Chapter 5

1"I have come to my garden, my sister, [my] bride; I have gathered my myrrh with my spice, I have eaten my sugar cane with my sugar, I have drunk my wine with my milk. Eat, friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, beloved ones."   אבָּ֣אתִי לְגַנִּי֘ אֲחֹתִ֣י כַלָּה֒ אָרִ֤יתִי מוֹרִי֙ עִם־בְּשָׂמִ֔י אָכַ֤לְתִּי יַעְרִי֙ עִם־דִּבְשִׁ֔י שָׁתִ֥יתִי יֵינִ֖י עִם־חֲלָבִ֑י אִכְל֣וּ רֵעִ֔ים שְׁת֥וּ וְשִׁכְר֖וּ דּוֹדִֽים:
I have come to my garden: in the days of the dedication of the Temple.  
I have gathered: Heb. אָרִיתִי, I gathered, and it is Mishnaic language (Shev. 1:2): “as much space as is required by a picker (אוֹרָה) and his basket.” It is also Biblical language (Ps. 80: 13): “and all wayfarers have plucked its fruit (וְאָרוּה).” This was stated in regard to the incense, for the princes burned private incense on the outside altar and it was accepted. This is something that does not apply to later generations, and because of this, it is stated: “I have eaten my sugar cane with my sugar.” There is honey that grows in canes, as it is stated (I Sam. 14:27): “into the sugar canes (בְּיַעְרַת הַדְבַשּׁ),” and יַעְרַת is a term referring to canes [or reeds], as it is stated (Exod. 2:3): “and she placed [it] in the reeds (בַּסוּף),” [which Onkelos renders:] וּשֲּׁוּיתָהּ בְּיַעְרָא, and the sugar is sucked out and the wood is discarded. But I, out of great love, ate my יַעַר with my honey: I ate the cane with the sugar, the inedible with the edible, signifying the freewill incense, and likewise, the he- goat sin offering that the princes sacrificed, although a sin offering is not sacrificed as a freewill offering, but I accepted them on that day.  
I have drunk my wine: These are the libations.  
with my milk: They were sweeter and clearer than milk.  
Eat, friends: in the Tent of Meeting. [These were] Aaron and his sons, and in the everlasting Temple, all the priests.  
drink, yea, drink abundantly, beloved ones: These are the Israelites who ate the flesh of the peace offerings that they offered up for the dedication of the altar.  
2"I sleep, but my heart is awake. Hark! My beloved is knocking: Open for me, my sister, my beloved, my dove, my perfect one, for my head is full of dew, my locks with the drops of the night."   באֲנִ֥י יְשֵׁנָ֖ה וְלִבִּ֣י עֵ֑ר ק֣וֹל | דּוֹדִ֣י דוֹפֵ֗ק פִּתְחִי־לִ֞י אֲחֹתִ֤י רַעְיָתִי֙ יֽוֹנָתִ֣י תַמָּתִ֔י שֶׁרֹאשִׁי֙ נִמְלָא־טָ֔ל קְוֻּצּוֹתַ֖י רְסִ֥יסֵי לָֽיְלָה:
I sleep: When I was confident and tranquil in the First Temple, I despaired of worshipping the Holy One, blessed be He, as one who sleeps and slumbers.  
but my heart is awake: This is the Holy One, blessed be He. So is this explained in the Pesikta (Rabbathi, ch. 15).  
but my heart is awake: The Holy One, blessed be He, Who is (Ps. 73:26): “the Rock of my heart and my portion,” is awake to guard me and to favor me.  
Hark! My beloved is knocking: He causes His Shechinah to rest upon the prophets and He admonishes through them by sending them betimes.  
