumbledore wears a satisfied expression that Harry's scar does not hurt, a sign that Voldemort is successfully blocking off Harry. Dumbledore says that he might not be Dumbledore but rather a Death Eater. Dumbledore understands Parseltongue, which Dumbledore says was a worrying sign in the young Voldemort. Dumbledore wants Harry to tell his friends the prophecy, perhaps to increase chances that he find out about it. Dumbledore only mentions details of the prophecy after Harry mentions them. Dumbledore's muttered words in the cave are not directed at Harry but refer to an earlier event. Snape's look of hatred and disgust, which we would not expect directed at Dumbledore. In explanation of the meaning of the sessions with Harry, Dumbledore seems to be extracting information from Harry about the prophecy. Etcetera.

Further, Tonks also seems to be in on the conspiracy, and is perhaps also someone using Polyjuice. Multiple times, she appears literally out of nowhere just as Harry is about to discover something major and throws him off track. E.g. when he is about to follow Mundungus, or when he is waiting outside the Room of Requirement to catch Draco Malfoy. The book, in fact, mentions that the looks like Malfoy - "Was it his imagination, or did Draco, like Tonks, look thinner?" She leaves right after Dumbledore arrives at the Weasley's, and Dumbledore appears to follow her. Her Patronus is different than her usual one, because she is a different person. Etcetera. Read the previous post for more details.

Further, number 12 Grimmauld Place is in the hands of Bellatrix Lestrane and Voldemort's supporters. The "proof" of Kreacher's following Harry's command is no proof. He would be compelled to do the same had been inherited by Bellatrix and been ordered to follow Harry's command. If Kreacher is in Bellatrix's hands, he spilled all the beans about the Order, which is bad news. The Order of the Phoenix moved out of the place because it is in the hands of Bellatrix. Mundungus is seen by Harry selling items from the house, which he stole, but not from the Order or from Harry, but from Bellatrix. Harry was about to investigate this when Tonks appears out of nowhere and dissuades him.

I discuss more in the previous post, but that is the basis we need in order to proceed.

To proceed:
Why does Dumbledore freeze Harry under the cloak at the very end? The entire scene is a put-on, to feed Harry false information. Harry is to see Dumbledore "killed" by Snape, to get an "explanation" of what Draco Malfoy had been trying to accomplish, what Draco had tried to get fixed, why he had tried to send the cursed necklace into Hogwarts, to get information about the identity of the half-blood prince. Do not trust most of what plays out in this scene, since it is deliberate misdirection.

Why not begin with the locket, one of the seven Horcruxes.

A. The Locket
When going with Harry to fetch the locket, Dumbledore knows exactly where to go and what to do. It even looks to Harry like Dumbledore is not performing magic, but dismisses this as a sign of Dumbledore's expertise. In fact, the author is writing this to hint that no magic is being used. They get the locket, which at the end appears by Dumbledore's body, having fallen from his pocket. Inside is a piece of parchment with the following note:
To the Dark Lord

I now I will be dead long before you read this but I want you to know that it was I who dicovered your secret. I have stolen the real Horcrux and intend to destroy it as soon as I can.

I face death in the hope that when you meet your match you will be mortal once more.

R.A.B. is Rigelus Black, Sirius' brother. In a previous book, Harry had encountered a locket at number 12 Grimmauld Place that he was unable to open. This was the true Horcrux. Thus, Voldemort et. al. were already in possession of it, since they were in possession of number 12 Grimmauld Place. The whole quest in the cave was a put-on, for "Dumbledore" already knew where the true locket was. Alternatively, Mundungus was sent by the Order to steal many items from the Black's residence, including the locket, so that they would not know which stolen item was the Horcrux (They = the bad guys only find out it is the locket from the Pensieve.) That is why Mundungus was selling off multiple items.

B. The Opal Necklace

This was given to Katie Bell, who was to deliver it to Hogwarts. As we "find out" in the scene in which Draco confronts Dumbledore, this was given by Draco in an attempt to kill Dumbledore. Harry argues as much earlier, but this idea is dismissed out of hand by Ron, Hermione, and Professor McGonagall. Let us consider the close of the chapter, a discussion between the three friends:
"It wasn't a very slick attack, really, when you stop and think about it," said Ron, casually turfing a first year out of one of the good armchairs by the fire so that he could sit down. "The curse didn't even make it into the castle. Not what you'd call foolproof."

"You're right," said Hermione, prodding Ron out of the chair with her foot and offering it to the first year again. "It wasn't very well thought-out at all."

"But since when has Malfoy been one of the world's great thinkers?" asked Harry.

Neither Ron nor Hermione answered him.
JK Rowling is giving us a big hint. It was not a very slick attack. As we read earlier, everyone was getting scanned by Filch as they entered Hogwarts. How did Draco plan on getting it in to the castle, even had Katie Bell not been affected and had Harry and company not gotten hold of the necklace?
"Hagrid says you four saw what happened to Katie Bell ... upstairs to my office at once, please! What's that you're holding, Potter?"

"It's the thing she touched," said Harry.

"Good lord," said Professor McGonagall, looking alarmed as she took the necklace from Harry. "No, no, Filch, they're with me!" she added hastily, as Filch came shuffling eagerly across the entrance hall holding his Secrecy Sensor aloft. "Take this necklace to Professor Snape at once, but be sure not to touch it, keep it wrapped in the scarf!"
So the necklace would have been discovered anyway, and would not have made it into Hogwarts. Instead, what happens is that the necklace is brought to Hogwarts, by an unwitting Harry Potter and friends, and Filch is sent with the necklace to bring to Snape! Draco's plan, if it was his plan, is absolutely brilliant. Of course, it requires "Professor McGonagall" to be in on it, but then, she is the one who gives Draco his alibi (detention). Perhaps this necklace was indeed what Draco brought with him to the shop of Borgin and Burkes, rather than the cabinets, Hermione's dismissal of the idea aside.

(How then, did the Death Eaters enter Hogwarts? We see from the Apparating classes that "Dumbledore" has the ability to relax the spell, and could have done so to let the Death Eaters in. Indeed, he could have relaxed it so that He and Harry would have had to go to Hogsmeade before going to the cave.)

Was this necklace a horcrux?

The nec
"Still very unwell, although she was relatively lucky. She appears to have brushed the necklace with the smallest possible amount of skin; there was a tiny hole in her glove. Had she put it on, had she even held it in her ungloved hand, she would have died, perhaps instantly. Luckily Professor Snape was able to do enough to prevent a rapid spread of the curse."

"Why him?" asked Harry quickly. "Why not Madam Pomfrey?"

"Impertinent," said a soft voice from one of the portraits on the wall, and Phineas Nigellus Black, Sirius's great-great-grandfather, raised his head from his arms where he had appeared to be sleeping. "I would not have permitted a student to question the way Hogwarts operated in my day."

"Yes, thank you, Phineas," said Dumbledore quellingly. "Professor Snape knows much more about the Dark Arts than Madam Pomfrey, Harry. Anyway, the St. Mungo's staff are sending me hourly reports, and I am hopeful that Katie will make a full recovery in time."
Harry's question is a good one, and the close reader will see that it was sent to Snape rather than Madam Pomfrey because she would realize that the nedcklace was not really cursed, and did not cause Katie Bell's mishap.

C. The Invisibility Cloak

"Dumbledore" insists Harry bring along his invisibility cloak, at the end of chapter 3:
"We do not want to be encumbered by these just now," he said, pulling out his wand again. "I shall send them to the Burrow to await us there. However, I would like you to bring your Invisibility Cloak... just in case."

Harry extracted his cloak from his trunk with some difficulty, trying not to show Dumbledore the mess within. When he had stuffed it into an inside pocket of his jacket, Dumbiedore waved his wand and the trunk, cage, and Hedwig vanished. Dumbledore then waved his wand again, and the front door opened onto cool, misty darkness.
This makes sense if "Dumbledore" wants Harry to have the cloak for Dumbledore's death scene, well planned in advance. But that is not what really happens. Rather, Dumbledore knows that all items brought into Hogwarts are scanned by Filch, or by Aurors, and he wants to switch Harry's Invisibility cloak for another one. This will just not do if Harry does not have the cloak on him. And so, Dumbledore's insistence.

Harry has the cloak with him on the train. Draco confronts him, freezes him in place (sound familiar?) and leaves him stranded there. Suddenly, Tonks appears. But Tonks is not Tonks. Snape recognizes that her Patronus is not Tonks' usual one - weaker than usual:
"Hagrid was late for the start-of-term feast, just like Potter here, so I took it instead. And incidentally," said Snape, standing back to allow Harry to pass him, "I was interested to see your new Patronus."
He shut the gates in her face with a loud clang and tapped the chains with his wand again, so that they slithered, clinking, back into place.
"I think you were better off with the old one," said Snape, the malice in his voice unmistakable. "The new one looks weak."
As Snape swung the lantern about, Harry saw, fleetingly, a look of shock and anger on Tonks's face. Then she was covered in darkness once more.
Why mention the fleeting shock and anger, and why is is important that Harry (and thus the reader) fleetingly see it? This is unlike Tonks. It is not Tonks' Patronus because she is literally not herself.

