December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The Song of Songs
- Oh, that you were my brother,
nursed at my mother's breasts!
If I met you out of doors, I would kiss you
and none would taunt me.
- I would lead you, bring you in
to the home of my mother.
There you would teach me to give you
spiced wine to drink and pomegranate juice.
- His left hand is under my head
and his right arm embraces me.
- I adjure you, daughters of Jerusalem,
by the gazelles and hinds of the field,
Do not arouse, do not stir up love,
before its own time.
- D 1 Who is this coming up from the desert,
leaning upon her lover?
G Under the apple tree I awakened you;
it was there that your mother conceived you,
it was there that your parent conceived.
- B 2 Set me as a seal on your heart,
as a seal on your arm;
For stern as death is love,
relentless as the nether world is devotion;
its flames are a blazing fire.
- Deep waters cannot quench love,
nor floods sweep it away.
Were one to offer all he owns to purchase love,
he would be roundly mocked.
- 3 "Our sister is little
and she has no breasts as yet.
What shall we do for our sister
when her courtship begins?
- If she is a wall,
we will build upon it a silver parapet;
If she is a door,
we will reinforce it with a cedar plank."
- I am a wall,
and my breasts are like towers.
So now in his eyes I have become
one to be welcomed.
- B 4 Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon;
he gave over the vineyard to caretakers.
For its fruit one would have to pay
a thousand silver pieces.
- My vineyard is at my own disposal;
the thousand pieces are for you, O Solomon,
and two hundred for the caretakers of its fruit.
- G 5 O garden-dweller,
my friends are listening for your voice,
let me hear it!
- B Be swift, my lover,
like a gazelle or a young stag
on the mountains of spices!
Table of Contents Previous Chapter The Book of Wisdom
1  The lovers are pictured walking homeward, enjoying the fulfillment of the desire which the girl expressed in Song 8:1, 2. The groom speaks of their first meeting.
2 [6-7] Seal: this could be worn bound to the arm, as here, or suspended at the neck, or as a ring (Jeremiah 22:24). It was used for identification and signatures. Stern . . . relentless: in human experience, death and the nether world are inevitable, unrelenting; in the end they always triumph. Love, which is just as certain of its victory, matches its strength against the natural enemies of life; waters cannot extinguish it nor floods carry it away. It is more priceless than all riches.
3 [8-10] The bride affirms her chastity. In Song 8:9 she quotes the course of action which her elder brothers had decided on. While she is yet immature, they will shelter her in view of eventual marriage. If she is virtuous, she will be honored; if she is unchaste, she will be kept under strict vigilance. In reply to this she proclaims her virtue and boasts of having found welcome from her lover.
4 [11-12] These enigmatic verses have been variously interpreted. In Song 8:11 the girl alludes to a vineyard of great value which is compared to her own self in Song 8:12. Her enormous dowry, a thousand silver pieces, is in keeping with her intrinsic worth. She has been the generous lover, giving herself and a dowry to her lover, referred to as Solomon, and also smaller gifts to her brothers, the caretakers (cf Song 8:8-10).
5 [13-14] As in Song 2:14, 15 her lover asks for a word or a song and she replies in words similar to those found in Song 2:17.
New American Bible Copyright © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
USCCB Home Page New American Bible Home Page
New American Bible
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20017-1194 (202) 541-3000