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The Song of Songs 2:4-5

Context
The Banquet Hall for the Love-Sick

The Beloved about Her Lover:

2:4 He brought me 1  into the banquet hall, 2 

and he looked 3  at me lovingly. 4 

2:5 Sustain 5  me with raisin cakes, 6 

refresh me with apples, 7 

for I am faint with love. 8 

The Double Refrain: Embracing and Adjuration

The Song of Songs 2:7

Context

The Beloved to the Maidens:

2:7 I adjure you, 9  O maidens of Jerusalem,

by the gazelles and by the young does 10  of the open fields: 11 

Do not awaken or arouse 12  love 13  until it pleases! 14 

The Song of Songs 3:5

Context

The Adjuration Refrain

The Beloved to the Maidens:

3:5 15 I admonish you, O maidens of Jerusalem,

by the gazelles and by the young does of the open fields:

“Do not awake or arouse love until it pleases!”

The Song of Songs 5:4

Context

5:4 My lover thrust his hand 16  through 17  the hole, 18 

and my feelings 19  were stirred 20  for him.

The Song of Songs 8:4

Context

The Beloved to the Maidens:

8:4 I admonish you, O maidens 21  of Jerusalem:

“Do not 22  arouse or awaken love until it pleases!”

The Song of Songs 8:6-7

Context
The Nature of True Love

The Beloved to Her Lover:

8:6 Set me like a cylinder seal 23  over your heart, 24 

like a signet 25  on your arm. 26 

For love is as strong as death, 27 

passion 28  is as unrelenting 29  as Sheol.

Its flames burst forth, 30 

it is a blazing flame. 31 

8:7 Surging waters cannot quench love;

floodwaters 32  cannot overflow it.

If someone were to offer all his possessions 33  to buy love, 34 

the offer 35  would be utterly despised. 36 

1 tc The MT vocalizes consonantal הביאני as הֱבִיאַנִי (heviani, Hiphil perfect 3rd person masculine singular with 1st person common singular suffix, “He has brought me”). However, several medieval Hebrew mss vocalize the form as הֲבִיאֻנִי (haviuni, Hiphil imperative 2nd person masculine singular with 1st person common singular suffix, “Bring me!”). This is also reflected in LXX (εἰσαγαγετε με, eisagagete me, “Bring me!”) and Syriac. This alternate vocalization tradition has several factors that make it a viable option: (1) It respects the consonantal text; (2) It is supported by the LXX and Syriac; (3) It provides a tighter parallelism with the two identical imperatival forms in 2:5a (both 2nd person masculine plural imperatives with 1st person common singular suffixes); (4) It provides thematic unity to the entire poetic unit of 2:4-5; and (5) It helps make better sense of an enigmatic unit. This approach is strengthened if the MT reading וְדִגְלוֹ (vÿdiglo, “and his banner”) is revocalized to the imperative וְדִגְלוּ (vÿdiglu, “and feed [me]”) (see translator’s note below). In this case, the parallelism throughout 2:4-5 would be very tight. It would feature four parallel imperatives of request, all revolving around the theme of love-sickness: “Bring me into the banquet hall, feed me with love; sustain me with raisin cakes, refresh me with apples, because I am faint with love.” The weakness with the revocalization to הֲבִיאֻנִי (“Bring me!”) is that it demands, due to the dictates of synonymous parallelism, the questionable revocalization of the MT’s וְדִגְלוֹ (“and his banner”) to the imperative וְדִגְלוּ (“and feed [me]”).

tn Alternately, “Bring me!”

2 tn Heb “house of wine.” The expression בֵּית הַיָּיִן (bet hayyayin, lit. “house of wine” or “place of wine”) refers to a banquet house where wine is drunk or a vineyard where grapes to produce wine are grown (HALOT 409 s.v. יַיִן). G. L. Carr favors the vineyard view due to the agricultural metaphors in 2:1-5. However, most commentators favor the banquet house view because of the reference to “raisin-cakes” and “apples” (2:4) which were served at banquets in the ancient Near East. Moreover, the expression בֵּית הַיָּיִן in in Song 2:4 may be equivalent to בֵּית מִשְׁתֵּה הַיַּיִן (bet mishte hayyayin, “house of the drinking of wine”) in Esther 7:8 (HALOT 409 s.v. יַיִן). Second, raisin cakes are mentioned in this context in 2:5, and they were often eaten to celebrate festive occasions (2 Sam 6:19; Isa 16:7; Hos 3:1); therefore, the banquet motif finds support. Selected Bibliography: E. Würthwein, “Zum Verständnis des Hohenliedes,” TRu 32 (1967): 205; G. L. Carr, Song of Solomon [TOTC], 90-91.