Tonks knows exactly where to find Harry. How?
"How did you find me?"
"I noticed you hadn't left the train and I knew you had that cloak. I thought you might be hiding for some reason. When I saw the blinds were drawn down on that compartment I thought I'd check."
So she knew exactly what compartment to go to. I believe it was not because the blinds were drawn, but because Draco had told her, or because she is Draco (see comparison made between the two above, that both look thinner, and that she appears outside the room of requirement just as Harry is waiting outside to see what Draco is up to, after Harry had scared away Draco's two goons, which leaves only Draco.)

When is the switch made? When Tonks finds him.
The train lurched, causing Harry to roll over onto his side. Now he was staring at the dusty underside of the seats instead of the ceiling. The floor began to vibrate as the engine roared into life. The Express was leaving and nobody knew he was still on it...
Then he felt his Invisibility Cloak fly off him and a voice overhead said, "Wotcher, Harry."
There was a flash of red light and Harry's body unfroze; he was able to push himself into a more dignified sitting position, hastily wipe the blood off his bruised race with the back of his hand, and raise his head to look up at Tonks, who was holding the Invisibiliiy Cloak she had just pulled away.
She of course gives it back to him later:
"You'd better put that cloak back on, and we can walk up to the school," said Tonks, still unsmiling. As Harry swung the cloak back over himself, she waved her wand; an immense silvery four-legged creature erupted from it and streaked off into the darkness.
Now, she also heals his nose:
"Episkey" said Tonks.
Harry's nose felt very hot, and then very cold. He raised a hand and felt gingerly. It seemed to be mended.
"Thanks a lot!"
But does not clean the blood off of his nose:
"Where've you ... blimey, what've you done to your face?" said Ron, goggling at him along with everyone else in the vicinity. I
"Why, what's wrong with it?" said Harry, grabbing a spoon and squinting at his distorted reflection.
"You're covered in blood!" said Hermione. "Come here ..."
She raised her wand, said "Tergeo!" and siphoned off the dried blood.
"Thanks," said Harry, feeling his now clean face. "How's my nose looking?
Though it is strange Snape did not notice or comment. Why did she leave him looking awful? This is something Draco might wish to do.

Finally, Rowling tells us straight out that Harry has unwittingly smuggled something into Hogwarts:
"Yeah, mine!" said Harry. "I told him at Kings Cross about Malfoy and that thing he was trying to get Borgin to fix! Well, if it's not at their house, he must have brought whatever it is to Hogwarts with him!"

"But how can he have done, Harry?" said Hermione, putting down the newspaper with a surprised look. "We were all searched when we arrived, weren't we?"

"Were you?" said Harry, taken aback. "I wasn't!"

"Oh no, of course you weren't, I forgot you were late. Well, Filch ran over all of us with Secrecy Sensors when we got into the entrance hall. Any Dark object would have been found, I know for a fact Crabbe had a shrunken head confiscated. So you see, Malfoy can't have brought in anything dangerous!"

Momentarily stymied, Harry watched Ginny Weasley playing with Arnold the Pygmy Puff for a while before seeing a way around this objection.
This is brilliant misdirection (Malfoy could not have smuggled anything in) while at the same time giving us the strong hint that Harry had not been searched.

The alternate cloak (a horcrux?) could be switched any time later for Harry's real one.

The last two points are admittedly speculative:
D. The Wine
We know that the wine that accidentally poisoned Ron was sent to Slughorn. Purportedly this was so that it would somehow get to Dumbledore. How it would is not specified. I suspect that Slughorn was likely the intended recipient, to prevent Harry from finding the contents of Slughorn's memory about Horcruxes.

E. The Potion Book and the Half-Blood Prince?
Who is the more likely half-blood prince? Sure, Snape is half blood and his mother's name is Prince. But what about Voldemort? We are meant to suspect him throughout.

After all, Voldemort is a "prince" because he is of the Gaunt family. He is half-blood because of his father, Tom Riddle. He is likely to have used a borrowed version of the book, being poor, such that the book would have been kept as a backup by the school. (On the other hand, perhaps Snape, the previous teacher of the course, would have kept his own book from schoolhood days.) Voldemort is the more likely to half crossed out complicated potions and scornfully write "Just shove a bezoar down their throats." He is the type to, in childhood, construct spells to deal with "enemies," of the type that are quite potent and evil.

That Snape wanted the book so much could be attributed to his knowledge that this childhood book of Voldemort was in truth a horcrux. We see another book of Voldemort (the diary) was a horcrux. Harry hides the potion book in the room of requirement, intending to go back for it, but never does, and intends to not return to Hogwarts. The book is left in that room - I have a feeling we will see it in the next book.

Snape claims that he is the half-blood prince. Is this true, more misdirection, or a hint? Or is Snape really played by Voldemort?

All this is clearly much more speculative than the first two points.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Rif Yomi Weekly Edition {Eruvin 23a-31b}

This is intended as a new feature. One 2 page (or 2 sides of a page) Word Document that contains all the Rif for the coming week. I've been distributing these as alternatives to parsha sheets in local shuls. A 10-20 minute read covers the entire week, or pace yourself and read each day's portion in its time.

The Word Document, covering Eruvin 23a-31b (and thus Friday, Oct 28, 2005 until Shabbat, Nov 5, 2005) may be downloaded here.

Administrative: Fixed Blogger Template

I've been unhappy with my template lately -- ever since I had to switch it when a problem with how blogger handles "float alignment" caused the title of the top post to be separated from the post body by the full length of the sidebar. As I experimented with new template options, I left out many of the regular features of the sidebar - the blogroll, the ads, the archives by parsha, etc..

I just noticed that Blogger now gives an option to disable float alignment (under the Formatting Settings) and so I can revert to my old template. Hooray. It is a bit out of date, though. Changes to follow.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

parshat Bereishit: Adam and Eve as Metaphor

Some preliminaries: In this post I discuss the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden as metaphor. I believe a strong case can be made for the story as metaphor. However, how one comes to the conclusion that it is metaphor is, I believe, important.

A. Motivations

I dislike the notion of coming to the conclusion that the beginning of Bereishit is metaphor purely on the basis of its clash with modern science's Creation Myth. I think this reaction stems from either lack of faith or abundance of faith.

Lack of faith: If there is a clash between currently held scientific theories and that which is described in the Torah, the former must be more correct, and the latter inaccurate as a description of real events. The easiest was to render the Torah's narrative impotent while minimizing chances of being labelled a heretic (or to persuade people who do not wish to listen to or accept heresy) is to claim that the Torah did not really mean it. In this way, one appears to possess the courage to be modern and Orthodox, while really only having the courage to be modern.

Abundance of faith: If there is a clash between science and Torah, both must be 100% correct. Torah I know to be true, but I won't ignore my own eyes, and science is also true. Yet how could they both be true. It must be that I do not understand what the Torah is saying, and that it is to be understood on a deeper level, or else is describing events in a way I do not and perhaps cannot understand, and so I will label the Torah's account as metaphor and leave it at that. Or I will try to find correlations between the Torah's account of creation and that of contemporary science.

I feel that both approaches are in some respect unfair to the text.

This is especially true if the science is wrong, but there have of course been attempts to explain the text on the basis of contemporary science. Two examples: a Ramban-like attempt to explain maaseh Bereishit on the basis of the four elements. And one of my favorites: the spoiling of the manna in Shemot 16:20:

יט וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה, אֲלֵהֶם: אִישׁ, אַל-יוֹתֵר מִמֶּנּוּ עַד-בֹּקֶר. 19 And Moses said unto them: 'Let no man leave of it till the morning.'
כ וְלֹא-שָׁמְעוּ אֶל-מֹשֶׁה, וַיּוֹתִרוּ אֲנָשִׁים מִמֶּנּוּ עַד-בֹּקֶר, וַיָּרֻם תּוֹלָעִים, וַיִּבְאַשׁ; וַיִּקְצֹף עֲלֵהֶם, מֹשֶׁה. 20 Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and rotted; and Moses was wroth with them.
This verse states that the manna first bred worms and then rotted. For Chazal, their contemporary science held that worms came about via spontaneous generation, and were the result of rotting, so the rotting should come first. Thus, the Mechilta puts forth that this is a mikra mesuras, a verse out of order, and of course the rotting happened before the breeding of worms! Obviously, we would no longer be troubled by the verse being "out of order."

It is unfair to the derasha to leave it at that, and so: It is not so clear that the Mechilta is wrong. I claim no knowledge of the state of science that was contemporary to the ancient Israelites who were the original recipients of this description, but let us say they were advanced to the point that they, too, believed in spontaneous generation of worms from rotting food. One might say that the diversion of the order is highlighting the miraculous nature of the food spoilage - it developed worms even before rotting! Or else, one could claim it is a mikra mesuras. In modern terms, they would not claim the verse is out of order. They would claim that וַיָּרֻם תּוֹלָעִים וַיִּבְאַשׁ is a type of hendiadys, two phrases juxtaposed to convey a single idea. (Think Tohu vaVohu in parshat Bereishit, of which modern scholars claim the same thing.) The order of these two phrases is unimportant and was not chosen to convey any type of chronological precedence of one over the other. (And note, any issues you may have with obeisance to inaccurate contemporary science I would dismiss via an appeal to dibra Torah kilshon benei Adam.)

