Published on October 1, 2014
CHAPTER 6 SONG OF SONGS Written and edited by Glenn Pease 1 Where has your lover gone, most beautiful of women? Which way did your lover turn, that we may look for him with you? msg. " So where has this love of yours gone, fair one? Where on earth can he be? Can we help you look for him? 1. "After hearing the Dear One's radiant description of the Loved One, the Daughters of Jerusalem ask her where this paragon of masculine beauty has gone." She has made him seem like the ultimate male, and they wanted to get a look at this speciman of manhood that was like no other. It is obvious that it is the shepherd lover she has described, for these women have seen Solomon, and no doubt many had slept with him. Her shepherd lover is the one they have not seen, and so they are willing to help her locate him. She is the most beautiful of women, and he is the most beautiful of men, and they want to see this ideal couple together. 2 My lover has gone down to his garden, to the beds of spices, to browse in the gardens and to gather lilies. msg. 2 Never mind. My lover is already on his way to his garden, to browse among the flowers, touching the colors and forms. 1. One commentator point out: "The term “garden” is used six other times in the Song. In five cases, it is used figuratively (hypocatastasis) to describe Shulamith’s body or the sexual love of the couple (4:12,15,16a,16b; 5:1). There is only one usage in which it might refer to a real garden (8:13). Thus, this usage of “garden” might be figuratively or literal." This is what makes poetry so tricky to interpret, for it might be that he went down to a literal garden, or it might be he has gone down to brouse in her garden, and enjoy her body. The fact that it is in the plural would indicate that it is literal gardens. It does seem like a strange thing for this ideal man to be doing, for gathering lilies does not seem like a very masculine way to be spending his time. 2. The beds of spices leads to the same two options. "The term “balsam-spice” by
itself appears five times in the Song, each time as a figure for sexual love (4:10,14,16; 5:1; 8:14). Thus, the two options are: (1) the term refers to a real flower-bed of balsam.........or (2) this term is a figure for sexual love." It is hard to escape the sexual implications, but it is also hard to fit them into this context. A literal understanding simply means he has gone to his garden to pick lilies, and it may be assumed that they were for her. It seems quite lame as a literal statement, but others find more excitement here. 3. Scot McKnight wrote, "Why does she know this? How does she know this? I thought she had lost him. Well, either the narrative has been abandoned — which would not surprise me — or she now comes to her senses and knows where he is because she knows who he is. Better yet, she knows she is beloved by the man. Perhaps however we’ve been tricked … she’s found him. The women ask where the man is. She speaks of herself as a garden of delights (5:1), “He’s with me. I’m a garden and he is now enjoying me and I him.” Her search is over. They are now wrapt in intimacy. Looking over her shoulder at the women of Jerusalem she delights in the love of her lover. Mutual possession and mutual absorption." If this is the case, then all of the sexual implications do apply. It sounds fanciful, but that is the way of poetry. She is saying that he is not lost, for I have found him, and we are enjoying our love relationship. His mine and I am his, and we are loving it. 4. Max Forsythe also sees this whole garden thing as a restoration of this couple to their sexual embrace. He wrote, "The early chapters of Song of Songs spent a lot of time describing garden pictures. The bride and groom both complimented each other and used garden word-pictures to describe their love for each other. I believe what we are reading here is a recollection from her mind. That is important, because she is recalling the early part of their relationship. She recalls their early days of the relationship when they courted each other in the garden. Remember that the theme of this chapter is restoration. Restoration of a relationship starts with remembering what first brought you together. Remember Jesus’ words from Revelation when he said, “That you have left your first love” (Revelation 2:7). Here the bride is restoring that relationship by remembering the times of the early courtship. Christian counselors will often use this technique in the restoration of a marriage in counseling. They will start by asking the couple to describe the early part of their relationship. To recall the positive aspects that brought the couple together. This is a method of “stirring up” those early passions. We see the bride doing the same thing by recalling the early days of their courtship. That is how the healing process in a relationship begins, by going back (in memory) to your commitment. The point is to recall why and how you made that commitment and bring back that passion. Again, it is about restoring “that first love," With all that said, let me point out some particulars of the verses: Verse 2: My lover has gone down to his garden, to the beds of spices, to browse in the gardens and to gather lilies. 3I am my lover's and my lover is mine; he browses among the lilies. Remember that in Chapter 4 the groom refers to the bride as “his garden” (4:12). In Verse 16 of Chapter 4, the bride asks the winds to stir up the scent of her “garden” to arouse her man. Those references in Chapter 4 are very sexual. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. Think about the garden references of
