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The Song of Songs 1:2-11

Context
The Desire for Love

The Beloved to Her Lover: 1 

1:2 Oh, how I wish you 2  would kiss me passionately! 3 

For your lovemaking 4  is more delightful 5  than wine. 6 

1:3 The fragrance 7  of your colognes 8  is delightful; 9 

your name 10  is like the finest 11  perfume. 12 

No wonder the young women 13  adore 14  you!

1:4 Draw me 15  after you; let us hurry! 16 

May the king 17  bring 18  me into his 19  bedroom chambers! 20 

The Maidens 21  to the Lover:

We will 22  rejoice and delight in you; 23 

we will praise 24  your love more than wine.

The Beloved to Her Lover:

How rightly 25  the young women 26  adore you!

The Country Maiden and the Daughters of Jerusalem

The Beloved to the Maidens:

1:5 I am dark but lovely, O maidens 27  of Jerusalem,

dark 28  like the tents of Qedar, 29 

lovely 30  like the tent curtains 31  of Salmah. 32 

1:6 Do not stare at me because 33  I am dark,

for 34  the sun has burned my skin. 35 

My brothers 36  were angry 37  with me;

they made me the keeper of the vineyards.

Alas, my own vineyard 38  I could not keep! 39 

The Shepherd and the Shepherdess

The Beloved to Her Lover:

1:7 Tell me, O you whom my heart 40  loves,

where do you pasture your sheep?

Where do you rest your sheep during the midday heat?

Tell me lest 41  I wander around 42 

beside the flocks of your companions!

The Lover to His Beloved:

1:8 If you do not know, O most beautiful of women,

simply follow the tracks of my flock,

and pasture your little lambs

beside the tents of the shepherds.

The Beautiful Mare and the Fragrant Myrrh

The Lover to His Beloved:

1:9 O my beloved, you are like 43  a 44  mare 45 

among Pharaoh’s stallions. 46 

1:10 Your cheeks are beautiful with ornaments;

your neck is lovely 47  with strings of jewels.

1:11 We 48  will make for you gold ornaments

studded with silver. 49 

The Song of Songs 3:6-11

Context
The Royal Wedding Procession

The Speaker: 50 

3:6 Who is this coming up from the desert

like a column of smoke,

like 51  a fragrant billow 52  of myrrh and frankincense, 53 

every kind of fragrant powder 54  of the traveling merchants? 55 

3:7 Look! It is Solomon’s portable couch! 56 

It is surrounded by sixty warriors,

some of Israel’s mightiest warriors.

3:8 All of them are skilled with a sword, 57 

well-trained in the art of warfare. 58 

Each has his sword at his side,

to guard against the terrors of the night.

3:9 King Solomon made a sedan chair 59  for himself

of wood imported from Lebanon. 60 

3:10 Its posts were made 61  of silver; 62 

its back 63  was made of gold.

Its seat was upholstered with purple wool; 64 

its interior was inlaid 65  with leather 66  by the maidens 67  of Jerusalem.

3:11 Come out, O maidens of Zion,

and gaze upon King Solomon!

He is wearing the crown with which his mother crowned him

on his wedding day,

on the most joyous day of his life! 68 

The Song of Songs 5:9--7:10

Context

The Maidens to The Beloved:

5:9 Why is your beloved better than others, 69 

O most beautiful of women?

Why is your beloved better than others,

that you would command us in this manner?

The Beloved to the Maidens:

5:10 My beloved 70  is dazzling 71  and ruddy; 72 

he stands out 73  in comparison to 74  all other men. 75 

5:11 His head is like the most pure gold. 76 

His hair is curly 77  – black like a raven.

5:12 His eyes are like doves by streams of water,

washed in milk, mounted like jewels.

5:13 His cheeks are like garden beds full of balsam trees 78  yielding 79  perfume.

His lips are like lilies dripping with drops of myrrh.

5:14 His arms are like rods of gold set with chrysolite.

His abdomen 80  is like polished ivory inlaid with sapphires.

5:15 His legs are like pillars of marble set on bases of pure gold.

His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as its cedars.

5:16 His mouth is very sweet; 81 

he is totally desirable. 82 

This is my beloved!

This is my companion, O maidens of Jerusalem!

The Lost Lover Found

The Maidens to the Beloved:

6:1 Where has your beloved gone,

O most beautiful among women?

Where has your beloved turned?

Tell us, 83  that we may seek him with you. 84 

The Beloved to the Maidens:

6:2 My beloved has gone down to his garden, 85 

to the flowerbeds of balsam spices, 86 

to graze 87  in the gardens,

and to gather lilies. 88 

Poetic Refrain: Mutual Possession

The Beloved about Her Lover:

6:3 I am my lover’s 89  and my lover is mine; 90 

he grazes among the lilies.

The Renewal of Love

The Lover to His Beloved:

6:4 My darling, you are as beautiful as Tirzah, 91 

as lovely as Jerusalem, 92 

as awe-inspiring 93  as bannered armies!

6:5 Turn your eyes away from me –

they overwhelm 94  me!

Your hair is like a flock of goats

descending from Mount Gilead.

6:6 Your teeth are like a flock of sheep

coming up from the washing;

each has its twin;

not one of them is missing.

6:7 Like a slice of pomegranate

is your forehead 95  behind your veil.

6:8 There may be sixty 96  queens,

and eighty concubines,

and young women 97  without number.

6:9 But she is unique! 98 

My dove, my perfect one!

She is the special daughter 99  of her mother,

she is the favorite 100  of the one who bore her.

The maidens 101  saw her and complimented her; 102 

the queens and concubines praised her:

6:10 “Who 103  is this who appears 104  like the dawn? 105 

Beautiful as the moon, 106  bright 107  as the sun,

awe-inspiring 108  as the stars in procession?” 109 

The Return to the Vineyards

The Lover to His Beloved: 110 

6:11 I went down to the orchard of walnut trees, 111 

to look for the blossoms of the valley, 112 

to see if the vines had budded

or if the pomegranates were in bloom.

6:12 113 I was beside myself with joy! 114 

There please give me your myrrh, 115 

O daughter of my princely people. 116 

The Love Song and Dance

The Lover to His Beloved:

6:13 (7:1) 117  Turn 118 , turn, O 119  Perfect One! 120 

Turn, turn, that I 121  may stare at you!

The Beloved to Her Lover:

Why 122  do you gaze upon the Perfect One

like the dance of the Mahanaim? 123 

The Lover to His Beloved:

7:1 (7:2) How beautiful are your sandaled 124  feet,

O nobleman’s daughter! 125 

The curves 126  of your thighs 127  are like jewels,

the work of the hands of a master craftsman.

7:2 Your navel 128  is a round mixing bowl 129 

may it never lack 130  mixed wine! 131 

Your belly 132  is a mound of wheat,

encircled 133  by lilies.

7:3 Your two breasts are like two fawns,

twins of a gazelle.

7:4 Your neck is like a tower made of ivory. 134 

Your eyes are the pools in Heshbon

by the gate of Bath-Rabbim. 135 

Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon

overlooking Damascus.

7:5 Your head crowns 136  you like Mount Carmel. 137 

The locks of your hair 138  are like royal tapestries 139 

the king is held captive 140  in its tresses!

7:6 How beautiful you are! How lovely,

O love, 141  with your delights! 142 

The Palm Tree and the Palm Tree Climber

The Lover to His Beloved:

7:7 Your stature 143  is like a palm tree, 144 

and your breasts are like clusters of grapes. 145 

7:8 I want 146  to climb the palm tree, 147 

and take hold of its fruit stalks.

May your breasts be like the clusters of grapes, 148 

and may the fragrance of your breath be like apricots! 149 

7:9 May your mouth 150  be like the best wine,

flowing smoothly for my beloved,

gliding gently over our lips as we sleep together. 151 

Poetic Refrain: Mutual Possession

The Beloved about Her Lover:

7:10 I am my beloved’s,

and he desires me! 152 

1 tn The introductory headings that identify the speakers of the poems throughout the Song do not appear in the Hebrew text. They are supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity. These notations should not be misinterpreted as suggesting that the Song be interpreted as a drama. Throughout the Song, the notation “The Lover” refers to the young man, while “the Beloved” refers to the young woman. Since the Song of Songs appears to be a collection of individual love songs, the individual love poems within the collection might not have originally referred to the same young man and young woman in each case. Just as the Book of Proverbs contains proverbs composed by Solomon (10:1-22:16; 25:1-29:27) as well as proverbs composed by other wise men (22:17-24:34; 30:1-31:9), so the Song of Songs may contain love poems composed by Solomon or written about Solomon as well as love poems composed by or written about other young couples in love. Nevertheless, the final canonical form of this collection presents a unified picture of idyllic love between one man and one woman in each case. The young man in several of the individual love poems is explicitly identified as Solomon (1:5; 3:7; 8:11-12), King Solomon (3:9, 11) or the king (1:4; 7:6). Some statements in the Song are consistent with a royal figure such as Solomon: references to Tirzah and Jerusalem (6:4) and to multiple queens and concubines (6:8). It is not so clear, however, whether Solomon is the young man in every individual poem. Nor is it clear that the same young woman is in view in each love poem. In several poems the young woman is a country maiden working in a vineyard (1:5-6; 8:11-12); however, the young woman in another poem is addressed as “O prince’s daughter” (7:2). The historian notes, “Solomon loved many women, especially the daughter of Pharaoh” (1 Kgs 11:1). So it would be surprising if the Song devoted itself to only one of Solomon’s many liaisons. The Song may simply be a collection of love poems written at various moments in Solomon’s illustrious career as a lover of many women. It may also include love poems written about other young lovers that were collected into the final form of the book that presents a portrait of idyllic love of young lovers.

2 tn Heb “May he kiss me….” The shift from 3rd person masculine singular forms (“he” and “his”) in 1:2a to 2nd person masculine singular forms (“your”) in 1:2b-4 has led some to suggest that the Beloved addresses the Friends in 1:2a and then her Lover in 1:2b-4. A better solution is that the shift from the 3rd person masculine singular to 2nd person masculine singular forms is an example of heterosis of person: a poetic device in which the grammatical person shifts from line to line (M. H. Pope, Song of Songs [AB], 297). The third person is put for the second person (e.g, Gen 49:4; Deut 32:15; Ps 23:2-5; Isa 1:29; 42:20; 54:1; Jer 22:24; Amos 4:1; Micah 7:19; Lam 3:1; Song 4:2; 6:6) (E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 524-25). Similar shifts occur in ancient Near Eastern love literature (cf. S. N. Kramer, The Sacred Marriage Rite, 92, 99). Most translations render 1:2 literally and preserve the shifts from 3rd person masculine singular to 2nd person masculine singular forms (KJV, AV, NASB, NIV); others render 1:2 with 2nd person masculine singular forms throughout (RSV, NJPS).

3 tn Heb “May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!” The phrase יִשָּׁקֵנִי מִנְּשִׁיקוֹת (yishshaqeni minnÿshiqot, “kiss me with kisses”) is a cognate accusative construction used for emphasis.

4 tc The MT vocalizes consonantal דדיך as דֹּדֶיךָ (dodekha, “your loves”; mpl noun from דּוֹד, dod, “love” + 2nd person masculine singular suffix). The LXX and Vulgate reflect the vocalization דַּדֶּיךָ (daddekha, “your breasts”; mpl noun from דַּד, dad, “breast” + 2nd person masculine singular suffix). This alternate tradition was well known; it was followed by Hippolytus of Rome (d. 235) in his exposition of Canticles 1:2 and by Rabbi Yohanan of Tiberias (3rd century a.d.) as recorded in the Jewish midrashim on Canticles Rabbah 1:2.2. However, the MT vocalization is preferred. In terms of external evidence, the MT vocalization tradition is generally more reliable. In terms of internal evidence, the LXX form דַּדֶּיךָ (daddekha, “your [male!] breasts”) is a bit shocking, to say the least. On the other, the plural form דּוֹדִים (dodim, “loves”) is used in the Song to refer to multiple expressions of love or multiple acts of lovemaking (e.g., 1:4; 4:10; 5:1; 7:13 [ET 12]).

tn Although it may be understood in the general sense meaning “love” (Song 1:4), the term דּוֹד (dod) normally means “lovemaking” (Prov 7:18; Song 4:10; 7:12[13]; Ezek 16:8; 23:17). The plural form דֹּדֶיךָ (dodekha, lit. “your lovemakings”) is probably not a plural of number but an abstract plural (so BDB 187 s.v. דּוֹד 3).

5 tn Heb “better than.” With the comparison of lovemaking to wine, the idea is probably “more intoxicating than wine” or “more delightful than wine.”

6 tn The young woman compares his lovemaking to the intoxicating effects of wine. A man is to be “intoxicated” with the love of his wife (Prov 5:20). Wine makes the heart glad (Deut 14:26; Judg 9:13; Ps 104:15) and revives the spirit (2 Sam 16:1-2; Prov 31:4-7). It is viewed as a gift from God, given to enable man to enjoy life (Eccl 2:24-25; 5:18). The ancient Egyptian love poems use the imagery of wine and intoxication to describe the overwhelming effects of sexual love. For example, an ancient Egyptian love song reads: “I embrace her and her arms open wide; I am like a man in Punt, like someone overwhelmed with drugs. I kiss her and her lips open; and I am drunk without beer” (ANET 467-69).

7 tn The preposition לְ (lÿ) of לְרֵיחַ (lÿrekha) has been understood in three ways: (a) dative of reference: “with respect to fragrance [your perfumes are pleasing]” (see GKC 430 §133.d); (b) asseverative or emphatic: “indeed the fragrance [of your perfumes is pleasing]” (see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 50-51, §283); or (c) comparative: “[your lovemaking is better than wine], indeed better the scent [of precious ointments]” (W. F. Albright, “Archaic Survivals in the Text of Canticles,” Hebrew and Semitic Studies, 2, n. 4).

8 tn Heb “the scent of your oils.” The term שֶׁמֶן (shemen, “cologne”) refers to perfumes or colognes (Eccl 7:1; 10:1; Song 4:10). In Israel bodily oils were expensive (1 Kgs 17:12ff; 2 Kgs 2:4ff). Possession of oils and perfumes was a sign of prosperity and luxury (Deut 32:8; 33:24; Job 29:6; Prov 21:17; Ezek 16:13, 20). Wearing cologne was associated with joy (Ps 45:8; Eccl 9:8; Isa 61:3) because they were worn on festive occasions (Prov 27:9).

9 sn The term טוֹבִים (tovim, “pleasing”) refers to what is pleasant to the olfactory senses (BDB 373 s.v. II טוֹב 1.c) (e.g., Jer 6:20).

10 sn The term שְׁמֶךָ (shÿmekha, “your name”) may be a metonymy of association for her lover. In Hebrew idiom, the name often represents the person (e.g., 1 Sam 25:25).

11 tn The meaning of the phrase שֶׁמֶן תּוּרַק (shemen turaq) is difficult to determine; several options have been proposed: (1) Traditionally, the term תּוּרַק is taken as a verb (Hophal imperfect 3rd person feminine singular from רִיק, riq, “to pour out”) which functions as an attributive adjective modifying the noun שֶׁמֶן (“oil, perfume”): “poured out oil.” The phrase is taken this way by LXX ἒλαιον ἐκχεομενον (“oil poured out”) which seems to reflect a Hebrew Vorlage of a passive verb functioning adjectivally. Accordingly, the phrase is traditionally translated “ointment/oil poured forth/poured out” (KJV, NKJV, ASV, NIV, RSV, NRSV, NJB), “purified oil” (NASB) or “spreading perfume” (NAB, CEV). However, this is syntactically awkward because: (a) the noun שֶׁמֶן (“oil”) is masculine (BDB 1032 s.v. שֶׁמֶן) but the verb תּוּרַק (“poured out”) is feminine (3rd person feminine singular); and (b) this would demand heterosis of the verb for an adjective function. (2) Aquila, who is known for his woodenly literal translation technique, reads ἒλαιον ἐκκενωθὲν (elaion ekkenwqen, “oil poured out”) which reflects a passive participle functioning adjectivally, perhaps מוּרָק (muraq; Hophal participle ms from רִיק “to pour out”). This involves simple orthographic confusion between ת and מ. This might be reflected in Qumran because Baillet’s restoration of 6QCant reads מרקחת מורקה (cited in BHS apparatus “c-c”) which would be vocalized מִרְקַחַת מוּרקָה (mirqakhat murqah, “perfumed poured out”). However, Baillet’s restoration is questioned by some scholars. (3) The BHS editors suggest emending MT תּוּרַק (turaq) to the noun תַּמְרוּק (tamruq, “purification”), used for oil of purification (e.g., Esth 2:3, 9, 12): תַּמְרוּק שֶׁמֶן (shemen tamruq) would mean “oil of purification” or “purified oil.” (4) A simpler solution is to take תּוּרַק as a previously unrecognized noun that is related to the Ugaritic noun trq which refers to high grade cosmetic oil (UT 145.20; 19.371). This approach is adopted by one other translation: “Your name is like finest oil” (NJPS).

