Jewish Publication Society Tanakh, 1917
Thoughts on the text
‘Whither is thy beloved gone,|
O thou fairest among women?
Whither hath thy beloved turned him,
That we may seek him with thee?’
|Back to the lost boyfriend plot: The chorus doesn’t know where he is.|
‘My beloved is gone down into his garden,|
To the beds of spices,
To feed in the gardens,
And to gather lilies.
|She seems to know where he has gotten off to, specifically right here…and they go to back to exploring each other's special features: “he grazes among the lilies.”|
I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine,|
That feedeth among the lilies.’
|He continues his praise of her, partly repeating his earlier poem, but also expanding on his own statement, “How beautiful you are…,” in 4.1.|
Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah,|
Comely as Jerusalem,
Terrible as an army with banners.
She is compared to the two famous capital cities, Jerusalem in the south
and Tirzah in the north (1
Kgs 15.33—this reference, by the way only
makes sense in a period well after Solomon had passed). |
Terrible as an army with banners. This should probably be read, “as awe-inspiring as the greatest….”
Turn away thine eyes from me,|
For they have overcome me.
Thy hair is as a flock of goats,
That trail down from Gilead.
|5b-7 are a repeat from ch. 4.1ff.|
Thy teeth are like a flock of ewes,|
Which are come up from the washing;
Whereof all are paired,
And none faileth among them.
Thy temples are like a pomegranate split open|
Behind thy veil.
There are threescore queens,|
And fourscore concubines,
And maidens without number.
Queens…concubines…maidens There are lots of
beautiful and noble women in the world.|
Is but one. But they all pale in comparison.
My dove, my undefiled, is but one;|
She is the only one of her mother;
She is the choice one of her that bore her.
The daughters saw her, and called her happy;
Yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her.
Who is she that looketh forth as the dawn,|
Fair as the moon, lear as the sun,
Terrible as an army with banners?
|Who is she that looketh forth as the dawn(?). Reminiscent of 3.6. The chorus can’t believe their eyes-this simple peasant girl outshines them all.|
|This section eludes definitive interpretation.|
I went down into the garden of nuts,|
To look at the green plants of the valley,
To see whether the vine budded,
And the pomegranates were in flower.
|She is off somewhere doing agricultural work, so it seems.|
Before I was aware, my soul set me|
Upon the chariots of my princely people.
Chariots of my princely people. ‘Noble people’ would be better
than ‘princely’ if we are going to translate it this way. NIV has ‘royal
chariots of my people’ which strains the Hebrew somewhat. They
also suggest in the footnote either ‘among the chariots of Amminadab’ or
‘among the chariots of the people of the prince.’ Both would
work with the Hebrew. The first is followed by the LXX, and would be great
if Amminadab had any place in this story at all. The second is hard to fit
into the context. NRSV decides the Hebrew must
be messed up and conjectures ‘in a chariot beside my prince’
(substituting ’m ndyvy for the MT’s ’my ndyv) [moving
the yod from the end of the first word to the end of the second].|
I’m uncomfortable with consonantal emendations, although I know they are sometimes necessary. Nevertheless, I would be inclined to go with the NRSV and suggest something like:
‘My mind wandered.
There I was in a chariot with my prince.’
In other words, in her love-distracted mind, she is starting to believe him.
LXX v.13 =|
|Next page. For my reasons for preferring the Hebrew chapter numbering, see my comments at the start of ch. 7 (the next page).|
|Return to Song of Songs page||
Page: © Copyright 1995-2011 Alan Humm.
Comments and corrections: