Chapter 8

1"O, that you were like my brother, who sucked my mother's breasts! I would find you outside, I would kiss you, and they would not despise me.   אמִ֤י יִתֶּנְךָ֙ כְּאָ֣ח לִ֔י יוֹנֵ֖ק שְׁדֵ֣י אִמִּ֑י אֶֽמְצָֽאֲךָ֤ בַחוּץ֙ אֶשָּׁ֣קְךָ֔ גַּ֖ם לֹֽא־יָבֻ֥זוּ לִֽי:
O that you were like my brother: that you would come to console me as Joseph did his brothers, who did evil to him, and it is stated concerning him (Gen. 50:21): “and he consoled them.”  
I would find you outside, I would kiss you: I would find Your prophets speaking in Your name, and I would embrace them and kiss them. I also know that they would not despise me, for Your love is worthy that Your beloved should go around after You.  
2I would lead you, I would bring you to the house of my mother, who instructed me; I would give you to drink some spiced wine, of the juice of my pomegranate.   באֶנְהָֽגְךָ֗ אֲבִֽיאֲךָ֛ אֶל־בֵּ֥ית אִמִּ֖י תְּלַמְּדֵ֑נִי אַשְׁקְךָ֙ מִיַּ֣יִן הָרֶ֔קַח מֵֽעֲסִ֖יס רִמֹּנִֽי:
to the house of my mother: the Temple.  
who instructed me: as You were accustomed to do in the Tent of Meeting.  
I would give you to drink some spiced wine: libations.  
of the juice: sweet wine.  
3His left hand would be under my head, and his right hand would embrace me.   גשְׂמֹאלוֹ֙ תַּ֣חַת רֹאשִׁ֔י וִֽימִינ֖וֹ תְּחַבְּקֵֽנִי:
4I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem; why should you awaken, and why should you arouse the love until it is desirous?"   דהִשְׁבַּ֥עְתִּי אֶתְכֶ֖ם בְּנ֣וֹת יְרֽוּשָׁלָ֑ ִם מַה־תָּעִ֧ירוּ | וּֽמַה־תְּעֹֽרְר֛וּ אֶת־הָאַֽהֲבָ֖ה עַ֥ד שֶׁתֶּחְפָּֽץ:
I adjure you: Now the congregation of Israel addresses the nations, “Even though I complain and lament, my Beloved holds on to my hand, and He is my support in my exile; therefore, I adjure you.”  
why should you awaken, and why should you arouse: for it will not avail you.  
5"Who is this coming up from the desert, embracing her beloved?" "Under the apple tree I aroused you; there your mother was in travail with you; there she that bore you was in travail."   המִ֣י זֹ֗את עֹלָה֙ מִן־הַמִּדְבָּ֔ר מִתְרַפֶּ֖קֶת עַל־דּוֹדָ֑הּ תַּ֤חַת הַתַּפּ֨וּחַ֙ עֽוֹרַרְתִּ֔יךָ שָׁ֚מָּה חִבְּלַ֣תְךָ אִמֶּ֔ךָ שָׁ֖מָּה חִבְּלָ֥ה יְלָדַֽתְךָ:
Who is this: The Holy One, blessed be He, and His tribunal say about the congregation of Israel, “Who is this?” How esteemed is this one, who was exalted from the desert with all the good gifts! There she was exalted at the giving of the Torah and with the cleaving of the Shechinah, and her love is visible to all, and she is still in her exile.  
embracing her beloved: Heb. מִתְרַפֶּקֶת, attached to her beloved, admitting that she is his companion and clinging to him. רפק in Arabic is רַפְקְתָא, union.  
Under the apple tree I aroused you: So she says in the request of the affection of her beloved: “Under the apple tree I aroused You.” I remember that under Mount Sinai, formed over my head as a sort of apple tree, I aroused You. That is an expression of the affection of the wife of one’s youth, who arouses her beloved at night when he is asleep on his bed, and embraces him and kisses him.  
there your mother was in travail with you: We have said that the Holy One, blessed be He, called her His mother (above 3:11). There she became Your mother.  
was in travail: Heb. חִבְּלָתְ, an expression of (Hos. 13:13): “birth pangs (חֶבְלֵי יוֹלֵדָה) ,” birth pangs came to her from you, like (Jer. 10:20): “my children have left me (יְצָאֻנִי),” they went out of me.  
