Internet Verse Search Commentaries Word Analysis ITL - draft

The Song of Songs 3:8

Context
NETBible

All of them are skilled with a sword, 1  well-trained in the art of warfare. 2  Each has his sword at his side, to guard against the terrors of the night.

XREF

Ne 4:21,22; Ps 45:3; Ps 149:5-9; Isa 27:3; Eph 6:16-18; 1Th 5:6-8

NET © Notes

tn Heb “trained of sword” or “girded of sword.” Alternately, “girded with swords.” The genitive construct phrase אֲחֻזֵי חֶרֶב (’akhuze kherev) is interpreted in two ways: (1) Most interpret it with the assumption that אָחַז (’akhaz) denotes “to physically grasp, hold” (HALOT 31-32 s.v. I אחז; BDB 28 s.v. אָחַז). Most translations adopt this approach, although differing on whether the participle functions substantivally (NASB), verbally (KJV, NIV), or adjectivally (RSV), they all are heading in the same direction: “[all] hold swords” (KJV), “girded with sword” (RSV), “wielders of the sword” (NASB), and “wearing the sword” (NIV). This, however, provides only a vague parallel with the following colon: מְלֻמְּדֵי מִלְחָמָה (mÿlummÿde milkhamah, “trained in warfare”). (2) Others, however, suggest taking אחז in its rare metaphorical sense of “to learn” (= mentally grasp, take hold of): “learned, skillful” (R. Gordis, Song of Songs and Lamentations, 85; J. Lewy, “Lexicographical Notes,” HUCA 12/13 (1937/1938): 98-99). This nuance is much more common in the related Akkadian verb ahazu “to learn,” as HALOT 31 notes. Likewise, JB renders it “skilled swordsmen,” and NJPS suggests “trained in warfare” for Song 3:8, citing Akkadian ahazu “to learn.” The Akkadian verb ahazu has a broad range of meanings including: (1) to seize, hold a person, (2) to take a wife, to marry, (3) to hold, possess, take over, grasp something, to take to (a region), and (4) to learn, to understand (CAD 1:1:173). The concrete, physical sense of grasping or taking an object in one’s hands lent itself to the metaphorical sense of mentally grasping something, that is, learning or understanding. The category ahazu 4 (“to learn, to understand”) is used in reference to general learning, as well to specialized knowledge involving a special skill, professional craft, or ability acquired through instruction and experience (CAD 1:1:177). The causative form suhuzu means “to teach, educate, train” someone to become a skilled craftsman in a professional trade (CAD 1:1:180). This provides a tight parallelism with the following colon: אֲחֻזֵי חֶרֶב (’akhuze kherev, “skillful in swordsmanship”) precisely parallels מְלֻמְּדֵי מִלְחָמָה (“well-trained in [the art of] warfare”). The AB:AB parallelism between the two lines is exact: (1) אֲחֻזֵי “learned, skillful” parallels מְלֻמְּדֵי “trained, instructed,” and (2) חֶרֶב “in respect to swordsmanship” (genitive of specification or limitation) exactly parallels מִלְחָמָה “in regard to [the art of] warfare” (genitive of specification or limitation). The term חֶרֶב (“sword”) may be nuanced metonymically as “swordsmanship” in the light of (a) its collocation with terms for professional expertise: מְלֻמְּדֵי (“trained”) and אֲחֻזֵי (“skilled”), and (b) the connotation “swordsmanship” can be sustained in a few cases, e.g., “It was not by their swordsmanship that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory” (Ps 44:3). In the genitive construct phrase אֲחֻזֵי חֶרֶב, the genitive noun חֶרֶב (“sword”) may be classified either as (1) a genitive of specification; “[skilled] in respect to swordsmanship” or (2) a genitive of instrument; “[skilled] with a sword.”

tn Heb “trained of war.” In the genitive construct מְלֻמְּדֵי מִלְחָמָה (mÿlummÿde milkhamah, “trained of war”) the noun מִלְחָמָה (“war, battle”) is a genitive of specification or limitation, that is, it specifies the extent to which the expertise of the subjects applies: “in regard to warfare.” The term מִלְחָמָה (“warfare”) may be nuanced metonymically as “the art of warfare” in the light of (1) its collocation with terms for professional expertise: מְלֻמְּדֵי (“trained”) and אֲחֻזֵי (’akhuze, “skilled”), and (2) its parallelism with חֶרֶב (kherev, “sword, swordsmanship”).



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