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The Song of Songs 7:11-13

Context
The Journey to the Countryside

The Beloved to Her Lover:

7:11 Come, my beloved, let us go to the countryside;

let us spend the night in the villages.

7:12 Let us rise early to go to the vineyards,

to see if the vines have budded,

to see if their blossoms have opened,

if the pomegranates are in bloom –

there I will give you my love.

7:13 The mandrakes 1  send out their fragrance;

over our door is every delicacy, 2 

both new and old, which I have stored up for you, my lover.

1 sn In the ancient Near East the mandrake was a widely used symbol of erotic love because it was thought to be an aphrodisiac and therefore was used as a fertility drug. The unusual shape of the large forked roots of the mandrake resembles the human body with extended arms and legs. This similarity gave rise to the popular superstition that the mandrake could induce conception and it was therefore used as a fertility drug. It was so thoroughly associated with erotic love that its name is derived from the Hebrew root דּוֹד (dod, “love”), that is, דּוּדָאִים (dudaim) denotes “love-apples.” Arabs used its fruit and roots as an aphrodisiac and referred to it as abd al- salm (“servant of love”) (R. K. Harrison, “The Mandrake and the Ancient World,” EQ 28 [1956]: 188-89; Fauna and Flora of the Bible, 138-39).

2 sn Her comparison of their love to fruit stored “over our door” reflects an ancient Near Eastern practice of storing fruit on a shelf above the door of a house. In the ancient Near East, fruits were stored away on shelves or cupboards above doorways where they were out of reach and left to dry until they became very sweet and delectable. The point of comparison in this figurative expression seems to be two-fold: (1) She was treasuring up special expressions of her sexual love to give to him, and (2) All these good things were for him alone to enjoy. See M. H. Pope, The Song of Songs [AB], 650.



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