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The Song of Songs 2:11-12

Context

2:11 Look! The winter has passed,

the winter rains are over and gone.

2:12 The pomegranates have appeared 1  in the land,

the time for pruning and singing 2  has come;

the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

1 tn Heb “are seen.”

2 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.”



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