6"Place me like a seal on your heart, liked a seal on your arm, for love is as strong as death, zeal is as strong as the grave; its coals are coals of fire of a great flame!   ושִׂימֵ֨נִי כַֽחוֹתָ֜ם עַל־לִבֶּ֗ךָ כַּֽחוֹתָם֙ עַל־זְרוֹעֶ֔ךָ כִּֽי־עַזָּ֤ה כַמָּ֨וֶת֙ אַֽהֲבָ֔ה קָשָׁ֥ה כִשְׁא֖וֹל קִנְאָ֑ה רְשָׁפֶ֕יהָ רִשְׁפֵּ֕י אֵ֖שׁ שַׁלְהֶֽבֶתְיָֽה:
Place me like a seal: for the sake of that love, You shall seal me on Your heart, so that You should not forget me, and You will see.  
for love is as strong as death: The love that I loved You is to me equal to my death, for I was killed for Your sake.  
zeal is as strong as the grave: [This refers to] the quarrel that the nations were jealous and quarreled with me because of You. [The word] קִנְאָה everywhere [in Scripture] means enprenement in Old French, zealous anger, an expression of determination to wreak vengeance.  
fire of a great flame: coals of a strong fire that comes from the force of the flame of Gehinnom. The cantillation symbol of the zakef gadol, which punctuates רִשְּׁפֵּי (coals of) teaches us about the word אֵשּׁ (fire) that it is connected to שַּׁלְהֶבֶתיָהּ, meaning fire of a great flame, [or a flame of God, see Ibn Ezra].  
7Many waters cannot quench the love, nor can rivers flood it; should a man give all the property of his house for love, they would despise him.   זמַ֣יִם רַבִּ֗ים לֹ֤א יֽוּכְלוּ֙ לְכַבּ֣וֹת אֶת־הָֽאַהֲבָ֔ה וּנְהָר֖וֹת לֹ֣א יִשְׁטְפ֑וּהָ אִם־יִתֵּ֨ן אִ֜ישׁ אֶת־כָּל־ה֤וֹן בֵּיתוֹ֙ בָּֽאַהֲבָ֔ה בּ֖וֹז יָב֥וּזוּ לֽוֹ:
Many waters cannot quench the love: Since he refers to them with an expression of coals, the language of “cannot quench” is appropriate for them.  
Many waters: the heathen nations.  
rivers: their princes and their kings.  
nor can… flood it: (not] through strength and fear nor [even] through enticement and seduction.  
should a man give all his property for love: in exchange for Your love.  
they would despise him: On all these the Holy One, blessed be He, and His tribunal testify that to this extent the congregation of Israel embraces her Beloved.  
8We have a little sister who has no breasts; what shall we do for our sister on the day she is spoken for?   חאָח֥וֹת לָ֨נוּ֙ קְטַנָּ֔ה וְשָׁדַ֖יִם אֵ֣ין לָ֑הּ מַֽה־נַּֽעֲשֶׂה֙ לַֽאֲחוֹתֵ֔נוּ בַּיּ֖וֹם שֶׁיְּדֻבַּר־בָּֽהּ:
We have a… sister: in the lower realms, who is united, attaches herself [to us], and is desirous to be with us; she is small and humbles herself more than all the [other] nations, as it is stated (Deut. 7:7): “Not because you are more numerous, etc.,” for they consider themselves insignificant.  
a… sister: Heb. אָחוֹת, an expression of joining (אִחוּי) , (Moed Katan 26a): “These are the tears that may not be reattached (מִתְאָחִי).”  
who has no breasts: as it is stated concerning the exile of Egypt: (Ezek. 16:7): “breasts fashioned,” when the time of the redemption arrived, but this one has yet no breasts. Her time has not yet reached the time of love.  
what shall we do for our sister on the day she is spoken for: when the heathens whisper about her to destroy her, as it is stated (Ps. 83:5): “Come, let us destroy them from [being] a nation.”  
9If she be a wall, we will build upon her a silver turret, and if she be a door, we will enclose her with cedar boards.   טאִם־חוֹמָ֣ה הִ֔יא נִבְנֶ֥ה עָלֶ֖יהָ טִ֣ירַת כָּ֑סֶף וְאִם־דֶּ֣לֶת הִ֔יא נָצ֥וּר עָלֶ֖יהָ ל֥וּחַ אָֽרֶז:
If she be a wall: If she is strong in her faith and in her fear [of God], to be against them like a copper wall, that they should not enter her midst, meaning that she will not intermarry with them, and they will not come into her, and she will not be seduced by them.  
we will build upon her a silver turret: We will be to her as a fortified city and for a crown and for beauty, and we will build for her the Holy City and the chosen Temple.  
and if she be a door: which turns on its hinges, and when one knocks on it, it opens. She, too, if she opens for them so that they enter her and she [enters] them.  
we will enclose her with cedar boards: We will put into her door wooden boards which rot and which the worm gnaws and eats. Thereupon, the congregation of Israel will say:  
10I am a wall, and my breasts are like towers, then I was in his eyes as one who finds peace.   יאֲנִ֣י חוֹמָ֔ה וְשָׁדַ֖י כַּמִּגְדָּל֑וֹת אָ֛ז הָיִ֥יתִי בְעֵינָ֖יו כְּמֽוֹצְאֵ֥ת שָׁלֽוֹם:
I am a wall: a strong [wall] in the love of my Beloved.  
and my breasts are like towers: These are the synagogues and the study halls, which nurture Israel with words of Torah.  
then: when I said this.  
