Verses 6:10-8:4

Scene One: Verses 6:10-7:9

Scene Two: Verses 7:10-8:4


The following scenario is suggested based on the flow of the language. What is certain is that during the scene, the Shulamite leaves on a chariot that came from her home town. The actual STEPS to how that comes about might be different than what I suggest.

The scene opens with the Shulamite sitting in a chariot with a man, as it moves forward onto center stage, approaching the building. From within, perhaps on a porch like structure, a group of the daughters are watching, and Solomon is standing in the background. The chorus draws attention to the Shulamite describing her in language that suggests great joy and excitement.

It is important to note that the chorus describes her as approaching. She has already gone into the garden (verse 11) and already encountered a chariot. She would not be approaching the daughters on foot and then jump into the chariot. It is more reasonable to me, to see her already in the chariot, coming back from the garden, and passing by the daughters as they are assembled on the porch. She then briefly explains how this came about, and then leaves.

(chorus) Song 6:10

1. Who is this: the feminine singular use of the demonstrative pronoun indicates that the chorus is looking at the Shulamite woman and proclaims her praise by describing her beauty in terms that communicate great brightness, purity and magnificence.

(1a) I am aware that this very same construction was used at verse 3:6 (who is this), where it probably refers to the traveling couch of Solomon instead of a person. Review that passage for explanation.

2. that grows like the dawn: This is a niphal participle of the verb shAqaph, which means to lean out or over, sometimes with the idea of looking at something. It is the dawn that leans forward as it grows ever brighter in the morning. The NASB translation reflects this idea with "grows," and the NIV, with "appearing." The KJV, with its "looketh forth as the morning," uses the "sometimes" feature of the definition and actually misses the image that is being portrayed. The picture that is seen is the approach of a chariot with the Shulamite inside. It is slowly drawing near to the daughters of Jerusalem who are watching from the building, perhaps a porch like structure connected to their living quarters. I prefer a translation that communicates this effect, and I think that "approaches" works the best. Thus, "Who is this who approaches like the dawn."

As noted above, the chorus describes her as approaching, which suggests that she has already gone into the garden (verse 11) and already encountered a chariot.

3. As beautiful as the full moon, As pure as the sun: Again, images that describe her physical appearance, but this time, using language that has not been used before. These images not only describe physical beauty, but describe as well the brightness of personality when joy and excitement are reflected.

4. As awesome as an army with banners?: The image was used previously at verse 6:4 when Solomon was describing the Shulamite. It communicates an awesomeness and magnificence similar to an array of bannered soldiers on display. The word awesome, is Ayom, which has a root meaning of terrible and dreadful. At verse 6:4, it communicated such an air of magnificent beauty, that Solomon was totally "disarmed" by her gaze. Here, it communicates the confidence and grandeur of the Shulamite as she rides in one of the chariots from her home town.

(SW)Song 6:11

I went down to the orchard of nut trees To see the blossoms of the valley, To see whether the vine had budded {Or} the pomegranates had bloomed.

The Shulamite briefly explains how she had left the dormitory to visit the gardens. This probably refers to the palace gardens rather than some setting outside the palace grounds. She just wanted to get out into the air and into a "country" environment to take stalk of the season's progress, and to dwell on thoughts of home. The term, "blossoms of the valley," should not take us into a literal valley, but to the kinds of plants that bloomed in her valley, and were also growing in Solomon's gardens (Ecc. 2:4-5).

While she is there one of the chariots from her home town enters into the garden, and quickly, almost without thinking, the strong desire in her soul impels her to jump into the chariot, and there is the shepherd whom she loves. Whether she recognizes him before or after she gets into the chariot is not clear, but that it IS the shepherd is quite clear because the next scene opens with the Shulamite and the shepherd together.


(SW)Song 6:12

Before I was aware, my soul set me {Over}
the chariots of my noble people."

1. Before I was aware: This is an idiom that we use even in English, "Before I knew it . . ." It communicates suddenness and impetuosity, and indicates that it was an emotional reaction to the presence of the chariot OR of the shepherd himself.

2. my soul: This refers to a response from her soul; a strong desire that elicits an impetuous act, which in this case, was to jump on board, and hopefully escape the clutches of Solomon.

3. set me inside: There is no preposition present in this construction, but we must supply it based on context. The verb is sum, which means to set, put, place, and indicates here a change in location or position.

