1 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.
3 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.”