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The Song of Songs 1:1--8:14

Context
Title/Superscription

1:1 Solomon’s 1  Most Excellent 2  Love Song. 3 

The Desire for Love

The Beloved to Her Lover: 4 

1:2 Oh, how I wish you 5  would kiss me passionately! 6 

For your lovemaking 7  is more delightful 8  than wine. 9 

1:3 The fragrance 10  of your colognes 11  is delightful; 12 

your name 13  is like the finest 14  perfume. 15 

No wonder the young women 16  adore 17  you!

1:4 Draw me 18  after you; let us hurry! 19 

May the king 20  bring 21  me into his 22  bedroom chambers! 23 

The Maidens 24  to the Lover:

We will 25  rejoice and delight in you; 26 

we will praise 27  your love more than wine.

The Beloved to Her Lover:

How rightly 28  the young women 29  adore you!

The Country Maiden and the Daughters of Jerusalem

The Beloved to the Maidens:

1:5 I am dark but lovely, O maidens 30  of Jerusalem,

dark 31  like the tents of Qedar, 32 

lovely 33  like the tent curtains 34  of Salmah. 35 

1:6 Do not stare at me because 36  I am dark,

for 37  the sun has burned my skin. 38 

My brothers 39  were angry 40  with me;

they made me the keeper of the vineyards.

Alas, my own vineyard 41  I could not keep! 42 

The Shepherd and the Shepherdess

The Beloved to Her Lover:

1:7 Tell me, O you whom my heart 43  loves,

where do you pasture your sheep?

Where do you rest your sheep during the midday heat?

Tell me lest 44  I wander around 45 

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 46  a 47  mare 48 

among Pharaoh’s stallions. 49 

1:10 Your cheeks are beautiful with ornaments;

your neck is lovely 50  with strings of jewels.

1:11 We 51  will make for you gold ornaments

studded with silver. 52 

The Beloved about Her Lover:

1:12 While the king was at his banqueting table, 53 

my nard 54  gave forth its fragrance. 55 

1:13 My beloved is like a fragrant pouch of myrrh 56 

spending the night 57  between my breasts.

1:14 My beloved is like a cluster of henna blossoms 58 

in the vineyards of En-Gedi. 59 

Mutual Praise and Admiration

The Lover to His Beloved:

1:15 Oh, 60  how beautiful you are, my beloved! 61 

Oh, how beautiful you are!

Your eyes 62  are like doves! 63 

The Beloved to Her Lover:

1:16 Oh, how handsome you are, my lover! 64 

Oh, 65  how delightful 66  you are!

The lush foliage 67  is our canopied bed; 68 

1:17 the cedars are the beams of our bedroom chamber;

the pines are the rafters of our bedroom.

The Lily among the Thorns and the Apple Tree in the Forest

The Beloved to Her Lover:

2:1 I am a 69  meadow flower 70  from Sharon, 71 

a lily 72  from the valleys.

The Lover to His Beloved:

2:2 Like 73  a lily among the thorns, 74 

so is my darling among the maidens.

The Beloved about Her Lover:

2:3 Like 75  an apple tree 76  among the trees of the forest,

so is my beloved among the young men.

I delight 77  to sit 78  in his shade, 79 

and his fruit 80  is sweet 81  to my taste. 82 

The Banquet Hall for the Love-Sick

The Beloved about Her Lover:

2:4 He brought me 83  into the banquet hall, 84 

and he looked 85  at me lovingly. 86 

2:5 Sustain 87  me with raisin cakes, 88 

refresh me with apples, 89 

for I am faint with love. 90 

The Double Refrain: Embracing and Adjuration

2:6 His left hand caresses my head, 91 

and his right hand stimulates me. 92 

The Beloved to the Maidens:

2:7 I adjure you, 93  O maidens of Jerusalem,

by the gazelles and by the young does 94  of the open fields: 95 

Do not awaken or arouse 96  love 97  until it pleases! 98 

The Arrival of the Lover

The Beloved about Her Lover:

2:8 Listen! 99  My lover is approaching! 100 

Look! 101  Here he comes,

leaping over the mountains,

bounding over the hills!

2:9 My lover is like a gazelle or a young stag. 102 

Look! There he stands behind our wall,

gazing through the window,

peering through the lattice.

The Season of Love and the Song of the Turtle-Dove

The Lover to His Beloved:

2:10 My lover spoke to me, saying:

“Arise, my darling;

My beautiful one, come away with me!

2:11 Look! The winter has passed,

the winter rains are over and gone.

2:12 The pomegranates have appeared 103  in the land,

the time for pruning and singing 104  has come;

the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

2:13 The fig tree has budded,

the vines have blossomed and give off their fragrance.

Arise, come away my darling;

my beautiful one, come away with me!”

The Dove in the Clefts of En-Gedi

The Lover to His Beloved:

2:14 O my dove, 105  in the clefts of the rock,

in the hiding places of the mountain crags,

let me see your face,

let me hear your voice;

for your voice is sweet,

and your face is lovely.

The Foxes in the Vineyard

The Beloved to Her Lover:

2:15 Catch 106  the foxes 107  for us,

the little foxes, 108 

that ruin the vineyards 109 

for our vineyard is in bloom.

Poetic Refrain: Mutual Possession

The Beloved about Her Lover:

2:16 My lover is mine and I am his;

he grazes among the lilies. 110 

The Gazelle and the Rugged Mountains

The Beloved to Her Lover:

2:17 Until the dawn arrives 111  and the shadows flee,

turn, 112  my beloved –

be like a gazelle or a young stag

on the mountain gorges. 113 

The Lost Lover is Found

The Beloved about Her Lover:

3:1 All night long 114  on my bed 115 

I longed for 116  my lover. 117 

I longed for 118  him but he never appeared. 119 

3:2 “I will arise 120  and look all around 121  throughout the town,

and throughout the streets 122  and squares;

I will search for my beloved.”

I searched for him but I did not find him. 123 

3:3 The night watchmen found me – the ones who guard the city walls. 124 

“Have you seen my beloved?” 125 

3:4 Scarcely 126  had I passed them by

when I found my beloved!

I held onto him 127  tightly and would not let him go 128 

until I brought him to my mother’s house, 129 

to the bedroom chamber 130  of the one who conceived me.

The Adjuration Refrain

The Beloved to the Maidens:

3:5 131 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 Royal Wedding Procession

The Speaker: 132 

3:6 Who is this coming up from the desert

like a column of smoke,

like 133  a fragrant billow 134  of myrrh and frankincense, 135 

every kind of fragrant powder 136  of the traveling merchants? 137 

3:7 Look! It is Solomon’s portable couch! 138 

It is surrounded by sixty warriors,

some of Israel’s mightiest warriors.

3:8 All of them are skilled with a sword, 139 

well-trained in the art of warfare. 140 

Each has his sword at his side,

to guard against the terrors of the night.

3:9 King Solomon made a sedan chair 141  for himself

of wood imported from Lebanon. 142 

3:10 Its posts were made 143  of silver; 144 

its back 145  was made of gold.

Its seat was upholstered with purple wool; 146 

its interior was inlaid 147  with leather 148  by the maidens 149  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! 150 

The Wedding Night: Praise of the Bride 151 

The Lover to His Beloved:

4:1 Oh, 152  you are beautiful, my darling! 153 

Oh, you are beautiful!

Your eyes behind your veil are like doves. 154 

Your hair is like a flock of female goats

descending 155  from Mount Gilead.

4:2 Your teeth are like a flock of newly-shorn sheep

coming up from the washing place; 156 

each of them has a twin,

and not one of them is missing.

4:3 Your lips are like a scarlet thread; 157 

your mouth is lovely.

Your forehead 158  behind your veil

is like a slice of pomegranate.

4:4 Your neck is like the tower 159  of David

built with courses of stones; 160 

one thousand shields are hung on it –

all shields of valiant warriors. 161 

4:5 Your two breasts are like two fawns,

twins of the gazelle

grazing among the lilies.

4:6 Until the dawn arrives 162 

and the shadows flee,

I will go up to the mountain of myrrh,

and to the hill of frankincense.

4:7 You are altogether beautiful, my darling!

There is no blemish in you!

The Wedding Night: Beautiful as Lebanon

4:8 Come with me from Lebanon, my bride,

come with me from Lebanon.

Descend from the crest of Amana,

from the top of Senir, the summit of Hermon,

from the lions’ dens

and the mountain haunts of the leopards.

4:9 You have stolen my heart, 163  my sister, 164  my bride!

You have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes, 165 

with one jewel of your necklace.

4:10 How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride!

How much better is your love than wine;

the fragrance of your perfume is better than any spice!

4:11 Your lips drip sweetness like the honeycomb, my bride,

honey and milk are under your tongue.

The fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.

The Wedding Night: The Delightful Garden

The Lover to His Beloved:

4:12 You are a locked garden, 166  my sister, my bride;

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

4:13 Your shoots are a royal garden 167  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. 168 

4:15 You are a garden spring, 169 

a well 170  of fresh water 171  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. 172 

May my beloved come into his garden

and eat its delightful fruit!

The Lover to His Beloved:

5:1 I have entered my garden, O my sister, my bride;

I have gathered my myrrh with my balsam spice.

I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey;

I have drunk my wine and my milk!

The Poet to the Couple: 173 

Eat, friends, and drink! 174 

Drink freely, O lovers!

The Trials of Love: The Beloved’s Dream of Losing Her Lover

The Beloved about Her Lover:

5:2 I was asleep, but my mind 175  was dreaming. 176 

Listen! 177  My lover 178  is knocking 179  at the door! 180 

The Lover to His Beloved:

“Open 181  for me, my sister, my darling,

my dove, my flawless one!

My head is drenched with dew,

my hair with the dampness of the night.”

The Beloved to Her Lover:

5:3 “I have already taken off my robe – must I put it on again?

I have already washed my feet – must I soil them again?”

5:4 My lover thrust his hand 182  through 183  the hole, 184 

and my feelings 185  were stirred 186  for him.

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,

but my lover had already turned 187  and gone away. 188 

I fell into despair 189  when he departed. 190 

I looked for him but did not find him;

I called him but he did not answer me.

5:7 The watchmen found me as they made their rounds in the city.

They beat me, they bruised me;

they took away my cloak, those watchmen on the walls!

The Triumph of Love: The Beloved Praises Her Lover

The Beloved to the Maidens:

5:8 O maidens of Jerusalem, I command you –

If you find my beloved, what will you tell him?

Tell him that I am lovesick! 191 

The Maidens to The Beloved:

5:9 Why is your beloved better than others, 192 

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 193  is dazzling 194  and ruddy; 195 

he stands out 196  in comparison to 197  all other men. 198 

5:11 His head is like the most pure gold. 199 

His hair is curly 200  – 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 201  yielding 202  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 203  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; 204 

he is totally desirable. 205 

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, 206  that we may seek him with you. 207 

The Beloved to the Maidens:

6:2 My beloved has gone down to his garden, 208 

to the flowerbeds of balsam spices, 209 

to graze 210  in the gardens,

and to gather lilies. 211 

Poetic Refrain: Mutual Possession

The Beloved about Her Lover:

6:3 I am my lover’s 212  and my lover is mine; 213 

he grazes among the lilies.

The Renewal of Love

The Lover to His Beloved:

6:4 My darling, you are as beautiful as Tirzah, 214 

as lovely as Jerusalem, 215 

as awe-inspiring 216  as bannered armies!

6:5 Turn your eyes away from me –

they overwhelm 217  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 218  behind your veil.

6:8 There may be sixty 219  queens,

and eighty concubines,

and young women 220  without number.

6:9 But she is unique! 221 

My dove, my perfect one!

She is the special daughter 222  of her mother,

she is the favorite 223  of the one who bore her.

The maidens 224  saw her and complimented her; 225 

the queens and concubines praised her:

6:10 “Who 226  is this who appears 227  like the dawn? 228 

Beautiful as the moon, 229  bright 230  as the sun,

awe-inspiring 231  as the stars in procession?” 232 

The Return to the Vineyards

The Lover to His Beloved: 233 

6:11 I went down to the orchard of walnut trees, 234 

to look for the blossoms of the valley, 235 

to see if the vines had budded

or if the pomegranates were in bloom.

6:12 236 I was beside myself with joy! 237 

There please give me your myrrh, 238 

O daughter of my princely people. 239 

The Love Song and Dance

The Lover to His Beloved:

6:13 (7:1) 240  Turn 241 , turn, O 242  Perfect One! 243 

Turn, turn, that I 244  may stare at you!

The Beloved to Her Lover:

Why 245  do you gaze upon the Perfect One

like the dance of the Mahanaim? 246 

The Lover to His Beloved:

7:1 (7:2) How beautiful are your sandaled 247  feet,

O nobleman’s daughter! 248 

The curves 249  of your thighs 250  are like jewels,

the work of the hands of a master craftsman.

7:2 Your navel 251  is a round mixing bowl 252 

may it never lack 253  mixed wine! 254 

Your belly 255  is a mound of wheat,

encircled 256  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. 257 

Your eyes are the pools in Heshbon

by the gate of Bath-Rabbim. 258 

Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon

overlooking Damascus.

7:5 Your head crowns 259  you like Mount Carmel. 260 

The locks of your hair 261  are like royal tapestries 262 

the king is held captive 263  in its tresses!

7:6 How beautiful you are! How lovely,

O love, 264  with your delights! 265 

The Palm Tree and the Palm Tree Climber

The Lover to His Beloved:

7:7 Your stature 266  is like a palm tree, 267 

and your breasts are like clusters of grapes. 268 

7:8 I want 269  to climb the palm tree, 270 

and take hold of its fruit stalks.

May your breasts be like the clusters of grapes, 271 

and may the fragrance of your breath be like apricots! 272 

7:9 May your mouth 273  be like the best wine,

flowing smoothly for my beloved,

gliding gently over our lips as we sleep together. 274 

Poetic Refrain: Mutual Possession

The Beloved about Her Lover:

7:10 I am my beloved’s,

and he desires me! 275 

The Journey to the Countryside

The Beloved to Her Lover:

7:11 Come, my beloved, let us go to the countryside;

let us spend the night in the villages.

7:12 Let us rise early to go to the vineyards,

to see if the vines have budded,

to see if their blossoms have opened,

if the pomegranates are in bloom –

there I will give you my love.

7:13 The mandrakes 276  send out their fragrance;

over our door is every delicacy, 277 

both new and old, which I have stored up for you, my lover.

