The power of love (Song 8:5-8:7)

Male lover

“Under the apple tree I awakened you.

There your mother was in labor with you.

There she who bore you was in labor.

Set me as a seal upon your heart.

Set me as a seal upon your arm.

Love is as strong as death.

Passion is as fierce as the grave.

Its flashes are flashes of fire.

It is a raging flame.

Many waters cannot quench love.

Neither can floods drown it.

If one offered for love

All the wealth of one’s house,

It would be utterly scorned.”

The male lover woke his lover up under the apple tree. He maintains that it was there that she was born from the labor of her mother. Now he wants his lover to bear his seal on her heart and on her arm. The seal was a sense of ownership. Then he went on to talk about the power of love. Love is just as strong as death. Passion is just as fierce as the grave. The love flashes of fire become a raging flame that no water can quench. Not even a flood can drown out love. If someone offers all the wealth they had, the lover would scorn it for his true love.

Restraint (Song 8:4-8:4)

Male lover

“I adjure you!

O daughters of Jerusalem!

Do not stir up love!

Do not awaken love

Until it is ready!”

The male lover responds as he did in chapters 2 and 3 by asking that the daughters of Jerusalem keep him from his lover until the right time, until her love is ready. Love should simmer and sleep. Then it awakens. However, here there is no mention of gazelles or wild does. He is swearing or adjuring to the daughters of Jerusalem to hold him back from his desires.

The effect of the female lover (Song 7:6-7:9)

Male lover

“How fair you are!

How pleasant you are!

O loved one!

Delectable maiden!

You are stately as a palm tree.

Your breasts are like its clusters.

I say

I will climb the palm tree.

I will lay hold of its branches.

O may your breasts be

Like clusters of the vine!

The scent of your breath is like apples.

Your kisses are

Like the best wine

That goes down smoothly.

They glide over my lips and teeth.”

What has been the effect of this female lover on the male lover? We find that he saw her as fair, pleasant, and delectable. She appeared stately as a palm tree. Then he went into an elaborate description of her breasts that were like clusters of a palm tree, not like gazelles or fawns. He wanted to climb this palm tree and grab hold of its branches, her breasts. He wanted her breasts to be like clusters in a vineyard. Then he went on to talk about her apple scented breath. He proclaimed that her kisses were sweeter than wine. They were in fact the best wine that went done smoothly over his lips and teeth. Certainly this was a vivid graphic description of how he perceived his lover.

The uniqueness of the female lover (Song 6:8-6:10)

Male lover

“There are sixty queens.

There are eighty concubines.

There are maidens without number.

My dove!

My perfect one is the only one.

She is the darling of her mother.

She is flawless to her that bore her.

The maidens saw her.

They called her happy.

The queens saw her.

The concubines also saw her.

They praised her.

‘Who is this that looks forth like the dawn?

Who is as fair as the moon?

Who is as bright as the sun?

Who is as awesome as an army with banners?’”

Now this male lover or prince compares his lover to 60 queens, 80 concubines, and numerous maidens. Is this the king speaking about his various female companions or the prince speaking about them? His lover is considered better than all of them, since she is the perfect one. She was the flawless darling of her mother. Everyone, the queens, the concubines, and the maidens, seems to praise her. They are all looking forward to her as if she was like the dawn of a new day. She was like the moon and the sun combined. She was going to come with an awesome army of banners.

Description of the female lover (Song 6:4-6:7)

Male lover

“You are as beautiful as Tirzah.

My love!

You are as comely as Jerusalem.

You are as awesome

As an army with banners.

Turn away your eyes from me.

They disturb me.

Your hair is

Like a flock of goats,

Moving down the slopes of Gilead.

Your teeth are

Like a flock of shorn ewes,

That has come up from the washing.

They all bear twins.

Not one among them is bereaved.

Your cheeks are                               

Like halves of a pomegranate,

Behind your veil.”

Once again we have another poem that is pretty much a repeat of the opening of chapter 4. Here the male lover also proclaims the beauty of his lover. However, he compares her to the two capital cities of Judah and Israel, Tirzah in northern Israel, Jerusalem in southern Judah. In fact, he says that she is awesome like an army with banners. Instead of commending her eyes that were like doves, he wants her to turn her eyes away because they disturb him. He repeats what was in chapter 4 about her hair, teeth, and cheeks. However, he does not repeat what he said earlier in chapter 4 about her lips, mouth, neck, and breasts. Once again he talks about her hair being like a flock of goats coming down the mountain of Gilead. These goats were happy twins, while Gilead was east of the Jordan River. Her teeth were like a flock of young sheep that had just been washed. Her cheeks, although covered with the veil, were like half pomegranates, a fruit that was popular in Babylon.

Why him? (Song 5:9-5:9)

Chorus

“What is your beloved

More than another beloved?

O fairest among women!

What is your beloved

More than another beloved?

That you thus adjure us?”

The chorus asks this female lover why she is looking for his particular male lover. What makes him so special? What makes him better than any other men? Why was she appealing to them?