ACT IV Verses 5:2 - 6:9
The Shulamite continues to focus on her shepherd

Scene 1 - The Shulamite recalls another visit from her shepherd.
Verses 5:2 - 6:3

Scene 2 - Solomon continues to woo the Shulamite.
Verses 6:4-9

SCENE 1 - The Shulamite recalls another visit from her shepherd.
Verses 5:2 - 6:3

The curtain opens and once again we are in the living quarters of the daughters of Jerusalem. The Shulamite woman is still occupied with her love for the shepherd and begins to relate an incident when he came to visit her late at night at her home in the country. She is presently absent from the shepherd and longs for his presence. She thus recalls another time when she wanted to be with him and he with her, but because of miscommunication, they did not meet and instead, she was found wandering in the city and was beaten by the guards, who assumed she was a harlot.

(sw) verses 2-8

Verse 2

1. I was asleep, but my heart was awake: she has retired for the night and has begun to dream. As she begins to relate the story, the audience will think that she is telling about a dream, however, she is simply relating the fact that she was asleep and thinking that she was dreaming herself. The visit by the shepherd wakens her from her dream, but she is still quite sleepy and responds very indifferently to his visit.

2. A voice: The word voice is qol in the construct (of) followed by dodi (my beloved). This is the same construction seen at verse 2:8, where Shulamite introduces her story by announcing, "The sound of my beloved." Here it is followed by a participle of the verb for knock, which indicates what the sound is. Even though the shepherd now speaks, it seems more reasonable that she first hears the knocking and then his words.

CT: The sound of my beloved, knocking.

3. Open to me: This refers to the door that is locked.

4. my sister, my darling, my dove, my perfect one: These are terms of affection to indicate the intimate relationship between the two. We must not think that the use of the term sister here, means that it is Solomon again. The term is common enough as an expression of strong affection, and the shepherd has the reality of such a relationship with the Shulamite, while Solomon is presuming. (The use of the term SISTER in a romantic context, is not unusual in this culture. In fact, it communicates an aspect of intimacy -friendship and closeness- that would only be experienced by a brother - or a lover.) The shepherd also uses the word darling (rayAh), which means a very close friend. This word is only used in Song (9 times) and one time at Judges 11:37, where it refers to the close female friends of Jephthah's daughter. It is another common word of affection and once again, communicates the intimate reality between the shepherd and the Shulamite. The term, my dove, communicates affection in the context of the purity, cleanliness and general gentleness of the dove. The term, my perfect one, expresses the speaker's enthrallment with her physical beauty. He sees her as complete or "perfect" in beauty. These terms are all very common and we should not seek to make an identification of the speaker as being the same person when the terms are used. Solomon has used them and will use them again, as at verse 6:9, but that does not mean that Solomon and the shepherd are the same person.

5. For my head is drenched with dew, My locks with the damp of the night: This indicates that it is night time and that there is a lot of moisture in the air. Basically, he says, let me in because I am all wet out here in the night.

Song 5:3, I have taken off my dress, How can I put it on {again?} I have washed my feet, How can I dirty them {again?}:

She is not immediately stirred to see him. She sleepily says I am in bed and I don't want to get up and get my feet dirty again.

Song 5:4,

1. My beloved extended his hand through the opening and my feelings were aroused for him.

The shepherd reaches his hand through the openings in the doorway - perhaps to try to reach the latch or to simply further beckon to her. It is upon seeing this that she wakes up more completely and is excited to see him.

Song 5:5, I arose to open to my beloved; And my hands dripped with myrrh, And my fingers with liquid myrrh, On the handles of the bolt.

She got up to open the door, and her hands were still slippery with the perfumes and oils that she applied to her body at bedtime.

Song 5:6

1. I opened to my beloved, But my beloved had turned away {and} had gone:

When she finally got the door opened, the shepherd had given up and left.

2. My soul went out {to him} as he spoke. I searched for him, but I did not find him; I called him, but he did not answer me.

Her soul was hungry to be with him as he continued to speak and reach through the doorway, but now she was too late in reaching him. She searched and called but to no avail.

Song 5:7, The watchmen who make the rounds in the city found me, They struck me {and} wounded me; The guardsmen of the walls took away my shawl from me.:

While she was out looking for him in the early night hours, she was found by the watchmen of the city. Apparently she was mistaken for a harlot, for there is no other explanation for the abuse they heaped upon her. Her shawl was probably used partly for warmth and partly for a veil, but the guards would see that as a ruse and thinking she was a harlot, would take the shawl away. After being bullied and beaten she was released to wander to her home on her own efforts.

