Chapter 7

1"Return, return, O Shulammite; return, return, and let us gaze upon you." "What will you see for the Shulammite, as in the dance of the two camps?   אשׁ֤וּבִי שׁ֨וּבִי֙ הַשּׁ֣וּלַמִּ֔ית שׁ֥וּבִי שׁ֖וּבִי וְנֶֽחֱזֶה־בָּ֑ךְ מַֽה־תֶּֽחֱזוּ֙ בַּשּׁ֣וּלַמִּ֔ית כִּמְחֹלַ֖ת הַֽמַּֽחֲנָֽיִם:
Return, return, O Shulammite: They say to me, “Return from following the Omnipresent.”  
O Shulammite: Heb. הַשּׁוּלַמִית, the one who is perfect in your faith with Him, return, return to us.  
and let us gaze upon you: נֶחֱזֶה. We will appoint from you governors and rulers, like (Exod. 18:21): “And you shall appoint (תֶחֱזֶה) from all the people.” So did Rabbi Tanhuma interpret it (Bamidbar 11). Another explanation for “and we will gaze upon you” : We will ponder what greatness to give you, but she says, “What will you see for the Shulammite?” What greatness can you allot me, that will equal my greatness, or even the greatness of the divisions of the dances of the encampments in the desert?  
2How fair are your feet in sandals, O daughter of nobles! The curves of your thighs are like jewels, the handiwork of a craftsman.   במַה־יָּפ֧וּ פְעָמַ֛יִךְ בַּנְּעָלִ֖ים בַּת־נָדִ֑יב חַמּוּקֵ֣י יְרֵכַ֔יִךְ כְּמ֣וֹ חֲלָאִ֔ים מַֽעֲשֵׂ֖ה יְדֵ֥י אָמָּֽן:
How fair are your feet in sandals: They say to her: We want you to cleave to us because of the beauty and the esteem that we saw in you when you were still beautiful.  
How fair are your feet: in the festive pilgrimages, O daughter of princes!  
The curves of your thighs are like jewels: A collection of gold jewels is called חֲלִי כֶתֶם, al chali in Arabic. And our Sages interpreted this as referring to the holes of the foundations [of the altar] for the libations, which were created during the Six Days of Creation, round as a thigh.  
like jewels: Heb. חֲלָאִים, like the hollow of (חוּלְיַת) a pit.  
the handiwork of a craftsman: [They are] the [work of the] hands of the Holy One, blessed be He. [See] Tractate Succah (49a).  
craftsman: Heb. אֳמָן, like אוּמָן. In the praise of the Holy One, blessed be He, the Israelites praise Him from top to bottom. They commence, so to speak, from “His head is as finest gold,” and progressively descend to “His legs are as pillars of marble,” since they come to appease Him, to draw down His Shechinah from the heavenly abodes to the earthly abodes. He, however, counts their praises from bottom to top: “How fair are your feet!” and He progressively counts until, “Your head upon you is like Carmel,” until He comes to draw them to Him.  
3Your navel is [like] a round basin, where no mixed wine is lacking; your belly is [like] a stack of wheat, fenced in with roses.   גשָׁרְרֵךְ֙ אַגַּ֣ן הַסַּ֔הַר אַל־יֶחְסַ֖ר הַמָּ֑זֶג בִּטְנֵךְ֙ עֲרֵמַ֣ת חִטִּ֔ים סוּגָ֖ה בַּשּֽׁוֹשַׁנִּֽים:
Your navel is [like] a round basin: Your navel is like a basin of clear water with which they wash, and it [the basin] is made of marble, which in Arabic is called “sahar.” He compares it to a round basin because the navel is shaped like a round hole. This praise does not refer to a woman’s beauty as the above praise does, for [in] the above, her beloved praises her, but here, her companions praise her about her deeds, saying: You are worthy to join us. The image symbolizes the Chamber of Hewn Stone, which is situated in the “navel” of the world.  
