In this setting there is no male dominance, no female subordination, and no
stereotyping of either sex. Specifically, the portrayal of the woman defies the
connotations of “second sex.” She works, keeping vineyards and pasturing flocks.
Throughout the Song she is independent, fully the equal of the man. Although at
times he approaches her, more often she initiates their meetings. Her movements are
bold and open: at night in the streets and squares she seeks the one whom her
nephesh loves (3:14). No secrecy hides her yearnings.
Moreover, she dares to describe love with revealing metaphors:
My lover put his hand to the latch,
and my womb trembled within me. (5:4)
Never is this woman called a wife, nor is she required to bear children. In fact, to the
issues of marriage and procreation the Song does not speak. Love for the sake of
love is its message, and the portrayal of the female delineates this message best.
Though love is fulfilled when the woman and the man close the circle of
intimacy to all but themselves, my imagination posits a postlude to the poetry. In
this fantasy “the cherubim and the flaming sword” appear to guard the entrance to the
garden of the Song (cf. Gen. 3:24). They keep out those who lust, moralize,
legislate, or exploit. They also turn away literalists. But at all times they welcome
lovers to romp and roam in the joys of eroticism:
Arise, my love my fair one,
and come away;