In one of the finest love poems from the ancient past, the Song of Solomon 8:6 places sexual intimacy, passion, desire and fulfillment under the authority of the “seal.” At the conclusion of this great love poem, the woman instructs the man to “put me like a seal” over your heart and on your arm. Once we know the cultural background of this word, we see God’s view of sexual intimacy also reverses the cultural expectation.
The word translated “seal” is hotham.It
describes a cylindrical piece of stone with an external carved
inscription.When this cylinder is rolled over a soft material, it leaves
a raised impression that establishes legal ownership over the
object. Like a signet ring, the seal permanently establishes an
unbreakable legal and moral bond.
There are interesting, and powerful, nuances associated with this word. First, the Hebrew word hotham
is most likely a loanword from Egyptian. Hebrew has another word for
“seal” that is used exclusively in religious rituals. But this loanword
is associated with magic, not ritual, in its Egyptian heritage.
How appropriate that it should be chosen to describe the bond of
intimacy between a man and a woman. Secondly, while there are numerous
occurrences of seals establishing male ownership in the archeological record, the occasions of female ownership are very rare. But that is precisely the intention of this verse.
The woman asks the man to roll her seal on to his heart and over his
arm, branding him as owned by her. In perfect harmony with the context
of Genesis 2:24, the man leaves behind his old life and becomes the
property of the woman who loves him. He submits to her ownership. This
is in alignment with Proverbs 31:11. The man places his life in the
hands of the woman. He is hers exclusively, just as he is his Lord’s exclusive property.
This all sounds really great. A wife might think that as owner
she can do what she wants with her property – the husband. Husbands
might rebel, saying that if their wives are going to act like typical
domineering owners they want nothing to do with this “redeemed”
marriage. Both would be wrong. The standard is God’s ownership. The ‘ezer
must act as the substitute owner in God’s place. What does that mean?
It means that wives are to act toward their husbands as God acted
toward His people.
Yes, He protects. Yes, He provides. But He is also
long-suffering, merciful, forgiving, gracious, loving and full of
compassion. He never gives up on Israel. He never acts in ways that
are not in the best interests of Israel. He is eternally committed to
doing everything He can to bring Israel to the place where Israel
fulfills its divine mission.
Is that the way you, as ‘ezer, act toward your husband? Are you so much for
him that you will never give up on helping him become all that God has
called him to be? Or do you have your own agenda for ownership? Is your
position as ‘ezer governed by holiness and compassion, or is
it practiced with personal demands and desires? When you look at your
behavior toward your husband, no matter how he behaves, are you
faithfully committed to God’s best for him? Even if you have to put
your agenda on the back shelf?
The role of the ‘ezer is a
dangerous one. That’s why God put it in the capable hands of the
woman. It is dangerous because it walks the knife edge of managing
obedience or obedient management. On the one hand, most wives know that
with enough prodding, persuasion and persistence, they can get their
husbands to do what they want. But that is managing obedience. God
calls the ‘ezer to obedient management – being the living proof
of holiness in the presence of the husband, calling him to greater
self-sacrifice for his God.
The ‘ezer does not sin in her weakness. Her sins are not due to defects. The ‘ezer sins in her strength. She takes her God-given capacity and power and uses it for her own purposes. She defeats her husband. The result is tragic – as a great many of us know.
help me to live as the obedient manager, putting his relationship with
You ahead of my agendas. Let me bring him to the place where he is used
completely by You, and I will glory in my role in making him Yours.”
*Source ~ https://www.skipmoen.com/2009/02/ownership/