In general, though, I hope this illustrates why I believe reinterpretations to accomodate contemporary science can be unfair to the text.

The same to motivations can be founds among those who would label an explanation by Chazal as intended as a derasha when it conflicts with scientific or archaeological evidence. Besides being unfair to their interpretation as an entity in and of itself, it is unfair to the very concept of derash. (And being a fan of derash I can find myself taking offense.)

Therefore, I feel that any attempt to label the text metaphorical should be, at least in part, driven by concerns and features which are internal to the text. Such concerns and features are certainly present, and I hope to list some of them.

B. Three Distinct Issues
We should immediately distinguish between the three clashes between Torah and contemporary science:
  1. The Age of the Universe
  2. The Age of the Earth
  3. The Age of Civilization
These are separate issues, and should not be conflated. Now, the title of my post is Adam and Eve as metaphor, and that corresponds with #3, and so I do not intend to discuss #1 or #2 in any great detail, let alone resolve them.

However, to briefly touch on those issues:

The Age of the Universe
Let us say that contemporary science puts the age of the universe at somewhere between 11.2 and 20 billion years. (I'm not up on the latest science, and a few billions here and there don't really matter.) Meanwhile, the Torah dates the beginning of the universe to about 6000 years ago.

Or does it? People who know the science do not necessarily know the intricacies of Hebrew Grammar or of parallel Ancient Creation Myths. Bereishit begins:

א בְּרֵאשִׁית, בָּרָא אֱלֹקִים, אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם, וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ. 1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
ב וְהָאָרֶץ, הָיְתָה תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ, וְחֹשֶׁךְ, עַל-פְּנֵי תְהוֹם; וְרוּחַ אֱלֹהִים, מְרַחֶפֶת עַל-פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם. 2 Now the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters.
ג וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹקִים, יְהִי אוֹר; וַיְהִי-אוֹר. 3 And God said: 'Let there be light.' And there was light.
Quick quiz: What was created on the first day?
The simplest answer would be: heaven and earth = reality, which contained the earth (eretz), water (mayim), and the deep (tehom). Perhaps we could add to this a mighty wind blowing on the face of the water (ruach elohim, with elohim meaning mighty as it does in other instances). Plus, of course, light.

However, one must ask some questions. בְּרֵאשִׁית is the construct form - what is it attached to? In other words, it should say "the beginning of the creation of X." Otherwise, it should say berishona. (Alternatively, it means bereishit hakol, the beginning of everthing -- and Rashi gives some other examples of omission of words in verses.)

Rashi says as much:
In the beginning of God’s creation ofHeb. בְּרֵאשִית בָּרָא. This verse calls for a midrashic interpretation [because according to its simple interpretation, the vowelization of the word בָּרָא, should be different, as Rashi explains further]


But if you wish to explain it according to its simple meaning, explain it thus: “At the beginning of the creation of heaven and earth, the earth was astonishing with emptiness, and darkness…and God said, ‘Let there be light.’” But Scripture did not come to teach the sequence of the Creation, to say that these came first, for if it came to teach this, it should have written:“At first (בָּרִאשׁוֹנָה) He created the heavens and the earth,” for there is no רֵאשִׁית in Scripture that is not connected to the following word, [i.e., in the construct state]

Furthermore, the vav hachibur rather than vav hahipuch is used in the second verse (ve rather than va), which strongly suggests that the second verse is parenthetical, and describes the state of the world when Creation began.

What this means is that only light was created on the first day. To restate the first three verses: In the beginning of God's creation of heaven and earth, when the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters, God said "Let there be light" and there was light.

In other words, the first day of Creation is not to be described as Creation yesh me`ayin, that is ex nihilo, from nothing, but rather from some primordial matter. Before the first day, there was an eretz (land), a tehom (deep / watery depths), mayim (water), perhaps a mighty wind (ruach elohim) and of course God. Perhaps this earlier existence was also created by God - an interpretation or derash of the first pasuk standing alone would read it as describing God's Creation of that initial state of affairs.

Creation myths of other cultures should also perhaps be taken into account, since they would be known to the ancient Israelite reader. In the Enuma Elish account of creation, Marduk slays the female Tiamat (roughly parallel to tehom, primordial matter mentioned in verse 2) and from her body, creates heaven and earth. Thus, existence and primordial matter before creation.

If so, the creation of the universe did not happen in six days, but could have taken 11.2 to 20 billion years. Attempts to use the theory of relativity to collapse 20 billion years into 6 days is unnecessary and quite possibly against the simple meaning of the text even taken non-metaphorically. Simply put, there is no real conflict - the 20 billion years could have happened before the 6 days of creation.

Now, one might easily object that the fourth day has the creation and establishment of sun, moon and stars, and the stars would thus need to be 6000 years old, or at least about equal to the age of the earth, which it is not. This is really to be taken within a discussion of the Creation account which Genesis does give, but two quick possible answers among many: 1) the judicious application of the pluperfect can have the creation of these taking place before, and only the establishing of their relation with earth described. 2) the Creation of everthing here is Earth centered, and the placing them in the sky for days, nights, seasons, etc. is certainlt Earth-centered. Perhaps

יד וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים, יְהִי מְאֹרֹת בִּרְקִיעַ הַשָּׁמַיִם, לְהַבְדִּיל, בֵּין הַיּוֹם וּבֵין הַלָּיְלָה; וְהָיוּ לְאֹתֹת וּלְמוֹעֲדִים, וּלְיָמִים וְשָׁנִים. 14 And God said: 'Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years;
טו וְהָיוּ לִמְאוֹרֹת בִּרְקִיעַ הַשָּׁמַיִם, לְהָאִיר עַל-הָאָרֶץ; וַיְהִי-כֵן. 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth.' And it was so.
טז וַיַּעַשׂ אֱלֹהִים, אֶת-שְׁנֵי הַמְּאֹרֹת הַגְּדֹלִים: אֶת-הַמָּאוֹר הַגָּדֹל, לְמֶמְשֶׁלֶת הַיּוֹם, וְאֶת-הַמָּאוֹר הַקָּטֹן לְמֶמְשֶׁלֶת הַלַּיְלָה, וְאֵת הַכּוֹכָבִים. 16 And God made the two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; and the stars.
יז וַיִּתֵּן אֹתָם אֱלֹהִים, בִּרְקִיעַ הַשָּׁמָיִם, לְהָאִיר, עַל-הָאָרֶץ. 17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
יח וְלִמְשֹׁל, בַּיּוֹם וּבַלַּיְלָה, וּלְהַבְדִּיל, בֵּין הָאוֹר וּבֵין הַחֹשֶׁךְ; וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים, כִּי-טוֹב. 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good.
describes the placement and establishment of the Earth in its orbit, with a "good" proximity to the sun, the creation of the moon, and the setting of Earth's rate and angle of rotation.

And of course, there is the question of what anythinh in the 6-day creation account really means.

The Age of the Earth
Even if taken absolutely literally, there is the question of why tell us these details. Of what use is the order of creation of creeping creatures vs. fish significant to an Israelite, ritually or spiritually? If it is of no significance, why waste all these words. (In part, this is what Rashi attempts to address in his first statement of why start with Genesis rather than the first commandment, though his question encompasses the entire world and Israelite history up to the Exodus.)

As with any cosmogony, the purpose of the relating the Biblical cosmogony, even if entirely true, is to teach something about God's relationship with the world and his creations. (Just as the Enuma Elish account has the creation of man as an attempt to provide for the gods.)

We see god create the natural order, and He could subvert it - this as opposed to other cultures which made all subject to a natural order. We see God create the host of heavenly bodies - sun, moon, and stars, in order to keep time for his creations - and they are thus not things to be worshipped of their own. We see Hashem create the fish - but not just the fish, but also great sea-monsters:

כ וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים--יִשְׁרְצוּ הַמַּיִם, שֶׁרֶץ נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה; וְעוֹף יְעוֹפֵף עַל-הָאָרֶץ, עַל-פְּנֵי רְקִיעַ הַשָּׁמָיִם. 20 And God said: 'Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let fowl fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.'
כא וַיִּבְרָא אֱלֹהִים, אֶת-הַתַּנִּינִם הַגְּדֹלִים; וְאֵת כָּל-נֶפֶשׁ הַחַיָּה הָרֹמֶשֶׂת אֲשֶׁר שָׁרְצוּ הַמַּיִם לְמִינֵהֶם, וְאֵת כָּל-עוֹף כָּנָף לְמִינֵהוּ, וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים, כִּי-טוֹב. 21 And God created the great sea-monsters, and every living creature that creepeth, wherewith the waters swarmed, after its kind, and every winged fowl after its kind; and God saw that it was good.
Why mention the creation of great sea monsters, taninim? The sea monsters were the foes of the ancient gods, who battled with them. Here the Torah transforms them into another of God's creations, and thus not another force in the universe opposed to God.

