Song of Songs on Feast of the Visitation

This paper presents analysis of Song of Songs vv. 2:7-17 which includes the verses used in the Liturgy of the Hours for today’s feast of the Visitation.  While this study focuses on these verses it also serves as a good overview of the Song of Songs which is a wonderful prayer you can make during a Holy Hour of Eucharistic Adoration. The Song of Song was a favorite Book for great saints such as Bernard, Teresa of Avila, and many other.
Learn to appreciate the Song of Songs like they did and it will change your life!

These verses describe the initial meeting of the two lovers about whom the entire Song of Songs is about. Are these verses solely about human love in its initials stages? Are we to read these initial verses of the book for our sensual gratification, maybe to help us with our own human love life? Are the modern critics correct in this opinion, if that is their opinion, or could it be that there is more to these verses? Is it possible that the author and/or authors of the Song intended a spiritual meaning?

To answer these questions a variety of sources have been used. Not only have the works of modern critical scholars been studied, but also ancient Jewish scholars, Catholic saints, and Magisterial texts. By studying and meditating on these texts, the rest of the Song can be looked upon in like manner, for either the good of our souls or our love life.

Most attempts at outlining the Song put a break between vv. 2:7 and 2:8 with the v. 2:8 section ending at either v. 2:17 or v. 3:5. As vv. 2:7 and 3:5 are identical, this paper studies 2:7 through 2:18 in order to include this important duplicated verse that serves as an inclusio. Much of what is to be said about these verses applies to this short book as a whole.

I. Daughters of Jerusalem instructed (v. 7)
II. Bride acknowledges Groom (vv. 8-9)
A. Groom is heard and seen (v. 8)
B. Groom is described (v. 9)
III. Groom calls bride (vv. 10-14)
A. Bride called first time (v. 10)
B. Groom explains why bride is called at this time (vv. 11-13)
1. Change of season (v. 11)
2. Signs of season change (v. 12-13)
C. Bride called second time (v. 13)
D. Bride is called with desire (v. 14)
IV. Bride asks for help (v. 15)
V. Bride in unity with Groom (v. 16)
VI. Bride desires groom (v. 17)

II. Historical
While questions of authorship and date of composition are not of primary concern, they do impact the historical and cultural information of value when interpreting the Song. Traditional views that the Song was composed by Solomon fit Jewish and Christian interpretation. Ancient Egyptian literature exists from the fifteenth century BC with a similar literary approach to the Song. Jewish tradition would be familiar with these works as seen in Jer 7:34, 16:9 and 25:10.[1]

A canonical interpretation is the Song was intended as part of Solomon’s Wisdom literature. The contents of the book suggest it was written before the disruption of the kingdom of Israel, which occurred after Solomon’s death. The author speaks of numerous cities as if they were in the same kingdom. The author’s love of nature introducing twenty-one plants and fifteen animals fits with Solomon’s known knowledge in this area.[2]

It is suggested that ancient fertility cults are the source of the Song. This original meaning was lost and replaced by allegorical interpretation, which is what ultimately included it in the Canon.[3] Beginning in the nineteenth century the emphasis on allegory was replaced by other theories like drama genre, which was discarded due its unlikeliness in ancient Israel.[4] Wisdom circles of Israel and Egypt both preserved love poetry providing a setting for this literature.

A modern objection to the allegorical marriage theme is that, unlike the Prophets, the Song never refers to bridegroom and bride as God and Israel.[5] Other modern scholars suggest a linkage of the Song to pagan liturgy celebrated during Manasseh’s reign, speculating this is how the Song became part of the Passover liturgy. To account for the fact that the Israelites would never accept such pagan origins, unconscious influence on the Israelites is proposed. [6]

Linguistic characteristics of the book which include Aramaic, Persian, and Greek words also suggest a post-exilic date of authorship. These words can be explained by allowing for linguistic changes over the centuries.[7] Some modern scholarship, while adverse to traditional allegorical interpretation, also discounts the linguistic arguments for late authorship.[8]

