How Beautiful You Are, My Beloved[a]
1 How beautiful you are, my beloved;
your beauty has achieved perfection.
Your eyes are doves[b]
behind your veil.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
streaming down the slopes of Mount Gilead.
2 Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes
that have come up from the washing.
Each one of them has a twin;
not a single one is unpaired with the other.
3 Your lips are like a scarlet thread,
and your mouth is lovely.
Your cheeks behind your veil
are like halves of a pomegranate.
4 Your neck is like the tower of David
built layer upon layer;
a thousand bucklers hang upon it,
all of them shields of valiant warriors.
5 Your two breasts are like two fawns,
young twins of a gazelle
that graze among the lilies.
6 Before the dawn comes,
and the shadows flee,
I will hasten to the mountain of myrrh
and the hill of frankincense.
7 You are all-beautiful, my love,
without the slightest blemish.[c]
8 Come with me from Lebanon, my promised bride;[d]
come with me from Lebanon.
Descend quickly from the heights of Amana,
from the peaks of Senir and Hermon,
from the dens of lions,
from the mountains of leopards.
9 You have stolen my heart,
my sister,[e] my bride.
You have stolen my heart with a single glance,
with one jewel of your necklace.
10 How beautiful is your love,
my sister, my bride!
How much more delightful is your love than wine,
and the fragrance of your perfumes than any spices.
11 Your lips drip with honey,[f] my promised bride,
milk and honey are under your tongue,
and the fragrance of your garments
is like the fragrance of Lebanon.
12 You are an enclosed garden,
my sister, my promised bride;
you are a garden that is locked,
a fountain that is sealed.[g]
13 You are like an orchard that brings forth pomegranates,
an orchard with the choicest fruits:[h]
14 nard[i] and saffron, calamus and cinnamon,
with all the incense-bearing trees,
myrrh and aloes
with all the finest spices.
15 You are a garden fountain,
a well of living water,
streams flowing down from Lebanon.
16 Awake, north wind,
and come, south wind.
Blow upon my garden
so that its fragrance may spread abroad.
Let my beloved come to his garden
and eat its choicest fruits.[j]
- Song of Songs 4:1 The bridegroom takes delight in detailing the charms of his bride. He compares her to flowers, to fruits, and to all the perfumes of the East. He ardently desires to be united with the one who has reserved herself for him. The bride, too, calls on the breath of the passion that comes to complete the loving embrace.
The comparison is a daring one but it must be made: God, too, contemplates the beauty of his people enriched with the many calls and favors that they have received on earth. Israel is the exclusive property of the Lord, and he invites her to come and encounter him on the hill of incense, i.e., at the temple of Jerusalem. Humankind is precious in the Lord’s eyes: it is still the Church called to partake in the Lord’s love, the unfailing joy of the new times, the feast of God.
- Song of Songs 4:1 Doves: see note on Song 1:15. Gilead: a region across the Jordan, with extensive stock farms, whose goats were usually black.
- Song of Songs 4:7 See the description of the Church in Eph 5:27. The Liturgy applies this verse to our Lady in the celebration of the Immaculate Conception on December 8.
- Song of Songs 4:8 Promised bride: i.e., the betrothed. Amana . . . Senir . . . Hermon: names of peaks in the Anti-Lebanon. The Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon are two mountain chains on the borders of Palestine. These far-off mountains symbolize the distance that separates the two lovers.
- Song of Songs 4:9 Sister: a word of endearment that was common in the language of love of the ancient East.
- Song of Songs 4:11 Your lips drip with honey: the bridegroom speaks of love (see Prov 5:3; 16:24). Milk and honey: possibly a reference to the fruitfulness of the Promised Land (see Ex 3:8).
- Song of Songs 4:12 Enclosed . . . locked . . . sealed: words that indicate the bride is the bridegroom’s and faithful to him (see Prov 5:15-19).
- Song of Songs 4:13 The bridegroom sings of the bride’s features that delight him, likening them to sweet-smelling plants.
- Song of Songs 4:14 Nard: see note on Song 1:12. Saffron: a purple-flowered crocus used as a cooking spice. Calamus: an aromatic spice cane used in the anointing oil (see Ex 30:23-24) and in incense (see Isa 43:23-24). Cinnamon: an aromatic spice used in the anointing oil (see Ex 30:23, 25). Myrrh: see note on Song 1:13. Aloes: a fragrant resin used in perfuming nuptial robes (see Ps 48:8).
- Song of Songs 4:16 The beloved invites the bridegroom to come to her.