Internet Verse Search Commentaries Word Analysis ITL - draft

The Song of Songs 6:12

Context
NETBible

1 I was beside myself with joy! 2  There please give me your myrrh, 3  O daughter of my princely people. 4 

XREF

Jer 31:18-20; Ho 11:8,9; Lu 15:20

NET © Notes

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.

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).

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).

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.



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