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Chapter 1

The Song of Songs,[a] which is Solomon’s.

The Woman Speaks of Her Lover

W[b](A) Let him kiss me with kisses of his mouth,
    for your love is better than wine,[c]
    better than the fragrance of your perfumes.[d]
Your name is a flowing perfume—
therefore young women love you.
(B)Draw me after you! Let us run![e]
    The king has brought me to his bed chambers.
Let us exult and rejoice in you;
    let us celebrate your love: it is beyond wine!
    Rightly do they love you!

Love’s Boast

W I am black and beautiful,
    Daughters of Jerusalem[f]
Like the tents of Qedar,
    like the curtains of Solomon.
Do not stare at me because I am so black,[g]
    because the sun has burned me.
The sons of my mother were angry with me;
    they charged me with the care of the vineyards:
    my own vineyard I did not take care of.

Love’s Inquiry

W Tell me, you whom my soul loves,
    where you shepherd,[h] where you give rest at midday.
Why should I be like one wandering
    after the flocks of your companions?
M If you do not know,
    most beautiful among women,
Follow the tracks of the flock
    and pasture your lambs[i]
    near the shepherds’ tents.

Love’s Vision

M To a mare among Pharaoh’s chariotry[j]
    I compare you, my friend:
10 Your cheeks lovely in pendants,
    your neck in jewels.
11 We will make pendants of gold for you,
    and ornaments of silver.

How Near Is Love!

12 W While the king was upon his couch,
    my spikenard[k] gave forth its fragrance.
13 My lover[l] is to me a sachet of myrrh;
    between my breasts he lies.
14 My lover is to me a cluster of henna[m]
    from the vineyards of En-gedi.
15 M(C) How beautiful you are, my friend,
    how beautiful! your eyes are doves![n]
16 W How beautiful you are, my lover—
    handsome indeed!
Verdant indeed is our couch;[o]
17     the beams of our house are cedars,
    our rafters, cypresses.


  1. 1:1 Song of Songs: in Hebrew and Aramaic the idiom “the X of Xs” denotes the superlative (e.g., “king of kings” = “the highest king”; cf. Dt 10:17; Eccl 1:2; 12:8; Ezr 7:12; Dn 2:37). The ascription of authorship to Solomon is traditional. The heading may also mean “for Solomon” or “about Solomon.”
  2. 1:2–8:14 This translation augments the canonical text of the Song with the letters W, M, and D, placed in the margin, to indicate which of the characters in the Song is speaking: the woman, the man, or the “Daughters of Jerusalem.” This interpretive gloss follows an early Christian scribal practice, attested in some Septuagint manuscripts from the first half of the first millennium A.D.
  3. 1:2–7 The woman and her female chorus address the man, here viewed as king and shepherd (both are familiar metaphors for God; cf. Ps 23:1; Is 40:11; Jn 10:1–16). There is a wordplay between “kiss” (Hebrew nashaq) and “drink” (shaqah), anticipating 8:1–2. The change from third person (“let him kiss…”) to second person (“…for your love…”) is not uncommon in the Song and elsewhere (1:4; 2:4; etc.; Ps 23:1–3, 4–5, 6; etc.) and reflects the woman’s move from interior monologue to direct address to her partner.
  4. 1:3 Your perfumes: shemen (perfume) is a play on shem (name).
  5. 1:4 Another change, but from second to third person (cf. 1:2). The “king” metaphor recurs in 1:12; 3:5–11; 7:6. Let us exult: perhaps she is addressing young women, calling on them to join in the praise of her lover.
  6. 1:5 Daughters of Jerusalem: the woman contrasts herself with the elite city women, who act as her female “chorus” (5:9; 6:1). Qedar: a Syrian desert region whose name suggests darkness; tents were often made of black goat hair. Curtains: tent coverings, or tapestries. Solomon: it could also be read Salma, a region close to Qedar.
  7. 1:6 So black: tanned from working outdoors in her brothers’ vineyards, unlike the city women she addresses. My own vineyard: perhaps the woman herself; see 8:8–10 for her relationship to her brothers.
  8. 1:7 Shepherd: a common metaphor for kings. Here and elsewhere in the Song (3:1; 5:8; 6:1), the woman expresses her desire to be in the company of her lover. The search for the lover and her failure to find him create a degree of tension. Only at the end (8:5–14) do the lovers finally possess each other.
  9. 1:8 Pasture your lambs: both the woman and the man act as shepherds in the Song.
  10. 1:9–11 The man compares the woman’s beauty to the rich adornment of the royal chariot of Pharaoh. My friend: a special feminine form of the word “friend,” appearing only in the Song (1:15; 2:2, 10, 13; 4:1, 7; 5:2; 6:4) and used to express endearment and equality in love. Cf. Hos 3:1 for the use of the masculine form of the term in a context with sexual overtones.
  11. 1:12 Spikenard: a precious perfumed ointment from India; in 4:13–14, a metaphor for the woman herself.
  12. 1:13 My lover: the woman’s favorite term for her partner (used twenty-seven times). Myrrh: an aromatic resin of balsam or roses used in cosmetics, incense, and medicines.
  13. 1:14 Henna: a plant which bears white scented flowers, used in cosmetics and medicines. En-gedi: a Judean desert oasis overlooking the Dead Sea.
  14. 1:15 Doves: doves are pictured in the ancient world as messengers of love.
  15. 1:16–17 Continuing the royal metaphor, the meeting place of the lovers, a shepherd’s hut of green branches, becomes a palace with beams of cedar and rafters of cypress when adorned with their love.

Solomon’s Song of Songs.(A)


Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
    for your love(B) is more delightful than wine.(C)
Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;(D)
    your name(E) is like perfume poured out.
    No wonder the young women(F) love you!
Take me away with you—let us hurry!
    Let the king bring me into his chambers.(G)


We rejoice and delight(H) in you[b];
    we will praise your love(I) more than wine.


How right they are to adore you!

Dark am I, yet lovely,(J)
    daughters of Jerusalem,(K)
dark like the tents of Kedar,(L)
    like the tent curtains of Solomon.[c]
Do not stare at me because I am dark,
    because I am darkened by the sun.
My mother’s sons were angry with me
    and made me take care of the vineyards;(M)
    my own vineyard I had to neglect.
Tell me, you whom I love,
    where you graze your flock
    and where you rest your sheep(N) at midday.
Why should I be like a veiled(O) woman
    beside the flocks of your friends?


If you do not know, most beautiful of women,(P)
    follow the tracks of the sheep
and graze your young goats
    by the tents of the shepherds.


I liken you, my darling, to a mare
    among Pharaoh’s chariot horses.(Q)
10 Your cheeks(R) are beautiful with earrings,
    your neck with strings of jewels.(S)
11 We will make you earrings of gold,
    studded with silver.


12 While the king was at his table,
    my perfume spread its fragrance.(T)
13 My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh(U)
    resting between my breasts.
14 My beloved(V) is to me a cluster of henna(W) blossoms
    from the vineyards of En Gedi.(X)


15 How beautiful(Y) you are, my darling!
    Oh, how beautiful!
    Your eyes are doves.(Z)


16 How handsome you are, my beloved!(AA)
    Oh, how charming!
    And our bed is verdant.


17 The beams of our house are cedars;(AB)
    our rafters are firs.


  1. Song of Songs 1:2 The main male and female speakers (identified primarily on the basis of the gender of the relevant Hebrew forms) are indicated by the captions He and She respectively. The words of others are marked Friends. In some instances the divisions and their captions are debatable.
  2. Song of Songs 1:4 The Hebrew is masculine singular.
  3. Song of Songs 1:5 Or Salma