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The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary
   

Shir Hashirim - Song of Songs - Chapter 1

Shir Hashirim - Song of Songs - Chapter 1

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Rashi's Commentary:

Chapter 1

1. The Song of Songs, which is Solomon's.   א. שִׁיר הַשִּׁירִים אֲשֶׁר לִשְׁלֹמֹה:
The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s: Our Rabbis taught (Shevu. 35b): Every Solomon (for they were at a loss to explain why Scripture did not mention his father, as it did in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes) mentioned in the Song of Songs is sacred (refers to God), the King to Whom peace (שָׁלוֹם) belongs. It is a song that is above all songs, which was recited to the Holy One, blessed be He, by His congregation and His people, the congregation of Israel. Rabbi Akiva said: The world was never as worthy as on the day that the Song of Songs was given to Israel, for all the Writings are holy, whereas the Song of Songs is the holiest of the holy. Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah said: To what can this be compared? To a king who took a se’ah of wheat and gave it to a baker. He said to him, “Extract for me so much fine flour, so much bran, so much coarse bran, and you shall produce enough fine flour for one white loaf, sifted and superior.” So are all the Writings holy and the Song of Songs the holiest of the holy, for it is all comprised of fear of Heaven and the acceptance of the yoke of His kingdom.  
2. "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for your love is better than wine.   ב. יִשָּׁקֵנִי מִנְּשִׁיקוֹת פִּיהוּ כִּי טוֹבִים דֹּדֶיךָ מִיָּיִן:
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: She recites this song with her mouth, in her exile and in her widowhood: “If only King Solomon would kiss me with the kisses of his mouth as of old,” because in some places they kiss on the back of the hand or on the shoulder, but I desire and wish that he behave toward me as he behaved toward me originally, like a bridegroom with a bride, mouth to mouth.  
for… is better: your love [is better] to me more than any wine banquet and more than any pleasure and joy. In the Hebrew language, every banquet of pleasure and joy is called after the wine, as it is stated (Esther 7:8): “to the house of the wine feast” ; (Isa. 24:9): “In song they shall not drink wine” ; (ibid. 5:12): “And there were harp and lute, tambourine and flute, and wine at their drinking feasts.” This is the explanation of its apparent meaning. This figure of speech was used because He gave them His Torah and spoke to them face to face, and that love is still more pleasant to them than any pleasure, and they are assured by Him that He will appear to them to explain to them the secret of its reasons and its hidden mysteries, and they entreat Him to fulfill His word, and this is the meaning of “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth.”  
3. Because of the fragrance of your goodly oils, your name is 'oil poured forth.' Therefore, the maidens loved you.   ג. לְרֵיחַ שְׁמָנֶיךָ טוֹבִים שֶׁמֶן תּוּרַק שְׁמֶךָ עַל כֵּן עֲלָמוֹת אֲהֵבוּךָ:
Because of the fragrance of your goodly oils: A good name is referred to by the expression, “good oil.”  
Because of the fragrance of your goodly oils: that those dwelling at the ends of the earth smelled, [i.e.,] those who heard of Your good fame when You performed awesome deeds in Egypt.  
your name is ‘oil poured forth.’: Your name is [thus] called. It is said about you that you are oil that is constantly being poured forth so that your fragrant scent wafts forth to a distance, for so is the nature of fragrant oil. As long as it is in a sealed bottle, its scent does not carry. If one opens it and pours the oil into another vessel, its scent carries.  
Therefore, the maidens loved you: Jethro came at the sound of the news and converted; also Rahab the harlot said, (Josh. 2:10f.): “For we have heard how the Lord dried up, etc.,” and thereby, “the Lord your God, He is God in heaven, etc.”  
maidens: virgins, since the text compares Him to a youth whose beloved holds him dear, and according to the allegory, the maidens are the nations.  
4. Draw me, we will run after you; the king brought me to his chambers. We will rejoice and be glad in you. We will recall your love more fragrant than wine; they have loved you sincerely.   ד. מָשְׁכֵנִי אַחֲרֶיךָ נָרוּצָה הֱבִיאַנִי הַמֶּלֶךְ חֲדָרָיו נָגִילָה וְנִשְׂמְחָה בָּךְ נַזְכִּירָה דֹדֶיךָ מִיַּיִן מֵישָׁרִים אֲהֵבוּךָ:
Draw me, we will run after you: I heard from your messengers a hint that you said to draw me, and I said, “We will run after you to be your wife.”  
the king brought me to his chambers: And even this very day, I still have joy and happiness that I cleaved to you.  
