If you grew up Jewish in a certain time, there was a forbidden fruit in your Bible. You knew this book was in there. You whispered about it with your friends. You probably snuck a peek when you were sure dad and Rabbi weren't looking. It was as canonical as any other book. In fact Rabbi Akiba had said, "If all the sacred writings are holy," then this one was "the holy of holies" (Mishnah, Yadayim 3:5). But you wouldn't be allowed to read it out in the open (some sources say) until your thirtieth birthday.

In her Spring 2003 Marriage Partnership article, "In the Mood," Jill Savage tops her list of 19 ways for married couples seeking to "kick up your sexual desires a notch" with this suggestion:

"Read Song of Songs. If your spouse is willing, read it together out loud. … This is God's sex manual!"

The picture is irresistible. Pete and Paula are sitting up in their four-poster together, the family Bible propped on a few pillows. Opening it to the Song of Songs (the book is also known as "Song of Solomon" or, from the Latin for "song," "Canticles"), Pete begins:

"Your waist is a mound of wheat" (7:2). "Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon" (7:4).

Paula picks up the refrain:

"My beloved is dazzling and ruddy … His hands are rods of gold set with beryl; his abdomen is carved ivory inlaid with sapphires" (5:10,14, NASB).

OK, granted, it's hard for us to "get into" some of the imagery. But the theme is unmistakable, and it still holds our fascination after all these centuries:

"Your stature is like a palm tree, / And your breasts are like its clusters, / 'I said, "I will climb the palm tree, / I will take hold of its fruit stalks." / Oh, may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, / And the fragrance of your breath like apples, / And ...

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