Song 5:8, I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, If you find my beloved, As to what you will tell him: For I am weak from love.

She then expresses herself to the daughters and pleads with them that if they should somehow find the shepherd to tell him that she is weak from her love and longing for him. Concerning "lovesick" see comments at verse 2:5.
Concerning "I adjure," see comments at verse 2:7.

Upon hearing this, they inquire as to his appearance so that they might recognize him. This is further evidence that Solomon is NOT the man in view. She is speaking about someone whom the daughters do not know. If it were Solomon, they would not be asking for a description.

(dj)Song 5:9 "What kind of beloved is your beloved, O most beautiful among women? What kind of beloved is your beloved, That thus you adjure us?"

The daughters inquire in response to the Shulamite's request of them to inform the shepherd, should they find him.

A complete understanding of the description that follows is not necessary for understanding the progress of the play as it is acted out in front of the audience. There is nothing unusual about the imagery that is used; it is common enough for the Hebrew culture of the day.

All the words describe some aspect of his physical appearance until, it appears, we come to the final comment about his mouth being full of sweetness. This seems to have more to do with either the quality of his speech or the quality of his kisses (which Keil and Delitzsch say is "fanciful."). I suggest that the quality of his speech is actually part of a physical description. It thus speaks of a pleasont voice to listen to. Lips at verse 13 relates more to the fragrance of his breath than speech, as the reference to the perfume of myrrh suggests.

(sw)Song 5:10-16

"My beloved is dazzling and ruddy, Outstanding among ten thousond. His head is {like} gold, pure gold; His locks are {like} clusters of dates, {And} black as a raven. His eyes are like doves, Beside streams of water, Bathed in milk, {And} reposed in {their} setting. His cheeks are like a bed of balsam, Banks of sweet-scented herbs; His lips are lilies, Dripping with liquid myrrh. His hands are rods of gold Set with beryl; His abdomen is carved ivory Inlaid with sapphires. His legs are pillars of alabaster Set on pedestals of pure gold; His appearance is like Lebanon, Choice as the cedars. "His mouth is {full of} sweetness. And he is wholly desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem."

Notice the clue at the end of verse 16, that it is indeed, the daughters of Jerusalem who have asked the question of verse 9.

If the reader wants a more detailed discussion about these physical descriptions, one can be found in the Keil and Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary in the section that discusses these verses.

After this physical description, the daughters inquire further about where this man might be found.

(dj)Song 6:1, Where has your beloved gone, O most beautiful among women? Where has your beloved turned, That we may seek him with you?

The idea of seeking him WITH YOU, is simply to indicate their desire to assist her in locating him. Her answer indicates that she knows where he is - or at least, where he should be. It seems that she is unable to get away to look for himself herself, but several of the daughters are willing to find him for her.

This might very well be how he learns of her location and how he is able to come to her rescue at verses 6:10-12.

(sw)Song 6:2-3 "My beloved has gone down to his garden, To the beds of balsam, To pasture {his flock} in the gardens And gather lilies. I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine, He who pastures {his flock} among the lilies."

After telling the daughters where the shepherd is located, she then once again echoes her devotion to him and the mutual devotion that he has for her. It almost seems to be a statement that when he finds out where she is that their mutual devotion to each other will move him to come to her rescue.

This ends scene I.

(sol)Verses 6:4-9

This scene opens again in the living quarters of the daughters of Jerusalem and Solomon is once again present and attempting to woo the Shulamite to embrace his advances. He again uses images that are familiar and impressive to him in order to praise her and flatter her into acceptance of his advances.
Solomon is the only one who speaks in this scene.

Most of the descriptions do not need to be discussed, and as I suggested earlier, other sources can be found to supply the details.

Song 6:4-5a, You are as beautiful as Tirzah, my darling, As lovely as Jerusalem, As awesome as an army with banners. Turn your eyes away from me, For they have confused me;

The verb, confused, in the NASB, is rendered as overwhelmed in the NIV, and as overcome in the KJV. The Hebrew verb is rAhabh and in the qal stem (only 2 times), it means to press arrogantly against someone as at Isaiah 3:5. However, at Proverbs 6:3, it means to press persistently upon someone for mercy as an importunity when you are financially indebted to him, "go humble yourself and importune your neighbor." In the hiphil stem, it means to press upon someone in an intimidating manner. What we find here is a hiphil perfect to indicate the past and present DISARMING affect that these beautiful, awesome eyes have upon Solomon when the Shulamite looks at him. The word, confused, is not the best rendering here, since it is not likely that Solomon is confused about his feelings for her. He is however confused about how she feels about him, but that is not what he is talking about. He is saying that the beauty of her eyes is such that when she looks at him, he is so totally enthralled with them that he just MELTS. Why then tell her to look away? I suggest that he becomes so adoringly focused on her beauty at such a time, that he is reduced to a WHIMPERING PUPPY who becomes VULNERABLE to impetuous and unguarded actions. So, in essence, he is not really telling her to look away, but would rather have her looking upon him forever. It is almost as though he cannot endure the piercing beauty of her eyes, and yet longs for her look none the less. It is like telling her to turn her eyes away - and then - no, please don't.

The better translation then, is as with the NIV, "overwhelmed."

What follows is almost exact repetition of what Solomon has said before in his praise of the Shulamite's physical beauty (Song 1:15; 4:1-5).

Song 6:5b-7, Your hair is like a flock of goats That have descended from Gilead. Your teeth are like a flock of ewes Which have come up from {their} washing, All of which bear twins, And not one among them has lost her young. Your temples are like a slice of a pomegranate Behind your veil.

The reason for such repetition can only be speculative, however, the general character of Solomon and the demeaning opinion he has of women should help us determine it. Solomon is a womanizer who thinks that women are THINGS to be collected and used for his own pleasure. He also thinks that all women are totally in awe of him and cannot wait to be the object of his affections, and that they are easily swayed by the flattery of praising their physical beauty. With this in mind, Solomon's repetition of what was earlier spoken is simply a reflection of his own arrogance and stupidity. Apparently he thinks that by heaping this continuous barrage of praise upon her, he can direct her focus away from her shepherd lover and toward himself. Many of the women of that day (and perhaps in any age) would be responsive and receptive to such empty praise, however, being repetitive and unsolicited, it becomes intrusive, presumptive and even insipid to the Shulamite, a woman of integrity and emotional stability.

Song 6:8 "There are sixty queens and eighty concubines, And maidens without number;

Solomon continues his praise by comparing the Shulamite to the rest of his harem. Obviously, the number mentioned is not the final result of Solomon's womanizing hobby, since that final number is summarized as 700 wives and 300 concubines at I Kings 11:3. This simply indicates that this encounter with the Shulamite occurs at a time in Solomon's earlier years. Another very important factor that is deduced from this verse (which has been mentioned earlier) is that Solomon is quite polygamous at the time that he is pursuing the Shulamite, and he cannot possibly be seen as demonstrating any masculine integrity or serving as any kind of example for genuine romantic love and courtship.

Song 6:9a, {But} my dove, my perfect one, is unique: She is her mother's only {daughter;} She is the pure {child} of the one who bore her.

Here, he epitomizes the Shulamite as having greater beauty and uniqueness than any of the other women he has ever known.

Song 6:9b, The maidens saw her and called her blessed,

Solomon is aware of how the maidens feel toward the Shulamite and relates that here in an attempt to further attract her to join the harem. The verb for blessed, is Ashar and occurs as a piel perfect, which means to pronounce someone as happy, or to recognize someone as happy. These maidens recognize within the Shulamite the genuine inner happiness that comes from maintaining feminine integrity. The idea of being UNDER A BLESSING has meaning only within the context of the Shulamite's own character and happiness. Yes, the maidens have acknowledged her physical beauty over the course of their contact with her (Verse 1:8; 5:9; 6:1), but this word does not directly relate to physical beauty, although, they might be associating her happiness with her own awareness of her beauty, which she has not denied (Verse 1:5).

Song 6:9c, The queens and the concubines {also,} and they praised her, {saying,}

Solomon is also aware of how the queens and concubines feel about the Shulamite. He mentions this as well, thinking perhaps, to totally ease her mind about any personal confrontations with the other women, and woo her into joining them.

But at the end of this verse we have a serious translation error in the NASB. The translation makes it appear that the praise from the queens and concubines follows in verse 10. However, this is not consistent with the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible, nor in agreement with most authorities. The sentence, the words of Solomon, AND ACT 4 conclude at the end of verse 9. This is supported by the KJV and the NIV as well as the Keil and Delitzsch Commentary (even though that work does not see the story exactly as presented in this commentary).

CT: The maidens saw her and called her happy. The queens and the concubines - and they praised her.

The ACT thus ends with Solomon once again heaping empty praise upon the Shulamite. And perhaps the audience is wondering whether she will persist in resisting such an attractive offer. But ACT 5 opens with a surprise.

Continue to Act V

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