12 sn The similar sounding terms שֵׁם (shem, “name”) and שֶׁמֶן (shemen, “perfume”) create a wordplay (paronomasia).

13 sn The term עַלְמָה (’almah, “young woman”) refers to a young woman who is of marriageable age or a newly married young woman, usually before the birth of her first child (HALOT 835-36 s.v. עַלְמָה; BDB 761 s.v. עַלְמָה) (e.g., Gen 24:43; Exod 2:8; Ps 68:26; Prov 30:19; Song 1:3; 6:8; Isa 7:14). The only other use of the term “young women” (עֲלָמוֹת) in the Song refers to the young women of Solomon’s harem (Song 6:8). The root עלם denotes the basic idea of “youthful, strong, passionate” (HALOT 835 s.v. III עלם). While the term עַלְמָה (“young woman”) may be used in reference to a young woman who is a virgin, the term itself does not explicitly denote “virgin.” The Hebrew term which explicitly denotes “virgin” is בְּתוּלָה (bÿtulah) which refers to a mature young woman without any sexual experience with men (e.g., Gen 24:16; Exod 22:15-16; Lev 21:3; Deut 22:23, 28; 32:25; Judg 12:12; 19:24; 2 Sam 13:2, 18; 1 Kgs 1:2; 2 Chr 36:17; Esth 2:2-3, 17, 19; Job 31:1; Pss 45:15; 78:63; 148:12; Isa 23:4; 62:5; Jer 2:32; 31:3; 51:22; Lam 1:4, 18; 2:10, 21; 5:11; Ezek 9:6; Joel 1:8; Amos 9:13; Zech 9:17 (HALOT 166-7 s.v. בְּתוּלָה; BDB 143 s.v. בְּתוּלָה). The related noun בְּתוּלִים (bÿtulim) means “state of virginity” (Lev 21:13; Judg 11:37-38; Ezek 23:3, 8; Sir 42:10) and “evidence of virginity” (Deut 22:14-15, 17, 20) (HALOT 167 s.v. בְּתוּלִים).

14 tn Heb “love.”

15 sn The verb מָשַׁךְ (mashakh, “draw”) is a figurative expression (hypocatastasis) which draws an implied comparison between the physical acting of leading a person with the romantic action of leading a person in love. Elsewhere it is used figuratively of a master gently leading an animal with leather cords (Hos 11:4) and of a military victor leading his captives (Jer 31:3). The point of comparison might be that the woman wants to be the willing captive of the love of her beloved, that is, a willing prisoner of his love.

16 tn The three verbs in this line are a good example of heterosis of person, that is, a shift from 2nd person masculine singular to 1st person common plural to 3rd person masculine singular forms: מָשְׁכֵנִי (mashÿkheni, “draw me!”; Qal imperative 2nd person masculine singular from מָשַׁךְ, mashakh, “to draw” + 1st person common singular suffix:), נָּרוּצָה (narutsah, “let us run!”; Qal cohortative 1st person common plural from רוּץ, ruts, “to run”), and הֱבִיאַנִי (heviani, “he has brought me” or “bring me!”; Hiphil perfect 3rd person masculine singular בּוֹא, bo’, “to bring” + 1st person common singular suffix). Heterosis from second to third person occurs elsewhere in the Song in 1:2-3; 4:2; 6:6 (e.g, Gen 49:4; Deut 32:15; Ps 23:2-5; Isa 1:29; 42:20; 54:1; Jer 22:24; Amos 4:1; Micah 7:19; Lam 3:1).

17 tn Or “O king, bring me into your chambers!” The article on the noun הַמֶּלֶךְ (hammelekh, “the king”) may be taken in two ways: (1) the particularizing use of the article: “The king” (e.g., NIV: “The king has brought me into his chambers”) or (2) the vocative use of the article: “O king!” (NJPS margin: “O king, bring me into your chambers!”) (For the vocative use of the article, see GKC 405 §126.e; Joüon 2:506-7 §137.f; R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 19, §89; IBHS 247 §13.5.2c). The syntactical classification of the article is dependent upon: (1) Whether the MT reading of the 3rd person masculine singular suffix on חֲדָרָיו (khadarav, “his chambers”) is retained or whether the text is emended to the 2nd person masculine singular suffix form חַדְרֶךָ (khadrekha, “your chamber”) as reflected in Syriac (see textual note below). (2) Whether הֱבִיאַנִי (heviani, Hiphil perfect 3rd person masculine singular from בּוֹא, bo’, “to bring” + 1st person common singular suffix) is classified as a perfect of past action (“The king has brought me into his chambers”) or a precative perfect (“O king, bring me into your chambers!”) (see syntactical note below). (3) Whether the consonantal form הביאני should be vocalized as הֱבִיאַנִי (heviani, Hiphil perfect 3rd person masculine singular + 1st person common singular suffix) as preserved in MT or as הֲבִיאֵנִי (havieni, Hiphil imperative 2nd person masculine singular + 1st person common singular suffix) as reflected in Symmachus and Syriac (see textual note below).

18 tn Or “has brought me.” The verb הֱבִיאַנִי (heviani, Hiphil perfect 3rd person masculine singular בּוֹא, bo’, “to bring” + 1st person common singular suffix) may be classified in two ways: (1) perfect of past action: “The king has brought me into his chambers” or (2) precative perfect: “May the king bring me into his chambers!” (J. S. Deere, “Song of Solomon,” BKCOT, 1012). While some older grammarians denied the existence of the precative (volitional) function of the perfect in Hebrew (e.g., S. R. Driver, Tenses in Hebrew, 25-26; GKC 312-13 §106.n, n. 2), its existence is accepted in more recent grammars (e.g., IBHS 494-95 §30.5.4d; Joüon 2:365 §112.k). While the perfect of past action is the more common use of the perfect, the context suggests the more rare precative. As IBHS 494-95 §30.5.4d notes, the precative can be recognized contextually by its parallelism with the other volitive forms. The parallelism of precative הֱבִיאַנִי (“bring me!”) with the volitives in the two preceding parallel colons – מָשְׁכֵנִי (mashÿkheni, “draw me!”; Qal imperative 2nd person masculine singular from משַׁךְ, mashakh, “to draw” + 1st person common singular suffix:) and נָּרוּצָה (narutsah, “let us run!”; Qal cohortative 1st person common plural from רוּץ, ruts, “to run”) – favors the precative function of the perfect. The volitive function of consonantal הביאני is reflected in Syriac. The BHS editors suggest revocalizing MT to הֲבִיאֵנִי “bring me!” The precative function of the perfect הֱבִיאַנִי may explain the origin of this variant vocalization tradition reflected in Syriac. In terms of connotation, the precative functions as a volitive as an example of the irreal modal or optative function of the perfect (IBHS 494-95 §30.5.4d; Joüon 2:365 §112.k). In contrast to the use of the irreal perfect for situations which the speaker expresses as a wish without expectation of fulfillment (contrary-to-fact situations, hypothetical assertions, and expressions of a wish that is not expected to be realized), the precative refers to situations the speaker expresses his desire for and expects to be realized (IBHS 494-95 §30.5.4d). It is used most often in contexts of prayers to God which the speakers expect to be answered (e.g., Pss 3:8; 22:22; 31:5-6). Here, she expresses her desire that her lover consummate their love in his bedroom chambers; she expects this desire to be realized one day (e.g., 4:1-5:1). There are, however, several problems with nuancing the form as a precative: (a) this would demand emending MT חֲדָרָיו (khadarav, “his chambers”) to חַדְרֶךָ (khadrekha, “your chamber[s]”) – which is, however, reflected by Syriac Peshitta and Symmachus, and (b) it would demand nuancing the article on הַמֶּלֶךְ (hammelekh) as a vocative (“O king!”).

19 tc The MT reads the 3rd person masculine singular suffix on a plural noun חֲדָרָיו (khadarav, “his chambers”). This is reflected in LXX, Targums, and Vulgate. However, the 2nd person masculine singular suffix on a singular noun חַדְרֶךָ (khadrekha, “your chambers”) is reflected by Syriac Peshitta and Symmachus. See preceding note on the text-critical significance of these variant readings.

20 tn The term חֶדֶר (kheder, “chamber”) is used frequently in reference to a bedroom (Gen 43:30; Judg 15:1; 16:9; 2 Sam 13:10; 1 Kgs 1:15; Ps 105:30; Isa 26:20). It refers explicitly to a bedroom when used with the noun מִשְׁכָּב (mishkav, “bed”) in the expression חֶדֶר מִשְׁכָּב “bedroom chamber” (Exod 7:28; 2 Sam 4:7; 2 Kgs 6:12; Eccl 10:20). The plural form חֲדָרָיו (khadarav, “his chambers”) functions as a plural of extension rather than a plural or number; it refers to one bedroom composed of several parts rather than referring to several different bedrooms. The expression “Bring me into your chambers” is a metonymy of cause for effect, that is, her desire for lovemaking in his bedroom chambers.

21 sn Normally in the Song, the person/gender of the pronouns and suffixes makes the identify of the speaker or addressee clear. However, there are several places in which there is grammatical ambiguity that makes it difficult to identify either the speaker or the addressee (e.g., 6:11-13; 7:9b). This is particularly true when 1st person common plural or 3rd person common plural verbs or suffixes are present (1:3[4]; 2:15; 5:1b; 8:8-9), as is the case in the three lines of 1:3b[4b]. There are four views to the identity of the speaker(s): (1) NASB attributes all three lines to the maidens, (2) NIV attributes the first two lines to the friends and the third line to the Beloved (= woman), (3) NJPS attributes all three lines to the Beloved, speaking throughout 1:2-4, and (4) The first line could be attributed to the young man speaking to his beloved, and the last two lines attributed to the Beloved who returns praise to him. The referents of the 1st person common plural cohortatives and the 2sg suffixes have been taken as: (1) the maidens of Jerusalem, mentioned in 1:4[5] and possibly referred to as the 3rd person common plural subject of אֲהֵבוּךָ (’ahevukha, “they love you”) in 1:3b[4b], using the 1st person common plural cohortatives in reference to themselves as they address her lover: “We (= maidens) will rejoice in you (= the young man).” (2) The Beloved using 1st person common plural cohortatives in a hortatory sense as she addresses her lover: “Let us (= the couple) rejoice in you (= the young man), let us praise your lovemaking…” (3) The Beloved using the 1st person common plural cohortatives in reference to herself – there are examples in ancient Near Eastern love literature of the bride using 1st person common plural forms in reference to herself (S. N. Kramer, The Sacred Marriage Rite, 92, 99) – as she addresses the young man: “We (= I) will rejoice in you (= the young man).” Note: This problem is compounded by the ambiguity of the gender on בָּךְ (bakh, “in you”) which appears to be 2nd person feminine singular but may be 2nd person masculine singular in pause (see note below).

22 tn Alternately, “Let us rejoice and delight in you.” There is debate whether the cohortatives נָגִילָה (nagilah, Qal cohortative 1st person common plural from גִּיל, gil, “to exult”), וְנִשְמְחָה (vÿnishmÿkhah, Qal cohortative 1st person common plural from שָמַח, shamakh, “to rejoice”) and נַזְכִּירָה (nazkirah, Hiphil cohortative 1st person common plural from זָכַר, zakhar, “to praise”) should be classified as (1) cohortatives of resolve, expressing the resolution or determination of the speakers to adopt or accomplish a course of action: “We will rejoice…we will delight…we will praise” (e.g., KJV, NASB, NIV) or (2) hortatory cohortatives, exhorting others to join in doing something: “Let us rejoice…let us delight…let us praise” (e.g., NJPS).

23 tn A shift occurs in 1:4 from 1st person common singular forms to 1st person common plural forms: “Draw me (מָשְׁכֵנִי, mashÿkeni)…Let us run (נּרוּצָה, narutsah)…Bring me (הֱבִיאַנִי, heviani)…We will be glad (נָגִילָה, nagilah)…We will rejoice in you (וְנִשְׁמְחָה, vÿnishmÿkhah)…We will remember (נַזְכִּירָה, nazkirah)…They love you (אֲהֵבוּךָ, ’ahevukha)….” Several translations and many commentators end the words of the Beloved at 1:4a and begin the words of the Friends in 1:4b and revert back to the words of the Beloved in 1:4c. The subject of the 1st person common plural forms may be the “young women” (עֲלָמוֹת) previously mentioned in 1:3. This is supported by the fact that in 1:3 the Beloved says, “The young women love you” (עֲלָמוֹת אֲהֵבוּךָ, ’alamotahevukha) and in 1:4c she again says, “Rightly do they [the young women] love you” (מֵישָׁרִים אֲהֵבוּךָ, mesharimahevukha). On the other hand, in ANE love literature the bride often uses plural pronouns to refer to herself (S. N. Kramer, The Sacred Marriage Rite, 92, 99). Some commentators suggest that the young man is addressing his beloved because בָּךְ (bakh) appears to have a 2nd person feminine singular suffix. However, the suffix on בָּךְ is in pause (after the accent) therefore, the normal 2nd person masculine singular suffix בָּךָ has reduced to shewa. The parallelism with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix on דֹדֶיךָ (dodekha, “your love”) supports the 2nd person masculine singular classification.

24 tn Alternately, “remember.” The verb נַזְכִּירָה (nazkirah, Hiphil imperfect 1st person common plural from זָכַר, zakhar) is traditionally rendered “we will remember” (KJV), but is better nuanced “we will extol” (NASB) or “we will praise” (NIV). The verb זָכַר has a wide range of meanings: “to remember, call to mind” (Gen 8:1; Deut 24:9; Judg 8:34), “to name, mention” (Jer 20:9; 23:36; 31:20; Pss 63:7; 77:4), “to summon, command” (Nah 2:6), “to swear by” (Amos 6:10; 1 Chr 16:4), and “to praise, extol” (Exod 23:13; Josh 23:7; Pss 45:18; 71:16; Isa 26:13; 48:1; 62:6). The Hiphil stem has four denotations, and “to remember” is not one of them: (1) “to take to court,” (2) “to mention,” (3) “to make known,” and (4) “to praise, profess” (HALOT 269-70 s.v. I זכר). NJPS offers a poetic nuance that plays upon the wine motif: “savoring it more than wine.”

25 tn Alternately, “The righteous love you.” Scholars debate whether מֵישָׁרִים (mesharim) should be taken as a substantive (“the righteous”), abstract noun (“righteousness”), or adverb (“rightly”). The LXX’s εὐθύτης ἠγάπησεν σε (euquths hgaphsen, “righteousness loves you”) is awkward. The adverbial sense is preferred for several reasons: (1) The verb אֲהֵבוּךָ (’ahevuka, “they love you”) in 1:4c is repeated from 1:3c where it was used in reference to the maiden’s love for her lover. (2) There is no group designated as “the righteous” elsewhere in the Song. (3) To introduce an additional party into this poetic unit is unnecessary when it can be easily understood as a reference to the maidens of 1:3c.

26 tn Heb “they love you.” The words “the young women” do not appear in the Hebrew but are supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity. The shift from the 1st person common plural subjects in the three cohortatives – נָגִילָה (nagilah, Qal cohortative 1st person common plural from גּיל, gil, “to exult”), וְנִשְׂמְחָה (vÿnishmÿkhah, Qal cohortative 1st person common plural from שָמַח, shamakh, “to rejoice”), and נַזְכִּירָה (nazkirah, Hiphil cohortative 1st person common plural from זָכַר, zakhar, “to praise”) – to the 3rd person common plural subject in the verb אֲהֵבוּךָ (’ahevukha, Qal perfect 3rd person common plural from אָהֵב, ’ahev, “to love” + 2nd person masculine singular suffix) suggests to many scholars that a shift in speakers occurs at this point: the maidens praise the young man in the first two lines, while the Beloved affirms the appropriateness of their praise in the last line (e.g., NIV). However, the shift in person might simply be another example of heterosis of person (as already seen in 1:2-4a) – this time from first person to third person. Thus, the shift in grammatical person does not necessarily indicate a shift in speakers. It is possible that the maidens are speaking throughout all three lines, and that the third line should be nuanced, “How rightly we love you!”