We will recall your love: Even today, in living widowhood, I recall your early love more than any banquet of pleasure and joy.  
they have loved you sincerely: a strong love, a straightforward love, without crookedness (Heb. עקיבה) or deceit (Heb. רכסים), [after Isaiah 40: 4: and the crooked terrain (הֶעָקֹב) shall become a plain and the rugged mountains (וְהָרְכָסִים) a valley], that my ancestors and I loved you in those days. This is its simple meaning according to its context, and according to its allegorical meaning, they mention before Him the loving kindness of [their] youth, the love of [their] nuptials, their following Him in the desert, a land of aridness and darkness, and they did not even prepare supplies for themselves, but they believed in Him and in His messenger, and they did not say, “How will we go out into the desert, which is not a land of seed or food,” but they followed Him, and He brought them into the midst of the chambers of the encompassment of His clouds. With this, they are still joyful today and happy in Him despite their afflictions and distress, and they delight in the Torah, and there they recall His love more than wine and the sincerity of their love for Him.  
5. I am black but comely, O daughters of Jerusalem! Like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon.   ה. שְׁחוֹרָה אֲנִי וְנָאוָה בְּנוֹת יְרוּשָׁלָיִם כְּאָהֳלֵי קֵדָר כִּירִיעוֹת שְׁלֹמֹה:
I am black but comely, etc.: You, my friends, let me not be light in your eyes even if my husband has left me because of my blackness, for I am black because of the sun’s gaze, but I am comely with the shape of beautiful limbs, and if I am black as the tents of Kedar, which are blackened by the rain, for they are constantly spread out in the deserts, I am easily cleansed to be like the curtains of Solomon. The allegory is that the congregation of Israel says to the nations: I am black in my deeds, but I am comely in the deeds of my ancestors, and even some of my deeds are comely. If I am guilty of the iniquity of the [Golden] Calf, I can counter it with the merit of the acceptance of the Torah (Song Rabbah). He calls the nations the daughters of Jerusalem because she [Jerusalem] is destined to become the metropolis for them all, as Ezekiel prophesied (16:61): “and I shall give them to you for daughters,” like (Josh. 15:45): “Ekron, with her towns (וּבְנוֹהֶיהָ).”  
6. Do not look upon me [disdainfully] because I am swarthy, for the sun has gazed upon me; my mother's sons were incensed against me; they made me a keeper of the vineyards; my own vineyard I did not keep.   ו. אַל תִּרְאֻנִי שֶׁאֲנִי שְׁחַרְחֹרֶת שֶׁשְּׁזָפַתְנִי הַשָּׁמֶשׁ בְּנֵי אִמִּי נִחֲרוּ בִי שָׂמֻנִי נֹטֵרָה אֶת הַכְּרָמִים כַּרְמִי שֶׁלִּי לֹא נָטָרְתִּי:
Do not look upon me: Do not look upon me disdainfully [like (I Sam. 6:19) “for they had gazed upon the Ark of the Lord”].  
because I am swarthy: For my blackness and my ugliness are not from my mother’s womb, but from tanning from the sun, for that blackness can easily be whitened by staying in the shade.  
my mother’s sons were incensed against me: These are the Egyptians among whom I grew up, and they went up with me in the mixed multitude; they were incensed against me with their enticement and their seduction until they made me…  
a keeper of the vineyards: and there the sun tanned me and I became blackened; i.e., they made me a worshipper of alien gods, but my own vineyard, which I had from my forefathers, I did not keep. We find that in the Scripture, leaders are called by an expression of vineyards, as it is said (Hos. 2:17): “And I will give to her her vineyards from there,” which the Targum renders: “And I will appoint her leaders for her.” And similarly (Job 24:18): “he will not turn by the way of the vineyards.”  
7. Tell me, you whom my soul loves, where do you feed, where do you rest [the flocks] at noon, for why should I be like one who veils herself beside the flocks of your companions?"   ז. הַגִּידָה לִּי שֶׁאָהֲבָה נַפְשִׁי אֵיכָה תִרְעֶה אֵיכָה תַּרְבִּיץ בַּצָּהֳרָיִם שַׁלָּמָה אֶהְיֶה כְּעֹטְיָה עַל עֶדְרֵי חֲבֵרֶיךָ:
Tell me, you whom my soul loves: The Divine Spirit repeatedly compares her to the flock that is beloved to the shepherd. The congregation of Israel says before Him as a woman to her husband, “Tell me, You Whom my soul loves, where do You feed Your flock among these wolves in whose midst they are, and where do You rest them at noon, in this exile, which is a distressful time for them, like noon, which is a distressful time for the flock?”  
for why should I be like one who veils herself: And if you ask, “What does it concern you?” It is not dignified for you that I should be like a mourner, with a veil over my lip, weeping for my flock.  
beside the flocks of your companions: beside the flocks of the other shepherds, who pasture flocks as you do; i.e., among the flocks of the heathens, who rely on pagan deities, and who have kings and princes who lead them.  
