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The Young Shulammite Bride and Jerusalem’s Daughters

The [a]Song of Songs [the best of songs], which is Solomon’s.(A)

[b](The Shulammite Bride)


“May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!” [Solomon arrives, she turns to him, saying,]
“For your love is better than wine.

“The aroma of your oils is fragrant and pleasing;
Your name is perfume poured out;
Therefore the maidens love you.

“Draw me away with you and let us run together!
Let the king bring me into his chambers.”

[c](The Chorus)

“We will rejoice and be glad in you;
We will remember and extol your love more [sweet and fragrant] than wine.
Rightly do they love you.”

(The Shulammite Bride)


“I am deeply tanned but lovely,
O daughters of Jerusalem,
[I am dark] like the tents of [the Bedouins of] Kedar,
Like the [beautiful] curtains of Solomon.

“Do not gaze at me because I am deeply tanned,
[I have worked in] the sun; it has left its mark on me.
My mother’s sons were angry with me;
They made me keeper of the vineyards,
But my own vineyard (my complexion) I have not kept.”

“Tell me, O you whom my soul loves,
Where do you pasture your flock,
Where do you make it lie down at noon?
For why should I be like one who is veiled
Beside the flocks of your companions?”(B)

Solomon, the Lover, Speaks

(The Bridegroom)


“If you do not know [where your lover is],
O you fairest among women,
Run along, follow the tracks of the flock,
And pasture your young goats
By the tents of the shepherds.


“To me, my love, you are like
My [favorite] mare among the chariots of Pharaoh.
10 
“Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments,
Your neck with strings of jewels.”

(The Chorus)

11 
“We will make for you chains and ornaments of gold,
[Studded] with beads of silver.”

(The Shulammite Bride)

12 
“While the king was at his table,
My perfume (Solomon) sent forth [his] fragrance [surrounding me].
13 
“My beloved is to me like a pouch of myrrh
Which lies all night between my breasts.
14 
“My beloved is to me a cluster of henna flowers
In the [fragrant] vineyards of [d]Engedi.”

(The Bridegroom)

15 
“Behold, how beautiful you are, my darling,
Behold, how beautiful you are!
Your eyes are dove’s eyes.”

(The Shulammite Bride)

16 
“Behold, how fair and handsome you are, my beloved;
And so delightful!
Our arbor is green and luxuriant.
17 
“The beams of our houses are cedars,
Our rafters and panels are cypresses.

The Bride’s Admiration

“I am the rose [of the plain] of Sharon,
The lily of the valleys [that grows in deep places].”

(The Bridegroom)


“Like the lily among the thorns,
So are you, my darling, among the maidens.”

(The Shulammite Bride)


“Like an apple tree [rare and welcome] among the trees of the forest,
So is my beloved among the young men!
In his shade I took great delight and sat down,
And his fruit was sweet and delicious to my palate.

“He has brought me to his banqueting place,
And his banner over me is love [waving overhead to protect and comfort me].

“Sustain me with raisin cakes,
Refresh me with apples,
Because I am sick with love.

“Let his left hand be under my head
And his right hand embrace me.”(C)

(The Bridegroom)


“I command that you take an oath, O daughters of Jerusalem,
By the gazelles or by the does of the field [which run free],
That you do not rouse nor awaken my love
Until she pleases.”

(The Shulammite Bride)


“Listen! My beloved!
Behold, he comes,
Climbing on the mountains,
Leaping and running on the hills!(D)

“My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.
Behold, he is standing behind our wall,
He is looking through the windows,
He is gazing through the lattice.

10 
“My beloved speaks and says to me,
‘Arise, my love, my fair one,
And come away.
11 
‘For behold, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
12 
‘The flowers appear on the earth once again;
The time for singing has come,
And the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
13 
‘The fig tree has budded and ripens her figs,
And the vines are in blossom and give forth their fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one,
And come away [to climb the rocky steps of the hillside].’”

(The Bridegroom)

14 
“O my dove, [here] in the clefts in the rock,
In the sheltered and secret place of the steep pathway,
Let me see your face,
Let me hear your voice;
For your voice is sweet,
And your face is lovely.”

(The Chorus)

15 
“Catch the foxes for us,
The little foxes that spoil and ruin the vineyards [of love],
While our vineyards are in blossom.”

(The Shulammite Bride)

16 
“My beloved is mine and I am his;
He pastures his flock among the lilies.(E)
17 
“Until the cool of the day when the shadows flee away,
Return quickly, my beloved, and be like a gazelle
Or a young stag on the mountains of Bether [which separate us].”