3 tc The MT vocalizes דגלו as the noun דְּגֶל (dÿgel) with 3rd person masculine singular suffix דִּגְלוֹ (diglo, “his banner [over me is love]”). However, several medieval Hebrew mss vocalize דגלו as Qal mp imperative וְדִגְלוּ (vÿdihlu, “Set [love before me].”) This is also reflected in LXX τάξατε ἐπἐμὲ ἀγάπην (taxate ep eme agaphn, “Set love before me!”).

tn The meaning of the term דִּגְלוֹ (diglo) is debated. Five basic views have emerged: (1) “his banner over me was love.” BDB relates דִּגְלוֹ to the noun דְּגֶל (dÿgel, “standard, banner”; BDB 186 s.v. דֶּגֶל) which refers to (a) banners, standards (Num 1:52; 2:2) and (b) battalion, company of troops, or division of a tribe signaled by a banner or standard (Num 2:3, 10, 17-18, 25, 31, 34; 10:14, 18, 22, 25). Thus, most translations render דִּגְלוֹ as “his banner” (KJV, NASB, NIV, NJPS). However, the expression “His banner over me was love” is enigmatic. (2) “serve love to me!” Delitzsch revocalized the noun וְדִגְלוֹ (“his banner”) as an imperative וְדִגְלוּ (vÿdiglu, “serve [me]”) from the root דָּגַל (dagal, “to serve food”) which is related to Akkadian dagalu II (“to serve food”). Delitzsch renders the passage: “Bring me into the banquet hall and serve me love…for I am faint with love.” This is supported by LXX which reads: εἰσαγάγετέ με εἰς οἶκον τοῦ οἲνου, τάξατε ἐπἐμὲ ἀγάπην (eisagagete me eis oikon tou oinou, taxate epeme agaphn, “Bring me into the wine house, and set love before me”). However, R. Gordis points out the difficulties with Delitzsch’s proposal: (a) The meaning “serve” for דָּגַל is unparalleled in Hebrew thus, it would create a homonymic hapax legomenon; (b) We would expect the preposition לִי (li, “to me”) rather than עָלַי (’ala, “over me”) after the imperative; and (c) The Akkadian parallel is uncertain. (3) “its banner above me is love.” HALOT relates דִּגְלוֹ to the Akkadian noun diglu (“eyesight, view, look, gaze”) and proposes the nuance “sign of an inn,” such as a flag placed over taverns (HALOT 213 s.v. דֶּגֶל). This approach renders the line: “He has brought me to the banquet hall, and its banner above me is love.” (4) “his look toward me was loving” = “he looked at me lovingly.” Several lexicons relate דִּגְלוֹ to the homonymic root דָּגַל, “look, glance” (e.g., DCH 2:415 s.v. II דָּגַל). The Hebrew noun degel II is related to the Akkadian noun diglu “eyesight, view, look, gaze” (CAD 3:21; AHw 1:14). Likewise, the Hebrew verb II דָּגַל (“to look, behold”; Song 5:10; 6:4, 10; Eccl 9:13; Ps 20:6) (BDB 186 s.v. דָּגַל; HALOT 213 s.v. I דגל; DCH 2:414 s.v. I) is related to the Akkadian verb dagalu I “to look upon, to gaze, to look with astonishment, to look at with admiration” (CAD 3:21; AHw 1:14). Those who adopt this approach render the line: “His glance upon me is love” (DCH 2:414) or “His look upon me was loving” (R. Gordis, “The Root dgl in the Song of Songs,” JBL 88 [1969]: 203-204; idem, Song of Songs and Lamentations, 81-82); or “He looked upon me with love.” (5) “his wish regarding me was lovemaking.” M. H. Pope (Song of Songs [AB], 376-77) notes that the Assyrian noun diglu may denote “wish,” i.e., desire or intent (CAD 3:136). He renders the line: “His wish regarding me was lovemaking” or “His intentions were to make love.” Pope’s suggestion has been adopted by several recent commentators (e.g., G. L. Carr, Song of Solomon [TOTC], 91).

4 tn The syntax of the noun אַהֲבָה (’ahavah, “love”) has been taken as: (1) predicate nominative: “His banner over me [was] love” or “His intention toward me [was] lovemaking” (M. H. Pope, Song of Songs [AB], 376-77; G. L. Carr, Song of Solomon [TOTC], 91); (2) genitive of attribute/content: “His banner of love [was] over me,” and (3) adverbial or adjectival accusative: “His look upon me was loving” or “He looked upon me lovingly” (R. Gordis, Song of Songs and Lamentations, 81-82). Examples of adverbial or adjectival accusatives, e.g., “I am peace” = “I am peaceful” (Ps 120:7); “I will love them as a free gift” = “I will love them freely” (Hos 14:5).

5 tn The imperatives סַמְּכוּנִי (sammÿkhuni, “sustain me”) and רַפְּדוּנִי (rappÿduni, “revive me”) are both plural in address (Piel 2nd person masculine plural imperatives with 1st person common singular suffixes). Thus, some commentators suggest that the woman is speaking to a large audience, perhaps the banquet guests implied in 2:4 or the maidens mentioned in 2:7 (R. Gordis, Song of Songs and Lamentations, 82). However, the Hebrew plural can be used in reference to a single individual when functioning in an intensive sense (IBHS 122 §7.4.3a). Thus, the woman may be speaking to her beloved, as in the rest of 2:3-6, but with intense passion. Similarly, in Sumerian love literature the bride sometimes uses plural verbs in reference to herself or her bridegroom (S. N. Kramer, The Sacred Marriage Rite, 92, 99).

