5:5 I arose to open for my beloved;
my hands dripped with myrrh –
my fingers flowed with myrrh
on the handles of the lock.
5:6 I opened for my beloved,
I looked for him but did not find him;
I called him but he did not answer me.
1 tn The verb חָמַק (khamaq) occurs only in Song 5:6 (Qal: “to turn away, go leave”) and in Jer 31:22 (Hitpael: “to turn hither and thither”) (HALOT 330 s.v. חמק; BDB 330 s.v. חָמַק). It is related to the noun חָמוּק (“curve, curved lines” of a woman’s hips) which appears only in Song 7:2. This root does not appear in Mishnaic Hebrew nor has it yet been attested in any cognate language. However, it was understood in this sense by LXX παρῆλθεν (parhlqen, “he turned aside”), and also handled in a similar manner in Aquila, Symmachus, Peshitta, and Vulgate.
2 tn The verbs עָבָר חָמַק (khamaq ’avar, “he turned away, he went away”) may form a verbal hendiadys. Normally, the first verb will function as an adverb modifying the second which functions in its full verbal sense. Each functions as a perfect of recent past perfect action, describing a past event that took place shortly before another past event: “I opened [past action] for my beloved, but my lover had already turned and gone away [past perfect action].”
3 tn Heb “my soul went out.” The term נַפְשִׁי (nafshi, “my soul”) is a synecdoche of part for the whole person. The term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “soul”) is used over 150 times as a metonymy of association with feelings: sorrow and distress, joy, love, desire, passion, hatred, loathing, avarice (HALOT 713 s.v. נֶפֶשׁ 8; BDB 660 s.v. נֶפֶשׁ 6). The phrase נַפְשִׁי יָצְאָה (nafshi yats’ah, literally, “my soul went out”) is a Hebrew idiom connoting great despair (e.g., Gen 35:18; Jer 15:9). The phrase is well rendered by NIV: “my heart sank at his departure.” Verses 6-7 clearly indicate that the Beloved fell into despair when he had departed: She searched desperately for him, but could not find him; she called for him, but he did not answer.
4 tn Alternately, “spoke.” Traditionally, the term בְדַבְּרוֹ (bÿdabbÿro) has been related to the common root דָּבַר (davar, “to speak”) which occurs nearly 1150 times in verbal forms and nearly 1500 times as a noun. This approach is seen as early as the LXX (although the LXX treated דָּבָר as a noun rather than an infinitive construct because it was working with an unpointed text): ἐν λογῷ αὐτοῦ (en logw autou, “in his word”). Although they differ on whether the preposition בְ (bÿ) is temporal (“when”) or respect (“at”), many translations adopt the same basic approach as the LXX: “when he spake” (KJV), “as he spoke” (NASB), “when he spoke” (NIV margin), “at what he said” (JPS, NJPS). However, many recent scholars relate בְדַבְּרוֹ to the homonymic root דָּבַר (“to turn away, depart”) which is related to Akkadian dabaru D “to go away,” Dt “to drive away, push back” (CAD 3:186ff), and Arabic dabara “to turn one’s back, be behind, depart, retreat” (HALOT 209 s.v. II דבר). Several examples of this root have been found (Pss 18:48; 47:4; 56:6; 75:6; 116:10; 127:5; 2 Chr 22:10; Job 19:18; Song 5:6; Isa 32:7) (HALOT 209-10 s.v. I). Several recent translations take this approach: “when he turned his back” (NEB), “at his flight” (JB), and “at his departure” (NIV). This makes better sense contextually (Solomon did not say anything after 5:2a), and it provides a tighter parallelism with the preceding line that also describes his departure: “My beloved had turned away (חָמַק, khamaq); he was gone (עָבַר, ’avar)” (NIV).