Song of Songs 1


שִׁיר הַשִּׁירִים אֲשֶׁר לִשְׁלֹמֹה׃   1:1

Song 1:1   A song of the songs that are of Solomon:

In my opinion this book (rated PG-13, in my movie-centered view) is a passionate love duet sung by God and Israel (or possibly the land of Israel, which is normally referred to in the feminine gender).  As a result, you will see capitalization of pronouns that I assume relate to God.  Most verses can be attributed to one or the other of the two parties.  But there may be some verses in which one part is God’s and the other is Israel’s.  I will attempt to point out where I believe these instances occur.  Among the numerous commentaries on this book, there are multiple opinions, all of which are no more supported than by the commentators’ whim, desire, or also possibly by divine guidance.  None cites or emphasizes the alleged evidence I have found throughout the chapters of this book.  I believe my interpretation (also, by the way, the interpretation of many sages and scholars) because I see no other reason for the book’s inclusion in the bible.

Incidentally, a story is related in the literature of a damsel from Shulem who is purported to have undergone some of the events alluded to in this book.  But I see this story as a myth, concocted or resurrected in order to interpret this book as having a true background involving humans.                                        [Return to Song 7:1]

יִשָּׁקֵנִי מִנְּשִׁיקוֹת פִּיהוּ כִּי־טוֹבִים דֹּדֶיךָ מִיָּיִן׃   1:2

Song 1:2   May He kiss me out of the kisses of His “mouth!”

                              For Your loving gestures are better than wine.

You see here Israel hungering for the love of the Lord.  As happens often in the bible, the person changes abruptly but usually temporarily; in the first part of the verse God is mentioned in the third person, but in the second part, He is addressed in the second person.

לְרֵיחַ שְׁמָנֶיךָ טוֹבִים שֶׁמֶן תּוּרַק שְׁמֶךָ עַל־כֵּן עֲלָמוֹת אֲהֵבוּךָ׃   1:3

Song 1:3   Your pleasant ointments are of the fragrance of the oil of Your name

                              You would pour down;

                     because of this maidens love You.

The grammar of the first six Hebrew words of this verse is rather convoluted, inspiring various (mis)translations.  My translation comes as close as possible to the meaning that might have been intended.  And the maidens mentioned here may be an allusion to other nations or lands.  More likely, they are the people of the land of Israel.

מָשְׁכֵנִי אַחֲרֶיךָ נָּרוּצָה הֱבִיאַנִי הַמֶּלֶךְ חֲדָרָיו נָגִילָה וְנִשְׂמְחָה בָּךְ נַזְכִּירָה דֹדֶיךָ מִיַּיִן מֵישָׁרִים אֲהֵבוּךָ׃   1:4

Song 1:4   Draw me up!  We will run after You.

                             The King brings me near His chambers.

                    We will be glad and rejoice in You.

                              We will mention Your love more than wine.

                     The upright love You.

Here we have one of the main pieces of evidence for this being a duet between God and Israel:  The use of the plural feminine pronoun We that relates to the earthly lover three times in this verse.  How could this be a love song by two earthly people if there is more than one as the female lover.  I suppose this could be possible when applied to Solomon, but please reserve judgment.  Another pertinent piece of evidence in this verse is the statement The upright love You.

שְׁחוֹרָה אֲנִי וְנָאוָה בְּנוֹת יְרוּשָׁלִָם כְּאָהֳלֵי קֵדָר כִּירִיעוֹת שְׁלֹמֹה׃   1:5

Song 1:5   I am dark but beautiful, daughters of Jerusalem,

                              as the tents of Kedar,

                    as the curtains of Solomon.

One of Solomon’s dark female lovers might be Sheba.  But please continue to reserve judgment.

אַל־תִּרְאוּנִי שֶׁאֲנִי שְׁחַרְחֹרֶת שֶׁשֱּׁזָפַתְנִי הַשָּׁמֶשׁ בְּנֵי אִמִּי נִחֲרוּ־בִי שָׂמֻנִי נֹטֵרָה אֶת־הַכְּרָמִים כַּרְמִי  1:6

 שֶׁלִּי לֹא נָטָרְתִּי׃

Song 1:6   Do not perceive me that I am swarthy,

                              as the sun has tanned me.

                    The children of my Mother were angry with me;

                              they set me to maintain the vineyards.

                     My vineyard that was mine I did not keep.