There are several historical, cultural, and natural insights specific to vv. 2:7-17. In Palestine there are numerous hill cities that in biblical times made use of caves for dwellings and shelter. Two examples are the grotto of the Annunciation in Nazareth and the Cave of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Little foxes or jackals were common in Palestine and did great damage to vineyards.[9] It was customary for travel to be restricted in winter.[10] Flowers still return when winter ends[11] and the turtledove was a sure sign of spring.[12] “Day break” refers the cooling of evening looked forward to in Palestine when the days are hot.[13] This would influence “amative” activities.[14] The green fig is a stage before ripeness and would be another sign of spring and summer.[15] The fig was sacred over a vast area being used in multiple religious rituals.[16]


III. Grammar
The “I adjure you” plea in v. 2:7 is the imposition of an oath[17] implying authority over crowds whose faith would allow participation in that oath/promise.[18] The oath is addressed to the “Daughters of Jerusalem”, a term which designates those who pray in the direction of Jerusalem. Thus the whole nation is involved.[19] The term “my beloved” used in vv. 2:9, 10, 16, and 17 is used thirty-three times in the Song and while usually known as a term of endearment among lovers the word is also used in ancient literature as a term for royalty.[20]

The Hart of vv. 2:9 and 2:17 were said to kill serpents.[21] These gazelle-type animals were also said to have been used within incantations to improve sexual impotence and because of their beauty and perceived breeding strengths, were referred to in ancient love poetry.[22] These animals are also referred to in v. 2:7 depending on translations. Rather than animals, the Septuagint notably translates v. 2:7 as “powers and forces”[23] and the Targum translation is “by the Lord of Hosts and by the strength of the land of Israel.” In Hebrew the words for “gazelle” and “beauty” are similar suggesting a possible play on the words “my beloved is like a gazelle or young stag.”[24] In addition the Hebrew words for “gazelle” and “God of hosts” are very similar as are “wild doe” and “God almighty.”[25]

Pruning benefits the vine[26] but is not usually done in spring.[27] Some translations use “singing” instead of “pruning” in v. 2:12 to cover this perceived problem, thus hiding traditional allegorical significance.[28] “My dove” in v. 2:14 is a term of endearment used in multiple writings and is also a lovebird associated with various goddesses.[29] The shepherd theme in v. 2:16 ties back to God as shepherd so strongly that it must be considered grammatically significant.[30]

“Mountains of Bether” in v. 2:17 are often translated as “rugged.” The word beter in Hebrew means house of “separation”[31] or “cleavage”[32] but a literal translation with obvious covenantal meaning would be “mountains of the victims cut in half.”[33]


IV. Rhetorical
Regarding its literary form, Augustine calls the Song a “puzzle”.[34] The seventh century Jewish rabbi Saadia likened the Song to a lock for which the key had been lost.[35] Modern scholars call the literary genre of the Song a “vexed question”[36] with little agreement on how to structure the text. Form-critical studies of the twentieth century generally conclude the Song is a compilation of between fifteen to fifty-two poems written by many different authors.[37]

What is agreed is that it is about the love between a man and women, written in poetry with dialogues between a bridegroom and bride. While the bridegroom is often absent the bride is present throughout the book with events and thoughts coming primarily from her point of view.[38] Ancient Greek codices include marginal notations denoting who is doing the talking.[39] The Bride sought by the Beloved is a common theme of vv. 2:8 – 2:17.[40]

The rhythm of the text and title of the book support the genre as a lyrical poem structured as a single poem held together by choruses and recurring themes. It is suggested “catch phrases” were inserted for unity.[41] Examples would be the repeating phrase “Grazing among the lilies” (2:16, 4:5, 6:3) and the repeated verse “I adjure you O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the wilds does: do not stir up or awaken love until it is ready” (2:7, 3:5, 8:4).[42]

Like the Song, Egyptian poetry has the poet as a speaker, designates nomenclature for lover and beloved, and affirms mutual admiration and desire between lovers. The themes appeal to the senses.[43] Both depict scenes of physical attraction and anguish of separation. It shares design, language, and literary genres expressing the human joy of love.[44] The Song and Egyptian poetry both have a “seek and find” theme related to the separation of lovers. The song of yearning in vv. 2:10-13 can be found in Egyptian love poetry.[45] The text “the song of the dove is heard in our land” (v. 2:12) is said to be similar to Egyptian poems where the voice of the swallow invites an Egyptian girl to contemplate the beauty of the countryside.[46] Unlike the Song, the dove is a disturbance in the Egyptian literature. Both have shepherd themes.