The Beloved’s Wish Song

The Beloved to Her Lover:

8:1 Oh, how I wish you were 278  my little brother, 279 

nursing at my mother’s breasts;

if I saw 280  you outside, I could kiss you –

surely 281  no one would despise me! 282 

8:2 I would lead you and bring you to my mother’s house,

the one who taught me. 283 

I would give you 284  spiced wine 285  to drink, 286 

the nectar of my pomegranates. 287 

Double Refrain: Embracing and Adjuration

The Beloved about Her Lover:

8:3 His left hand caresses my head,

and his right hand stimulates me. 288 

The Beloved to the Maidens:

8:4 I admonish you, O maidens 289  of Jerusalem:

“Do not 290  arouse or awaken love until it pleases!”

The Awakening of Love

The Maidens about His Beloved:

8:5 Who is this coming up from the desert,

leaning on her beloved?

The Beloved to Her Lover:

Under the apple tree I aroused you; 291 

there your mother conceived you,

there she who bore you was in labor of childbirth. 292 

The Nature of True Love

The Beloved to Her Lover:

8:6 Set me like a cylinder seal 293  over your heart, 294 

like a signet 295  on your arm. 296 

For love is as strong as death, 297 

passion 298  is as unrelenting 299  as Sheol.

Its flames burst forth, 300 

it is a blazing flame. 301 

8:7 Surging waters cannot quench love;

floodwaters 302  cannot overflow it.

If someone were to offer all his possessions 303  to buy love, 304 

the offer 305  would be utterly despised. 306 

The Brother’s Plan and the Sister’s Reward

The Beloved’s Brothers:

8:8 We have a little sister,

and as yet she has no breasts.

What shall we do for our sister

on the day when she is spoken for? 307 

8:9 If she is a wall, 308 

we will build on her a battlement 309  of silver;

but if she is a door,

we will barricade 310  her with boards 311  of cedar. 312 

The Beloved:

8:10 I was a wall,

and my breasts were like fortress towers. 313 

Then I found favor 314  in his eyes. 315 

Solomon’s Vineyard and the Beloved’s Vineyard

The Beloved to Her Lover:

8:11 Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-Hamon;

he leased out 316  the vineyard to those who maintained it.

Each was to bring a thousand shekels of silver for its fruit.

8:12 My vineyard, 317  which belongs to me, 318  is at my disposal alone. 319 

The thousand shekels belong to you, O Solomon,

and two hundred shekels belong to those who maintain it for its fruit.

Epilogue: The Lover’s Request and His Beloved’s Invitation

The Lover to His Beloved:

8:13 O you who stay in the gardens,

my companions are listening attentively 320  for your voice;

let me be the one to 321  hear it! 322 

The Beloved to Her Lover:

8:14 Make haste, my beloved!

Be like a gazelle or a young stag

on the mountains of spices.

1 tn The preposition ל in אֲשֶׁר לִשְׁלֹמֹה (’asher lishlomoh) has been taken as: (1) authorship: “which is written by Solomon.” The lamed of authorship (also known as lamed auctoris) is well attested in Hebrew (see GKC 421 §130.b), particularly in the psalms (e.g., Pss 18:1; 30:1; 34:1; 51:1; 52:1; 54:1; 56:1; 57:1; 59:1; 60:1; 63:1; 72:21); (2) dedication: “which is dedicated for Solomon.” The lamed of dedication is attested in Ugaritic psalms dedicated to Baal or about Baal (CTA 6.1.1 = UT 49.1); or (3) topic: “which is about/concerning Solomon.” The lamed of topic is attested in Hebrew (e.g., 1 Chr 24:20) and in Ugaritic, e.g., lb`l “About Baal” (CTA 6.1.1 = UT 49.1). The ל is most likely denoting authorship. The ל followed by a name in the superscription of a poetic composition in the OT, usually (if not always) denotes authorship. Just as the superscription לְדָוִד (lÿdavid) claims Davidic authorship within the Psalter, the heading claims Solomonic authorship. Whether or not this attribution is historically reliable or simply a matter of Jewish tradition is debated in scholarship, just as the Davidic superscriptions in the Psalter are debated (see study note on the word “Song” in the superscription).

2 tn Heb “the song of songs.” The genitive construct שִׁיר הַשִׁירִים (shir hashirim) is translated literally as “the song of songs” in the early versions: Greek LXX (ᾀσμα ᾀσμάτων, asma asmatwn), Latin Vulgate (canticum canticorum) and Syriac Peshitta (tesŒbÿhat tesŒbÿha„ta„á). The phrase שִׁיר הַשִׁירִים may be understood in two ways: (1) The noun הַשִׁירִים is a plural of number (“songs”) and functions as a genitive of composition: “the song composed of several songs,” that is, the book is a unified collection (hence the singular שִׁיר “song”) composed of individual love songs (see note on the expression “Her Lover” in v. 1). (2) The expression may be a superlative genitive construction denoting par excellence (see IBHS 154 §9.5.3j; GKC 431 §133.i; R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 11, §44; 17-18, §80). For example, קֹדֶשׁ קָדָשִׁים (qodesh qadashim, “the holy of holies”) means the most holy place (Exod 29:37); אֱלֹהֵי הָאֱלֹהִים וַאֲדֹנֵי הָאֲדֹנִים (’elohe haelohim vaadone haadonim, “the God of Gods and Lord of Lords”) means the Highest God and the Supreme Lord (Deut 10:17); and עֶבֶד עֲבָדִים (’evedavadim,“a slave of slaves”) means an abject slave (Gen 9:25). The title “the Song of Songs” is an expression of great esteem for the composition. It has been translated variously: “The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s” (KJV, NKJV, RSV, NRSV, NASB), “Solomon’s Song of Songs” (NIV), “The most beautiful of songs, by Solomon” (TEV), “dedicated to,” or “about Solomon” (TEV margin), “Solomon’s most beautiful song” (CEV), “This is Solomon’s song of songs, more wonderful than any other” (NLT).

3 tn Heb “song.” The noun שִׁיר (shir) may refer to a musical song that was sung (Exod 15:1; Num 21:17; Ps 33:3; Isa 42:10) or a poetic composition that was simply read (Deut 31:19, 21, 22; 30; 32:44) (BDB 1010 s.v. שׁיר). Several factors suggest that the Song of Songs was poetry to be read and enjoyed rather than sung: (a) its sheer length, (b) absence of musical notations or instrumental instructions, (c) testimony of Jewish tradition and interpretation, (d) lack of evidence of its musical performance in the history of Israel, and (e) comparison with ancient Egyptian love poetry. The term שִׁיר here probably refers to love poetry (e.g., Isa 5:1) (BDB 1010 s.v. 1; W. L. Holladay, Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon, 368). The Song appears to be a collection of individual love songs rather than a single multistanza poem. For comparison of the Song of Songs with ancient Egyptian loves songs, see M. V. Fox, The Song of Songs and the Ancient Egyptian Love Songs, and J. B. White, Language of Love in the Song of Songs and Ancient Egyptian Poetry (SBLDS).

sn The superscription “Solomon’s Most Excellent Love Song” appears to be a late addition, just as many superscriptions in the Psalter appear to have been added to the psalms sometime after their original composition. R. E. Murphy (Song of Songs [Hermeneia], 119) notes that the use of the independent relative pronoun אֲשֶׁר (’asher) in 1:1 sharply distinguishes the superscription from the body of the Song as a whole where the short form -שֶׁ (she-) occurs thirty-two times (e.g., 1:6, 12; 6:5). The short form -שֶׁ also occurs frequently in Ecclesiastes which is traditionally attributed to Solomon. Therefore, it would appear that the superscription is a later addition to the Song. This, of course, raises the question whether or not the attribution of Solomonic authorship of the Song is historically reliable or simply a matter of later Jewish tradition.

4 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.

5 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).

6 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.

7 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).

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

9 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).

10 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).

11 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).

12 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).

13 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).

14 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).

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

16 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).

17 tn Heb “love.”

18 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.

19 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).

20 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).

21 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!”).

22 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.

23 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.

24 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).

25 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).

26 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.

27 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.”

28 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.

29 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!”

30 tn Heb “O daughters of Jerusalem.”

31 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).

32 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.

33 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.

34 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).

35 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).

36 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).

37 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).

38 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.

39 tn Heb “the sons of my mother.”

40 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).

41 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].

42 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”).

43 tn Heb “soul.”

44 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…?”

45 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.

46 tn Heb “I compare you to.”

47 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).

48 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).

49 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.”

50 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.

51 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].

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

53 tn The lexicons suggest that מֵסַב (mesav) refers to a round banquet table (HALOT 604 s.v. מֵסַב) or divan with cushions (BDB 687 s.v. מֵסַב 2). In Mishnaic Hebrew the noun מֵסַב refers to a dining couch, banquet table, as well as cushions or pillows (HALOT 604). The related noun מְסִבָּה (mÿsibbah) refers to a banqueting party (HALOT 604 s.v. מְסִבָּה; Jastrow 803 s.v. מְסִבָּה). The versions took it as a reference to a resting place (see LXX, Vulgate, Syriac Peshitta). R. E. Murphy (Song of Songs [Hermeneia], 131) suggests that it refers to (1) a couch or divan on which a person declined while eating, (2) a group of people gathered in a circle, that is, an entourage, or (3) a private place such as an enclosure.

tc The MT בִּמְסִבּוֹ (bimsibbo, “his banquet table”) is enigmatic: “While the king was at his banquet table, my nard gave forth its fragrance.” W. Rudolph suggests emending to מְסִבִּי (mÿsibbi, “around me”): “While the king surrounded me, my nard gave forth its fragrance” (Des Buch Ruth, das Hohe Lied, die Klagelieder [KAT], 27).

54 sn “Nard” (נֵרְדְּ, nerdÿ) was an aromatic oil extracted from the Valerian nardostachys jatamansi which was an aromatic drug from a plant which grew in the Himalaya region of India, used for perfume (HALOT 723 s.v. נֵרְדְּ). Nard was an expensive imported perfume, worn by women at banquets because of its seductive charms. It was used in the ANE as a love potion because of its erotic fragrance (R. K. Harrison, Healing Herbs of the Bible, 48-49).

55 tn Or “The fragrance of my myrrh wafted forth.”

56 sn The term מֹר (mor, “myrrh”) refers to an aromatic gum (Commiphora abessinica resin) which exudes from the bark of the Balsmodendron myrrha tree which was native only to Arabia, Abyssinia, and India (HALOT 629 s.v. מֹר). It was an expensive luxury item, which had to be imported into Israel. In liquid form it could be carried in small bottles like nard, but it was also used in solid form in which it was carried in a small cloth pouch or sachet worn next to the body. The myrrh was mixed with fat and shaped into cones and as the fat melted from the body heat, the aroma of myrrh and the anointing oil would perfume a woman’s body. Because it had a very strong aroma which would last for long periods of time, women often wore it to bed to perfume themselves for the next day. Because of its beautiful fragrance, it is associated with romance (e.g., Isa 3:24) (R. K. Harrison, Healing Herbs of the Bible, 45-46).

57 tn Alternately, “resting between my breasts.” The verb לִין (lin) has a three-fold range of meaning in the Qal stem: (1) “to leave overnight,” e.g., meat or corpse on a tree, (2) “to spend the night, stay overnight,” and (3) “to stay, dwell” (HALOT 529 s.v. לין). The myrrh motif (see study note above) suggests the nuance “to spend the night” (HALOT 529 s.v. 2). This is also the most appropriate nuance of its usage in Song 7:12 (e.g., Gen 19:2; 24:23, 25, 54; 28:11; 31:54; 32:14, 22; Num 22:8; Josh 3:1; 4:3; 6:11; 8:9; Judg 18:2; 19:4-15 (9x), 20; 20:4; 2 Sam 12:16; 17:8, 16; 19:8; 1 Kgs 19:9; Isa 21:13; 65:4; Jer 14:8; Joel 1:13; Zeph 2:14; Pss 25:13; 55:8; Job 24:7; 31:32; 39:9; Prov 19:23; Song 7:12; Ruth 1:16; 3:13; Neh 4:16; 13:20; 1 Chr 9:27). Several translations follow course: “he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts” (KJV) and “which lies all night between my breasts” (NASB). Others downplay the obvious sexual connotations: “resting between my breasts” (NIV) and “lodged between my breasts” (NJPS). The imperfect has been taken in two basic senses: (1) future time action: “he shall spend the night between my breasts” and (2) present characteristic or present progressive: “he spends the night between my breasts.” The latter is favored by the characteristic/progressive nature of the metaphors used through 1:12-13[13-14].

58 sn The henna plant (כֹּפֶר, kofer, “henna”; HALOT 495 s.v. III כֹּפֶר) is an inflorescent shrub with upward pointing blossoms, that have sweet smelling whitish flowers that grow in thick clusters (Song 4:13; 7:12). Like myrrh, the henna plant was used to make sweet smelling perfume. Its flowers were used to dye hair, nails, fingers, and toes orange.

59 sn En-Gedi is a lush oasis in the midst of the desert wilderness on the southwestern shore of the Dead Sea. The surrounding region is hot and bleak; its dry sands extend monotonously for miles. The Dead Sea region is a salty desert covered with a dusty haze and characterized by almost unbearable heat during most of the year. The lush oasis of En-Gedi is the only sign of greenery or life for miles around. It stands out as a surprising contrast to the bleak, dry desert wilderness around it. In the midst of this bleak desert wilderness is the lush oasis in which indescribable beauty is found. The lush oasis and waterfall brings welcome relief and refreshment to the weary desert traveler.

60 sn His praise begins with the exclamatory particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “behold!”). This is often used to introduce a statement in which the speaker either newly asserts or newly recognizes something (BDB 244 s.v. הִנֵּה b.a).

61 sn The term רַעְיָתִי (rayati, “my darling”) is from רֵעַ (rea) “companion, friend” in general (e.g., Job 2:11; 6:27; 12:4; Pss 35:14; 122:8; Prov 14:20; 17:17; 19:6; 27:10) and “darling, beloved” in romantic relationships (e.g., Job 30:29; Jer 3:1, 20; Hos 3:1; Song 5:1, 16) (HALOT 1253-54 s.v. II רֵעַ; BDB 945 s.v. II רָעָה II.1). This is the most common term of affection to address the Beloved (Song 1:9, 15; 2:2, 10, 13; 4:1, 7; 5:2; 6:4).

62 sn In the ancient Near East there was an unusual emphasis on beauty of a woman’s eyes. This was probably due to the practice of women veiling themselves and wearing long robes so that no portion of their body or face was exposed to sight except for their eyes (e.g., Gen 26:17). The only indication of a woman’s beauty was her eyes. There was no better (and no other, in light of the attire) way to praise a woman’s beauty in the ancient Near East (G. L. Carr, Song of Solomon [TOTC], 86).