The Bride’s Troubled Dream

(The Shulammite Bride)

“On my bed night after night [I dreamed that] I sought the one
Whom my soul loves;
I sought him but did not find him.(F)

I said ‘So I must arise now and go out into the city;
Into the streets and into the squares [places I do not know]
I must seek him whom my soul loves.’
I sought him but I did not find him.

“The watchmen who go around the city found me,
And I said, ‘Have you seen him whom my soul loves?’

“Scarcely had I passed them
When I found him whom my soul loves.
I held on to him and would not let him go
Until I had brought him to my mother’s house,
And into the chamber of her who conceived me.”(G)

(The Bridegroom)


“I command that you take an oath, O daughters of Jerusalem,
By the gazelles or by the does of the field,
That you do not rouse nor awaken my love
Until she pleases.”

Solomon’s Wedding Day

(The Shulammite Bride)


“What is this coming up from the wilderness
Like [stately] pillars of smoke
Perfumed with myrrh and frankincense,
With all the fragrant powders of the merchant?”

(The Chorus)


“Behold, it is the couch ([e]palanquin) of Solomon;
Sixty mighty men around it,
Of the mighty men of Israel.

“All of them handle the sword,
All expert in war;
Each man has his sword at his thigh,
Guarding against the terrors of the night.

“King Solomon has made for himself a palanquin
From the [cedar] wood of Lebanon.
10 
“He made its posts of silver,
Its back of gold,
Its seat of purple cloth,
The interior lovingly and intricately wrought
By the daughters of Jerusalem.
11 
“Go forth, O daughters of Zion,
And gaze on King Solomon wearing the crown
With which his mother [Bathsheba] has crowned him
On the day of his wedding,
On the day of his gladness of heart.”

Solomon’s Love Expressed

(The Bridegroom)

“How fair and beautiful you are, my darling,
How very beautiful!
Your eyes behind your veil are like those of a dove;
Your hair is like [the shimmering black fleece of] a flock of [Arabian] goats
That have descended from Mount Gilead [beyond the Jordan].

“Your teeth are like a flock of newly shorn ewes
Which have come up from washing,
All of which bear twins,
And not one among them has lost her young.

“Your lips are like a ribbon of scarlet,
And your mouth is lovely.
Your temples are like a slice of the pomegranate
Behind your veil.

“Your neck is like the tower of David,
Built with rows of [glistening] stones,
Whereon hang a thousand shields,
All of them shields of warriors.

“Your two breasts are like two fawns,
Twins of a gazelle
Which feed among the lilies.

“Until the day breaks
And the shadows flee away,
[In my thoughts] I will go my way to the mountain of myrrh
And to the hill of frankincense.


“O my love, you are altogether beautiful and fair.
There is no flaw nor blemish in you!(H)

Come away with me from Lebanon, my [promised] bride,
May you come with me from Lebanon.
Journey down from the top of Amana,
From the summit of Senir and Hermon,
From the dens of lions,
From the mountains of leopards.(I)

“You have ravished my heart and given me courage, my sister, my [promised] bride;
You have ravished my heart and given me courage with a single glance of your eyes,
With one jewel of your necklace.
10 
“How beautiful is your love, my sister, my [promised] bride!
How much better is your love than wine,
And the fragrance of your oils
Than all kinds of balsam and spices.(J)
11 
“Your lips, my [promised] bride, drip honey [as the honeycomb];
Honey and milk are under your tongue,
And the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.
12 
“A garden enclosed is my sister, my [promised] bride—
A rock garden locked, a spring sealed up.
13 
“Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates,
[A paradise] with precious fruits, henna with fragrant plants,(K)
14 
Fragrant plants and saffron, calamus and cinnamon,
With all trees of frankincense,
Myrrh and aloes, along with all the finest spices.
15 
You are a fountain in a garden,
A well of fresh and living water,
And streams flowing from Lebanon.”(L)

(The Shulammite Bride)

16 
“Awake, O north wind,
And come, south wind [blow softly upon my garden];
Make my garden breathe out fragrance, [for the one in whom my soul delights],
Let its spices flow forth.
Let my beloved come into his garden
And eat its choicest fruits.”