27 tn Heb “O daughters of Jerusalem.”

28 sn The term “dark” does not appear in the Hebrew in this line but is supplied in the translation from the preceding line for the sake of clarity. The poetic structure of this tricolon is an example of redistribution. The terms “black but beautiful” in the A-line are broken up – the B-line picks up on “black” and the C-line picks up on “beautiful.” The Beloved was “black” like the rugged tents of Qedar woven from the wool of black goats, but “beautiful” as the decorative inner tent-curtains of King Solomon (J. L. Kugel, The Idea of Biblical Poetry, 40; W. G. E. Watson, Classical Hebrew Poetry [JSOTSup], 181).

29 sn The comparison of her dark, outdoors appearance to the “tents of Qedar” is quite fitting for two reasons. First, the name “Qedar” refers to an ancient Arabian tribe of bedouin who lived in tents and inhabited a region in northern Arabia. Their tents were traditionally woven from the wool of black goats. They were not beautiful to look at; they were rough, rustic, rugged, and weather-beaten. Second, the terms שְׁחוֹרָה (shÿkhorah, “black”) and קֵדָר (qedar, “Qedar”) create a wordplay because the root קָדַר (qadar) means “dark, dirty” (HALOT 1072 s.v. קדר). The point of the comparison is that the Beloved had dark skin and a rugged outdoors appearance because she had been forced to work outdoors, and so her skin had become dark as 1:6 states.

30 tn The term “lovely” does not appear in the Hebrew in this line but is supplied in the translation from the first line in this verse for the sake of clarity.

31 sn There is debate whether the terms “tents” אָהֳלֵי (’ahale, “tents”) and יְרִיעוֹת (yÿriot, “tent-curtains”) used here as synonyms or antonyms. The term אֹהֶל (’ohel, “tent”) is often used in reference to an overall tent assembly, with particular emphasis on the external structure (e.g., Gen 4:20; 18:1; 31:33; Exod 26:13; 40:19; Judg 4:17; Isa 54:2; Jer 37:10) (HALOT 19 s.v. I אֹהֶל). The term “tent-curtains” (יְרִיעוֹה) is used to refer to (1) inner hanging curtains, such as decorative hangings or tapestries inside a tent (e.g., Exod 26:1-2, 7; Num 4:25) and (2) a tent as a whole (e.g., 2 Sam 7:2; Jer 4:20; 10:20; Hab 3:7) (HALOT 439 s.v. יְרִיעוֹת). The two terms are often used in parallelism as an A-B word pair (Isa 54:2; Jer 4:20; 10:20; 49:29; Hab 3:7). Like the “tents” (אֹהָלִים) of Qedar which were made from the wool of black goats, “tent-curtains” (יְרִיעוֹה) also were sometimes made from goat hair (Exod 26:7). If the two are synonymous, the point is that the tents of Qedar and the tent-curtains of Salmah were both black but beautiful. If the two terms are antonyms, the point is that the tents of Qedar are black but the tent-curtains of Salmah are beautiful. In either case, her point is that she is black, but nonetheless beautiful. Rabbinic midrash misses the point; it views the metaphor as contrasting her swarthy outward appearance with her inner beauty: “Just as the tents of Kedar, although from outside they look ugly, black, and ragged, yet inside contain precious stones and pearls, so the disciples of the wise, although they look repulsive and swarthy in this world, yet have within them knowledge of the Torah, Scriptures, Mishnah, Midrash, Halachoth, Talmud, Toseftas and Haggadah” (Midrash Rabbah 4:54-55).

32 tc The MT vocalizes שׁלמה as שְׁלֹמֹה (shÿlomoh, “Solomon”); however, the BHS editors suggest the vocalization שַׁלְמָה (shalmah); cf. NAB “Salma.” Salmah is the name of an ancient Arabian tribe mentioned in Assyrian and South Arabic sources, as well as Targum Onqelos (Gen 15:19; Num 24:21; Judg 4:17). Like the tribe of Qedar, Salmah was an Arabian nomadic tribe which inhabited a region in northern Arabia and the region of Petra. The proposed revocalization produces tighter parallelism between Qedar and Salmah, than Qedar and Solomon. This also creates a striking wordplay on the name שְׁלֹמֹה (M. H. Pope, Song of Songs [AB], 320).

33 tn The relative pronoun שֶׁ (she) on שֶׁאֲנִי (sheani, “because I”) functions in a causal sense, as in the following colon (BDB 980 s.v. שֶׁ 3.b) (e.g., Song 5:2; Eccl 2:18).

34 tn The relative pronoun שֶׁ (she) on שֶׁשֱּׁזָפַתְנִי (sheshshezafatni) functions in a causal sense, as in the preceding colon (BDB 980 s.v. שֶׁ 3.b) (e.g., Song 5:2; Eccl 2:18).

35 tn Heb “the sun has stared at me.” The verb שָׁזַף (shazaf) means “to look at, catch sight of, glance at” (e.g., Job 20:9; 28:7) (HALOT 1456 s.v. שׁזף; BDB 1004 s.v. שָׁזַף). The Beloved personifies the sun (הַשָּׁמֶשׁ, hashshamesh) as having looked at the Beloved too long, that is, it burned her skin.

36 tn Heb “the sons of my mother.”

37 sn The verb הָרָה (harah, “to burn in anger, to be angry”) creates an interesting wordplay or pun on the preceding line: “The sun burned me (= my skin).” The sun burned her skin, because her brothers had burned (נִהֲרוּ, niharu) in anger against her. This is an example of a polysemantic wordplay which explains the two basic meanings of הָרָה (“to burn, to be angry”) (W. G. E. Watson, Classical Hebrew Poetry [JSOTSup], 241-42).

38 sn The noun כֶּרֶם (kerem, “vineyard”) is used figuratively in this line (see following note on the wordplays in this verse). Some suggest that her “vineyard” refers to her virginity, that is, she lost her virginity. However, this runs contrary to the moral purity accorded to the Beloved throughout the Song (e.g., 4:12; 8:8-10). It is better to take the “vineyard” imagery as a reference to her ability to take care of her physical appearance which had been thwarted by being forced to work outside where her skin had been darkened by the scorching rays of the sun, as alluded to throughout 1:4-5[5-6].

39 sn The repetition of the noun כֶּרֶם (kerem, “vineyard”) and the verb נָטַר (natar, “to keep, maintain”) creates a series of eloquent wordplays. The first occurrence of כֶּרֶם (“vineyard”) and נָטַר (“to keep”) is literal, the second occurrence of both is figurative (hypocatastasis). Her brothers forced her to work outside in the sun, taking care of the vineyards; as a result, she was not able to take care of her appearance (“my own vineyard I could not keep”).

40 tn Heb “soul.”

41 tn The causal relative pronoun שֶׁ (she, “because”; BDB 980 s.v. שֶׁ 3.b) is prefixed to the interrogative particle לָמָה (lamah, “why?”; BDB 554 s.v. מַה 4.d) to form the idiom שַׁלָּמָה (shallamah, “lest”; BDB 554 s.v. מַה 4.d.β; 980 s.v. שֶׁ 3b). BDB notes that לָמָה is used with an imperfect – as is the case here with אֶהְיֶה (’ehyeh, Qal imperfect 1st person common singular from הָיָה, haya, “to be”) – to deprecate a situation and for rhetorical emphasis to introduce the reason why something should, or should not, be done: “Why should?” (e.g., Gen 27:45; 47:19; Exod 32:12; 1 Sam 19:5, 17; 20:8, 32; 2 Sam 2:22; 13:26; 16:9; 20:19; 2 Kgs 14:10; 2 Chr 25:16; Neh 6:3; Pss 79:10; 115:2; Eccl 5:5; 7:16-17; Jer 40:15; Joel 2:17) (BDB 554 s.v. מַה 4.d.β). When connected with a foregoing sentence by the causal relative pronouns שֶׁ “because,” the idiom שַׁלָּמָה connotes “lest” (literally, “Because why should?”) (BDB 554 s.v. 4.d.β). The meaning of שַׁלָּמָה is identical to the parallel constructions אֲשֶׁר לָמָּה (’asher lammah, “lest”; Dan 1:10) and דִּי לְמָה (di lÿmah, “lest”; Ezra 7:23). In Song 1:6[7] the causal relative pronoun שֶׁ connects it to the preceding lines, and our idiom assumes the elided phrase לִי הַגִּידָהּ (haggidah li, “Tell me!”) which occurred earlier: “Tell me lest I …!” or “Tell me! For why should I…?”

42 tn The meaning of MT עֹטְיָה (’otÿyah, Qal active participle fs from עָטָה, ’atah, “to veil oneself”) is debated; several options have been proposed: (1) Some scholars attempt to explain this in light of ancient Israelite culture or customs. The term עָטָה describes a person wrapping oneself in a garment or with a veil (HALOT 813 s.v. I עטה) as (a) a sign of grief or mourning (Ezek 24:17, 22), uncleanness (Lev 13:45), or shame (Mic 3:7), and as (b) the clothing of the deceased (1 Sam 28:14) and veiled cult-prostitutes (Gen 28:14). The term is rendered “one who veils herself” (NASB), “one who is veiled” (NRSV, KJV margin) and “like a veiled woman” (ASV, NIV). BDB suggests that she veiled herself in mourning (BDB 741 s.v. I עָטָה). Rashi suggested that she veiled herself in mourning because she did not know where to find her beloved (Canticles Rabbah 1:6). Many commentators connect this with the veiled cult-prostitute soliciting business among shepherds. She wished to avoid what Tamar tried to do: to be mistaken as a harlot looking for business among the shepherds (Gen 38:14-23). If her beloved would not declare his whereabouts, she would be reduced to looking for him among the shepherds – an action that could be easily misunderstood. This is reflected in the CEV paraphrase: “Don’t let the other shepherds think badly of me.” R. E. Murphy (Song of Songs [Hermeneia], 131) writes: “Commentators have interpreted the covering as a sign of mourning (2 Sam 15:30) or as the sign of a harlot (Gen 38:14-15). These references are not helpful in explaining the context of v 7, and in neither of the instances is the word עָטָה used. She seems rather to refer to some kind of covering or disguise she will be forced to use unless she knows where to find him. One can infer that the disguise will enable her to avoid being identified by his ‘companions,’ but no reason is given (perhaps she does not want them to know about the rendezvous?)” (2) Other scholars resort to comparative lexicography. For example, S. R. Driver suggested that עֹטְיָה is not derived from עָטָה I (“to veil”), but from the Arabic root gth that came into Hebrew as the homonymic root עָטָה “to pick lice” (Isa 22:17; Jer 43:12) (HALOT 814 s.v. II עטה). Driver renders the line, “lest I be left picking lice,” that is, while away the siesta-time grooming herself. Most scholars reject this proposal; it seems strange in the context and unnecessarily creates a homonym for a well-known term that makes adequate sense contextually. Nevertheless, Driver’s proposal was adopted by the NEB: “that I may not be left picking lice.” See D. R. Driver, “Lice in the Old Testament,” PEQ 106 (1974): 159-160. (3) Still other scholars emend the text. MT reads כְּעֹטְיָה (kÿotÿyah, “like one who is veiled”) (preposition כְּ + Qal active participle fs עָטָה I “to veil”) which is also reflected in the LXX’s ὠ περιβαλλομενη (w periballomenh, “like one who is covered”; fs passive participle from περιβάλλω, periballw, “to cover”). However, several ancient versions (Greek: Symmachus, Syriac Peshitta, Vulgate) reflect a Hebrew Vorlage with metathesis of the first two consonants: כְּטֹעִיָּה (kÿtoiyyah) from טָעָה (taah, “to wander about, to stray”; e.g., Ezek 13:10). The root טָעָה would be an Aramaizing form of Hebrew תָּעָה (“to wander”). This emendation is suggested by the BHS editors and the lexicons (HALOT 377 s.v. טעה; 814; BDB 742 s.v.); It is adopted by many translations: “like one who wanders” (RSV, AV, JB, NAB, NJV), “like one who strays” (JPS, NJPS) and “as one that turneth aside” (KJV). This would make nice sense contextually: she begs her beloved to tell her where to find him because she does not want to wander around like someone who is lost.

43 tn Heb “I compare you to.”

44 tn The hireq-yod ending on סֻסָתִי (susati) is a remnant of the old genitive ending (e.g., nominative: malku, genitive: malki, accusative: malka), the so-called hireq compaginis ending. Thus, סֻסָתִי בְּרִכְבֵי פַרְעֹה (susati berikve paroh) is a double genitive-construct: “a mare among the chariot-horses of Pharaoh” (M. H. Pope, Song of Songs [AB], 338) or “a mare among the chariots of Pharaoh” (R. E. Murphy, Song of Songs [Hermeneia], 131). The hireq-yod ending was mistakenly treated as 1st person common singular possessive suffix “my mare” by LXX, Vulgate, Syriac. This approach is mistakenly adopted by several translations: “my mare” (NASB, NJB), “my filly” (NKJV) and “my company of horsemen” (DRA).

45 sn It was common in ancient love literature to compare a beautiful woman to a sleek filly. For example, Horace likened Lyde to a three year old filly: “She gambols over the spreading plains and shrinks from touch, to wedlock still a stranger, not yet ripe for eager mate” (Horace, Odes iii. xi. 9). Theocritus compared Helen of Troy to a graceful steed harnessed to a chariot: “As towers the cypress mid the garden’s bloom, as in the chariot proud Thessalian steed, thus graceful rose-complexion’d Helen moves” (Theocritus, Idyll xviii. 30-31).

46 tn Heb “among the chariot-horses” or “among the chariots.” The noun רֶכֶב (rekhev) has a wide range of meanings: “chariots, war-chariots” (Exod 14:17-18, 23; 15:19; Deut 11:4; 20:1; Josh 11:4) “chariot crews, chariot troops” (1 Kgs 9:22; 16:9; 22:31; 2 Kg 8:21), “column of chariots, troop of warriors” (Isa 21:7, 9), “charioteer” (Ps 76:7), and “chariot-horses” (Exod 14:9; 2 Sam 8:4; 1 Chr 18:4; Ezek 39:20) (HALOT 1233-35 s.v. רֶכֶב). Scholars have struggled with the meaning of בְּרִכְבֵי פַרְעֹה (bÿrikhbe paroh, “[harnessed to (?)] Pharaoh’s chariot”; HALOT 1234 s.v. 6.b). M. H. Pope (Song of Songs [AB], 338) suggests that רִכְבֵי (rikhbe) be nuanced “chariot-horses” and the phrase rendered “among the chariot-horses of Pharaoh.” Pope offers the best explanation of this enigmatic picture: “A crucial consideration overlooked by commentators is the well-attested fact that Pharaoh’s chariots, like other chariotry in antiquity, were not drawn by a mare or mares but by stallions hitched in pairs. This bit of intelligence radically alters the usual understanding of the verse and dispels the notion that there is a grammatical incongruity, which needs harmonizing. The juxtaposition is between a single mare and a plurality of stallions and it requires only a modicum of what is called ‘horse sense’ to appreciate the thrust of the comparison. The situation envisaged is illustrated by the famous incident in one of the campaigns of Thutmose III against Qadesh. On his tomb at Thebes, the Egyptian soldier Amenemheb relates how the Prince of Qadesh sent forth a swift mare, which entered among the army. But Amenemheb ran after her on foot and with his dagger ripped open her belly, cut off her tail, and presented it to the king, thus preventing a debacle before the excited stallions could take out after the mare.”

47 tn The phrase “is lovely” does not appear in the Hebrew but is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity to complete the parallelism with the preceding line.

48 tn The subject of the 1st person common plural verb נַעֲשֶׂה (naaseh) might be the maidens of Jerusalem mentioned in 1:4[5]. However, this might be an example of heterosis of number, that is, the 1st person common plural for 1st person common singular person. In this case, her lover – the speaker throughout the rest of 1:8-9[9-10] – would still be the speaker here. Other possible examples of heterosis of number of the plural for the singular in the Song include 1:3[4]; 2:15; 5:1b; 6:13[7:1].

49 tn Or “We will make gold ornaments with your studs of silver.”

50 sn It is not certain whether the speaker here is the Beloved or not.

51 tn The comparative “like” does not appear in the Hebrew but is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity.

