Lady in love
- 2:1 I am the sweet rose of Sharon1
And the lily of the valley.
Gent in love
- 2:2 Of all the women in this world, my dear,
You are the only lily among thorns.
Lady in love
- 2:3 Of all the men in this world, lover,
You’re the only apple2 tree in the woods.
I love resting in your shade.
And the fruit on this tree is deliciously yummy.
- 2:4 He led me into the wine room.3
He has marked me as his own,
under a banner4 of love.
- 2:5 I need some comfort food,
Raisin cakes and apples.
I’m lovesick and lightheaded.
- 2:6 But he’s holding me.
His left hand cradles my head,
And his right hand pulls me into his embrace.
- 2:7 Ladies of Jerusalem, do me a favor.
Swear by all the gazelles and deer of the field,
That you won’t try to rush love.5
- 2:8 Oh my goodness! Look, he’s coming.
He’s climbing on the mountains,
And jumping through the hills.
- 2:9 My lover is a maverick stag, a stately gazelle.
Look, there he is, standing on the other side of the wall.
See him. He’s looking through the windows
And peeking through the lattice.
- 2:10a My lover calls me.
Gent in love
- 2:10b Time to get up, my darling,
My gorgeous one.
- 2:11 Look, winter’s over
And the rainy season is done.
- 2:12 Flowers are already popping through the soil.
It’s time to prune vines for the growing season.
A cooing song of the turtledove fills the air.
- 2:13. Figs hang ripe on the fig trees,
And vines of the vineyard are starting to blossom.
You can smell the blossoms gliding in the wind.
Get up, my darling, my gorgeous beauty.
Come with me.
- 2:14 My dove is hiding from me
In some crevice of the rocks,
In a secret place along the cliffs.
Let me look at your face.
Your lovely face.6
And let me hear your voice. Your sweet voice.
- 2:15 Someone needs to catch the foxes,
Those rotten little foxes eating up our vineyard
Ripping those blossoms off the vine.7
Lady in love
- 2:16 My lover belongs to me. I belong to him.
When he needs to graze his flock,
He takes them to the lilies.8
- 2:17 He stays there until dawn breaks cool
and shadows flee.
Turn over this way, my love.
Quickly, like a gazelle or a young stag,
Climb the mountains9 again.
Sharon is a fertile plain in what is now northern Israel.
In the Bible and in other ancient Middle Eastern writings, the apple was a fruit often associated with lovemaking. When we see “apple” in the Song of Songs, somebody is getting a wet kiss. Not a friendly peck on the cheek or a polite “welcome.” In past centuries, Bible scholars said apples didn’t grow in that region, which they called the Ancient Near East. So, they speculated that the fruit mentioned here could have been an apricot, which does grow in the region. However, recent discoveries of hundreds of carbonized apples in Israel have made such speculations fruitless. Whatever it was, the lady liked it.
Many say the gent in love took the lady to a banquet hall. But the phrase in Hebrew, bet hayyayin, appears nowhere else in the Bible. But other phrases closely related refer to wine. For example, bet misteh hayyayin, in Esther 7:8 is “the place where they [the king and others] were drinking wine.” Banquet hall or wine room, many scholars reading between the lines of this poem agree on this: the lady and the gent were doing something other than eating or drinking wine.
Scholars debate what the lady is saying. Was she using a military term to say he planted his flag like soldiers raise a banner that distinguishes their unit from others? Other scholars say the phrase means the man’s intentions were loving, or that he gave her a loving glance. But to others, it sounds like he gave her more than that, which she seemed to enjoy.
What she’s asking of the ladies in Jerusalem isn’t all that clear. Some say she’s advising them not to rush into falling in love, but rather to wait until the time is right. Others say she’s giving them a “Do Not Disturb” sign, and telling them not to rattle the pans to wake this lover up and end her wonderful night. That could make more sense to some than the idea that the love-aggressive lady is telling others not to be so aggressive. From the sounds of this poem so far, the lady has been nothing but aggressive.
The poet might not have been comparing the lady in love to God, but the scene is reminiscent of a request Moses made to see the face of God. God said no human can see his face and survive. But he had Moses hide “in the cleft of the rock” (Exodus 33:22, New American Standard Bible) while God walked past him. Moses saw only the back of God.
The scholarly consensus about his verse is “Huh?” The verse seems like it came from another song or belongs somewhere else in this one. Maybe after the honeymoon when the bride is complaining that her husband isn’t getting his chores done.
She’s the lily of the valley, Proverbs 2:1. It’s almost as though she’s saying, “When he needs to graze his flock, if you know what I mean.” The implication, many scholars agree, is that she’s talking about lovemaking.
She calls the mountains Bether, which remain a mystery. Many scholars say they think she was talking about her breasts. And in this context of waking up in the morning in the middle of a love song, it might seem like a fair guess, some would agree.