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The Catholic Study Bible A special version of the New American Bible, with a wealth of background information useful to Catholics.

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Commentary on Song of Songs

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1, 1 :

This title is actually the first verse of chapter 1 .

1, 2ff :

The marginal letters indicate the speaker of the verses: B—Bride; D—Daughters of Jerusalem; G—Bridegroom. In vv 2–7 the bride and the daughters address the bridegroom who appears here as a king, but more often in the poem as a shepherd. King and shepherd are familiar figures of the Lord in the Sacred Scriptures. Cf Ps 23, 1; Is 40, 11; Jn 10, 1–16 .

1, 5 :

Daughters of Jerusalem: the chorus whom the bride addresses and who ask her questions (Song 5, 9; 6, 1 ), thus developing action within the poem. Kedar: a Syrian desert region whose name suggests blackness; tents were often made of black goat hair. Curtains: tent coverings of Salma, a region close to Kedar.

1, 6 :

Swarthy: tanned by the sun from working in her brothers' vineyards. My own vineyard: the bride herself; cf Is 5, 1–7 , where Israel is designated as the vineyard and the Lord is the Lover.

1, 7 :

Here and elsewhere in the Song (3, 1; 5, 8; 6, 1 ), the bride expresses her desire to be in the company of her lover. These verses point to a certain tension in the poem. Only at the end (Song 8, 5ff ) does mutual possession of the lovers become final.

1, 9ff :

The bridegroom compares the girl's beauty to the rich adornment of the royal chariot of Pharaoh.

1, 12 :

Nard: a precious perfume, a figure of the bride; cf Song 4, 14 .

1, 13 :

Myrrh: produced from aromatic resin of balsam or roses.

1, 14 :

Henna: a plant which bears white scented flowers.

1, 15 :

Doves: suggesting innocence and charm.

1, 16f :

Though the meeting place of the lovers is but a shepherd's hut of green branches, it becomes a palace with beams of cedar and rafters of cypress when adorned with their love.

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