Study Guide

Song of Solomon (Song of Songs) Youth

Youth

As an apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among young men. (NRSV 2:3)

As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. (KJV 2:3)

The bride repeatedly calls her groom "young" and compares him to other guys his age. She's clearly digging the youthful vibe he gives off.

My beloved speaks and says to me: "Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. (NRSV 2:10-13)

My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. (KJV 2:10-13)

Talk about the birds and the bees! This imagery applies to both the setting (it's springtime) and the bride and groom's ages. They're in the "spring" of their lives and their sexual desires are awakening like the flowers and the vines.

Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes that have come up from the washing, all of which bear twins, and not one among them is bereaved. (NRSV 4:2)

Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them. (KJV 4:2)

Dental care in ancient Israel wasn't exactly top notch. No Novocain, no flavored polish, and your dentist probably didn't have his DDS. So if the bride has nice, white teeth, it indicates that she's still pretty young.

A garden locked is my sister, my bride, a garden locked, a fountain sealed. (NRSV 4:12)

A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. (KJV 4:12)

We're just going to come out and say it: the bride is a virgin. Not a huge deal, especially in the ancient world, but just another reminder that this girl is young.

I say I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its branches. O may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the scent of your breath like apples, (NRSV 7:8)

I said, I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof: now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine, and the smell of thy nose like apples (KJV 7:8)

The tons o' fertility images we find in Song of Songs relate directly to the bride's age. Ancient marriages were business transactions, and part of the deal included bearing children. That means you've got to be young enough to do it.

We have a little sister, and she has no breasts. What shall we do for our sister, on the day when she is spoken for? (NRSV 8:8)

We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for? (KJV 8:8)

The brothers of the bride still see her as a little girl, but little do they know…

Make haste, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag upon the mountains of spices! (NRSV 8:14)

Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices. (KJV 8:14)

The bride tells her beloved to rush to her like a young animal. 'Cause everyone knows that old animals take forever to get anywhere.

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