Translators Obscure the Meaning
Although some of the metaphors Solomon used may be obscured by the opacity of the ancient Hebrew, a language which almost perished, the full meaning of some sections of the "Song" has sometimes been deliberately denied readers by the prudery of translators who have shrunk from conveying into English the literal meaning of many phrases. The great Adam Clarke, for example, writing over a century ago, says in his "Commentary and Critical Notes on the Bible": "There are many passages in it which should not be explained, if taken literally, the references being too delicate; and Eastern phraseology on such subjects too vivid for European imaginations. Let any sensible pious medical man read over this Book: and, if at all acquainted with Asiatic phraseology, say whether it would be proper, even in medical language, to explain all the descriptions and allusions in this Poem."
The Song Baffles the Scholars
Commenting on the “Songs” enigmatic literary structure, Cohen, in "The Five Megilloth" says: "The various sections succeed one another without logical sequence, giving the appearance of incongruous fragments." Not surprisingly then, the "Song" has remained a puzzle throughout the centuries, and its often erotic poetry greatly disturbed the celibate scholars of the Early Christian Church, prompting Origen, who considered it dangerously suggestive, to say: "These things seem to me to afford no profit to the reader . . . It is necessary therefore rather to give them a spiritual meaning."
This Origen did, devoting a massive ten-volume commentary to the task, seeking to show that the metaphorical language was referring in reality to the relationship between Jesus and Christian Church. Origen, however, was misguided, as were the equally baffled Jewish scholars who vied with him to give the “Song” a non-Christian spiritual meaning, asserting that it referred to the loving relationship between God and the nation of Israel. The “Song” is, in reality, as I hope to demonstrate, a comprehensive yet concise master class in the principles of creative excellence, even genius – even though some details remain obscured because of unenlightened translation . . . [ End of extract]
MORE INFORMATION: How the puzzle was finally solved.