63 tn Heb “Your eyes are doves.” This metaphor compares her eyes to doves. There is no lack of suggestions as to the point of the comparison: (1) Arabic love literature describes doves having sentimental eyes, the point here (Marcia Falk, Love Lyrics from the Bible, 113). (2) The comparison has to do with the color of her eyes (G. L. Carr, Song of Solomon [TOTC], 86). (3) The comparison has to do with the glistening color of the dove and its quick movements, that is, her eyes had a beautiful color and had lively motion (M. H. Pope, Song of Songs [AB], 356). (4) The comparison has to do with the fluttering of her eyes which reminded him of the fluttering of a dove’s wings (M. D. Goulder, The Song of Fourteen Songs [JSOTSup], 5). (5) The comparison has to do with gentleness and purity, as well as longing and simplicity (K&D 18:38).

64 sn The statement הִנָּךְ יָפָה רַעְיָתִי (hinnakh yafah rayati, “How beautiful you are, my darling”) in 1:15 is virtually mirrored by the Beloved’s statement in 1:16, הִנְּךְ יָפֶה דוֹדִי (hinnÿkh yafeh dodi, “How handsome you are, my lover”).

65 tn The term אַף (’af, “how”) is used to: (1) introduce additional information; (2) to emphasize a point; (3) to enhance a statement; (4) to create an antithesis (HALOT 76 s.v. אַף). The usage here is to enhance “how pleasant” or “certainly pleasant” (HALOT 76). The particle אַף is often used in Hebrew poetry to emphatically introduce a thought in the second colon which is a step beyond what was asserted in the first colon (e.g., Deut 33:3, 20, 28; 1 Sam 2:7; Pss 16:6, 7, 9; 18:49; 65:14; 68:9, 17; 74:16; 89:28; 93:1; Prov 22:19; 23:28) (BDB 64 s.v. b.1). Sometimes, אַף is used to introduce a surprise or something unexpected (e.g., Job 14:3; 15:4) (BDB 65 s.v. a.1). The particle אַף (“Oh!”), which introduces this line, is often used in Hebrew poetry to emphatically introduce a new thought and indicates that this is an addition to the previous statement; it is something far greater.

66 tn The term נָעִים (naim, “pleasant, delightful”) can refer to physical attractiveness or to personal character (BDB 653 I נָעֵם; HALOT 705 s.v. I נעם). Some suggest that it refers to the pleasantness of his character and personality; however, it is better to take this as a reference to his handsome physical appearance for several reasons: (1) The terms יָפֶה (yafeh, “handsome”) and נָעִים (“delightful”) are probably used in synonymous rather than synthetic parallelism. (2) The emphasis in 1:15-16 is on physical beauty as the repetition of the term “beautiful, handsome” (יָפֶה) suggests. (3) The related verb נָּעַמְתְּ (naamtÿ, “to be delightful”) is used in Song 7:7 in synonymous parallelism with יָפָת (yafat, “to be beautiful”) in the description of the Beloved’s physical beauty. (4) Hebrew lexicographers classify this usage of נָעִים in Song 1:16 in terms of physical beauty rather than personal character (BDB 653 s.v. 2).

67 tn The term רַעֲנָנָה (raananah, “lush, verdant”) refers to the color “green” and is often used in reference to luxuriant foliage or trees (Pss 37:35; 52:8; Jer 11:16; Hos 14:8). The impression 1:16c-17 gives is that the young man and young woman are lying down together on the grass in the woods enjoying the delights of their caresses. They liken the grass below and the green leaves above to a marriage couch or canopied bed.

68 tn Or “The lush foliage is our marriage couch.” The term עֶרֶשׂ (’eres, “bed”) describes a canopied bed (Pss 6:7; 41:4; 132:2; Prov 7:16) or marriage couch (Song 1:16) (BDB 793 s.v. עֶרֶשׂ).

69 tn Or “the rose of Sharon…the lily of the valleys.” There is debate whether the expressions חֲבַצֶּלֶת הַשָּׁרוֹן (khavatselet hashsharon) and שׁוֹשַׁנַּת הָעֲמָקִים (shoshannat haamaqim) are definite (“the rose of Sharon…the lily of the valleys”) or indefinite (“a rose of Sharon…a lily”). Some translations adopt the definite sense (KJV, NKJV, NASB, NAU, NJB, NLT); others the indefinite sense (ASV, RSV, NRSV, NIV, NIB, NAB, NJPS, CEV).

70 tn Heb “meadow-saffron” or “crocus.” The noun חֲבַצֶּלֶת (khavatselet) traditionally has been translated “rose” (KJV, NKJV, ASV, NASB, RSV, NRSV, NIV, NJPS, NLT, CEV); however, recent translations suggest “crocus” (NIV margin, NJPS margin), “narcissus” (DBY) or simply “flower” (DRA, NAB). The LXX translated it with the generic term ἀνθος (anqos, “flower, blossom”). Early English translators knew that it referred to some kind of flower but were unsure exactly which type, so they arbitrarily chose “rose” because it was a well-known and beautiful flower. In the light of comparative Semitics, modern Hebrew lexicographers have settled on “asphodel,” “meadow-saffron,” “narcissus,” or “crocus” (BDB 287 s.v. חֲבַצֶּלֶת; HALOT 287 s.v. חֲבַצֶּלֶת; DCH 3:153 s.v. חֲבַצֶּלֶת). The Hebrew term is related to Syriac hamsalaita (“meadow saffron”) and Akkadian habasillatu (“flower-stalk, marsh plant, reed”). Lexicographers and botanists suggest that the Hebrew term refers to Ashodelos (lily family), Narcissus tazetta (narcissus or daffodil), or Colchicum autumnale (meadow-saffron or crocus). The location of this flower in Sharon suggests that a common wild flower would be more consonant than a rose. The term appears elsewhere only in Isa 35:1 where it refers to some kind of desert flower – erroneously translated “rose” (KJV, NJPS) but probably “crocus” (NASB, NIV, NJPS margin). Appropriately, the rustic maiden who grew up in the simplicity of rural life compares herself to a simple, common flower of the field (M. H. Pope, Song of Songs [AB], 367).

71 sn Sharon is a low coastal plain stretching south from Mount Carmel. It is well watered due to the Kurkar ridges running parallel to the shore which trapped the water run-off from the Samaritan hills. The combination of low sandy hills and swampy lowlands produced heavy vegetation and an abundance of wild flowers in the area (M. H. Pope, Song of Songs [AB], 367).

72 tn There is debate about the referent of שׁוֹשַׁנָּת (shoshannat, “lily”) because there are many different species of the lily family. Botanists note that among the many different species of the lily family only one grows in Palestine. This species may be identified as the Anthemis palaestina, the chamomile, a white-daisy-like plant, which was indigenous to Palestine (Fauna and Flora of the Bible, 134-36).

73 sn This is an example of emblematic parallelism. An illustrative simile appears in the A-line and the subject of the comparison is in the B-line. The particles כֵּןכְּ (cÿken, “like…so”) form an emphatic comparative construction (e.g., Ps 123:2), see IBHS 641-42 §38.5a.

74 tn Alternately, “thorn bushes.” The term הַחוֹחִים (hahokhim) is probably derived from חוֹח (khokh,“thorn-bush, briars, thistles, thorns”; HALOT 296 s.v. I חוֹחַ; BDB 296 s.v. חוֹחַ) rather than חוֹח (khokh, “crevice”; HALOT 296 s.v. II חוֹחַ): “Like a lily among the thorns” rather than “Like a lily among the rock crevices.” The picture is of a beautiful flower growing in the midst of thorn bushes (1 Sam 14:11; 2 Kgs 14:9; 2 Chr 25:18; Job 31:40; Prov 26:9; Isa 34:13; Hos 9:6) rather than a beautiful flower growing in the midst of rocky outcroppings (1 Sam 13:6; 2 Chr 33:11). The Hebrew term is related to Akkadian hahu and haiahu “thorn” and hahinnu “thorny plants” (AHw 1:308) and Aramaic hahhu (HALOT 296). The “thorn bush” is a thistle plant (Poterium spinosum) which has prickly spines covered with thistles, but also sprouts beautiful small red flowers (Fauna and Flora of the Bible, 184-85).

sn The Lover accommodates her self-denigrating comparison, but heightens it to praise her: If she insisted that she was nothing more than a common flower of the field, then he insisted that all other women were like thorns by comparison. The term חוֹח (khokh, “thorn”) is often used as a figure for utter desolation and the cause of pain; it is the antithesis of fertility and beautiful luxuriant growth (Job 31:40; Isa 34:13; Hos 9:6).

75 tn Like the preceding line, this is a case of emblematic parallelism. An illustrative simile appears in the A-line (object of the comparison) and the subject of comparison appears in the B-line. The particles כֵּןכְּ (kÿken, “like…so”) form an emphatic comparative construction (e.g., Ps 123:2); cf. IBHS 641-42 §38.5a.

76 sn Apple trees were not native to Palestine and had to be imported and cultivated. To find a cultivated apple tree growing in the forest among other wild trees would be quite unusual; the apple tree would stand out and be a delightful surprise. Like a cultivated apple tree, the Lover was unique and stood out among all other men. In ancient Near Eastern love literature, the apple tree was a common symbol for romantic love and sexual fertility (S. N. Kramer, The Sacred Marriage Rite, 100-101). The “apple tree” motif is used in the Song in a similar manner (e.g., Song 2:3; 8:5). Likewise, the motif of “apples” is used as a symbol of fertility (Joel 1:12) and sexual desire (Song 2:5, 7, 9).

77 tn Alternately, “I desired” or “I took delight in.” The meaning of this use of the verb חָמַד (khamad, “delight, desire”) is debated. The root has a basic two-fold range of meanings: (1) “to take pleasure in, delight in” (Job 20:20; Pss 39:12; 68:17; Prov 1:22; Isa 1:29; 44:9; 53:2) and (2) “to desire passionately, to desire illicitly” (Exod 20:17; 34:24; Deut 5:21; 7:25; Josh 7:21; Prov 1:22; 6:25; 12:12; Mic 2:2) (HALOT 325 s.v. חמד; BDB 326 s.v. חָמַד). The related noun חֶמְדָּה (khemÿkhah) describes objects which are “delightful, precious, desirable” (HALOT 325 s.v. חֶמְדָּה). Commentators who adopt an erotic view of the extended metaphor in 2:3 opt for the sexual desire nuance: “I desired (sexually).” Those who adopt the less erotic approach favor the more general connotation: “I took delight in” or “I delight in.”

78 tn Heb “I delighted and I sat down.” Alternately, “I sat down with delight….” The verbs חִמַּדְתִּי וְיָשַׁבְתִּי (khimmadti vÿyashavti, “I delighted and I sat down”) form a verbal hendiadys (GKC 386 §120.d): “I sat down with delight…” or “I delight to sit….” The sequence of a perfect followed by another perfect with vav conjunctive creates the coordination of the complementary verbal idea (first verb) with the idea of the main (second) verb. The main idea is indicated by the second verb; the first verb indicates the manner of action. The first verb functions adverbially while the second verb carries its full verbal sense (see IBHS 653-54 §39.2.5).

79 sn The term צֵל (tsel, “shade”) is used figuratively to depict protection and relief. This term is used in OT literally (physical shade from the sun) and figuratively (protection from something) (HALOT 1024-25 s.v. צֵל): (1) Literal: The physical shade of a tree offers protection from the heat of the midday sun (Judg 9:15; Ezek 17:23; 31:6, 12, 17; Hos 4:13; Jonah 4:6; Job 7:22; 40:22). Similar protection from the sun is offered by the shade of a vine (Ps 80:11), root (Gen 19:8), mountain (Judg 9:36), rock (Isa 32:2), cloud (Isa 25:5), and hut (Jonah 4:5). (2) Figurative (hypocatastasis): Just as physical shade offers protection from the sun, the Israelite could find “shade” (protection) from God or the king (e.g., Num 14:9; Isa 30:2; 49:2; 51:16; Hos 14:8; Pss 17:8; 36:8; 57:2; 63:8; 91:1; 121:5; Lam 4:20; Eccl 7:12). The association between “shade” and “protection” is seen in the related Akkadian sillu “shade, covering, protection” (AHw 3:1101; CAD S:189). The epithets of several Akkadian deities are sillu and sululu (“Shade, Protector”). The motif of protection, rest, and relief from the sun seems to be implied by the expression וְיָשַׁבְתִּי (vÿyashavti, “I sat down”) in 2:3b. During the summer months, the temperature often reaches 110-130ºF in the Negev. Those who have never personally experienced the heat of the summer sun in the Negev as they performed strenuous physical labor cannot fully appreciate the relief offered by any kind of shade! Previously, the young woman had complained that she had been burned by the sun because she had been forced to labor in the vineyards with no shade to protect her (Song 1:5-6). She had urged him to tell her where she could find relief from the sun during the hot midday hours (Song 1:7). Now she exults that she finally had found relief from the scorching sun under the “shade” which he offered to her (Song 2:3). S. C. Glickman writes: “Whereas before she came to him she worked long hours on the sun (1:6), now she rests under the protective shade he brings. And although formerly she was so exhausted by her work she could not properly care for herself, now she finds time for refreshment with him” (A Song for Lovers, 40).

80 sn The term פִּרְיוֹ (piryo, “his fruit”) is a figure for the young man himself or perhaps his kisses which the young woman delights to “taste” (e.g., Song 4:11; 5:13). It is possible to take the imagery of the young woman tasting his “fruit” as kissing. Likewise, the imagery of the gazelles grazing among the lilies is probably a picture of the young man caressing and kissing his beloved (Song 2:16; 6:3).

81 sn The term מָתוֹק (matoq, “sweet”) is used literally and figuratively. When used literally, it describes pleasant tasting foods, such as honey (Judg 14:14, 18; Prov 24:13; Ps 19:11) or sweet water (Num 33:28; Prov 9:17). Used figuratively, it describes what is pleasant to experience: friendship (Job 20:12; Ps 55:15; Prov 27:9), life (Eccl 11:7; Sir 40:18), sleep for the weary (Eccl 5:11), eloquence in speech (Prov 16:21, 24), and scripture (Ps 19:11). Those who adopt the “hyper-erotic” approach opt for the literal meaning: his “fruit” tastes sweet to her palate. The nonerotic approach takes the term in its figurative sense: The experience of his love was pleasant.

