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Deeper Commentary


Song of Solomon 6:1

Daughters of Jerusalem
Where has your beloved gone, you fairest among women? Where has your beloved turned, that we may seek him with you?-
This is bitter sarcasm. They ask her where Solomon has “turned aside” so that they can come and seek him with her, using a word elsewhere associated with ‘turning aside’ in apostasy to other gods. They sarcastically quote Solomon’s terms of endearment back to her.  


Song of Solomon 6:2 My beloved has gone down to his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies-
In Song 4:16; 5:1 she has invited Solomon to enter her closed garden and he does so. The reference is to them sleeping together, and the language of beds, feeding and lilies has elsewhere been used in the song for sexual activity. She is therefore telling the daughters of Jerusalem that she has slept with Solomon, and therefore he is hers exclusively (:3). For all her self confidence and forwardness, she is betrayed as a laughable fool to believe this. In Song 7:6,8, Solomon likewise openly talks about their sexual encounters; their relationship is now no longer secret.

Song of Solomon 6:3 I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine. He browses among the lilies-
Being in the lilies has been language elsewhere used in the Song for sex. I noted on :2 that she is retorting to the daughters of Jerusalem that because she has slept with Solomon, therefore he is uniquely hers and this, she thinks is her final answer to her competitors. But of course her argument holds no water. She appears foolish and naive, for all her sexual manipulation of Solomon.

Song of Solomon 6:4 You are beautiful, my love, as Tirzah, lovely as Jerusalem, awesome as an army with banners-
This may continue the dream she has been having beginning in Song 5:2. Or it may be that now Solomon appears on the scene and comforts her with expressions of his unique love for her, to calm her after her nightmare. Tirzah was obviously an established city at the time, and was later briefly the capital of the ten tribe kingdom. But it was destroyed at the time of the exile, and this would be evidence that the song indeed dates from Solomon's time, and the Song is not the fantasy of some post exilic writer as the critics lamely claim; see on Song 7:4. Jerusalem was the "perfection of beauty" (Ps. 48:3; 50:2), and yet through this allusion Solomon is showing that unlike for David, Zion was not his chiefest joy, but this Gentile girl was.

Song of Solomon 6:5 Turn away your eyes from me, for they have overcome me. Your hair is like a flock of goats, that lie along the side of Gilead-
Solomon is defying his own wisdom in Prov. 6:25: "Don’t lust after her beauty in your heart, neither let her captivate you with her eyelids". The  blindness of Solomon is driven  home time and again. He warned the typical young man  about  being captivated by the eyelids of the Gentile woman (Prov. 6:25); yet it was the eyes of Miss Egypt that he openly admitted stole his heart (Song 4:9; 6:5). We note his total inability to be self critical and have a sense of temptation and the possibility of personal failure. This seems to go with the territory of assuming that mere possession of Divine truth somehow justifies us of itself.

Song of Solomon 6:6 Your teeth are like a flock of ewes, which have come up from the washing; of which each one has twins; none is bereaved among them-
Without dental science, missing teeth would have been common in those days, even in youth. But she apparently had none missing. Here and in Song 4:3 "your mouth is lovely" suggests they had already been involved in deep kissing.

Song of Solomon 6:7 Your temples are like a piece of a pomegranate behind your veil-
Solomon has seen behind her veil, the symbol of her virginity, for he has entered her closed garden by sleeping with her (Song 4:16; 5:1). But he likes to still perceive her as a virgin. They both create images of each other which are simply not true to reality, and fall in love with those images rather than reality. Although I am no fan of the allegorical interpretation of the Song, it could be argued that this looks ahead to Christ's imputation of righteousness to His bride.

Song of Solomon 6:8 There are sixty queens, eighty concubines, and virgins without number-
Solomon boasts that he has many Jewish queens and concubines, but there is only one woman, the Egyptian, that he truly loves (:8,9); he even calls her his “sister”, associating himself thereby with Egypt. See on :13. This is his answer to her nightmare which began in Song 5:2, about the daughters of Jerusalem. Perhaps at that time he had 60 queens and 80 concubines, a number which would later rise to 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3).

Song of Solomon 6:9 My dove, my perfect one, is unique-
Solomon seeks to persuade the girl that really she is his special love, better than all his women of :8. We marvel at her naivety in believing him.

