6 “Where has your beloved gone,
O most beautiful among women?
Where is your beloved hiding himself,
That we may seek him with you?”
“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.”
“You are as beautiful as [a]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 [b]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,
‘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?’
“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.
“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].”
“Return, return, O Shulammite;
Return, return, that we may gaze at you.”
“Why should you gaze at the Shulammite,
As at the dance of the two armies?
7 “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 [c]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!’”
“It goes down smoothly and sweetly for my beloved,
Gliding gently over his lips while he sleeps.
“I am my beloved’s,
And his desire is for me.
“Come, my beloved, let us go out into the country,
Let us spend the night in the villages.
“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.
“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.
8 “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.
“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.”
“I command you to take an oath, O daughters of Jerusalem,
That you do not rouse nor awaken my love
Until she pleases.”
“Who is this coming up from the wilderness
Leaning upon her beloved?”
“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 [d]Lord!
“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.”
“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.”
“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.
“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.
“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.”
“O you who sit in the gardens,
My companions are listening for your voice—
Let me hear it.”
“Hurry, my beloved and come quickly,
Like a gazelle or a young stag [taking me home]
On the mountains of spices.”
4 Now what I mean [when I talk about children and their guardians] is this: as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave even though he is the [future owner and] master of all [the estate]; 2 but he is under [the authority of] guardians and household administrators or managers until the date set by his father [when he is of legal age]. 3 So also we [whether Jews or Gentiles], when we were children (spiritually immature), were kept like slaves under the elementary [man-made religious or philosophical] teachings of the world. 4 But when [in God’s plan] the proper time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the [regulations of the] Law, 5 so that He might redeem and liberate those who were under the Law, that we [who believe] might be adopted as sons [as God’s children with all rights as fully grown members of a family]. 6 And because you [really] are [His] sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying out, [a]“Abba! Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave (bond-servant), but a son; and if a son, then also an heir through [the gracious act of] God [through Christ].
8 But at that time, when you did not know [the true] God and were unacquainted with Him, you [Gentiles] were slaves to those [pagan] things which by [their very] nature were not and could not be gods at all. 9 Now, however, since you have come to know [the true] God [through personal experience], or rather to be known by God, how is it that you are turning back again to the weak and worthless elemental principles [of religions and philosophies], to which you want to be enslaved all over again? 10 [For example,] you observe [particular] days and months and seasons and years. 11 I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored [to the point of exhaustion] over you in vain.
12 Believers, I beg of you, become as I am [free from the bondage of Jewish ritualism and ordinances], for I have become as you are [a Gentile]. You did me no wrong [when I first came to you; do not do it now]. 13 On the contrary, you know that it was because of a physical illness that I [remained and] preached the gospel to you the first time; 14 and even though my physical condition was a trial to you, you did not regard it with contempt, or scorn and reject me; but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus Himself. 15 What then has become of that sense of blessing and the joy that you once had [from your salvation and your relationship with Christ]? For I testify of you that, if possible, you would have torn out your own eyes and given them to me [[b]to replace mine]. 16 So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17 These men [the Judaizers] eagerly seek you [to entrap you with honeyed words and attention, to win you over to their philosophy], not honorably [for their purpose is not honorable or worthy of consideration]. They want to isolate you [from us who oppose them] so that you will seek them. 18 Now it is always pleasant to be eagerly sought after [provided that it is] for a good purpose, and not just when I am with you [seeking you myself—but beware of the others doing it]. 19 My little children, for whom I am again in [the pains of] labor until Christ is [completely and permanently] formed within you— 20 how I wish that I were with you now and could change my tone, because I am perplexed in regard to you.
21 Tell me, you who are bent on being under the Law, do you not listen to [what] the Law [really says]? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman [Hagar] and one by the free woman [Sarah]. 23 But the child of the slave woman was born according to the flesh and had an ordinary birth, while the son of the free woman was born in fulfillment of the promise. 24 Now these facts are about to be used [by me] as an allegory [that is, I will illustrate by using them]: for these women can represent two covenants: one [covenant originated] from Mount Sinai [where the Law was given] that bears children [destined] for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is (represents) Mount Sinai in Arabia and she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above [that is, the way of faith, represented by Sarah] is free; she is our mother. 27 For it is written [in the Scriptures],
“Rejoice, o barren woman who has not given birth;
Break forth into a [joyful] shout, you who are not in labor;
For the desolate woman has many more children
Than she who has a husband.”
28 And we, [believing] brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children [not merely of physical descent, like Ishmael, but are children born] of promise [born miraculously]. 29 But as at that time the child [of ordinary birth] born according to the flesh persecuted the son who was born according to [the promise and working of] the Spirit, so it is now also. 30 But what does the Scripture say?
“Cast out the bondwoman [Hagar] and her son [Ishmael],
For never shall the son of the bondwoman be heir and share the inheritance with the son of the free woman.”
31 So then, believers, we [who are born again—reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, and set apart for His purpose] are not children of a slave woman [the natural], but of the free woman [the supernatural].