Open for me: Do not cause Me to withdraw from you.  
for my head is full of dew: A term referring to a man who comes at night, knocking on the door of his beloved. He says thus, “Because of love for you, I have come at night at the time of dew or rain,” and the allegory is that, “My head is full of dew because I am full of goodwill and satisfaction with Abraham your father, whose deeds pleased Me like dew, and behold, I come to you, loaded with blessings and the payment of reward for good deeds if you return to Me.”  
my locks with the drops of the night: In My hands there are also many categories of types of retribution, to exact retribution from those who forsake Me and anger Me. Dew is an expression connoting pleasure.  
the drops of the night: the rains of the night, which represent hardship and weariness. רְסִיסֵי is the Targum of רְבִיבִים. (Deut. 32:2): “and like drops (וְכִרְבִיבִים) on the grass,” is translated as וְכִרְסִיסֵי מַלְקוֹשָּׁא, drops of the last rain of the season. Locks are bunches of hair stuck together, called flozels, curls, locks, and because Scripture adopted an expression of dew and rain, it adopted an expression of a head and locks, for it is usual for dew and rain to stick to the hair and locks. Both “dew” and “drops of the night” may also be explained favorably, viz. the reward for precepts that are easy to perform, like dew, and the reward for precepts that are difficult as the hardship of the drops of the night.  
3"I have taken off my tunic; how can I put it on? I have bathed my feet; how can I soil them?"   גפָּשַׁ֨טְתִּי֙ אֶת־כֻּתָּנְתִּ֔י אֵיכָ֖כָה אֶלְבָּשֶׁ֑נָּה רָחַ֥צְתִּי אֶת־רַגְלַ֖י אֵיכָ֥כָה אֲטַנְּפֵֽם:
I have taken off my tunic: i.e., I have already accustomed myself to other ways; I can no longer return to You, as it is stated (Jer. 44:18): “But since we stopped burning incense to the queen of heaven, etc.,” for these ways were proper in their eyes, and the expression, “I have taken off my tunic… I have bathed my feet,” is the language of an adulterous wife, who does not wish to open the door for her husband. And since Scripture commenced with the language of, “I sleep… Hark! My beloved is knocking,” it concludes with an expression apropos to an expression of knocking at the door at the time of retiring to sleep at night.  
4My beloved stretched forth his hand from the hole, and my insides stirred because of him.   דדּוֹדִ֗י שָׁלַ֤ח יָדוֹ֙ מִן־הַח֔וֹר וּמֵעַ֖י הָמ֥וּ עָלָֽיו:
My beloved stretched forth his hand from the hole: which is beside the door, and I saw his hand, and the stirring of my insides turned within me to return to his love and to open for him.  
5I arose to open for my beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh, and my fingers with flowing myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.   הקַ֥מְתִּֽי אֲנִ֖י לִפְתֹּ֣חַ לְדוֹדִ֑י וְיָדַ֣י נָֽטְפוּ־מ֗וֹר וְאֶצְבְּעֹתַי֙ מ֣וֹר עֹבֵ֔ר עַ֖ל כַּפּ֥וֹת הַמַּנְעֽוּל:
I arose to open for my beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh: wholeheartedly and with a desiring soul, as one who adorns herself to endear herself to her husband with a pleasant scent.  
with flowing myrrh: with a fragrance that flows and spreads to all parts.  
6I opened for my beloved, but my beloved had hidden and was gone; my soul went out when he spoke; I sought him, but found him not; I called him, but he did not answer me.   ופָּתַ֤חְתִּי אֲנִי֙ לְדוֹדִ֔י וְדוֹדִ֖י חָמַ֣ק עָבָ֑ר נַפְשִׁי֙ יָֽצְאָ֣ה בְדַבְּר֔וֹ בִּקַּשְׁתִּ֨יהוּ֙ וְלֹ֣א מְצָאתִ֔יהוּ קְרָאתִ֖יו וְלֹ֥א עָנָֽנִי:
but my beloved had hidden and was gone: Heb. חָמַק, was hidden and concealed from me, like (below 7:2): “the curves (חֲמוּקֵי) of your thighs,” the hidden places of your thighs, because the thigh is hidden. [Also] (Jer. 31:21): “How long will you hide (תִתְחַמָּקִי) ,” will you hide and cover yourself because of the shame that you betrayed Me?  
my soul went out when he spoke: for he said, “I will not come into your house because at first you did not wish to open.”  
