Internet Verse Search Commentaries Word Analysis ITL - draft

The Song of Songs 2:3

Context
NETBible

The Beloved about Her Lover: Like 1  an apple tree 2  among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. I delight 3  to sit 4  in his shade, 5  and his fruit 6  is sweet 7  to my taste. 8 

XREF

Ge 3:22-24; Jud 9:15,19,20; Ps 45:2; Ps 57:1; Ps 89:6; Ps 91:1; So 2:5; So 5:9,10,16; So 8:5; Isa 4:2; Isa 4:6; Isa 25:4; Isa 32:2; Eze 17:23,24; Eze 47:12; Joh 1:14-18; Joh 3:29-31; Joh 15:1-8; Heb 1:1-6; Heb 3:1-6; Heb 7:23-26; Heb 12:2; 1Jo 1:3,4; Re 22:1,2

NET © Notes

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.

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).

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.”

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).

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).

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).

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.

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.



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