The bride’s eyes are like “pools in Heshbon, beside the gate of Bath-rabbim” (Song 7:4). Eyes are for inspection, organs of judgment. These are watery eyes that are like pools, and so there is a hint of a water-ordeal. And the eyes are like pools beside the gates, watching to see who enters.

The church fathers are not wrong to see here a suggestion of baptismal entry into the city of the church, baptismal passage under the scrutiny of the Lord’s eyes, the eyes that burn with fire.

That these pools are beside the gate of Heshbon reinforces the imagery, since Heshbon was the city of Sihon, one of the first cities conquered by Joshua. To pass between the eye-pools of Heshbon is to enter the land of promise.

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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