Raba made the following exposition: What [are the allusions] in the Scriptural text: Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field; let us lodge in the villages, let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see whether the vine hath budded, whether the vine-blossom be opened and the pomegranates be in flower; there will I give thee my love? (Song of Songs 7:12f)
Obvious and somewhat unsubtle erotic love poetry, right? Budding vines, open vine-blossoms, flowering pomegranates. Ahem.
Well, maybe not.
‘Come, my beloved, let us go forth in to the field’; the congregation of Israel spoke before the Holy One, blessed be He: Lord of the universe, do not judge me as [thou wouldst] those who reside in large towns who indulge in robbery, in adultery, and in vain and false oaths;
‘let us go forth into the field’, come, and I will show Thee scholars who study the Torah in poverty;
‘let us lodge in the villages’ . . .come and I will show Thee those upon whom Thou hast bestowed much bounty and they disbelieve in Thee;
‘let us get up early in the vineyards’ is an allusion to the synagogues and schoolhouses;
‘let us see whether the vine hath budded’ is an allusion to the students of Scripture;
‘whether the vine-blossom be opened’ alludes to the students of the Mishnah;
‘and the pomegranates be in flower’ alludes to the students of the Gemara;
‘there will I give thee my love’, I will show Thee my glory and my greatness, the praise of my sons and my daughters.
It’s ‘love poetry’ in praise of pastoral study!
And just in case you think this is surprising to make such wild interpretations:
R. Hamnuna said: What [are the allusions in what was written in Scripture: And he spoke three thousand proverbs; and his songs were a thousand and five? (I Kings 5:12)
This teaches that Solomon uttered three thousand proverbs for every single word of the Torah and one thousand and five reasons for every single word of the Scribes.
We’re just getting started!