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The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary
   

Shir Hashirim - Song of Songs - Chapter 4

Shir Hashirim - Song of Songs - Chapter 4

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Rashi's Commentary:

Chapter 4

1. "Behold, you are fair, my beloved; behold, you are fair; your eyes are [like] doves, from within your kerchief; your hair is like a flock of goats that streamed down from Mount Gilead.   א. הִנָּךְ יָפָה רַעְיָתִי הִנָּךְ יָפָה עֵינַיִךְ יוֹנִים מִבַּעַד לְצַמָּתֵךְ שַׂעְרֵךְ כְּעֵדֶר הָעִזִּים שֶׁגָּלְשׁוּ מֵהַר גִּלְעָד:
Behold, you are fair, my beloved: He praised them and appeased them, and their sacrifices pleased Him.  
until the sun spreads: that they sinned before Me in the days of Hophni and Phinehas.  
your eyes are [like] doves: Your hues and your appearance and your characteristics are like those of a dove, which cleaves to its mate, and when they slaughter it, it does not struggle but stretches forth its neck; so have you offered your shoulder to bear My yoke and My fear.  
from within your kerchief; your hair is like a flock of goats: This praise is a paradigm of the praise of a woman beloved by her bridegroom. Within your kerchief, your hair is beautiful and glistens with brilliance and whiteness like the hair of white goats descending from the mountains, whose hair gleams in the distance. And in the allegorical sense, [it is said of] the congregation of Israel that within your camps and your tents, even the empty ones among you are as dear to Me as Jacob and his sons, who streamed down to descend from Mount Gilead when Laban overtook them there. Another explanation: As those who mobilized against Midian beyond the Jordan, which is in the land of Gilead, and this language is found in Midrash Shir Hashirim.  
within: Heb. מִבַּעַד. This is a term meaning “within,” for the majority of בְּעַד in Scripture refers to something that covers and shields against something else, like (Job 9:7): “and He sealed up (וּבְעַד) the stars” ; (Jonah 2:7): “the earth-its bars are closed on me (בְּעַדִי) ” ; (Job 22:13): “Does He judge through (הַבְעַד) the dark cloud?” And מִבַּעַד is the thing that is within that בְּעַד. Therefore, he says, מִבַּעַד.  
your kerchief: Heb. צַמָּתֵ. An expression denoting a thing that confines the hair so that it does not show, and this refers to a kerchief and ribbons. It is impossible to interpret צַמָּתֵ as meaning a veil (צֹמֶת) , where the “tav” is a radical, for were that so, it would have to be punctuated with a “dagesh” when immediately preceding a “hey,” which makes it the feminine possessive, or a “vav,” which makes it the masculine possessive, like the “tav” of שַּׁבָּת, which, when given to a female, (i.e., in the feminine possessive form), is punctuated with a “dagesh,” like (Hos. 2:13): “her festival[s], her new moon[s], and her Sabbath[s] (שַּׁבַּתָּהּ) ,” and so for the masculine, (Num. 28:10): “the burnt offering of a Sabbath in its Sabbath (בְּשַּׁבַּתּוֹ) ,” but the “tav” of צַמָּתֵ, which is not punctuated with a “dagesh,” perforce comes instead of a “hey,” and the name of the kerchief is צַמָה, and when it is possessive, to be given to a male or female, the “hey” is converted to a “tav” without a “dagesh”; e.g. שִּׁפְחָה becomes שִּׁפְחָתוֹ or שִּׁפְחָתָה, and so אָמָה [becomes] אֶמָתוֹ, אֲמָתָה; עֶרְוָה (nakedness) [becomes] עֶרְוָתוֹ, עֶרְוָתָה, and likewise, this one, צָמָה [becomes] צַמָתוֹ, צַמָתָה, צַמָּתִי, צַמָתֵ.  
that streamed: Heb. שֶׁגָלְשׁוּ, that they became bald. גִבֵּחַ is rendered by the Targum as גְלוֹשּׁ. When the animals descend from the mountain, the mountain becomes bald and bare of them.  
