Shir Hashirim One: Ein Gedi

Today starts a new book, Song of Songs. I’ve definitely read excerpts from this book before, but I don’t think I’ve ever fully read through the whole thing, so I’m looking forward to exploring it. I’ve seen that the poetry-based books that don’t really have a plot aren’t always my favorites, but this one is short enough that hopefully it’ll be a nice interlude. The book starts by identifying it as being of King Solomon, and it’s known for being a love poem. There are plenty of interpretations of how this can be read as allegorical, but as I’m not going deep into commentaries, I’m sticking with what I find from the surface-level text itself.

“A cluster of henna-flowers is my beloved to me, in the vineyards of Ein Gedi (Song of Songs 1:14).” I remember the first time I went to Ein Gedi, when I was in high school. I’d been to Israel many times before, but it wasn’t somewhere on my family’s radar, so I hadn’t been to that particular site. I was with a teen tour, and we hiked up to the waterfalls, and as we were climbing, our tour guide pointed out the caves where King Saul and King David pursued each other, and took out a Tanakh and read from the Song of Songs. Despite all the time I had spent in Jerusalem previously, this was the first time that it really hit home for me that I was walking where all of these events happened, that my steps were on the same paths as mythical characters. I’m not sure if Jerusalem was too familiar or too overwhelming, but that idea never hit home as much as it did in Ein Gedi, so it’s nice to have a flashback to that moment through this reading.

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