The context suggests that she is IN a chariot, and after explaining herself to the daughters, she leaves in that chariot. Accordingly, the preposition that should be supplied is probably, IN or INSIDE. Thus, "before I knew it, my soul placed me inside the chariots of my people, a noble one."

4. The chariots of my people: This does not mean that there were several chariots there, although that is possible. It does however, indicate the TYPE of chariot is of THOSE that belong to her people.

The translation, "noble people" (as with the NASB), is an option that is really, just as workable as "my people - a noble one."

However, the rendering of the NIV, "royal chariots," is not a valid option since the adjective is singular and the word chariots is plural.

5. A noble one: The adjective could be seen as being set up in apposition with chariots to describe more specifically what happened. However, in that case, since the adjective is singular and not plural, it would refer to a person who was in the chariot rather than the chariot itself, and that person was a noble person. This of course describes the shepherd's nobility of character as he is perceived by the Shulamite, and does not require the idea of royalty.

The word is nAdiybh, which means one who is generous or noble. It speaks of a generosity or a nobility of character that demonstrates integrity.

The Kings James Version sees this adjective directly connected with "my people (Ammi)" and translates it as a personal name, Ammi-nadibh, for which I can find no contextual support. In support of the translation, "a noble one," the Keil and Delitzsch Commentary tells us that the reading "has the preference, not merely because (leaving out of view the proper name Amminadab) wherever im and ndyb are used together they are meant of those who stand prominent above the people, Num. xxi.18, Ps. xlvii.10, cxiii.8, but because this ndyb and bath-nadiybh (daughter of a noble one, in verse 7:2) evidently stand in interchangeable relation." Now although I do not accept their suggested connection to verse 7:2, we both acknowledge the idea that the Shulamite is met by one whom she views as "a noble one." However, whether we take this as "the chariots of my noble people" or "the chariots of my people - a noble one," the primary idea remains, which is that the Shulamite is met by a chariot from her home town and there is someone in the chariot, with whom she leaves.

As soon as the Shulamite explains what has happened, the chariot, with her and her shepherd on board, turns to leave. Upon this, the daughters call out in unison, for her to return to them, but of course, she has no intent to do any such thing.


(dj)Song 6:13a

Come back, come back, O Shulammite;
Come back, come back, that we may gaze at you!"

They have always been pleased with her company; her disposition as well as her physical beauty, and now they are saddened at her departure and would have her back in their company again.

At this point, however, one of those present, a wife, steps forward and rebukes the daughters, suggesting that the Shulamite should not merit their attention.

(queen)Song 6:13b

"Why should you gaze at the Shulammite, As at the dance of the two companies?

Keil and Delitzsch suggest that the first line is spoken by the Shulamite to dissuade the special attention given to her by the daughters, and that the second line is spoken by the daughters, answering, that for her to dance would be as magnificent as the dance of the Mahanaim. However, the Shulamite has already left (thus, "come back, come back") and she would certainly not return to answer a question that is technically answered already by her departure. No, someone else offers this rebuke, and compares their attention to the Shulamite as the attention that one would pay to the dance of the Mahanaim. That person would be one of the many wives who have been somewhat neglected by Solomon's preoccupation with the Shulamite, and expresses her jealousy in this mild rebuke.

Her reference to "the dance of the two companies (NASB)," must refer to something that was a known routine and was quite spectacular in itself.

Keil and Delitzsch take the dance back to the appearance of God's angels to Jacob in Genesis 32:1-2 at the place that he then called Mahanaim, Two Camps. The Hebrew culture is filled with many and varied occasions for both formal and informal festivities and the dancing that would attend them. This is apparently one such example, and upon mentioning the well-known routine, she begins to dance, not so much for the daughters, who perhaps would be thrilled at the opportunity to observe and learn, but also - and perhaps more so, for Solomon who is present, and might be contemplating pursuing the Shulamite. But no, he does not pursue, but finds instead, the dance of this beautiful wife of his, most captivating. The daughters of Jerusalem apparently, instead of watching the dance, continue to gaze after the Shulamite as she slowly rides away. This then is the last we see of Solomon's contact with the Shulamite, and the story will end with the Shulamite and the shepherd together, having resolved the differences with her brothers and preparing to launch their own married life, totally removed from Solomon's lust and lair.

