Song of Songs 6
New American Bible (Revised Edition)
The Lost Lover Found
1 D Where has your lover gone,
most beautiful among women?
Where has your lover withdrawn
that we may seek him with you?[a]
2 W(A) My lover has come down to his garden,[b]
to the beds of spices,
To feed in the gardens
and to gather lilies.
3 (B)I belong to my lover, and my lover belongs to me;
he feeds among the lilies.
The Beauty of the Woman
4 M Beautiful as Tirzah are you, my friend;[c]
fair as Jerusalem,
fearsome as celestial visions!
5 (C)Turn your eyes away from me,
for they stir me up.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
streaming down from Gilead.
6 (D)Your teeth are like a flock of ewes
that come up from the washing,
All of them big with twins,
none of them barren.
7 Like pomegranate halves,
your cheeks behind your veil.
8 Sixty are the queens, eighty the concubines,
and young women without number—
9 One alone[d] is my dove, my perfect one,
her mother’s special one,
favorite of the one who bore her.
Daughters see her and call her happy,
queens and concubines, and they praise her:
10 (E)“Who[e] is this that comes forth like the dawn,
beautiful as the white moon, pure as the blazing sun,
fearsome as celestial visions?”
11 W(F) To the walnut grove[f] I went down,
to see the young growth of the valley;
To see if the vines were in bloom,
if the pomegranates had blossomed.
12 Before I knew it, my desire had made me
the blessed one of the prince’s people.[g]
- 6:1 The Daughters of Jerusalem are won by this description of the lover and offer their aid in seeking him (cf. 5:6, 9).
- 6:2–3 The woman implies here that she had never really lost her lover, for he has come down to his garden (cf. 2:16; 4:5). Feed…lilies: the imagery here evokes both a shepherd pasturing his flocks and erotic play between the lovers (2:16; 4:5, 12, 16).
- 6:4–9 The man again celebrates the woman’s beauty. Tirzah: probably meaning “pleasant”; it was the early capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel (1 Kgs 16). Celestial visions: the meaning is uncertain. Military images may be implied here, i.e., the “heavenly hosts” who fight along with God on Israel’s behalf (cf. Jgs 5:20), or perhaps a reference to the awesome goddesses of the region who combined aspects of both fertility and war.
- 6:9 One alone: the incomparability of the woman is a favorite motif in love poetry.
- 6:10 “Who…”: the speakers may be the women of vv. 8–9. Moon…sun: lit., “the white” and “the hot,” respectively (cf. Is 24:23; 30:26). Fearsome: see note on 6:4–9.
- 6:11 Walnut grove: also a site of activity in a wedding hymn of the Syrian moon goddess Nikkal (cf. the woman compared to the moon in v. 10).
- 6:12 The text is obscure in Hebrew and in the ancient versions. The Vulgate reads: “I did not know; my soul disturbed me because of the chariots of Aminadab.” Based on a parallel in Jgs 5:24, “chariots” is here emended to “blessed one.”