52 tn The proper nuance of מְקֻטֶּרֶת (mÿqutteret, Pual participle fs from קָטַר, qatar, “to make a sacrifice, go up in smoke”) is illusive. The lexicons take the participle adjectivally and translate מְקֻטֶּרֶת מוֹר (mÿqutteret mor) as “completely filled with fragrance or incense” (HALOT 1094 s.v. I קטר) or “fumigated with myrrh” (BDB 883 s.v. קָטַר). Most translations take it adjectivally: “perfumed with myrrh” (KJV, NASB, NIV); however, NJPS takes it as a substantive: “clouds of myrrh.” It is better to take the participle as a substantive and to nuance מְקֻטֶּרֶת מוֹר as “billow of myrrh,” as suggested by its parallelism with כְּתִימֲרוֹת עָשָׁן (kÿtimarotashan, “like a column of smoke”). While this is the only usage of the Pual stem of the verb, the root קטר appears frequently in other stems, all of which connote smoke, e.g., Piel: “to make a sacrifice, to go up in smoke” and Hiphil: “to cause to go up in smoke” (HALOT 1094-95 s.v. I קתר). In Middle Hebrew the root קִטְרָא (qitra’) meant “to steam, smell” (Qal) and “to smoke” (Hiphil). The Hebrew root is related to Ugaritic qtr “smoke, incense” (UT 19.2220; WUS 1404); Akkadian qataru “to billow (of smoke)” (AHw 2:907; CAD Q:166); Old South Arabic mqtr “incense; Ethiopic qetare “fragrance, spice”; Arabic qatara “to smell, smoke”; and Syriac `etar “vapour, fume, incense” (HALOT 1094). Due to the rarity of the Pual stem of this root, the Targum mistakenly vocalized the form as Piel participle מִקְּטֹרֶת (miqqÿtoret, “going up in smoke”).

53 tn The term לְבוֹנָה (lÿvonah, “frankincense”) refers to fragrant incense (Exod 30:34; Lev 2:1, 15; 5:11; 6:8; 24:7; Num 5:15; Isa 43:23; 66:3; Jer 6:20; 17:26; 41:5; Neh 13:5, 9; 1 Chr 9:29; Song 3:6; 4:6, 14). It is composed of the white (sometimes yellow) resin of Boswellia Carteri and Frereana from Hadramawt and Somaliland (HALOT 518 s.v. לְבֹנָה).

54 tn The term אַבְקַת (’avqat, “fragrant-powder”) means “scent-powders” (HALOT 9 s.v. אַבָקָה) or “ground spice” (HALOT 1237 s.v. I רכל 2.a). The noun אֲבָקָה (’avaqah) is from the root אָבָק (’avaq, “dust, powder”) (HALOT 9 s.v.).

55 tn The singular form of רוֹכֵל (rokhel, “merchant”) may be classified as a generic singular, representing the genus of the merchant guild of which there are many. The term רוֹכֵל means “trader, vendor,” as small retailer (HALOT 1237 s.v. I רכל) distinct from סָתַר (satar) “shopkeeper, dealer” as large wholesaler (HALOT 750 s.v. סתר). It may refer to a traveling merchant, as in Middle Hebrew רוֹכְלָה (rokhÿlah) “traveling merchant” and Old South Arabic rkl “to go about as a trader” (Conti 242a). The general nuance appears in Judean Aramaic רוֹכְלָא (rokhÿla’, “hawker, peddler”) and Syriac rakkala “merchant.”

56 tn The term מִטָּה (mittah) refers to a “royal portable couch” spread with covers, cloth, and pillows (HALOT 573 s.v. מִטָּה; BDB 641 s.v. מִטָּה). The Hebrew noun is related to Ugaritic mtt “bed” (UT 1465). The term מִטָּה (“bed, couch”) itself can refer to a number of similar but different kinds of pieces of reclining furniture: (1) the bed of a common person, found in the bedchamber for reposing and sleeping at night (Gen 47:31; 48:2; 49:33; Exod 8:3[7:28]; 2 Sam 4:7; 1 Kgs 17:19; 2 Kgs 4:10, 21, 32; Ps 6:6[7]; Prov 26:14); (2) the royal bed of the king or nobility, often elevated and made of expensive materials (1 Kgs 21:4; 2 Kgs 1:4, 6, 16; 2 Chr 24:25; Esth 7:8; Amos 6:4; Ezek 23:41); (3) the couch of a common person for reclining or sitting during the day (1 Sam 28:23); (4) a royal banqueting couch for reclining at feasts or carousing (Ezek 23:41; Amos 3:12; 6:4; Esth 1:6; 7:8); (5) a portable light-weight bed for transporting the sick (1 Sam 19:15); (6) a portable bed, such as a funeral bier for transporting the dead (2 Sam 3:31); and (7) a portable royal couch for transporting the king (Song 3:7). The royal couch was often made of expensive materials, such as ivory, silver, and gold (Ezek 23:41; Amos 6:4; Song 3:9-10; Esth 1:6).

57 tn Heb “trained of sword” or “girded of sword.” Alternately, “girded with swords.” The genitive construct phrase אֲחֻזֵי חֶרֶב (’akhuze kherev) is interpreted in two ways: (1) Most interpret it with the assumption that אָחַז (’akhaz) denotes “to physically grasp, hold” (HALOT 31-32 s.v. I אחז; BDB 28 s.v. אָחַז). Most translations adopt this approach, although differing on whether the participle functions substantivally (NASB), verbally (KJV, NIV), or adjectivally (RSV), they all are heading in the same direction: “[all] hold swords” (KJV), “girded with sword” (RSV), “wielders of the sword” (NASB), and “wearing the sword” (NIV). This, however, provides only a vague parallel with the following colon: מְלֻמְּדֵי מִלְחָמָה (mÿlummÿde milkhamah, “trained in warfare”). (2) Others, however, suggest taking אחז in its rare metaphorical sense of “to learn” (= mentally grasp, take hold of): “learned, skillful” (R. Gordis, Song of Songs and Lamentations, 85; J. Lewy, “Lexicographical Notes,” HUCA 12/13 (1937/1938): 98-99). This nuance is much more common in the related Akkadian verb ahazu “to learn,” as HALOT 31 notes. Likewise, JB renders it “skilled swordsmen,” and NJPS suggests “trained in warfare” for Song 3:8, citing Akkadian ahazu “to learn.” The Akkadian verb ahazu has a broad range of meanings including: (1) to seize, hold a person, (2) to take a wife, to marry, (3) to hold, possess, take over, grasp something, to take to (a region), and (4) to learn, to understand (CAD 1:1:173). The concrete, physical sense of grasping or taking an object in one’s hands lent itself to the metaphorical sense of mentally grasping something, that is, learning or understanding. The category ahazu 4 (“to learn, to understand”) is used in reference to general learning, as well to specialized knowledge involving a special skill, professional craft, or ability acquired through instruction and experience (CAD 1:1:177). The causative form suhuzu means “to teach, educate, train” someone to become a skilled craftsman in a professional trade (CAD 1:1:180). This provides a tight parallelism with the following colon: אֲחֻזֵי חֶרֶב (’akhuze kherev, “skillful in swordsmanship”) precisely parallels מְלֻמְּדֵי מִלְחָמָה (“well-trained in [the art of] warfare”). The AB:AB parallelism between the two lines is exact: (1) אֲחֻזֵי “learned, skillful” parallels מְלֻמְּדֵי “trained, instructed,” and (2) חֶרֶב “in respect to swordsmanship” (genitive of specification or limitation) exactly parallels מִלְחָמָה “in regard to [the art of] warfare” (genitive of specification or limitation). The term חֶרֶב (“sword”) may be nuanced metonymically as “swordsmanship” in the light of (a) its collocation with terms for professional expertise: מְלֻמְּדֵי (“trained”) and אֲחֻזֵי (“skilled”), and (b) the connotation “swordsmanship” can be sustained in a few cases, e.g., “It was not by their swordsmanship that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory” (Ps 44:3). In the genitive construct phrase אֲחֻזֵי חֶרֶב, the genitive noun חֶרֶב (“sword”) may be classified either as (1) a genitive of specification; “[skilled] in respect to swordsmanship” or (2) a genitive of instrument; “[skilled] with a sword.”

58 tn Heb “trained of war.” In the genitive construct מְלֻמְּדֵי מִלְחָמָה (mÿlummÿde milkhamah, “trained of war”) the noun מִלְחָמָה (“war, battle”) is a genitive of specification or limitation, that is, it specifies the extent to which the expertise of the subjects applies: “in regard to warfare.” The term מִלְחָמָה (“warfare”) may be nuanced metonymically as “the art of warfare” in the light of (1) its collocation with terms for professional expertise: מְלֻמְּדֵי (“trained”) and אֲחֻזֵי (’akhuze, “skilled”), and (2) its parallelism with חֶרֶב (kherev, “sword, swordsmanship”).

59 tn The term אַפִּרְיוֹן (’affiryon) is a hapax legomenon variously rendered “sedan-chair” (HALOT 80 s.v. אַפִּרְיוֹן) and “sedan, litter, palanquin” (BDB 68 s.v. אַפִּרְיוֹן). It occurs in Mishnaic Hebrew אַפִּרְיוֹן and Judean Aramaic אַפִּרְיוֹנָא (’affiryona’, “bridal-litter”; Jastrow 108 s.v. אַפִּרְיוֹן) and Syriac pwrywn/purya (“litter”). The Mishnah used אַפִּרְיוֹן in reference to a bridal-litter: “In the last war it was decreed that a bride should not pass through the town in an אַפִּרְיוֹן but our Rabbis later sanctioned it” (Sotah 9:14). There are several views of the origin of the term: (1) LXX Greek φορεῖον (foreion, “bridal-litter”) is a loanword from Hebrew; the term is not used in Greek until the Koine period (LSJ 1950-51); (2) Sanskrit paryanka and palki “palanquin, sedan-chair” (M. Monier-Williams, Sanskrit-English Dictionary, 554); (3) Old Persian upariyana “litter-bed” (R. Gordis, “A Wedding Song for Solomon,” JBL 63 [1944]: 263-70; G. Widengren, Sakrales Königtum im Alten Testament und im Judentum, 122); (4) less likely is Ugaritic apn “two-wheeled cart” (UT 305); and (5) Egyptian pr “house” with the prefix ua and suffix yn meaning “palace” (G. Gerleman, “Die Bildsprache des Hohenliedes und die altegyptische Kunst,” ASTI 1 [1962]: 24-30). A palanquin was a riding vehicle upon which a royal person sat and which was carried by servants who lifted it up by its staffs. Royalty and members of the aristocracy only rode in palanquins. The Illustrated Family Encyclopedia of the Living Bible, 10:55, describes what the typical royal palanquin was made of and looked like in the ancient world: “Only the aristocracy appear to have made use of litters in Israel. At a later period, in Greece, and even more so in Rome, distinguished citizens were carried through the city streets in splendid palanquins. In Egypt the litter was known as early as the third millennium b.c., as is testified by the one belonging to Queen Hetepheres, the mother of the Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops), which was found at Gaza. This litter is made of wood and inlaid in various places with gold decorations. Its total length is 6 ft. 10 in., and the length of the seat inside is 3 ft. 3 in. An inscription on the litter, of gold set in ebony, lists the queen’s titles.”

60 tn Heb “with trees of Lebanon.” In the genitive construct phrase מֵעֲצֵי הַלְּבָנוֹן (meatse hallÿvanon, “the wood of Lebanon”) the genitive functions as a genitive of place of origin: “wood from Lebanon.” The plural construct noun עֲצֵי (’atse, literally, “trees, woods” from עֵץ, ’ets, “tree, wood”) is a plural of composition: the plural is used to indicate composition, that is, what the sedan-chair was made out of. The plural is used because the sedan-chair was constructed from the wood from several trees or it was constructed from several pieces of wood (see IBHS 119-20 §7.4.1b; R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 7, §9; Joüon 2:500 §136.b).

61 tn Heb “He made its posts of silver.”

62 tn The nouns כֶסֶף (kesef, “silver”), זָהָב (zahav, “gold”) and אַרְגָּמָן (’argaman, “purple”) function as genitives of material out of which their respective parts of the palanquin were made: the posts, base, and seat. The elaborate and expensive nature of the procession is emphasized in this description. This litter was constructed with the finest and most expensive materials. The litter itself was made from the very best wood: cedar and cypress from Lebanon. These were the same woods which Solomon used in constructing the temple (1 Kgs 5:13-28). Silver was overlaid over the “posts,” which were either the legs of the litter or the uprights which supported its canopy, and the “back” of the litter was overlaid with gold. The seat was made out of purple material, which was an emblem of royalty and which was used in the tabernacle (Exod 26:1f; 27:16; 28:5-6) and in the temple (2 Chr 3:14). Thus, the litter was made of the very best which Solomon could offer. Such extravagance reflected his love for his Beloved who rode upon it and would be seen upon it by all the Jerusalemites as she came into the city.

63 tn The noun רְפִידָה (rÿfidah) is a hapax legomenon whose meaning is uncertain. It may be related to the masculine noun רָפַד (rafad, “camping place, station”) referring to a stopping point in the wilderness march of Israel (Exod 17:1, 8; 19:2; Num 33:14); however, what any semantic connection might be is difficult to discern. The versions have translated רְפִידָה variously: LXX ἀνάκλιτον (anakliton, “chair for reclining”), Vulgate reclinatorium (“support, back-rest of a chair”) Peshitta teshwiteh dahba (“golden cover, throne sheathed in gold leaf”). Modern translators have taken three basic approaches: (1) Following the LXX and Vulgate (“support, rest, back of a chair”), BDB suggests “support,” referring to the back or arm of the chair of palanquin (BDB 951 s.v. רָפַד). Several translations take this view, e.g., NRSV: “its back,” NEB/REB: “its headrest,” and NJPS: “its back.” (2) Koehler-Baumgartner suggest “base, foundation of a saddle, litter” (KBL 905). Several translations follow this approach, e.g., KJV: “the bottom,” NASB: “its base” (margin: “its support,” and NIV: “its base.” (3) G. Gerleman suggests the meaning “cover,” as proposed by Peshitta. The first two approaches are more likely than the third. Thus, it probably refers either to (1) the back of the sedan-chair of the palanquin or (2) the foundation/base of the saddle/litter upon which the palanquin rested (HALOT 1276 s.v. רפד).

64 tn The Hebrew noun אַרְגָּמָן (’argaman, “purple fabric”) is a loanword from Hittite argaman “tribute,” which is reflected in Akkadian argamannu “purple” (also “tribute” under Hittite influence), Ugaritic argmn “tax, purple,” and Aramaic argwn “purple” (HALOT 84 s.v. אַרְגָּמָן). The Hebrew term refers to wool dyed with red purple (BRL2 153; HALOT 84). It is used in reference to purple threads (Exod 35:25; 39:3; Esth 1:9) or purple cloth (Num 4:13; Judg 8:26; Esth 8:15; Prov 31:22; Jer 10:9; Song 3:10). Purple cloth and fabrics were costly (Ezek 27:7, 16) and were commonly worn by kings as a mark of their royal position (Judg 8:26). Thus, this was a sedan-chair fit for a king. KJV and NIV render it simply as “purple,” NASB as “purple fabric,” and NJPS “purple wool.”

65 tn The participle רָצוּף (ratsuf) probably functions verbally: “Its interior was fitted out with love/lovingly.” Taking it adjectivally would demand that ַאהֲבָה (’ahavah, “love”) function as a predicate nominative and given an unusual metonymical connotation: “Its inlaid interior [was] a [gift of] love.”

66 tn The accusative noun אַהֲבָה (’ahavah, “love” or “leather”) functions either as an accusative of material out of which the interior was made (“inlaid with leather”) or an accusative of manner describing how the interior was made (“inlaid lovingly,” that is, “inlaid with love”). The term אַהֲבָה is a homonymic noun therefore, there is an interesting little debate whether אַהֲבָה in 3:10 is from the root אַהֲבָה “love” (BDB 13 s.v. אָהֵב; DCH 1:141 s.v. אַהֲבָה) or אהבה “leather” (HALOT 18 s.v. II אַהֲבָה). The homonymic root אַהֲבָה “leather” is related to Arabic `ihab “leather” or “untanned skin.” It probably occurs in Hos 11:4 and may also appear in Song 3:10 (HALOT 18 s.v. II). Traditionally, scholars and translations have rendered this term as “love” or “lovingly.” The reference to the “daughters of Jerusalem” suggests “love” because they had “loved” Solomon (1:4). However, the context describes the materials out of which the palanquin was made (3:9-10) thus, an interior made out of leather would certainly make sense. Perhaps the best solution is to see this as an example of intentional ambiguity in a homonymic wordplay: “Its interior was inlaid with leather // love by the maidens of Jerusalem.” See G. R. Driver, “Supposed Arabisms in the Old Testament,” JBL 55 (1936): 111; S. E. Loewenstamm, Thesaurus of the Language of the Bible, 1:39; D. Grossberg, “Canticles 3:10 in the Light of a Homeric Analogue and Biblical Poetics,” BTB 11 (1981): 75-76.