where no mixed wine is lacking: No beverage will ever cease [to be found] there; he wishes to say that no words of instruction will cease or end from there.  
your belly is [like] a stack of wheat: which everyone needs.  
fenced in with roses: fenced and hedged about with roses. A light fence suffices her, and no one breaches it to enter. For example, a bridegroom enters the nuptial canopy, his heart longing for the nuptials and for the love of his marriage. When he comes to cohabit with her, she says to him, “I have perceived a drop of blood like [the size of] a mustard seed.” He turns his face the other way. Now no snake bit him, nor did a scorpion sting him. [Similarly,] one passes by on the road and sees freshly ripened fruit at the top of the fig trees. He stretches out his hand to take [them]. They tell him, “These belong to owners,” and he too withdraws his hand because of [the prohibition] of theft. This is the meaning of “she is fenced in with roses.”  
4Your two breasts are like two fawns, the twins of a gazelle.   דשְׁנֵ֥י שָׁדַ֛יִךְ כִּשְׁנֵ֥י עֳפָרִ֖ים תָּֽאֳמֵ֥י צְבִיָּֽה:
Your two breasts: the two Tablets. Another explanation: the king and the high priest.  
5Your neck is like an ivory tower; your eyes are [like] pools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bath-Rabbim; your face is as the tower of Lebanon, facing towards Damascus.   הצַוָּארֵ֖ךְ כְּמִגְדַּ֣ל הַשֵּׁ֑ן עֵינַ֜יִךְ בְּרֵכ֣וֹת בְּחֶשְׁבּ֗וֹן עַל־שַׁ֨עַר֙ בַּת־רַבִּ֔ים אַפֵּךְ֙ כְּמִגְדַּ֣ל הַלְּבָנ֔וֹן צוֹפֶ֖ה פְּנֵ֥י דַמָּֽשֶׂק:
Your neck: the Temple and the altar, which are erect and tall, and the Chamber of Hewn Stone, which is also there, made for strength and for a shield, like an ivory tower.  
your eyes: are like pools (בְּרֵכוֹת) in Heshbon, through which water flows. So are your eyes by the gate of the multitudes. Your sages, when they sit in the gates of Jerusalem, the city of multitudes, and engage in the computation (חֶשְּׁבּוֹן) of the seasons and the signs of the zodiac-their wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the peoples flow like pools of water. Alternatively, we can explain בְּרֵכוֹת בְּחֶשְּׁבּוֹן to mean doves, and this is a Mishnaic usage: If one buys the doves of a dovecote, he must let the first brood (בְּרִיכָה) fly away; covedes in Old French, covey, brood.  
your face is as the tower of Lebanon: Heb. אַפֵּ. I cannot explain this to mean a nose, either in reference to its simple meaning or in reference to its allegorical meaning, for what praise of beauty is there in a nose that is large and erect as a tower? I say, therefore, that אַפֵּ means a face. Now the reason he uses the singular and does not say אַפַּיִ, is that he speaks of the forehead, which is the main recognizable feature of the face, as it is said (Isa. 3:9): “The recognition of their faces testified against them.” And you should know, for he progressively praises them from bottom to top “ -Your eyes are [like] pools in Heshbon,” and after them the forehead, and so do the nations praise (Ezek. 3:8): “and your forehead is strong against” the forehead of all who come to harm you and entice you.  
as the tower of Lebanon, facing towards Damascus: I saw [the following] in the Midrash (Zuta): This is the house of the Lebanon forest, which King Solomon made. Whoever stood on it could look and count how many houses there were in Damascus. Another explanation: Your face looks towards Damascus; looks forward to the coming of the gates of Jerusalem until Damascus, for it is destined to expand as far as Damascus.  