The sharing of themes and genre may help illuminate the Song, but due to problems of chronology and cultural interchange, claiming literary dependence is unwarranted.[47] White does not believe the Egyptian love literature sheds light on the interpretation of the Song.[48] The claim for a unification of numerous shorter poems coincides with the structure of Egyptian poetry and cultural patterns of the ancient Near East.[49] Even so, Fox in his book dedicated to the Song and Egyptian love poetry, does not totally support a multiplicity of sources.[50]

Arguments for the unity of the Song are as follows: From beginning to end the same persons are mentioned. The bride who has a mother, brothers, and a vineyard are in vv. 1:5, 2:15, 6:10, 7:12, 8:2 and 8:8. The bridegroom who tills the soil and shepherds the flocks is in vv. 1:7, 2:12ff, 4:8-5:1, 6:1 and 7:11-13. Daughters of Jerusalem are in vv. 1:4, 2:7, 3:5, 3:10, 5:8, 5:16 and 8:4. The same refrain is repeated in vv. 2:7, 3:5, and 8:4 as is the refrain in 2:17 and 4:6.[51]

That the Song’s textual unity is the work of a single poet has support.[52] Pope gives an objective argument for the single author suggesting the unity of the text is so complex it has been overlooked by modern scholars.[53] The single poet is in line with canonical interpretations.

V. Canonical
The Song is structured as a single poem held together by choruses (2;16, 6:3, 7:10 and 2:7, 3:5, 8:4) and recurring themes (4:1-5, 7:1-5, 2:10-14, 7:11-13).[54] Canonical authority of the Song is very much based on allegorical interpretation which ties into so many themes. Arguments were made by Jews to reject the book when taken only literally. When Theodore of Mopsuestia was condemned it was not because he denied the Song’s divine authority but rather because of his insistence on a secular literary meaning.[55]

The text being studied, vv. 2:7 – 2:17, relates to what immediately follows and precedes it as follows: There is a general consensus that considers vv. 1:1 through 2:7 to be the title, prologue, and first poem with the v2:7 “I adjure you” verse acting as a transition to the second poem. The second poem is from vv. 2:8 – 3:5 with 3:5 being an identical “I adjure you” verse. The vv. 2:9 and 2:17 are both “my beloved . . .gazelle” verses. The text being studied has been chosen in order to study the “I adjure you” verse as well as treating the “my beloved . . .gazelle” verses as an inclusion. With v 2:7 acting as a transition between the first poem which precedes our studied verses and the second poem, which includes our verses as well as the v. 2:7 transition, there is a noticeable difference between the first and second poem with the first poem in effect anticipating the second poem.

In the first poem both bride and bridegroom convey mutual anticipation and desire. They are intimately acquainted with each but are not together. In the second poem bride and groom are united. The time is ripe for this union as described in vv. 2:10-17. While it is the last verse in our study, the second poem does not end with v. 2:17 but continues as an end to this liaison and a new search in v. 3:1 through 3:4. The second poem ends with the v. 3:5 “I adure you” verse.

The text being studied relates to the entire book of Song of Songs in that they act not only as the initial rejoining of bride and groom but also to verify that the timing is now right for all the subsequent unions. Within the block of the second poem, vv. 2:8-17 are key as they establish the time of mutual love and desire of the bride and groom for each other has been reached. This announcement that the timing is right is presumed for the rest of the Song of Songs. While vv. 6:11 and 7:12 restate the timing is still right these statements are almost rhetorical in nature. As bride and groom become separated and reunited through the rest of the Song, there is no doubt the timing established in vv. 2:8-17 is still valid.