As the chariot moves away, the scene shifts to the porch area where the daughters are assembled, with Solomon now coming closer, as the jealous wife begins to dance the "dance of the Mahanaim," and Solomon shifts focus as well to this beautiful wife who now gets his attention with a very seductive dance routine. The description that follows in verses 7:1-9 is Solomon's observation of the sensual beauty of this wife. It is important at this point to recognize the shift in language since Solomon is now speaking to a sexual partner rather than a woman he is wooing.


(sol)Song 7:1-9a

Song 7:1a

"How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O prince's daughter!"

He calls this woman, "daughter of a nobleman." Although this could refer to a man of integrity as it is used above in verse 6:12, since the focus is not on the person's character, but on heritage, it seems more reasonable that Solomon is recognizing the royal lineage of this woman. This is one of the wives and not one of the maidens. It is probable that the wife is of noble heritage since Solomon would be more likely to marry such a one, than to have her as one of the concubines.

Song 7:1b-3

"The curves of your hips are like jewels, The work of the hands of an artist.
Your navel is {like} a round goblet Which never lacks mixed wine;
Your belly is like a heap of wheat Fenced about with lilies.
Your two breasts are like two fawns, Twins of a gazelle."

Apparently this wife has removed some of her clothing so that her upper body is more visible. This explains the mention of the hips and the navel, which have not been mentioned in previous descriptions. The breasts were mentioned previously, but that was in an aesthetic description, whereas this is a sexual context as evidenced by verses 7-8.

Song 7:4-6

Your neck is like a tower of ivory,
Your eyes {like} the pools in Heshbon By the gate of Bath-rabbim;
Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon, Which faces toward Damascus.
Your head crowns you like Carmel,
And the flowing locks of your head are like purple threads; {
The} king is captivated by {your} tresses.
How beautiful and how delightful you are, {My} love, with {all} your charms!


These are complimentary praises and carry no direct sexual connotation, except where the context is clearly sexual, as the next verses indicate this one to be.

Song 7:7-9a,

"Your stature is like a palm tree, And your breasts are {like its} clusters.
I said, 'I will climb the palm tree, I will take hold of its fruit stalks.'
Oh, may your breasts be like clusters of the vine,
And the fragrance of your breath like apples, And your mouth like the best wine!"

Here we find very specific sexual language that was never previously used in Solomon's advances toward the Shulamite. He is inviting the wife to participate in intimate sexual activity, to which she responds in the affirmative. Of course, it is argued that since Solomon and the Shulamite are now married, such language is appropriate. However, I have clearly demonstrated that there is no such marriage and that the Shulamite wants nothing to do with Solomon and that in fact, she has now left the premises and fled with the shepherd.

(queen)Song 7:9b

"It goes {down} smoothly for my beloved, Flowing gently {through} the lips of those who fall asleep."

Here the wife responds to Solomon's praise with an interruption, and uses the same imagery of wine for sensual kisses to offer herself to him. The structure in the text indicates such an interruption, as well as the use of the term, "my beloved" by the speaker. Solomon never uses the term and to ascribe its use to him at this point would be out of place. A reasonable way to interpret this interruption is to see it as an urging to Solomon to "shut up and get down to business."

1. It goes down smoothly: The verb is hAlak as a qal active participle and should be translated as, "going (down)."

The adverb, smoothly, comes from the noun, mayshAr (plural) with the preposition le. It means evenness, uprightness, equity. It speaks of a morality that has no difficulties or abnormalities, and is used figuratively for wine going down the throat without any difficulty or unpleasantness (Prov. 32:31), thus smoothly or gently.

This participle interrupts the speaker and actually FINISHES his thought, taking the image of good wine, which is pleasant to the taste and to the throat, and applying it to the willing and sensual response of this woman to the words of Solomon.

2. The title of affection, my beloved, we have seen before (verse 1:13) is a common term and one should not attempt to make its presence here indicate that the Shulamite is speaking. We need only apply our already established context to refute such a claim. The word, dod, with both the preposition, le, and the possessive pronoun, iy (ledodiy), results in the translation, "for my beloved."