Chapter 4 in context to “My lover has gone down to his garden…” That is why I see this as recalling their early sexual passion." 5. Patsy Rae Dawson defends the two man interpretation with the following arguments. "Sometimes the objection is made that people who take the two-men position arbitrarily decide which speaker is Solomon and which is the Shepherd. This is not true. Only two sections of shepherd scriptures refer to the Shepherd as a shepherd, all the rest refer to him as “my beloved.” This is significant because the Shulammite identifies the Shepherd in both of the shepherd passages as “you whom my soul loves” (Song of Sol. 1:7) and “my beloved” (Song of Sol. 6:2-3). This is noteworthy because the expressions “you whom my soul loves” and “my beloved” are used 34 times in the Song of Solomon. In every shepherd passage, except four, the Shepherd is easily distinguished by the fact that the Shulammite identifies the man as “you whom my soul loves” or “my beloved.” However, each of the four exceptions contains verses obviously connected to them that describe “my beloved.” Notice: a. Song of Sol. 1:1-4: In verse seven, the Shulammite identifies this man as “O you whom my soul loves,” and goes on to ask where he pastures his flocks. Thus, this passage connects the beloved with the Shepherd. In addition, the Shulammite says, “Draw me after you [second person] and let us [second person] run together! The king [third person] has brought me into his [third person] chambers.” This language shows that she refers to two different men--the one she wanted to run with and spoke to (second person) and the king whom she talked about (third person). b. Song of Sol. 4:8-15: Verse 16, which is a response to this passage says, “my beloved,” and the response to it in 5:1 uses the terms “my sister, my bride.” The only other place in the song where “my sister, my bride” is used is in 4:8-15. Thus, consistency demands that we recognize this whole section as being one speaker, whom the Shulammite identifies as “my beloved” in verse 16. c. Song of Sol. 8:5b-7: Prior to this passage the town people ask, “Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved.” Obviously, the only man with the Shulammite is “her beloved.” d. Song of Sol. 8:13: Here the bridegroom waits for the bride's promise to be his wife. The Shulammite immediately responds in verse 14 with, “Hurry, my beloved,” thus, she identifies him as the Shepherd." 3 I am my lover's and my lover is mine; he browses among the lilies. msg. I am my lover's and my lover is mine. He caresses the sweet-smelling flowers. View slide
1. This seems to confirm the views above that they are together and making out, for to make this declaration of their being each others possession, and then reiterate that he is out browsing among the lilies seems rediculous. It is a joyful declaration of their oneness, and the only thing that makes sense is that they are enjoying each other in intimate ways. As the cattle go browsing in the field to find the best tuffs of grass to consume, so her lover browses in her garden to find the most pleasant areas to enjoy. Some commentators see this as kissing. The erotic is expressed in such hidden language that makes it beautiful to the imagination, and not crude like so many modern novels. 2. The theme of mutual possession is a Biblical theme. Man is not complete until he is possessed by another, and until he possesses another. The single finds fulfillment in Christ just as Paul did. Christ possesses him and he possesses Christ. It was not good for Adam to be alone, for he could only be complete in relationship. God is a Being who is completed by relationship. He is three in one by nature. 3. And unknown author wrote, "Here is a declaration of exclusiveness, and shows that Solomon is not the lover, for he had many relationships and not a single commitment as did the shepherd. The body of the mate is to be exclusive property of the other mate as in Icor. 7. See also Lev. 18 . The new morality cannot change this ideal. Someone said, “You can call a skunk a two-toned kitty with fluid drive, but it still smells as bad as ever.” 4 You are beautiful, my darling, as Tirzah, lovely as Jerusalem, majestic as troops with banners. msg, "Dear, dear friend and lover, you’re as beautiful as Tirzah, city of delights, Lovely as Jerusalem, city of dreams, the ravishing visions of my ecstasy. 