Aug 8, 2010

Song of Songs: Black and/but Beautiful

After the last class, Sam wrote, saying: I have a feeling that skin color must have “meant” something in Biblical times; there may be no way to figure out what it was. In the Song of Songs, while the female narrator calls herself "black and beautiful," in the very next sentence, says "Don't look at me as black," and then goes on to say that she's just tanned from sitting out in the vineyards. What's that about?”
Here is some research into that question.  No answer is being given, just material for thought.  Maybe too much material.  

There verses to which Sam is referring are in Chapter 1: 5-6.  Here is the JPS Tanakh translation

5 I am dark, but comely,
O daughters of Jerusalem –
Like the tents of Kedar,
Like the pavilions of Kedar,
Like the pavilions of Solomon
6 Don’t stare at me because I am swarthy,
Because the sun has gazed upon me.