8. "If you do not know, O fairest of women, go your way in the footsteps of the flocks and pasture your kids beside the shepherds' dwellings.   ח. אִם לֹא תֵדְעִי לָךְ הַיָּפָה בַּנָּשִׁים צְאִי לָךְ בְּעִקְבֵי הַצֹּאן וּרְעִי אֶת גְּדִיֹּתַיִךְ עַל מִשְׁכְּנוֹת הָרֹעִים:
If you do not, etc.: This is the shepherd’s reply: If you do not know where you should go to feed your flock, you, O fairest of women, for the shepherd has ceased pasturing them.  
go your way in the footsteps of the flocks: Look at the footsteps, the way that the flocks went, and the heels are discernible, traces in French, tracks. There are many similar instances in Scripture, e.g. (Ps. 77:20): “and Your steps (וְעִקְבוֹתֶי) were not known” ; (Jer. 13:22): “your steps (עֲקֵבָיִ) were cut off” ; (Gen. 49:19): “and his troops will return in their tracks (עָקֵב).” He will return in his tracks; now go that way.  
and pasture your kids beside the shepherds’ dwellings: among the dwellings of the other shepherds beside whom you are, and this is the allegory: If you do not know, My assembly and My congregation, O fairest of women, [the fairest] of the nations, where you will pasture and be saved from the hand of those who oppress you, to be among them, and that your children should not perish, ponder the ways of your early ancestors, who received My Torah and kept My watch and My commandments, and go in their ways, and as a reward for this, you will pasture your kids beside the princes of the nations, and so did Jeremiah say (31:20): “Set up markers for yourself… put your heart to the highway, etc.”  
9. At the gathering of the steeds of Pharaoh's chariots have I silenced you, my beloved.   ט. לְסֻסָתִי בְּרִכְבֵי פַרְעֹה דִּמִּיתִיךְ רַעְיָתִי:
At the gathering of the steeds of Pharaoh’s chariots have I silenced you, my beloved: Heb. לְסֻסָתִי. This “lammed” is like the “lammed” of (Jer. 10:13): “At the sound of (לְקוֹל) His giving a multitude of waters,” and like (above verse 3): “At the fragrance of (לְרֵיחַ) your oils.” At the gathering of many stee ds, for I gathered my camps to go forth toward you in the chariots of Pharaoh to save you, as it is said (Hab. 3:15): “You trampled in the sea with your steeds,” many steeds. There I silenced you, my beloved. I silenced you from your cry, as it is written (Exod. 14:14): “and you shall be silent.” I saw this in Aggadic works (Song Rabbah). Another explanation: דִמִיתִ רַעְיָתִי -There I demonstrated to all that you are my beloved.  
steeds: Heb. לְסֻסָתִי, means a gathering of horses, and in the French language, chevalchie, troop of horses, cavalcade. דִמִיתִ is adesmay in Old French, like (Jud. 20:5): “Me they intended (דִמוּ) to kill,” for there I adorned you with beautiful ornaments.  
10. Your cheeks are comely with rows, your neck with necklaces.   י. נָאווּ לְחָיַיִךְ בַּתֹּרִים צַוָּארֵךְ בַּחֲרוּזִים:
Your cheeks are comely with rows: rows of earrings and a golden forehead plate.  
your neck with necklaces: necklaces of gold with pearls strung on golden threads of the plunder of the sea.  
11. We will make you rows of gold with studs of silver."   יא. תּוֹרֵי זָהָב נַעֲשֶׂה לָּךְ עִם נְקֻדּוֹת הַכָּסֶף:
We will make you rows of gold: I and My tribunal decided before the arrival of Pharaoh that I should entice him and strengthen his heart to pursue you with all the best of his hidden treasures, so that we should make rows of golden ornaments for you.  
with studs of silver: that were already in your possession, that you took out of Egypt, for the plunder at the sea was greater than the plunder in Egypt.  
studs: silver objects studded and decorated with stripes and hues.  
12. "While the king was still at his table, my spikenard gave forth its fragrance.   יב. עַד שֶׁהַמֶּלֶךְ בִּמְסִבּוֹ נִרְדִּי נָתַן רֵיחוֹ:
While the king was still at his table: The congregation of Israel replies and says, “All this is true. You bestowed good upon me, but I repaid You with evil, for while the king was still at the table of his wedding banquet…”  
my spikenard gave forth its fragrance: This is instead of saying, “gave forth its stench.” When the Shechinah was still at Sinai, I sinned with the Calf; Scripture describes it with an expression of love, “gave forth its fragrance,” and did not write, “stank,” or “became putrid,” because Scripture speaks euphemistically. [Rashi from Shab. 88b] (According to the Tosafists, it does not say, “stank,” because of euphemism, and it does not say, “abandoned its fragrance,” because of love.)  
