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Love Is Better than Wine

This is Solomon’s
    most beautiful song.

She Speaks:

Kiss me tenderly!
Your love is better than wine,
    and you smell so sweet.
All the young women adore you;
the very mention of your name
    is like spreading perfume.
Hurry, my king! Let’s hurry.
    Take me to your home.

The Young Women Speak:

We are happy for you!
And we praise your love
    even more than wine.

She Speaks:

Young women of Jerusalem,
it is only right
    that you should adore him.
My skin is dark and beautiful,
like a tent in the desert
    or like Solomon’s curtains.
Don’t stare at me
just because the sun
    has darkened my skin.
My brothers were angry with me;
they made me work in the vineyard,
    and so I neglected
    my complexion.

Don’t let the other shepherds
    think badly of me.[a]
I’m not one of those women
who shamelessly follow
    after shepherds.[b]
My darling, I love you!
Where do you feed your sheep
    and let them rest at noon?

He Speaks:

My dearest, if you don’t know,
just follow the path
    of the sheep.
Then feed your young goats
    near the shepherds' tents.
You move as gracefully
as the pony
that leads
    the chariot of the king.
10 Earrings add to your beauty,
and you wear a necklace
    of precious stones.
11 Let’s make you some jewelry
    of gold,
woven with silver.

She Speaks:

12 My king, while you
were on your couch,
    my love was a magic charm.[c]
13 My darling, you are perfume
    between my breasts;
14 you are flower blossoms
    from the gardens of En-Gedi.[d]

He Speaks:

15 My darling, you are lovely,
so very lovely—
    your eyes are those of a dove.

She Speaks:

16 My love, you are handsome,
    truly handsome—
the fresh green grass
    will be our wedding bed
17 in the shade of cedar
    and cypress trees.

Love Makes Everything Beautiful

She Speaks:

I am merely a rose[e]
from the land of Sharon,
    a lily from the valley.

He Speaks:

My darling, when compared
with other young women,
    you are a lily among thorns.

She Speaks:

And you, my love,
are an apple tree
    among trees of the forest.
Your shade brought me pleasure;
    your fruit was sweet.
You led me to your banquet room
    and showered me with love.
Refresh and strengthen me
with raisins and apples.
    I am hungry for love!
Put your left hand under my head
and embrace me
    with your right arm.

Young women of Jerusalem,
promise me by the power
    of deer and gazelles[f]
never to awaken love
    before it is ready.

Winter Is Past

She Speaks:

I hear the voice
    of the one I love,
as he comes leaping
over mountains and hills
    like a deer or a gazelle.
Now he stands outside our wall,
looking through the window
10     and speaking to me.

He Speaks:

My darling, I love you!
    Let’s go away together.
11 Winter is past,
    the rain has stopped;
12 flowers cover the earth,
    it’s time to sing.[g]
The cooing of doves
    is heard in our land.
13 Fig trees are bearing fruit,
while blossoms on grapevines
    fill the air with perfume.
My darling, I love you!
    Let’s go away together.
14 You are my dove
hiding among the rocks
    on the side of a cliff.
Let me see how lovely you are!
Let me hear the sound
    of your melodious voice.
15 Our vineyards are in blossom;
we must catch the little foxes
    that destroy the vineyards.[h]

She Speaks:

16 My darling, I am yours,
    and you are mine,
as you feed your sheep
    among the lilies.
17 Pretend to be a young deer
dancing on mountain slopes[i]
    until daylight comes
    and shadows fade away.

Beautiful Dreams

She Speaks:

While in bed at night,
I reached for the one I love
    with heart and soul.
I looked for him,
    but he wasn’t there.
So I searched through the town
    for the one I love.
I looked on every street,
    but he wasn’t there.
I even asked the guards
    patrolling the town,
“Have you seen the one
    I love so much?”
Right after that, I found him.
I held him and would not let go
    until I had taken him
    to the home of my mother.
Young women of Jerusalem,
promise me by the power
    of deer and gazelles,[j]
never to awaken love
    before it is ready.

The Groom and the Wedding Party

Their Friends Speak:

What do we see approaching
from the desert
    like a cloud of smoke?
With it comes the sweet smell
of spices,
including myrrh
    and frankincense.
It is King Solomon
    carried on a throne,
surrounded by sixty
    of Israel’s best soldiers.
Each of them wears a sword.
They are experts at fighting,
    even in the dark.
The throne is made of trees
    from Lebanon.
10 Its posts are silver,
    the back is gold,
and the seat is covered
    with purple cloth.
You women of Jerusalem
have taken great care
    to furnish the inside.[k]
11 Now come and see the crown
given to Solomon
by his mother
    on his happy wedding day.

