STANZA DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS
|Admiration by the Bridegroom||Expressions of Praise
|The Praise of the Woman and Her Promise of Love||The Fifth Song
|The Union of Love|
READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")
FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL
This is a study guide commentarywhich means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the four translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.
1. First paragraph
2. Second paragraph
3. Third paragraph
WORD AND PHRASE STUDY
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: SONG OF SOLOMON 7:1-9a
1"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.
2Your navel is like a round goblet
Which never lacks mixed wine;
Your belly is like a heap of wheat
Fenced about with lilies.
3Your two breasts are like two fawns,
Twins of a gazelle.
4Your neck is like a tower of ivory,
Your eyes like the pools in Heshbon
By the gate of Bath-rabbim;
Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon,
Which faces toward Damascus.
5Your head crowns you like Carmel,
And the flowing locks of your head are like purple threads;
The king is captivated by your tresses.
6How beautiful and how delightful you are,
My love, with all your charms!
7Your stature is like a palm tree,
And your breasts are like its clusters.
8I said, 'I will climb the palm tree,
I will take hold of its fruit stalks.'
Oh, may your breasts be like clusters of the vine,
And the fragrance of your breath like apples,
9And your mouth like the best wine!"
7:1 Remember that the NJB follows the MT and begins chapter 7 at NASB's 6:13.
As usual the speaker is uncertain:
1. the man
2. the daughters of Jerusalem
There are many geographical references in the love poem:
1. Heshbon, Sol 7:4
2. Bath-rabbim, Sol 7:4
3. Lebanon, Sol 7:4
4. Damascus, Sol 7:4
5. Carmel, Sol 7:5
6. the villages, Sol 7:11
7. the Jezreel valley not specifically mentioned here (i.e., 7:11-12), but alluded to in Sol 6:11.
Interestingly this love poem starts at her feet, not her head, as the other love poems.
▣ "How beautiful" This and Sol 7:7 are the same verb as 4:10 (BDB 421, KB 421, Qal perfect). This is now the third description (wasf, love poems) of the beauty of the Shulammite maiden (cf. Sol 4:10).
This same root, used as an adjective, is found many times in Song of Songs (cf. Sol 1:8,15 [twice]; 2:10,13; 4:1 [twice],7; 5:9; 6:1,4).
▣ "your feet in sandals" In this verse, her "beauty" is the way she walks. Her walk displays her feet and accentuates her hips.
NJB"O prince's daughter"
NRSV"O queenly maiden"
JPSOA"O daughter of nobles"
The phrase is a construct of "daughter" (BDB 123 I) and "noble" or "prince" (BDB 622). The same term (BDB 622) is found in Sol 6:12 and often in Wisdom Literature (17 times) and three times in Isaiah.
The question is, "What does it imply?"
1. She is from a noble or wealthy family.
2. This is typical language of love poetry of the ancient Near East (i.e., standard hyperbole).
3. It is a metaphor of her beauty and the grace with which she carries herself.
▣ "curves" This term is found only here (BDB 330, KB 327), but it is related to the root, "turn away" (BDB 330, KB 330) used in Sol 5:6, implying "a turn," or "a curve" in motion. She had shapely hips or thighs!
▣ "like jewels" This term is found only here. A related form is in Prov. 25:12, where it is parallel to a gold nose or earring. Here it refers to some kind of ornament, possibly a necklace (as a necklace is rounded, so too, are the maiden's thighs).
7:2 "navel" This term (BDB 1057) appears only here in the OT and seems to refer to the scar left by the umbilical cord. The navel (related root, cf. Ezek. 16:4) is exposed in all Egyptian art, which shows it was seen as beautiful.
▣ "Which never lacks mixed wine" This seems to refer to the wide variety of potential lovemaking practices. Song of Songs uses all the senses to describe lovemaking—sight, taste, smell, and touch. Westerners easily blush at this genre of poetry!
▣ "wine" Literally this is the word for "mixture" (BDB 561), found only here in the OT, which was used to denote wine mixed with
3. other fermented juices
4. older strong wine with new wine
See Special Topic about fermented drink in the ancient Near East at Eccl. 2:3. Here the term is used metaphorically for the intoxication of love (cf. Pro. 5:18-19).
▣ "belly" This (BDB 105 #6) is probably in reference to the womb (i.e., Job 31:15; Ps. 139:13; Eccl. 11:5).
▣ "Fenced about with lilies" This is metaphorical language about the shape and smell of the woman's womb. Lilies are a recurrent theme (cf. Sol 2:2; 4:5; 5:13; 6:2,3; 7:2,12). This is love poetry! It is affirming the goodness and God-givenness of human sexuality. Procreation by sexual intercourse is God's will and command (cf. Gen. 1:28)! I am so surprised that western culture, with its graphic movies, is shocked by ancient Semitic love poetry! Get over it! Physical creation is as beautiful and part of God's plan as is spirituality. We must embrace our sexuality, but realize for our own good in a fallen, me-first world, God has placed guidelines (sex within marriage). Song of Songs is a joyful fulfilment of a God-given desire. Love and sex can be, should be, fully affirmed and enjoyed within Scriptural guidelines! Remember, drinking wine from your wife's navel is a Scriptural admonition!
7:3 This is a repeat of Sol 4:5, but Sol 7:7 is a new item!
▣ "breasts" This aspect of the maiden's developing womanhood is mentioned several times (4:5; 7:3; 8:10). Breasts function as a metaphor for sexual attraction and fulfilment (cf. Pro. 5:19).
7:4 These descriptions seem so strange to us. Remember, beauty is a cultural thing. What is attractive to one culture is shocking to another. Cities were often seen as feminine. Prominent physical features (i.e., long neck, large nose, etc.) were positives!