If the meaning of the text is simply an erotic meeting of two lovers then there is really no relation to the rest of the Canon. If the allegorical meaning is valid then there are many links within other parts of the canon to the text and these links are given stronger meaning by tying the Song’s human joy of love themes to other parts of the Canon.

Until the rise of modern critical methods the Song was considered a unified work attributed to Solomon. When the Song was disputed as belonging in the Hebrew canon during the first century C.E. Council of Jamnia,[56] emphasis was placed on the allegorical interpretation of love between God and Israel[57] which solidified the Song’s place in the canon.[58] The book was included along with Proverbs and Ecclesiastes and from that time was interpreted allegorically being influenced especially by the prophets Hosea, Jeremiah, and Isaiah with expressions of the relationship between God and Israel in spousal terms. The Targum and Midrash Rabbah saw in the Song Israel’s history from the Exodus until the coming of the Messiah.[59] This religious interpretation continued into Christianity with allusions to earlier biblical books.[60]

The Song’s place in the Hebrew Bible followed Job as the First of the Five Scrolls (Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther) with the order corresponding to liturgical use.[61] With its attribution to Solomon, it is part of the Wisdom Books. It is also agreed, though not always embraced, that there are many allusions to the spousal Covenant between God and Israel. The imagery within the Song such as king, shepherd, bride and vineyard are all metaphors that the prophetic literature of the Old Testament applies to God and Israel. This certainly suggests the Song’s literal sense to be poetic allegory describing the spousal covenant between God and Israel.[62] Objection to traditional allegorical interpretation is that nowhere within the Song itself are we informed of this interpretation.[63]

Until the Reformation, allegorical interpretation prevailed among Jews and Christians. From the earliest times Jews considered natural love between bride and groom to be a figure of mystical love between God and Israel. This interpretation can be found in the Fourth Book of Esdras, the Talmud, the Targum and the Midrashim, and is retained by most Jews to the present day. This allegorical interpretation can also be found in the Old Testament (Os 2:16-20, Isa 54:6, Isa 62:5, Jer 2:2, Jer 3:1ff, Ez 16:8-14). Christians accepted the allegory but transformed it in the light of Christ being the Messiah. Christ as bridegroom and the Church as bride can be seen in Mat 9:15, 22:1ff, 25:1ff, John 3:29, 2 Cor 11:2, Eph 5:23-32, and Rev 21:9.[64] New Testament nuptial themes are tied to the Song.[65] Human love is a reflection of divine love as Paul teaches in Eph 5:23ff, with Christ and the Church.[66] Catholic mystics have extensively contemplated the Song’s divine and human love insights.[67]


VI. Liturgical
The liturgical reading of the Song in Judaism belongs to the Passover Season.[68] Our text, especially because of the allegorical interpretation still to be discussed, justifies this place in the Jewish liturgy. In Catholic Liturgy vv. 2:8-14 are found in the Advent Mass of December 21 as an optional first reading, paired with Luke 1:39-45 which recounts the Visitation beginning with Mary’s Nazareth departure to Elizabeth’s Spirit-filled response upon Mary’s arrival.

These same vv. 2:8-14 along with vv. 8:6-7 from the Song are also in the Liturgy of the Hours on the Feast of the Visitation. The Responsory in the Hours, using bits of Elizabeth’s words as well as bits of Mary’s Magnificat, recount the entire Gospel narrative. With the Magnificat being a daily prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours, these verses of the Song have corresponding spiritual significance. Hugh of St Victor exclaims “happy the soul who hears that ‘winter is past’” (v. 2:11) as he ties the Magnificat and the Song to the unification of Christ and the soul, rather than Mary or the Church. Jewish commentary puts the Ark of the Covenant present in this spring of final salvation. Mary as Ark of the Covenant typology especially in the Visitation verses is thus pertinent.[69] Beginning with the Annunciation, the caves of v. 2:10 are exactly where the Blessed Mother was physically at the time of the Annunciation and where God would have heard her voice as he desired her in this Song verse.