The watchmen who patrol the city found me: and apprehend the thieves who prowl at night.  
they smote me and wounded me: They inflicted a wound upon me. Every [instance of] פֶצַע is an expression of a wound [inflicted] by a weapon, navredure in Old French, a wound.  
my jewelry: Heb. רְדִידִי. My jewelry that was hammered and beaten, upon me, and the entire episode is an expression of a wife of one’s youth who bewails the husband of her youth and searches for him. And this is the allegorical meaning:  
[4] My beloved stretched forth his hand from the hole: when I said, “I have bathed my feet,” and I will not open for You, and I will not repent of the idolatry that I have chosen.  
stretched forth his hand: and demonstrated His vengeance in the days of Ahaz, and He brought upon him the army of the king of Aram (II Chron. 28: 5f): “and they smote him and captured from him a great captivity, etc. And Pekah the son of Remaliah slew in Judah one hundred and twenty thousand in one day.”  
and my insides stirred because of him: Hezekiah his son came and repented with all his heart to seek the Holy One, blessed be He, and his entire generation was wholehearted; there never arose a generation in Israel like them, as is delineated in [the chapter entitled] חֵלֶק (Sanh. 94b): They searched from Dan to Beersheba and did not find an ignoramus, from Gebeth to Antioch, and did not find a man or woman who was not well versed in the laws of ritual contamination and purity, and this is the meaning of, “my hands dripped with myrrh, etc.” It is also stated regarding Josiah (II Kings 23:25): “Now before him there was no king like him, etc.,” for he saw the retribution that had come upon Manasseh and upon Amon, to fulfill the words, “he stretched forth his hand from the hole, and my insides stirred because of him.”  
[6] I opened for my beloved, but my beloved had hidden and was gone: He did not nullify His decree, as it is stated regarding Hezekiah (Isa. 39:6f): “Behold a time shall come when everything in your palace, etc. shall be carried off to Babylonia. And…[some] of your sons… whom you shall beget.” These are Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, and also [as it is stated] concerning Josiah, through Huldah the prophetess (II Kings 22:16): “Behold, I bring calamity upon this place and upon its inhabitants, etc.” And Scripture states: (ibid. 23: 25ff): “Now, before him there was no king like him… Nevertheless, the Lord did not turn back from His great wrath, for His wrath was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked Him. And the Lord said: I will remove Judah too from before Me as I have removed Israel, and I will reject this city.”  
my soul went out when he spoke: It left me when He spoke this word.  
I sought him, but found him not: Now if you ask: Was not Jeremiah standing and prophesying during the days of Jehoiakim and Zedekiah, (Mal. 3:7): “Return to Me, and I will return to you” ? This was not to nullify the decree, but to mitigate the punishment and to prepare their kingdom for the time when they would return from the exile, to plant them without being uprooted and to build it without being demolished.  
7The watchmen who patrol the city found me; they smote me and wounded me; the watchmen of the walls took my jewelry off me.   זמְצָאֻ֧נִי הַשֹּֽׁמְרִ֛ים הַסֹּֽבְבִ֥ים בָּעִ֖יר הִכּ֣וּנִי פְצָע֑וּנִי נָֽשְׂא֤וּ אֶת־רְדִידִי֙ מֵֽעָלַ֔י שֹֽׁמְרֵ֖י הַֽחֹמֽוֹת:
The watchmen… found me: Nebuchadnezzar and his armies.  
who patrol the city: to wreak the vengeance of the Omnipresent.  
took my jewelry: the Temple.  
the watchmen of the walls: Even the ministering angels, who were guarding its walls, as it is stated (Isa. 62:6): “On your walls, O Jerusalem, etc.” They ignited the fire upon it, as it is written (Lam. 1:13): “From above He has hurled fire, etc.”  
8"I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, what will you tell him? That I am lovesick."   חהִשְׁבַּ֥עְתִּי אֶתְכֶ֖ם בְּנ֣וֹת יְרֽוּשָׁלָ֑ ִם אִֽם־תִּמְצְאוּ֙ אֶת־דּוֹדִ֔י מַה־תַּגִּ֣ידוּ ל֔וֹ שֶֽׁחוֹלַ֥ת אַֽהֲבָ֖ה אָֽנִי:
I adjure you: [You] heathens, Nebuchadnezzar’s men, who saw Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah submitting themselves to the fiery furnace, and Daniel to the lions’ den because of prayer, and Mordecai’s generation in the days of Haman…  
if you find my beloved: in the future, on judgment day, for He will request you to testify about me, as it is stated (Isa. 43:9): “Let them p resent their witnesses, that they may be deemed just.”  
what will you tell him: you will testify on my behalf that because of love for Him, I suffered harsh tortures among you. Let Nebuchadnezzar come and testify… let Eliphaz and Zophar and all the prophets of the heathens [come] and testify about me that I fulfilled the Torah.  