3. Flowing gently through the lips of those who fall asleep:

This clause is quite difficult, only because of the adjective translated, "those who sleep." The NIV follows the LXX (Septuagint) and others, with "lips and teeth," which Keil and Delitzsch rightly calls "absurd," but there is no basis for such a rendering, although it would certainly simplify the task of the interpreter. The adjective is, yAshan in the plural and in at least eight of the nine occurrences, it should be rendered, sleeping ones. However, since "the qal of the verb means to be idle, still, fall asleep, sleep" (Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, Vol. VI, page 439), it is certainly valid to find the adjective reflecting those same options. In this case, the use before us could be rendered as "those who FALL asleep," as with the NASB.

The rendering of the KJV, "causing the lips of those who are asleep to speak," is based on the word for flowing. It is dAbhabh, as a QAL participle, and is used to describe the wine as it goes down the throat, and not to describe what the wine causes. The word means to move gently, glide, glide over, and could be understood as CAUSING the moving of the lips if the verb occurred as a hiphil.

Following then, the NASB, and rendering this as "those who fall asleep," it seems that the wife is using the image of the sleep that follows the pleasantry of wine, to speak of the euphoria and sleep that they would enjoy after making love.

With this the scene closes, and when the curtain rises for the 2nd scene, we see at center stage, the Shulamite and the shepherd together, probably in the chariot. Off to the side we see the daughters of Jerusalem assembled on the porch, gazing longingly after the Shulamite.


Scene 2
Song 7:10 - 8:4

The scene opens with the Shulamite and the shepherd together probably in the chariot from the previous scene. The daughters are still gathered off to the side of the stage observing helplessly as the Shulamite rides away. The two are occupied with their love and discuss going to the vineyards. The shepherd announces that he has prepared for them a house. Shulamite wants to marry him but knows that her family disapproves.

The reason I suggest that they are in the chariot riding off from the palace, is because when the scene ends (verse 8:4), Shulamite yells back at the daughters of Jerusalem, like a token gesture, what she has been saying all along - not to stir up her love until it is ready. In doing this, she announces that she is now with the one whom she loves and for whom she has been waiting all this time.


(sw)Song 7:10

"I am my beloved's, And his desire is for me.

Here she proclaims not only her devotion to the shepherd, but his intense love for her as well. By using the expression, "I am my beloved's," she states not only her volitional acceptance of the romantic relationship, but also his. He claims her as his own, in a romantic sense, and she willingly gives herself to him.

Next, we see a very strong word for emotional desire to indicate the intensity and fervor of the shepherd's devotion to the Shulamite.

The word for desire, is teshuqAh, which occurs only 3 times in the Bible. The first time is at Genesis 3:16, and refers to the intense emotional desire and dependence that a woman's love will produce for the man she loves. As a result of Ishah's act of independence from Adam in the garden of Eden, God has decreed that every woman's soul be created with a natural mechanism that triggers when she truly falls in love.

Her soul will depend on the man's soul for emotional fulfillment and security. This is entirely a SOUL characteristic and has nothing to do with the body and physical attraction. In other words, she will have a real SOUL NEED for that special devotion and protection that comes from the man she loves. An objective recognition of this need can even be a barometer for determining whether a woman is truly in love with any of the men in her life.

See Commentary: Genesis 3 for context

At Genesis 4:7, the word is used to describe the intense, domineering influence of the sin nature that urges man toward independence from God, even to the point of seeking relationship with God on terms other than God's. It is an impulsive, self-centered desire that urges man to live life through the philosophy of sensuality rather than beneficent love.

See Topic: The Sin Nature

But here, it refers to the intense, self-sacrificing desire that puts the object of that desire first and foremost in everything. She recognizes that his love is genuine and protective, which is of course, what has been keeping her focused on moral reality instead of the allure of Solomon's wealth and prestige.

This DESIRE on the part of the man is similar to the desire that is built in to the woman's soul as a result of Eve's act of independence in the garden, but does not reflect the same emotional need and dependence.

There is however in the soul of every man, the created need for a "helper" that carries with it the various mechanisms, both soulish and physical, which cause the man to WANT a woman, in general, and specifically the woman with whom he has found soul and physical rapport.

The shepherd in our story is such man. His love and integrity is such that it has kept him in the Shulamite's soul, and her in his soul. And now, it has finally brought him to her rescue. He speaks and asks her to join him in the home he has built for her.