67 tn Heb “daughters” (also in the following line).

68 tn Heb “the day of the joy of his heart.” In the genitive construct phrase וּבְיוֹם שִׂמְחַת (uvÿyom simkhat, “the day of joy”) the noun שִׂמְחָה (simkhah, “joy”) functions as a descriptive genitive of attribute (attributive genitive), that is, the genitive identifies the outstanding quality of the construct noun: “the joyous day” or “the day characterized by joy.” In the second genitive construct phrase שִׂמְחַת לִבּוֹ (simkhat livvo, “joy of his heart”) the noun לִבּוֹ (“his heart”) is a subjective genitive: “his heart rejoices.” The term לֵב (lev, “heart”) is a synecdoche of part for the whole (= Solomon himself), that is, “the day Solomon greatly rejoiced” or “the day of Solomon’s great joy.”

69 tn Heb “How is your beloved [better] than [another] lover?”

70 sn The Beloved’s praise of his appearance follows the typical literary structure of the ancient Near Eastern wasfs song: (1) introductory summary praise (5:10), (2) detailed descriptive praise from head to foot (5:11-16a), and (3) concluding summary praise (5:16b). There are several striking features about this song that are unique from the typical wasfs. (1) The ordinary setting of the ancient Near Eastern wasfs songs was the wedding night. (2) They were ordinarily sung only by a man in praise of his bride. (3) Normally, the wasfs song will conclude with the feet after the legs; however, the Beloved concludes by praising his mouth after his legs.

71 sn The term צַח (tsakh, “dazzling”) is ordinarily used to describe the shining surface of jewelry or of smoothed rocks (Ezek 24:7-8; 26:4, 14; Neh 4:7). Likewise, אָדֹם (’adom, “ruddy”) can describe the redness of rubies (Lam 4:7). Throughout 5:11-15 she compares his appearance to valuable jewels, gems, and precious metals.

72 tn The adjective אָדֹם (’adom) denotes either “manly” or “ruddy,” depending upon whether it is derived from אָדָם (’adam, “man”; HALOT 14 s.v. I אָדָם) or אָדֹם (“red”; HALOT 14 s.v. אָדֹם). If it is “manly,” the idea is that he is the epitome of masculinity and virility. On the other hand, the emphasis would be upon his health and virility, evidenced by his ruddy complexion, or it could be a comparison between his ruddy coloring and the redness of rubies (Lam 4:7).

73 tn Heb “outstanding.” The participle דָּגוּל (dagul) functions as a predicate adjective: “My beloved is…outstanding among ten thousand.” The verb דָּגַל (dagal) is relatively rare, being derived from the noun דֶּגֶל (degel, “banner”) which often refers to a military standard which, when lifted up, was conspicuous for all to see (Num 2:3-4; 10:14-15). The verb דָּגַל only occurs three other times, all referring to raising military banners for all to see (Ps 20:6; Song 6:4, 10). Song 5:10 uses the term figuratively (hypocatastasis) to denote “outstanding” (HALOT 213 s.v. דֶּגֶל). This sense is closely related to the cognate Akkadian verb dagalu “to look, contemplate” and the noun diglu “eyesight, view (what is looked at).” Like a banner lifted high, he attracted the attention of all who looked at him.

74 tn Heb “from, among.” The preposition מִן (min) prefixed to רְבָבָה (rÿvavah, “ten thousand”) is taken in a comparative, locative sense: “outstanding among ten thousand” (e.g., KJV, RSV, NASB, NIV, NJPS).

75 tn Heb “among ten thousand.” The numeral “ten thousand” is the highest number used in comparisons in Hebrew poetry (1 Sam 18:7-8; 21:12; 29:5; Ps 91:7). It is not used to mark out a specific number, but to denote an indefinite number of persons of the largest possible proportions (Gen 24:60; Num 10:36; Deut 33:2; Ps 3:7). Her point is simply this: no other man could possibly compare to him in appearance, even if he were in a group of an infinite number of men.

76 tn Heb “his head is gold of pure gold.” In the genitive construct phrase כֶּתֶם פָּז (ketem paz, literally, “gold of pure gold”) the genitive noun פָּז (paz, “pure gold”) functions as an adjectival genitive modifying כֶּתֶם (“gold”), that is, “pure gold.” The repetition of two different words for “gold” suggests that the phrase should be nuanced “the most pure gold.” This phrase is a predicate nominate in a metaphorical statement: “his head is (like) the most pure gold.” In the OT gold is frequently used in comparisons to emphasize the idea of beauty, value, or rarity (Job 28:12-19; Pss 19:11; 119:127; Prov 8:19; Isa 13:12; Lam 4:2). Palestine had no known sources of gold, but had to import it, making it a rare and precious commodity (Ruth V. Wright and R. L. Chadbourne, The Gems and Minerals of the Bible, 65).

77 tn Literally “his locks [of hair] are curls.” The Hebrew adjective תַּלְתָּל (taltal) is a hapax legomenon whose meaning is somewhat unclear. BDB suggests that תַּלְתָּל is from the root תּלל (“mound, heap”; BDB 1068 s.v. I תּלל) which is related to Arabic tl “mound, hill, top” (E. W. Lane, Arabic-English Dictionary, 311) and Akkadian tilu “hill, mound” (AHw 3:1358). On the other hand, HALOT suggests that תַּלְתָּל means “date-panicle” and that it is related to the Akkadian noun taltallu “pollen of date-palm” (HALOT 1741 s.v. תַּלְתַּלִּים). The term occurs in Mishnaic Hebrew as תַּלְתָּל “curls, locks” (Jastrow 1674 s.v. תַּלְתָּל). It is used in the same way in the Song. The form tltl is a reduplicated pattern used for adjectives denoting an intense characteristic (S. Moscati, Comparative Grammar, 78-79, §12.9-13). It functions as a predicate adjective to the subjective nominative קוּצוֹתָיו (qutsotav, “his locks of hair”).

78 sn In the genitive construct phrase עֲרוּגַת הַבֹּשֶׂם (’arugat havvosem, literally, “beds of balsam”) the term בֹּשֶׂם (bosem) is a genitive of composition, identifying what these gardens were composed of. The term עֲרוּגַת (“garden-beds”) refers to a private garden terrace or garden bed, a rare luxury in Palestine and very expensive to own (Ezek 17:7, 10) (BDB 788 s.v. עֲרוּגָה). The term בֹּשֶׂם (bosem, “balsam”) refers to balsam trees which yielded sweet-smelling oils from which perfumes were produced. The balsam trees should be identified either as Astragalus tragacantha which grew everywhere in Palestine and exude resin from its thorns, or as Commiphora opobalsamum which was not native to Israel but to South Arabia from whence it had to be imported at great cost (2 Chr 9:1) (Fauna and Flora of the Bible, 177-78). She is comparing the beautiful scent of his cologned cheeks to fragrant beds of spice.

79 tn Alternately, “towers of perfume.” The MT reads מִגְדְּלוֹת (migdÿlot) which yields the awkward “towers of perfume.” The term מִגְדָּל (migdal, “tower”) is normally used in reference to (1) watch-towers, defended towers along the city wall, and individual towers in the countryside to protect the borders, (2) storehouses, and (3) a tower in a vineyard (HALOT 543-44 s.v. I מִגְדָּל). It is never used in OT in association with a flower garden. On the other hand, LXX reads φυουσαι (fuousai, “yielding”) which reflects an alternate vocalization tradition of מְגַדְּלוֹת (mÿgaddÿlot; Piel participle feminine plural from גָּדַל, gadal, “to increase, produce”). This makes good sense contextually because the Piel stem of גָּדַל means “to grow” plants and trees (Isa 44:14; Ezek 31:4; Jonah 4:10) (HALOT 179 s.v. I גדל 2). This revocalization is suggested by BHS editors, as well as the Hebrew lexicographers (HALOT 544 s.v. 2; 179 s.v. I 2; BDB 152 s.v. גָּדַל 1). Several translations follow LXX and revocalize the text (RSV, NIV, NJPS margin): “His cheeks are like beds of spice yielding perfume” (NIV) and “His cheeks are like beds of spice producing perfume” (NJPS margin). The other translations struggle to make sense of the MT, but are forced to abandon a literal rendering of מִגְדְּלוֹת (“towers”): “banks sweet herbs” (ASV), “banks sweetly scented” (JB), “treasure-chambers full of perfume” (NEB), “banks of sweet scented herbs” (NASB), and “banks of perfume” (JPS, NJPS).

80 tn The term מֵעֶה (meeh) is used in reference to several things in the Old Testament: (1) the womb of a woman (Gen 25:23; Isa 49:1; Ps 71:6; Ruth 1:11), (2) a man’s loins (Gen 15:4; 2 Sam 7:12; Isa 48:19; 2 Chr 32:21), (3) the “inward parts” of a person, such as the stomach or intestines which are used to digest food (Num 5:22; Job 20:14; Ezek 3:3; Jonah 2:1-2), and (4) the external stomach or abdominal muscles: “abdomen” (Song 5:14).

81 tn Heb “sweetnesses.” Alternately, “very delicious.” The term מַמְתַקִּים (mamtaqqim, “sweetness”; HALOT 596 s.v. מַמְתַקִּים; BDB 609 s.v. מַמְתַקִּים) is the plural form of the noun מֹתֶק (moteq, “sweetness”). This may be an example of the plural of intensity, that is, “very sweet” (e.g., IBHS 122 §7.4.3a). The rhetorical use of the plural is indicated by the fact that מַמְתַקִּים (“sweetness”) is functioning as a predicate nominative relative to the singular subjective nominative חִכּוֹ (khikko, “his mouth”).

82 tn The term מַחֲמַדִּים (makhmaddim, “desirable”) is the plural form of the noun מַחְמַד (makhmad, “desire, desirable thing, precious object”; HALOT 570 s.v. מַחְמָד 1; BDB 326 s.v. מַחְמַד). Like the plural מַמְתַקִּים (“sweetness”) in the preceding parallel line, this use of the plural is probably an example of the plural of intensity: “very desirable.”

83 tn The phrase “Tell us!” does not appear in the Hebrew but is supplied in the translation for the sake of smoothness.

84 tn Heb “And we may seek him with you.” The vav-conjunctive on וּנְבַקְשֶׁנּוּ (unÿvaqshennu, “and we may seek him with you”) denotes purpose/result.

85 sn The term גַּן (gan, “garden”) is used six other times in the Song. In five cases, it is used figuratively (hypocatastasis) to describe her body or the sexual love of the couple (4:12, 15, 16a, 16b; 5:1). There is only one usage in which it might refer to a real garden (8:13). Thus, this usage of “garden” might be figurative or literal: (1) He went to a real garden for repose. Solomon did, in fact, own a great many gardens (Eccl 2:4-7; 1 Chr 27:27). (2) The “garden” is a figurative description referring either to: (a) the young woman, (b) their sexual love, or (c) Solomon’s harem.

86 sn The phrase כַּעֲרוּגַת הַבֹּשֶׂם (kaarugat havvosem, “flower-beds of balsam”) is used elsewhere in the Song only in 5:13 where it is a simile comparing his cheeks to a flower-bed of balsam yielding perfumed spices. The term הַבֹּשֶׂם (“balsam-spice”) by itself appears five times in the Song, each time as a figure for sexual love (4:10, 14, 16; 5:1; 8:14). Thus, the two options are: (1) the term refers to a real flower-bed of balsam to which Solomon had gone or (2) this term is a figure for sexual love.

87 tn The verb לִרְעוֹת (lirot, “to browse”; so NAB, NIV) is from the root רָעָה (raah, “to feed, graze”) which is used seven times in the Song (1:7, 8a, 8b; 2:16; 4:5; 6:2, 3). All its uses appear to be either literal or figurative descriptions of sheep grazing. The verb is used twice in reference to sheep “grazing” in a pasture (1:7, 8). The participle is used once to designate “shepherds” (1:8), once in reference to two fawns which “which graze among the lilies” as a figurative description of her breasts (4:5), and twice as a figurative description of Solomon as “the one who grazes among the lilies” which is probably also a comparison of Solomon to a grazing sheep (2:16; 6:3). Therefore, it is likely that the usage of the term לִרְעוֹת (“to graze”) in 6:2 is also a figurative comparison of Solomon to a sheep grazing among garden flowers. Thus, there are two options: (1) nuance the term לִרְעוֹת as “to browse” (NAB, NIV) and take this as a literal action of Solomon walking through a real garden or (2) nuance the term לִרְעוֹת as “to graze” (NLT) and take this as a figure in which Solomon is pictured as a gazelle grazing on the flowers in a garden.

88 sn The term שׁוֹשַׁנָּה (shoshannah, “lily”) or שׁוֹשַׁנִים (shoshanim, “lilies”) appears eight times in the Song (2:1, 2, 16; 4:5; 5:13; 6:2, 3; 7:2). Of these five are unequivocally used figuratively as descriptions of a woman or women (2:1, 2), the color and softness of her breasts (4:5), the attractiveness of his lips (5:13), and her waist (7:2). The closest parallel to 6:2 is the description “the one who grazes among the lilies” (2:16; 6:3) which is a figurative expression comparing his romancing of his Beloved with a sheep feeding on lilies. However, this still leaves a question as to what the lilies represent in 2:16; 6:2, 3. The phrase “to gather lilies” itself appears only here in the Song. However, the synonymous phrase “to gather myrrh and balsam spice” is used in 5:1 as a figure (euphemistic hypocatastasis) for sexual consummation by the man of the woman. There are three basic options as to how “lilies” may be taken: (1) The lilies are real flowers; he has gone to a real garden in which to repose and she is picking real lilies. (2) The term “lilies” is a figure for the young woman; he is romancing her just as he had in 2:16 and 5:1. He is kissing her mouth just as a sheep would graze among lilies. (3) The term “lilies” is a figure expression referring to other women, such as his harem (e.g., 6:8-9). Two factors support the “harem” interpretation: (1) Solomon had recently departed from her, and she was desperate to find him after she refused him. (2) His harem is mentioned explicitly in 6:8-9. However, several other factors support the Beloved interpretation: (1) She expresses her confidence in 6:3 that he is devoted to her. (2) The immediately following use of “lilies” in 6:3 appears to refer to her, as in 2:16 and 5:1. (3) He praises her in 6:4-7, suggesting that he was romancing her in 6:2-3. (4) Although his harem is mentioned in 6:8-10, all these women acknowledge that he is disinterested in them and only loves her. (5) Her exultation “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine; the one who grazes among the lilies” (6:3) is a statement of assurance in their relationship and this would seem quite strange if he was cavorting with his harem while she said this.

89 sn This is the second occurrence of the poetic refrain that occurs elsewhere in 2:16 and 7:11. The order of the first two cola are reversed from 2:16: “My beloved is mine and I am his” (2:16) but “I am my beloved’s and he is mine” (6:3). The significance of this shift depends on whether the parallelism is synonymous or climactic. This might merely be a literary variation with no rhetorical significance. On the other hand, it might signal a shift in her view of their relationship: Originally, she focused on her possession of him, now she focused on his possession of her.

90 tn Or “I belong to my beloved, and my lover belongs to me.” Alternately, “I am devoted to my beloved, and my lover is devoted to me.”

91 tn He compares her beauty to two of the most beautiful and important cities in the Israelite United Kingdom, namely, Jerusalem and Tirzah. The beauty of Jerusalem was legendary; it is twice called “the perfection of beauty” (Ps 50:2; Lam 2:15). Tirzah was beautiful as well – in fact, the name means “pleasure, beauty.” So beautiful was Tirzah that it would be chosen by Jeroboam as the original capital of the northern kingdom (1 Kgs 15:33; 16:8, 15, 23). The ancient city Tirzah has been identified as Tel el-Far`ah near Nablus: see B. S. J. Isserlin, “Song of Songs IV, 4: An Archaeological Note,” PEQ 90 (1958): 60; R. de Vaux, “Le premiere campagne de fouilles a Tell el-Far`ah,” RB 54 (1947): 394-433.

92 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

93 sn The literary unity of 6:4-10 and boundaries of his praise are indicated by the repetition of the phrase אֲיֻמָּה כַּנִּדְגָּלוֹת (’ayummah kannidÿgalot, “majestic as bannered armies/stars in procession…”) in 6:4 and 6:10 which creates an inclusion. His praise includes his own personal statements (6:4-9a) as well as his report of the praise given to her by the maidens, queens, and concubines (6:9b-10). His praise indicates that he had forgiven any ingratitude on her part.