6 sn The term אֲשִׁישׁוֹת (’ashishot, “raisin cakes,” from אֲשִׁישָׁה, ’ashishah) refers to an expensive delicacy made of dried compressed grapes (HALOT 95 s.v. אֲשִׁישָׁה; BDB 84 s.v. אֲשִׁישָׁה; Jastrow 128 s.v. אֲשִׁישָׁה). Raisin cakes were used as cultic offerings by many ancient Near Easterners, and were especially prominent in ancient Near Eastern fertility rites (e.g., Isa 16:7; Hos 3:1). In ancient Israel they were eaten during festive celebrations, being viewed as enhancing sexual fertility (2 Sam 6:19; 1 Chr 16:3). Scholars regard the “raisin cakes” as (1) literal food viewed as an aphrodisiac to “cure” her love-sickness; (2) a figurative expression (hypocatastasis) for sexual passion or lovemaking; or (3) double entendre referring to the literal food as an aphrodisiac and her desire for lovemaking.

7 tn Or “apricots.” The term תַּפּוּחִים (tappukhim, “apples,” from תַּפּוּחַ, tappukha) occurs four times in the book (Song 2:3, 5; 7:9; 8:5) and twice outside (Prov 25:4; Joel 1:12). It is usually defined as “apples” (BDB 656 s.v. תַּפּוּחַ); however, some argue for “apricots” (FFB 92-93). The Hebrew noun תַּפּוּחַ (“apple”) is derived from the Hebrew root נָפַח (nafakh, “scent, breath”) which is related to the Arabic root nafahu “fragrant scent” (HALOT 708 s.v. נפח). Hence, the term refers to a fruit with a fragrant scent. This may explain why the mere scent of this fruit was thought to have medicinal powers in the ancient Near East (G. E. Post, Flora of Syria, Palestine and Sinai, 128). This imagery draws upon two motifs associated with apples. First, apples were viewed as medicinal in ancient Syro-Palestinian customs; the sick were given apples to eat or smell in order to revive them. Similarly, the Mishnah and Talmud refer to apples as a medication like wine and grapes. Second, apples were considered an aphrodisiac in the ancient Near East. Both motifs are combined here because the Beloved is “love-sick” and only the embrace of her beloved can cure her, as 2:6 indicates (T. H. Ratzaby, “A Motif in Hebrew Love Poetry: In Praise of the Apple,” Ariel 40 [1976]: 14).

8 tn Heb “sick of love.” The expression חוֹלַת אַהֲבָה (kholatahavah, “sick of love”) is an example of the causative use of the genitive construct: “I am sick because of love,” that is, “I am love-sick.” The expression חוֹלַת אַהֲבָה (kholatahavah, “faint with love”) is a figure which compares physical or medical illness caused by a physically draining disease to sexual desire which is so intense that a person is so physically drained that they feel as if they could faint. The term חוֹל (khol, “sick”) refers to the physical weakness which consumes a person who is suffering from a medical illness (Gen 48:1; 1 Sam 19:14). It is used figuratively as a hyperbolic hypocatastasis for being so consumed with sexual desire that it saps one of his/her physical and emotional strength (BDB 317 s.v. 2). This is commonly referred to as “love-sickness.” It was associated with such deep longing for physical and sexual fulfillment that it weighed so heavily upon a person that he/she was physically and emotionally drained (2 Sam 13:2).

9 sn Frequently, when oaths were taken in the ancient world, witnesses were invoked in order to solemnize the vow and to act as jurists should the oath someday be broken. Cosmic forces such as the “heavens and earth” were often personified to act as witnesses to an oath (e.g., Deut 32:1; Isa 1:2; Mic 1:2; 6:1-2; Ps 50:2). In this case, the “witnesses” are the “gazelles and stags of the field” (2:7; 3:5). These animals were frequently used as symbols of romantic love in the OT (Prov 5:19). And in Egyptian and Mesopotamian love literature and Ugaritic poetry the gazelle was often associated with sexual fertility. For instance, in the following excerpt from a Mesopotamian incantation text the stag is referred to in the context of sexual potency in which a woman urges an ailing male: “With the love-[making of the mountain goat] six times, with the lovemaking of a stag seven times, with the lovemaking of a partridge twelve times, make love to me! Make love to me because I am young! And the lovemaking of a stag…Make love to me!” (R. D. Biggs, Ancient Mesopotamian Potency Incantations [TCS], 26, lines 4-8).

10 tn Traditionally, “hinds.” A hind is a female deer, generally less than three years old.

