Song of Songs

JB SONG OF SONGS Chapter 1

TITLE AND PROLOGUE

1:1 The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.

THE BRIDE

1:2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth. Your love is more delightful than wine;

1:3 delicate is the fragrance of your perfume, your name is an oil poured out, and that is why the maidens love you.

1:4 Draw me in your footsteps, let us run. The King has brought me into his rooms; you will be our joy and our gladness. We shall praise your love above wine; how right it is to love you.

FIRST POEM

THE BRIDE

1:5 I am black but lovely, daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the pavilions of Salmah,

1:6 Take no notice of my swarthiness, it is the sun that has burnt me. My mother’s sons turned their anger on me, they made me look after the vineyards. Had I only looked after my own!

1:7 Tell me then, you whom my heart loves: Where will you lead your flock to graze, where will you rest it at noon? That I may no more wander like a vagabond beside the flocks of your companions.

THE CHORUS

1:8 If you do not know this, O loveliest of women, follow the tracks of the flock, and take your kids to graze close by the shepherds’ tents.

THE BRIDEGROOM

1:9 To my mare harnessed to Pharaoh’s chariot I compare you, my love.

1:10 Your cheeks show fair between their pendants and your neck within its necklaces.

1:11 We shall make you golden earrings and beads of silver.

DIALOGUE OF THE BRIDE AND BRIDEGROOM

1:12 – While the King rests in his own room my nard yields its perfume.

1:13 My Beloved is a sachet of myrrh lying between my breasts.

1:14 My Beloved is a cluster of henna flowers among the vines of Engedi.

1:15 – How beautiful you are, my love, how beautiful you are! Your eyes are doves.

1:16 – How beautiful you are, my Beloved, and how delightful! All green is our bed.

1:17 – The beams of our house are of cedar, the panelling of cypress.

JB SONG OF SONGS Chapter 2

2:1 – I am the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valleys.

2:2 – As a lily among the thistles, so is my love among the maidens.

2:3 – As an apple tree among the trees of the orchard, so is my Beloved among the young men. In his longed-for shade I am seated and his fruit is sweet to my taste.

2:4 He has taken me to his banquet hall, and the banner he raises over me is love.

2:5 Feed me with raisin cakes, restore me with apples, for I am sick with love.

2:6 His left arm is under my head, his right embraces me.

2:7 – I charge you, daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles, by the hinds of the field, not to stir my love, nor rouse it, until it please to awake.

SECOND POEM

THE BRIDE

2:8 I hear my Beloved. See how he comes leaping on the mountains, bounding over the hills.

2:9 My Beloved is like a gazelle, like a young stag. See where he stands behind our wall. He looks in at the window, he peers through the lattice.

2:10 My Beloved lifts up his voice, he says to me, ‘Come then, my love, my lovely one, come.

2:11 For see, winter is past, the rains are over and gone.

2:12 The flowers appear on the earth. The season of glad songs has come, the cooing of the turtledove is heard in our land.

2:13 The fig tree is forming its first figs and the blossoming vines give out their fragrance. Come then, my love, my lovely one, come.

2:14 My dove, hiding in the clefts of the rock, in the coverts of the cliff, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet and your face is beautiful.’

2:15 Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that make havoc of the vineyards, for our vineyards are in flower.

2:16 My Beloved is mine and I am his. He pastures his flock among the lilies.

2:17 Before the dawn-wind rises, before the shadows flee, return! Be, my Beloved, like a gazelle, a young stag, on the mountains of the covenant.

JB SONG OF SONGS Chapter 3

3:1 On my bed, at night, I sought him whom my heart loves. I sought but did not find him.

3:2 So I will rise and go through the City; in the streets and the squares I will seek him whom my heart loves. … I sought but did not find him.

3:3 The watchmen came upon me on their rounds in the City: ‘Have you seen him whom my heart loves?’

3:4 Scarcely had I passed them than I found him whom my heart loves. I held him fast, nor would I let him go till I had brought him into my mother’s house, into the room of her who conceived me.

THE BRIDEGROOM

3:5 I charge you, daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles, by the hinds of the field, not to stir my love, nor rouse it, until it please to awake.

THIRD POEM

3:6 What is this coming up from the desert like a column of smoke, breathing of myrrh and frankincense and every perfume the merchant knows?

3:7 See, it is the litter of Solomon. Around it are sixty champions, the flower of the warriors of Israel;

3:8 all of them skilled swordsmen, veterans of battle. Each man has his sword at his side, against alarms by night.

3:9 King Solomon has made himself a throne of wood from Lebanon.

3:10 The posts he has made of silver, the canopy of gold, the seat of purple; the back is inlaid with ebony.