2. Your teeth are like a flock of uniformly shaped [ewes] that came up from the washing, all of whom are perfect, and there is no bereavement among them.   ב. שִׁנַּיִךְ כְּעֵדֶר הַקְּצוּבוֹת שֶׁעָלוּ מִן הָרַחְצָה שֶׁכֻּלָּם מַתְאִימוֹת וְשַׁכֻּלָה אֵין בָּהֶם:
Your teeth are like a flock of uniformly shaped [ewes]: This praise too is in terms of a woman’s beauty.  
Your teeth: are thin and white and arranged like wool and the order of a flock of ewes, selected from the rest of the flocks by count and number, delivered to a clever and worthy shepherd to be careful with their wool, for they make them into fine woolen garments, and they watch them from the time of their birth, that the wool should not become soiled, and they wash them from day to day.  
all of whom are perfect: Heb. מַתְאִימוֹת, an expression of perfection, (Ps. 38:4): “There is no soundness (מְתֹם) ,” i.e., perfect, enterins in Old French, whole, perfect, sound.  
bereavement: There is neither bereavement nor blemish among them. This example is given as symbolic of the mighty men of Israel, who cut down and devour their enemies surrounding them with their teeth, and yet they distance themselves from stealing from Israelites and from immoral acts, so that they should not become sullied with sin. Now this praise was given concerning the twelve thousand men who mobilized against Midian with count and number, of whom not one was suspected of committing immoral acts, as it is written (Num. 31:49): “and not a single man among us is missing.” And they even brought atonements for erotic thoughts, and they were not suspected of theft, for Scripture attests for them, (ibid. verses 11f.): “And they took all the booty and they brought it to Moses and to Eleazar the priest, etc.,” and not one of them concealed even one cow or one donkey.  
3. Your lips are like a scarlet thread, and your speech is comely; your temple is like a split pomegranate from within your kerchief.   ג. כְּחוּט הַשָּׁנִי שִׂפְתוֹתַיִךְ וּמִדְבָּרֵךְ נָאוֶה כְּפֶלַח הָרִמּוֹן רַקָּתֵךְ מִבַּעַד לְצַמָּתֵךְ:
Your lips are like a scarlet thread: beautiful to promise and to keep their promise, as the Spies did to Rahab the harlot, i.e., they said to her, (Josh. 2: 18): “you shall bind this line of scarlet thread, etc.,” and they kept their promise.  
and your speech: Heb. וּמִדְבָּרֵ your speech, and this is of the structure of (Ezek. 33:30): “who talk (הַנִדְבָּרִים) about you beside the walls” ; (Mal. 3:16): “Then the God-fearing men spoke (נִדְבְּרוּ),” parlediz in Old French; words, speech, talk.  
your temple: Heb. רַקָתֵ. This is the highest part of the face, called pomels or pomials, cheek-bones, [some editions read: tenples or tanples, temples] next to the eyes. And in the language of the Talmud, it is called “the pomegranate of the face,” and it resembles the split half of a pomegranate from the outside, which is red and round. This is a praise in terms of a woman’s beauty, and our Sages explained the allegory to mean: even your worthless ones (רֵיקָנִים, lit. empty ones) are full of mitzvoth as a pomegranate.  
from within your kerchief: Heb. מִבַּעַד לְצַמָתֵך, from within your kerchief.  