11 tn Heb “of the field.” The Hebrew term refers to open fields or open country as the home of wild animals; if taken adjectivally this could modify the previous term: “wild young does” (cf. NRSV).

sn The “gazelles” and “does of the fields” are probably zoomorphisms for love personified. In other words, the witness of this oath is “love” itself. Should the daughters violate this vow which they are asked to make, “love” itself would hold them accountable. Gazelles were often figures in Hebrew, Akkadian, and Ugaritic literature for mighty warriors or virile young men (e.g., 2 Sam 1:19; 2:18; Isa 14:9; Zech 10:3).

12 tn Alternately, “arouse…awaken….” The root עוּר (’ur) is repeated twice in 2:7 for rhetorical emphasis. The first is the Hiphil imperative (“do not awake/excite…”) and the second is the Polel imperative (“do not awake/start to move…”). The Hiphil depicts a causative action (causing love to initially awaken) and the Polel depicts an intensive action (repeated efforts to awaken love or to set love into motion). On the other hand, G. L. Carr (Song of Solomon [TOTC], 94) writes: “The meaning is not stir up, i.e., a repetition of the same act, but is rather first the act of awakening or summoning something, and then doing what is necessary to sustain the activity already begun, i.e., being so fully awakened that sleep becomes impossible (e.g., 5:2).” The terms ָתּעִירוּ (tairu, “arouse”; Hiphil imperative from עוּר) and תְּעוֹרְרוּ (tÿorÿru, “awaken”; Polel imperative from עוּר) are probably figurative expressions (hypocatastasis) rather than literal, because the object does not refer to a person (her lover) but to an emotional state (“love”). The Hebrew root עוּר has two basic meanings: (1) to wake up and (2) to excite (HALOT 802 s.v. II עוּר). These two nuances are paralleled in the related Semitic roots: Ugaritic `r and `rr “to be excited” (UT 19.1849; 19.1926; WUS 2092) and Akkadian eru “to awake” (AHw 1:247) (HALOT 802 s.v. II). The Hiphil stem has a four-fold range of meanings: (1) to wake up someone/something, (2) to excite, put into motion, start to work, (3) to summons, (4) to disturb (HALOT 802-803 s.v. II). When used literally, the Hiphil describes waking up a sleeper (Zech 4:1) or stirring up a fire (Hos 7:4). When used figuratively, it describes stirring up (Isa 50:4; Pss 57:9; 108:3) strength (Dan 11:25), anger/wrath (Ps 78:38), jealous/zeal (Isa 42:13), and love/sexual passion (Song 2:7; 3:5; 8:4). The Polel stem has a three-fold range of meanings: (1) to awake, start to move, (2) to agitate, disturb, (3) to set in motion (HALOT 802-803 s.v. II). The expression “arouse or awaken love” is figurative (hypocatastasis). It draws an implied comparison between the literal action of arousing a person from sleep and stirring him/her up to excited action, with the figurative picture of a lover sexually stirring up, arousing and exciting the sexual passions of his beloved.

sn What does the expression to “arouse or awaken love” mean? There are three major views: (1) to force a love relationship to develop prematurely rather than to allow it to develop naturally; (2) to interfere with the experience of passionate love; or (3) to stir up sexual passion, that is, to become sexually active. As noted above, אַהֲבָה (’ahavah, “love”) probably denotes “sexual passion” (DCH 1:141 s.v. I אַהֲבָה; HALOT 18 s.v. I אַהֲבָה) and עוּר (’ur, “awaken…arouse”) probably denotes “to stir up, excite” (HALOT 802-803 s.v. II עוּר). Likewise, the verb עוּר (“awake”) is used in Song 4:16 and Hosea 7:4 in reference to stirring up sexual passion to excitement.

13 tn The syntactical function of the article on הָאַהֲבָה (haahavah, “love”) is debated. Most translations view this as an example of the article denoting an abstract concept. However, a few translations (KJV, AV, JB, NEB) view it as an abstract use of the article for the concrete (abstractum pro concreto), and render it as “my love” as referring either to the woman’s own feelings or the feelings of her lover. Throughout the Song, the term אַהֲבָה (’ahavah, “love”) is not used as a term for endearment in reference to one of the lovers; it typically refers to sexual passion (Song 2:4, 5, 7; 3:5; 5:4; 8:4, 6, 7). When used of the man/woman relationship, the term אַהֲבָה (“love”) may refer to emotional love (Eccl 9:1, 6; Prov 15:17; Ps 109:4-5) or sexual love/desire (Gen 29:20; 2 Sam 1:26; 13:4, 15; Prov 5:19-20; 7:18; Jer 2:33; Song 2:4, 5, 7; 3:5; 5:4; 8:4, 6, 7) (DCH 1:141 s.v. I אַהֲבָה; HALOT 18 s.v. I אַהֲבָה). The reference to sexual desire in 2:4-5 and חוֹלַת אַהֲבָה (kholatahavah, “love-sickness”) in 2:5 suggests that the use of אַהֲבָה (“love”) in 2:7 is sexual desire. Love is personified in this picture.