Compare the Leviathan, a sea monster, whose creation is mentioned in Tehillim 104:26:
כה זֶה, הַיָּם גָּדוֹל-- וּרְחַב יָדָיִם:
שָׁם-רֶמֶשׂ, וְאֵין מִסְפָּר; חַיּוֹת קְטַנּוֹת, עִם-גְּדֹלוֹת.
25 Yonder sea, great and wide, {N}
therein are creeping things innumerable, living creatures, both small and great.
כו שָׁם, אֳנִיּוֹת יְהַלֵּכוּן; לִוְיָתָן, זֶה-יָצַרְתָּ לְשַׂחֶק-בּוֹ. 26 There go the ships; there is leviathan, whom Thou hast formed to sport therein.
Thus, God plays with his pet, the Leviathan, in his spare time. He is no opposing force to God.

Note also the nice parallel made between the 1's and 4th (light and luminaries), 2nd and 5th, and 3rd and 6th day in terms of what is created.

Further, what is described in the 6-day account of Creation are the actions of God. God is Unfathomable, and so the reality and exact mechanics of Creation could well be beyond Man's comprehension. Even if Creation is actually being described, it would of course be metaphorical in some respect. Just as we do not think that the God has an arm because of the use of the term zeroa netuya. Along this line of reasoning, within a metaphorical reference, 6 "days" may well refer to eras, or to a conceptual group of related acts of Creation, and are used because the human mind could wrap around the term.

But enough for this issue. Separate from the 6 days is the issue of the age of about 6000 years. This time reference is from Adam, and we should not perforce relate this to the age of the Earth, or the age of dinosaurs, or even the age of early human-like creatures. If Adam and Eve in the garden is metaphor, then much time may elapse from the "six days" to the 6000.

The Age of Civilization
The issue of 6000 years really is a problem in terms of dating civilization. Counting years from Adam, based on genealogical lists throughout Tanach, the time since Adam is less than 6000 years.

First, to attack the science :)
Now, carbon dating is based on extrapolation rather than being directly observed. They look at the half-life of carbon today, and assume that that was its half-life in the past. This may be true, or it may be not. And none of this is testable. To cite a Wired article, which I cited earlier when on a nishtaneh hateva series:
Scientists led by a team at the University of Chicago developed carbon dating in the 1950s. The technique dates a piece of dead organic material by measuring the rate of decay of a radioactive isotope known as carbon-14. The problem: The level of carbon in the atmosphere -- and ultimately in living things -- varies over time. Scientists needed to calibrate their numbers, but that turned out to be a challenge because nuclear weapons used in testing and warfare changed the level of radioactivity in Earth's atmosphere in the 1950s and 1960s.


Could other events have had an effect on the level of radioactivity in Earth's atmosphere in the past, such that the numbers would need to be recalibrated? Is there any way of knowing? Try calibrating with ancient trees, since they figure a specific rate of growth for the trees...

Another interesting tidbit, from the same article:

At first, scientists could only date materials to about 5,600 years ago, the half-life of carbon-14. After a while, newer technology expanded the reliability, but only so far because tree rings don't go back more than 12,400 years ago, said Paula J. Reimer, co-author of the new Radiocarbon report and director of the Center for Climate, the Environment & Chronology at Queen's University Belfast.
This is a curious number. That is, at first, carbon dating did not contradict the Biblical account, but with newer technology, and further assumptions about the past, it began to.

But enough with the science. I am not sufficiently scientifically trained to be able to attack the science. In other words, I most likely have no idea what I am talking about. Let us turn to the text. If the garden of Eden is Biblical metaphor, and the geneological lists with people living for about a thousand years is not taken literally (compare ancient Sumerian king lists in whichs kings ruled for tens of thousands of years), the dating may well be off. If the events in the garden of Eden is Biblical metaphor, then while Adam may have existed historically, he is not necessarily the very first human, but other humans and civilizations could have preceded.

With this (lengthy) introduction out of the way, let us consider the merits of Adam and Eve as metaphor.

C. Adam and Eve as Metaphor
There are many different parts to the story of Adam and Chava (=Eve). There is (in chapter 2) Adam's creation, the naming of the animals, Chava's creation, and (in chapter 3) the sin of eating of the fruit of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

If the first chapter, the Biblical cosmogony, is there to tell of the relationship of God to the World and his creations, the second and third chapters tell of the relationship of man to God and the world. Specifically, the creation of Adam in the image of God (tzelem ilu) shows Mankind's (here man and woman) relation to God and role on the earth. The naming of the animals shows Man's dominion of the natural world.

Chava's creation shows the proper relationship between man and woman in married life, in a monogamous relationship, and one unit, with independence from parents. The sin of eating of the fruit of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is a lesson about the nature and place of man in this world, and how he is distinct from the angels. It is this last tale, of the Tree of Knowledge, that I wish to focus on.

What are some text-internal reasons we would label the story about the garden of Eden , and paericularly the tree of Knowledge, metaphorical?
  1. Adam = Man and Isha = Woman (she is not named Chava yet) are names of types, and thus connote humanity. Add the consistent use of the definite article which depersonalizes them.
  2. Forget modern science. Talking snakes and a paradise in which nature provides for man, and in which man lives eternally, is not within the perceived reality of any Israelite throughout history. (Of course, the change in the nature of reality is explained at the end in the punishment.) Nor are trees that grant knowledge or eternal life.
  3. Disagreement between chapter 1 and chapters 2 and 3 in the description of the creation of various creatures, including Man. If one or both is metaphor, we can account for the differences.
  4. Consumption of the fruit changes the nature of Mankind.
  5. The "punishments" are not truly personal punishments but rather changes to the very nature of Man and the natural order.
The tale of the eating from the Tree of Knowledge is not a tale of Man's Fall From Grace. Man was not worse off after the "sin" than before. His eating of the fruit of the Tree is inevitable, and it improved him.

Within the text we see that this is an improvement. Thus the serpent says (third chapter):
ד וַיֹּאמֶר הַנָּחָשׁ, אֶל-הָאִשָּׁה: לֹא-מוֹת, תְּמֻתוּן. 4 And the serpent said unto the woman: 'Ye shall not surely die; ה כִּי, יֹדֵעַ אֱלֹהִים, כִּי בְּיוֹם אֲכָלְכֶם מִמֶּנּוּ, וְנִפְקְחוּ עֵינֵיכֶם; וִהְיִיתֶם, כֵּאלֹהִים, יֹדְעֵי, טוֹב וָרָע. 5 for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.' and God repeats this, so we know it to be true:
כב וַיֹּאמֶר ה אֱלֹהִים, הֵן הָאָדָם הָיָה כְּאַחַד מִמֶּנּוּ, לָדַעַת, טוֹב וָרָע; וְעַתָּה פֶּן-יִשְׁלַח יָדוֹ, וְלָקַח גַּם מֵעֵץ הַחַיִּים, וְאָכַל, וָחַי לְעֹלָם. 22 And the LORD God said: 'Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.' Man is different from angels. The angels cannot help but do God's will, for they are so constructed. They lack free will. As we read in the first perek, Man was created - deliberately, in God's image. This image of God is the same as that we read in verse 22, above - the knowledge of good and evil, and the ability to choose between them.

In the story, yetzer - temptation and the ability to choose contrary to God's wishes - is personified by the snake. The fruit is not what gives Man the ability to know Good and Evil, and to act against God's will - it is the act of eating it. Eating the fruit was set up as being against God's will, so by eating it, Man turned his ability to choose between Good and Evil from potential to actual.

No reality of Adam and Chava eating the fruit was necessary - the story is a way of highlighting this feature of man in a metaphorical way - but man was created with this ability.

Man is also created with a mission. He is given the ability to know and choose between Good and Evil, between what is God's Will and what is against His Will, and his mission is to choose Good. Thus, Devarim 30:19:

יט הַעִדֹתִי בָכֶם הַיּוֹם, אֶת-הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת-הָאָרֶץ--הַחַיִּים וְהַמָּוֶת נָתַתִּי לְפָנֶיךָ, הַבְּרָכָה וְהַקְּלָלָה; וּבָחַרְתָּ, בַּחַיִּים--לְמַעַן תִּחְיֶה, אַתָּה וְזַרְעֶךָ. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed; כ לְאַהֲבָה אֶת-ה אֱלֹקֶיךָ, לִשְׁמֹעַ בְּקֹלוֹ וּלְדָבְקָה-בוֹ: כִּי הוּא חַיֶּיךָ, וְאֹרֶךְ יָמֶיךָ--לָשֶׁבֶת עַל-הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע ה לַאֲבֹתֶיךָ לְאַבְרָהָם לְיִצְחָק וּלְיַעֲקֹב, לָתֵת לָהֶם
20 to love the LORD thy God, to hearken to His voice, and to cleave unto Him; for that is thy life, and the length of thy days; that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD swore unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them. If an angel must follow God and do Good, what greatness is there in doing so. Man after the "sin" is on a higher level than angels, since he can actually choose Good.

The "punishments," which are cast as punishments in the story, are not really punishments, but declarations of reality as it must be given man's nature.