6Your head upon you is like Carmel, and the braided locks of your head are like purple; the king is bound in the tresses.   ורֹאשֵׁ֤ךְ עָלַ֨יִךְ֙ כַּכַּרְמֶ֔ל וְדַלַּ֥ת רֹאשֵׁ֖ךְ כָּֽאַרְגָּמָ֑ן מֶ֖לֶךְ אָס֥וּר בָּֽרְהָטִֽים:
Your head upon you is like Carmel: These are the tephillin [phylacteries] of the head, about which it is said (Deut. 28: 10): “And all the peoples of the world will see that the name of the Lord is called upon you, and they will fear you.” That is their strength and their fear, like a rock of the mountains, and the Carmel is the most prominent of the mountains.  
and the braided locks of your head: The braided hair of your Nazirites are as beautiful with commandments as braided purple [ropes].  
and the braided locks of your head: Heb. וְדַלַת רֹאשֵּׁ, because the braid is lifted up (מֻדְלֵת) on the highest part of the head.  
the king is bound in the tresses: The name of the Omnipresent is bound in the locks, as is stated (Num. 6:7): “The crown of his God is on his head.”  
tresses: Heb. רְהָטִים, courants in French; currents, windings [tresses]. This is what they call the fringes of the sashes, with which they tie the girdles. Another explanation of מֶלֶ אָסוּר בָּרְהָטִים : The Holy One, blessed be He, is bound with love to the commandments and to the swiftness with which you run before Him.  
7How fair and how pleasant you are, a love with delights!   זמַה־יָּפִית֙ וּמַה־נָּעַ֔מְתְּ אַֽהֲבָ֖ה בַּתַּֽעֲנוּגִֽים:
How fair and how pleasant you are: After having praised each limb in detail, he includes everything in a general statement: How fair you are in your entirety, and how pleasant you are, to cleave to you with a love that is proper to delight in.  
8This, your stature, is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like clusters [of dates].   חזֹ֤את קֽוֹמָתֵךְ֙ דָּֽמְתָ֣ה לְתָמָ֔ר וְשָׁדַ֖יִךְ לְאַשְׁכֹּלֽוֹת:
This, your stature, is like a palm tree: We saw the beauty of your stature in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, when all the nations were kneeling and falling before the image, but you stood as erect as this palm tree.  
and your breasts are like clusters [of dates]: [This refers to] Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, who were like breasts for you to suckle from. They were like clusters [of dates], which shower liquid; so did they nurse lavishly and teach everyone that there is no fear like fear of You. Until this point, the nations praise Him. From here on are the words of the Shechinah to reveal Israel, who are among the nations.  
9I said: Let me climb up the palm tree, let me seize its boughs, and let your breasts be now like clusters of the vine and the fragrance of your countenance like [that of] apples.   טאָמַ֨רְתִּי֙ אֶֽעֱלֶ֣ה בְתָמָ֔ר אֹֽחֲזָ֖ה בְּסַנְסִנָּ֑יו וְיִֽהְיוּ־נָ֤א שָׁדַ֨יִךְ֙ כְּאֶשְׁכְּל֣וֹת הַגֶּ֔פֶן וְרֵ֥יחַ אַפֵּ֖ךְ כַּתַּפּוּחִֽים:
I said: Let me climb up the palm tree: I boast of you among the heavenly hosts, that I should be exalted and hallowed through you in the lower realms, for you will hallow My name among the nations.  
let me seize its boughs: and I will seize and cleave to you. סַנְסִנִים are boughs.  
and let your breasts be now: And now, cause my words to be realized, that you will not be seduced after the nations, and may the good and wise among you be steadfast in their faith, to retort to those who seduce them, so that the small ones among you will learn from them.  
