The Song of Solomon

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The Song of Solomon

  • Author: Solomon
  • Place Written: Jerusalem
  • When Written: c. 950-940 B.C.E.

CHAPTER 1

The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.

Young Shulammite Woman to Her Absent Beloved Shepherd[1]

May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
For your love is better than wine;

your oils have a pleasing fragrance;
your name is like oil poured out;
    therefore virgins love you.
Draw me after you; let us run.
    The king has brought me into his chambers.

Young Daughters of Jerusalem Sing Praises of Solomon

We will be joyful and rejoice in you;
    we will extol your love more than wine;
    rightly do they love you.

The Shulammite Woman to the Daughters of Jerusalem

I am black, but lovely,
    O daughters of Jerusalem,
like the tents of Kedar,
    like the curtains of Solomon.
Do not gaze at me because I am dark,
    because the sun has gazed upon me.
My mother’s sons were angry with me;
    they made me keeper of the vineyards,
    but my own vineyard I have not kept!

The Shulammite Woman to Her Absent Beloved Shepherd

Tell me, you whom my soul loves,
    where you pasture your flock,
    where you make it lie down at noon;
for why should I be like one who veils[2] herself
    beside the flocks of your companions?

The Daughters of Jerusalem to  the Shulammite Woman

If you do not know,
    O most beautiful of women,
follow in the tracks of the flock,
    and pasture your young goats
    beside the shepherds’ tents.

King Solomon to the Shulammite Woman

I compare you, my beloved,
    to a mare among Pharaoh’s chariots.
10 Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments,
    your neck with strings of beads.

11 We will make for you ornaments of gold,
    studded with silver.

The Shulammite Woman Sarcastically to Solomon, Dreaming of Her Beloved Shepherd

12 While the king was at his table,
    my nard gave forth its fragrance.
13 My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh[3]
    that lies between my breasts.
14 My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms
    in the vineyards of Engedi.

King Solomon Flatters the Shulammite Woman

15 Look, you are beautiful, my beloved;
    look, you are beautiful;
    your eyes are as doves.[4]

The Shulammite Woman Applies Solomon’s Flattery to Her Beloved Shepherd

16 Look, you are beautiful,[5] my beloved, truly delightful.
Our couch is green;
17 the beams of our house are cedars;
    our rafters are cypresses.

CHAPTER 2

The Shulammite Woman to Solomon Seeking to End Discussion

I am a rose of Sharon,
    a lily of the valleys.

King Solomon Compares Shulammite Woman to the Women of His Harem

Like a lily among thorns,
    so is my beloved among the young women.

The Shulammite Woman Comparing Her Beloved Shepherd to Other Men

Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest,
    so is my beloved among the young men.
With ardent desire I sat in his shadow,
    and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
He brought me to the house of wine,[6]
    and his banner over me was love.

The Shulammite Woman Thinking of Her Beloved Shepherd Asks the Attendants …

Refresh me with raisin cakes;
    sustain me with apples,[7]
    for I am sick with love.

The Shulammite Woman about Her Beloved Shepherd

His left hand is under my head,
    and his right hand embraces me!

The Shulammite Woman to the Daughters of Jerusalem

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
    by the gazelles or the does of the field,
that you do not stir up or awaken love
    until it pleases.

The Shulammite Woman Reminiscing over Her Beloved Shepherd

The voice of my beloved!
    Look, he comes,
leaping over the mountains,
    bounding over the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle
    or a young stag.
Look, there he stands
    behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
    looking through the lattice.
10 My beloved speaks and says to me:
“Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
    and come away,
11 for look, the winter is past;
    the rain is over and gone.
12 The flowers appear on the earth,
    the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
    is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree ripens its figs,
    and the vines are in blossom;
    they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
    and come away.
14 O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
    in the crevices of the cliff,
let me see your face,
    let me hear your voice,
for your voice is sweet,
    and your face is lovely.
15 Catch the foxes[8] for us,
    the little foxes
that spoil the vineyards,
    for our vineyards are in blossom.”

