1 O that thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! when I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised.
2 I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother’s house, who would instruct me: I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate.
3 His left hand should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace me.
4 I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, until he please.
5 Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? I raised thee up under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth: there she brought thee forth that bare thee.
6 Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.
7 Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.
8 We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?
9 If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver: and if she be a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar.
10 I am a wall, and my breasts like towers: then was I in his eyes as one that found favor.
11 Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon; he let out the vineyard unto keepers; every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver.
12 My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred.
13 Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice: cause me to hear it.
14 Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.
Archaeology and the Date of Song of Solomon
Today many scholars consider the Song of Songs to have been written during the post-exilic era, in spite of the fact that the “official” title of the book, “Solomon’s Song of Songs” (Sol 1:1), associates it with the time of Solomon.
Archeology has provided several good reasons for believing that the Song was indeed written early, in or around the 10 century B.C.
Archeological data from this period indicates that this was a time during a time which Israel was under strong central authority, as the Bible suggests. Many scholars deny that there ever was a great kingdom of David and Solomon. Some go as far as to theorize that these men were legendary rather than historical.
Obviously, if there was no Solomonic Kingdom we could not postulate that the Song was written during the Solomonic period. However, archeology does support the Biblical portrait of Solomon’s times.
According to 1 Kings 9:15, Solomon did indeed build the temple, his own palace, a structure called the Millo and the wall of Jerusalem, as well as the cities of Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer.
The temple and palace of Solomon are lost and the location of his Millo is subject to debate, but archeology confirms that every aspect of Solomon’s temple, as described in the Bible, conforms to what we know of other temples form this time and region.
The cities of Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer have been excavated and found to have similar systems of fortification and gateways that date from the time of Solomon, suggesting that they were constructed by royal engineers who worked from a common blueprint.
Oftentimes great literature flourishes during a period of national power and prosperity (e.g. Virgil wrote the Aeneid at one of the high points of Roman history, the Augustan Age). Thus, the association of the Song of Song with Solomon’s era makes sense.
During the latter part of the second millennium B.C. a distinctive style of love poetry flourished in Egypt, in some ways strikingly similar to the Song of Songs. Although the message of the Song is different from that of the Egyptian material, it’s clear that the Hebrew poetry uses some of the same literacy conventions as that of the Egyptian poetry.
First Kings 9:16 indicates that Solomon, having married an Egyptian princess, had good relations with Egypt. It’s reasonable to assume that this was a time of close communication and commerce between the two nations.
Thus the Solomonic era is the very time at which we could most plausibly suggest that Egyptian love poetry came to be read and appreciated in the royal court of Israel.
Song of Songs 6:4 indicates that at the time this poem was written Jerusalem and Tirzah were the two most magnificent cities in Israel. Tirzah (located in the north at Tell el-Farah) was a great city in the northern part of Israel during Solomon’s day.
After the kingdom split in two it became the capital of the northern kingdom under Jeroboam I and remained so until Omri (r.c. 885-874 B.C.) built Samaria. Thereafter it declined and by the postexilic period it had ceased to exist.
It’s unreasonable to argue that a poet of the postexilic world would have paired Jerusalem with Tirzah, which at that time was nothing more than an abandoned mound. However, it is entirely reasonable that a poet from the 10th century B.C. would have treated Tirzah as Jerusalem’s counterpart and equal.