9"What is your beloved more than another beloved, O fairest of women? What is your beloved more than another beloved, that you have so adjured us?"   טמַה־דּוֹדֵ֣ךְ מִדּ֔וֹד הַיָּפָ֖ה בַּנָּשִׁ֑ים מַה־דּוֹדֵ֣ךְ מִדּ֔וֹד שֶׁכָּ֖כָה הִשְׁבַּעְתָּֽנוּ:
What is your beloved more than another beloved: This is what the nations were asking Israel, “What is it about your God more than all the other gods, that you allow yourselves to be burned and hanged because of Him?”  
that you have so adjured us: to testify before Him concerning your love.  
10"My beloved is white and ruddy, surrounded by myriads.   ידּוֹדִ֥י צַח֙ וְאָד֔וֹם דָּג֖וּל מֵֽרְבָבָֽה:
My beloved is white: Heb. צַח, white, like (Lam. 4:7): “they were whiter (צַחוּ) than milk.”  
and ruddy: I will first explain the entire section according to its simple meaning, i.e., the praise of the beauty of a young man, when he is white and his face is ruddy.  
surrounded by myriads: surrounded by many armies; His armies are many. Many myriads are called רְבָבָה, as it is said: (Ezek. 16: 7): “Myriads (רְבָבָה) like the plants of the field have I made you.”  
11His head is as the finest gold; his locks are curled, [they are as] black as a raven.   יארֹאשׁ֖וֹ כֶּ֣תֶם פָּ֑ז קְוֻצּוֹתָיו֙ תַּלְתַּלִּ֔ים שְׁחֹר֖וֹת כָּֽעוֹרֵֽב:
His head: glistens like the finest gold. כֶּתֶם is a term referring to the treasures of kings which they store in their treasure houses, and similarly, (Lam. 4:1): “[How] changed is the fine gold jewelry (הַכֶּתֶם) ,” and similarly, (Job 31:24): “and to jewelry (לַכֶּתֶם) I said, ‘My confidence,’” and similarly, (Prov. 25:12): “and jewelry of finest gold (כָתֶם).”  
his locks are curled: Heb. תַּלְתַּלִים, an expression of hanging (תְּלוּיִים) , pendeloys in Old French, (locks of hair) hanging.  
black as a raven: All these are beauty for a young man.  
12His eyes are like doves beside rivulets of water, bathing in milk, fitly set.   יבעֵינָ֕יו כְּיוֹנִ֖ים עַל־אֲפִ֣יקֵי מָ֑יִם רֹֽחֲצוֹת֙ בֶּֽחָלָ֔ב יֽשְׁב֖וֹת עַל־מִלֵּֽאת:
His eyes are like doves beside rivulets of water: By rivulets of water his eyes are as beautiful as the eyes of doves. Rivulets of water are beautiful to behold, and the young men go there to swim, so does the poet praise the eyes of “my beloved.” When he gazes upon the rivulets of water, they resemble the beauty of the eyes of doves.  
bathing in milk: the eyes of my beloved in milk.  
fitly set: All this is an expression of beauty, neither protruding too much nor sunken, but set on מִלֵאת, their sockets. (Other editions: the eye according to the socket.) The literal meaning parallels the allegorical meaning. And it is a term used to refer to anything made to fit a socket which is made for it as a base, like (Exod. 25:7): “stones to be fit (מְלֻאִים) ” ; (ibid. 28:17): “And you shall set (וּמִלֵאתָ) into it settings of (מִלֻאַת) stones.”  
13His jaws are like a bed of spice, growths of aromatic plants; his lips are [like] roses, dripping with flowing myrrh.   יגלְחָיָו֙ כַּֽעֲרוּגַ֣ת הַבֹּ֔שֶׂם מִגְדְּל֖וֹת מֶרְקָחִ֑ים שִׂפְתוֹתָיו֙ שֽׁוֹשַׁנִּ֔ים נֹֽטְפ֖וֹת מ֥וֹר עֹבֵֽר:
His jaws are like a bed of spice: in those beds are spice plants.  
growths of aromatic plants: Heb. מִגְדְלוֹת מֶרְקָחִים, aromatic plants, growths of aromatic plants which are compounded with the art of an apothecary.  