94 tn The verb רָהַב (rahav) should be nuanced “overwhelm” or “arouse” rather than “storm against,” “make proud,” “confuse,” “dazzle,” or “overcome” (BDB 923 s.v. רָהַב).

95 tn Alternately, “your cheeks” or “your temple.” See 4:3.

96 sn The sequence “sixty…eighty…beyond number” is an example of a graded numerical sequence and is not intended to be an exact numeration (see W. G. E. Watson, Classical Hebrew Poetry [JSOTSup], 144-50).

97 sn The term עַלְמָה (’almah, “young woman”) refers to a young woman who is of marriageable age or a newly married young woman, usually before the birth of her first child (HALOT 835-36 s.v. עַלְמָה; BDB 761 s.v. עַלְמָה) (e.g., Gen 24:43; Exod 2:8; Ps 68:26; Prov 30:19; Song 1:3; 6:8; Isa 7:14). The only other use of the term “young women” (עֲלָמוֹת) in the Song refers to the young women of Solomon’s harem (Song 6:8). The root עלם denotes the basic idea of “youthful, strong, passionate” (HALOT 835 s.v. III). While the term עַלְמָה may be used in reference to a young woman who is a virgin, the term itself does not explicitly denote “virgin.” The Hebrew term which explicitly denotes “virgin” is בְּתוּלָה (bÿtulah) which refers to a mature young woman without any sexual experience with men (e.g., Gen 24:16; Exod 22:15-16; Lev 21:3; Deut 22:23, 28; 32:25; Judg 12:12; 19:24; 2 Sam 13:2, 18; 1 Kgs 1:2; 2 Chr 36:17; Esth 2:2-3, 17, 19; Job 31:1; Pss 45:15; 78:63; 148:12; Isa 23:4; 62:5; Jer 2:32; 31:3; 51:22; Lam 1:4, 18; 2:10, 21; 5:11; Ezek 9:6; Joel 1:8; Amos 9:13; Zech 9:17; HALOT 166-7 s.v. בְּתוּלָה; BDB 143 s.v. בְּתוּלָה). The related noun בְּתוּלִים (bÿtulim) means “state of virginity” (Lev 21:13; Judg 11:37-38; Ezek 23:3, 8; Sir 42:10) and “evidence of virginity” (Deut 22:14-15, 17, 20) (HALOT 167 s.v. בְּתוּלִים).

98 tn Alternately, “She alone is my dove, my perfect one.” The term אַחַת (’akhat) is used here as an adjective of quality: “unique, singular, the only one” (DCH 1:180 s.v. אֶחָד 1b). The masculine form is used elsewhere to describe Yahweh as the “only” or “unique” God of Israel who demands exclusive love and loyalty (Deut 6:4; Zech 14:9). Although Solomon possessed a large harem, she was the only woman for him.

99 tn Heb “the only daughter of her mother.” The phrase אַחַת לְאִמָּה (’akhat lÿimmah) is sometimes translated as “the only daughter of her mother” (NIV, NASB) or “the only one of her mother” (KJV). K&D 18:112 suggests that she was not her mother’s only daughter, but her most special daughter. This is supported by the parallelism with בָּרָה (barah, “favorite”) in the following line. Similarly, Gen 22:2 and Prov 4:3 use the masculine term אֶחָד (’ekhad, “the only one”) to refer to the specially favored son, that is, the heir.

100 tn The term בָּרָה (barah) is sometimes nuanced “pure” (NASB) because the root ברר I denotes “to purify, purge out” (BDB 140-41 s.v. בָּרַר). However, the root בָּרַר also denotes “to choose, select” (BDB 141 s.v. 2) (Neh 5:18; 1 Chr 7:40; 9:22; 16:41). Most translations adopt the second root, e.g., “the choice one” (KJV), “the favorite” (NIV), “favorite” (JB). This is supported by the exegetical tradition of LXX, which translates בָּרָה as ἐκλεκτή (eklekth, “the chosen one”).

101 tn Heb “daughters.”

102 tn Heb “to call blessed.” The verb אָשַׁר (’ashar) is used of people whom others consider fortunate because they have prospered or are to be commended (Gen 30:13; Ps 72:17; Mal 3:12, 15). Likewise, the verb הָלַל (halal, “to praise”) is used elsewhere of people who are held in high esteem by others either due to a commendable moral quality (Prov 31:28, 31) or due to one’s physical beauty (Gen 12:15; 2 Sam 14:25). The actual content of their praise of her appears in Song 6:10 in which they compare her beauty to that of the dawn, moon, sun, and stars.

103 sn This rhetorical question emphasizes her position among women (e.g., Mic 2:7; Joel 2:1).

104 tn Alternately, “rises” or “looks forth.” Delitzsch renders הַנִּשְׁקָפָה (hannishqafah) as “who rises,” while NIV opts for “who appears.” The verb means “to look down upon [something] from a height” and is derived from the related noun “ceiling, roof, sky” (BDB 1054 s.v. שָׁקַף; HALOT 1645 s.v. שׁקף). The verb is used of looking down over a plain or valley from the vantage point of a mountain-top (Num 21:20; 23:28; 1 Sam 13:18); of God looking down from heaven (Ps 14:2); or of a person looking down below out of an upper window (Judg 5:28; 2 Sam 6:16; Prov 7:6). M. H. Pope (The Song of Songs [AB], 571-72) suggests that this verb implies the idea of her superiority over the other women, that is, she occupies a “higher” position over them due to his choice of her. But another interpretation is possible: The verb creates personification (i.e., the dawn is attributed with the human action of looking). Just as the dawn is the focus of attention during the morning hours and looks down upon the earth, so too she is the focus of his attention and is in the privileged position over all the other women.

105 sn The common point in these four comparisons is that all are luminaries. In all four cases, each respective luminary is the focus or center of attention at the hour at hand because it dwarfs its celestial surroundings in majesty and in sheer brilliance. All other celestial objects pale into insignificance in their presence. This would be an appropriate description of her because she alone was the center and focus of his attention. All the other women paled into the background when she was present. Her beauty captured the attention of all that saw her, especially Solomon.

106 tn The term לְבָנָה (lÿvanah) literally means “the white one” (BDB 526 s.v. לְבָנָה) and is always used in reference to the moon. It is only used elsewhere in the OT in parallelism with the term used to designate the sun (Isa 24:23; 30:26), which likewise is not the ordinary term, but literally means “the hot one,” emphasizing the heat of the sun (Job 30:28; Ps 19:6). Both of these terms, “the white one” and “the hot one,” are metonymies of adjunct in which an attribute (i.e., color and heat) are substituted for the subject itself. The white moon in contrast to the dark night sky captures one’s attention, just as the red-hot sun in the afternoon sky is the center of attention during the day. The use of the figurative comparisons of her beauty to that of the dawn, sun, moon, and stars is strikingly similar to the Hebrews’ figurative comparison of Simon the high priest coming out of the sanctuary to the morning star, moon, sun, and rainbow: “How glorious he was when the people gathered round him as he came out of the inner sanctuary! Like the morning star among the clouds, like the moon when it is full; like the sun shining upon the temple of the Most High, and like the rainbow gleaming in glorious clouds” (See G. Gerleman, Ruth, Das Hohelied [BKAT], 171).

107 tn Heb “pure as the sun.”

108 tn The adjective אָיֹם (’ayom) has been nuanced “terrible” (KJV, RSV), “frightful, fear-inspiring” (Delitzsch), “majestic” (NIV), “awesome” (NASB). In the light of its parallelism with יָפָה (yafah, “beautiful”) and נָאוָה (navah, “lovely”) in 6:4, and יָפָה (“fair”) and בָּרָה (barah, “bright”) in 6:10, it should be nuanced “awe-inspiring” or “unnervingly beautiful.”

109 tn Heb “as bannered armies.” The term כַּנִּדְגָּלוֹת (kannidgalot, “as bannered armies”) is used figuratively (hypocatastasis) in reference to stars which are often compared to the heavenly armies. This nuance is clear in the light of the parallelism with the dawn, moon, and sun.

110 sn It is difficult to determine whether the speaker in 6:11-12 is Solomon or the Beloved.

111 tn The term אֱגוֹז (’egoz, “nut”) probably refers to the “walnut” or “walnut tree” (juglans regia) (DCH 1:116 s.v. אֱגוֹז). The singular form is used collectively here to refer to a grove of walnut trees.

112 sn It is not clear whether the “valley” in 6:12 is a physical valley (Jezreel Valley?), a figurative description of their love relationship, or a double entendre.

113 tn Most scholars agree that the Hebrew text of 6:12 is the most elusive in the entire Song. The syntax is enigmatic and the textual reading is uncertain. The difficulty of this verse has generated a plethora of different translations: “Or ever I was aware, my soul made me [like] the chariots of Ammi-nadib” (KJV), “Before I knew it, my soul made me like the chariots of Ammi-nadib” (AV), “Before I knew it, my fancy set me in a chariot beside my prince” (AT), “Before I knew…my desire hurled me on the chariots of my people, as their prince” (JB), “Before I knew it, my desire set me mid the chariots of Ammi-nadib” (JPSV), “I did not know myself, she made me feel more than a prince reigning over the myriads of his people” (NEB), “Before I knew it, my heart had made me the blessed one of my kins-women” (NAB), “Before I was aware, my soul set me [over] the chariots of my noble people” (NASB), “Before I realized it, my desire set me among the royal chariots of my people” (NIV), “…among the chariots of Amminadab” (NIV margin), “…among the chariots of the people of the prince” (NIV margin), and “Before I realized it, I was stricken with a terrible homesickness and wanted to be back among my own people” (NLT). For discussion, see R. Gordis, Song of Songs and Lamentations, 95; R. Tournay, “Les Chariots d’Aminadab (Cant. VI 12): Israel, Peuple Theophore,” VT 9 (1959): 288-309; M. H. Pope, Song of Songs (AB), 584-92; R. E. Murphy, “Towards a Commentary on the Song of Songs,” CBQ 39 (1977): 491-92; S. M. Paul, “An Unrecognized Medical Idiom in Canticles 6,12 and Job 9,21,” Bib 59 (1978): 545-47; G. L. Carr, Song of Solomon [TOTC], 151-53.

114 tn Alternately, “Before I realized it, my soul placed me among the chariots of my princely people.” There is debate whether נַפְשִׁי (nafshi, “my soul” = “I”) belongs with the first or second colon. The MT accentuation connects it with the second colon; thus, the first colon introduces indirect discourse: לֹא יָדַעְתִּי (loyadati) “I did not know” or “Before I realized it….” According to MT accentuation, the fs noun נַפְשִׁי (“my soul”) is the subject of שָׂמַתְנִי (samatni, Qal perfect 3rd person feminine singular from שִׂים, sim, + 1st person common singular suffix, “to put”): “my soul placed me….” This approach is followed by several translations (KJV, NASB, AV, AT, JB, JPSV, NAB, NIV). On the other hand, the LXX takes נַפְשִׁי (“my soul” = “I”) as the subject of לֹא יָדַעְתִּי and renders the line, “My soul [= I] did not know.” NEB follows suit, taking נַפְשִׁי as the subject of לֹא יָדַעְתִּי and renders the line: “I did not know myself.” R. Gordis and S. M. Paul posit that לֹא יָדַעְתִּי נַפְשִׁי (literally “I did not know myself”) is an idiom describing the emotional state of the speaker, either joy or anguish: “I was beside myself” (e.g., Job 9:21; Prov 19:2). S. Paul notes that the semantic equivalent of this Hebrew phrase is found in the Akkadian expression ramansu la ude (“he did not know himself”) which is a medical idiom describing the loss of composure, lucidity, or partial loss of consciousness. He suggests that the speaker in the Song is beside himself/herself with anguish or joy (S. M. Paul, “An Unrecognized Medical Idiom in Canticles 6,12 and Job 9,21,” Bib 59 [1978]: 545-47; R. Gordis, Song of Songs and Lamentations, 95).

115 tc While MT reads מַרְכְּבוֹת (markÿvot, “chariots”) some medieval Hebrew mss add the locative preposition בְּ (bÿ) or comparative particle כְּ (kÿ) before מַרְכְּבוֹת to produce “in/on/among/like the chariots.” Most translations supply a preposition: “My soul made me [like] the chariots of Ammi-nadib” (KJV, AV); “My fancy set me [in] a chariot beside my prince” (AT); “My soul set me [over] the chariots of my noble people” (NASB); “My desire set me [among] the chariots of Amminadab” (JPS, NJPS, NIV margin); “My desire set me [among] the royal chariots of my people” (NIV); “My desire set me [among] the chariots of the people of the prince” (NIV margin); “My desire hurled me [on] the chariots of my people, [as their] prince” (JB). R. Gordis offers a creative solution to the enigma of שָׂמַתְנִי מַרְכְּבוֹת עַמִּי־נָדִיב (samatni markÿvotammi-nadiv) by redividing the text and revocalizing it as שָׁם תֵּנִי מֹרֶךְ בַּת עַמִּי־נָדִיב (sham teni morekhammi-nadiv) “There, give me your myrrh, O nobleman’s daughter!” This involves two steps: (1) He redivides the MT’s שָׂמַתְנִי (“it placed me”) into two words שָׁם תֵּנִי (“There, give me”); and (2) He redivides the MT’s מַרְשְּׂבוֹת (“chariots”) into מֹרךְ בַּת (“your myrrh, O daughter”). This approach is supported somewhat by the LXX, which had a difficult time with the line: “There I will give my breasts to you!” The approach of R. Gordis is explained and supported by several factors: (1) He take מֹרךְ (“your myrrh”) as a figure (hypocatastasis) for her love (e.g., 4:6, 14; 5:1, 5, 13). (2) The word-division of בַּת עַמִּי־נָדִיב (“O noble kinsman’s daughter”) is paralleled by the nearly identical descriptive בַּת־נָדִיב (“O nobleman’s daughter”) in 7:2. (3) Arabs referred to a girl as bint el akbar (“nobleman’s daughter”). (4) The referent of שָׁם (“there”) is the garden/valley mentioned in 6:11. (5) This fits into the other literary parallels between 6:11-12 and 7:12- 14, listed as follows: (a) “I went down to the nut grove” (6:11a) and “Let us go to the vineyards” (7:12a). (b) “to look for new growth in the valley, to see if the vines had budded, or if the pomegranates were in bloom” (6:11b) and “Let us see if the vines have budded, if the blossoms have opened, if the pomegranates are in bloom” (7:13a). (c) “There…give me your myrrh = love” (6:12b) and “There I will give you my love” (7:13b). See R. Gordis, Song of Songs and Lamentations, 95.

tn The meaning of MT נַפְשִׁי שָׂמַתְנִי מַרְכְּבוֹת עַמִּי־נָדִיב (nafshi samatni markÿvotammi-nadiv) is enigmatic and has spawned numerous translations: “my soul made me [like] the chariots of Ammi-nadib” (KJV, AV); “my soul set me among the chariots of my princely people” (ASV), “my soul had made me as the chariots of my noble people” (NKJV); “my fancy set me [in] a chariot beside my prince” (RSV, NRSV); “my soul set me [over] the chariots of my noble people” (NASB); “my desire set me [among] the chariots of Amminadab” (JPS, NJPS, NIV margin); “my soul made me [like] the chariots of Amminadib” (WEB); “my desire set me [among] the royal chariots of my people” (NIV); “my desire set me [among] the chariots of the people of the prince” (NIV margin); “my soul set me over the chariots of my noble people” (NAU); “my desire hurled me [on] the chariots of my people, [as their] prince” (JB); “she made me feel more than a prince reigning over the myriads of his people” (NEB); “my heart had made me the blessed one of my kins-women” (NAB); “my soul troubled me for the chariots of Aminadab” (DRA); “I found myself in my princely bed with my beloved one” (NLT); “I was stricken with a terrible homesickness and wanted to be back among my own people” (LT); “But in my imagination I was suddenly riding on a glorious chariot” (CEV).

116 tc MT vocalizes and divides the text as עַמִּי־נָדִיב (’ammi-nadiv, “my princely people”); however, several other mss read עַמִּינָדָב (’amminadav, “Amminadab”). This alternate textual tradition is also reflected in the LXX (Αμιναδαβ, Aminadab) and Vulgate.

117 sn The chapter division comes one verse earlier in the Hebrew text (BHS) than in the English Bible; 6:13 ET = 7:1 HT, 7:1 ET = 7:2 HT, through 7:13 ET = 7:14 HT. Beginning with 8:1 the verse numbers in the Hebrew Bible and the English Bible are again the same.