Since man's calling is to work on himself and be faced with difficult choices as they exist in the "real world," he cannot live in a paradise, for this would be a waste of his potential. He must struggle to bring forth the fruits of his labor, as must Chava. The serpent, who in the tale represents temptation, is now the all-time enemy of man, and man must struggle with the snake - his nature - and man must crush the snake in order to fulfil his mission. Man is not to live forever, but has a path of development, and a set time to choose Good before he returns to the earth, and so man differs from angel. This was the reality from the beginning, but is shown as a reaction to man's nature because they stem from Man's nature.

Man's exile from the Garden (and the other punishments delineated there) is therefore not the unjust action of a Jealous God who guards His Power and fears rivals, or an overreaction to what was seems a minor sin.

There is surely more to to the metaphor, and perhaps other layers of metaphor (e.g. regarding man's relationship to woman), but it seems that a good argument can be made for it being metaphor, arguing on the basis of the text itself.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

parshat Noach: Realia, Daf Yomi (Eruvin 18b), and Fresh Olives

The other week, I went shopping in Kissena Farms, in Kew Gardens Hills, and I saw some fresh green olives at $1.99 a pound. I thought I would purchase some and figure out how to eat them or prepare. Another Jewish guy saw me taking them and started taking some himself. Another Jewish man saw me, and asked me how one eats them. I shrugged, saying I was planning on looking it up afterwards. He asked a worker there, who suggested he try one for free. He did, and promptly spit it out. The worker laughed. Apparently, olives are very bitter when fresh. I tried one when I got home and had to drink some juice to get the bitter taste out of my mouth.

To prepare fresh olives, people often first use commercial lye to remove the bitterness, then soak the olives in a few changes of water to remove the lye, and finally, they pickle them. I did not want to put lye in my olives so I used the recipe titled Stan's Green Olives (and half ripe ones) on the Olive Oil Source's web page. This entails pouring boiling water over the olives and leaving them for 24 hours, then pouring off the now cold water and repeating another 3 times. Then, placing them in brine in a jar (with a layer of olive oil on top) for a while to pickle them.

Thus, the taste of olives we are used to is not really the natural taste of olives but rather of pickled olives which have first lost their bitterness.

Someone pointed out to my father-in-law that Rashi cites a midrash which makes reference to the bitterness of olives. In Bereishit 8:11:

י וַיָּחֶל עוֹד, שִׁבְעַת יָמִים אֲחֵרִים; וַיֹּסֶף שַׁלַּח אֶת-הַיּוֹנָה, מִן-הַתֵּבָה. 10 And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark.
יא וַתָּבֹא אֵלָיו הַיּוֹנָה לְעֵת עֶרֶב, וְהִנֵּה עֲלֵה-זַיִת טָרָף בְּפִיהָ; וַיֵּדַע נֹחַ, כִּי-קַלּוּ הַמַּיִם מֵעַל הָאָרֶץ. 11 And the dove came in to him at eventide; and lo in her mouth an olive-leaf freshly plucked; so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.
Rashi writes:
it had plucked: Heb. טָרָף,“he plucked.” The Midrash Aggadah explains it טָרָף as an expression of food, and interprets בְּפִיהָ as an expression of speech. It [the dove] said: Let my food be as bitter as an olive in the hands of the Holy One, blessed be He, and not as sweet as honey in the hands of flesh and blood. — [Sanh. 108b]
This midrash also occurs on Eruvin 18b. Note that Rashi is the one who says בְּפִיהָ as an expression of speech, not the gemara. One might say instead that it was טָרָף בְּפִיהָ, food for its mouth, thus reinforcing the midrashic reinterpretation, and the dove did not speak, but by grasping the olive-leaf she was symbolically sending this message.

I suppose had always reread this as "bitter as an olive leaf," or bitter as the olives that we eat, which are salty, not bitter. It turns out fresh olives, not prepared by the hands of flesh and blood (humans), but naturally, as prepared by God, are incredibly bitter. I now have greater appreciation for this midrash, now that I actually understand it.

Shir HaShirim 5:2-6:3 And The Frustration Of Lovers Not In Harmony

Warning: The following post contains some adult themes and adult language. You may wish to skip over it, as the lover of Shir HaShirim 2:8 leaps upon the mountains and skips upon the hills.

Shir HaShirim 3:1-5 tells of the beloved seeking her lover finding him, and since they both desire each other and are ready for this step, realizing their love carnally:
א עַל-מִשְׁכָּבִי, בַּלֵּילוֹת, בִּקַּשְׁתִּי, אֵת שֶׁאָהֲבָה נַפְשִׁי; בִּקַּשְׁתִּיו, וְלֹא מְצָאתִיו. 1 By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth; I sought him, but I found him not.
ב אָקוּמָה נָּא וַאֲסוֹבְבָה בָעִיר, בַּשְּׁוָקִים וּבָרְחֹבוֹת--אֲבַקְשָׁה, אֵת שֶׁאָהֲבָה נַפְשִׁי; בִּקַּשְׁתִּיו, וְלֹא מְצָאתִיו. 2 'I will rise now, and go about the city, in the streets and in the broad ways, I will seek him whom my soul loveth.' I sought him, but I found him not.
ג מְצָאוּנִי, הַשֹּׁמְרִים, הַסֹּבְבִים, בָּעִיר: אֵת שֶׁאָהֲבָה נַפְשִׁי, רְאִיתֶם. 3 The watchmen that go about the city found me: 'Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?'
ד כִּמְעַט, שֶׁעָבַרְתִּי מֵהֶם, עַד שֶׁמָּצָאתִי, אֵת שֶׁאָהֲבָה נַפְשִׁי; אֲחַזְתִּיו, וְלֹא אַרְפֶּנּוּ--עַד-שֶׁהֲבֵיאתִיו אֶל-בֵּית אִמִּי, וְאֶל-חֶדֶר הוֹרָתִי. 4 Scarce had I passed from them, when 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.
ה הִשְׁבַּעְתִּי אֶתְכֶם בְּנוֹת יְרוּשָׁלִַם, בִּצְבָאוֹת, אוֹ, בְּאַיְלוֹת הַשָּׂדֶה: אִם-תָּעִירוּ וְאִם-תְּעוֹרְרוּ אֶת-הָאַהֲבָה, עַד שֶׁתֶּחְפָּץ
5 'I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles, and by the hinds of the field, that ye awaken not, nor stir up love, until it please.'
תָּעִירוּ and תְּעוֹרְרוּ is clear poetic duplication. Some moderns (e.g. Bettan) render here and the parallel in 2:7 as "stir up love," with the implication of stirring up love unnaturally and artificially,until it is time. Gordis dislikes it, for why should she adjure them not to stir up her love, when she is engaged in lovemaking at the moment. Instead, he explains תָּעִירוּ and תְּעוֹרְרוּ as disturb, such that they should not be disturbed in their lovemaking until it is satiatied (and so renders שֶׁתֶּחְפָּץ as satiated).

However, Gordis and others unfortunately have their eyes riveted to the scene of the lover and beloved's lovemaking, such that they read the adjuration to the daughters of Jerusalem into the story. (In 5:8, the adjuration becomes part of the narrative, such that the daughters of Jerusalem reply, but this is so atypical that Gordis remarks that anything is possible in a dream!) In fact, this is a moral attached to the story. Here (and in the earlier usage in chapter 2), she is teaching the lesson. In the story, both she and her lover are ready to engage in lovemaking, and she gives an adjuration that they not take such steps until they too are emotionally ready and truly desire to do so. Thus, "I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem ... that ye awaken not, nor stir up love, until you desire it." This is the meaning of עַד שֶׁתֶּחְפָּץ. The arousal is not via artificial means, but means even cia natural, gentle means (against Bettan). We may thus preserve the most straigtforward meaning of תְּעוֹרְרוּ אֶת-הָאַהֲבָה. That neither the lover nor the beloved are mentioned in this adjuration bolsters some the idea that it is not a part of the narrative.

With this in mind, we may now turn to Shir HaShirim 5:2-6:3. Gordis cites Wittekind and Haller that הַחֹר in verse 5:4 is a crude term for the vagina. Regarding this, he states (Gordis, pg. 88), "This last view makes nonsense the preceding verses, which are a call to the lover to be admitted to the house." Rather, הַחֹר refers to some hole in the door, perhaps one through which the door may be opened from the outside.

In truth, both Wittekind and Gordis are correct. הַחֹר does refer to a hole in the door, and at the same time it is a reference to the vagina, though not a crude reference. Symbolism is at play here, and the entire song, not just this word, is to be read multivalently. Thus, the last view does not make nonsense of the preceding verses, as we shall see in short order.

Before proceeding, a relevant joke:
A man goes to a psychologist, and they decide to start with a Rorschach test. He's shown the first picture and sees a man and a woman making love at the beach. Gazing at the second picture he sees a man and a woman making love in a hot tub. The third has a man and a woman making love in a park. In all of the pictures, the man sees a couple making love. After the test, the psychologist looks over her notes and says, "You seem to have a preoccupation with sex. You have a dirty mind!" The man replies, "Me?! You're the one with the dirty pictures!"
I would put forth that Gordis, alas, does not have a dirty enough mind, such that he missed all of the sexual references in this chapter. It is also possible that it is my mind that is overly dirty. This is one problem with any interpretation of poetry - it truly can be an inkblot.

