Lady in love
- 8:1 If only you had been my brother,
Nursed by my mom.
I could have kissed you in front of everyone
And no one have criticized me for it.
- 8:2 I could have taken you by the hand
And led you into the house of my mom,
The one who taught me what I know.
I would have given you some flavored wine
Made from my pomegranates.
- 8:3 Hold me. Put your left hand under my head.
Then hug me with your right hand.
- 8:4 Ladies of Jerusalem, do me a favor.
Swear that you won’t try to rush love.1
- 8:5a We see you coming in from the countryside,
Leaning on your lover’s shoulder.
Who are you?
Lady in love
- 8:5b Remember the shade of that apple2 tree
Where I aroused your passion.
We made love in the very place
Your mother conceived3 you.
- 8:6 Keep me close, like a necklace always near your heart,
Like a ring always near your touch.
Love outmuscles death,
It outlasts the grave.
Love is a flash fire,
Exploding in flames.
- 8:7 The fire of that love will never die.
Floods can’t quench it.
Rivers can’t wash it away.
Money can’t buy it. If you try, offering everything you own,
People will turn on you, and end up hating you for it.
- 8:8 We have a little sister, still a child.
Her breasts haven’t started to develop yet.
What should we do
When someone offers to marry her?
- 8:9 If she’s walled4 off as a virgin, we’ll work to keep her that way.
If she’s an open door, not a virgin, we’ll shut that door right now.
Lady in love
- 8:10 Well, I’m a wall. My breasts are full-grown, twin towers.
So, my lover’s pretty happy about that.
- 8:11 Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon.5
He rented it to workers who managed the crop.
Each renter paid a thousand silver coins.6
- 8:12 But I’ve got my own vineyard.
Solomon can have his thousand shekels.
The workers can have their 200.
Gent in love
- 8:13 Your friends in the garden can hear your voice.
Let me hear it, too.
Lady in love
- 8:14 Get over here, lover. And hurry it up.
Come running like a gazelle, a stag deer.
Climb these mountains where the sweet spice grows.
This is a repeat of her request in 2:7 and 3:5. What she’s asking of the ladies in Jerusalem isn’t all that clear. Some say 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.
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.”
It’s not clear if the Hebrew word hbl refers to conception or to struggling through childbirth. Hebrew was written in shorthand, with consonants only. We have to fill in the vowels, based on context clues from the other words in the section. Depending on which vowels we use, the translation can go either way.
The poet writes in metaphor, using what some scholars say is the word wall, to mean walled off from sexual intercourse. Door the poet seems to use as a metaphor for open doors of sexual activity. So, if this interpretation is right, a woman who’s a wall is a virgin. A woman with an open door is not.
Location uncertain. Some scholars associate it with the city of Hammon (Joshua 19:38), in the tribe of Ashur, along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon. Baal-hamon was also the name of a god from Lebanon.
Shekels. A thousand silver shekels is about 37 pounds (17 kg). Here, some say it seems to refer to Solomon’s 1,000 wives. “He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines” (1 Kings 11:3 New American Standard Version).