She is her mother’s only daughter. She is the favourite one of her who bore her. The daughters saw her, and called her blessed; the queens and the concubines, and they praised her-
This is simply not the case, obviously. She has just had a nightmare about the daughters of Jerusalem mocking her. And she is aware of Solomon's existing harem (:8). And he tries to persuade her that actually his queens, concubines and the daughters of Jerusalem think she is in fact wonderful. They clearly do not, and she is presented as hopelessly foolish in believing Solomon, who likewise presents himself as no more than a sweet talking womanizer.

The allusion is to "the daughters will call me happy / blessed" (Gen. 30:13); Solomon has a vision of this Egyptian girl as becoming as one of the founding mothers of Israel. But her heart is far from it. He speaks as if she is in fact already this. He is in love with an image and projection upon her which is simply unrealistic and untrue.

Song of Solomon 6:10 Who is she who looks forth as the morning, beautiful as the moon, clear as the sun, and awesome as an army with banners?-
The reference is to the morning star. This apparently is common Egyptian love poem language. Solomon was clearly very influenced by Egypt from a young age, and likes to try to talk to the girl as it were in her own terms. He presents her as the brightest of all the stars, and more awesome than an entire army. The idea is that although he admits he does have a harem (:8), he seeks to persuade her that she is the brightest of all the stars, she is the son and moon, and greater than an army with banners. The significance of "banners" is that she had rejoiced that his banner over her was love (Song 2:4). He is saying that his banner over her was far greater than that over a whole army of women. And she appears, for the time being, to believe his story. Which may well have been a standard story trotted out to all his many women.

Song of Solomon 6:11 I went down into the nut tree grove, to see the green plants of the valley, to see whether the vine budded, and the pomegranates were in flower-
AV "I went down into the garden of nuts". Entrance to the locked garden has been used by the couple to reference their lovemaking (Song 4:16; 5:1). He could be implying that he had slept with her in the hope that she was "in flower" and would fall pregnant. He calculated that this was going to comfort her more than anything at this time; he is trying to show that he is very serious about their relationship. "Pomegranates" have been used as erotic imagery in Song 1:6; 4:13. And she uses his reasoning here to urge him to sleep with her in Song 7:12.   

Song of Solomon 6:12 Without realizing it, my desire set me with my royal people’s chariots-
The idea is that he assures her that the sexual encounter of :11 had made him "beside himself" [NEV "Without realizing it"]. He felt he had been as it were whisked away by the passion she stirred in him, "she put me in the chariots of Ammi Nadib". Perhaps this was an Egyptian phrase. He is by all means trying to persuade her that he found her sexually superlative. We noted the confusion between the carriage / chariot and the marriage bed of Solomon in Song 3:9.

Daughters of Jerusalem

Song of Solomon 6:13 Return, return, Shulammite! Return, return, that we may gaze at you-
This would appear to be the sarcastic comment of the Israelite girls after the Egyptian girl has run off away from them. They call her the Shulammite, the Jerusalem girl, mockingly. For they all know she is a dark skinned foreigner and not really a Shulammite. The girl is presented in Song 5:7 as bedraggled, without her makeup and having been raped. Having made her defence of herself to them, she runs off; and they sarcastically invite her to return so they can look at her. This would assume that the nightmare dream which began in Song 5:2 is here continuing.

Why do you desire to gaze at the Shulammite, as at the dance of Mahanaim?
Perhaps the tension between the two groups- the Jerusalem women and the Egyptian girl and her family (see on :8,9)- is behind the enigmatic reference to “the company of two armies” or “the dance of the two camps”. Solomon has to now carefully broker between his Egyptian woman and the daughters of Jerusalem. He asks them rhetorically why they want to gaze at her. The idea is of a girl dancing before two camps, one who support her with encouragement, the other who detest her and shout insults. And Solomon would be saying that he doesn't wish for this competitive situation to arise. He may be implying to the daughters of Jerusalem that they too need fear no competition, and so there need be no dance of comparison. And yet Solomon confirms that indeed this Egyptian girl is a Shulammite, a girl of Jerusalem, Yerushalem. She is one of the daughters of Jerusalem, so he decides; and therefore there should be division between her and the daughters of Jerusalem, as if they were in two camps. Again we observe that Solomon projects an image onto her, as an Israelite daughter of Zion... and believes it. Regardless of the reality.