1. Her lover is not off in some garden picking lilies, but is right there to compliment her more on her special beauty. He compares her to two of the most beautiful cities of that day. Jerusalem, or course, is called, "the perfection of beauty" in Ps. 50:2, and Lam. 2:15. Tirzah was the original capital of the northern kingdom, and it too was a city of delights, for its name means beautiful or delightful. Max Forsythe wrote, "Tizrah was an oasis. It was known for its natural beauty and plentiful water supply. It was probably one of the most beautiful locations in Northern Israel at the time Solomon wrote this." 2. Troops marching to victory with flags flying is awesome, and so is she. She he a knockout is what he is saying. When you see the large troop parades with masses of men marching before world leaders all in order it is impressive and awesome, and so is this lovely young woman. It is rare to see beauty so awesome, but when it is seen it captures the mind. View slide
5 Turn your eyes from me; they overwhelm me. Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from Gilead. msg, "Your beauty is too much for me- I’m in over my head. I’m not used to this! I can’t take it in. " Your hair flows and shimmers like a flock of goats in the distance streaming down a hillside in the sunshine." 1. Her eyes drive him wild, and make him tend to lose control. The eyes flashed at another stimulate great sexual tension. Sometimes a man is so captivated by the eyes of the one he loves that he is turned on sexually at an inappropriate time, and that seems to be the case here. He is telling her to stop, so he can gain control of himself. Then he goes on to compliment her with the same compliments he used earlier in chapter 4. Repition of compliments is not worthless repitition to a woman. You can seldom overdo it when it comes to praising a woman, and so we have here a repitition of what we have already described. 2. Ron Wallace has an interesting comment here, "He is saying that the beauty of her eyes is such that when she looks at him, he is so totally enthralled with them that he just MELTS. Why then tell her to look away? I suggest that he becomes so adoringly focused on her beauty at such a time, that he is reduced to a WHIMPERING PUPPY who becomes VULNERABLE to impetuous and unguarded actions. So, in essence, he is not really telling her to look away, but would rather have her looking upon him forever. It is almost as though he cannot endure the piercing beauty of her eyes, and yet longs for her look none the less. It is like telling her to turn her eyes away - and then - no, please don't." 3. Max Forsythe, "It is a powerful statement. It is saying in effect, “I love you so much, I can barely stand to look it you. It is too much for me!” “One look of your eyes and I go “gaa-gaa”!” 4. It has been pointed out that in chapter 4 he gave her six compliments, but here he stopped with just three, and the speculation is that the other three are the most sexual parts of her body, and he is here saying that he loved her for herself and not just for her sexuality. He is focused on her head, which is what all people see of her. Her private parts are for his eyes only, and so he is saying I love you as a person; as one I see face to face in a normal setting with no sexual implications. Max Forsythe wrote this paraphrase: "To use modern slang, “honey, I love you and I want to be with you, and it’s not just because I’m horny right now”
6 Your teeth are like a flock of sheep coming up from the washing. Each has its twin, not one of them is alone. msg, " Your smile is generous and full- expressive and strong and clean. Your veiled cheeks are soft and radiant. 1. This repeats 4:1-3, and so we see things are not to be said just once, for compliments are to be repeated frequently. 7 Your temples behind your veil are like the halves of a pomegranate. msg. "Your veiled cheeks are soft and radiant." 1. The pomegranate tree was one of the most attractive in that part of the world. It was one of the fruits that made the promised land alluring-Deut. 8:8. This indicates that she had color in her cheeks, and looked healthy and beautiful rather than pale and unattractive. 8 Sixty queens there may be, and eighty concubines, and virgins beyond number; 1. The supply of sex partners was very nearly unlimited, for 140 wives and concubines may run out, but the virgins available were beyond number, and so they could never run out. I see the shepherd lover saying this as he points out the excess of Solomon, but then says to his sweetheart, "The whole lot of the kings's women cannot hold a candle to you. You are the one who stands out like the rose among the thorns." It does not make sense to think that Solomon is saying this, for what woman is going to be impressed with being complimented for being the most special out of a host of women he has slept with. This would be equivalent to the man who has a series of affairs, but tells his wife they meant nothing to him compared to her. "I have been sleeping with other women honey, but you are my favorite of all of them." What young girl would not be thrilled with such an announcement? In the light of common sense this has to be the shepherd comparing her to the harem of Solomon, for that would make her feel truly special.
