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For a while, I've been trying to find out if the Hebrew practice of Negiah (no physical affection with a non-relative of the opposite sex until you're married to them) was practiced in Bible times, which led me to wonder if some of the physical affection referenced in the Song of Songs happens before the bride and groom are married.

First, is the book chronological? If so, when does the wedding take place? Thanks!

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  • To avoid this question being closed, it will be necessary to ask about a specific passage. However, let me suggest that the actual act of copulation occurs in the last verse of ch and the first verse of ch 5.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 2:39
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    @Dottard - On reflection, I'd say the text reference is probably specific enough and appropriate for this particular question, especially considering that Song of Songs is not an expansive text. This is near the boundaries of what we would traditionally term off-topic, but in essence it's a fairly specific exegetical question about a relatively focused text, in keeping with both the on-topic and off-topic guidance available in the Help Center.
    – Steve can help
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 8:55
  • Regardless of where you put the marriage in SS, the song opens with very steamy passage about kissing and being "weak" with love (= passion! SS 2:6, 7)
    – Dottard
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 10:13
  • @Dottard This book-wide question is broader than I usually go in this forum, true. However, I have narrowed the scope to a small book of the Bible. I could ask about specific verses (especially 1:2; 2:6), but that's different enough to be a separate question. (I'll probably start another question about 2:6; assuming it's before they're married, it'd be good to know whether the proper rendering is a statement of fact [e.g., KJV] or merely a wish [e.g., CJB]. However, the first question is the one for now, as knowing when the wedding takes place is critical to knowing what's before marriage.)
    – The Editor
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 17:14
  • I wonder if there is an answer. So, the Song is not chronological at all. It's a poetic rendering of a deeply intimate relationship. Is marriage assumed? I think that's the obvious assumption. But, the focus is on the intimacy. It's like the difference, when going to hear an orchestra play, between: 1. experiencing the passion of the music; and 2. reading the program so one knows the order of the various pieces. I wonder if the Song of Songs is about the passion, not the program. This might explain why there's nothing explicit about a marriage ceremony. Commented yesterday

4 Answers 4

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My own answer depends on the interpretation of the storyline found in my own book on the Song of Solomon.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Unseen-Husband-Survey-Song-Solomon/dp/1597556742

So, firstly, I understand this book to be about the "husband-and-wife" relationship between God and his people Israel, testified at many points in the prophets, including Hosea ch2 and Ezekiel ch16 (where he complains about her adultery).

We may understand this from the first chapter. The "shepherd" (v7) and the "king" (v12) are not two different people, but two alternative labels (both testified elsewhere in the Old Testament) for God in his relationship with his people. In vv7-8 there is a dialogue in which the wife asks her husband where he is, and the husband answers. This implies that he can see her but she can't see him, which works for the relationship between God and Israel but would make no sense if both lovers were human. Presumably that is why modern translations which try to identify the speakers tend to be blind to the fact that the husband is answering the question sddressed to him.

Another very important clue is that "King Solomon" was given a wedding crown by his mother (ch3 v11). But Solomon's mother was Bathsheba, which means "daughter of the oath". So my interpretation of this claim is that the marriage of God and his people was sealed by the oath of the covenant.

In that verse, Solomon is wearing a wedding crown which he was given previously. When did the wedding itself take place? One clue is that in ch3 vv6-7 "Solomon's" litter is described as "coming up from the wilderness", which is the area on the other side of the Jordan from which God and his people entered the land. There is another allusion to this event in a later chapter; "Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?" (ch8 v5). The answer to that question, I suggest, is "Israel, under the leadership of Moses and Joshua, leaning upon her God".

These references to the arrival of Israel in the land have to be a "flashback", because the rest of the book is about their relationship once they have arrived in the land. The blissful love of the first four chapters, the "marriage crisis" which begins at ch5 v2, the hopes of reconciliation expressed in the last chapter.

So when did the wedding take place? The covenant relationship was established by Moses long before Israel arrived in the land, so I am obliged to say that they are already husband and wife when the book starts.

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New International Version Song of Solomon 3:

10c Daughters of Jerusalem, 11come out,
and look, you daughters of Zion.
Look a on King Solomon wearing a crown,
the crown with which his mother crowned him
on the day of his wedding,
the day his heart rejoiced.

This is the beginning of the wedding celebration.

Song of Solomon 5:

He

1 I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride;
I have gathered my myrrh with my spice.
I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey;
I have drunk my wine and my milk.

Friends

Eat, friends, and drink;
drink your fill of love.

This is where the physical consummation ends.

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  • So you'd put the wedding through the consummation at Chapters 3-5. Thanks for the input!
    – The Editor
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 17:17
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    Yes, the wedding ends at 5:1. But I'm open to other opinions.
    – user35953
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 17:22
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Song of song was written like a drama, the episodes flash back and forth, so it is not chronological. This is my observation based on the translation of The Living Bible. Due to its difficulty to identify the speakers, this is just a trial and it needs further study for correction.

1st Scene 1:1 – 1:6 – In the Wedding Feast

She sat beside the King and saw his 60 queens, 80 concubines and virgins (the number is in 6:8). She was shy of her dark skin and hoped she was now in his chambers, so she would be with the King alone, lovesick into his love.

2nd Scene 1:7 – 1:17 – Love at first sight

She recalled the happiness moment they were together at Baal-Hamon. In the garden of nature, the grasses were the bed, and trees were the roof, they exchanged loving words to each other.

3rd Scene 2:1 – 2:7 – Back in the Wedding Feast

She was shy of her appearance, compared to his queens, concubines and virgins. She described herself just a flower in common fields. But the King tendered her that she was special. The other girls were thorns compared to her.

4th Scene 2:8 – 2:17 – Flash Back to Baal-Hamon Fields

The King came waking her up for an outing, enjoy the time of Spring. Then the King left.

5th Scene 3:1 – 3:5 – Bad dream

She had a bad dream after the King left. She couldn’t find her lover, when she found him, she held him tight.

6th Scene 3:6 – 5:1 - Marriage

The King came with his mighty army. He tendered request to marry her, praise her with love and sweetness.

7th Scene 5:2-6:3 Another bad dream

  • 5:2-5:8 In this dream, she found herself paralysis when the King was knocking at the door. She was struggling to get up but when she reached the door, the King was gone!

  • 5:9-6:3 She was speaking to a mysterious voice

8th Scene 6:4-6:10 Back to the wedding feast

The King praised her beauty

9th Scene 6:11-8:4 Homesick

  • 6:11-7:9 The girl got homesick. She got up and leave. The other girls cried out. The King stopped her, she was wandering why the King wanted her, when he already had plenty, and prettier girls.

  • 7:10 - 8:4 The girl wanted the King to go with her back to her village, as she felt free there, enjoyed in the nature.

Final Scene - 8:5-8:7 Back to the village

The girl expressed her strong desire to own him, that she couldn't tolerate sharing him with others.

Story Addendum 8:8-8:14

Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon where he went occasionally and met Shulammite. Her family also own a vineyard there but she was forced by her brothers to do the labor, causing her skin dark in the sun (1:6).

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The wedding day starts in 3:6 The wedding is 3:11 The end of wedding night is 5:1

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troy knudson is a new contributor to this site. Take care in asking for clarification, commenting, and answering. Check out our Code of Conduct.
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    Hi Troy, welcome to the stack! You've got a theory, which you could build a good answer around, but how does the reader know that it's accurate? Is this just your own idea, or does somebody else suggest this? Can it be evidenced from the text, and if so, how?
    – Steve can help
    Commented yesterday

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