3:11 Daughters of Zion, come and see King Solomon, wearing the diadem with which his mother crowned him on his wedding day, on the day of his heart’s joy.

JB SONG OF SONGS Chapter 4

THE BRIDEGROOM

4:1 How beautiful you are, my love, how beautiful you are! Your eyes, behind your veil, are doves; your hair is like a flock of goats frisking down the slopes of Gilead.

4:2 Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes as they come up from the washing. Each one has its twin, not one unpaired with another.

4:3 Your lips are a scarlet thread and your words enchanting. Your cheeks, behind your veil, are halves of pomegranate.

4:4 Your neck is the tower of David built as a fortress, hung round with a thousand bucklers, and each the shield of a hero.

4:5 Your two breasts are two fawns, twins of a gazelle, that feed among the lilies.

4:6 Before the dawn-wind rises, before the shadows flee, I will go to the mountain of myrrh, to the hill of frankincense.

4:7 You are wholly beautiful, my love, and without a blemish.

4:8 Come from Lebanon, my promised bride, come from Lebanon, come on your way. Lower your gaze, from the heights of Amana, from the crests of Senir and Hermon, the haunt of lions, the mountains of leopards.

4:9 You ravish my heart, my sister,[*a] my promised bride, you ravish my heart with a single one of your glances, with one single pearl of your necklace.

4:10 What spells lie in your love, my sister, my promised bride! How delicious is your love, more delicious than wine! How fragrant your perfumes, more fragrant than all other spices!

4:11 Your lips, my promised one, distil wild honey. Honey and milk are under your tongue; and the scent of your garments is like the scent of Lebanon.

4:12 She is a garden enclosed, my sister, my promised bride; a garden enclosed, a sealed fountain.

4:13 Your shoots form an orchard of pomegranate trees, the rarest essences are yours:

4:14 nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all the incense-bearing trees; myrrh and aloes, with the subtlest odours.

4:15 Fountain that makes the gardens fertile, well of living water, streams flowing down from Lebanon.

THE BRIDE

4:16 Awake, north wind, come, wind of the south! Breathe over my garden, to spread its sweet smell around. Let my Beloved come into his garden, let him taste its rarest fruits.

JB SONG OF SONGS Chapter 5

THE BRIDEGROOM

5:1 I come into my garden, my sister, my promised bride, I gather my myrrh and balsam, I eat my honey and my honeycomb, I drink my wine and my milk. Eat, friends, and drink, drink deep, my dearest friends.

FOURTH POEM

THE BRIDE

5:2 I sleep, but my heart is awake. I hear my Beloved knocking. ‘Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one, for my head is covered with dew, my locks with the drops of night.’

5:3 – ‘I have taken off my tunic, am I to put it on again? I have washed my feet, am I to dirty them again?’

5:4 My Beloved thrust his hand through the hole in the door; I trembled to the core of my being.

5:5 Then I rose to open to my Beloved, myrrh ran off my hands, pure myrrh off my fingers, on to the handle of the bolt.

5:6 I opened to my Beloved, but he had turned his back and gone! My soul failed at his flight. I sought him but I did not find him, I called to him but he did not answer.

5:7 The watchmen came upon me as they made their rounds in the City. They beat me, they wounded me, they took away my cloak, they who guard the ramparts.

5:8 I charge you, daughters of Jerusalem, if you should find my Beloved, what must you tell him…? That I am sick with love.

THE CHORUS

5:9 What makes your Beloved better than other lovers, O loveliest of women? What makes your Beloved better than other lovers, to give us a charge like this?

THE BRIDE

5:10 My Beloved is fresh and ruddy, to be known among ten thousand.

5:11 His head is golden, purest gold, his locks are palm fronds and black as the raven.

5:12 His eyes are doves at a pool of water, bathed in milk, at rest on a pool.

5:13 His cheeks are beds of spices, banks sweetly scented. His lips are lilies, distilling pure myrrh.

5:14 His hands are golden, rounded, set with jewels of Tarshish. His belly a block of ivory covered with sapphires.

5:15 His legs are alabaster columns set in sockets of pure gold. His appearance is that of Lebanon, unrivalled as the cedars.

5:16 His conversation is sweetness itself, he is altogether lovable. Such is my Beloved, such is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.

JB SONG OF SONGS Chapter 6

THE CHORUS

6:1 Where did your Beloved go, O loveliest of women? Which way did your Beloved turn so that we can help you to look for him?

THE BRIDE

6:2 My Beloved went down to his garden, to the beds of spices, to pasture his flock in the gardens and gather lilies.

6:3 I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine. He pastures his flock among the lilies.