16 My beloved is mine, and I am his;
    he is shepherding among the lilies.
17 Until the day breathes[9]
    and the shadows flee,
turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle
    or a young stag on the mountains of Bether.[10]

CHAPTER 3

The Shulammite Woman Dreams of Her Beloved Shepherd

On my bed by night
I sought him whom my soul loves;
    I sought him, but found him not.[11]
I will rise now and go about the city,
    in the streets and in the squares;
I will seek him whom my soul loves.
    I sought him, but found him not.
The watchmen who go about the city found me
    as they went about in the city.
“Have you seen him whom my soul loves?”
Scarcely had I passed them
    when I found him whom my soul loves.
I held him, and would not let him go
    until I had brought him into my mother’s house,
    and into the chamber of her who conceived me.
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
    by the gazelles or the does of the field,
that you do not stir up or awaken love
    until it pleases.

King Solomon Returns

What is that coming up from the wilderness
    like columns of smoke,
perfumed with myrrh and frankincense,
    with all the fragrant powders of a merchant?[12]
Look, it is the litter of Solomon!
Sixty mighty men around it,
    some of the mighty men of Israel,
all of them armed with a sword
    and trained in warfare,
each man with his sword at his thigh,
    to guard against the terrors of the night.
King Solomon made himself a carriage[13]
    from the wood of Lebanon.
10 He made its posts of silver,
    its back of gold, its seat of purple;
its interior was inlaid with love
    by the daughters of Jerusalem.
11 Go out, O daughters of Zion,
    and gaze upon King Solomon,
with the crown with which his mother crowned him
    on the day of his wedding,
    on the day of the gladness of his heart.

CHAPTER 4

King Solomon Describes His Intense Longing for the Shulammite Woman

Look, you are beautiful, my beloved,
    look, you are beautiful!
Your eyes are doves
    behind your veil.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
    streaming down the mountains of Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes
    that have come up from the washing,
all of which bear twins,
    and not one among them has lost its young.
Your lips are like a scarlet thread,
    and your mouth is lovely.
Your temple is like halves of pomegranate
    behind your veil.
Your neck is like the tower[14] of David,
    built in courses of stone;
upon which hang a thousand shields,
    all of them shields of mighty men.
Your two breasts are like two fawns,
    twins of a gazelle,
    that graze among the lilies.
Until the day breathes
    and the shadows flee,
I shall go my way to the mountain of myrrh
    and the hill of frankincense.
You are altogether beautiful, my beloved;
    there is no blemish in you.

The Beloved Shepherd’s Impassioned Invitation to the Shulammite Woman

Come with me from Lebanon, my bride;
    come with me from Lebanon.
Descend from the peak of Amana,
    from the peak of Senir and the peak of Hermon,
from the dens of lions,
    from the mountains of leopards.

You have captured my heart, my sister, my bride;
    you have captured my heart with one glance of your eyes,
    with one jewel of your necklace.
10 How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride!
    How much better is your love than wine,
    and the fragrance of your oils than any spice!
11 Your lips drip honey, my bride;
    honey and milk are under your tongue;
    the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.
12 My sister, my bride, is like a locked garden,
    a locked garden, a spring sealed shut.
13 Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates
    with all choicest fruits,
    henna with nard,
14 nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon,
    with all trees of frankincense,
myrrh and aloes,
    with all the finest spices.
15 A garden fountain, a well of living water,
    and flowing streams from Lebanon.

The Shulammite Woman Welcomes Her Beloved Shepherd

16 Awake, O north wind,
    and come, O south wind!
Blow upon my garden,
    let its spices flow.

Let my beloved come to his garden,
    and eat its choicest fruits.

CHAPTER 5

The Beloved Shepherd’s Acceptance of the Shulammite Woman

I came to my garden, my sister, my bride,
    I gathered my myrrh with my spice,
    I ate my honeycomb with my honey,
    I drank my wine with my milk.

The Beloved Shepherd’s Address to the Wedding Guests

Eat, O friends, drink,
    and be intoxicated with love!

