1W I am a flower of Sharon,*
a lily of the valleys.
2M Like a lily among thorns,
so is my friend among women.
3W Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods,
so is my lover among men.
In his shadow* I delight to sit,
and his fruit is sweet to my taste.
4a He brought me to the banquet hall*
and his glance at me signaled love.
5b Strengthen me with raisin cakes,*
refresh me with apples,
for I am sick with love.
6c His left hand is under my head
and his right arm embraces me.
7d I adjure you, Daughters of Jerusalem,*
by the gazelles and the does of the field,
Do not awaken, or stir up love
until it is ready.
Her Lover’s Visit Remembered
8W The sound of my lover! here he comes*
springing across the mountains,
leaping across the hills.
9My lover is like a gazelle*
or a young stag.
See! He is standing behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
peering through the lattices.
10My lover speaks and says to me,
M “Arise, my friend, my beautiful one,
11For see, the winter is past,
the rains are over and gone.
12The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of pruning the vines has come,
and the song of the turtledove is heard in our land.
13The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance.
Arise, my friend, my beautiful one,
14My dove in the clefts of the rock,*
in the secret recesses of the cliff,
Let me see your face,
let me hear your voice,
For your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely.”
15W Catch us the foxes,* the little foxes
that damage the vineyards; for our vineyards are in bloom!
16e My lover belongs to me and I to him;
he feeds among the lilies.
17f Until the day grows cool* and the shadows flee,
roam, my lover,
Like a gazelle or a young stag
upon the rugged mountains.
* [2:1] Flower of Sharon: probably the narcissus, which grows in the fertile Plain of Sharon lying between Mount Carmel and Jaffa on the Mediterranean coast. Lily: the lotus plant.
* [2:3] Shadow: suggestive of protection (cf. Jgs 9:15; Ez 17:23; Ps 17:8; 121:5) and, here, of the woman’s joy in the presence of her lover.
* [2:4–6] The banquet hall: the sweet things of the table, the embrace of the woman and man, express the richness of their affection and the intimacy of their love.
* [2:5] Raisin cakes: perhaps pastries used in the worship of the fertility goddess (cf. Hos 3:1; Jer 7:18; 44:19). Apples: this is the common translation of a fruit that cannot be identified (cf. 2:3; 8:5); it appears frequently in Sumerian love poetry associated with the worship of the goddess Inanna. Sick: love-sickness is a popular motif in ancient love poetry.
* [2:7] Cf. 3:5; 5:8; 8:4. By the gazelles and the does: perhaps a mitigated invocation of the divinity based on the assonance in Hebrew of the names of these animals with terms for God.
* [2:8–13] In this sudden change of scene, the woman describes a rendezvous and pictures her lover hastening toward her dwelling until his voice is heard calling her to him.
* [2:9] Gazelle: a frequent motif in ancient poems from Mesopotamia.
* [2:14] The woman is addressed as though she were a dove in a mountain cleft out of sight and reach.
* [2:15] A snatch of song in answer to the request of 2:14; cf. 8:13–14. Foxes: they threaten to disturb the security of vineyards. The vineyards are women sought after by young lovers, i.e., foxes.
* [2:17] Grows cool: in the evening when the sun is going down. Cf. Gn 3:8. Rugged: Hebrew obscure; some interpret it as a geographical name; others, in the sense of spices (cf. 8:14); still others, of sacrifice (Gn 15:10); the image probably refers here to the woman herself.