14His hands are [like] wheels of gold, set with chrysolite; his abdomen is [as] a block of ivory, overlaid with sapphires.   ידיָדָיו֙ גְּלִילֵ֣י זָהָ֔ב מְמֻלָּאִ֖ים בַּתַּרְשִׁ֑ישׁ מֵעָיו֙ עֶ֣שֶׁת שֵׁ֔ן מְעֻלֶּ֖פֶת סַפִּירִֽים:
wheels of gold: Heb. גְלִילֵי זָהָב, like wheels of gold.  
set with chrysolite: Every term referring to the setting of a precious stone in gold is called מִלֵאת.  
a block: Heb. עֶשֶּׁת, an expression of (Jer. 5:28): “They became fat; they became thick (עָשְּׁתוּ).” A thick mass is called עֶשֶּׁת, masse in French, a mass.  
ivory: Heb. שֵּׁן, from the bones of the elephant.  
overlaid with sapphires: Heb. מְעֻלֶפֶת, adorned and decorated with sapphires, an expression of (Gen. 38:14) וַתִּתְעַלָף, which the Targum renders: וְאִתַקְנַת, and she adorned herself.  
15His legs are [as] pillars of marble, founded upon sockets of fine gold, his appearance is like the Lebanon, chosen as the cedars.   טושׁוֹקָיו֙ עַמּ֣וּדֵי שֵׁ֔שׁ מְיֻסָּדִ֖ים עַל־אַדְנֵי־פָ֑ז מַרְאֵ֨הוּ֙ כַּלְּבָנ֔וֹן בָּח֖וּר כָּֽאֲרָזִֽים:
His legs are: as pillars of marble, founded upon sockets of fine gold.  
pillars of marble: Heb. שֵּׁשּׁ, pillars of marble, שַּׁיִשּׁ, and a similar word appears in Megillath Esther (1:6): “on silver rods and marble (שֵּׁשּׁ) columns,” and his appearance is as tall as the cedars of the Lebanon.  
chosen as the cedars: chosen among the sons as the cedar among the other trees.  
16His palate is sweet, and he is altogether desirable; this is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem."   טזחִכּוֹ֙ מַֽמְתַקִּ֔ים וְכֻלּ֖וֹ מַֽחֲמַדִּ֑ים זֶ֤ה דוֹדִי֙ וְזֶ֣ה רֵעִ֔י בְּנ֖וֹת יְרֽוּשָׁלָֽיִם:
His palate is sweet: His words are pleasant.  
this is my beloved: This is the likeness of my beloved, and this is the likeness of my friend, and because of all these things I have become ill for his love. The allegorical meaning, symbolizing the Holy One, blessed be He, is as follows:  
[10] My beloved is white: to whiten my iniquities. Clear and white; when He appeared at Sinai, He appeared as an old man, teaching instructions, and so, when He sits in judgment (Dan. 7:9): “His garment was like white snow, and the hair of His head was like clean wool.”  
and ruddy: to exact retribution upon His enemies, as it is stated (Isa. 63.2): “Why is Your clothing red?”  
surrounded by myriads: Many armies encompass Him.  
[11] His head is as the finest gold: The beginning of His words shone like finest gold, and so Scripture says (Ps. 119: 130): “The commencement of Your words enlightens.” The commencement of, “I am the Lord your God” showed them first that He has the right of sovereignty over them, and He then issued His decrees upon them.  
his locks are curled: Heb. קְוֻצוֹתָיו תַּלְתַּלִים. Upon every point (קוֹץ וָקוֹץ) [of the letters of the Sepher Torah] were heaps of heaps (תִּלֵי תִּלִים) of halachoth.  
black as a raven: because it was written before Him in black fire on white fire. Another explanation: His locks were curled when He appeared on the sea, appearing like a young man mightily waging war.  