The Torment of Separation

(The Bridegroom)

“I have come into my garden, my sister, my [promised] bride;
I have gathered my myrrh along with my balsam and spice [from your sweet words].
I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey;
I have drunk my wine with my milk.
Eat, friends;
Drink and drink deeply, O lovers.”(M)

(The Shulammite Bride)


“I was asleep, but my heart was awake.
A voice [in my dream]! My beloved was knocking:
‘Open to me, my sister, my darling,
My dove, my perfect one!
For my head is drenched with the [heavy night] dew;
My hair [is covered] with the dampness of the night.’(N)

“I had taken off my dress,
How can I put it on again?
I had washed my feet,
How could I get them dirty again?(O)

“My beloved extended his hand through the opening [of the door],
And my feelings were aroused for him.

“I arose to open for my beloved;
And my hands dripped with myrrh,
And my fingers with liquid [sweet-scented] myrrh,
On the handles of the bolt.

“I opened for my beloved,
But my beloved had turned away and was gone.
My heart went out to him when he spoke.
I searched for him, but I could not find him;
I called him, but he did not answer me.

“The watchmen who make the rounds in the city found me.
They struck me, they wounded me;
The guardsmen of the walls took my shawl from me.

“I command that you take an oath, O daughters of Jerusalem,
If you find my beloved,
As to what you tell him—
[Say that] I am sick from love [sick from being without him].”(P)

(The Chorus)


“What is your beloved more than another beloved,
O most beautiful among women?
What is your beloved more than another beloved,
That you should so command us to take an oath?”(Q)

Admiration by the Bride

(The Shulammite Bride)

10 
“My beloved is exquisitely handsome and ruddy,
Outstanding among ten thousand.(R)
11 
“His head is like [precious] gold, pure gold;
His hair is [curly] like clusters of dates
And black as a raven.
12 
“His eyes are like doves
Beside streams of water,
Bathed in milk
And reposed in their setting.
13 
“His cheeks are like a bed of balsam,
Banks of sweet, fragrant herbs.
His lips are lilies
Dripping sweet-scented myrrh.
14 
“His hands are rods of gold
Set with beryl;
His abdomen is a figure of carved ivory
Inlaid with sapphires.
15 
“His legs are [strong and steady] pillars of alabaster
Set upon pedestals of fine gold.
His appearance is like Lebanon,
Stately and choice as the cedars.
16 
“His mouth is full of sweetness;
Yes, he is altogether lovely and desirable.
This is my beloved and this is my friend,
O daughters of Jerusalem.”(S)

Mutual Delight in Each Other

(The Chorus)

“Where has your beloved gone,
O most beautiful among women?
Where is your beloved hiding himself,
That we may seek him with you?”

(The Shulammite Bride)


“My beloved has gone down to his garden,
To the beds of balsam,
To feed his flock in the gardens
And gather lilies.

“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine,
He who feeds his flock among the lilies.”

(The Bridegroom)


“You are as beautiful as [f]Tirzah, my darling,
As lovely as Jerusalem,
As majestic as an army with banners!

“Turn your [flashing] eyes away from me,
For they have confused and overcome me;
Your hair is like [the shimmering black fleece of] a flock of [Arabian] goats
That have descended from Mount Gilead.

“Your teeth are like a flock of ewes
Which have come up from their washing,
All of which bear twins,
And not one among them has lost her young.

“Your temples are like a slice of the pomegranate
Behind your veil.

“There are sixty queens and eighty [g]concubines,
And maidens without number;

But my dove, my perfect one, stands alone [above them all];
She is her mother’s only daughter;
She is the pure child of the one who bore her.
The maidens saw her and called her blessed and happy,
The queens and the concubines also, and they praised her, saying,(T)

10 
‘Who is this that looks down like the dawn,
Fair and beautiful as the full moon,
Clear and pure as the sun,
As majestic as an army with banners?’
11 
“I went down to the orchard of nut trees
To see the flowers of the valley,
To see whether the grapevine had budded
And the pomegranates were in flower.
12 
“Before I was aware [of what was happening], my desire had brought me
Into the area of the princes of my people [the king’s retinue].”

(The Chorus)

13 
“Return, return, O Shulammite;
Return, return, that we may gaze at you.”

(The Bridegroom)

“Why should you gaze at the Shulammite,
As at the dance of the two armies?

Admiration by the Bridegroom

“How beautiful are your feet in sandals,
O prince’s daughter!
The curves of your hips are like jewels,
The work of the hands of an artist.

“Your navel is a round goblet
Which never lacks mixed wine.
Your belly is like a heap of wheat
Surrounded with lilies.

“Your two breasts are like two fawns,
The twins of a gazelle.

“Your neck is like a tower of ivory,
Your eyes the [sparkling] pools of Heshbon
By the gate of Bath-rabbim.
Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon
Which looks toward Damascus.