2. Solomon was the king of excess with 60 queens, and a host of other women who were potential sex partners. Polygamy was a practice in the Old Testament, but it was not the ideal. It began because of the war like atmosphere of the ancient world. So many young men died in battles that there were far more women than men. That meant many could not have their own husband and so they had to be taken into the family of a man who already had more than one wife. The only alternative for survival was prostitution or slavery. Women were at a great disadvantage. In war they were taken captive and had to be the slaves of kings and generals, and then finally of the soldiers. Women were at the mercy of men of power. She had less value because of her abundance, and so could be bought and sold, or traded, or just given away. A wife had less value because there were plenty of other women to meet the sexual needs of men. 3. Max Forsythe points out how hard it is to tell who is speaking in this context. "Most translators assign Song 6:4-9 (and sometimes verse 10) to a single speaker: to Solomon, or the anonymous shepherd. Some, noting that verses 4-7 are addressed to the Dear One, while verses 8-10 speak about her, conclude that Solomon tries to seduce her (or win her back to him) in verses 4-7, while the shepherd affirms his true love in verses 8-10.Virtually everyone thinks that verses 8-9 refers to Solomon's harem. If the soloist is Solomon (it is said), he still affirms that Shulamith is the most beloved of his women. If it is the shepherd, he (in effect) tells Solomon he is welcome to his women; his Loved One surpasses them all!" 4. An unknown author wrote, " Few kings in recorded history had harems which surpassed Solomon's in size. Three such were King Mongut of Siam (immortalized in The King & I), who had 9,000 wives and concubines; King Mutesa of Uganda, who had 7,000 wives [these two mentioned in Wallechinsky et al., The Book of Lists (New York: Bantam Books, 1977), p. 279]; and King Montezuma of the Aztecs, who had 4,000 women in his harem. Solomon, by contrast, had a mere 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:1-8; cf. Ecclesiastes 7:27-29). (Obviously, Solomon -- unlike the others -- knew when to quit!)" 9 but my dove, my perfect one, is unique, the only daughter of her mother, the favorite of the one who bore her. The maidens saw her and called her blessed; the queens and concubines praised her. msg, "There’s no one like her on earth, never has been, never will be. She’s a woman beyond compare. My dove is perfection, Pure and innocent as the day she was born, and cradled in joy by her mother. Everyone who came by to see her
exclaimed and admired her- All the fathers and mothers, the neighbors and friends, blessed and praised her:" 1. There is a lot of personal information expresses here, and it would indicate that it is coming from the shepherd lover who knows this girl and her family on a level not known to Solomon. He knows she is an only daughter, and is the favorite of her mother. On the other hand it could be thought that only Solomon would know of how his harem praised her. It is no wonder why it is so hard to know who is speaking, but the shepherd lover was sneaking around when she was with the harem, and he could have heard them praising her, and she could have told him all about it, and so it is consistent to see him as the speaker. He is saying that all of the women of Solomon are just alike, for they are all just one in a bunch, but you are unique and one of a kind, and those other women even confirmed your uniqueness by calling you blessed. They could only dream of being the one women loved by a shepherd boy, with no competitors. They were not unique at all, but she was, for she had an ideal relationship of love, which none of them had. She had a love story that was worthy of their praise. 10 Who is this that appears like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, majestic as the stars in procession? msg, "“Has anyone ever seen anything like this- dawn-fresh, moon-lovely, sun-radiant, ravishing as the night sky with its galaxies of stars!” 1. Here she is portrayed as a heavenly body, or rather, just like the heavenly bodies of the fair moon, the radiant sun, and the majestic stars. There is no praise that can go higher than these heavenly bodies. She is the ultimate in beauty. Romeo realized this and that is why he stood outside the window of Juliet and said, "What light through yonder window breaks..oh, it is the East, and Juliet , the Sun.." She is more beautiful than the sunrise is his meaning, and how can you get any higher praise than that? I visualize the shepherd lover looking up at his loved one standing on the balcony looking down at him when he sings this praise of her. It is as if he pretended not to know which of Solomon's harem of women had come out on the balcony, and he says who could this woman be that brightens up the day like the sunrise, and beautifes the night like the full moon and glorious stars? Her heart was already his, but this would melt away any doubt she might be struggling with as to the man she would choose. Solomon had all the glory of the sun, moon and stars, but here was a man who thought of her as the glory of sun, moon and stars. Should she choose a man who had it all, or the man who thought of her as his all? She choose her shepherd lover.