FIFTH POEM

THE BRIDEGROOM

6:4 You are beautiful as Tirzah, my love, fair as Jerusalem.

6:5 Turn your eyes away, for they hold me captive. Your hair is like a flock of goats frisking down the slopes of Gilead.

6:6 Your teeth are like a flock of sheep as they come up from the washing. Each one has its twin, not one unpaired with another.

6:7 Your cheeks, behind your veil, are halves of pomegranate.

6:8 There are sixty queens and eighty concubines (and countless maidens).

6:9 But my dove is unique, mine, unique and perfect. She is the darling of her mother, the favourite of the one who bore her. The maidens saw her, and proclaimed her blessed, queens and concubines sang her praises:

6:10 ‘Who is this arising like the dawn, fair as the moon, resplendent as the sun, terrible as an army with banners?’

6:11 I went down to the nut orchard to see what was sprouting in the valley, to see if the vines were budding and the pomegranate trees in flower.

6:12 Before I knew … my desire had hurled me on the chariots of my people, as their prince.

JB SONG OF SONGS Chapter 7

THE CHORUS

7:1 Return, return, O maid of Shulam, return; return, that we may gaze on you!

THE BRIDEGROOM

Why do you gaze on the maid of Shulam dancing as though between two rows of dancers?

7:2 How beautiful are your feet in their sandals, O prince’s daughter! The curve of your thighs is like the curve of a necklace, work of a master hand.

7:3 Your navel is a bowl well rounded with no lack of wine, your belly a heap of wheat surrounded with lilies.

7:4 Your two breasts are two fawns, twins of a gazelle.

7:5 Your neck is an ivory tower. Your eyes, the pools of Heshbon, by the gate of Bath-rabbim. Your nose, the Tower of Lebanon, sentinel facing Damascus.

7:6 Your head is held high like Carmel, and its plaits are as dark as purple; a king is held captive in your tresses.

7:7 How beautiful you are, how charming, my love, my delight!

7:8 In stature like the palm tree, its fruit-clusters your breasts.

7:9 ‘I will climb the palm tree,’ I resolved, ‘I will seize its clusters of dates.’ May your breasts be clusters of grapes, your breath sweet-scented as apples,

7:10 your speaking, superlative wine.

THE BRIDE

Wine flowing straight to my Beloved, as it runs on the lips of those who sleep.

7:11 I am my Beloved’s, and his desire is for me.

7:12 Come, my Beloved, let us go to the fields. We will spend the night in the villages,

7:13 and in the morning we will go to the vineyards. We will see if the vines are budding, if their blossoms are opening, if the pomegranate trees are in flower. Then I shall give you the gift of my love.

7:14 The mandrakes yield their fragrance,[*a] the rarest fruits are at our doors; the new as well as the old, I have stored them for you, my Beloved.

JB SONG OF SONGS Chapter 8

8:1 Ah, why are you not my brother, nursed at my mother’s breast! Then if I met you out of doors, I could kiss you without people thinking ill of me.

8:2 I should lead you, I should take you into my mother’s house, and you would teach me! I should give you spiced wine to drink, juice of my pomegranates.

8:3 His left arm is under my head and his right embraces me.

THE BRIDEGROOM

8:4 I charge you, daughters of Jerusalem, not to stir my love, nor rouse it, until it please to awake.

CONCLUSION

THE CHORUS

8:5 Who is this coming up from the desert leaning on her Beloved?

THE BRIDEGROOM

I awakened you under the apple tree, there where your mother conceived you, there where she who gave birth to you conceived you.

8:6 Set me like a seal on your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is strong as Death, jealousy relentless as Sheol.[*a] The flash of it is a flash of fire, a flame of Yahweh himself.

8:7 Love no flood can quench, no torrents drown.

APPENDICES

Aphorism of a sage

Were a man to offer all the wealth of his house to buy love, contempt is all he would purchase.

Two epigrams[*b]

8:8 Our sister is little: her breasts are not yet formed. What shall we do for our sister on the day she is spoken for?

8:9 If she is a rampart, on the crest we will build a battlement of silver; if she is a door, we will board her up with planks of cedar.

8:10 – I am a wall, and my breasts represent its towers. And under his eyes I have found true peace.

8:11 Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon. He entrusted it to overseers, and each one was to pay him the value of its produce, a thousand shekels of silver.

8:12 But I look after my own vineyard myself. You, Solomon, may have your thousand shekels, and those who oversee its produce their two hundred.

Final additions

8:13 You[*c] who dwell in the gardens, my companions listen for your voice; deign to let me hear it.

8:14 Haste away, my Beloved. Be like a gazelle, a young stag, on the spicy mountains.[*d]

END OF JB SONG OF SONGS [8 Chapters].

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