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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 1




B 2 Let him kiss me with kisses of his mouth!
More delightful is your love than wine!


Your name spoken is a spreading perfume -
that is why the maidens love you.


Draw me!-
D We will follow you eagerly!
B Bring me, O king, to your chambers.
D With you we rejoice and exult,
we extol your love; it is beyond wine:
how rightly you are loved!


B 3 I am as dark-but lovely,
O daughters of Jerusalem -
As the tents of Kedar,
as the curtains of Salma.


4 Do not stare at me because I am swarthy,
because the sun has burned me.
My brothers have been angry with me;
they charged me with the care of the vineyards:
my own vineyard I have not cared for.


B 5 Tell me, you whom my heart loves,
where you pasture your flock,
where you give them rest at midday,
Lest I be found wandering
after the flocks of your companions.


G If you do not know,
O most beautiful among women,
Follow the tracks of the flock
and pasture the young ones
near the shepherds' camps.


G 6 To the steeds of Pharaoh's chariots
would I liken you, my beloved:


Your cheeks lovely in pendants,
your neck in jewels.


We will make pendants of gold for you,
and silver ornaments.


B 7 For the king's banquet
my nard gives forth its fragrance.


8 My lover is for me a sachet of myrrh
to rest in my bosom.


9 My lover is for me a cluster of henna
from the vineyards of Engedi.


G 10 Ah, you are beautiful, my beloved,
ah, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves!


B 11 Ah, you are beautiful, my lover -
yes, you are lovely.
Our couch, too, is verdant;


the beams of our house are cedars,
our rafters, cypresses.



1 [1] This title is actually the first verse of chapter 1.

2 [ 1:2- 8:14] The marginal letters indicate the speaker of the verses: B-Bride; D-Daughters of Jerusalem; G-Bridegroom. In Song 1:2-7 the bride and the daughters address the bridegroom who appears here as a king, but more often in the poem as a shepherd. King and shepherd are familiar figures of the Lord in the Sacred Scriptures. Cf Psalm 23:1; Isaiah 40:11; John 10:1-16.

3 [5] Daughters of Jerusalem: the chorus whom the bride addresses and who ask her questions ( Song 5:9; 6:1) thus developing action within the poem. Kedar: a Syrian desert region whose name suggests blackness; tents were often made of black goat hair. Curtains: tent coverings of Salma, a region close to Kedar.

4 [6] Swarthy: tanned by the sun from working in her brothers' vineyards. My own vineyard: the bride herself; cf Isaiah 5:1-7 where Israel is designated as the vineyard and the Lord is the Lover.

5 [7] Here and elsewhere in the Song ( Song 3:1; 5:8; 6:1), the bride expresses her desire to be in the company of her lover. These verses point to a certain tension in the poem. Only at the end ( Song 8:5-14) does mutual possession of the lovers become final.

6 [9-11] The bridegroom compares the girl's beauty to the rich adornment of the royal chariot of Pharaoh.

7 [12] Nard: a precious perfume, a figure of the bride; cf Song 4:14.

8 [13] Myrrh: produced from aromatic resin of balsam or roses.

9 [14] Henna: a plant which bears white scented flowers.

10 [15] Doves: suggesting innocence and charm.

11 [16-17] Though the meeting place of the lovers is but a shepherd's hut of green branches, it becomes a palace with beams of cedar and rafters of cypress when adorned with their love.

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