What a Beautiful Bride

He Speaks:

My darling, you are lovely,
    so very lovely—
as you look through your veil,
    your eyes are those of a dove.
Your hair tosses about
as gracefully as goats
    coming down from Gilead.
Your teeth are whiter
    than sheep freshly washed;
they match perfectly,
    not one is missing.
Your lips are crimson cords,
    your mouth is shapely;
behind your veil are hidden
    beautiful rosy cheeks.[l]
Your neck is more graceful
    than the tower of David,
decorated with thousands
    of warriors' shields.

Your breasts are perfect;
they are twin deer
    feeding among lilies.
I will hasten to those hills
sprinkled with sweet perfume
    and stay there till sunrise.
My darling, you are lovely
    in every way.
My bride, together
    we will leave Lebanon!
We will say good-by
to the peaks
of Mount Amana,
    Senir, and Hermon,
where lions and leopards
    live in the caves.

My bride, my very own,
    you have stolen my heart!
With one glance from your eyes
and the glow of your necklace,
    you have stolen my heart.
10 Your love is sweeter than wine;
the smell of your perfume
    is more fragrant than spices.
11 Your lips are a honeycomb;
milk and honey
    flow from your tongue.
Your dress has the aroma
    of cedar trees from Lebanon.

12 My bride, my very own,
you are a garden,
a fountain
    closed off to all others.
13 Your arms[m] are vines,
covered with delicious fruits
    and all sorts of spices—
henna, nard, 14 saffron,
    calamus, cinnamon,
frankincense, myrrh, and aloes
    —all the finest spices.
15 You are a spring in the garden,
    a fountain of pure water,
and a refreshing stream
    from Mount Lebanon.

She Speaks:

16 Let the north wind blow,
    the south wind too!
Let them spread the aroma
    of my garden,
so the one I love
may enter
and taste
    its delicious fruits.

He Speaks:

My bride, my very own,
I come to my garden
    and enjoy its spices.
I eat my honeycomb and honey;
    I drink my wine and milk.

Their Friends Speak:

Eat and drink
until
    you are drunk with love.

Another Dream

She Speaks:

I was asleep, but dreaming:
The one I love was at the door,
    knocking and saying,
“My darling, my very own,
my flawless dove,
    open the door for me!
My head is drenched
    with evening dew.”

But I had already undressed
    and bathed my feet.
Should I dress again
    and get my feet dirty?
Then my darling’s hand
reached to open the latch,
    and my heart stood still.
When I rose to open the door,
my hands and my fingers
    dripped with perfume.

My heart stood still
    while he spoke to me,
but when I opened the door,
    my darling had disappeared.
I searched and shouted,
but I could not find him—
    there was no answer.
Then I was found by the guards
patrolling the town
    and guarding the wall.
They beat me up
    and stripped off my robe.

Young women of Jerusalem,
    if you find the one I love,
please say to him,
    “She is weak with desire.”

Their Friends Speak:

Most beautiful of women,
why is the one you love
    more special than others?
Why do you ask us
    to tell him how you feel?

She Speaks:

10 He is handsome and healthy,
the most outstanding
    among ten thousand.
11 His head is purest gold;
his hair is wavy,
    black as a raven.
12 His eyes are a pair of doves
bathing in a stream
    flowing with milk.[n]
13 His face is a garden
    of sweet-smelling spices;
his lips are lilies
    dripping with perfume.

14 His arms are branches of gold
    covered with jewels;
his body is ivory[o]
    decorated with sapphires.
15 His legs are columns of marble
    on feet of gold.
He stands there majestic
like Mount Lebanon
    and its choice cedar trees.
16 His kisses are sweet.
    I desire him so much!
Young women of Jerusalem,
    he is my lover and friend.

Their Friends Speak:

Most beautiful of women,
tell us where he has gone.
    Let us help you find him.

She Speaks:

My darling has gone down
    to his garden of spices,
where he will feed his sheep
    and gather lilies.
I am his, and he is mine,
as he feeds his sheep
    among the lilies.

He Speaks:

My dearest, the cities of Tirzah
and Jerusalem
    are not as lovely as you.
Your charms are more powerful
than all of the stars
    in the heavens.[p]
Turn away your eyes—
    they make me melt.
Your hair tosses about
as gracefully as goats
    coming down from Gilead.
Your teeth are whiter
    than sheep freshly washed;
they match perfectly,
    not one is missing.
Behind your veil are hidden
    beautiful rosy cheeks.[q]

What if I could have
sixty queens, eighty wives,
    and thousands of others!
You would be my only choice,
    my flawless dove,
the favorite child
    of your mother.
The young women, the queens,
    and all the others
tell how excited you are
    as they sing your praises:
10 “You are as majestic
    as the morning sky—
glorious as the moon—
    blinding as the sun!
Your charms are more powerful
    than all the stars above.”[r]

She Speaks:

11 I went down to see if blossoms
were on the walnut trees,
grapevines, and fruit trees.
12 But in my imagination
I was suddenly riding
    on a glorious chariot.[s]