2. Ron Wallace, "As beautiful as the full moon, As pure as the sun: Again, images that describe her physical appearance, but this time, using language that has not been used before. These images not only describe physical beauty, but describe as well the brightness of personality when joy and excitement are reflected." 3. A scholarly note here brings out the fact that she is truly hot. "The term literally means “the white one” and is always used in reference to the moon. It is only used elsewhere in the OT in parallelism with the term which is used to designate the sun (Isa. 24:23; 30:26), which likewise is not the ordinary term, but literally means “the hot one,” which emphasizes the heat of the sun (Job 30:28; Ps. 19:6). Both of these terms, “the white one” and “the hot one,” are metonymies of adjunct in which an attribute (i.e., color and heat) are substituted for the subject itself. The white moon in contrast to the dark night sky captures one’s attention, just as the red-hot sun in the afternoon sky is the center of attention during the day. The use of the figurative comparisons of Shulamite’s beauty to that of the dawn, sun, moon, and stars is strikingly similar to the Hebrews’ figurative comparison of Simon the high priest coming out of the sanctuary to the morning star, moon, sun, and rainbow: “How glorious he was when the people gathered round him as he came out of the inner sanctuary! Like the morning star among the clouds, like the moon when it is full; like the sun shining upon the temple of the Most High, and like the rainbow gleaming in glorious clouds” (See Gillis Gerleman, Das Hohelied (2nd Auflage) BKAT 18 (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener, 1981), 171." 11 I went down to the grove of nut trees to look at the new growth in the valley, to see if the vines had budded or the pomegranates were in bloom. msg, "One day I went strolling through the orchard, looking for signs of spring, Looking for buds about to burst into flower, anticipating readiness, ripeness." 1. Ron Wallace, "The Shulamite briefly explains how she had left the dormitory to visit the gardens. This probably refers to the palace gardens rather than some setting outside the palace grounds. She just wanted to get out into the air and into a "country" environment to take stalk of the season's progress, and to dwell on thoughts of home. The term, "blossoms of the valley," should not take us into a literal valley, but to the kinds of plants that bloomed in her valley, and were also growing in Solomon's gardens (Ecc. 2:4-5). While she is there one of the chariots from her home town enters into the garden, and quickly, almost without thinking, the strong desire in her soul impels her to jump into the chariot, and there is the
shepherd whom she loves. Whether she recognizes him before or after she gets into the chariot is not clear, but that it IS the shepherd is quite clear because the next scene opens with the Shulamite and the shepherd together." 2. I quote Clarke here just to illustrate the frustration of trying to explain the complexity of this love story. He said, " I believe this and the following verse refer at least to the preparations for a farther consummation of the marriage, or examination of the advancement of the bride's pregnancy. But many circumstances of this kind are so interwoven, and often anticipated and also postponed, that it is exceedingly difficult to arrange the whole so as to ascertain the several parts, and who are the actors and speakers. But other writers find no difficulty here, because they have their system; and that explains all things." 3. Some suggest that we have here another of the dream scenes. "These two verses are parallel (in the poetic structure) to the Dear One's reverie in Song 2:15. Both 2:15 and 6:12 have a dreamy quality, as given by their melodies. The melodic theme and tempo change yet again here; the melody is sung more slowly, lyrically, with the warmth of a spring day. The vines and pomegranates are just beginning to flower. Before the Loved One knows it, he is daydreaming...The suspensive cadences ending lo yada`Ti ("Not / I knew [it]") and nafschi çamatni ("my soul had set me [in]"), rising from the augmented 4th to the 5th degree, put the Loved One's head in the clouds (verse 12). 4. Max Forsythe, "Remember that this whole section could be seen as a dream sequence from the bride’s point of view." 12 Before I realized it, my desire set me among the royal chariots of my people. msg, "Before I knew it my heart was raptured, carried away by lofty thoughts!" 1. "Most scholars agree that the Hebrew text of 6:12 is the most elusive in the entire Song. The syntax is enigmatic and the textual reading is uncertain. Roland Murphy laments, “[It] has resisted all attempts at translation,” while Pope simply says “[It is] completely incomprehensible.” 2. Clarke wrote, "The chariots of Amminadib. - Probably for their great speed these chariots became proverbial. The passage marks a strong agitation of mind, and something like what we term palpitation of the heart. As I am not aware of any spiritual meaning here, I must be excused from commenting on that which is literal. Amminadib signifies my noble or princely people; but it may here be a proper name, and Amminadib might be celebrated for his skill and rapidity in driving, as Jehu was."