14 tn Heb “If you arouse or if you awaken love before it pleases….” Paraphrase: “Promise that you will not arouse or awaken love until it pleases!” This line is a typical Hebrew negative oath formula in which the speaker urges his/her audience to take a vow to not do something that would have destructive consequences: (1) The expression הִשְׁבַּעְתִּי (hishbati, “I adjure you”) is used when a speaker urges his audience to take an oath. (2) The conditional clause אִם־תָּעִירוּ וְאִם־תְּעוֹרְרוּ אֶת־הָאַהֲבָה (’im-tairu vÿim-teorÿruet-haehavah, “If you arouse or awaken love…”) reflects the typical construction of a negative oath formula which consists of two parts: (1) protasis: the warning introduced by the conditional particle אִם (“if”) and (2) apodosis: the description of the disaster or penalty which would befall the person who broke the vow and violated the condition of the oath. (3) If the consequences of violating the oath were extremely severe, they would not even be spoken; the statement of the consequences would be omitted for emphasis – as is the case here, that is, the apodosis is omitted for rhetorical emphasis. As is typical in negative oath formulas, the sanction or curse on the violation of the condition is suppressed for rhetorical emphasis. The curse was so awful that one could not or dare not speak of them (M. H. Pope, IDB 3:575-77).

15 tn See the notes on these lines at 2:7.

16 tn Possibly a euphemism (double entendre). The term יָד (yad, “hand”) normally refers simply to the physical hand (HALOT 386 s.v. I יָד 1; BDB 388 s.v. יָד 1). There are, however, at least three occasions when יָד refers to tall stone pillars (translated “monument” or “pillar”), such as those used in Canaanite fertility-cults in the form of phallic representations (1 Sam 15:12; 2 Sam 18:18; Isa 56:5). It is clearly used as a euphemism for the male copulative organ in Isa 57:8, 10. It is now an established fact that yad is sometimes used as a euphemism for the male sexual organ in Ugaritic literature (e.g., text no. 52:33-35) (UT 1072). The noun יָד is also used in the Qumran literature in this sense in a list of penalties for indecent exposure (Manual of Discipline 7:12-15). Thus, several scholars suggest that a subtle double entendre in 5:4-6. The imagery of the man thrusting his “hand” through the “hole” in the door, and the Beloved “opening” to her lover, with her fingers dripped with “myrrh” on the “handles of the lock,” might have a double reference to the literal attempt to gain entry to her bedroom and his desire to make love to her. See M. Delcour, “Two Special Meanings of the Word yd in Biblical Hebrew,” JSS 12 (1967): 230-40.

17 tn Heb “sent his hand through.” Most scholars suggest that it denotes “to send through,” that is, “to thrust through” or “to extend through.” For example, BDB 1018 s.v. שָׁלַח 3.a proposes that מִן + שָׁלַח (shalakh + min) means “to stretch out (his hand) from the outside, inward.” He was attempting to open the door from the outside by extending his hand inside the door through some kind of latch-opening: “he put in his hand by the opening of the door” (KJV), “he extended his hand through the opening” (NASB), “he thrust his hand through the latch-opening” (NIV). Others, however, suggest that the construction.
מִן + שָׁלַח denotes “to withdraw from” (e.g., 1 Kgs 13:4). The preposition מִן is taken to mean, not “through,” but “away from.” Thus, he was withdrawing his hand from the latch-opening, that is, he had given up and was leaving. This approach is adopted by NJPS: “My beloved took his hand off the latch.” His departure is clearly stated in 5:6, “I opened [the door] for my beloved, but my beloved had already turned and gone away; my heart sank at his departure!” (see study notes below on 5:6).

18 tn Heb “hole.” Probably “latch-hole” or “key-hole,” but possibly a euphemism (double entendre). The noun חֹר (khor, “hole”) is used in OT in a literal and metaphorical sense: (1) literal sense: hole bored in the lid of a chest (2 Kgs 12:10); hole in a wall (Ezek 8:7); hole in the ground or cave used as hiding places for men (1 Sam 13:6; 14:11; Isa 42:23); hole in the ground, as the dwelling place of an asp (Isa 11:8); and a hole in a mountain, as the den of lions (Nah 2:13); and (2) figurative sense: hole of an eye (metonymy of association), that is, eye-socket (Zech 14:12) (HALOT 348 s.v. II חֹר; BDB 359 s.v. III חֹר). While the meaning of חֹר in Song 5:4 is clear – “hole” – there is a debate whether it is used in a literal or figurative sense. (1) Literal sense: The lexicons suggest that it denotes “hole of a door, that is, key-hole or latch-opening” (HALOT 348; BDB 359). Most commentators suggest that it refers to a hole bored through the bedroom door to provide access to the latch or lock. The mention in 5:5 of כַּפּוֹת הַמַּנְעוּל (kaffot hammanul, “latches of the door-bolt”) suggests that the term refers to some kind of opening associated with the latch of the bedroom door. This approach is followed by most translations: “the hole in the door” (JB), “the latch-hole” (NEB), “the latch-opening” (NIV), “the latch-hole” (NEB), “the latch” (RSV, NJPS), and “the opening of the door” (KJV). The assumption that the hole in question was a latch-hole in the door is reflected in Midrash Rabbah: Rabbi Abba ben Kahana said, “Why is the hole of the door mentioned here, seeing that it is a place where vermin swarm?” The situation envisaged by his actions are often depicted thus: In ancient Near Eastern villages, the bolting systems of doors utilized door-bolts and keys made of wood. The keys were often stored either on the outside (!) or inside of the door. If the key was placed on the inside of the door, a small hole was bored through the door so that a person could reach through the hole with the key to unlock the door. The key was often over a foot in length, and the keyhole large enough for a man’s hand. Apparently, he extended his hand through the hole from the outside to try to unbolt the door latch on the inside. He could put his hand through the hole, but could not open the door without the key. (2) Figurative sense: Because of the presence of several erotic motifs in 5:2-8 and the possibility that a double entendre is present (see notes below), several scholars suggest that the term is a euphemism for the female vagina (HALOT 348). They suggest that חֹר (“hole”) is the female counterpart for the euphemistic usage of יָד (“hand”) in 5:4. See A. S. Cook, The Root of the Thing: A Study of Job and the Song of Songs, 110, 123; Cheryl Exum, “A Literary and Structural Analysis of the Song of Songs,” ZAW 85 (1973): 50-51; M. H. Pope, Song of Songs (AB), 518-19.