82 tn Heb “my palate.” The term חִכִּי (khikki, “my palate”) is used metonymically in reference to the sensation of taste which is associated with a person’s palate. The idea of “tasting” is used as a metaphor in the OT for the experiential knowledge which is acquired through a person’s relationship with someone (e.g., Ps 34:9). Just as a person would learn whether a fruit was ripe and delicious by tasting it, so a person could learn of the quality of a person’s character by experiencing it through personal interaction. This extended metaphor compares the delights of his love to (1) the refreshment of sitting in the shade of a tree for refuge from the desert sun, and (2) the delight of tasting a sweet apple – a fruit that was not indigenous to Palestine.

83 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!”

84 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.

85 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).

86 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).

87 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).

88 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.

89 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).

90 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).

91 tn Heb “His left hand is under my head.” Ultimately, the only cure for her love-sickness is the caress of her beloved. The ancient Near Eastern love songs frequently portray the embrace of the lover as the only cure for the speaker’s love-sickness. For example, one Egyptian love song reads: “She will make the doctors unnecessary, because she knows my sickness” (Papyrus Harris 4:11). Similarly, “My salvation is her coming in from outside; when I see her, I will be healthy. When she opens her eye, my body is young; when she speaks, I will be strong. When I embrace her, she exorcises evil from me” (Papyrus Chester Beatty, C5:1-2).

92 tn Heb “embraces.” Alternately, “May his left hand be under my head, and [may] his right hand embrace me.” The verb חָבַק (khavaq) has a two-fold range of meanings in the Piel stem: (1) to embrace or hug someone (Gen 29:13; 33:4; 48:10; Job 24:8; Prov 4:8; Eccl 3:5; Lam 4:5) and (2) to fondle or sexually stimulate a lover (Prov 5:20; Song 2:6; 8:3) (HALOT 287 s.v. חבק; BDB 287 s.v. חָבַק). The verb designates an expression of love by the position or action of one’s hands (TWOT 1:259). The term is probably used here as a euphemism. The function of the prefixed verbal form of תְּחַבְּקֵנִי (tÿkhabbÿqeni, “embrace me”) may be classified several ways: (1) ingressive: “His right hand is beginning to stimulate me,” (2) instantaneous: “His right hand is stimulating me [right now],” (3) progressive: “His right hand stimulates me,” (4) jussive of desire: “May his right hand stimulate me!” (5) injunction: “Let his right hand stimulate me!” or (6) permission: “His right hand may stimulate me.” Based upon their view that the couple is not yet married, some scholars argue for an imperfect of desire (“May his right hand stimulate/embrace me!”). Other scholars suggest that the progressive imperfect is used (“His right hand stimulates me”). For a striking parallel, see S. N. Kramer, The Sacred Marriage Rite, 105.

93 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).

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

95 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).

96 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.

97 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.

98 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).

99 tn Heb “The voice of my beloved!” The exclamation קוֹל (qol, “Listen!”) is an introductory exclamatory particle used to emphasize excitement and the element of surprise.

100 tn The phrase “is approaching” does not appear in Hebrew but is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity.

101 tn The exclamation הִנֵּה־זֶה (hinneh-zeh, “Look!”) is used of excited speech when someone is seen approaching (Isa 21:9).

102 sn Gazelles are often associated with sensuality and masculine virility in ancient Near Eastern love literature. 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). In ancient Near Eastern love literature gazelles often symbolize the excitement and swiftness of the lover coming to see his beloved, as in an ancient Egyptian love song: “O that you came to your sister swiftly like a bounding gazelle! Its feet reel, its limbs are weary, terror has entered its body. A hunter pursues it with his hounds, they do not see it in its dust; It sees a resting place as a trap, it takes the river as its road. May you find her hiding-place before your hand is kissed four times. Pursue your sister’s love, the Golden gives her to you, my friend!” (“Three Poems” in the Papyrus Chester Beatty 1 collection).

103 tn Heb “are seen.”

104 tn Alternately, “the time of singing” or “the time of pruning.” The homonymic root זָמִיר (zamir) means “song, singing” (HALOT 273 s.v. I זָמִיר; DCH 3:117 s.v. זָמִיר a), while זָמִיר II means “pruning, trimming” (HALOT 273 s.v. II; DCH 3:117 s.v. II). The intended root is debated among the ancient versions (LXX, Aquila, Symmachus, Vulgate, Targum), Hebrew lexicographers (HALOT 273; DCH 3:117), and translations: “singing” (KJV, NIV, NASB margin, NJPS margin), “pruning” (NASB, NJPS). However, rather than choosing between these two roots, it is likely that this is an example of intentional ambiguity. The preceding line draws out the meaning of זָמִיר (“trimming, pruning”): “The pomegranates are seen in the land, the time of pruning has come.” The following line draws out the meaning of זָמִיר (“singing”): “The time of singing has come, the voice of the turtledove is heard in the land.” This homonymic wordplay creates an example of “janus parallelism” between the three poetic lines which play off both root meanings of the intentionally ambiguous homonym. This elegant wordplay and the AB:BA “janus parallelism” may be represented thus: “The pomegranates are seen in the land, the time has come for pruning // singing, the voice of the turtledove is heard in the land.”

105 sn The dove was a common figure for romantic love in ancient Near Eastern love literature. This emphasis seems to be suggested by his use of the term “my dove.” Just as the young man heard the voice of the turtledove in 2:12, so now he wants to hear her voice. Doves were often associated with timidity in the ancient world. Being virtually defenseless, they would often take refuge in crevices and cliffs for safety (Jer 48:28). The emphasis on timidity and the need for security is undoubtedly the emphasis here because of the explicit description of this “dove” hiding in the “clefts of the rock” and in “the hiding places of the mountain crevice.” Fortresses were sometimes built in the clefts of the rocks on mountainsides because they were inaccessible and therefore, in a secure place of safety (Jer 49:16; Obad 3). Perhaps he realized it might be intimidating for her to join him and communicate with him freely. She would need to feel secure in his love to do this. It would be easy for her to hide from such emotionally exposing experiences.

106 tn The imperative אֶחֱזוּ (’ekhezu, “catch”) is plural in form (Qal imperative 2nd person masculine plural from אָחַז, ’akhaz). Some commentators suggest that the woman is speaking to a large audience, perhaps the maidens of Jerusalem mentioned in 2:7. However, the Hebrew plural can function in an intensive sense when used in reference to a single individual (IBHS 122 §7.4.3a). As noted previously, the bride often uses the plural in reference to herself or to her bridegroom in Sumerian love literature. Thus, the woman simply may be speaking to her beloved, as in 2:16-17, but with particularly intense passion.

107 sn The term “foxes” is used metaphorically. Foxes are always spoken of in a negative light in the OT and in the ancient world were particularly associated with their destructive tendencies with regard to vineyards (Judg 15:4; Neh 4:3; Ps 63:10; Lam 5:18; Ezek 13:4). The description of these foxes as being destructive here seems to confirm that this is the point of comparison in mind.

108 sn In ancient Near Eastern love literature it was common to use wild animals to symbolize potential problems which could separate lovers and destroy their love. For instance, in Egyptian love songs it is the crocodile, rather than the foxes, which were used as figures for obstacles which might threaten a couple’s love. Here the “foxes” are probably used figuratively to represent potentially destructive problems which could destroy their romantic relationship and which could hinder it from ripening into marriage.

109 sn The term “vineyard” is also a figure. In 1:6 she used the vineyard motif as a metaphor for her physical appearance, but here it is “our vineyards” which is probably a figure for their romantic relationship. The phrase “in bloom” makes the metaphor more specific, so that the phrase “our vineyards are in bloom” means that their romantic love relationship was in its initial stages, that is, before it had ripened into marriage.

110 sn This line may be translated either as “the one who grazes among the lilies” or as “the one who feeds [his flock] among the lilies.” The latter would picture him as a shepherd pasturing his flock among a bed of flowers which they were eating, while the former would be picturing him as a gazelle feeding among a bed of flowers. Because of the occurrence of the gazelle motif in the following verse, it is most likely that this motif is present in this verse as well. Although it seems likely that he is therefore being pictured as a gazelle eating these flowers, it is far from clear as to what this figurative picture denotes. It is possible that it conveys the peaceful nature of his relationship with her because she was earlier portrayed as a lily (e.g., 2:1).

111 sn Heb “until the day breathes,” which is figurative (personification) for the morning, that is, the time when the day begin its “life” (e.g., Song 4:6). Likewise, “the shadows flee” is figurative (personification) for the dawn, i.e., the time when the dark shadows of the night disappear, or the shadows of the evening which lengthen and are just as fleeting.

112 tn The exact meaning of סֹב (sov, Qal imperative 2nd person masculine singular from סָבַב, savav, “to turn”) in this context is uncertain. The imperatival form may be classified as an invitation. HALOT notes that סָבַב (“to turn”) occasionally denotes “to sit [lie] at a table” (1 Sam 16:11; Sir 9:9) and suggests that this is a figurative use of this nuance (HALOT 739 s.v. סבב 2c). The Beloved would be issuing an invitation to him to “turn aside to sit” at her table, that is, to enjoy the delights of her love. On the other hand, סֹב (“Turn!”) may simply be a synonym for the following parallel imperative דְּמֵה (dÿmeh, “Be like!”), that is, “turn, change” (HALOT 224 s.v. דָּם). In keeping with the extended simile in which the Beloved compares him to a gazelle or stag leaping upon the mountains, the term סֹב may simply denote “turn oneself around, change direction” (HALOT 739 s.v. 1). Rather than leaping somewhere else, so to speak, she invites him to leap upon the “mountain gorges.”

113 tn The expression הָרֵי בָתֶר (hare bater, “mountains of Bethar”) is difficult because there is no known mountain-range which was ever called by this name. The meaning of the noun בֶּתֶר (beter) is uncertain. DCH distinguishes between three homonymic nouns: (1) בֶּתֶר I noun “part, piece” (Gen 15:10; Jer 34:19) related to the verb בֶּתֶר “to cut in two” (Gen 15:10); (2) בֶּתֶר II noun “gorge” (Song 2:17); and (3) בֶּתֶר III place name “Bether” in Judah and 6.5 miles (11 km) SW of Jerusalem (Josh 15:59; 1 Chr 6:44; perhaps Song 2:17) (DCH 2:291 s.v. בֶּתֶר). Thus, הָרֵי בָתֶר might mean “mountains of gorge[s]” or “mountains of Bether” (DCH 2:291 s.v. III). The Hebrew root בָּתַר (batar, “cut in pieces, cut in half”) is related to Arabic batara “to cut off” (HALOT 167 s.v. בתר; BDB 144 בָּתַר). The word does not appear in Ugaritic, Akkadian, or Syriac. Aramaic בָּאתַר (batar, “after, behind”) was used frequently in Northwest Semitic (DISO 45-46) and Late Hebrew (Jastrow 201 s.v. בָּאתַר); however, it offers little to this problem. Many scholars take בֶּתֶר as a genitive of description functioning as an attributive adjective. For example, BDB suggests that בֶּתֶר means “mountains of cutting,” that is, “cleft mountains” (BDB 144 s.v. בֶּתֶר), while Koehler posits “ravine,” that is, mountains with a ravine (HALOT 167 s.v. II בֶּתֶר). This is reflected in the LXX’s κοιλωμάτων (koilwmatwn, “hollow places, basin, cavity”): ὄρη κοιλωμάτων (orh koilwmatwn) “mountains with many ravines.” This approach is adopted by several translations, e.g., “rugged mountains” (NLT). On the other hand, Vulgate, Aquila, and Symmachus took it as a place name referring to the town of Bether (LXX Βαιθηρ = Mishnaic Hebrew בִּיתֵּר) located 6.5 miles (11 km) southwest of Jerusalem (Josh 15:59; 1 Chr 6:44). This approach is adopted by several translations: “mountains of Bether” (KJV, ASV, RSV, NASB, NIV margin, TEV). Theodotion takes it as a figurative expression, reading θυμιαματων (qumiamatwn, “incense”) which reflects a variant Hebrew reading of בְּשָמִים (bÿshamim, “balsam, perfume”) which also appears in Song 8:14. This approach is taken in a Jewish-English translation: “hills of spice” (NJPS). The botanist Löw connects Hebrew בֶּתֶר to Greek μαλαβάθρον (malabaqron) which was an Indian spice plant imported to Judah. See I. Low, Die Flora der Juden, 2:117-118. The expression “cleft mountains” (הָרֵי בָתֶר) might refer simply to a rugged and jagged mountain-range (NLT “rugged mountains”; NIV “rugged hills”). However, this may be a figurative description of the woman’s cleavage because similar imagery is used in Song 4:6 to describe her breasts. The name “Tihamah” (literally “the Great Deep”) was applied to the low-lying coastland between the mountains of Yemen and the Red Sea as well as to the depression of Djauf (Dumah) because of fresh-water springs which oozed up from below (Hebrew “Tehom” and “Tehomot,” Ugaritic “Tihamaten” or “Tahamatum,” Akkadian “Tiamat”). And it appears that in an Ammonite inscription that an area near the mountainous region of Rabbath-Amman is referred to by the name “Tymtn” (literally “The Two Depressions”), rather than by its real name (W. F. Albright, “Some Comments on the Amman Citadel Inscription,” BASOR 198 [April 1978]: 38-39).

sn Scholars offer three interpretations of her figurative request: (1) The Beloved desires her Lover to embrace her breasts, like a gazelle romping over mountains (mountains are figurative); (2) The Beloved entreats her Lover to leave and go back over the hills from whence he had journeyed (mountains are literal); and (3) As her Lover prepares to leave her country village, the Beloved asks him to return to her again in the same way he arrived, like a gazelle bounding over the mountains in 2:8-10 (mountains are literal).

114 tn Alternately, “at night” or “night after night.” The noun בַּלֵּילוֹת (ballelot, plural of “night”) functions as an adverbial accusative of time. The plural form בַּלֵּילוֹת from לַיְלָה (laylah, “night”) can be classified in several ways: (1) plural of number: “night after night” (NASB, NEB); (2) plural of extension: “all night long” (NIV); (3) plural of composition: “by night” (KJV) and “at night” (NJPS); or (4) plural of intensity: “during the blackest night.” The plural of extension (“all night long”) is supported by (1) the four-fold repetition of the verb בָּקַשׁ (baqash, “to seek”) in 3:1-2 which emphasizes that the Beloved was continually looking for her lover all night long, (2) her decision to finally arise in the middle of the night to look for him in 3:2-4, and (3) her request in the immediately preceding verse (2:17) that he make love to her all night long: “until the day breathes and the shadows flee….” One should note, however, that the plural בַּלֵּילוֹת occurs in 3:8 where it is a plural of composition: “by night” (NJPS) or “of the night” (NASB, NIV) or “in the night” (KJV).

sn The use of the term בַּלֵּילוֹת (ballelot, “night”) in 3:1 stands in striking contrast to the use of the term הַיּוֹם (hayyom, “the day”) in 2:17 which is the preceding verse. In 2:17 the woman invited her beloved to make love to her all night long; however, in 3:1 she recounts a nightmarish experience in which she was unable to find her beloved next to her in bed. Scholars debate whether 3:1-4 recounts a nightmare-like dream sequence or a real-life experience. There are striking parallels between 3:1-4 and 5:2-8 which also raises the possibility of a nightmare-like dream sequence.

