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The Song of Songs 4:12-14

Context
The Wedding Night: The Delightful Garden

The Lover to His Beloved:

4:12 You are a locked garden, 1  my sister, my bride;

you are an enclosed spring, a sealed-up fountain.

4:13 Your shoots are a royal garden 2  full of pomegranates

with choice fruits:

henna with nard,

4:14 nard and saffron;

calamus and cinnamon with every kind of spice,

myrrh and aloes with all the finest spices. 3 

1 sn The twin themes of the enclosed garden and sealed spring are highlighted by the wordplay (paronomasia) between the Hebrew expressions גַּן נָעוּל (gan naul, “a garden locked up”) and גַּל נָעוּל (gal naul, “an enclosed spring”).

2 sn The noun פַּרְדֵּס (pardes, “garden, parkland, forest”) is a foreign loanword that occurs only 3 times in the Hebrew Bible (Song 4:13; Eccl 2:5; Neh 2:8). The original Old Persian (Avestan) term pairidaeza designated the enclosed parks and pleasure-grounds which were the exclusive domain of the Persian kings and nobility in the Achaemenid period (HALOT 963 s.v. פַּרְדֵּס; LSJ 1308). The Babylonian term pardesu means “marvelous garden,” in reference to the enclosed parks of the kings (AHw 2:833.a and 3:1582.a). The term passed into Greek as παραδείσος (paradeisos, “enclosed park, pleasure-ground”), referring to the enclosed parks and gardens of the Persian kings (LSJ 1308). The Greek term was transliterated into English as “paradise.”

3 tn Or “with all the finest balsam trees.” The Hebrew term בֹּשֶׂם (bosem) can refer either to the balsam tree, the spice associated with it, or by extension any fragrant aroma used as perfuming oil or incense.



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