19 tn Heb “my inward parts,” “my intestines,” or “my bowels.” Alternately, “my feelings” or “my emotions.” The term מֵעֶה (meeh) is used of the internal organs in general (“inward parts”) (e.g., 2 Sam 20:10; 2 Chr 21:15, 18; Pss 22:14; 40:9) or the digestive organs in particular (“intestines, bowels, stomach”) (e.g., Num 5:22; Job 20:14; Ezek 3:3; 7:19; Jonah 2:1-2). It is frequently used as a metonymy of adjunct for the emotions which Hebrew psychology associated with these internal organs (see H. W. Wolff, Anthropology of the Old Testament, 63-66). These include pity (Isa 16:11), lamentation (Jer 48:36), distress (Jer 4:19; Lam 1:20; 2:11), and compassion (Isa 63:15; Jer 31:20) (HALOT 610-11 s.v. מֵעֶה 3; BDB 589 s.v. מֵעֶה 5). Most scholars suggest that the Beloved’s feelings of love were revived – a reversal of her feelings of indifference and apathy in 5:3. This is reflected in many translations which use equivalent English idioms: “the core of my being” (JB) and “my heart” (NIV, NJPS) over the woodenly literal “my bowels” (KJV, NEB, AV). On the other hand, the term is also used to refer to the procreative organs, both male (e.g., Gen 15:4; 2 Sam 7:12; 16:11; Isa 48:19; 2 Chr 32:21) and female (e.g., Gen 25:23; Ruth 1:11; Ps 71:6; Isa 49:1). NASB well renders the line, “my feelings were aroused for him” (NASB).

20 tn The exact meaning of this Hebrew verb is uncertain. The exact connotation of the verb הָמוּ (hamu) in 5:4 is debated. The verb הָמָה (hamah, “to murmur, growl, roar, be boisterous”) is related to the noun הָמוֹן (hamon, “sound, murmur, roar, noisy crowd”), הֶמְיָה (hemyah, “sound, music”), and perhaps even הָמֻלָה (hamulah, “noise, noisy crowd, crowd”). The Hebrew root המה is related to Aramaic המא (“to roar; to be agitated”). The Hebrew verb הָמָה has a basic two-fold range of meanings: (1) literal: “to make a noise” of some kind and (2) figurative: “to be in commotion, uproar” (e.g., often associated with noise or a noisy crowd). The lexicons suggest six distinct categories: (1) “to make a noise” or “to be in commotion,” particularly by a tumultuous crowd (1 Kgs 1:41; Pss 39:7; 46:7; Prov 1:21; Is 22:2; Mic 2:12); (2) “to roar,” of the sea and sea-waves (Isa 17:12; 51:15; Jer 5:22; 6:23; 31:35; 50:42; 51:55; Ps 46:4); (3) “to make a sound,” e.g., bear growling (Isa 59:11), dog barking (Ps 59:7, 15), bird chirping (Ps 102:8), dove cooing (Ezek 7:16); (4) “to moan,” (Ps 39:7; 55:18; Prov 1:21; Lam 2:18; Ezek 7:16; Zech 9:15); (5) “to be turbulent, boisterous” (Prov 7:11; 9:13; 20:1; Zech 9:5); and (6) figuratively of the internal organs: “to murmur, be restless, be turbulent,” used in reference to pity (Isa 16:11; Jer 4:19; 31:20; 48:36), discouragement (Ps 42:6, 12; 43:5), and murmuring in prayer (Pss 55:18; 77:4) (HALOT 250 s.v. המה; BDB 242 s.v. הָמָה). HALOT suggests “to be turbulent” for Song 5:4 (HALOT 250 s.v. 4), while BDB suggests “the thrill of deep-felt compassion or sympathy” (BDB 242 s.v. 2). Commentators offer a spectrum of opinions from the Beloved feeling agitation, pity, compassion, sexual arousal, or a revival of her love for him. A survey of the translations reveals the same lack of consensus: “my bowels were moved for him” (KJV), “my bowels stirred within me” (NEB), “my heart was thrilled within me” (RSV), “I trembled to the core of my being” (JB), “my heart trembled within me” (NAB), “my heart was stirred for him” (JPS, NJPS), “my feelings were aroused for him” (NASB), and “my heart began to pound for him” (NIV). While the precise meaning may never be agreed upon, whatever she was feeling she roused herself from her indifferent apathetic inactivity to arise and open for her beloved in 5:5. The phrase is used similarly elsewhere in OT, rousing the subject to irresistible action (Jer 4:19). The simplest course of action is to nuance this term metonymically (cause for effect), e.g., “my feelings were stirred up for him.”