115 tn The term מִשְׁכָּב (mishkav, “bed”) in 3:1 is the common term for marriage bed (HALOT 646 s.v. מִשְׁכָּב; BDB 1012 s.v. מִשְׁכָּב) in distinction from the common term for עֶרֶש (’eresh, “couch”) in 1:16. Several uses of the term מִשְׁכָּב (“bed”) have overt sexual connotations, denoting the place of copulation (Gen 49:4; Lev 18:22; 20:13; Num 31:17, 35; Judg 21:11, 12; Prov 7:17; Isa 57:7-8). The noun is used in the expression מִשְׁכָּב דֹּדִים (mishkav dodim, “love-bed”) with obvious sexual connotations (Ezek 23:17).

116 tn Heb “I sought….” The verb בָּקַשׁ (baqash, “to seek”) denotes the attempt to physically find someone (e.g., 1 Sam 13:14; 16:16; 28:7; 1 Kgs 1:2-3; Isa 40:20; Ezek 22:30; Esth 2:2; Job 10:6; Prov 18:1) (HALOT 152 s.v. בקשׁ). However, it is clear in 3:1 that this “search” took place upon her bed. It does not make sense in the context that the Beloved was looking around in her bed to find her lover – how big could her bed be that she had lost him? Rather, בָּקַשׁ (“to seek”) is used metonymically to reference to her longing for her absent lover, that is, seeking in the sense of anticipation. The perfect tense should be classified as a past constantive action, describing a past action which covered an extended period of time, as indicated by the phrase בַּלֵּילוֹת (ballelot, plural of extension, “all night long”) in 3:1. This continual action is emphasized by the four-fold repetition of בָּקַשׁ (“seek”) in 3:1-2.

117 tn Heb “the one whom my soul loves.” The expression נַפְשִׁי (nafshi, “my soul”) is a synecdoche of part for the whole (= the woman). The expression נַפְשִׁי (“my soul”) is often used as independent personal pronoun. It often expresses personal preference, such as love or hatred (e.g., Gen 27:4, 25; Lev 26:11, 30; Judg 5:24; Isa 1:14) (HALOT 712 s.v. נֶפֶשׁ). The term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “soul”) is used over 150 times in OT to refer to the seat of a person’s emotions and passions (BDB 660 s.v. נֶפֶשׁ c.6.a) (e.g., Deut 12:15, 20, 21; 14:26; 18:6; 21:14; 24:15; 1 Sam 3:21; 23:30; 2 Sam 14:14; 1 Kgs 11:37; Isa 26:8; Jer 2:24; 22:27; 34:16; 44:14; Ezek 16:27; Hos 4:8; Mic 7:1; Pss 10:3; 24:4; 25:1; 35:25; 78:18; 86:4; 105:22; 143:8; Prov 13:4; 19:8; 21:10; Job 23:13; Song 5:6). It often refers to the seat of love (BDB 660 s.v. d.6.e) (e.g., Gen 34:3, 8; Jer 12:7; Ps 63:9; Song 1:7; 3:1-4). The expression אֵת־שֶׁאָהֲבָה נַפְשִׁי (’et-sheahavah nafshi, “the one whom I love”; Heb “the one whom my soul loves”) is repeated four times in 3:1-4. The repetition emphasizes her intense love for her beloved. The noun אָהֲבָה (’ahavah, “love”) is often used in reference to the love between a man and woman, particularly in reference to emotional, romantic, or sexual love (2 Sam 1:26; 13:15; Prov 5:19; 7:18; Song 2:4-5, 7; 3:5; 5:8; 8:4, 6-7; Jer 2:2, 33). Likewise, the verb אָהֵב (’ahev, “to love”) often refers to emotional, romantic, or sexual love between a man and woman (e.g., Gen 24:67; 29:20, 30, 32; 34:3; Deut 21:15, 16; Judg 14:16; 16:4, 15; 1 Sam 1:5; 18:20; 2 Sam 13:1, 4, 15; 1 Kgs 11:1; 2 Chr 11:21; Neh 13:26; Esth 2:17; Eccl 9:9; Song 1:3, 4, 7; 3:1-4; Jer 22:20, 22; Ezek 16:33, 36-37; 23:5, 9, 22; Hos 2:7-15; 3:1; Lam 1:19).

118 tn Heb “I searched for him” or “I sought him” (see study note above).

119 tc The LXX adds “I called him but he did not answer me” (ἐκάλεσα αὐτόν καὶ οὐχ ὑπήκουσέν μου, ekalesa auton kai ouc Juphkousen) to 3:2d on the basis of its appearance in the parallel expressions in Song 5:6. There is no textual support for its inclusion here.

tn Heb “but I did not find him.” The verb מָצָא (matsa’, “to find”) normally describes discovering the whereabouts of something/someone who is lost or whose presence is not known. It is clear in 3:1 that the Beloved was not taking a physically active role in looking all around for him, because she stayed in her bed all night long during this time. Therefore, the verb מָצָא (“to find”) must be nuanced metonymically in terms of him appearing to her. It does not denote “finding” him physically, but visually; that is, if and when he would arrive at her bedside, she would “find” him. This might allude to her request in 2:17 for him to rendezvous with her to make love to her all night long (“until the day breathes and the shadows flee”). Despite the fact that she was waiting for him all night long, he never appeared (3:1). The verb מָצָא (“to find”) is repeated four times in 3:1-4, paralleling the four-fold repetition of בָּקַשׁ (baqash, “to seek”). This antithetical word-pair creates a strong and dramatic contrast.

120 sn Three 1st person common singular cohortatives appear in verse 2: אָקוּמָה (’aqumah, “I will arise”), אֲסוֹבְבָה (’asovÿvah, “I will go about”), and אֲבַקְשָׁה (’avaqshah, “I will seek”). These cohortatives have been taken in two basic senses: (1) resolve: “I will arise…I will go about…I will seek” (KJV, NIV) or (2) necessity: “I must arise…I must go about…I must seek” (NASB, NJPS). There is no ethical or moral obligation/necessity, but the context emphasizes her intense determination (e.g., 3:4b). Therefore, they should be classified as cohortatives of resolve, expressing the speaker’s determination to pursue a course of action. The three-fold repetition of the cohortative form emphasizes the intensity of her determination.

tn The emphatic particle of exhortation נא appears in the expression אָקוּמָה נָּא (’aqumah nah, “I will arise…”). This particle is used with 1st person common singular cohortatives to emphasize self-deliberation and a determined resolve to act (BDB 609 s.v. נָא b.3.a) (e.g., Gen 18:21; Exod 3:3; 2 Sam 14:15; Isa 5:1; Job 32:21).

121 tn The root סָבַב (savav) in the Qal stem means “to go around, to do a circuit” (1 Sam 7:16; 2 Chr 17:9; 23:2; Eccl 12:5; Song 3:3; Isa 23:16; Hab 2:16), while the Polel stem means “to prowl around” (Ps 59:7, 15; Song 3:2) (HALOT 739-740 s.v. סבב). The idea here is that the Beloved is determined to “look all around” until she finds her beloved.

122 sn There is a consonantal wordplay in 3:2 between the roots בּקשׁ and בּשׁק, that is, between אֲבַקְשָׁה (’avaqshah, “I will seek [him]”) and בַּשְּׁוָקִים (bashshÿvaqim, “streets”). The wordplay emphasizes that she searched in every nook and cranny.

123 sn The statement בִּקַּשְׁתִּיו וְלֹא מְצָאתִיו (biqqashtiv vÿlomÿtsativ, “I sought him but I did not find him”) appears twice in 3:1-2. In both cases it concludes a set of cola. The repetition depicts her mounting disappointment in her failure to locate her beloved. It stands in strong contrast with 3:4.

124 tn Heb “those who go around the city” or “those who go around in the city.” The expression הַסֹּבְבִים בָּעִיר (hassovÿvim bair, “those who go around the city”) probably refers to the watchmen of the city walls rather than night city street patrol (e.g., Ps 127:1; Song 5:7; Isa 21:11; 62:6). The Israelite night watchmen of the walls is paralleled by the Akkadian sahir duri (“one who goes around the wall”) which appears in a lexical text as the equivalent of ma-sar musi (“night watchman”) (CAD 4:192). See M. H. Pope, Song of Songs (AB), 419. There is a wordplay in 3:2-3 between the verb וַאֲסוֹבְבָה (vaasovÿvah, “I will go about”) and הַסֹּבְבִים (hassovÿvim, “those who go around”). This wordplay draws attention to the ironic similarity between the woman’s action and the action of the city’s watchmen. Ironically, she failed to find her beloved as she went around in the city, but the city watchmen found her. Rather than finding the one she was looking for, she was found.

125 tn Heb “the one whom my soul loves – have you seen [him]?” The normal Hebrew word-order (verb-subject-direct object) is reversed in 3:3 (direct object-verb-subject) to emphasize the object of her search: אֵת שֶׁאָהֲבָה נַפְשִׁי רְאִיתֶם (’et sheahavah nafshi rÿitem, “The one whom my soul loves – have you seen [him]?”).

126 tn Heb “like a little.” The term כִּמְעַט (kimat), which is composed of the comparative preposition כְּ (kÿ, “like”) prefixed to the noun מְעַט (mÿat, “the small, the little, the few”), is an idiom that means “within a little” or “scarcely” (BDB 590 s.v. מְעַט b.2.a).

127 tn Heb “I held him” (אֲחַזְתִּיו, ’akhaztiv). The term אָחַז (’akhaz, “grasp”) denotes to forcefully seize someone to avoid losing hold of him (BDB 28 s.v. אָחַז b).

128 tn The verb רָפָה (rafah, “to let go”) means to relax one’s grip on an object or a person (HALOT 1276-77 s.v. רפה; BDB 952 s.v. רָפָה 2). The Hiphil stem means “to let loose” (Job 7:19; 27:6; Song 3:4; Sir 6:27) or “to release from one’s hands” (Deut 9:14; Josh 10:6; Ps 37:8). The negative expression לֹא רָפָה (lorafah, “to not let [someone or something] go”) denotes an intense desire or effort to not lose possession of someone or something (Job 27:6; Prov 4:13). Here the expression וְלֹא אַרְפֶּנּוּ (vÿlo’ ’arpennu, “I would not let him go”) pictures her determination to hold on to him so she would not lose him again. The shift from a suffix-conjugation (perfect) אֲחַזְתִּיו (’akhaztiv, “I grasped him”) to a prefix-conjugation (imperfect) אַרְפֶּנּוּ (’arpennu, “I would [not] let him go”) depicts a shift from a completed/consummative action (perfect: she took hold of his hand) to an ongoing/progressive action (imperfect: she would not let go of it). A basic distinction between the perfect and imperfect tenses is that of consummative versus progressive action. The literary/syntactical structure of אֲחַזְתִּיו וְלֹא אַרְפֶּנּוּ (“I grasped him and I would not let him go”) in 3:4 mirrors that of בִּקַּשְׁתִּיו וְלֹא מְצָאתִיו (biqqashtiv vÿlomÿtsativ, “I searched for him but I could not find him”) in 3:1-2. This parallelism in the literary and syntactical structure emphasizes the fortunate reversal of situation.

129 sn There is debate about the reason why the woman brought her beloved to her mother’s house. Campbell notes that the mother’s house is sometimes referred to as the place where marital plans were made (Gen 24:28; Ruth 1:8). Some suggest, then, that the woman here was unusually bold and took the lead in proposing marriage plans with her beloved. This approach emphasizes that the marriage plans in 3:4 are followed by the royal wedding procession (3:6-11) and the wedding night (4:1-5:1). On the other hand, others suggest that the parallelism of “house of my mother” and “chamber of she who conceived me” focuses on the bedroom of her mother’s house. Fields suggests that her desire was to make love to her beloved in the very bedroom chambers where she herself was conceived, to complete the cycle of life/love. If this is the idea, it would provide a striking parallel to a similar picture in 8:5 in which the woman exults that they had made love in the very location where her beloved had been conceived: “Under the apple tree I aroused you; it was there your mother conceived you, there she who bore you conceived you.”

130 tn The term חֶדֶר (kheder, “chamber”) literally means “dark room” (HALOT s.v. חֶדֶר 293) and often refers to a bedroom (Gen 43:30; Exod 7:28; Judg 3:24; 15:1; 16:9, 12; 2 Sam 4:7; 13:10; 1Kgs 1:15; 2 Kgs 6:12; 9:2; Eccl 10:20; Isa 26:20; Joel 2:16; Prov 24:4; Song 1:4; 3:4).

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

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

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

134 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”).

135 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).

136 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.).

137 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.”

138 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).

139 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.”

140 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”).

141 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.”

142 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).

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

144 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.

145 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).

146 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.”

147 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.”

148 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.

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

150 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.”

151 sn Song 4:1-7 is often compared to ancient Near Eastern wasfs songs sung by the groom to his new bride, praising her beauty from head to foot. Examples have been found in Egyptian, Syrian, Sumerian, and Arabic love literature. The wasfs song is a poetic celebration by the groom of his bride’s physical beauty. The typical form has three parts: (1) introductory words by the wedding guests, (2) invitation by the bride to the groom to celebrate her physical beauty, and (3) the groom’s poetic comparative praise of his bride’s beauty from head to foot – comprising the bulk of the song. The groom’s praise typically is characterized by three movements: (1) introductory summary praise of his bride’s beauty, (2) lengthy and detailed figurative description of her physical beauty, and (3) concluding summary praise which reiterates the introductory words of the song. Although the introductory words of the wedding guests and the invitation by the bride are absent, the form of the Lover’s praise of his bride is identical, as are the types of comparative praise. His song falls into the same three movements: (1) introductory summary praise of his bride’s beauty in 4:1a, (2) lengthy and detailed figurative description of her beauty in 4:1b-6, and (3) concluding summary praise in 4:7. See K&D 18:174-76; S. Krauss, “The Archaeological Background of Some Passages in the Song of Songs,” JQR 32 (1941-42): 125.

152 sn The introductory demonstrative particle הִנֵּךְ (hinneh, “Behold!”) is repeated for rhetorical effect. This particle is often used with verbs of seeing or discovering, making the narrative graphic and vivid. It enables the reader to enter into the surprise, wonder, and delight of the speaker (BDB 243 s.v. הִנֵּךְ c).

