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The Song of Songs 4:15-16

Context

4:15 You are a garden spring, 1 

a well 2  of fresh water 3  flowing down from Lebanon.

The Beloved to Her Lover:

4:16 Awake, O north wind; come, O south wind!

Blow on my garden so that its fragrant spices may send out their sweet smell. 4 

May my beloved come into his garden

and eat its delightful fruit!

1 tn Heb “a fountain of gardens” or “a headwaters for gardens.” The term מַעְיַן (myan, “fountain”) denotes “source, headwaters” as the place of origin of streams (HALOT 612 s.v. מַעְיַן). The term does not refer to a water fountain such as commonly found in modern cultivated gardens or parks; rather, it refers to the headwaters of streams and rivers, such as Banyas as the headwaters of the Jordan. The genitive construct מַעְיַן גַּנִּים (myan gannim, “a fountain of gardens”) is an unusual expression that has been treated in various ways: (1) “a garden fountain,” that is, a fountain located in a garden (HALOT 198 s.v. גַּן); (2) “a fountain of gardens,” that is, the headwaters of many spring-watered gardens. The latter is preferred. In Song 4:12-14 the bride is figuratively described as a garden with exotic plants; however, in 4:15 the metaphor shifts to the source of the water for the garden: מַעְיַן (“headwaters”) and בְּאֵר (bÿer, “well”) of fresh water flowing down from Lebanon.

2 tn Heb “a watering place” or “well of underground water.” The term בְּאֵר (bÿer, “well”) refers to an underground well that is dug in the ground to provide fresh water for humans and beasts (e.g., Gen 21:19, 25, 30; 26:15, 18, 19, 22, 32) (HALOT 106 s.v. I בְּאֵר; DCH 2:87 s.v. I בְּאֵר). The term is often used in parallelism with בּוֹר (bor, “cistern”), עַיִן (’ayin, “spring”), and שׁוּחָה (shukhah, “water-hole”).

3 tn Heb “living water.” The phrase מַיִם חַיִּים (mayim khayyim, “living water”) refers to flowing, fresh water in contrast to standing, stagnant water (Gen 26:19; Lev 14:5-6, 50-52; 15:13; Num 19:17; Jer 2:13; 17:13; Zech 14:8; Song 4:15; 1QH 8:7, 16; 4Q418 103.2:6; 4QDibHama 1.5:2; 11QT 45:16) (DCH 3:202 s.v. I חַי 1; HALOT 308 s.v. חיה 1; BDB 312 s.v. חַי f). The adjective חַיִּים (“living”) frequently refers to what is fresh (Gen 26:19), healthy (Sir 30:14), or thriving (Gen 43:7, 27). Fresh, flowing water is pictured as pure (Lev 14:5-6, 50-52; 15:13) and a source of refreshment (Gen 26:19). See P. Reymond, Leau, sa vie, et sa signification dans lAncien Testament (VTSup), 136.

4 tn Heb “may flow.”



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