The Song of Songs 8:2Context
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1 tc The MT reads אֶנְהָגֲךָ אֶל־בֵּית אִמִּי תְּלַמְּדֵנִי (’enhagakha ’el-bet ’immi tÿlammÿdeni, “I would bring you to the house of my mother who taught me”). On the other hand, the LXX reads Εἰσάξω σε εἰς οἶκον μητρός μου καὶ εἰς ταμίειον τῆς συλλαβούση με (Eisaxw se eis oikon mhtpos mou kai eis tamieion ths sullaboush me) which reflects a Hebrew reading of אֶנְהָגֲךָ אֶל־בֵּית אִמִּי וְאֶל חֶדֶר הוֹרָתִי (’enhagakha ’el-bet ’immi vÿ’el kheder horati, “I would bring you to the house of my mother, to the chamber of the one who bore me”), followed by NRSV. The LXX variant probably arose due to: (1) the syntactical awkwardness of תְּלַמְּדֵנִי (“she taught me” or “she will teach me”), (2) the perceived need for a parallel to אֶל־בֵּית אִמִּי (“to the house of my mother”), and (3) the influence of Song 3:4 which reads: עַד־שֶׁהֲבֵיאתִיו אֶל־בֵּית אִמִּי וְאֶל חֶדֶר הוֹרָתִי (’ad-sheheve’tiv ’el-bet ’immi vÿ’el kheder horati, “until I brought him to the house of my mother, to the chamber of the one who bore me”). The MT reading should be adopted because (1) it is the more difficult reading, (2) it best explains the origin of the LXX variant, and (3) the origin of the LXX variant is easily understood in the light of Song 3:4.
tn The verb תְּלַמְּדֵנִי (tÿlammÿdeni) may be rendered in two basic ways: (1) future action: “she will teach me” or more likely as (2) past customary action: “who would instruct me” (KJV), “who used to instruct me” (NASB), “she who has taught me” (NIV), “she who taught me” (NJPS). This is an example of casus pendus in which the subject of the verb serves as a relative pronoun to the antecedent noun (“my mother”). The JPS parses תְּלַמְּדֵנִי as 2nd person masculine singular (“that you might instruct me”) rather than 3rd person feminine singular (“she would teach me”). However, this would obscure the imagery: The Beloved wished that Solomon was her little brother still nursing on her mother’s breast. The Beloved, who had learned from her mother’s example, would bring him inside their home and she would give him her breast: “I would give you spiced wine to drink, the nectar of my pomegranates.”
2 sn Continuing the little brother/older sister imagery of 8:1, the Beloved suggests that if she had been an older sister and he had been her little brother, she would have been able to nurse Solomon. This is a euphemism for her sensual desire to offer her breasts to Solomon in marital lovemaking.
3 tc The Masoretic vocalization of מִיַּיִן הָרֶקַח (miyyayin hareqakh) suggests that הָרֶקַח (“spiced mixture”) stands in apposition to מִיַּיִן (“wine”): “wine, that is, spiced mixture.” However, several Hebrew
tn Alternately “wine, that is, spiced mixture.” The term רֶקַח (reqakh, “spice mixture, spices”) refers to ground herbs that were tasty additives to wine (HALOT 1290 s.v. רֶקַח).
4 sn There is a phonetic wordplay (paronomasia) between אֶשָּׁקְךָ (’eshshaqÿkha, “I would kiss you” from נָשַׁק, nashaq, “to kiss”) in 8:1 and אַשְׁקְךָ (’ashqÿkha, “I would cause you to drink” from שָׁקָה, shaqah, “to drink”) in 8:2. This wordplay draws attention to the unity of her “wish song” in 8:1-2. In 8:1 the Beloved expresses her desire to kiss Solomon on the lips when they are outdoors; while in 8:2 she expresses her desire for Solomon to kiss her breasts when they are in the privacy of her home indoors.
5 sn This statement is a euphemism: the Beloved wished to give her breasts to Solomon, like a mother would give her breast to her nursing baby. This is the climactic point of the “lover’s wish song” of Song 8:1-2. The Beloved wished that Solomon was her little brother still nursing on her mother’s breast. The Beloved, who had learned from her mother’s example, would bring him inside their home and she would give him her breast: “I would give you spiced wine to drink, the nectar of my pomegranates.” The phrase “my pomegranates” is a euphemism for her breasts. Rather than providing milk from her breasts for a nursing baby, the Beloved’s breasts would provide the sensual delight of “spiced wine” and “nectar” for her lover.
tc The MT reads the singular noun with 1st person common singular suffix רִמֹּנִי (rimmoni, “my pomegranate”). However, many Hebrew