153 sn The repetition of יָפָה רַעְיָתִי (yafah rayati, “You are beautiful, my darling”) in 4:1 and 4:7 forms an inclusion, marking off the song of descriptive praise in 4:1-7.

154 sn The expression “your eyes [are] doves” is a metaphor (implied comparison). Like most of the other metaphors in 4:1-7, this is probably a comparison of sight rather than sense: (1) the shape of a woman’s eyes, especially in Egyptian art, resemble the shape of a dove, and (2) the white color of the eyeballs resemble the white color of a dove’s body. On the other hand, many Jewish and Christian interpreters have suggested that this is a comparison of sense, usually suggesting that the dove is a symbol for purity and that the eyes of a person are the windows of their soul or character, that is, the bride has a pure character as can be seen through her eyes.

155 tn Heb “flowing down” or “descending.” The verb שֶׁגָּלְשׁוּ (sheggalÿshu, “flowing down”) may be nuanced “descending.” The most recent lexicons define גָּלַשׁ (galash) as “to flow, leap” (DCH 2:357 s.v. גלשׁ); “to hop, move down” (HALOT 195 s.v. גלשׁ); and “to go down, glide down” (E. Klein, Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language, 102). Earlier lexicons suggested the meanings “to sit, sit up, recline” (BDB 167 s.v. גָּלַשׁ). The Hebrew root is probably related to Arabic jalasa “to go up, to go down, sit up” (HALOT 195).

156 tn Alternately, “the watering-hole” or “watering-place.” The noun רַחְצָה (rakhtsah) may be nuanced “washing-place” (BDB 934 s.v. רַחְצָה) or “watering-hole, watering-place” (HALOT 1221 s.v. רַחְצָה). The related verb רָחַץ (rakhats) means “to wash, bathe, rinse off” (BDB 934 s.v. רָחַץ; HALOT 1220-21 s.v. רחץ). The metaphor describing the beautiful teeth of the bride probably pictures freshly washed sheep rather than freshly watered sheep. He praises his bride’s teeth by comparing them to freshly washed sheep. In the ancient Near East it was customary to wash sheep before shearing them. The picture of freshly washed sheep depicts the whiteness of the bride’s teeth.

157 tn The phrase חוּט הַשָּׁנִי (khut hashshani, “thread of scarlet”) is a genitive construct with the genitive functioning adjectivally. This phrase is used three times in classical Hebrew to denote a scarlet colored “thread” or “cord” (Josh 2:18; Song 4:3; 11 QT 49:3) (HALOT 296-97 s.v. חוּט; DCH 3:170-71 s.v. חוּט). This is a comparison of sight, describing the color and shape of her lips.

158 tn Alternately, “cheek,” or “temple” (see Judg 4:21).

159 tn The term מִגְּדַל (miggÿdal, “tower”) refers to a military structure, such as a stronghold, arsenal, or defensive tower on the walls of a city (e.g., Judg 8:9, 17; 9:51; 2 Kgs 9:17; 17:9; 18:8; 2 Chr 14:6; 26:15; 27:4; 32:5).

160 tn The feminine noun לְתַלְפִּיּוֹת (lÿtalpiyyot) is a hapax legomenon of uncertain etymology. Various attempts have been made to find the origin of this word, but they are all uncertain. LXX εἰς θαλπιωθ (eis qalpiwq) simply transliterated the word, taking it as a proper name of a locality (Tel Pivoth). Similarly, Dom Calmet treated תלפיות as a compound word (תֵּל, tal, “hill,” and פֵּיוֹת, peyot, “mouths”) as a reference to a tower built by David on a height in the valleys of Lebanon. The Talmud suggests that the term refers to Jerusalem as the hill (תֵּל) to which all mouths (פיות) turn (b.Berakhot 30a). Aquila reads εἰς ἐπάλξεις (eis epalxeis) and Symmachus εἰς ὓψη (eis {uyh), while Vulgate has cum propugnaculis. Ibn Ezra redivided לתלפיות as ל תל פיות “for suspending weapons” by taking פֵּיוֹת (“mouths” = edge of swords) as a reference to weaponry. This is reflected in several translations: “armoury” (KJV, AV, ASV), “arsenal” (RSV), and “fortress” (JB). The noun may be related to the Arabic root tlp (“to perish”) in a metonymical sense: “a cause of perishing,” i.e., a weapon. The Hebrew Piel verb תִּלֵּף (tillef) means “to hang up for display,” thus NEB suggests that it is derived from lpy which means “to arrange in courses,” i.e., “layered,” as a reference to the Bride’s layered necklace she wears. The NIV nuances it as “with elegance” and NEB “winding courses.” Perles connects תַלְפִּיּוֹת to Akkadian tilpanu (“bow”), while Haupt connects the word with the Shaphel stem of the Akkadian
labu (“to fortify”). Honeyman suggests that לְתַלְפִּיּוֹת is a feminine plural noun of the taqtilat nominal pattern from the root לפי which means “to arrange in courses.” HALOT notes that the phrase בָּנוּי לְתַלְפִּיּוֹת (banu lÿtalpiyyot) has been rendered in several ways: (1) “built with turrets,” (2) “built with siege-towers,” (3) “built in rows (of stones)” or “built in terraces.” Haupt and Krauss suggest that לְתַלְפִּיּוֹת בָּנוּי denotes “constructed for siege-towers” or “built for an armory.” Honeyman suggests that תַלְפִּיּוֹת is a feminine plural noun with a standard nominative prefix ת and is derived from the verbal root לפא (“to arrange in stones”). Probably, the best solution is to relate this Hebrew root to Akkadian lapu (“to surround, enclose”), Arabic laffa or lifafah (“to envelope”), and Aramaic lpp and lp’ (“to interlace, entwine, plait”). This is the simplest solution and does not demand emending the text. The preposition לְ (lÿ) could denote “in respect to” and the colon בָּנוּי לְתַלְפִּיּוֹת could be translated “built in rows (of stones)” or “built in terraces.” Thus, the phrase “built in rows of stones” refers to the outer walls of a tower built in spiraling rows of stones or built in terraces. This is a comparison of sight: (1) her neck was long and symmetrical or (2) she was wearing a strand of beads or necklaces wrapped around her neck like a tower built in spiraling rows of stones. See P. Haupt, “Heb. talpi’ot, Siege-Towers,” JBL 38 (1919): 186-88; S. Krauss, “The Archaeological Background of Some Passages in the Song of Songs,” JQR 32 (1941-42): 125-29; A. M. Honeyman, “Two Contributions to Canaanite Toponymy,” JTS 50 (1949): 51; B. S. J. Isserlin, “Song of Songs IV, 4: An Archaeological Note,” PEQ 90 (1958): 59-61; K. Crim, “‘Your Neck is Like the Tower of David’ (The Meaning of a Simile in Song of Solomon 4:4),” BT 22:2 (1977): 72-74; E. Klein, Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language, 704.

161 tn Scholars debate whether this refers to (1) the interior walls of a tower upon which warriors would hang their shields when not in use or (2) the external upper wall of a military fortress upon which warriors would hang their shields to add to their protection during battle. A few scholars suggest that what is pictured here are the internal walls of the tower and, on the basis of Ezek 27:10-11, posit that in the ancient world there was a practice in which mercenaries, who had joined themselves to a king, would hang their shields upon his fortress wall as a sign of their allegiance. Following Crim, Deere suggests, “the custom of hanging shields on the tower was symbolic of the warriors’ allegiance to and valor for a particular king.” Crim suggests that the point of comparison of his praise would be something similar to what follows: “Just as the fame of Tyre in Ezek. 27:11 attracted mercenaries, the fame of the tower of David has attracted soldiers to come and enter its service. The shields hanging there show that they have given their allegiance to the tower. Your neck is like that tower. It is so beautiful that it could win the allegiance of a thousand heroic soldiers.” We would then translate something like this: “Your neck attracts men as the tower of David attracts warriors. A thousand heroic soldiers would swear allegiance to your beauty.” J. S. Deere suggests that the point of the comparison is that the bride’s neck was so beautiful and majestic that mighty warriors from near and far would have given their allegiance to her…It is as if he were saying that these soldiers would be willing to surrender their shields to her beauty. On the other hand, most scholars suggest that it refers to the common practice in the ancient Near East of lining the top wall of a military fortress tower with shields, behind which the soldiers could stand for protection leaving both hands free for bow and arrows (Note: It is possible to view Ezek 27:10-11 and 2 Chr 32:5 in this manner). This is supported by ancient Near Eastern art which pictures such a practice, especially by the relief of Sennacherib’s siege of Lachish which shows the top wall of Lachish lined with shields. The Illustrated Family Encyclopedia of the Living Bible, 10:56, notes: “The art of the ancient East often shows us the shields that were, in time of war, set in position on the towers of the city walls, so that defenders could safely fire arrows and hurl stones while standing upright behind them.” Those who see this as the imagery all agree that the point of comparison is to jeweled necklaces with pendants which could be compared to shields, as in 1:10-11 (A. Robert, T. J. Meek, G. Gerlemann, A. M. Honeyman, B. S. J. Isserlin, J. McKenzie). McKenzie expresses this view when he posits that she was wearing jewelry around her neck and that this was being compared to the shields hung around this military tower: “One of the many physical charms that the Beloved finds in his mistress (Song of Sol. 4:1-4) is her long neck which, with its stately poise, reminds him of the lofty tower of David. Just as this tower is hung all round with shields placed there by mighty men of valor, so is his mistress’ neck adorned with chains and strings of jewels. This is supported by the fact that 4:9 explicitly mentions a necklace with a multitude of jewels in it which she was wearing at this time. And Isserlin suggests that the complete image in view fits the evidence of both ancient Near Eastern military towers and jewelry which has been recovered archaeologically: “It seems to the present writer that a reading of the verse…can be taken to refer to the presence not of one, but two elements on the tower: there is the coursed masonry, and on top of it there are the shields. If we keep the idea that a multiple necklace is alluded to, then this should be made up of two kinds of elements: on top there should be a series of beads resembling round shields; below we should find something resembling either the short or the long side of building stones (according to whether the masonry is laid in headers or stretchers). Can necklaces of this type be found in the ancient Near East? It seems to the writer that the well-known sculpture from Arsos in Cyprus (Pl. VI) represents just this type of necklace. The upper beads do look like a row of round shields, as shown on the tower in the relief slab representing Sennacherib’s siege of Lachish, while the lower elements do evoke roughly bossed headers, as found in ancient Palestinian defence works” (B. S. J. Isserlin, The Israelites, 59, and plate VI). Composite necklaces such as this one might be referred to in Prov 1:9. In any case, it is quite unlikely that the point of comparison was that she had a large, muscular neck, as some have suggested (M. Jastrow, L. Waterman, and R. Gordis). See A. M. Honeyman, “Two Contributions to Canaanite Toponymy,” JTS 50 (1949): 51; B. S. J. Isserlin, “Song of Songs IV, 4: An Archaeological Note,” PEQ 90 (1958): 59-61; The Illustrated Family Encyclopedia of the Living Bible, 10:56; K. R. Crim, “Your Neck is Like the Tower of David (The Meaning of a Simile in the Song of Solomon 4:4),” BT 22:2 (April 1977): 70-74.

162 tn Heb “until the day breathes.”

163 tn The Piel denominative verb לבב is derived from the noun לֵבָב (levav, “heart”), and occurs only here. Its meaning is debated: (1) metonymical sense: “you have encouraged me,” that is, given me heart (BDB 525 s.v. לֵב; AV, RSV); (2) intensive sense: “you have made my heart beat faster” (KBL 471 s.v. I לבב); and (3) privative sense: “you have ravished my heart” or “you have stolen my heart” (HALOT 515 s.v. I לבב; GKC 141-42 §52.h) (NIV). While the Niphal stem has a metonymical nuance (cause for effect): to get heart, that is, to get understanding (Job 11:12), the Piel stem may have a privative nuance: to take away heart, that is, to take away the senses. Her beauty was so overwhelming that it robbed him of his senses (e.g., Hos 4:11). This is paralleled by a modern Palestinian love song: “She stood opposite me and deprived me of reason (literally, “took my heart”), your dark eyes slew me while I was singing, your eyebrows drove shame from me…the darkness of your eyes have slain me; O one clad in purple clothes, it is worthwhile falling in love with you, for your eyes are black and sparkle, and have slain me indeed.” Less likely is the proposal of Waldeman who relates this to Akkadian lababu (“to rage, be aroused to fury”), suggesting that Song 4:9 means “to become passionately aroused” or “to be aroused sexually.” See S. H. Stephan, “Modern Palestinian Parallels to the Song of Songs,” JPOS 2 (1922): 13; R. Gordis, Song of Songs and Lamentations, 85-86; N. M. Waldman, “A Note on Canticles 4:9,” JBL 89 (1970): 215-17; H. W. Wolff, Anthropology of the Old Testament, 40-58.

164 sn It is clear from Song 8:1 that the young man and his bride were not physical brother and sister, yet he addresses his bride as אֲחֹתִי (’akhoti, “my sister”) several times (4:9, 10, 12; 5:1). This probably reflects any one of several ancient Near Eastern customs: (1) The appellatives “my sister” and “my brother” were both commonly used in ancient Near Eastern love literature as figurative descriptions of two lovers. For instance, in a Ugaritic poem when Anat tried to seduce Aqhat, she says, “Hear, O hero Aqhat, you are my brother and I your sister” (Aqhat 18 i. 24). In the OT Apocrypha husband and wife are referred to several times as “brother” and “sister” (Add Esth 15:9; Tob 5:20; 7:16). This “sister-wife” motif might be behind Paul’s perplexing statement about a “sister-wife” (1 Cor 9:5). (2) In several Mesopotamian societies husbands actually could legally adopt their wives for a variety of reasons. For instance, in Hurrian society husbands in the upper classes sometimes adopted their wives as “sisters” in order to form the strongest of all possible marriage bonds; a man could divorce his wife but he could not divorce his “sister” because she was “family.” At Nuzi a husband could adopt his wife to give her a higher status in society. See M. Held, “A Faithful Lover in Old Babylonian Dialogue,” JCS 15 (1961): 1-26 and S. N. Kramer, The Sacred Marriage Rite, 103-5; T. Jacobsen, “The Sister’s Message,” JANESCU 5 (1973): 199-212; E. A. Speiser, “The Wife-Sister Motif in the Patriarchal Narratives,” Oriental and Biblical Studies, 15- 28; G. R. Driver, Canaanite Myths and Legends, 111.

