Maiden’s Fanciful Wish
1How I wish that you were my little brother,#Literally “O that he would give you like a brother to me”#The Hebrew construction (which is somewhat misleading if rendered in a woodenly literal sense) is an idiom expressing one’s fanciful wish
who nursed upon my mother’s breasts!#Literally “at the breast of my mother”
If I met you outside,#Literally “I will find you in the street” I would kiss you,
and no one would despise me!#Literally “also they would not despise me”
2I would surely bring you#Literally “I would lead you and I would bring you”#The combination of the two verbs creates a hendiadys which may be rendered more cogently as “I would surely bring you …” to the house of my mother,
who would surely teach me;#Literally “she will teach me”
I would give you spiced wine to drink,#Literally “I would give you to drink from the wine of the spice”
the sweet wine#Or “juice” of my pomegranates.#The traditional Hebrew reads the singular “my pomegranate.” However, the plural reading “my pomegranates” is attested in numerous medieval Hebrew manuscripts and is reflected in the ancient versions (Greek Septuagint, Aramaic Targum, Syriac Peshitta). The latter makes the most sense in this context as a euphemistic description of the maiden’s delights
Double Refrain: Embrace and Adjuration
3His left hand is under my head,
and his right hand embraces#Or “embraced” me.
4I adjure you, O maidens of Jerusalem,#Literally “O daughters of Jerusalem”
do not#Or “Why must you … before it pleases?” arouse or awaken love until it pleases!#Or “Do not stir up or awaken the love until it is willing,” or “Do not disturb or interrupt our lovemaking until it is satisfied”
Up from the Wilderness and under the Apple Tree
5Who is this coming up from the wilderness,
leaning upon her beloved?
Under the apple tree I awakened you;
there your mother conceived you;#Literally “was in labor with you”
there she who was in labor gave birth to you.
The Nature of Genuine Romantic Love
6Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm;
for love is strong as death;
passion is fierce as Sheol;
its flashes are flashes of fire;
it is a blazing flame.
7Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot sweep it away.#Or “and rivers cannot engulf it”
If a man were to give all the wealth of his house for love,#Literally “in the love”
he would be utterly scorned.#Literally “they will utterly scorn him”
Maiden’s Virtuous Chastity and Voluptuous Beauty
8We have a little sister,#Literally “a little sister for us”
and she does not yet have any breasts.#Literally “and there is no breast for her”
What should we do for our sister
on the day when she is betrothed?#Literally “on the day when it is spoken of her”#Or “on the day when she is spoken for”
9If she is a wall,
we will adorn her with a turret of silver;#Literally “we will build upon her a camp of silver”#The term translated “turret” refers to the decorative parapet adorning the top of a building. This image is likely figurative for a silver tiara set upon the head
but if she is a door,
we will barricade her with boards of cedar.#Or “we will enclose her”
10I was a wall, and my breasts were like the towers,
so my betrothed viewed me with great delight.#Literally “then I was in his eyes as one who finds peace”
Solomon’s Vineyard and the Maiden’s Gift
11Solomon had a vineyard#Literally “A vineyard was for Solomon” at Baal-hamon;
he entrusted his vineyard to the keepers;#Literally “he gave the vineyard to the keepers”
people paid a thousand silver pieces for its fruit.#Literally “each one brought a thousand silver pieces for his fruit”
12My own “vineyard” belongs to me;#Literally “My vineyard that for me before my face”
the “thousand” are for you, O Solomon,
and “two hundred” for those who tend its fruit.#Literally “and two hundred for the keepers of his fruit”
Closing Words of Mutual Love
13O you who dwell in the garden,
my companions are listening to your voice.
Let me hear it!
14Flee, my beloved!
Be like a gazelle#Literally “and be like for you to a gazelle” or a young stag#Literally “to the fawn of the stag”
upon the perfumed mountains!#Literally “the mountains of spices”