Cunning Linguists: Oral Sex in the Song of Songs

In: Vetus Testamentum
Author: M. L. Case1
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  • 1 The University of Texas at Austin
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As is typical of the metaphorical nature of poetry, the Song of Songs describes sexual activities indirectly, without giving any explicit references. As a result, interpreters often hesitate to define the exact practices portrayed in any given verse. For example, both Song 2:16 and 6:3 describe the male lover as “he who grazes among the lotuses.” Many scholars read these verses as some type of sexual activity, but do not specifically define the action. Using comparative evidence from Egyptian and Sumerian love poetry, as well as contextual analysis of these verses within the Song as a whole, I argue that these verses depict a particular type of love-making, cunnilingus. According to my reading, Song 2:16 and 6:3 focus exclusively on the sexual pleasure of the two partners, disregarding other potential benefits of sexual intercourse, such as reproduction, giving us a rare glimpse into a particular sexual practice in ancient Israel.

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