165 tn Alternately, “eye-stone [of your necklace].” The term עִינַיִךְ (’inayikh, “your eyes”) probably refers to her physical eyes (e.g., 4:1). However, in Sumero-Akkadian literature the term “eye” sometimes refers to the eye-stone of a necklace. Agate-stones were cut so that white stripes appeared around the black or brown core to look like the pupil on the eye. M. H. Pope (Song of Songs [AB], 482-83) suggests that the parallelism between the A and B lines suggests the following: “with one of your eye-stones” and “with one jewel of your necklace.” See W. G. Lambert, “An Eye Stone of Esarhaddon’s Queen and Other Similar Gems,” RA 63 (1969): 65-71.

166 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”).

167 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.”

168 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.

169 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.

170 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”).

171 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.

172 tn Heb “may flow.”

173 sn There is no little debate about the identity of the speaker(s) and the audience addressed in 5:1b. There are five options: (1) He is addressing his bride. (2) The bride is addressing him. (3) The wedding guests are addressing him and his bride. (4) He and his bride are addressing the wedding guests. (5) The poet is addressing him and his bride. When dealing with this issue, the following factors should be considered: (1) the form of both the exhortations and the addressees are plural. This makes it unlikely that he is addressing his bride or that his bride is addressing him. (2) The exhortation has an implicitly sexual connotation because the motif of “eating” and “drinking” refers to sexual consummation in 5:1a. This makes it unlikely that he or his bride are addressing the wedding guests – an orgy is quite out of the question! (3) The poet could be in view because as the writer who created the Song, only he could have been with them – in a poetic sense – in the bridal chamber as a “guest” on their wedding night. (4) The wedding guests could be in view through the figurative use of apostrophe (addressing an audience that is not in the physical presence of the speaker). While the couple was alone in their wedding chambers, the wedding guests wished them all the joys and marital bliss of the honeymoon. This is supported by several factors: (a) Wedding feasts in the ancient Near East frequently lasted several days and after the couple had consummated their marriage, they would appear again to celebrate a feast with their wedding guests. (b) The structure of the Song is composed of paired-dialogues which either begin or conclude with the words of the friends or daughters of Jerusalem (1:2-4, 5-11; 3:6-11; 5:9-16; 6:1-3, 4-13; 7:1-10) or which conclude with an exhortation addressed to them (2:1-7; 3:1-5; 8:1-4). In this case, the poetic unit of 4:1-5:1 would conclude with an exhortation by the friends in 5:1b.

174 sn The physical love between the couple is compared to eating and drinking at a wedding feast. This is an appropriate figure of comparison because it would have been issued during the feast which followed the wedding and the consummation. The term “drink” refers to intoxication, that is, it compares becoming drunk on wine with enjoying the physical love of one’s spouse (e.g., Prov 5:19-20).

175 tn Heb “my heart.” The term לִבִּי (livvi, “my heart”) is a metonymy of association for emotions (e.g., Prov 15:13; Song 3:11) or thoughts (e.g., Ps 90:12; Prov 18:15) or a synecdoche of part for the whole. If this verse is introducing a dream sequence in 5:2-8, this is a metonymy for the Beloved’s thoughts in her dream: “I was sleeping but my mind was dreaming.” If this verse depicts the Beloved beginning to doze off to sleep – only to be awakened by his knocking at her door – then it is a synecdoche of part for the whole: “I was about to fall asleep when I was suddenly awakened.”

176 tn Heb “but my heart was awake.” Scholars have interpreted 5:2a in two basic ways: (1) The Beloved had been asleep or was just about to fall asleep when she was awakened by the sound of him knocking on the door of her bedroom chambers. The term לִבִּי (livvi, “my heart”) is a synecdoche of part for the whole: “my heart” = “I.” The participle עֵר (’er) functions verbally, describing a past ingressive state: “was awakened.” The line would be rendered: “I was sleeping when I (= my heart) was awakened.” (2) The Beloved was sleeping, but her mind was dreaming (in her dream she heard him knocking on her door). In this case, לִבִּי (“my heart”) is a metonymy of association for the thoughts (e.g., Ps 90:12; Prov 18:15) and emotions (e.g., Prov 15:13; Song 3:11) she experienced during her dream: “my heart” = “my mind.” The participle עֵר functions verbally, describing a past progressive state: “was awake.” The line could be nuanced, “I was asleep, but my mind was dreaming.” Many translations adopt this approach: “I was asleep but my heart waketh” (KJV), “I was asleep but my heart was awake” (NASB, NIV), and “I was asleep, but my heart was wakeful” (NJPS).

177 sn The noun קוֹל (qol, literally, “sound, noise, voice”) is used as an exclamation: “Listen!” or “Hark!” (e.g., Gen 4:10; Isa 13:4; 40:3; 52:8; Jer 3:21; 4:15; 10:22; 31:51; 50:28; 51:54; Mic 6:9; Zeph 1:14; 2:14; Song 2:8; 5:2) (HALOT 1085 s.v. קוֹל 8b; BDB 877 s.v. קוֹל 1.f; Joüon 2:614 §162.e; GKC 467 §146.b). The term often refers to a loud or unexpected sound that arrests the attention of a character in a narrative. The speaker/writer uses it as a rhetorical device to dramatically portray his/her own startled reaction to an unexpected sound that called his/her attention. The Beloved is startled from her sleep by the unexpected sound of him loudly knocking at her bedroom door late at night.

178 sn The phrase קוֹל דּוֹדִי (qol dodi, “Listen! My lover …!”) that introduces this scene in 5:2-8 is the exact same phrase used in 2:8 to introduce the courtship section 2:8-11. In 2:8-11, the Beloved was excited about his unexpected arrival; however, in 5:2-8 she is apathetic about his unexpected approach. One should not miss the dramatic contrast between the Beloved’s eagerness to see her lover in 2:8-11 and her apathy about his approach on this evening in 5:2-8. The repetition of קוֹל דּוֹדִי (“Listen! My lover …!”) in 2:8 and 5:2 is designed to draw out the parallels and contrasts between 2:8-11 and 5:2-8.

179 sn The participle דוֹפֵק (dofeq) connotes present progressive or iterative action. The verb דָּפַק (dafaq, “to knock, pound, beat”) occurs only three times in biblical Hebrew, twice in reference to knocking at a door (Judg 19:22; Song 5:2) and once of beating cattle in order to drive them along (Gen 33:13). The Qal stem depicts the normal action of knocking at a door, while the Hitpael denotes a more intensive pounding, e.g., Qal: “to knock at the door” (Song 5:2) and Hitpael: “to beat violently against the door” (Judg 19:22) (HALOT 229 s.v. דפק; BDB 200 s.v. דָּפַק). The same connotations are seen in Mishnaic Hebrew, e.g., the verbs דָּפַק and דְּפַק (dÿfaq), “to knock at the door” (Jastrow 317 s.v. דָּפַק), and the nouns דּוֹפֵק “door frame (= what someone knocks on), movable tomb stone,” and דּוֹפְקָנִין (dofÿqanin, “knockers”; Jastrow 287 s.v. דּוֹפְקָנִין). The collocation of the verb פתח “to open” a door (HALOT 986-87 s.v. פתח; BDB 835 s.v. פָּתַח) clearly suggests that he is at the Beloved’s bedroom door.

180 tn The phrase “at the door” does not appear in the Hebrew but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

181 tn Heb “Open to me!” Alternately, “Let me in!” The imperatival form of פִּתְחִי (pitkhi, to open”) connotes a polite, but earnest request. The verb פָּתַח (patakh) refers to the action of opening various objects, e.g., sack (Gen 42:27), skin bottle (Judg 4:19), hamper (Exod 2:6), pit (Exod 21:33), mouth of a cave (Josh 10:22), grave (Ezek 37:12, 13), city gates (Neh 13:19; Isa 45:1), gate of a land (Nah 3:13), window (2 Kgs 13:17). When used with the accusative דֶּלֶת (delet, “door”), it refers to opening a door (e.g., Judg 3:25; 19:27; 1 Sam 3:15; 2 Kgs 9:3, 10; 2 Chr 29:3; Job 31:32) (HALOT 986-87 s.v. פתח; BDB 835 s.v. פָּתַח). Although the object דֶּלֶת (“door”) is here omitted, a bedroom door is clearly in mind in 5:2, as indicated by the collocated verb דָּפַק (dafaq, “to knock on a door”) in the preceding line. Translators have often rendered this line woodenly: “Open to me!” (KJV, NASB, NIV); however, NJPS nuances it well: “Let me in!”

sn The three-fold repetition of the verb פָּתַח (patakh, “to open”) (Song 5:2, 5, 6) indicates that it is a key word (Leitwort) in this section. While it is clear that the verb describes her action of opening the door of her bedroom chamber in 5:2, some suggest that in 5:5-6 it is used figuratively (hypocatastasis: implied comparison) of the Beloved “opening” her female genitalia for sexual intercourse (but see study notes below).

182 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.

183 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).

184 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.

185 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).

186 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.”

187 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.

188 tn The verbs עָבָר חָמַק (khamaqavar, “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].”

189 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 yatsah, 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.

190 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).

191 tn The genitive construct חוֹלַת אַהֲבָה (kholatahavah, “sick of love”) denotes “lovesick.” This is an example of a genitive of cause, that is, the Beloved was (physically/emotionally) sick because of her unrequited love for him. See study note on Song 2:5.

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

193 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.

194 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.

195 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).

196 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.

197 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).

198 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.

199 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).

200 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”).

201 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.

202 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).

203 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).

204 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”).

205 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.”

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

207 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.

208 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.

209 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.

210 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.

211 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.

212 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.

213 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.”

214 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.

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

216 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.

217 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).

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

219 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).

220 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).

221 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.

222 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.

223 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”).

224 tn Heb “daughters.”

225 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.

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

227 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.

228 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.

229 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).

230 tn Heb “pure as the sun.”

231 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.”

232 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.

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

234 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.

235 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.

236 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.

237 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).

238 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).

239 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.

240 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.

241 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.”

242 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.

243 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.

244 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.

245 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).

246 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”).

247 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).

248 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).

249 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).

250 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).

251 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.

252 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.

253 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).

254 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).

255 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).

256 tn Heb “fenced around by.”

257 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).

258 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.

259 tn Heb “your head [is] upon you.”

260 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.

261 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).

262 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).

263 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!

264 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).

265 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).

266 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).

267 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).

268 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.”

269 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).

270 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).

271 tn Heb “of the vine.”

272 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).

273 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.”

274 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).

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

276 sn In the ancient Near East the mandrake was a widely used symbol of erotic love because it was thought to be an aphrodisiac and therefore was used as a fertility drug. The unusual shape of the large forked roots of the mandrake resembles the human body with extended arms and legs. This similarity gave rise to the popular superstition that the mandrake could induce conception and it was therefore used as a fertility drug. It was so thoroughly associated with erotic love that its name is derived from the Hebrew root דּוֹד (dod, “love”), that is, דּוּדָאִים (dudaim) denotes “love-apples.” Arabs used its fruit and roots as an aphrodisiac and referred to it as abd al- salm (“servant of love”) (R. K. Harrison, “The Mandrake and the Ancient World,” EQ 28 [1956]: 188-89; Fauna and Flora of the Bible, 138-39).

277 sn Her comparison of their love to fruit stored “over our door” reflects an ancient Near Eastern practice of storing fruit on a shelf above the door of a house. In the ancient Near East, fruits were stored away on shelves or cupboards above doorways where they were out of reach and left to dry until they became very sweet and delectable. The point of comparison in this figurative expression seems to be two-fold: (1) She was treasuring up special expressions of her sexual love to give to him, and (2) All these good things were for him alone to enjoy. See M. H. Pope, The Song of Songs [AB], 650.

278 tn The imperfect יִתֶּנְךָ (yittenka) may denote a desire or wish of the subject, e.g., Gen 24:58; Exod 21:36; 1 Sam 21:10 (IBHS 509 §31.4h). The optative particle מִי (mi) with an imperfect expresses an unreal wish, e.g., Judg 9:29; 2 Sam 15:4; Mal 1:10. The construction יִתֶּנְךָ מִי (mi yittenka) is an idiom expressing an unreal wish in the optative mood (HALOT 575 s.v. מִי), e.g., “Would that it were evening…Would that it were morning!” (KJV) or “If only it were evening…If only it were morning!” (NIV) (Deut 28:67); “Oh that I knew where I might find him” (KJV, NASB, NJPS), “I wish I had known,” “If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling!” (NIV) (Job 23:3); “I wish that all the LORD’s people were prophets!” (NIV), “Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets” (NASB) (Num 11:29). Evidently, the LXX did not understand the idiom; it rendered the line in wooden literalness: Τίς δώῃ σε ἀδελφιδόν μου (Tis dwh se adelfidon mou, “Who might give/make you as my brother?”).

279 tn Heb “you were to me like a brother.”

280 tn Heb “found” or “met.” The juxtaposition of the two imperfects without an adjoining vav forms a conditional clause denoting a real condition (GKC 493 §159.b). The first imperfect is the protasis; the second is the apodosis: “If I found you אֶמְצָאֲךָ (’emtsaaka) outside, I would kiss you (אֶשָּׁקְךָ, ’eshshaqÿkha).” The imperfects are used to express a condition and consequence which are regarded as being capable of fulfillment in the present or future time (GKC 493 §159.b). The simple juxtaposition of two verbal clauses without any grammatical indicator, such as vav or a conditional particle, is rather rare: “If you rebel (תִּמְעָלוּ, timalu), I will disperse you (אָפִיץ, ’afits) among the nations” (Neh 1:8); “If I counted them (אֶסְפְּרֵם, ’esppÿrem), they would be more numerous (יִרְבּוּן, yirbun) than the sand!” (Ps 139:18); “If a man has found a wife (מָצָא, matsa’), he has found (מָצָא) a good thing” (Prov 18:22) (Joüon 2:627 §167.a.1). On the other hand, LXX treated the imperfects as denoting future temporal sequence: εὑροῦσά σε ἒξω, φιλήσω σε (eurousa se exw, filhsw se, “I will find you outside, I will kiss you”). Ordinarily, however, vav or a temporal particle introduces a temporal clause (Joüon 2:627 §167.a; GKC 502 §164.d). The English translation tradition generally adopts the conditional nuance: “If I found you outdoors, I would kiss you” (NASB), “Then, if I found you outside, I would kiss you” (NIV). However, a few translations adopt the temporal nuance: “When I should find thee without, I would kiss thee” (KJV), “Then I could kiss you when I met you in the street” (NJPS).

281 tn The particle גַּם (gam, “surely”) is used with לֹא (lo’, “no one”) for emphasis: “yea, none” (HALOT 195 s.v. גַּם). Similar examples: לֹא...גָם אָחַד (lo’…gamekhad, “not even one”; 2 Sam 17:12); גַּם אֵין (gamen, “yet there is no one”; Eccl 4:8).