21 tn Heb “daughters of Jerusalem.”

22 tn Heb “Why arouse or awaken …?” Although the particle מָה (mah) is used most often as an interrogative pronoun (“What?” “Why?”), it also can be used as a particle of negation. For example, “How (מָה) could I look at a girl?” means “I have not looked at a girl!” (Job 31:1); “What (מַה) do we have to drink?” means “We have nothing to drink” (Exod 15:24); “What (מַה) part do we have?” means “We have no part” (1 Kgs 12:16); and “Why (מַה) arouse or awaken love?” means “Do not arouse or awaken love!” (Song 8:4). See HALOT 551 s.v. מָה C.

23 sn In the ancient Near East חוֹתָם (khotam, “seal”) was used to denote ownership and was thus very valuable (Jer 22:24; Hag 2:23; Eccl 17:22). Seals were used to make a stamp impression to identify the object as the property of the seal’s owner (HALOT 300 s.v. I חוֹתָם). Seals were made of semi-precious stone upon which was engraved a unique design and an inscription, e.g., LMLK [PN] “belonging to king […].” The impression could be placed upon wet clay of a jar or on a writing tablet by rolling the seal across the clay. Because it was a valuable possession its owner would take careful precautions to not lose it and would keep it close to him at all times.

24 tn The term לֵבָב (levav, “heart”) is used figuratively here as (1) a metonymy (container for the thing contained) for his chest over which the cylinder seal was hung or (2) a metonymy (concrete body part for the abstract emotions with which it is associated) for his emotions, such as love and loyalty to the Beloved (e.g., Judg 16:25; Ruth 3:7; 1 Sam 25:36; 2 Sam 13:28; 1 Kgs 8:66) (HALOT 514-15 s.v. לֵב) (see H. W. Wolff, Anthropology of the Old Testament, 40-58).

sn There were two kinds of cylinder seals in the ancient Near East, namely, those worn around one’s neck and those worn around one’s wrist. The typical Mesopotamian seal was mounted on a pin and hung on a string or necklace around one’s neck. The cylinder seal hung around one’s neck would, figuratively speaking, rest over the heart (metonymy of association). The Beloved wished to be to Solomon like a cylinder seal worn over his heart. She wanted to be as intimate with her lover as the seal worn by him (W. W. Hallo, “‘As the Seal Upon Thy Heart’: Glyptic Roles in the Biblical World,” BRev 2 [1985]: 26).

25 tn Literally “cylinder-seal” or “seal.” The term חוֹתָם (khotam, “cylinder-seal”) is repeated in 8:6 for emphasis. The translation above uses the terms “cylinder seal” and “signet” simply for the sake of poetic variation. The Beloved wanted to be as safe and secure as a cylinder seal worn on the arm or around the neck, hanging down over the heart. She also wanted to be placed on his heart (emotions), like the impression of a cylinder seal is written on a document. She wanted to be “written” on his heart like the impression of a cylinder seal, and kept secure in his love as a signet ring is worn around his arm/hand to keep it safe.

26 tn Alternately, “wrist.” In Palestine cylinder seals were often hung on a bracelet worn around one’s wrist. The cylinder seal was mounted on a pin hanging from a bracelet. The cylinder seal in view in Song 8:6 could be a stamp seal hung from a bracelet of a type known from excavations in Israel. See W. W. Hallo, “‘As the Seal Upon Thy Heart’: Glyptic Roles in the Biblical World,” BRev 2 (1985): 26.

27 sn It was a common practice in the ancient world to compare intense feelings to death. The point of the expression “love is as strong as death” means that love is extremely strong. The expression “love is as cruel as Sheol” may simply mean that love can be profoundly cruel. For example: “His soul was vexed to death,” means that he could not stand it any longer (Judg 16:16). “I do well to be angry to death,” means that he was extremely angry (Jonah 4:9). “My soul is sorrowful to death,” means that he was exceedingly sorrowful (Matt 26:38 = Mark 14:34) (D. W. Thomas, “A Consideration of Some Unusual Ways of Expressing the Superlative in Hebrew,” VT 3 [1953]: 220-21).