To proceed to the first verse (5:2):
ב אֲנִי יְשֵׁנָה, וְלִבִּי עֵר; קוֹל דּוֹדִי דוֹפֵק, פִּתְחִי-לִי אֲחֹתִי רַעְיָתִי יוֹנָתִי תַמָּתִי--שֶׁרֹּאשִׁי נִמְלָא-טָל, קְוֻצּוֹתַי רְסִיסֵי לָיְלָה. 2 I sleep, but my heart waketh; Hark! my beloved knocketh: 'Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled; for my head is filled with dew, my locks with the drops of the night.'
What is meant by אֲנִי יְשֵׁנָה וְלִבִּי עֵר? JPS, and Gordis, understand "I sleep, but my heart waketh." That is, the following is all a dream. This is indeed a plausible reading, and in fact on Level 1, the symbolic level, this is what it may mean.

At the same time, we might separate אֲנִי יְשֵׁנָה as referring to the beloved, and וְלִבִּי עֵר referring to her lover (heart = love). Indeed, Rashi, following Pesikta deRav Kehana, states that וְלִבִּי עֵר refers to God, and since God is represented by the lover in Rashi's historical interpretation, he also understands וְלִבִּי עֵר as referring to the lover rather than the beloved.

What does וְלִבִּי עֵר mean? If in contrast to her being asleep (Level 1), then he (or her heart, seat of thought) is awake. However, this is really all sexual (on Level 2), and so וְלִבִּי עֵר means "aroused," as it did in the earlier adjuration, אִם-תָּעִירוּ וְאִם-תְּעוֹרְרוּ אֶת-הָאַהֲבָה, עַד שֶׁתֶּחְפָּץ. If he is aroused, then her sleeping connotes that she is not aroused, but rather not at all in the mood for lovemaking. (Gordis perhaps misses this because he dismisses the meaning "aroused" in the adjuration.)

This song is then the contrast to the situation described in the adjuration. In the earlier songs, both lover and beloved wished to engage in lovemaking, and they did so. The adjuration attached to those songs contained a warning to the daughters of Jerusalem not to arouse their lovers until they themselves were desirous of lovemaking. Here, we have such a situation of lovers not in harmony, which will lead to frustration. He is aroused while she is not, or symbolically, he is awake while she is asleep.

The verse continues: קוֹל דּוֹדִי דוֹפֵק. JPS, and Gordis, renders: "Hark! my beloved knocketh." Thus, קוֹל stands alone. There are other Biblical examples of this. Hakham agrees with this interpretation, noting that the trup, with its munach legarmeih (a disjunctive accent) on the word קוֹל, also separates off the word קוֹל. Thus, her beloved knocks, presumably on the door.

The verse continues: פִּתְחִי-לִי אֲחֹתִי רַעְיָתִי יוֹנָתִי תַמָּתִי--שֶׁרֹּאשִׁי נִמְלָא-טָל, קְוֻצּוֹתַי רְסִיסֵי לָיְלָה. 'Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled; for my head is filled with dew, my locks with the drops of the night.' He wants her to open the door so that he can enter the house. The fact that his head and hair are wet from rain and dew is a reason to open the door more hastily, or (as Hakham) part of his excuse for wanting to enter the house. Note all the terms of endearment he uses: "my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled."

Thus, on the symbolic level (Level 1), we have the lover standing outside the door of the beloved's house, requesting entrance. However, on the interpretive level (Level 2), he is in truth lying beside her in bed.

The door is a reference to her chastity. Thus, we see in Shir HaShirim 8:9, interpreted by many to refer to the unsuccessful suitors:
ח אָחוֹת לָנוּ קְטַנָּה, וְשָׁדַיִם אֵין לָהּ; מַה-נַּעֲשֶׂה לַאֲחֹתֵנוּ, בַּיּוֹם שֶׁיְּדֻבַּר-בָּהּ. 8 We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts; what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?
ט אִם-חוֹמָה הִיא, נִבְנֶה עָלֶיהָ טִירַת כָּסֶף; וְאִם-דֶּלֶת הִיא, נָצוּר עָלֶיהָ לוּחַ אָרֶז 9 If she be a wall, we will build upon her a turret of silver; and if she be a door, we will enclose her {or beseige her} with boards of cedar.
He wishes for her to open her door to him. This is an anatomical reference - "Open to me." How does he knock on her door? He requests that they engage in lovemaking.

To return to קוֹל דּוֹדִי דוֹפֵק. While Gordis et. al., and the trup, take קוֹל to mean "Hark," such that it is the lover, rather than his voice, knocking on the door of her (literal) house, in truth there is a multivalent reading present in the verse, in which it is his voice that does the knocking. (Or, as Hakham notes, some say that the ancient meaning of דוֹפֵק is entreating.) Thus, later, נַפְשִׁי יָצְאָה בְדַבְּרוֹ.

How does his voice knock? Hakham noted the interesting collection of terms of endearment in the verse. These are in fact the knocks of her "door." אֲחֹתִי. (Knock.) רַעְיָתִי. (Knock.) יוֹנָתִי. (Knock.) תַמָּתִי. (Knock.)

Why does he wish for her to "open" to him? For as we read above, he is aroused -- וְלִבִּי עֵר. In the continuation, he explains his arousal: שֶׁרֹּאשִׁי נִמְלָא-טָל, קְוֻצּוֹתַי רְסִיסֵי לָיְלָה -- "for my head is filled with dew, my locks with the drops of the night." His "head" is a reference to his penis, which is filled with "dew," or sperm. קְוֻצּוֹתַי means "my extremity," in parallel to his head, and the רְסִיסֵי לָיְלָה, the "drops of the night," are those drops which often emerge in lovemaking, done at night, in parallel with "dew."

Thus, on the symbolic level, he stands outside his beloved's door, begging entrance, and for her to open the door to her house to him, and to explain his sense of urgency states that his head and hair are becoming wet from the rain and dew outside. On the interpretive level, he explains his sense of urgency on the basis of his arousal.

In the next verse (3), the beloved responds to him:
ג פָּשַׁטְתִּי, אֶת-כֻּתָּנְתִּי--אֵיכָכָה, אֶלְבָּשֶׁנָּה; רָחַצְתִּי אֶת-רַגְלַי, אֵיכָכָה אֲטַנְּפֵם. 3 I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?
On the symbolic level, she is explaining why she does not wish to emerge from bed to walk to the door and open it for him. On the interpretive, sexual level, פָּשַׁטְתִּי, אֶת-כֻּתָּנְתִּי--אֵיכָכָה, אֶלְבָּשֶׁנָּה, "I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on?" is difficult, for she is presumably naked in bed with him, and would have no cause to put on her clothes. The interpretation is simply to express reluctance to open her "door" for her beloved, for she is not in the mood and not to be troubled (,this deduced from the symbolic level, where the meaning obtains), yet, at the same time drawing attention to the fact that she is naked. This then sets up the highly suggestive sexual meaning of the remainder of the verse: רָחַצְתִּי אֶת-רַגְלַי, אֵיכָכָה אֲטַנְּפֵם, "I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them." רַגְלַי is standard Biblical terminology for the sexual equipment. She has cleaned herself and does not wish to engage in lovemaking, which would get her sullied there. Thus, on the symbolic level these are reasons for her not to arise and open the door, while on the interpretive, sexual level, she is given excuses not to make love.

This is of course a very frustrating experience for the lover. He was aroused before she desired, and so his love was not satiated.

The next verse is rendered in two different ways by Gordis and Hakham. Accordingly, there are two different possible interpretations, on the symbolic as well as the sexual level.

The verse:
ד דּוֹדִי, שָׁלַח יָדוֹ מִן-הַחֹר, וּמֵעַי, הָמוּ עָלָיו. 4 My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my heart was moved for him.
According to Hakham, the lover inserts his hand into a hole in the door, still seeking her, and seeing this, her heart is moved for him. This inspires her to get up and walk to the door to open it for her lover.

On the sexual level, we would of course understand הַחֹר to refer to the vagina. Perhaps this represents foreplay, or perhaps the very beginning of the sexual act. Her innards stir for him, and now she, too, is aroused.

According to Gordis, the lover removes his hand from the hole in the door. Thus, at this point he has decided to leave. In response to his leaving, she realizes that she wanted his presence.

On the sexual level, we would once again understand הַחֹר to refer to the vagina. He "withdraws" his "hand" from the hole, or else he stops seeking for her to open her door. But now, her innards stir for him, and now she, too, is aroused.

The next verse:
ה קַמְתִּי אֲנִי, לִפְתֹּחַ לְדוֹדִי; וְיָדַי נָטְפוּ-מוֹר, וְאֶצְבְּעֹתַי מוֹר עֹבֵר, עַל, כַּפּוֹת הַמַּנְעוּל. 5 I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with flowing myrrh, upon the handles of the bar.
Based on the continuation that this verse represents on the sexual level, I believe that Hakham is more correct in his interpretation of the preceding verse, though both are still possible.

On the symbolic level, she rises to open the door to her lover. Hakham relates that before going to bed, she had put myrrh on her hands and fingers, such that they dripped on the handles of the bar.