282 sn Song 8:1-2 may be classified as a “a lover’s wish song” that is similar in content and structure to an ancient Egyptian love song in which the lover longs for greater intimacy with his beloved: “I wish I were her Negro maid who follows at her feet; then the skin of all her limbs would be revealed to me. I wish I were her washerman, if only for a month; then I would be [entranced], washing out the Moringa oils in her diaphanous garments. I wish I were the seal ring, the guardian of her [fingers]; then […]” (The Cairo Love Songs, 25-27, in W. K. Simpson, ed., The Literature of Ancient Egypt, 311). The Egyptian and Hebrew parallels display a similar structure: (1) introductory expression of the lover’s wish to be something/someone in a position of physical closeness with the Beloved; (2) description of the person/thing that is physically close to the Beloved; and (3) concluding description of the resultant greater degree of intimacy with the Beloved. In the Egyptian parallel it is the man who longs for greater closeness; in the Hebrew song it is the woman. The Egyptian love song borders on the sensual; the Hebrew love song is simply romantic. The Beloved expresses her desire for greater freedom to display her affection for Solomon. In ancient Near Eastern cultures the public display of affection between a man and woman was frowned upon – sometimes even punished. For example, in Assyrian laws the punishment for a man kissing a woman in public was to cut off his upper lip. On the other hand, public displays of affection between children and between family members were allowed. Accordingly, the Beloved hyperbolically wished that she and Solomon were children from the same family so she could kiss him anytime she wished without fear of punishment or censure.

283 tc The MT reads אֶנְהָגֲךָ אֶל־בֵּית אִמִּי תְּלַמְּדֵנִי (’enhagakhael-betimmi tÿlammÿdeni, “I would bring you to the house of my mother who taught me”). On the other hand, the LXX reads Εἰσάξω σε εἰς οἶκον μητρός μου καὶ εἰς ταμίειον τῆς συλλαβούση με (Eisaxw se eis oikon mhtpos mou kai eis tamieion ths sullaboush me) which reflects a Hebrew reading of אֶנְהָגֲךָ אֶל־בֵּית אִמִּי וְאֶל חֶדֶר הוֹרָתִי (’enhagakhael-betimmi vÿel kheder horati, “I would bring you to the house of my mother, to the chamber of the one who bore me”), followed by NRSV. The LXX variant probably arose due to: (1) the syntactical awkwardness of תְּלַמְּדֵנִי (“she taught me” or “she will teach me”), (2) the perceived need for a parallel to אֶל־בֵּית אִמִּי (“to the house of my mother”), and (3) the influence of Song 3:4 which reads: עַד־שֶׁהֲבֵיאתִיו אֶל־בֵּית אִמִּי וְאֶל חֶדֶר הוֹרָתִי (’ad-shehevetivel-betimmi vÿel kheder horati, “until I brought him to the house of my mother, to the chamber of the one who bore me”). The MT reading should be adopted because (1) it is the more difficult reading, (2) it best explains the origin of the LXX variant, and (3) the origin of the LXX variant is easily understood in the light of Song 3:4.

tn The verb תְּלַמְּדֵנִי (tÿlammÿdeni) may be rendered in two basic ways: (1) future action: “she will teach me” or more likely as (2) past customary action: “who would instruct me” (KJV), “who used to instruct me” (NASB), “she who has taught me” (NIV), “she who taught me” (NJPS). This is an example of casus pendus in which the subject of the verb serves as a relative pronoun to the antecedent noun (“my mother”). The JPS parses תְּלַמְּדֵנִי as 2nd person masculine singular (“that you might instruct me”) rather than 3rd person feminine singular (“she would teach me”). However, this would obscure the imagery: The Beloved wished that Solomon was her little brother still nursing on her mother’s breast. The Beloved, who had learned from her mother’s example, would bring him inside their home and she would give him her breast: “I would give you spiced wine to drink, the nectar of my pomegranates.”

284 sn Continuing the little brother/older sister imagery of 8:1, the Beloved suggests that if she had been an older sister and he had been her little brother, she would have been able to nurse Solomon. This is a euphemism for her sensual desire to offer her breasts to Solomon in marital lovemaking.

285 tc The Masoretic vocalization of מִיַּיִן הָרֶקַח (miyyayin hareqakh) suggests that הָרֶקַח (“spiced mixture”) stands in apposition to מִיַּיִן (“wine”): “wine, that is, spiced mixture.” However, several Hebrew mss read the genitive-construct vocalization מִיַּיִן הָרֶקַח (“spiced wine”). This alternate vocalization tradition is reflected in the Targum and other versions, such as the LXX. The genitive noun הָרֶקַח (“spices, spiced mixture”) functions as an adjective modifying the preceding construct noun יַיִן (“wine”).

tn Alternately “wine, that is, spiced mixture.” The term רֶקַח (reqakh, “spice mixture, spices”) refers to ground herbs that were tasty additives to wine (HALOT 1290 s.v. רֶקַח).

286 sn There is a phonetic wordplay (paronomasia) between אֶשָּׁקְךָ (’eshshaqÿkha, “I would kiss you” from נָשַׁק, nashaq, “to kiss”) in 8:1 and אַשְׁקְךָ (’ashqÿkha, “I would cause you to drink” from שָׁקָה, shaqah, “to drink”) in 8:2. This wordplay draws attention to the unity of her “wish song” in 8:1-2. In 8:1 the Beloved expresses her desire to kiss Solomon on the lips when they are outdoors; while in 8:2 she expresses her desire for Solomon to kiss her breasts when they are in the privacy of her home indoors.

287 sn This statement is a euphemism: the Beloved wished to give her breasts to Solomon, like a mother would give her breast to her nursing baby. This is the climactic point of the “lover’s wish song” of Song 8:1-2. The Beloved wished that Solomon was her little brother still nursing on her mother’s breast. The Beloved, who had learned from her mother’s example, would bring him inside their home and she would give him her breast: “I would give you spiced wine to drink, the nectar of my pomegranates.” The phrase “my pomegranates” is a euphemism for her breasts. Rather than providing milk from her breasts for a nursing baby, the Beloved’s breasts would provide the sensual delight of “spiced wine” and “nectar” for her lover.

tc The MT reads the singular noun with 1st person common singular suffix רִמֹּנִי (rimmoni, “my pomegranate”). However, many Hebrew mss preserve an alternate textual tradition of a plural noun without the 1st person common singular suffix רִמֹּנִים (rimmonim, “pomegranates”), which is also reflected in the Aramaic Targum. However, LXX ῥοῶν μου ({rown mou, “the nectar of my pomegranates”) reflects both the plural noun and the 1st person common singular suffix. Therefore, R. Gordis suggests that MT רִמֹּנִי is an apocopated plural with a 1st person common singular suffix: “my pomegranates.”

288 tn See the notes on 2:6, which is parallel to this verse.

289 tn Heb “daughters of Jerusalem.”

290 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.

291 sn The imagery of v. 6 is romantic: (1) His mother originally conceived him with his father under the apple tree, (2) his mother gave birth to him under the apple tree, and (3) the Beloved had now awakened him to love under the same apple tree. The cycle of life and love had come around full circle under the apple tree. While his mother had awakened his eyes to life, the Beloved had awakened him to love. His parents had made love under the apple tree to conceive him in love, and now Solomon and his Beloved were making love under the same apple tree of love.

292 tn Or “went into labor.” The verb חָבַל (khaval, “become pregnant”) is repeated in 8:6b and 8:6c, and has a two-fold range of meaning: (1) transitive: “to conceive [a child]” and (2) intransitive: “to be in travail [of childbirth]” (HALOT 286 s.v. IV חבל). In 8:6b it denotes “to conceive,” and in 8:6c it is “to be in travail [of childbirth].”

293 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.

294 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).

295 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.

296 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.

297 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).

298 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).

299 tn Heb “harsh” or “severe.”

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

301 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).

302 tn Heb “rivers.”

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

304 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).

305 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”).

306 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.

307 sn The Beloved’s brothers knew that once a couple is betrothed, sexual temptations would be at their greatest. Thus, in v. 9 they devise a plan to protect the purity of their sister: If she is a virtuous young woman, they would reward her; however, if she is prone to temptation, they will restrain her and guard her from promiscuity.

308 sn The simile if she is a wall draws a comparison between the impregnability of a city fortified with a strong outer wall and a virtuous young woman who successfully resists any assaults against her virginity. The term חוֹמָה (khomah, “wall”) often refers to an outside fortress wall that protects the city from enemy military attacks (e.g., Lev 25:29-30; Josh 6:5; 1 Kgs 3:1; Neh 2:8; 12:27; Jer 1:8; 15:20).

309 sn The term טִירָה (tirah, “battlement, turret”) refers to the row of stones along the top of a fortress wall, set for the defense and stability of the wall (Ezek 46:23; cf. HALOT 374 s.v. טִירָה). This structure is connected with military operations set in defense of a siege.

310 sn The verb צוּר (tsur, “to surround, encircle, enclose”) is often used in military contexts in reference to the siege or defense of a fortress city: (1) setting up military positions (siege walls) to surround a besieged city (e.g., Isa 29:3); (2) encircling and laying siege to a city (e.g., Deut 20:12, 19; 2 Sam 11:1; 1 Kgs 15:27; 16:17; 20:1; 2 Kgs 6:24-25; 17:5; 19:9; 24:11; 1 Chr 20:1; Isa 21:2; 29:3; Jer 21:4, 9; 32:2; 37:5; 39:1; Ezek 4:3; Dan 1:1); (3) enclosing a city with sentries (e.g., Isa 29:3); (4) shutting a person within a city (1 Sam 23:8; 2 Sam 20:15; 2 Kgs 16:5); and (5) barricading a city door shut to prevent the city from being broken into and conquered (e.g., Song 8:7) (HALOT 1015 s.v. I צור).

311 tn Heb “a board.” The singular noun לוּחַ (lukha, “board, plank”) may denote a singular of number or a collective.

312 sn An interesting semantic parallel involving the “door/bar” motif in ancient Near Eastern texts comes from an Assyrian charm against an enemy: “If he is a door, I will open your mouth; but if he is a bar, I will open your tongue.” Obviously, the line in the Song is not an incantation; the formula is used in a love motif. Cited by J. Ebeling, “Aus dem Tagewerk eines assyrischen Zauberpriesters,” MAOG 5 (1931): 19.

313 sn The noun מִגְדָּל (migdal, “tower”) can refer to the watchtowers of a fortified city (2 Kgs 17:9; 18:8; 2 Chr 26:9), projecting median towers along the fortified city wall which were crucial to the defense of the city (2 Chr 14:6; 26:15; 32:5), or fortress towers in the countryside set for the defense of the land (Judg 9:52; 2 Chr 27:4; Ezek 27:11) (HALOT 544 s.v. I מִגְדָּל). The Beloved mixes metaphors by describing her breasts with a comparison of sense and a comparison of sight: (1) Comparison of sense: She successfully defended her virginity and sexual purity from seduction, as fortress towers defended the city. (2) Comparison of sight: Just as the fortress towers along a city wall projected out at the corners of the wall, the Beloved’s breasts finally developed into beautiful “towers” (see 8:8 when she had no breasts as a young girl).

314 tn Heb “peace.” An eloquent wordplay is created by the use of the noun שָׁלוֹם (shalom, “peace, favor”) in 8:10b and the name שְׁלֹמֹה (shÿlomoh, “Solomon”) in 8:11a. The Beloved found “favor” (שָׁלוֹם) in the eyes of Solomon (שְׁלֹמֹה). She won his heart because she was not only a beautiful young woman (“my breasts were like fortress towers”), but a virtuous woman (“I was a wall”).

315 tn Heb “Then I became in his eyes as one who finds peace.”

316 tn Heb “gave.”

317 sn The term כֶּרֶם (kerem, “vineyard”) is used literally in 8:11 in reference to Solomon’s physical vineyard, but in 8:12 it is used figuratively (hypocatastasis) in reference to the Beloved: כַּרְמִי (karmi, “my vineyard”). Throughout the Song, the term כֶּרֶם (“vineyard”) is used figuratively (Song 1:6; 2:15; 8:12). In 8:12 it is used in reference to either (1) herself, (2) her choice of whom to give herself to in love, or (3) her physical body. In contrast to Solomon’s physical vineyard, whose fruit can be bought and sold (8:11), she is not for sale: She will only give herself freely to the one whom she chooses to love.

318 tn Each of the three terms in this line has the 1st person common singular suffix which is repeated three times for emphasis: כַּרְמִי (karmi, “my vineyard”), שֶׁלִּי (shelli, “which belongs to me”), and לְפָנָי (lÿfana, “at my disposal”). In contrast to King Solomon, who owns the vineyard at Baal-Hamon and who can buy and sell anything in the vineyard that he wishes, she proclaims that her “vineyard” (= herself or her body) belongs to her alone. In contrast to the vineyard, which can be leased out, and its fruit, which can be bought or sold, her “vineyard” is not for sale. Her love must and is to be freely given.

319 tn Heb “[it is] before me.” The particle לְפָנָי (lÿfana) can denote “at the disposal of” (e.g., Gen 13:9; 20:15; 24:51; 34:10; 47:6; Jer 40:4; 2 Chr 14:6) (HALOT 9 s.v. פָּנֶה 4.f; BDB 817 s.v. פנה 4.a.f). Similar to Akkadian ana pan “at the disposal of” (AHw 2:821.a, paragraph 20), the term is used in reference to a sovereign (usually a land-owner or king) who has full power over his property to dispose of as he wishes, e.g., “The whole country is at your disposal [לְפָנֶיךָ, lÿfaneka]” (Gen 13:9). In Song 8:12 the form לְפָנָי has the 1st person common singular suffix: “My vineyard, which belongs to me, is at my disposal.”

320 tn The term מַקְשִׁיבִים (maqshivim) is in the Hiphil stem which denotes an intense desire to hear someone’s voice, that is, to eagerly listen for someone’s voice (e.g., Jer 6:17) (HALOT 1151 s.v. קשׁב 1). The participle functions verbally and denotes a continual, ongoing, durative action.

321 tc The editors of BHS suggests that גַם אָנִי (gamani, “me also”) should be inserted. Although there is no textual evidence for the insertion, it seems clear that the 1st person common singular referent is emphatic in MT הַשְׁמִיעִינִי (hashmiini, “Let me hear it!”).

322 tn The imperative הַשְׁמִיעִינִי (hashmiini) functions as a request. The lover asks his beloved to let him hear her beautiful voice (e.g., Song 2:14).



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