“Awake, O north! Come, O south! Breathe my garden, let my spices flow.”

“Flow” ( nazal ) is what fluids do, water especially. It takes a massive blast from God’s nostrils to make the “flow” stand upright (Exodus 15:8). Ice melts and begins to flow (Judges 5:5), and clouds flow down with rain (Job 36:28). A flow of water came from the rock (Psalm 78:16) after Yahweh turned the flow of Egypt to blood (Psalm 78:44).

In the Song of Songs, though, spices flow, and spices blow because of the breath of the wind. At least we can say this: The garden of Song of Songs 4:16 is a new Eden, from which good things flow. We might also say this, paying attention to the north-south axis: The garden is also the temple, with the northward flow of light from the lampstand, and the southward flow of bread and frankincense from the table. And we can also say this: North is the direction from which invaders come; South is the direction to which Israel goes into captivity. Israel is set between invasion and enslavement, between north and south, but the fragrant flow from teh garden of Israel will take the scents of the Bride north and south.

Articles by Peter J. Leithart