The beauty of the eyes (the only part of the face clearly seen from behind the veil) is a recurrent theme (cf. Sol 1:15; 4:1,9; 5:12; 7:4). However, sometimes the eyes can be dangerous (cf. Sol 6:5) as can a necklace (cf. Sol 4:9) and the hair (cf. Sol 7:5). Weak eyes would denote a less attractive woman (i.e., Leah, Gen. 29:17).
▣ "Heshbon" This is a city in the transJordan area (i.e., Moab, cf. Num. 21:26).
▣ "Bath-rabbin" Literally this is "daughter of multitudes." It was possibly the name of an actual gate in Heshbon.
▣ "Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon" Large noses were considered attractive by the ancient Shemites.
7:5 "Carmel" This ridge in northern Israel was known for its beautiful forest. So because of this parallelism this refers to her hair.
Some commentators think it is an allusion to the majesty of the mountain ridge and, therefore, refers to her posture. She walks well (Sol 7:1) and she stands well (Sol 7:5).
▣ "like purple threads" This may refer to the color (shining dark hair), but probably to the beauty and rarity of this lady's hair. This same color was used to describe Solomon's palanquin in Sol 3:10.
▣ "The king is captured by your tresses" There is no definite article with "king." This terminology (i.e., "king" and "queen") is common in ancient Near Eastern love poetry.
Notice the man is said to be captivated by the maiden several times:
▣ "tresses" This is the word "locks" (BDB 923), found only here in the OT. Apparently it is used in the sense of long flowing curls.
7:6 He has just listed for the fourth time the physical and sexual attributes (i.e., "charms," BDB 772) of the maiden. Verses 6-9 are a distinct poetic unity (which NKJV, NRSV, TEV, and NJB recognize, but not NASB, NIV, nor JPSOA).
7:7-9 He describes her as a tall, thin, and fruitful date palm, which he is about to climb and enjoy her abundant fruit! Erotic love—smell, touch, taste, sight, and sound!
Notice the verbs of Sol 7:8:
1. "I will climb" - BDB 748, KB 828, Qal imperfect used in a cohortative sense
2. "I will take hold of - BDB 28, KB 31, Qal cohortative
3. "Oh, may your breasts be like" - BDB 224, KB 243, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense
7:8 "apples" This probably refers to apricots (BDB 656 I) since no native apples grew in this part of the world.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: SONG OF SOLOMON 7:9b
9b"It goes down smoothly for my beloved,
Flowing gently through the lips of those who fall asleep."
7:9 They make love until they fall asleep! It is uncertain who speaks this thought (i.e., the man from 6:13 or the woman who starts in Sol 7:10-8:3).
There is a variant in the ancient versions (LXX, Aquila, Symmachus, Vulgate, and Syriac) which changes Sol 7:9 line 3 from "the lips of those who fall asleep" (MT) to "flowing gently over the lips and teeth" (RSV, TEV).
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: SONG OF SOLOMON 7:10-13
10"I am my beloved's,
And his desire is for me.
11Come, my beloved, let us go out into the country,
Let us spend the night in the villages.
12Let us rise early and go to the vineyards;
Let us see whether the vine has budded
And its blossoms have opened,
And whether the pomegranates have bloomed.
There I will give you my love.
13The mandrakes have given forth fragrance;
And over our doors are all choice fruits,
Both new and old,
Which I have saved up for you, my beloved."
7:10 See note at Sol 8:10-14.
▣ "desire" This term (BDB 1003) is positive here. Sexual fulfilment is a godly desire (in the proper context, with the proper person), but the same strong human emotion can be negative (cf. Gen. 4:7) when it desires that which is not the will of God.
7:11-12 Notice the calls to action. It is spring. It is time to make love (I am assuming that these are wedding poems and that this couple is married, but the only specific allusion to this is 4:6-11, esp. Sol 7:11, line 4). Also note the rural setting (cf. Sol 2:10-15) and quest for privacy:
1. "Come" - BDB 229, KB 246, Qal imperative, lit. "walk" or "go"
2. "Let me go out" - BDB 422, KB 425, Qal imperfect used in a cohortative sense
3. "Let us spend the night" - BDB 533, KB 529, Qal cohortative
4. "Let us rise early" - BDB 1014, KB 1492, Hiphil cohortative
5. "Let us see" - BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal imperfect used in a cohortative
This is obviously a rural setting, not Jerusalem. This fits the northern first love theory. Chapter 8 is also the same rural, northern, hometown setting! Would Solomon sneak off and spend the night in a village inn or guest room?
7:12 In the garden setting (cf. Sol 4:16-5:1; 6:2) of blossoming spring the couple make love ("there I will give you my love," Sol 7:12, line 5). This shows these poems are not in chronological order!
7:13 The first line fits well with what goes before in Sol 7:12, but the second through fourth lines are hard to interpret. Obviously the woman is asserting that she has saved herself for this lover (contrast 1:6, which may refer to her skin and not her virginity which was so important in ancient Israel). The verb is "I have saved up" ( BDB 860, KB 1049, Qal perfect, "hide," or "treasure up").
▣ "mandrakes" This was considered a very strong aphrodisiac (cf. Gen. 30:14-15). It was often called "the love apple" (cf. UBS Helps for Translators, "Fauna and Flora of the Bible," pp. 138-139).
▣ "And over our doors are all choice fruits,
Both new and old" The NET Bible (p. 1177) asserts that the storing of fruit on a shelf over the door to ripen and mature was a common practice in the ancient Near East. The phrase would have denoted:
1. the fruit was ready to be eaten
2. she had saved it just for him
3. the time is now (Sol 7:12, line 5)
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