4. Your neck is like the Tower of David, built as a model; a thousand shields hanging on it, all the quivers of the mighty men.   ד. כְּמִגְּדַל דָּוִיד צַוָּארֵךְ בָּנוּי לְתַלְפִּיּוֹת אֶלֶף הַמָּגֵן תָּלוּי עָלָיו כֹּל שִׁלְטֵי הַגִּבֹּרִים:
Your neck is like the Tower of David: An erect stature is beauty in a woman, and the allegorical meaning is that [just as] the Tower of David, which is the Citadel of Zion, is a place of strength, a tower, and a fortress, so is your neck. This is the Chamber of Hewn Stone, which was Israel’s strength and fortification, and that tower was built as a model, and was built for beauty, so that everyone should look at it to learn its forms and the beauty of its architecture, and the word (לְתַלְפִּיּוֹת) is of the grammatical structure of (Job 35: 11): “He teaches us (מַלְפֵנוּ) more than the beasts of the earth,” and the “tav” in תַלְפִּיוֹת is like the “tav” in תַרְמִית (guile) and תַבְנִית (form).  
a thousand shields hanging on it: It was the custom of the princes to hang their shields and their quivers on the walls of the towers.  
quivers: Heb. שִּׁלְטֵי, the quivers in which they place arrows, like (Jer. 51:11): “Polish the arrows, fill the quivers (הַשְּׁלָטִים),” and similar to this is the Chamber of Hewn Stone, whence instruction goes forth, for the Torah is a shield to Israel, (rendering אֶלֶף הַמָּגֵן as: the teaching that is a shield). It is also possible to render אֶלֶף הַמָּגֵן as מָגֵן הָאֶלֶף, the shield of the thousand, alluding to (I Chron. 16:15): “the word He had commanded to the thousandth [לְאֶלֶף] generation.”  
all the quivers of the mighty men: We find that disciples are symbolized by arrows and quivers, as is stated (Ps. 127:4f.): “As arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so are the sons of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has filled his quiver with them.”  
5. Your two breasts are like two fawns, the twins of a gazelle, who graze among the roses.   ה. שְׁנֵי שָׁדַיִךְ כִּשְׁנֵי עֳפָרִים תְּאוֹמֵי צְבִיָּה הָרֹעִים בַּשּׁוֹשַׁנִּים:
Your two breasts: which nourish you. This refers to Moses and Aaron  
are like two fawns, the twins of a gazelle: It is customary for a gazelle to bear twins so that they are both identical, this one to that one. Another explanation:  
Your two breasts: symbolize the Tablets.  
the twins of a gazelle: exactly corresponding in one measure; the five commandments on this one (side of the Tablets, correspond to) the five commandments on the other (side of the Tablets), each commandment corresponding to a commandment. “I [am the Lord your God]” corresponds to “You shall not murder,” for the murderer diminishes the semblance of the Holy One, blessed be He. “You shall not have [any other gods before Me]” corresponds to “You shall not commit adultery,” for one who commits idolatry is like an adulterous woman, who takes strangers instead of her husband. “You shall not hear [the name of the Lord your God in vain]” corresponds to “You shall not steal,” for one who steals will ultimately swear falsely. “Remember [the Sabbath day to keep it holy]” corresponds to “You shall not bear [false witness against your neighbor],” for one who profanes the Sabbath testifies falsely against his Creator, saying that He did not rest on the Sabbath of Creation. “Honor [your father and mother]” corresponds to “You shall not covet,” for one who covets is destined to beget a son who slights him and honors one who is not his father.  
who graze: their flocks among the roses and lead them in a tranquil and straight path.  
6. Until the sun spreads and the shadows flee, I will go to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of frankincense.   ו. עַד שֶׁיָּפוּחַ הַיּוֹם וְנָסוּ הַצְּלָלִים אֵלֶךְ לִי אֶל הַר הַמּוֹר וְאֶל גִּבְעַת הַלְּבוֹנָה:
and the shadows flee: That is the time of heat, the hottest time of the day. I will save you, and you are pleasant to me.  
the sun: Heb. הַיוֹם, usually “the day.” This refers to the sun, and likewise, (Gen. 3:8): “in the direction of the sun (לְרוּח ַהַיוֹם) , and so, (Mal. 3:19): ” For lo, the sun (הַיוֹם) comes, glowing like a furnace, “ and when the sun spreads, I will go to Mount Moriah, to the everlasting Temple. [This is] in Genesis Rabbah (55:7). i.e., When they will then sin before Me by profaning My sacred offerings and by spurning My meal offerings in the days of Hophni and Phinehas (I Sam. 3:12-17), I will withdraw from them and I will abandon this Tabernacle, and I will choose for Myself Mount Moriah, the everlasting Temple, and there, ” You are all fair… and there is no blemish in you," and there I will accept all your sacrifices.  