On the sexual level, she has decided to "open her door" to her lover, and engage in sexual relations. Again, this is likely an anatomical reference. The myrrh and flowing myrrh are bodily fluids, sexual juices dripping and flowing from her, as signs of her physical arousal. The handles of the bar (of the door) is an anatomical reference once again, to indicate more clearly where this flowing myrrh is flowing. {Update: To be clear, the likely anatomical reference of עַל כַּפּוֹת הַמַּנְעוּל, "the handles of the bar (of the door)" is to the labia.}

Note the phrase נָטְפוּ-מוֹר, "dropped (=dripped) with myrrh." While נָטְפוּ means "dripped," it also represents a metathesis of a word in an earlier verse. When she did not wish to open for her lover, she excused herself, saying רָחַצְתִּי אֶת-רַגְלַי אֵיכָכָה אֲטַנְּפֵם, "I have washed my feet; how shall I sully them?" The נ and the ט have switched places, but the meaning is similar, at least multivalently. She had not wished to open herself to her lover because she did not wish to sully her private parts. Now, her private parts are sullied from her own myrrh, as it drips from her.

The next verse:
ו פָּתַחְתִּי אֲנִי לְדוֹדִי, וְדוֹדִי חָמַק עָבָר; נַפְשִׁי, יָצְאָה בְדַבְּרוֹ--בִּקַּשְׁתִּיהוּ וְלֹא מְצָאתִיהוּ, קְרָאתִיו וְלֹא עָנָנִי. 6 I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had turned away, and was gone. My soul failed me when he spoke. I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.
On the symbolic level, she opens the door to her house to let her lover enter, but her lover, frustrated, had turned away and gone. On the sexual level, she was ready and opened herself to him, but his arousal had already subsided.

(Note in passing that חָמַק עָבָר, as a description of the lover, is meant to parallel מוֹר עֹבֵר in the previous verse as a description of the beloved.)

She then must go searching for her lover, until she finds them mutually compatible and agreeable. She thus shifts to the metaphor of searching for her lover in the streets of the city at night, or continues the narrative by going out of the door of her house. (The interpretive, sexual level, does not seem to continue in the same way past this shift in metaphor.) We saw this metaphor of searching the streets for him earlier in Shir HaShirim 3:1-5. The reader knows this, and is attuned to differences between the usual story and this one.
ז מְצָאֻנִי הַשֹּׁמְרִים הַסֹּבְבִים בָּעִיר, הִכּוּנִי פְצָעוּנִי; נָשְׂאוּ אֶת-רְדִידִי מֵעָלַי, שֹׁמְרֵי הַחֹמוֹת. 7 The watchmen that go about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my mantle from me.
She now seeks him, rather than is sought, and them is vulnerable. She has left her sealed door, and thus opens herself to hurt. In Shir HaShirim 3:1-5, she asks the watchmen if they have seen her lover, as they would be helpful to her. Here, they injure her, reflecting her vulnerability to harm. Do they consider her a harlot and thus strike her (as Gordis)? They are the keepers of the wall, and her chastity is a wall. Remember Shir HaShirim 8:9?
ט אִם-חוֹמָה הִיא, נִבְנֶה עָלֶיהָ טִירַת כָּסֶף; וְאִם-דֶּלֶת הִיא, נָצוּר עָלֶיהָ לוּחַ אָרֶז 9 If she be a wall, we will build upon her a turret of silver; and if she be a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar.
Thus, she is betrayed by her defenses, as she abandons them.

The next verses:
ח הִשְׁבַּעְתִּי אֶתְכֶם, בְּנוֹת יְרוּשָׁלִָם: אִם-תִּמְצְאוּ, אֶת-דּוֹדִי--מַה-תַּגִּידוּ לוֹ, שֶׁחוֹלַת אַהֲבָה אָנִי. 8 'I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, what will ye tell him? that I am love-sick.'
ט מַה-דּוֹדֵךְ מִדּוֹד, הַיָּפָה בַּנָּשִׁים: מַה-דּוֹדֵךְ מִדּוֹד, שֶׁכָּכָה הִשְׁבַּעְתָּנוּ. 9 'What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? What is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so adjure us?'

Her adjuration to the daughters of Jerusalem is changed, since they have both been frustrated in love. She now wants them to tell him she is love sick, so that he will know that she is ready for him whenever she is. Why this different attitude, they ask? She then enumerates the praises of her lover:
י דּוֹדִי צַח וְאָדוֹם, דָּגוּל מֵרְבָבָה. 10 'My beloved is white and ruddy, pre-eminent above ten thousand.
יא רֹאשׁוֹ, כֶּתֶם פָּז; קְוֻצּוֹתָיו, תַּלְתַּלִּים, שְׁחֹרוֹת, כָּעוֹרֵב. 11 His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are curled, and black as a raven.
יב עֵינָיו, כְּיוֹנִים עַל-אֲפִיקֵי מָיִם; רֹחֲצוֹת, בֶּחָלָב--יֹשְׁבוֹת, עַל-מִלֵּאת. 12 His eyes are like doves beside the water-brooks; washed with milk, and fitly set.
יג לְחָיָו כַּעֲרוּגַת הַבֹּשֶׂם, מִגְדְּלוֹת מֶרְקָחִים; שִׂפְתוֹתָיו, שׁוֹשַׁנִּים--נֹטְפוֹת, מוֹר עֹבֵר. 13 His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as banks of sweet herbs; his lips are as lilies, dropping with flowing myrrh.
יד יָדָיו גְּלִילֵי זָהָב, מְמֻלָּאִים בַּתַּרְשִׁישׁ; מֵעָיו עֶשֶׁת שֵׁן, מְעֻלֶּפֶת סַפִּירִים. 14 His hands are as rods of gold set with beryl; his body is as polished ivory overlaid with sapphires.
טו שׁוֹקָיו עַמּוּדֵי שֵׁשׁ, מְיֻסָּדִים עַל-אַדְנֵי-פָז; מַרְאֵהוּ, כַּלְּבָנוֹן--בָּחוּר, כָּאֲרָזִים. 15 His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold; his aspect is like Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.
טז חִכּוֹ, מַמְתַקִּים, וְכֻלּוֹ, מַחֲמַדִּים; זֶה דוֹדִי וְזֶה רֵעִי, בְּנוֹת יְרוּשָׁלִָם. 16 His mouth is most sweet; yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.
It all ends well, as we read (Shir HaShirim 6:1-3):
א אָנָה הָלַךְ דּוֹדֵךְ, הַיָּפָה בַּנָּשִׁים; אָנָה פָּנָה דוֹדֵךְ, וּנְבַקְשֶׁנּוּ עִמָּךְ. 1 'Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? Whither hath thy beloved turned him, that we may seek him with thee?'
ב דּוֹדִי יָרַד לְגַנּוֹ, לַעֲרֻגוֹת הַבֹּשֶׂם--לִרְעוֹת, בַּגַּנִּים, וְלִלְקֹט, שׁוֹשַׁנִּים. 2 'My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.
ג אֲנִי לְדוֹדִי וְדוֹדִי לִי, הָרֹעֶה בַּשּׁוֹשַׁנִּים.
3 I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine, that feedeth among the lilies.'
as he finds her, and she gives herself over entirely to him, with no reservations, such that he descends to his garden, which symbolizes her. They are in harmony. She is his and he is her's.

If this is indeed the literal level of this song, then see how explicit the literal level can get. Those who would have Artscroll give the literal level in its translation rather than a running explanation of the meaning of the allegory (as the relationship between God and Israel, as seen through Israelite history) might ponder this. (But that is another post!)

Update: One possible reaction to this post is to think that it is "midrash," or that some of the analyses are farfetched. In part, I put myself into a creative midrashic mood while writing this, but that does not mean that this is intended, or is in fact, midrashic. Shir HaShirim, as poetry, lends itself to such interpretations on a peshat level.

However, the case for this not being farfetched and not being midrashic would be bolstered by demonstrating some ancient parallels where the connection is made clearer, and also by demonstrating some biblical scholars who, at least in part, suggest the same.

In particular, some found that "head" = penis was farfetched. To explain my reasoning here: In English, head can refer to the penis head, the glans penis. In Hebrew, it is Rosh HaGid. And in fact, what it at the head but the Atara, the crown, which goes on the head.? "Nimla" also suggested something to me.

In terms of the door imagery, compare what I wrote with what Fox has, in his book on Shir haShirim and Ancient Egyptian Love Poetry for (Egyptian) poem 7 (on page 14): (emphasis via ** mine)

(A) The mansion of (my sister)
Her entry is in the middle of her house
Her double-doors are *open*
her *latch-bolt* drawn back
And my sister incensed
(B) If only I were appointed doorkeeper
I'd get her angry at me!
Then I'd hear her voice when she was incensed -
(as) a child in fear of her.

Fox writes that "Fecht explains double-doors as an allusion to the vagina," but I really doubt we need Fecht for this. Fox also writes that "the repetition of the possessive "her" with the words "house," "bolt," "double-doors," and especially "entry" (r, lit., "opening") suggests that the poem bears a hidden meaning that tells just what the boy wants to do when he gets inside the house."

I think it odd that he did not mention the obvious "Her entry is in the middle of her house" with her house being her body, and thus the "door" being in the center (vertically and horizontally) of it.

