Under Cover

“Let us spend the night in the villages,” says the Bride to her lover in Song of Songs 7:11b. “Villages” is kefariym , from kapar , to cover in the sense of atonement. Lexicons tell us that the word is used for “village” in 1 Chronicles 27:25, which may be the . . . . Continue Reading »

Captured king

Most English translations render Song 7:5c as “The king is captivated by your tresses.” “Captivated” is not a felicitous translation, since the “capture” embedded in the word has been largely lost. The king might be captivated, but the Hebrew says that he is . . . . Continue Reading »

Eyes by the gate

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 . . . . Continue Reading »

Neglecting my vineyard

The Bride of the Song is blackened by the sun, and she is in the sun because she has been forced to care for the vineyards by her angry brothers and has neglected her own vineyard. This is often taken as an allegory of Israel’s neglect of her calling. Instead of cultivating the vineyard of . . . . Continue Reading »

Choice things

“Precious” ( meged ) is used in only two books of the Old Testament. in Deuteronomy 33, it is used five times in Moses’ blessing on Joseph. It is used three times in the Song (4:13, 16; 7:13). In Deuteronomy 33, the adjective is used as a noun four time (“precious . . . . Continue Reading »

From the Garden

“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 . . . . Continue Reading »

Awakening Spirit

“Awake, O north! Come, O south! Breathe my garden!” The Bride needs to awaken the wind, which appears to be sleeping, not getting to the job of wafting out fragrance. What happens when the Wind gets going? Israel is carried on eagle’s wings from Egypt (Deuteronomy 32:11). Deborah . . . . Continue Reading »


The letter to the Laodiceans clearly ends with an allusion to teh Song of Songs. Jesus knocks and seeks entry to the Bridal chamber of the church, where he will sup with His Bride, sup on His Bride (Revelation 3:20). As almost everyone notices, that reaches back to Song of Songs 5:1, the . . . . Continue Reading »

My garden, his garden

The sequence of Song of Songs 4:16 is significant. The verse begins with an invocation to the winds. The Bride awakens the north wind and invites the south wind, and these winds breathe out ( haphiychiy , from puach , which rhymes with ruach ) the fragrances of the garden. Wind blows from the north . . . . Continue Reading »

Eros & Agape

In his 2005 Christmas encyclical, Deus caritas est , Benedict XVI explains why love has to be understood as both eros and agape , as ascending and descending love. He notes early on that the Bible rarely uses the word eros , arguing that “the tendency to avoid the word eros , together with . . . . Continue Reading »