(sh)Song 7:11-12

"Come, my beloved, let us go out into the country, Let us spend the night in the villages.
Let us rise early {and go} to the vineyards;
Let us see whether the vine has budded {And its} blossoms have opened,
{And whether} the pomegranates have bloomed. There I will give you my love."

I see two options for viewing this small discourse by the shepherd.
In both cases, it serves as a marriage proposal, but the details are not clear.

First, it could be an invitation to visit the places that are special to both of them and while there, to get married, and the statement, "There I will give you my love," would refer to the vow of dedication that he gives her at the formal ceremony.

Second, it could be an invitation to visit the places that are special to both of them as a wedding trip (honeymoon, if you please), after a formal ceremony with the family, and the statement, "There I will give you my love," would refer to the physical intimacy that they would enjoy while there.

(sh)Song 7:13

"The mandrakes have given forth fragrance;
And over our doors are all choice {fruits,}
Both new and old, Which I have saved up for you, my beloved.

As part of this marriage proposal, the shepherd reminds her of the house he has planned and built for them. I suggest that she did not know of this house, for when she thought about her shepherd and her home town back at Act I, scene 2 (verse 1:16-17), she spoke of the HOUSES of her people. I think that if she had known of this house that the shepherd had planned (and perhaps was building at the time), she would have focused on that. This, of course, is certainly not a major factor and has no bearing on the story.

After hearing the marriage proposal, the Shulamite responds in the positive, but reminds him of the "family" problem that still needs to be resolved.

(sw)Song 8:1

"Oh that you were like a brother to me Who nursed at my mother's breasts.
{If} I found you outdoors, I would kiss you; No one would despise me, either.

Notice she says, "like a brother," and not "a" brother. What she is desiring is that their relationship could be as NATURAL as the relationship between siblings so that the affection she would show him in public would not be criticized. This is an acceptance of the marriage proposal, but with a reminder that there is still the problem of her family's disfavor toward the shepherd. If that problem were not present, then she would escort him into her mother's house as a formal announcement that they wished to be married.

(sw)Song 8:2

"I would lead you {and} bring you Into the house of my mother, who used to instruct me;
I would give you spiced wine to drink from the juice of my pomegranates.

There would be a formal celebration and she would make some special pomegranate wine.

(sw)Song 8:3

"Let his left hand be under my head, And his right hand embrace me."

She longs for the anticipated physical expression which would be fulfilled in the marriage relationship.

The simple embrace of lovers, so gentle and yet so packed with emotion and affection. The memory of such affection helped sustain her during her captivity, as discussed at verse 2:6. Now, in a marriage context, the embrace would be ever so much more meaningful. It is this embrace, from the shepherd, the one she loves, that she would welcome, and for whom her love would now desire to be aroused and awakened. Then, as a final gesture of defiance and caution to the daughters of Jerusalem still assembled off to the side observing her leave, she calls back, reminding them of what she has been saying all along - that no one should force love from or upon anyone else. In so doing, she actually proclaims to them that her love is now aroused and awakened for the right person - and according to her own desire.

(sw)Song 8:4

"I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
WHY arouse or awaken the love, until it desires." (BFT)

This, the same exhortation spoken to the daughters on two other occasions (2:7; 3:5), is a testimony to romantic faithfulness and emotional control. See details at verse 2:7.

The construction here is the same except she uses an interrogative pronoun in front of the verbs instead of a negative. Gesenius says of this, "It has long been recognized that mah is used as a negative in Ct. 8:4," (Hebrew Grammar, page 443). But I must part company with the ancient and modern consensus concerning this, and recognize mah for what it ALWAYS is - some kind of interrogative. The reason for this is because there is a reason, she uses a different construction than previously. Before, she was exhorting them and pleading with them to "leave me alone," and not try to stir up her emotions or physical desires until she was ready. Here, she is basically saying, "I told you so!" This contextual understanding is the key to interpreting the interrogative, mah, as it should normally be rendered - as WHO? or WHY?

We should imagine the exhortation, as she yells back at them - "Do you understand what I mean now? I adjure you (I hold you responsible), WHY arouse or awaken love until it desires.

The scene and the act thus end with the Shulamite and the shepherd leaving Solomon and his palace far behind.

The next act opens with the Shulamite and the shepherd coming into their home town. She asks him to dedicate himself to her, and then they will confront her family with their plans to get married.

Continue to Act VI

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