The Shulammite Woman Relates Her Second Dream to the Daughters of Jerusalem

I was asleep, but my heart was awake.
A sound! My beloved is knocking.
“Open to me, my sister, my love,
    my dove, my perfect one,
for my head is wet with dew,
    my locks with the drops of the night.”
I had put off my garment;
    must I put it back on?
I had washed my feet;
    must I soil them again?
My beloved thrust his hand[15] to the door,
    and my heart was thrilled within me.
I arose to open to my beloved,
    and my hands dripped with myrrh,
my fingers with liquid myrrh,
    on the handles of the bolt.
I opened to my beloved,
    but my beloved had turned and gone.
My soul failed me when he spoke.
I sought him, but I did not find him;
    I called him, but he gave no answer.
The watchmen found me
    as they went about in the city;
they struck me, they wounded me,
    the watchmen of the walls,
    took my veil away from me.
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
    if you find my beloved,
that you tell him
    I am sick with love.

The Daughters of Jerusalem Surprised at the Shulammite Woman’s Rejection of Solomon

What is your beloved more than another beloved,
    O most beautiful among women?
What is your beloved more than another beloved,
    that you thus adjure us?

The Shulammite Woman Describes Her Absent Beloved Shepherd

10 My beloved is dazzling and ruddy,
    distinguished among ten thousand.
11 His head is the finest gold;
    his locks are wavy,
    black as a raven.
12 His eyes are like doves
    beside streams of water,
bathed in milk,
    sitting beside an overflowing pool.[16]
13 His cheeks are like beds of spices,
    mounds of scented herbs.
His lips are lilies,
    dripping with liquid myrrh.
14 His arms are rods of gold,
    set with jewels.
His abdomen is polished ivory,
    covered with sapphires.
15 His legs are pillars of alabaster,
    set on pedestals of the finest gold.
His appearance is like Lebanon,
    choice as the cedars.
16 His mouth is most sweet,
    and he is altogether desirable.
This is my beloved and this is my friend,
    O daughters of Jerusalem.

CHAPTER 6

The Daughters of Jerusalem Inquiring More about the Beloved Shepherd

Where has your beloved gone,
    O most beautiful among women?
Where has your beloved turned,
    that we may seek him with you?

The Shulammite Woman Responds to the Daughters of Jerusalem

My beloved has gone down to his garden
    to the beds of spices,
to shepherd in the gardens
    and to gather lilies.
I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine;
    he is shepherding among the lilies.

King Solomon Attempts to Win the Shulammite Woman with Flattery

You are beautiful as Tirzah, my beloved,
    lovely as Jerusalem,
    awesome as an army with banners.
Turn away your eyes from me,
    for they overwhelm me.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
    streaming down the slopes of Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of ewes
    that have come up from the washing;
all of them bear twins;
    not one among them has lost her young.
Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate
    behind your veil.
There are sixty queens and eighty concubines,
    and virgins without number.
But only one is my dove, my perfect one,
    the only one of her mother,
    pure to her who bore her.
The daughters saw her and called her blessed;
    the queens and concubines also, and they praised her.

King Solomon Quoting the Daughters of Jerusalem

10 “Who is this who looks down like the dawn,
    as beautiful as the moon, as pure as the sun,
    awesome as an army with banners?”

The Shulammite Woman

11 I went down to the garden of nut trees
    to look at the blossoms of the valley,
to see whether the vine had budded,
    whether the pomegranates were in bloom.
12 Before I was aware, my desire set me
    among the chariots of my kinsman, a prince.

King Solomon, Quoting What the Daughters of Jerusalem Requested of the Shulammite Woman

13 “Return, return, O Shulammite,
    return, return, that we may look upon you.”

King Solomon, Quoting what the Shulammite Woman Replied and What the Daughters of Jerusalem Requested

“Why should you look upon the Shulammite,
    as at a dance of the two armies?”