28 tn Alternately, “jealousy.” The noun קִנְאָה (qinah) has a wide range of meanings: “jealousy” (Prov 6:34; 14:30; 27:4), “competitiveness” (Eccl 4:4; 9:6), “anger” (Num 5:14, 30), “zeal” (2 Kgs 10:16; Pss 69:10; 119:139; Job 5:2; Sir 30:24), and “passion” (Song 8:6). The Hebrew noun is related to the Akkadian and Arabic roots that mean “to become intensely red” or “become red with passion,” suggesting that the root denotes strong emotion. Although קִנְאָה is traditionally rendered “jealousy” (KJV, RSV, NASB, NIV), the parallelism with אַהֲבָה (’ahavah, “love”) suggests the nuance “passion” (NJPS). Coppes notes, “This word is translated in the KJV in a bad sense in Song 8:6, ‘jealousy is as cruel as the grave,’ but it could be taken in a good sense in parallel with the preceding, ‘ardent zeal is as strong as the grave’” (TWOT 2:803).

29 tn Heb “harsh” or “severe.”

30 tn Heb “Its flames are flames of fire.”

31 tn The noun שַׁלְהֶבֶתְיָה (shalhevetyah, “mighty flame”) is related to the nouns שַׁלְהֶבֶת (shalhevet, “flame”), לֶהָבָה (lehavah, “flame”), and לַהַב (lahav, “flame”), all of which are derived from the root להב “to burn, blaze, flame up” (HALOT 520 s.v. לַהַב). The form שַׁלְהֶבֶתְיָה is an unusual noun pattern with (1) a prefix ־שׁ that is common in Akkadian but rare in Hebrew; it has an intensive adjective meaning, (2) a feminine ־ת ending, and (3) a suffix ־יָה whose meaning is debated. The suffix ־יָה has been taken in three ways by scholars and translators: (1) יָה is an abbreviated form of the divine name יהוה (“Yahweh”), functioning as a genitive of source: “the flame of the Lord” (NASB). The abbreviated form יָהּ is used only in poetic texts as a poetic variation of יהוה (e.g., Exod 15:2; 17:16; Pss 68:5, 19; 77:12; 89:9; 94:7, 12; 102:19; 104:35; 105:45; 106:1, 48; 111:1; 112:1; 113:1, 9; 115:17, 18; 116:19; 117:2; 118:5, 14, 17-19; 122:4; 130:3; 135:1, 3, 4, 21; 146:1, 10; 147:1, 20; 148:1, 14; 149:1, 9; 150:1, 6; Isa 12:2; 26:4; 38:11). However, the Masoretes did not point the text as שַׁלְהֶבֶת־יָהּ (shalhevet-yah) with maqqep and daghesh in the הּ, as would be the case with the divine name. (2) Thomas suggests that, just as אֱלֹהִים (’elohim) and אֵל (’el) are sometimes used to express superlatives or intensive ideas, so יָה expresses the superlative/intensive: “a mighty flame” (D. W. Thomas, “A Consideration of Some Unusual Ways of Expressing the Superlative in Hebrew,” VT 3 [1953]: 209-24). Examples of אֱלֹהִים (’elohim): “a mighty wind” (Gen 1:2), “a mighty prince” (Gen 23:6), “a great struggle” (Gen 30:8), “a great fire” (Job 1:16), “an exceeding great city” (Jonah 3:3). Examples of אֵל (’el): “the mighty mountains” (Ps 36:7) and “the mighty cedars” (Ps 80:11). Examples of יָה (yah) suffixed: “darkest gloom” (Jer 2:31), “mighty deeds” (Jer 32:19), and “mighty deeds” (Ps 77:12). (3) The most likely view is that יָה is an intensive adjectival suffix, similar to –iy and –ay and –awi in Aramaic, Akkadian, and Arabic: “a most vehement flame” (KJV), “a mighty flame” (RSV, NIV), and “a blazing flame” (NJPS). This also best explains “darkest gloom” (Jer 2:31), and “mighty deeds” (Jer 32:19) (see S. Moscati, Comparative Grammar, 81, §12.18, and 83, §12.23).

32 tn Heb “rivers.”

33 tn Heb “all the wealth of his house.”

34 tn Heb “for love.” The preposition בְּ (bÿ) on בָּאַהֲבָה (baahavah, “for love”) indicates the price or exchange in trading (HALOT 105 s.v. בְּ 17), e.g., “Give me your vineyard in exchange for silver [בְּכֶסֶף, bÿkhesef]” (1 Kgs 21:6).

35 tn Heb “he/it.” The referent (the offer of possessions) has been specified in the translation for clarity. Some English versions take the referent to be the man himself (ASV “He would utterly be condemned”; NAB “he would be roundly mocked”). Others take the offer as the referent (cf. KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV “it”).

36 tn The root בּוּז (buz, “to despise”) is repeated for emphasis: בּוֹז יָבוּזּוּ (boz yavuzu). The infinitive absolute frequently is used with the imperfect of the same root for emphasis. The point is simply that love cannot be purchased; it is infinitely more valuable than any and all wealth. Love such as this is priceless; no price tag can be put on love.



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