118 tn Alternately, “Return…Return…!” The imperative שׁוּבִי (shuvi, “Turn!”) is used four times for emphasis. There are two basic interpretations to the meaning/referent of the imperative שׁוּבִי (“Turn!”): (1) The villagers of Shunem are beckoning her to return to the garden mentioned in 6:11-12: “Come back! Return!” R. Gordis nuances these uses of שׁוּבִי as “halt” or “stay” (“Some Hitherto Unrecognized Meanings of the Verb SHUB,” JBL 52 [1933]: 153-62); (2) In the light of the allusion to her dancing in 7:1 (Heb 7:2), several scholars see a reference to an Arabic bridal dance. Budde emends the MT’s שׁוּבִי to סוֹבִי (sovi, “revolve, spin”) from סָבַב (savav, “to turn around”). M. H. Pope (Song of Songs [AB], 595-96) also emends the MT to the Hebrew verbal root יָסַב (yasav, “to leap, spin around”) which he connects to Arabic yasaba (“to leap”). These emendations are unnecessary to make the connection with some kind of dance because שׁוּבִי has a wide range of meanings from “turn” to “return.”

119 tn The article on הַשּׁוּלַמִּית (hashshulammit) functions as a vocative (“O Shulammite”) rather than in a definite sense (“the Shulammite”). The article is often used to mark a definite addressee who is addressed in the vocative (e.g., 1 Sam 17:55, 58; 24:9; 2 Kgs 6:26; 9:5; Prov 6:6; Eccl 11:9; Zech 3:8). For the vocative use of the article, see GKC 405 §126.e; Joüon 2:506-7 §137.f; R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 19, §89; IBHS 247 §13.5.2c.

120 tn Heb “O Perfect One.” Alternately, “O Shunammite” or “O Shulammite.” The term הַשּׁוּלַמִית (hashshulammit) has been variously translated: “Shulammite maiden” (NEB); “maiden of Shulam” (JB); “O maid of Shulem” (NJPS); “the Shulammite” (KJV; NASB; NIV). The meaning of the name הַשּׁוּלַמִית is enigmatic and debated. LXX renders it ἡ Σουλαμιτἰ ({h Soulamiti, “O Shulamite”) and Vulgate renders it Sulamitis (“O Shulamite”). A few Hebrew mss read the plural הַשּׁוּלַמוֹת (hashshulamot) but the Masoretic tradition reads הַשּׁוּלַמִית as the versions confirm. Eight major views have emerged in the history of interpretation of the Song. They are arranged, as follows, in order from most likely (views 1-2), plausible (views 3-5), unlikely (view 6), to bizarre (views 7-8): (1) שׁוּלַמִית is a substantival use of the adjectival form qutal שׁוּלָם (shulam, “perfection”) with the gentilic suffix ית- from the root שָׁלֵם (shalem, “to be complete, perfect”): “the perfect, unblemished one” (Fox). This approach is reflected in rabbinic exegesis of the 12th century: “The meaning of the Shulammite is ‘perfect, without spot’” (Midrash Rabbah). (2) שׁוּלַמִית is Qal passive participle with the feminine adjectival suffix ית- from the root שָׁלֵם (“peace”): “the peaceful one” or “the pacified one” (Andre, Robert, Joüon). This is reflected in Vulgate pacificus (“the pacified one”), and Aquila and Quinta ἡ ἐηρυνεούσα ({h ehruneousa) “the peaceful one” (Andre Robert, Joüon). (3) שׁוּלַמִית is an alternate form of the gentilic name “Shunammite” (שׁוּנַמִית) used to refer to inhabitants of Shunem (1 Kgs 1:15; 2 Kgs 4:12). This is reflected in LXX ἡ Σουλαμιτἰ ({h Soulamiti, “O Shulamite”). This is supported by several factors: (a) Gentilic names are formed by the suffix ית- and the prefixed article to a place-name, e.g., הַיְּרוּשָׁלַמִית (hayyÿrushalamit, “the Jerusalemite”) is from יְרוּשָׁלַם (yÿrushalam, “Jerusalem”); (b) the interchange between lateral dental ל (l) and nasal dental נ (n) is common in the Semitic languages (S. Moscati, Comparative Grammar, 32, §8.26); (c) the town of Shunem was also known as Shulem, due to the common interchange between נ (n) and ל (l) in Hebrew (Aharoni, 123), as seen in Eusebius’ Onomasticon in which Shunem = Shulem; and (d) later revisions of the LXX read ἡ Σουναμωτἰ (“the Shunamite”) instead of the Old Greek ἡ Σουλαμωτἰ (“the Shulamite”). Shunem was a town in the Jezreel Valley at the foot of Mount Moreh near Mount Tabor and situated about nine miles east of Megiddo, fifteen miles northwest of Beth-shean, and five miles north of Jezreel (Josh 19:18; 1 Sam 28:4; 2 Kgs 4:8). During the Roman period, the town was called Shulem. See Y. Aharoni, The Land of the Bible, 24, 152, 172, 442, 308. Some scholars suggest that “Shul/nammite” refers to Abishag, the beautiful virgin from the village of Shunem who warmed elderly King David and was sought by Adonijah (1 Kgs 2:13- 25). Other scholars argue that Abishag has been imported in the Song on too slender grounds. (4) שׁוּלַמִית is the feminine form of the masculine name שְׁלֹמֹה (shÿlomoh, “Solomon”), just as Judith is the feminine of Judah: “Shulamith” or “Solomonette” or “Solomoness” (Lowth, Goodspeed, Rowley). The feminine ending ־ית may be suffixed to masculine personal names to transform them into feminine names. A similar form occurs in the Ugaritic designation of Daniel’s wife as Lady Daniel (e.g., mtt dnty). An anonymous Jewish commentator of the 12th century wrote: “The Shulammite was beloved of Solomon, for she was called after the name of her beloved.” The 16th century commentator Joseph Ibn Yahya wrote: “And the calling of her ‘Shulammite’ was determined by reason of her devotion to the Holy One (Blessed be He) who is called Shelomoh.” (5) As a combination of views 1-2, שׁוּלַמִית is a wordplay formed by the combination of the feminine name שְׁלֹמִית (shÿlomit, “Shelomite”) from שְׁלֹמֹה (“Solomon”) and the gentilic name הַשּׁוּנַמִית (“the Shunammite”) denoting a woman from Shunem: “Solomoness/Shunammite.” (6) שׁוּלַמִית is related to the Arabic root salama “consummation gift” (given to a bride the morning after the wedding): “O Consummated One” or “O Bride” (Hirschberg). (7) Those espousing a cultic interpretation of Canticles take שׁוּלַמִית as the name or epithet of the Canaanite moon goddess Ishtar, designated by the feminine form of the name Shelem, the name of her lover Tammuz, called Dod or Shelem (T. J. Meek). (8) An alternate cultic interpretation takes שׁוּלַמִית as a conflation of the name of the Assyrian war-goddess “Shulmanith” (Ishtar) and the gentilic name “the Shunammite” for a woman from Shunem (Albright). See M. V. Fox, The Song of Songs and the Egyptian Love Songs, 157-58; T. J. Meek, “Canticles and the Tammuz Cult,” AJSL 39 (1922-23): 1-14; E. J. Goodspeed, “The Shulammite,” AJSL 50 (1933): 102-104; H. H. Rowley, “The Meaning of ‘The Shulammite’,” AJSL 56 (1938): 84-91; W. F. Albright, “The Syro-Mesopotamian God Sulman-Esmun and Related Figures,” AfO 7 (1931-32): 164-69; W. F. Albright, “Archaic Survivals in the Text of Canticles,” Hebrew and Semitic Studies, 5; H. H. Hirschberg, “Some Additional Arabic Etymologies in Old Testament Lexicography,” VT 11 (1961): 373-85; M. H. Pope, Song of Songs (AB), 596-600.

121 tn Heb “we.” In ancient Near Eastern love literature, plural verbs and plural pronouns are often used in reference to singular individuals. See note on Song 2:15.

122 tn Alternately, “What do you see in…?” or “Why should you look upon…?” The interrogative pronoun מַה (mah) normally denotes “what?” or “why?” (BDB 552 s.v. מָה; HALOT 550-52 s.v. מָה). However, Gesenius suggests that the phrase מַה־תֶּחֱזוּ (mah-tekhezu) is the idiom “Look now!” on the analogy of Arabic ma tara (“Look now!”) (GKC 443 §137.b, n. 1).

123 tc The MT reads כִּמְחֹלַת (kimkholat, “like the dance”), while other Hebrew mss read בִּמְחֹלוֹת (bimkholot, “in the dances”). The LXX’s ὠ χοροὶ (w coroi, “like the dances”) reflects כִּמְחֹלוֹת and Symmachus’ ἐν τρώσεσιν (en tpwsesin, “in the injury”) reflects the locative preposition but a confusion of the noun.

tn Alternately, “like a dance or two camps” or “like a dance in two lines.” The phrase כִּמְחֹלַת הַמַּחֲנָיִם (kimkholat hammakhanayim) is difficult to translate: “as it were the company of two armies” (KJV), “as at the dance of the two companies” (NASB), “as at the dance of Mahanaim” (NIV), “in the Mahanaim dance” (NJPS). The meaning of the individual terms is clear: The noun מְחֹלָה (mÿkholah) denotes “dance in a ring” (Exod 15:20; 32:19; Judg 11:34; 21:21; 1 Sam 21:12; 29:5) (HALOT 569 s.v. מְחֹלָה). The noun מַחֲנֶה (makhneh) denotes “encampment, camp, army” and the dual form probably means “two armies” (HALOT 570 s.v. מַחֲנֶה). However, the meaning of the genitive-construct מְחֹלַת הַמַּחֲנָיִם (mÿkholat hammakhanayim) is unclear: “dance of the two camps/armies”[?]. W. F. Albright proposed “the dance of the Mahanaim” (“Archaic Survivals in the Text of Canticles,” Hebrew and Semitic Studies, 5). LXX translates ὠ χοροὶ τῶν παρεμβολῶν (w coroi twn parembolwn, “like the dances before the camps”).

124 sn Solomon calls attention to the sandals the “noble daughter” was wearing. While it was common for women in aristocratic circles in the ancient Near East to wear sandals, women of the lower classes usually went barefoot (e.g., Ezek 16:10).

125 tn Alternately, “noble daughter” or “magnificent daughter.” The title בַּת־נָדִיב (bat-nadiv, “princely daughter” or “daughter of the prince”; HALOT 673 s.v. נָדִיב; BDB 622 s.v. נָדִיב 2) suggests to some that this woman is not the Israelite country maiden of chapters 1-4 and 8, but the daughter of Pharaoh whom Solomon later married (1 Kgs 11:1). While the term נָדִיב often denotes nobility of position (“nobleman”), it can also denote nobility of character (“noble, willing, magnificent”) (e.g., Prov 17:26; Isa 32:5, 8) (HALOT 673-74; BDB 622 s.v. 2).

126 tn The term ַַחמּוּק (khammuq, “curve”) describes the shapely curvature of her legs (HALOT 327; BDB 330 s.v. 2) rather than a curving, dancing motion (Arabic bridal dance view). Although the verb חָמַק (khamaq, “turn”) appears twice (Song 5:6; Jer 31:22), the noun חַמּוּק is a hapax legomenon. In postbiblical Hebrew it refers to “rundles” (Jastrow 476 s.v. חַמּוּק). The term here has been translated in various ways: “[thigh] joints” (KJV), “rounded [thighs]” (RSV), “curves [of thighs]” (NASB), “graceful [thighs]” (NIV).

127 tn The term יָרֵךְ (yarekh, “thigh”) may refer to (1) the fleshy upper part of the thigh where the leg joins the pelvis (Gen 32:25-32; 46:26; Exod 1:5; Judg 8:30) or (2) the outside of the thigh from the hip down (Exod 32:27; Judg 3:16, 21; Ps 45:4; Song 3:8). The first usage is usually restricted to a figure for the male loins, the source of male procreation (Gen 46:26; Exod 1:5) and the locus of an oath (Gen 24:2, 9; 47:29).

128 tn The noun שֹׁרֶר (shorer) is a hapax legomenon, appearing in the OT only here. There is debate whether it means “navel” or “vulva”: (1) Lys and Pope suggest that שֹׁרֶר is related to Arabic srr (“secret place, pudenda, coition, fornication”). They suggest that this is contextually supported by three factors: (a) His descriptive praise of her is in ascending order, beginning with her feet and concluding with her hair. The movement from her thighs (7:1b), to her vulva (7:2a), and then to her waist (7:2b) would fit this. (b) The descriptive comparison to a glass of wine would be grotesque if her navel were in view – her navel was moist or filled with liquid? – but appropriate if her vulva were in view. (c) The navel would be a somewhat synonymous reference to the belly which is already denoted by בִּטְנֵךְ (bitnekh, “belly”) in the following line. Because 7:1-7 does not use synonymous parallelism, the term שֹׁרֶר would have to refer to something other than the belly. (2) The term שֹׁרֶר denotes “navel”: (a) It may be related to the bi-consonantal noun שֹׁר (shor, “navel, umbilical cord”) (Prov 3:8; Ezek 16:4). (b) Mishnaic Hebrew שָׁרָר (sharar) denotes “navel, umbilical cord” (Jastrow 1634 s.v. שָׁרָר). For example, in a midrash on the Book of Numbers, the noun שֹׁרֶר appears in an allusion to Song 7:3 to justify the seating of the Sanhedrin in the middle of the synagogue: “As the navel (שֹׁרֶר) is placed in the centre of the body, so are the Sanhedrin…” (Num. Rab. 1:4). On the other hand, the meaning “vulva” never appears in Mishnaic Hebrew. Therefore, apart from this disputed usage there is no evidence that this term was ever used in this manner in Hebrew. (c) Rather than שֹׁרֶר being related to Arabic sirr (“pudenda”), it could just as easily be related to the Arabic noun surr “navel.” It is methodologically more sound to define שֹׁרֶר as “navel” than as “vulva.” (d) The nuance “navel” is not as out of line contextually as Lys and Pope suggest. The navel would not be out of place in the ascending order of praise because the בִּטְנֵךְ (“abdomen”) which follows may be viewed as both above and below the navel. The figurative association of the שֹׁרֶר as a mixing bowl filled with wine does not imply that this bodily part must actually be moist or filled with liquid as Pope suggests. The point of comparison is not physical or visual but one of function, i.e., it is intoxicating. The comparison of the navel to a mixing bowl of wine is no more out of line than the comparison of the belly to a heap of wheat in the next line. In fact, the two go together – she is both the “drink” and “food” for Solomon. The shape of the navel is as congruent with the metaphor of the “round bowl” as the vulva; both are round and receding. (3) Since both terms are derived from the same geminate root – Hebrew שֹׁרֶר and Arabic srr – it is more prudent to take the term as a synecdoche of whole (lower region) for the parts (including navel and vulva). The attempt to decide between these two options may be illegitimately splitting hairs. See K&D 18:123; J. S. Deere, “Song of Solomon,” BKCOT, 199-200; D. Lys, “Notes sur de Cantique,” VTSup 17 (1969): 171-78; M. H. Pope, Song of Songs (AB), 617; G. L. Carr, Song of Solomon (TOTC), 157.

129 sn The expression אַגַּן הַסַּהַר (’aggan hassahar, “round mixing bowl”) refers to a vessel used for mixing wine. Archaeologists have recovered examples of such large, deep, two handled, ring-based round bowls. The Hebrew term אַגַּן (“mixing bowl”) came into Greek usage as ἂγγος (angos) which designates vessels used for mixing wine (e.g., Homer, Odyssey xvi 16) (LSJ 7). This is consistent with the figurative references to wine which follows: “may it never lack mixed wine.” Selected Bibliography: J. P. Brown, “The Mediterranean Vocabulary for Wine,” VT 19 (1969): 158; A. M. Honeyman, “The Pottery Vessels of the Old Testament,” PEQ 80 (1939): 79. The comparison of her navel to a “round mixing bowl” is visually appropriate in that both are round and receding. The primary point of comparison to the round bowl is one of sense, as the following clause makes clear: “may it never lack mixed wine.” J. S. Deere suggests that the point of comparison is that of taste, desirability, and function (“Song of Solomon,” BKCOT, 202). More specifically, it probably refers to the source of intoxication, that is, just as a bowl used to mix wine was the source of physical intoxication, so she was the source of his sexual intoxication. She intoxicated Solomon with her love in the same way that wine intoxicates a person.