3. "The difficulty of this verse has generated a plethora of different approaches: “Or ever I was aware, my soul made me [like] the chariots of Ammi-nadib” (KJV), “Before I knew it, my soul made me like the chariots of Ammi-nadib” (AV), “Before I knew it, my fancy set me in a chariot beside my prince” (AT), “Before I knew ... my desire hurled me on the chariots of my people, as their prince” (JB), “Before I knew it, my desire set me mid the chariots of Ammi-nadib” (JPSV), “I did not know myself, she made me feel more than a prince reigning over the myriads of his people” (NEB), “Before I knew it, my heart had made me the blessed one of my kins-women” (NAB), “Before I was aware, my soul set me [over] the chariots of my noble people” (NASB), “Before I realized it, my desire set me among the royal chariots of my people” (NIV), “... among the chariots of Amminadab” (NIV margin), “... among the chariots of the people of the prince” (NIV margin), and “Before I realized it, I was stricken with a terrible homesickness and wanted to be back among my own people” (Living Bible). 4. Ron Wallace, "Before I was aware: This is an idiom that we use even in English, "Before I knew it . . ." It communicates suddenness and impetuosity, and indicates that it was an emotional reaction to the presence of the chariot OR of the shepherd himself. My soul: This refers to a response from her soul; a strong desire that elicits an impetuous act, which in this case, was to jump on board, and hopefully escape the clutches of Solomon. The context suggests that she is IN a chariot, and after explaining herself to the daughters, she leaves in that chariot. Accordingly, the preposition that should be supplied is probably, IN or INSIDE. Thus, "before I knew it, my soul placed me inside the chariots of my people, a noble one." The chariots of my people: This does not mean that there were several chariots there, although that is possible. It does however, indicate the TYPE of chariot is of THOSE that belong to her people." "...whether we take this as "the chariots of my noble people" or "the chariots of my people - a noble one," the primary idea remains, which is that the Shulamite is met by a chariot from her home town and there is someone in the chariot, with whom she leaves. As soon as the Shulamite explains what has happened, the chariot, with her and her shepherd on board, turns to leave. Upon this, the daughters call out in unison, for her to return to them, but of course, she has no intent to do any such thing." 5. Max Forsythe wrote, "Verses 12-13 are considered among the toughest to translate and explain in the Bible. Very good scholars disagree on the meaning. Therefore, if you disagree with my interpretation of these verses that’s ok." It is almost like it is everyman for himself here, and you can choose how to interpret what is going on. 13 Come back, come back, O Shulammite; come back, come back, that we may gaze on you! Why
would you gaze on the Shulammite as on the dance of Mahanaim? msg. Dance, dance, dear Shulammite, Angel-Princess! Dance, and we'll feast our eyes on your grace! Everyone wants to see the Shulammite dance her victory dances of love and peace. 1. Ron Wallace, "They have always been pleased with her company; her disposition as well as her physical beauty, and now they are saddened at her departure and would have her back in their company again. At this point, however, one of those present, a wife, steps forward and rebukes the daughters, suggesting that the Shulamite should not merit their attention. It is this jealous wife who is saying,"Why would you gaze on the Shulammite as on the great dance that captures all of our eyes." This wife does not see all the beauty she is praised for, and cannot see that she is more worthy than the beauty of the dance. Keep in mind, all agree that it is very difficult to know just who is speaking, and so this is speculation just as most guesses are, but it does make sense, and is as good as any other guess. 2. Another guess is from an unknown commentator whe wrote, "As the chariot moves away, the scene shifts to the porch area where the daughters are assembled, with Solomon now coming closer, as the jealous wife begins to dance the "dance of the Mahanaim," and Solomon shifts focus as well to this beautiful wife who now gets his attention with a very seductive dance routine. The description that follows in verses 7:1-9 is Solomon's observation of the sensual beauty of this wife. It is important at this point to recognize the shift in language since Solomon is now speaking to a sexual partner rather than a woman he is wooing." The implication is that Solomon loses interest in this young girl because of the enticement of one of his wives, and so does not feel like a loser when this great catch for his harem drives away with her shepherd lover. 