“Your head crowns you like Mount Carmel,
And the flowing hair of your head like purple threads;
I, the king, am held captive by your [h]tresses.

“How beautiful and how delightful you are,
My love, with all your delights!

“Your stature is like that of a palm tree
And your breasts like its clusters [of dates].

“I said, ‘I will climb the palm tree;
I will grasp its branches.
Let your breasts be like clusters of the grapevine,
And the fragrance of your breath like apples,

‘And your kisses like the best wine!’”

(The Shulammite Bride)

“It goes down smoothly and sweetly for my beloved,
Gliding gently over his lips while he sleeps.

The Union of Love

10 
“I am my beloved’s,
And his desire is for me.(U)
11 
“Come, my beloved, let us go out into the country,
Let us spend the night in the villages.(V)
12 
“Let us go out early to the vineyards;
Let us see whether the vine has budded
And its blossoms have opened,
And whether the pomegranates have flowered.
There I will give you my love.
13 
“The mandrakes give forth fragrance,
And over our doors are all [kinds of] choice fruits,
Both new and old,
Which I have saved up for you, my beloved.

The Lovers Speak

“Oh, that you were like a brother to me,
Who nursed at the breasts of my mother.
If I found you out of doors, I would kiss you;
No one would blame me or despise me, either.(W)

“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.

“Let his left hand be under my head
And his right hand embrace me.”(X)

(The Bridegroom)


“I command you to take an oath, O daughters of Jerusalem,
That you do not rouse nor awaken my love
Until she pleases.”

(The Chorus)


“Who is this coming up from the wilderness
Leaning upon her beloved?”

(The Shulammite Bride)

“Under the apple tree I awakened you [to my love];
There your mother was in labor with you,
There she was in labor and gave you birth.

“Put me like a seal on your heart,
Like a seal on your arm;
For love is as strong as death,
Jealousy is as severe and cruel as Sheol (the place of the dead).
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
[A most vehement flame] the very flame of the [i]Lord!(Y)

“Many waters cannot quench love,
Nor can rivers drown it.
If a man would offer all the riches of his house for love,
It would be utterly scorned and despised.”

(The Chorus)


“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 [in marriage]?

“If she is a wall (discreet, womanly),
We will build on her a turret (dowry) of silver;
But if she is a door (bold, flirtatious),
We will enclose her with planks of cedar.”

(The Shulammite Bride)

10 
“I was a wall, and my breasts were like the towers.
Then I became in the king’s eyes
As one [to be respected and allowed] to find peace.
11 
“Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon;
He entrusted the vineyard to caretakers;
Each one was to bring him a thousand shekels of silver for its fruit.
12 
“My very own vineyard is at my disposal;
The thousand [shekels of silver] are for you, O Solomon,
And two hundred are for those who tend the fruit.”

(The Bridegroom)

13 
“O you who sit in the gardens,
My companions are listening for your voice—
Let me hear it.”

(The Shulammite Bride)

14 
“Hurry, my beloved and come quickly,
Like a gazelle or a young stag [taking me home]
On the mountains of spices.”

Footnotes

  1. Song of Solomon 1:1 Some theologians believe the Song of Solomon to be a collection of songs, but it is more generally understood to be a sort of drama or lyric poem celebrating the wholesomeness of a growing love that leads to maturity in marriage. The ancient rabbis understood it as an allegory of the relationship between God and Israel, and viewed the details as symbolic.
  2. Song of Solomon 1:2 The parenthetical headings indicate that the speakers are not from the Hebrew text nor the Septuagint, but reflect an ancient tradition which appears in some manuscripts.
  3. Song of Solomon 1:5 The purpose of the chorus is to echo and expand the sentiments of the bride and her bridegroom. The members of the chorus are not always known, but have been variously identified as “daughters of Jerusalem,” “daughters of Zion,” “ladies in waiting,” “friends” or “relatives” of the bride.
  4. Song of Solomon 1:14 An oasis on the western side of the Dead Sea.
  5. Song of Solomon 3:7 A conveyance that was used in ancient times especially for the transport of one person, that consisted of an enclosed sedan chair usually in the form of a box with wooden shutters, and that is carried on the shoulders of men by means of projecting poles.
  6. Song of Solomon 6:4 A city in northern Israel known for its gardens and natural beauty.
  7. Song of Solomon 6:8 See note Gen 22:24.
  8. Song of Solomon 7:5 I.e. the long, unbound hair of a woman.
  9. Song of Solomon 8:6 Heb YHWH (Yahweh).

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