7. You are all fair, my beloved, and there is no blemish in you.   ז. כֻּלָּךְ יָפָה רַעְיָתִי וּמוּם אֵין בָּךְ:
8. With me from Lebanon, my bride, with me from Lebanon shall you come; you shall look from the peak of Amanah, from the peak of Senir and Hermon, from the lions' dens, from mountains of leopards.   ח. אִתִּי מִלְּבָנוֹן כַּלָּה אִתִּי מִלְּבָנוֹן תָּבוֹאִי תָּשׁוּרִי | מֵרֹאשׁ אֲמָנָה מֵרֹאשׁ שְׂנִיר וְחֶרְמוֹן מִמְּעֹנוֹת אֲרָיוֹת מֵהַרְרֵי נְמֵרִים:
With me from Lebanon, my bride: When you will be exiled from this Lebanon, with Me you will be exiled, for I will go into exile with you.  
with me from Lebanon shall you come: And when you return from the exile, I will return with you, and also all the days of the exile, I will be distressed with your distress. Therefore, he writes: “with Me from Lebanon you shall come.” When you are exiled from this Lebanon, you shall come with Me, and he does not write: “with Me to Lebanon you shall come,” denoting that from the time of your departure from here until the time of your arrival here, I am with you wherever you go out and come in.  
you shall look from the peak of Amanah: When I gather your dispersed ones, you will look and ponder what is the reward of your actions from the beginning of your faith (אֶמוּנָה) that you believed in Me (Tan. Beshallach 10), your following Me in the desert and your travels and your encampments by My command, and your coming to the peak of Senir and Hermon, which were the dens of lions, namely Sihon and Og (Song Rabbah, Mid. Zuta). Another explanation: From the peak of Amanah. This is a mountain on the northern boundary of the Land of Israel, named Amanah, and in the language of the Mishnah, the mountains of Amnon, and [this is] Mount Hor, about which it says: (Num. 34:6): “from the Great Sea you shall draw a line extending to Mount Hor.” When the exiles gather and arrive there, they will look from there and see the boundary of the Land of Israel and the air of Israel, and they will rejoice and utter thanks. Therefore, it says: “You shall see from the peak of Amanah.”  
9. You have captivated my heart, my sister, [my] bride; you have captivated my heart with one of your eyes, with one link of your necklaces.   ט. לִבַּבְתִּנִי אֲחֹתִי כַלָּה לִבַּבְתִּנִי בְּאַחַת (בְּאַחַד כתיב) מֵעֵינַיִךְ בְּאַחַד עֲנָק מִצַּוְּרֹנָיִךְ:
You have captivated my heart: Heb. לִבַּבְתִּנִי, you have drawn my heart to you.  
with one of your eyes: Of the many good characteristics that you possess, if you had only one, I would have loved you dearly, and how much more so with all of them! And so, בְּאַחַד עֲנָק מְצַוְרֹנָי, with one of the links of the necklaces of your adornments; these are the adornments of the commandments with which the Israelites are distinguished. Another explanation: בְּאַחַד עֲנָק -with one of your forefathers; he was the one who was special, and that is Abraham, who was called עֲנָק, a giant, “the greatest man among the Anakim” (Josh. 14:15).  
10. How fair is your love, my sister, [my] bride; how much better is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than all spices!   י. מַה יָּפוּ דֹדַיִךְ אֲחֹתִי כַלָּה מַה טֹּבוּ דֹדַיִךְ מִיַּיִן וְרֵיחַ שְׁמָנַיִךְ מִכָּל בְּשָׂמִים:
how much better is your love: Every place where you showed Me affection is beautiful in my eyes: Gilgal, Shiloh, Nob, Gibeon, and the everlasting Temple. That is what the “Babylonian (poet)” composed: “A resting place and other meeting places” : “resting place” refers to Jerusalem, and “other meeting places” refers to the place where the Shechinah met with Israel.  
and the fragrance of your oils: your good name.  