3. "Keil and Delitzsch suggest that the first line is spoken by the Shulamite to dissuade the special attention given to her by the daughters, and that the second line is spoken by the daughters, answering, that for her to dance would be as magnificent as the dance of the Mahanaim. However, the Shulamite has already left (thus, "come back, come back") and she would certainly not return to answer a question that is technically answered already by her departure. No, someone else offers this rebuke, and compares their attention to the Shulamite as the attention that one would pay to the dance of the Mahanaim. That person would be one of the many wives who have been somewhat neglected by Solomon's preoccupation with the Shulamite, and expresses her jealousy in this mild rebuke." 4. Keil and Delitzsch take the dance back to the appearance of God's angels to Jacob in Genesis 32:1-2 at the place that he then called Mahanaim, Two Camps. The Hebrew culture is filled with many and varied occasions for both formal and informal festivities and the dancing that would attend them. This is apparently one
such example, and upon mentioning the well-known routine, she begins to dance, not so much for the daughters, who perhaps would be thrilled at the opportunity to observe and learn, but also - and perhaps more so, for Solomon who is present, and might be contemplating pursuing the Shulamite. But no, he does not pursue, but finds instead, the dance of this beautiful wife of his, most captivating. The daughters of Jerusalem apparently, instead of watching the dance, continue to gaze after the Shulamite as she slowly rides away. This then is the last we see of Solomon's contact with the Shulamite, and the story will end with the Shulamite and the shepherd together, having resolved the differences with her brothers and preparing to launch their own married life, totally removed from Solomon's lust and lair. APPENDIX A JAMES PRATT The Daughters of Jerusalem. But where ? we pray thee, tell us where Is thy beloved, O maiden fair ? His dwelling let us know — that we May seek him now along with thee. The Shulamite. In his garden — calm retreat 'Midst the beds of flowers sweet, If you seek, you'll find him there. Gathering fruits and lilies fair. Lo ! my beloved one is mine own. And I am his ; yea, his alone ; Where grow the lilies, there he leads The flock that tenderly he feeds. ( The King now enters the apartment,)
VI. Solomon. My loved one, fairest of the fair, Thy dazzling beauty I compare To Tirzah, charming as 'tis named. Or to Jerusalem the famed ; Thy looks a sense of awe convey As bannered hosts in full array. Oh turn from me those eyes that shed A light around— inspiring dread — Thy locks are like the herds that leap Down from Mount Gilead's rugged steep ; Thy teeth in brilliant whiteness seem To vie with flocks which from the stream All newly washed, and freed again. In pairs re-seek the verdant plain, Beneath thy veil thy beauteous cheek (To hide it wherefore shoulds*t thou seek ?) Like to a ripe pomegranate shows,
As with a modest blush it glows ; 'Mid royal consorts seven ^ score, 'Mid damsels numbering still more. My love, my beauteous one, thou art In sole possession of my heart ; ' Tis she, her parent's choicest prize — Tis she in whom her treasure lies — The damsels at her beauty gazed, Which thus the royal consorts praised. " Who is she that thus softly looks forth as the morning } In pureness resembling the silvery moon ; With brightness like that which all nature adorn-ing Beams out from the sun in his splendour at noon. Her looks strike with awe such as armies convey 'Neath banners advancing in battle-array." The Shulamite. To see the garden I had gone, And sought the nutgrove — all alone ; I viewM the plants in freshness growing Beside the streamlet, ever flowing ; I markM the vines— I longM to see If any there in bud might be — And looked if blossoms could be found On the pomegranate-trees around. On this delightful task intent, Further and further still I went. Till in my wandering Unwittingly in thoughtless mood, I reachM the very spot where stood The chariots of the king.
The Attendants of King Solomon. Return, O Shulamite, that we May all in rapture gaze on thee, And of thy matchless beauty boast. The Shulamite. Ah, why at me admiring glance. As when ye view the courtly dance,* Amid the camp of Israel's host }
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