The comparison with our poem is shir haShirim is, I think, obvious, and in fact many of the words are the same: house, doors, open.

More updates as I accumulate more data, which does in fact exist.

Update: Some more from Fox, and my comments on it:
Michael Fox also admits a sexual element to the song, though within bounds. This is apparent when considering to links to the preceding poem. He writes (pg 142):

"In addition to its internal bonds, this unit has links to the preceding and following ones. While 5:2 clearly begins a new dramatic sequence, with the lovers separated again and the girl lying in bed one night, the similarity between the motifs of this unit and those of the preceding one shows that the placement of the units is not random. In the preceding unit the girl was called a "locked garden" (4:12). Here too the boy's entry to the desired place is prevented by a "lock," and here too the girl is willing to "open" to him (5:5-6; cf; 4:16). At the end of this unit, as in the preceding, the youth "goes down" to enjoy the fruits of love (6:2; cf. 5:1), and the girl opens her "garden" for him because "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine" (6:3).

Fox (pg 143) renders "kol" as "Listen," just as Gordis and Hakham. However, he agrees with Ibn Ezra and renders "dofek" as "is entreating." He notes that LXX, Peshitta, and Vulgate render "dofek" as knocking. Pope mentions that LXX and Latin both add "on the door." I would say that this seems an insertion, as it would spoil the meter.

Fox (144) explains "open to me" as referring to the door. He writes "the emphasis placed on the word "open" which occurs three times in vv. 2-6, always without the direct object being specified, implies that she will open not just the door, but herself - physically and emotionally - to her lover.

Yet Fox does not go so far as say, as I do, that the door symbolizes the vagina, even as he has that Egyptian love poem that makes the symbolism rather explicit.

Fox does *not* take the head drenched with dew as I do. He refers to Anacreon, ii, 10, where "personified love uses the same reasoning in begging admittance. "'Open!' he said. 'I am just a youth, do not fear. For I am drenched from wandering about in the moonlit night.'" Compare also to Propertius I xvi, 23f., and Ovid, Amores ii, 19, 21."

This is good cause not to take these specific words as symbolic. However, more investigation is necessary, so see how these themes play out there. Also, just because it is a common theme on an overt level does not eliminate the potential for it playing a symbolic role, especially when surrounded by verses which seem to beg to be interpreted thusly. (Though there is the Rambam about not all parts of a metaphor to be interpreted...)

On 5:4, on "My beloved stretched his hand in through (min) the hole," Fox writes that "the "hole" is probably one of the windows or lattices... Earlier he only spoke through the openings. Now he puts his hand through, perhaps to take hers, and she becomes extremely agitated.

I prefer the view mentioned in Daat Mikra better, that we know that the doors back then were constructed that one placed ones arm through a hole and inserts a key, opening the door from inside.

Fox dismisses Pope, who regards *this* verse as suggestive of "ciotal intromission." Fox writes, summarizing Pope: "the male inserts (shalach) his penis (yad, lit. hand) into (min) the girl's vagina (chor). (One wonders how the poet could have said "he put his hand in through the hole" in such a way as to prevent that reading.) "Stretched his hand in through the hole" admittedly makes one think of intercourse, even though "min" is not the appropriate preposition to indicate insertion. Still, I do not think this double entendre fits in with the course of the narrative. If we explain v. 4 as a euphemistic (but unambiguous) reference to an "account of coition" (Exum 1973l 50), the preceding and following verses lose their meaning. In vv. 2-3 the youth is standing outside his beloved's house, and in v. 5 she arises to open to him (after intercourse?). V. 6 makes it clear that he has not entered her house."

Here, Fox rejects the idea on the basis of it rendering the surrounding verses unintelligible, though he does try to be fair and see how the following verses might be understood sexually. My approach differs from his in that I do not take it as a "euphemistic (but *unambiguous*)" reference to coition, but rather to a deliberately ambiguous euphemism. On one level, the lover is standing outside the door and puts his hand in the door to open it. (Thus, there is no contradiction with that level of interpretation.) On another level, the lover desires intercourse and tries to get her to "open to him" via foreplay. I believe Fox takes the symbolism to mean more than it does in terms of sexual act, and thus he finds the narrative does not work out on the sexual level either.

Fox continues: "Beyond that, interpreting these verses as a euphemistic description of coition produces a rather ugly picture of a male who lies with a female and immediately abandons her for no particular reason."

My interpretation does not have that problem, as the narrative works on the surface level, and further, it reads this as both of them being frustrated. Also, he takes the lover's leaving as physically walking out the door after lying with her, whereas it can easily be taken as him not being sexually available, even as he lies beside her.

Fox (145) mentions an interesting opinion that he rejects, but that perhaps deserves some exploring: "We should certainly not reas this passage as an elaborate gynecological conceit, in which each part of the door lock represents a specific part of the female genitals (an approach Eslinger, 1981:276, carries to an extreme). A reading of that sort detracts not only from the interest an tension of the narrative, but also from its erotic intensity."

In other words, he rejects it for subjective reasons of what he would consider creating tension and erotic intensity in the narrative. At any rate, I believe that in my reading, there still is tension and erotic intensity, in part because the lovers' desires are not being fulfilled, as they miss (=are not in sync with) each other, and also because of it all being clothed in symbolism which works out on its own.

Fox continues: "There are indeed sexual allusions in 5:2-6:3, but they are delicate and indirect. The boy asks for admittance when his girl is in bed, and she wants him to come in, but for unclear reasons she hesitates. The audience is invited to imagine that the could *would* have had intercourse had the girl been quicker to open the door or the boy not fled so soon. But between his arrival (5:2) and his reappearance (6:2) they do not have intercourse. The boy's going down to his garden (6:2) is indeed an allusion to lovemaking, though not an unambiguous reference to coitus. In any case, whatever he will do in his garden he will do outside the framework of the dramatic action. The actions impled by "to graze in the garden" and "to gather lilies" are formulated as infinitives of intention, meaning that he will do them later."

It is interesting that he must spill so much ink to reject this idea. Others must be professing it, and so my reading of the poem does have precedent. Note also that I agree with him that between 5:2 and 6:2 they do not have intercourse, but I would still take these verses as anatomical allusions.

More later, from Marvin Pope.

Pope cites Stephan who find parallels to Shir HaShirim is contemporary Arabic poetry. There is one poem that involves opening a door, which most likely is not meant to be taken sexually (at least not as a direct sexual metaphor). But then, consider the repetion, with adverbs. On page 59:

Your swaying stature, O my life,
O Willow bough, is like a palm branch.
You are the most beautiful one to me!
(May) your creator and maker (be exalted), O my life!

He knocked at the door and I opened to him
And welcomed him.
I poured him a glass of sweet wine,
Saying: "Please take it, O my life."
He knocked at the door with grace;
I opened for him gently,
A served him a dish with "knafe" {=a cheesy pastry with almonds or pine nuts}
The dessert being his rosy cheek...

In a poem from an Ishtar ritual in Babylon (pg 81), there is a poem about "genitals of my girlfriend," which ends
"Genitals with two finger(s?), why do
you constantly provoke quarrels?"

which would parallel the way I interpreted "fingers dripping with myrrh"

On to Pope's understanding of the song in Shir HaShirim. One pg 512, he takes "kol" as "Hark!" rather than "voice." He understands "dofek" as knock, referring to a door not explicitly mentioned (though LXX and Latin supply "on the door").

He mentions nothing relevant to this theory about the head drenched with dew, except for a parallel to a Ugaritic description of Baal, such that we might say that hair drenched with dew is a common image, and should not be interpreted otherwise.

Pope (pg 515) mentions a parallel to a Sumerian sacred marriage song, in which the woman shuts herself in a house, and in response to a query why, she answers that she has already soaped herself, dressed, etc. And yet she does not open the door. He promises her gifts and then she opens the door to him.

So this is another possible parallel.

On "shalach" (pg 517), Pope renders "thrust," and discusses the difficulty of ascertaining the meaning, especially together with "min." He claims that "hand" is a euphemism for the phallus, and that it was recognized as such by commentators of the last century on Isaiah 57:8-10, where it is used twice in that sense. "Ugaritic now shows this usage to be pre-Israelite" and gives examples. Also, at Qumran, there is a thirty day penalty for a man who puts out his "hand" from beneath his clothing. He claims (518) "min" can mean both "to" and "from," giving examples. He explains the "hole" as the keyhole in the door, "which could be opened from the inside by lifting the bolt that was provided with handles for that purpose." He concludes (519) that "Given the attested use of "hand" as a surrogate for phallus, there can be no question that, whatever the context, the statement "my love thrust his 'hand' into the hole" would be suggestive of coital intromission, even without the succeeding line descriptive of the emotional reaction of the female."

In explaning "my inwards," he claims here it represents erotic emotion, and details various uses of the word (in 5:14 as the external area above the thights and presumably below the waist, and elsewhere where it parallels "beten").

He renders "upon him" (pg 520) as "because of him/for him," and writes, "the Vulgate here takes the meaning to be "at his touch," ... presumably at his touching her body rather than the door hole," which led to various unchaste interpretations.

He takes "fingers" as parallel to hands (pg 521), and takes the dripping of myrrh only at its most literal level.


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