11. Your lips drip flowing honey, O bride; honey and milk are under your tongue, and the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.   יא. נֹפֶת תִּטֹּפְנָה שִׂפְתוֹתַיִךְ כַּלָּה דְּבַשׁ וְחָלָב תַּחַת לְשׁוֹנֵךְ וְרֵיחַ שַׂלְמֹתַיִךְ כְּרֵיחַ לְבָנוֹן:
flowing honey: which is sweet.  
Your lips drip: the reasons of Torah.  
and the fragrance of your garments: the proper commandments that pertain to your garments: ritual fringes, the blue thread, the priestly raiments, and the prohibition of shaatnez (the mingling of wool and linen).  
12. A locked up garden is my sister, [my] bride; a locked up spring, a sealed fountain.   יב. גַּן | נָעוּל אֲחֹתִי כַלָּה גַּל נָעוּל מַעְיָן חָתוּם:
A locked up garden: This refers to the modesty of the daughters of Israel, who are not loose in immoral actions.  
a locked up spring: Heb. גַל. This may be explained as a term referring to a fountain, like (Josh. 15:19): “upper springs (גֻלֹת עִלִיּוֹת),” and it may also be explained as a term referring to a gate. This is an Aramaic expression; in the Talmud (Ber. 28a): טְרוּקוּ גַלֵי, lock the gates.  
13. Your arid fields are as a pomegranate orchard with sweet fruit, henna and spikenard.   יג. שְׁלָחַיִךְ פַּרְדֵּס רִמּוֹנִים עִם פְּרִי מְגָדִים כְּפָרִים עִם נְרָדִים:
Your arid fields: Dry land is called בֵּית הַשְּׁלָחִין. It must be continually irrigated, and a field watered by rain is superior to it. Here he praises the arid field. Your arid fields are replete with all good like a pomegranate orchard. This is symbolic of the smallest of Israel, who are moist with good deeds like a pomegranate orchard.  
henna and spikenard: These are species of spices.  
14. Spikenard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all frankincense trees, myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices.   יד. נֵרְדְּ | וְכַרְכֹּם קָנֶה וְקִנָּמוֹן עִם כָּל עֲצֵי לְבוֹנָה מֹר וַאֲהָלוֹת עִם כָּל רָאשֵׁי בְשָׂמִים:
15. A garden fountain, a well of living waters and flowing streams from Lebanon."   טו. מַעְיַן גַּנִּים בְּאֵר מַיִם חַיִּים וְנֹזְלִים מִן לְבָנוֹן:
A garden fountain: All this refers back to, “your arid fields” and he praises them (comparing them to) a fountain that waters them, and this figure of speech symbolizes the immersions of purity which the daughters of Israel immerse themselves.  
and flowing streams from Lebanon: from a place of cleanliness, without the murkiness of mud.  
16. " Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out; let my beloved come to his garden and eat his sweet fruit."   טז. עוּרִי צָפוֹן וּבוֹאִי תֵימָן הָפִיחִי גַנִּי יִזְּלוּ בְשָׂמָיו יָבֹא דוֹדִי לְגַנּוֹ וְיֹאכַל פְּרִי מְגָדָיו:
Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind: Since your fragrance and the beauty of your dwellings is pleasing to me, I command the north and south winds to blow on your garden so that your good fragrance should spread afar. And this figure of speech symbolizes the ingathering of the exiles and from all the nations they will bring [them] as an offering to Jerusalem, and in the days of the building [of the Temple], the Israelites will gather there for the festivals and for the pilgrimages, and Israel shall reply, “Let my beloved come to His garden.” If You are there, all are there.  
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