Okay, now this doesn’t sound like the queen of Sheba.  This sounds as if it could be more like Israel and possibly its neighbors, or also possibly the priesthood.  The Mother mentioned is most likely God, who birthed Israel.  Notice the last part:  “My vineyard that was mine I did not keep.”  If this verse is spoken by Israel as I assume, it would mean that Israel was perceived as not taking care of its own vineyard.  I suspect the vineyard may be an allusion to the Torah commandments.  If this is so, then the other vineyards may refer to the pagan rituals of which many of the Israelites were quite fond.

הַגִּידָה לִּי שֶׁאָהֲבָה נַפְשִׁי אֵיכָה תִרְעֶה אֵיכָה תַּרְבִּיץ בַּצָּהֳרָיִם שַׁלָּמָה אֶהְיֶה כְּעֹטְיָה עַל עֶדְרֵי   1:7


Song 1:7   He Whom my soul loves, tell me where You will feed,

                              where You will make to lie down at midday.

                    How could I be like a mourner

                              around the flocks of Your worshipers?

God is feeding His flocks and resting them at noon.  The two last lines provide another piece of the evidence.

אִם־לֹא תֵדְעִי לָךְ הַיָּפָה בַּנָּשִׁים צְאִי־לָךְ בְּעִקְבֵי הַצֹּאן וּרְעִי אֶת־גְּדִיֹּתַיִךְ עַל מִשְׁכְּנוֹת הָרֹעִים׃   1:8

Song 1:8   Surely you must know yourself,

                              she who is the fairest among women;

                     go out yourself in the footsteps of the sheep

                              and feed your young by the dwelling places of the shepherds.

This verse and the next three are the first of the Lord’s responses.

לְסֻסָתִי בְּרִכְבֵי פַרְעֹה דִּמִּיתִיךְ רַעְיָתִי׃   1:9

Song 1:9   I compare you, My mate, to a mare with the chariots of Pharoah.

נָאווּ לְחָיַיִךְ בַּתֹּרִים צַוָּארֵךְ בַּחֲרוּזִים׃   1:10

Song 1:10   Your cheeks are beautiful in circlets,

                              your neck with beads.

Most bibles have for the third Hebrew word something like earrings, or rows of jewels.  I believe the correct translation is circlets and I believe it refers to the hair around the face.

תּוֹרֵי זָהָב נַעֲשֶׂה־לָּךְ עִם נְקֻדּוֹת הַכָּסֶף׃   1:11

Song 1:11   We will fashion braids of gold for you with studs of silver.

עַד־שֶׁהַמֶּלֶךְ בִּמְסִבּוֹ נִרְדִּי נָתַן רֵיחוֹ׃   1:12

Song 1:12   While it is that the King is at His table,

                              my spikenard produces its fragrance.

The spikenard is a pungent aromatic plant imported from the far east.  This is Israel again.

צְרוֹר הַמֹּר דּוֹדִי לִי בֵּין שָׁדַי יָלִין׃   1:13

Song 1:13   My Beloved is the Pouch of myrrh to me;

                              between my breasts It shall abide.

אֶשְׁכֹּל הַכֹּפֶר דּוֹדִי לִי בְּכַרְמֵי עֵין גֶּדִי׃   1:14

Song 1:14   My Beloved is the Cluster of henna to me

                              in the vineyards of Ein-gedi.

הִנָּךְ יָפָה רַעְיָתִי הִנָּךְ יָפָה עֵינַיִךְ יוֹנִים׃   1:15

Song 1:15   Behold, you are beautiful, My beloved companion;

                              behold, you are beautiful.  Your eyes are of doves!

These final three verses are the words of the Lord again.

הִנְּךָ יָפֶה דֹודִי אַף נָעִים אַף־עַרְשֵׂנוּ רַעֲנָנָה׃   1:16

Song 1:16   Behold, you are beautiful, My beloved, indeed delightful;

                              also Our couch is luxuriant;

קֹרֹות בָּתֵּינוּ אֲרָזִים (רַחִיטֵנוּ) [רַהִיטֵנוּ] בְּרֹותִים׃   1:17

Song 1:17   the beams of Our houses are of cedars,

                              Our rafters, of cypresses.

The word in the parentheses, which I translate as Our rafters, should be spelled with a heh and not a chet.  The correction is in the brackets.  However, the word is spelled as singular and should be plural, but that correction (of the addition of a yad), was not made.


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