The Song of Songs 2:6Context
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1 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).
2 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.