Their Friends Speak:

13 Dance! Dance!
Beautiful woman from Shulam,
    let us see you dance!

She Speaks:

Why do you want to see
this woman from Shulam
    dancing with the others?[t]

The Wedding Dance

He Speaks:

You are a princess,
and your feet are graceful
    in their sandals.
Your thighs are works of art,
    each one a jewel;
your navel is a wine glass
    filled to overflowing.
Your body is full and slender
like a bundle of wheat
    bound together by lilies.
Your breasts are like twins
    of a deer.
Your neck is like ivory,
    and your eyes sparkle
like the pools of Heshbon
    by the gate of Bath-Rabbim.
Your nose is beautiful
like Mount Lebanon
    above the city of Damascus.
Your head is held high
    like Mount Carmel;
your hair is so lovely
    it holds a king prisoner.[u]

You are beautiful,
    so very desirable!
You are tall and slender
like a palm tree,
    and your breasts are full.
I will climb that tree
    and cling to its branches.
I will discover that your breasts
    are clusters of grapes,
and that your breath
    is the aroma of apples.
Kissing you is more delicious
than drinking the finest wine.
    How wonderful and tasty![v]

She Speaks:

10 My darling, I am yours,
    and you desire me.
11 Let’s stroll through the fields
    and sleep in the villages.
12 At dawn let’s slip out and see
if grapevines and fruit trees
    are covered with blossoms.
When we are there,
    I will give you my love.
13 Perfume from the magic flower[w]
    fills the air, my darling.
Right at our doorstep
I have stored up for you
    all kinds of tasty fruits.

If Only You and I. . .

She Speaks:

If you were my brother,
    I could kiss you
whenever we happen to meet,
and no one would say
    I did wrong.
I could take you to the home
of my mother,
    who taught me all I know.[x]
I would give you delicious wine
    and fruit juice as well.
Put your left hand under my head
and embrace me
    with your right arm.

Young women of Jerusalem,
promise me by the power
    of deer and gazelles[y]
never to awaken love
    before it is ready.

Their Friends Speak:

Who is this young woman
    coming in from the desert
and leaning on the shoulder
    of the one she loves?

She Speaks:

I stirred up your passions
under the apple tree
    where you were born.
Always keep me in your heart
and wear this bracelet
    to remember me by.
The passion of love
    bursting into flame
is more powerful than death,
    stronger than the grave.
Love cannot be drowned
    by oceans or floods;
it cannot be bought,
    no matter what is offered.

Their Friends Speak:

We have a little sister
whose breasts
    are not yet formed.
If someone asks to marry her,
    what should we do?
She isn’t a wall
that we can defend
    behind a silver shield.
Neither is she a room
that we can protect
    behind a wooden door.

She Speaks:

10 I am a wall around a city,
    my breasts are towers,
and just looking at me
    brings him great pleasure.
11 Solomon has a vineyard
    at Baal-Hamon,
which he rents to others
for a thousand pieces
    of silver each.
12 My vineyard is mine alone!
Solomon can keep his silver
    and the others can keep
    their share of the profits.

He Speaks:

13 You are in the garden
with friends all around.
    Let me hear your voice!

She Speaks:

14 Hurry to me, my darling!
Run faster than a deer
    to mountains of spices.

Footnotes

  1. 1.6 Don’t. . . me: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  2. 1.7 I’m. . . shepherds: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  3. 1.12 magic charm: The Hebrew text has “spikenard” (or “nard”), a sweet-smelling ointment made from a plant that comes from India. The ointment was sometimes used as a love charm.
  4. 1.14 En-Gedi: An oasis west of the Dead Sea.
  5. 2.1 rose: The traditional translation. The exact variety of the flower is not known, though it may have been a crocus.
  6. 2.7 deer and gazelles: Deer and gazelles were sacred animals in some religions of Old Testament times, and they were thought to have special powers.
  7. 2.12 sing: Or “trim the vines.”
  8. 2.15 vineyards: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 15.
  9. 2.17 mountain slopes: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  10. 3.5 deer and gazelles: See the note at 2.7.
  11. 3.10 inside: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  12. 4.3 beautiful rosy cheeks: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  13. 4.13 Your arms: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  14. 5.12 milk: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 12.
  15. 5.14 his. . . ivory: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  16. 6.4 all. . . heavens: Or “a mighty army ready for war.”
  17. 6.7 cheeks: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 7.
  18. 6.10 all. . . above: Or “a mighty army ready for war.”
  19. 6.12 chariot: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 12.
  20. 6.13 dancing. . . others: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  21. 7.5 it. . . prisoner: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  22. 7.9 How. . . tasty: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  23. 7.13 magic flower: The Hebrew text has “mandrake,” a plant that was thought to give sexual powers.
  24. 8.2 who...know: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  25. 8.4 deer and gazelles: See the note at 2.7.