[12] His eyes are like doves beside rivulets of water: Like doves, whose eyes look toward their dovecotes, so are His eyes on the synagogues and study halls, for there are the sources of Torah, which is compared to water.  
bathing in milk: When they look into the judgment, they clarify the law in its true light, to justify the just, to give him what he deserves, and to condemn the guilty, to repay his [evil] way upon his head.  
fitly set: on the fullness of the world. They wander over the entire earth, gazing upon good and evil. Another explanation: Torah scholars, whom the Holy One, blessed be He, makes as eyes to illuminate the world, just as the eyes illuminate for man; like doves that wander from dovecote to dovecote to seek their food, so do they go from the study hall of one sage to the study hall of another sage, to seek the explanations of the Torah.  
by rivulets of water: in the study halls, which are the sources of the water of Torah.  
bathing in milk: Since he calls them eyes, and the eye (עַיִן) is a feminine noun, bathing (רוֹחֲצוֹת) is in the feminine conjugation. They cleanse themselves with the milk of Torah and whiten (clarify) its mysteries and enigmas.  
fitly set: They resolve the matters appropriately. Another explanation: His eyes עֵינָיו, [like] עִנְיָנָיו His topics. The sections of the Torah, the halachoth, and the Mishnayoth are like doves which are comely in their walk beside the rivulets of water, [i.e.,] in the study halls; bathing in milk, made clear as milk, as I have explained.  
[13] His jaws: the commandments of Mount Sinai, for He showed them a friendly and smiling countenance.  
his lips are like roses: the commandments (lit. statements) that He spoke in the Tent of Meeting, which are for appeasement and for atonement and for a pleasant fragrance: the law of the sin offering, the guilt offering, the meal offering, the burnt offering, and the peace offering.  
[14] His hands: the Tablets, which He gave with His right hand, which are the work of His hands.  
wheels of gold: These are the commandments, about which it is said (Ps. 19:11): “They are to be desired more than gold, yea more than much fine gold.” Said Rabbi Joshua the son of Nehemiah: They were made miraculously. They were of sapphire, yet they could be rolled (Song Rabbah, Tanch. Ki Thissa 26). Another explanation: because they bring about (lit. roll) much good to the world.  
set with chrysolite: He included the 613 commandments in the Decalogue.  
his abdomen is [as] a block of ivory: This is the Priestly Code (Leviticus), placed in the center of the Five Books of the Pentateuch, like the intestines, which are set in the middle of the body.  
[as] a block of ivory, overlaid with sapphires: It appears as smooth as a block of ivory, and is set with many details [derived from] similar wordings, general principles, and inferences from minor to major.  
[15] founded upon sockets of fine gold: Said Rabbi Eleazar Hakkappar: This pillar has a capitol above and a base below. Said Rabbi Samuel the son of Gadda: The sections of the Torah have a capitol above and a base below, and they are juxtaposed before them and after them, e.g., the sections of the Sabbatical year and the Jubilee year, [are juxtaposed to] (Lev. 25:14): “And if you transact a sale,” to teach you how severe the dust (i.e., a minor infraction) of the Sabbatical Year is, as appears in Tractates Bava Metzia and Arachin (30b). Also, like (Num. 27: 16): “May the Lord… appoint a man over the congregation,” and (ibid. 29:2): “Command… My sacrifice, My bread.” Before you command Me about My children, command them about Me (Sifrei Num. 27:23), and similarly, many [such instances]. Therefore, it is stated: “His legs are [as] pillars of marble, founded, etc.”  
his appearance is like the Lebanon: One who reflects and ponders over His words finds in them blossoms and sprouts, like a forest which blooms. So are the words of Torah-whoever meditates over them constantly finds new explanations in them.  
chosen: Heb. בָּחוּר, chosen as the cedars, which are chosen for building and for strength and height.  
[16] His palate is sweet: His words are pleasant, e.g. (Lev. 19:28): “And you shall not make a wound in your flesh for one who has died… I am the Lord,” faithful to pay reward. Is there a palate sweeter than this? Do not wound yourselves, and you will receive reward. (Ezek. 33:19): “And when a wicked man repents of his wickedness and performs justice and righteousness, he shall live because of them.” Iniquities are accounted to him as merits. Is there a palate sweeter than this?