130 tn The phrase אַל־יֶחְסַר (’al-yekhsar) has traditionally been taken as an imperfect: “it never lacks mixed wine” (M. H. Pope, Song of Songs [AB], 619); “which wanteth not liquor” (KJV); “in which liquor is never lacking” (RSV); “that never lacks mixed wine” (JB); “with no lack of wine” (NEB); “that shall never want for spiced wine” (NEB); “that never lacks blended wine” (NIV). This is also how LXX understood it: μὴ ὑστερούμενος κρᾶμα (mh usteroumenos, “not lacking liquor”). However, the negative אַל (’al) normally precedes a jussive expressing a wish or request: “May it never lack mixed wine!” (J. S. Deere, “Song of Solomon,” BKCOT, 202). This approach is adopted by several translations: “that should never lack for mixed wine” (NASB) and “Let mixed wine not be lacking!” (NJPS).

131 sn The term מָזֶג (mazeg, “mixed wine”) does not refer to wine mixed with water to dilute its potency, but to strong wine mixed with weaker wine. The practice of mixing wine with water is not attested in the Hebrew Bible. Both מָזֶג and מֶסֶךְ (mesekh) refer to strong wine mixed with weaker wine. The rabbis later distinguished between the two, stating that מָזֶג was strong wine mixed with weak wine, while מֶסֶךְ was wine mixed with water (Aboda Zara 58b). However, both types of wine were intoxicating. Mixed wine was the most intoxicating type of wine. In a midrash on the Book of Numbers a comment is made about the practice of mixing strong wine with weaker wine (e.g., Isa 5:22; Prov 23:30), stating its purpose: “They used to mix strong wine with weak wine so as to get drunk with it” (Num. Rab. 10:8). See J. P. Brown, “The Mediterranean Vocabulary of Wine,” VT 19 (1969): 154. The comparison of a wife’s sexual love to intoxicating wine is common in ancient Near Eastern love literature. Parallel in thought are the words of the Hebrew sage, “May your fountain be blessed and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer – may her love (or breasts) always intoxicate you, may you ever stagger like a drunkard in her love” (Prov 5:18-19).

132 tn Alternately, “your waist.” The term בִּטְנֵךְ (bitnekh) probably refers to the woman’s “belly” rather than “waist.” It is associated with a woman’s abdominal/stomach region rather than her hips (Prov 13:25; 18:20; Ezek 3:3). The comparison of her belly to a heap of wheat is visually appropriate because of the similarity of their symmetrical shape and tannish color. The primary point of comparison, however, is based upon the commonplace association of wheat in Israel, namely, wheat was the main staple of the typical Israelite meal (Deut 32:14; 2 Sam 4:6; 17:28; 1 Kgs 5:25; Pss 81:14; 147:14). Just as wheat satisfied an Israelite’s physical hunger, she satisfied his sexual hunger. J. S. Deere makes this point in the following manner: “The most obvious commonplace of wheat was its function, that is, it served as one of the main food sources in ancient Palestine. The Beloved was both the ‘food’ (wheat) and ‘drink’ (wine) of the Lover. Her physical expression of love nourished and satisfied him. His satisfaction was great for the ‘mixed wine’ is intoxicating and the ‘heap of wheat’ was capable of feeding many. The ‘heap of wheat’ also suggests the harvest, an association which contributes to the emotional quality of the metaphor. The harvest was accompanied with a joyous celebration over the bounty yielded up by the land. So also, the Beloved is bountiful and submissive in giving of herself, and the source of great joy” (“Song of Solomon,” BKCOT, 203-204).

133 tn Heb “fenced around by.”

134 tn Alternately, “the ivory tower.” The noun הַשֵּׁן (hashshen, “ivory”) is a genitive of composition, that is, a tower made out of ivory. Solomon had previously compared her neck to a tower (Song 4:4). In both cases the most obvious point of comparison has to do with size and shape, that is, her neck was long and symmetrical. Archaeology has never found a tower overlaid with ivory in the ancient Near East and it is doubtful that there ever was such a tower. The point of comparison might simply be that the shape of her neck looks like a tower, while the color and smoothness of her neck was like ivory. Solomon is mixing metaphors: her neck was long and symmetrical like a tower; but also elegant, smooth, and beautiful as ivory. The beauty, elegance, and smoothness of a woman’s neck is commonly compared to ivory in ancient love literature. For example, in a piece of Greek love literature, Anacron compared the beauty of the neck of his beloved Bathyllus to ivory (Ode xxxix 28-29).

135 sn It is impossible at the present time to determine the exact significance of the comparison of her eyes to the “gate of Bath-Rabbim” because this site has not yet been identified by archaeologists.

136 tn Heb “your head [is] upon you.”

137 sn The Carmel mountain range is a majestic sight. The mountain range borders the southern edge of the plain of Esdraelon, dividing the Palestinian coastal plain into the Plain of Acco to the north and the Plains of Sharon and Philistia to the south. Its luxuriant foliage was legendary (Isa 33:9; Amos 1:2; Nah 1:4). Rising to a height of approximately 1750 feet (525 m), it extends southeast from the Mediterranean for 13 miles (21 km). Due to its greatness and fertility, it was often associated with majesty and power (Isa 35:2; Jer 46:18). The point of the comparison is that her head crowns her body just as the majestic Mount Carmel rested over the landscape, rising above it in majestic and fertile beauty. See ZPEB 1:755; C. F. Pfeiffer and H. F. Vos, Wycliffe Historical Geography of Bible Lands, 100.

138 sn The term דַּלָּה (dallah, “locks, hair”) refers to dangling curls or loose hair that hangs down from one’s head (HALOT 222-23 s.v. I דַּלָּה). The Hebrew term is from a common Semitic root meaning “to hang down,” and is related to Arabic tadaldala “dangle” and Ethiopic delul “dangling curls” (KBL 222-23).

139 tn Heb “like purple” or “like purple fabric.” The term אַרְגָּמָן (’argaman, “purple fabric”) refers to wool dyed with red purple (HALOT 84 s.v. אַרְגָּמָן). It is used in reference to purple threads (Exod 35:25; 39:3; Esth 1:9) or purple cloth (Num 4:13; Judg 8:26; Esth 8:15; Prov 31:22; Jer 10:9; Song 3:10). NASB translates it as “purple threads,” while NIV nuances this term as “royal tapestry.” M. H. Pope (The Song of Songs [AB], 629-30) adduces several ancient Near Eastern texts and suggests that it refers to purple hair-dye. The comparison is to hair which entangles Solomon like binding cords and therefore, it seems most likely that the idea here must be purple threads. The Hebrew noun is a loanword from Hittite argaman “tribute,” which is reflected in Akkadian argamannu “purple” (also “tribute” under Hittite influence), Ugaritic argmn “tax, purple,” Aramaic argwn “purple” (HALOT 84). Purple cloth and threads were considered very valuable (Ezek 27:7, 16) and were commonly worn by kings as a mark of their royal position (Judg 8:26).

140 tn Alternately, “captivated.” The verb אָסַר (’asar, “to bind, capture, hold captive, put in prison”) is commonly used of binding a prisoner with cords and fetters (Gen 42:34; Judg 15:10-13; 16:5-12; 2 Kgs 17:4; 23:33; 25:7; 2 Chr 33:11) (HALOT 75 s.v. אסר). It is frequently used as a figure to depict absolute authority over a person (Ps 105:22). The passive participle סוּר means “to be bound, held captive, imprisoned” (2 Sam 3:34; Jer 40:1; Job 36:8). Like a prisoner bound in cords and fetters and held under the complete control and authority of his captor, Solomon was captivated by the spellbinding power of her hair. In a word, he was the prisoner of love and she was his captor. Similar imagery appears in an ancient Egyptian love song: “With her hair she throws lassoes at me, with her eyes she catches me, with her necklace she entangles me, and with her seal ring she brands me” (Song 43 in the Chester Beatty Cycle, translated by W. K. Simpson, ed., The Literature of Ancient Egypt, 324). J. S. Deere suggests, “The concluding part of the metaphor, ‘The king is held captive by your tresses,’ is a beautiful expression of the powerful effect of love. A strong monarch was held prisoner by the beauty of his Beloved” (“Song of Solomon,” BKCOT, 206-207). This is a startling statement because Solomon emphasizes that the one who was being held captive like a prisoner in bonds was the “king”! At this point in world history, Solomon was the ruler of the most powerful and wealthy nation in the world (1 Kgs 3:13; 10:23-29). And yet he was held totally captive and subject to the beauty of this country maiden!

141 tn Alternately, “O beloved one.” Consonantal אהבה is vocalized by the Masoretes as אַהֲבָה (’ahavah, “love”). However, a variant Hebrew ms tradition preserves the vocalization of the passive form אֲהֻבָה (’ahuvah, “beloved one, one who is loved”), as is also reflected in the Vulgate and Syriac. The term אַהֲבָה (“love”) usually refers to sexual (2 Sam 13:15; Prov 5:19) or emotional love between a man and a woman (2 Sam 1:26; Song 8:6-7) (HALOT 18 s.v. I אַהֲבָה).

142 tc The MT preserves a syntactically difficult reading בַּתַּעֲנוּגִים (battaanugim, “in/with delights”). A variant Hebrew textual tradition preserves the alternate reading בַּת תַּעֲנוּגִים (bat taanugim, “daughter of delights” or “delightful daughter”). The textual variant is either due to haplography (mistakenly writing ת once instead of twice) or dittography (mistakenly writing ת twice instead of once). The alternate textual tradition is reflected in Aquila θυγάτηρ τρυφῶν (qugarhr trufwn, “daughter of delights”). However, the MT reading אַהֲבָה בַּתַּעֲנוּגִים (’ahavah battaanugim, “O love, in your delights”) is אַהֲבָה בַּתַּעֲנוּגִים (“O love, in your delights”) is supported by LXX (Old Greek) ἀγάπη, ἐν τρυφαῖς σου (agaph, en trufais sou, “O love, in your delights”).

tn The term תַּעֲנוּג (taanug, “luxury, daintiness, exquisite delight”) is used in reference to: (1) tender love (Mic 1:16); (2) the object of pleasure (Mic 2:9); (3) erotic pleasures (Eccl 2:8); (4) luxury befitting a king (Prov 19:10). The term may have sexual connotations, as when it is used in reference to a harem of women who are described as “the delights” of the heart of a man (Eccl 2:8) (BDB 772 s.v. תַּעֲנוּג).

143 tn The term קוֹמָתֵךְ (qomatek, “stature”) indicates the height of an object, e.g., tall person (1 Sam 16:7; Ezek 13:8), tall tree (2 Kgs 19:23; Isa 10:33; Ezek 31:3-5, 10-14), a towering vine (Ezek 19:11).

144 sn The term תָּמָר (tamar, “palm tree”) refers to the date palm tree (Phoenix dactyliferia) that can reach a height of 80 feet (24 m). It flourished in warm moist areas and oases from Egypt to India. Ancient Iraq was the leading grower of date palms and dates in the ancient world, as today (M. H. Pope, The Song of Songs [AB], 633). There is also a hint of eroticism in this palm tree metaphor because the palm tree was often associated with fertility in the ancient world. The point of comparison is that she is a tall, slender, fertile young woman. The comparison of a tall and slender lady to a palm tree is not uncommon in love literature: “O you, whose height is that of a palm tree in a serail” (Homer, Odyssey vi 162-63) (S. H. Stephan, “Modern Palestinian Parallels to the Song of Songs,” JPOS 2 [1922]: 76).

145 tn Alternately “clusters of figs.” The term אַשְׁכֹּלוֹת (’ashkolot, “clusters”) usually refers to (1) clusters of grapes, that is, the stalk on which the bunch of grapes grow and the bunch of grapes themselves (Gen 40:10; Num 13:23-24; Deut 32:32; Isa 65:8; Mic 7:1) or (2) the berry on a cluster of henna bush (Song 1:14) (HALOT 95 s.v. I אַשְׁכּוֹל). It is possible that this is an anomalous usage in reference to a cluster of dates rather than to a cluster of grapes for three reasons: (1) the תָּמָר (tamar, “palm tree”) referred to in 7:7 is a date palm, (2) the term סַנְסִנִּים (sansinnim, “fruit stalks”) in 7:8a refers to the fruit stalk of dates (Rademus dactylorum), being related to Akkadian sissinnu (“part of the date palm”), and (3) the reference to climbing the palm tree in 7:8a is best understood if it is a date palm and its fruit are dates. The comparison between her breasts and clusters of dates probably has to do with shape and multiplicity, as well as taste, as the rest of this extended metaphor intimates. M. H. Pope (The Song of Songs [AB], 634) notes: “The comparison of the breasts to date clusters presumably intended a pair of clusters to match the dual form of the word for ‘breasts.’ A single cluster of dates may carry over a thousand single fruits and weigh twenty pounds or more. It may be noted that the multiple breasts of the representations of Artemis of Ephesus look very much like a cluster of large dates, and it might be that the date clusters here were intended to suggest a similar condition of polymasty.”

146 tn Heb “I said, ‘I will climb….’” The verb אָמַר (’amar, “to say”) is often used metonymically in reference to the thought process, emphasizing the spontaneity of a decision or of an idea which has just entered the mind of the speaker moments before he speaks (Gen 20:11; 26:9; 44:28; Exod 2:14; Num 24:11; Ruth 4:4; 1 Sam 20:4, 26; 2 Sam 5:6; 12:22; 2 Kgs 5:11). M. H. Pope renders it appropriately: “Methinks” (Song of Songs [AB], 635).

147 sn A Palestinian palm tree grower would climb a palm tree for two reasons: (1) to pluck the fruit and (2) to pollinate the female palm trees. Because of their height and because the dates would not naturally fall off the tree, the only way to harvest dates from a palm tree is to climb the tree and pluck the fruit off the stalks. This seems to be the primary imagery behind this figurative expression. The point of comparison here would be that just as one would climb a palm tree to pluck its fruit so that it might be eaten and enjoyed, so too Solomon wanted to embrace his Beloved so that he might embrace and enjoy her breasts. It is possible that the process of pollination is also behind this figure. A palm tree is climbed to pick its fruit or to dust the female flowers with pollen from the male flowers (the female and male flowers were on separate trees). To obtain a better yield and accelerate the process of pollination, the date grower would transfer pollen from the male trees to the flowers on the female trees. This method of artificial pollination is depicted in ancient Near Eastern art. For example, a relief from Gozan (Tel Halaf) dating to the 9th century b.c. depicts a man climbing a palm tree on a wooden ladder with his hands stretched out to take hold of its top branches to pollinate the flowers or to pick the fruit from the tree. The point of this playful comparison is clear: Just as a palm tree grower would climb a female tree to pick its fruit and to pollinate it with a male flower, Solomon wanted to grasp her breasts and to make love to her (The Illustrated Family Encyclopedia of the Living Bible, 10:60).

148 tn Heb “of the vine.”

149 tn The Hebrew noun תַּפּוּחַ (tappukha) has been traditionally been translated as “apple,” but modern botanists and the most recent lexicographers now identify תַּפּוּחַ with the “apricot” (BDB 656 s.v. I תַּפּוּחַ). This might better explain the association with the sweet smelling scent,
especially since the term is derived from a Semitic root denoting “aromatic scent.” Apricots were often associated with their sweet scent in the ancient world (Fauna and Flora of the Bible, 92-93).

150 tn The term חֵךְ (khek, “palate, mouth”) is often used as a metonymy for what the mouth produces, e.g., the mouth is the organ of taste (Ps 119:103; Job 12:11; 20:13; 34:3; Prov 24:13; Song 2:3), speech (Job 6:30; 31:30; 33:2; Prov 5:3; 8:7), sound (Hos 8:1), and kisses (Song 5:16; 7:10) (HALOT 313 s.v. חֵךְ; BDB 335 s.v. חֵךְ). The metonymical association of her palate/mouth and her kisses is made explicit by RSV which translated the term as “kisses.”

151 tc The MT reads שִׁפְתֵי יְשֵׁנִים (shifte yÿshenim, “lips of those who sleep”). However, an alternate Hebrew reading of שְׂפָתַי וְשִׁנָּי (sÿfata vÿsinna, “my lips and my teeth”) is suggested by the Greek tradition (LXX, Aquila, Symmachus): χείλεσίν μου καὶ ὀδοῦσιν (ceilesin mou kai odousin, “my lips and teeth”). This alternate reading, with minor variations, is followed by NAB, NIV, NRSV, TEV, NLT.

tn Or “his lips as he falls asleep.” Heb “the lips of sleepers.” Alternately, “over lips and teeth” (so NIV, NRSV, NLT).

152 tn Heb “his desire is for me” (so NASB, NIV, NRSV).



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