Mary is urged to rise up and crush the serpent’s head, to express her fiat “I am the handmaid of the Lord”, to bring Christ to the world, starting with the Visitation.[70] Regarding those spoken of in this Song verse Origen writes “you are praised here but the praise is not for what comes from you but for what comes from Him who loves you. For by faith in Him you are powerful.”[71] This certainly speaks eloquently especially of the Blessed Mother.


VII. Magisterial
Taking the literal sense alone as the meaning of the Song was used as an objection to placing it in the Hebrew canon at all. The book was placed in the Hebrew canon because of the figurative sense of the relation between God and Israel[72] When Theodore of Mopsuestia interpreted the Song as a mere love song related to a wedding of Solomon, the Council of Constantinople declared his opinion heretical. This opinion was brought back by Calvinists during the Reformation.[73] Recent commentators discard figurative interpretations as uncritical, suggesting concerns about canonicity and spiritual inspiration and interpretation side-track the exegetical process.[74] This shows little, if any respect for the Magisterium.

Leo XIII quotes v. 2:14 “let thy voice sound in my ear, for thy voice is sweet” as justification for praying the rosary and invoking Mary as our intercessor in her “ministry as Mediatrix.”[75] The history of Christian spirituality has been inspired by the Song. In the Middle Ages over one hundred “serious studies” were completed. Many saints were inspired by the Song including Doctors of the Church.[76] In condemning Felix V, the Council of Florence uses v. 2:15 to help condemn this antipope as a fox destroying the vineyard of the God of hosts.[77]

Vatican II in Gaudium et Specs (p. 49) encourages fidelity to the married life citing v. 2:16.[78] Thus the Magisterium does not reject a literal meaning between man and woman. Teresa of Avila talks of how perfectly we can apply to the Blessed Mother what is said in the Song of Songs and how we can apply these same favors to ourselves.[79] This is of Magisterial importance because Pope Pius XII stated in pp. 24-28 of Divino Afflante Spiritu (DAS) that the fathers, doctors, and saints “have a certain subtle insight into heavenly things by a marvelous keenness of intellect, which enables them to penetrate to the very innermost meaning of the divine word and bring to light all that can help to elucidate the teaching of Christ” and that “we should have recourse to a certain spiritual and . . . mystical interpretation.”


VIII. Conclusion
As he describes the exegesis of the Fathers being in danger, Henri de Lubac asks “Is it really possible to refer to certain commentaries on the Song of Song as ‘exegesis’?”[80] Modern scholars such as Bergant, Brown, Pope and White refuse to embrace the Song’s obvious and historically significant allegorical meaning. They are adamant that the literal sense of the Song trumps all “allegorical charade,” [81] that the Song is not about religious matters,[82]  that it is merely sensual Egyptian love poems with no regard for morality, that “references to an allegorical meaning . . . to explain the Song are simply no longer convincing,”[83] and that this literal sense should “not be depart[ed] from without a compelling reason.”[84] There are compelling reasons. In the literal sense, the Song speaks of human love with all manner of longing, separation, search, reunion, and self-surrender.[85]  Insights such as the Sumerian marriage scenario for example, with the groom standing outside while the bride gets ready suggest a literal explanation for the groom looking through windows in v. 2:9, but does not discount allegory.[86]

Pope Pius XII in DAS (p. 23) said the literal sense is “the mind of the author.” There can be what Steinmueller calls a “proper literal sense” related to possible original meanings of the poems that do not go beyond erotic intentions. There can also be an “improper literal sense” where the author has a “transferred, derived, or figurative meaning.” The example regarding the Hebrew words for “gazelles (ṣĕbāʾôt)” being similar to “God of hosts (ṣĕbāʾôt)” and “wild does(ʿaylôt haśśādeh)” being similar to “God almighty (ʾēl šadday)”[87] suggest a metonomy—i.e.,one word used for another—having religious improper literal sense. The canonical author or editor of the Song intended an improper literal sense.[88] It is for us to realize the Song is intended to be about God and His people, be they Israel, the Church, the Blessed Mother, and/or individual souls. Allegorical interpretation passed to early Christianity making the bridegroom Christ and the bride primarily the Church, but also Mary as well as individual souls [89]