13. A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me; between my breasts he shall lie.   יג. צְרוֹר הַמֹּר | דּוֹדִי לִי בֵּין שָׁדַי יָלִין:
A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me: My beloved has become to me as one who has a bundle of myrrh in his bosom, and he said to him, “Here, take this bundle, which will give a more fragrant scent than the first one that you lost.” So was the Holy One, blessed be He, appeased by Israel for the incident of the Calf and found them an atonement for their iniquity and said: Donate to the Tabernacle, and let the gold of the Tabernacle atone for the gold of the Calf.  
between my breasts he shall lie: Even though I betrayed him, he said to dwell there.  
between my breasts: between the two staves of the Ark.  
14. A cluster of henna-flowers is my beloved to me, in the vineyards of Ein-Gedi."   יד. אֶשְׁכֹּל הַכֹּפֶר | דּוֹדִי לִי בְּכַרְמֵי עֵין גֶּדִי:
A cluster of henna-flowers Heb.: כֹּפֶר. There is a spice called כֹּפֶר, like (below 4:12): “Henna- flowers (כְּפָרִים) with spikenard,” and it is shaped like a sort of cluster.  
in the vineyards of Ein-Gedi: The name of a place, and there it is common. I saw in an aggadah (Song Zuta) that those vineyards produce fruits four or five times a year, and this is symbolic of the many atonements and forgivenesses that the Holy One, blessed be He, forgave them for the many trials that they tried Him in the desert.  
15. "Behold, you are comely, my beloved; behold, you are comely; your eyes are like doves."   טו. הִנָּךְ יָפָה רַעְיָתִי הִנָּךְ יָפָה עֵינַיִךְ יוֹנִים:
Behold, you are comely, my beloved: I was ashamed of my sin, but He encouraged me with appeasing words, saying, (Num. 14:20): “I have forgiven according to your words,” and you are most fair, for your eyes are like doves; i.e., a bride whose eyes are ugly-her entire body requires examination but [a bride] whose eyes are beautiful, her body requires no examination. (Song Rabbah 4). The allegorical meaning is: I forgave you for your iniquity, and behold you are fair with [your statement of] “Let us do,” and you are fair with [your statement of] “Let us hear” ; fair with the deeds of your forefathers and fair with your own deeds, because…  
your eyes are like doves: There are righteous among you who clung to Me like a dove, which, as soon as it recognizes its mate, does not abandon it to mate with another. Similarly, (Exod. 32:26): “and all the sons of Levi gathered to him,” and they did not err with the Calf, and moreover, behold you are fair with the work of the Tabernacle, as it is said (ibid. 39: 43): “and behold, they made it, etc. and Moses blessed them” ; behold he praised them for that.  
16. "Behold, you are comely, my beloved, yea pleasant; also our couch is leafy.   טז. הִנְּךָ יָפֶה דוֹדִי אַף נָעִים אַף עַרְשֵׂנוּ רַעֲנָנָה:
Behold, you are comely, my beloved, yea pleasant: The beauty is not mine, but yours; you are the comely one.  
yea pleasant: For You overlooked my transgression and caused Your Shechinah to rest in our midst, and this is the praise of the descent of the fire (Lev. 9:24): “and all the people saw and shouted for joy.”  
also our couch is leafy: Through your pleasantness, behold our couch is leafy with our sons and with our daughters, all of whom gather to You here, as it is said (ibid. 8: 4): “and the congregation gathered [to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting].” The Tabernacle is called a bed, as it is said (below 3: 7): “Behold, the litter of Solomon,” and the Temple is called a bed, as it is said concerning Joash (II Chron. 22:11, II Kings 11:2): “in the bed chamber” which was in the “House of the Lord” (ibid. 3), because they [the Sanctuaries] are the source of Israel’s fruitfulness and procreation.  
17. The beams of our houses are cedars; our corridors are cypresses."   יז. קֹרוֹת בָּתֵּינוּ אֲרָזִים רָהִיטֵנוּ (רָחִיטֵנוּ כתיב) בְּרוֹתִים:
The beams of our houses are cedars: This is the praise of the Tabernacle.  
our corridors: Heb. רָהִיטֵנוּ. I do not know if this is a term referring to boards or a term referring to bars, but I do know that also in the language of the Mishnah, we learned (Hag. 16a): “The רָהִיטִים of a person’s house testify against him.”  
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