I was in his eyes as one who finds peace: like a bride who is found perfect, and finds peace in her husband’s house.  
11Solomon had a vineyard in Baal-Hamon; he gave the vineyard to the keepers; each one brought for the fruit thereof one thousand pieces of silver.   יאכֶּ֣רֶם הָיָ֤ה לִשְׁלֹמֹה֙ בְּבַ֣עַל הָמ֔וֹן נָתַ֥ן אֶת־הַכֶּ֖רֶם לַנֹּֽטְרִ֑ים אִ֛ישׁ יָבִ֥א בְּפִרְי֖וֹ אֶ֥לֶף כָּֽסֶף:
Solomon had a vineyard: This is the congregation of Israel, as it is said (Isa. 5: 7): “For the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the House of Israel.”  
In Baal-Hamon: in Jerusalem, which is populous and has a multitude of people.  
Baal: an expression denoting a plain, like (Jos. 12:7): “from Baal-Gad in the valley of Lebanon.”  
he gave the vineyard to the keepers: He delivered it into the hands of harsh masters: Babylon, Media, Greece, and Edom. In Midrash Shir Hashirim, I found some support to [the theory that] these keepers are the kingdoms.  
each one brought for the fruit thereof: whatever they could collect from them: head taxes, tithes, and illegal foreclosures; they collected everything from them to bring into their homes.  
12My vineyard, which is mine, is before me; you, O Solomon, shall have the thousand, and those who watch its fruit, two hundred.   יבכַּרְמִ֥י שֶׁלִּ֖י לְפָנָ֑י הָאֶ֤לֶף לְךָ֙ שְׁלֹמֹ֔ה וּמָאתַ֖יִם לְנֹֽטְרִ֥ים אֶת־פִּרְיֽוֹ:
My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: for on the day of judgment, the Holy One, blessed be He, will bring them to justice, and He will say, “My vineyard, even though I delivered it into your hands, it is Mine, and before Me is all that you seized for yourselves, its fruit. And that which you collected from them is not hidden from Me.” And they will say:  
you, O Solomon, shall have the thousand: “The thousand pieces of silver that we collected from them, we will return everything to You.”  
and those who watch its fruit, two hundred: And we will add much more of our own, and we will give it to them, to their heads and their sages, as it is stated (Isa. 60:17): “Instead of copper I will bring gold.”  
who watch its fruit: These are the Torah scholars, and those payments are for the Torah scholars, as it is stated (Isa. 23:18): “but those who sit before the Lord shall have her commerce” and her hire, i.e., that of Tyre. And it can also be explained: and two hundred for those who watch its fruit-according to the law of a person who derives benefit from consecrated objects, who pays the principal and a fifth. We too will pay, for (Jer. 2:3): “Israel is holy to the Lord, the first of His grain,” the principal and a fifth, a fifth of the principal, and two hundred is a fifth of a thousand.  
13You, who sit in the gardens the friends hearken to your voice; let me hear [it].   יגהַיּוֹשֶׁ֣בֶת בַּגַּנִּ֗ים חֲבֵרִ֛ים מַקְשִׁיבִ֥ים לְקוֹלֵ֖ךְ הַשְׁמִיעִֽנִי:
You, who sit in the gardens: The Holy One, blessed be He, says to the congregation of Israel, “You, who are scattered in exile, grazing in the gardens of strangers and sitting in synagogues and study halls…”  
the friends hearken to your voice: The ministering angels, your friends, children of God like you, hearken and come to listen to your voice in the synagogues.  
let me hear [it]: And afterwards, they will declare [God’s] sanctity, as it is said (Job 38:7): “When the morning stars sing together.” These are the Israelites. And afterwards, “and all the angels of God will shout.”  
14Flee, my beloved, and liken yourself to a gazelle or to a fawn of the hinds on the spice mountains."   ידבְּרַ֣ח | דּוֹדִ֗י וּֽדְמֵֽה־לְךָ֤ לִצְבִי֙ א֚וֹ לְעֹ֣פֶר הָֽאַיָּלִ֔ים עַ֖ל הָרֵ֥י בְשָׂמִֽים:
Flee, my beloved: from this exile and redeem us from among them.  
and liken yourself to a gazelle: to hasten the redemption and to cause Your Shechinah to rest.  
on the spice mountains: This is Mount Moriah and the Temple, may it be built speedily and in our days, Amen.