10And your palate is like the best wine, that glides down smoothly to my beloved, making the lips of the sleeping speak."   יוְחִכֵּ֕ךְ כְּיֵ֥ין הַטּ֛וֹב הוֹלֵ֥ךְ לְדוֹדִ֖י לְמֵֽישָׁרִ֑ים דּוֹבֵ֖ב שִׂפְתֵ֥י יְשֵׁנִֽים:
And your palate is like the best wine: Be careful with your answers that they should be like the best wine.  
that glides down smoothly to my beloved: I am careful to answer them that I will remain steadfast in my faith, that my palate will go before my beloved with straightforward love, which emanates from the heart, and not from deceit and guile.  
like the best wine: which makes the lips of the sleeping speak. Even my ancestors in the grave will rejoice with me and give thanks for their portion. דוֹבֵב means moving, promued in Old French, stimulates (to talk), and its basis is an expression of speech, and so is the reply: I am my beloved’s, and he also longs for me.  
11"I am my beloved's, and his desire is upon me.   יאאֲנִ֣י לְדוֹדִ֔י וְעָלַ֖י תְּשֽׁוּקָתֽוֹ:
12Come, my beloved, let us go out to the field, let us lodge in the villages.   יבלְכָ֤ה דוֹדִי֙ נֵצֵ֣א הַשָּׂדֶ֔ה נָלִ֖ינָה בַּכְּפָרִֽים:
Come, my beloved, let us go out to the field: Our Rabbis expounded in Eruvin (21b): The congregation of Israel said,"O Lord of the Universe, do not judge me like the inhabitants of large cities, where there is robbery and immorality, but like the inhabitants of villages, who are craftsmen, and engage in the Torah amidst hardship.  
let us lodge in the villages: Heb. בַּכְּפָרִים. Let us lodge among the disbelievers (בַּכּוֹפְרִים). Come and I will show You the sons of Esau, upon whom You bestowed plenty, but who do not believe in You.  
13Let us arise early to the vineyards; let us see whether the vine has blossomed, the tiny grapes have developed, the pomegranates have lost their flowers; there I will give you my love.   יגנַשְׁכִּ֨ימָה֙ לַכְּרָמִ֔ים נִרְאֶ֞ה אִם פָּֽרְחָ֤ה הַגֶּ֨פֶן֙ פִּתַּ֣ח הַסְּמָדַ֔ר הֵנֵ֖צוּ הָֽרִמּוֹנִ֑ים שָׁ֛ם אֶתֵּ֥ן אֶת־דֹּדַ֖י לָֽךְ:
Let us arise early to the vineyards: These are the synagogues and the study halls.  
let us see whether the vine has blossomed: These are the students of the Torah.  
the tiny grapes have developed: When the blossom falls off and the grapes are discernible, that is the development of the סְמָדַר, and he compares the students of the Mishnah to them, because they provide pleasure by teaching Torah.  
the pomegranates have lost their flowers: when they become ripe, and the flower around them falls off. הֵנֵצוּ means its flower (נִצוּ) , and he compares the Talmud students to them, who possess full wisdom and are fit to teach.  
there I will give you my love: There I will show You my glory and the glory of my sons and daughters.  
14The pots [of figs] have given forth [their] fragrance, and on our doorways are all manner of sweet fruits, both new and old, which I have hidden away for you, my beloved."   ידהַדּֽוּדָאִ֣ים נָֽתְנוּ־רֵ֗יחַ וְעַל־פְּתָחֵ֨ינוּ֙ כָּל־מְגָדִ֔ים חֲדָשִׁ֖ים גַּם־יְשָׁנִ֑ים דּוֹדִ֖י צָפַ֥נְתִּי לָֽךְ:
the pots: The pots of the good and the bad figs, as it is stated (Jer. 24:1f.): “The Lord showed me, and behold, two pots of figs, etc. One pot [contained] very good figs, etc., and the other pot [contained] very bad figs, which could not be eaten.” These are the transgressors of Israel. Now, both of them have given forth their fragrance. They all seek Your countenance.  
and on our doorways are all manner of sweet fruits: We have in our hands the reward for [fulfilling] many commandments.  
both new and old: that which the Sages innovated, as well as the old, which You wrote for me.  
which I have hidden away for you: For Your name and for Your service I have hidden them away in my heart. Another explanation: I stored them away to show You that I have fulfilled them.