Song of Songs 5

Chapter 5

Bridegroom:

1 I have come to my garden, my sister, my bride;
I gather my myrrh and my spices,
I eat my honeycomb and my honey,
I drink my wine and my milk.

Companions:

Eat, friends, and drink deeply,
until you are drunk with love.[a]

Fourth Poem

I Sought Him, but I Could Not Find Him

Open to Me[b]

Bride:

2 I was sleeping, but my heart was awake.
Listen! My beloved is knocking:
“Open to me, my sister, my beloved,
my dove, my perfect one.
For my head is drenched with dew,[c]
my hair with the wetness of the night.”
3 I have taken off my robe;
must I put it on again?
I have bathed my feet;
must I soil them again?[d]
4 My beloved thrust his hand through the opening in the door,[e]
and my heart began to tremble.
5 I arose to open to my beloved
with myrrh dripping from my hands;
the liquid myrrh from my fingers
ran onto the handle of the bolt.
6 I opened to my beloved,
but he had turned away and was gone;
my heart sank at his disappearance.
I sought him, but I could not find him;
I called out to him, but he did not answer.[f]

I Am Sick with Love[g]

7 The watchmen[h] came upon me
as they made their rounds of the city.
They beat me and wounded me
and took my cloak from me,
those guardians of the walls.
8 I charge you, daughters of Jerusalem,
if you should find my beloved,
please tell him this:
that I am sick with love.

Companions:

9 In what way is your beloved better than any other,
O fairest of women?
In what way is your beloved better than any other
that you lay this charge upon us?

Bride:

10 [i]My beloved is radiant and ruddy,
one who would stand out in a group of ten thousand.
11 His head is golden, of the purest gold;
his hair is like palm branches,
black as the raven.
12 His eyes are like doves[j]
by water streams,
bathed in milk,
and mounted like jewels.
13 His cheeks are like beds of spices
pouring forth fragrant scents.
His lips are like lilies,[k]
distilling choice myrrh.
14 His arms are rods of gold
adorned with jewels.
His body is a block of ivory
covered with sapphires.
15 His legs are pillars of marble
set in sockets of pure gold.
His appearance is like Lebanon,
as imposing as the cedars.
16 His mouth is most sweet,
and he is totally desirable.
Such is my beloved and such is my friend,
O daughters of Jerusalem.

Footnotes

  1. Song of Songs 5:2 The lovers are urged to share their love, which is an image of the love between Christ and his Church (see Eph 5:29-32).
  2. Song of Songs 5:2 The bride is sleeping, and the thought of the bridegroom is with her even in her dreams. Suddenly, he knocks on the door. Happiness and fear meld together; how can she receive him in the middle of the night? She hesitates and makes believe that she cannot open the door, even though she is already trembling with joy at the coming encounter. However, when she finally dares to open the door, the bridegroom has disappeared into the night and she is alone.
    For Israel, too, God remains hidden when the people are tardy in answering his call. The time is near—this is the message of John the Baptist. “Behold, I am standing at the door, knocking”: such is the seductive but demanding image of Christ in the Book of Revelation (Rev 3:20).
  3. Song of Songs 5:2 Dew: a symbol of divine blessings (see Ps 133:3; Hos 14:6).
  4. Song of Songs 5:3 Silly reasons for not opening the door, which will be overcome by the bride’s love.
  5. Song of Songs 5:4 Opening in the door: through it a wooden key was inserted from the outside to remove the bolt.
  6. Song of Songs 5:6 This is the same prophetic formula used previously (see Song 3:1, 3 and notes). Here it is combined with another traditional formula indicating the Lord’s withdrawal from an unfaithful Israel (see Prov 1:28; Isa 50:2; 65:12; 66:4; Jer 7:27).
  7. Song of Songs 5:7 Distraught at having missed the rendezvous, the bride runs to seek out the bridegroom. What an adventure this journey into the night becomes! She runs into the guardians of the walls who maltreat her; then a group of young women joke at her: What do you see in your beloved? Her reply comes from the heart, for she bears the portrait of her beloved within her—what a treasure!
    In Israel, after so many losses, there is reborn a new ardor to seek God when trials and mockeries mount up, at the return from the Exile or in the pagan dispersion. There is no clearer witness than a sincere conversion. But is not God the first to awaken the human heart in which he is secretly present? In St. Augustine’s words, “You would not be seeking me if you had not already found me.” The more we understand God, the more ardently do we seek his countenance.
  8. Song of Songs 5:7 Watchmen: see note on Song 3:3.
  9. Song of Songs 5:10 The bride describes the great physical qualities of the bridegroom.
  10. Song of Songs 5:12 Doves: see note on Song 1:15.
  11. Song of Songs 5:13 Lilies: see note on Song 2:1.

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