CHAPTER 7

The Shulammite Woman Yielded to the Daughters of Jerusalem

How beautiful are your feet in sandals,
    O noble daughter!
Your curved thighs are like jewels,
    the work of the hands of an artist.
Your navel is a rounded bowl
    that never lacks mixed wine.
Your belly is a heap of wheat,
    encircled with lilies.
Your two breasts are like two fawns,
    twins of a gazelle.
Your neck is like an ivory tower.[17]
Your eyes are like pools in Heshbon,
    by the gate of Bath-rabbim.
Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon,
    which looks toward Damascus.
Your head crowns you like Carmel,
    and the locks of your head are like purple;
    a king is held captive in the tresses.

King Solomon Addressed the Shulammite Woman In Lustful Language

How beautiful and pleasant you are,
    O loved one, with such delights!
Your stature is like a palm tree,
    and your breasts are like its clusters.[18]
I said I will climb the palm tree
    and take hold of its fruit.
Oh may your breasts be like clusters of grapes,
    and the scent of your breath like apples,
and your mouth like the best wine.

The Shulammite Woman Interrupts Solomon, Declaring that She Belongs to the Beloved Shepherd, Not Solomon

It goes down smoothly for my beloved,
    softly flowing over the lips of those asleep.

10 I am my beloved’s,
    and his desire is for me.

The Shulammite Woman Speaks to Her Beloved Shepherd as Though He Is Present

11 Come, my beloved,
    let us go out into the fields
    and lodge among the henna plants;
12 let us rise early and go to the vineyards
    and see whether the vines have budded,
whether the grape blossoms have opened
    and the pomegranates are in bloom.
There I will give you my love.
13 The mandrakes[19] give forth fragrance,
    and beside our doors are all choice fruits,
new as well as old,
    which I have laid up for you, O my beloved.

CHAPTER 8

Oh that you were like my brother[20]
    who nursed at my mother’s breasts!
If I found you outside, I would kiss you,
    and no one would despise me.
I would lead you and bring you
    into the house of my mother,
    who used to instruct me.
I would give you spiced wine to drink,
    from the juice of my pomegranates.
His left hand is under my head,
    and his right hand embraces me!

The Shulammite Woman’s Adjuration for  the Daughters of Jerusalem, Saying, ‘Love Is Spontaneous and Cannot Be Forced’

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
    that you do not stir up or awaken love
    until it pleases.

The Shulammite Woman’s Brothers Inquire

Who is that coming up from the wilderness,
    leaning on her beloved?

The Shulammite Woman

Under the apple tree I awakened you.
There your mother was in labor with you;
    there she who gave birth to you was in labor.

The Shulammite Woman Emotionally Declaring the Power of True Love

Set me as a seal upon your heart,
    as a seal upon your arm,
for love is strong as death,
    jealousy is fierce as Sheol.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
    the very flame of Jah.[21]
Many waters cannot quench love,
    neither can floods drown it.
If a man offered for love
    all the wealth of his house,
    it[22] would be utterly despised.

The Shulammite Woman Recalls Her Brother’s Words When She Was a Little Girl

We have a little sister,
    and she has no breasts.
What shall we do for our sister
    on the day when she is spoken for?
If she is a wall,
    we will build on her a battlement of silver,
but if she is a door,
    we will enclose her with boards of cedar.

The Shulammite Woman’s Reasons to Be Proud and Solomon’s Respect

10 I was a wall,
    and my breasts were like towers;
then I was in his eyes
    as one who finds peace.

The Shulammite Woman Relates How Solomon Offered her the Vineyard

11 Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon;
    he let out the vineyard to keepers;
    each one was to bring for its fruit a thousand pieces of silver.
12 I have my own vineyard before me;
    you, O Solomon, may have the thousand,
    and those who keep the fruit two hundred.

The Beloved Shepherd Requests a Song from the Shulammite Woman

13 O you who dwell in the gardens,
    with companions listening for your voice;
    let me hear it.

The Shulammite Begins to Sing

14 Make haste, my beloved,
    and be like a gazelle
or a young stag
    on the mountains of spices.

[1] We have added headers that identify who is speaking and to whom based on An Outline for Studying the Song of Songs by George L. Robinson, the Biblical World, JSTOR Vol. 20, No. 3 (Sep. 1902), pp. 191-195 (5 pages) Published by: The University of Chicago Press.

[2] SYR VG “who wanders about” MT “one who veils” LXX “one who wraps”

[3] Myrrh was crushed up for the purpose of making medicine but its fragrance, like turpentine, was put in a sachet to enhance sexual pleasure.

[4] Ancient Near Eastern art, seals, and other iconography help us to interpret “eyes are as doves” to mean the eyes are sexually attractive and the arousing sexual desire or interest, symbolizing making love or seduction.

[5] “You are beautiful” is in the masc., as it refers to her beloved shepherd.

[6] The Hebrew is rendered “house of wine.” (UASV LEB) Most translations render it “banqueting house” (ASV RSV ESV) or “banquet hall” because of the reference to being “refreshed with raisin cakes” and “sustained me with apples” in the next verse (2:5). (NASB CSB) This is not a restaurant. This expression refers to a booth where wine was drunk. The expression (אֶל־בֵּית הַיָּיִן) is a euphemism (indirect expression), which has a sexual sense to it, as was true of the previous verse that said, “his fruit was sweet to my taste.” See 7:9 where Solomon says to the Shulammite “and your mouth like the best wine.” the Shulammite woman interrupts and says of her lover, “It goes down smoothly for my beloved, softly flowing over the lips of those asleep.”

[7] Apples were thought to stimulate sexual desire.

[8] Foxes pictured sexually aggressive males.

[9] That is, day grows breezy. The literal rendering (the day breathes) is an idiomatic expression, which means the cool wind that blows early in the morning or evening.

[10] The meaning of “on the mountain of Bether” (עַל־הָרֵי בָתֶר) is uncertain. It is the term (בָתֶר) “Bether” that gives us the difficulty. It is possibly a reference to the name of a mountain near Jerusalem. There is nothing that can help us to determine what mountains are intended. However, the Hebrew root can possibly mean “divide in two,” giving us “separated mountains.” The Syrian Version reads, “upon the fragrant mountains.” Chapter 8 verse 14 would support this rendering, as it reads, “on the mountains of spices.” We have decided to take “Bether” (בָתֶר) as a proper noun, “on the mountain of Bether.”

[11] LXX has “I called him, but he answered me not” at the end of the verse.

[12] Sexual intoxicants.

[13] A covered chair or bed with poles used to carry a person.

[14] A tower in the Bible often pictured the attractive shapely neck of a woman.

[15] The Hebrew noun (יָד yad) is, at times, used as a euphemism for the male sexual organ. The line “my beloved thrust his hand  to the door” looks to be used as a euphemism for sexual intercourse.

[16] The meaning of the Hebrew is difficult.

[17] A tower in the Bible often pictured the attractive shapely neck of a woman.

[18] The date palm is sweet and somewhat shaped like breasts. Here it pictures the pleasures that the woman gives the man.

[19] A small perennial herb of the potato family, native to the Middle East. It grows low, like lettuce, which its leaves somewhat resemble, except that they are of a dark green. The flowers are purple, and the root is usually forked. Its fruit, when ripe, (early in May), is about the size of a small apple, 24 inches in diameter, ruddy or yellow, and of a most agreeable odor, and an equally agreeable taste.

[20] While such a statement as this seems repulsive today, the term “brother” was a normal expression of affection for a woman to use in reference to her lover in the ancient Near East.

[21] “Jah” (יָ֔הּ) is a shortened form of the name Jehovah, which is found in the exhortation “Hallelujah!” That is, “Praise Jah!” It occurs 49 times in MT identified by a point (mappiq) in its second letter and once in Ca 8:6 without the mappiq. The mappiq is a diacritic used in the Hebrew alphabet. It is part of the Masoretes’ system of vowel points. It takes the form of a dot in the middle of a letter (usually הּ‎, he).

[22] Or he

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