The preservation of the Song and its inclusion in the Hebrew Canon may be a lesson in the importance of human love but that was not the primary reason it was placed in the canon.[90] Arguments for an “erotic” meaning of the Song deny there is any moral purpose or unity making the Song merely a collection of erotic poems. This “free love” hypothesis goes against the religious instruction of Israel.[91] Rabbi Akiba stated “he who trills his voice in the chanting of the Song of Songs in the banquet halls and makes it a secular song has no share in the world to come.” Suggesting a secular interpretation alone is foreign to the Wisdom tradition.[92]

The canonical author of the Song had allegory in mind along the lines of the following examples. Flowers return after winter[93] and the turtledove was a sign of spring.[94] It is customary for travel to be restricted during the winter. Isa 28:2 compares winter storms to the kings who deported and exiled the people.[95] The v. 2:11 winter of the Old Law is gone with the savior’s coming.[96] Enemies are gone with winter.[97] The Targum associates the heavy rain of winter with the bondage in Egypt. Christians identified this winter with Christ’s passion and the winter of the time before redemption.[98]

The Hart of v. 2:9 destroys serpents as Christ does the devil.[99] Christians are to seek protection in the wounds of the Savior.[100] The v. 2:14 cave of the rock is a place of protection[101] to which the Israelites will be called out of. “Show me my dove your image” invites to the land of Israel. “Let me hear your voice” means that “you shall pray in my sanctuary, because I welcome you and find your deeds agreeable.” That is what is meant by “your voice is sweet and image beautiful”.[102] The bride’s voice in v. 2:14 is delightful to her Divine Spouse as is the voice of the Church saving souls.[103] Sleep symbolizes the ordeal of exile (Isa 51:17, 21-22, 52:1-2). Restoration depends on the bride’s willing conversion.[104]

Morally, Gregory of Nyssa comments on the v. 2:7 oath aspects of “adjure” in that through an oath of virtue, which the Song asks for, souls will perfect themselves in union with God.[105] The gazelles or hinds in the Targum refer to the strength of the Lord of Hosts and the army of Israel.[106] According to Bernard, when souls as the “beloved” in v. 2:10 hear the call to “rise up” they should run to search out souls and bring them to the Divine Spouse.[107]

The “pruning” in v. 2:12 will benefit Israel as taught through the centuries in Judaism.[108] While literal pruning is not usually done in spring any time can be a time for a spiritual pruning which causes a growth in virtue by purification.[109] This pruning is also tied to the end of the winter as Origen describes: “The soul cannot be united and communicate intimately with God unless she is first rid of the entire winter of troubles and coldness and every storm of vice and sin, so that she can be strengthened in truth and not blown away in the wind.”[110]

The v. 2:12 turtledoves refer to the rams of justice and mourners of Zion who will come from the Diaspora to Israel, and consecrate themselves to study, prayer and supplication without yielding to despair until the time of Salvation. They are those who perfect their way of life.[111] One can apply this Jewish interpretation to the Catholic clergy, especially the cloistered. The cloistered Doctor St. Therese of Lisieux wrote the Lord protected her in the crevice of the rocks of v. 2:15.[112] St. Josemaria Escriva likens the doves finding shelter in these rocks to us finding shelter in the wounds of Christ.[113]

Escriva also interprets the “catch the little foxes” of 2:15 as being venial sins which do great harm to our souls[114] and ties these foxes to being faithful in the little things.[115] St. Bernard preaches the vineyards are souls that must be cared for and protected with foxes being “disordered attachments and affections” that if not corrected, can do damage to our relationship with God.[116] St Teresa of Avila concurs, urging extreme care in destroying these foxes.[117]

In v. 2:16 the soul grows and delights in its relationship with God. This “beloved is mine and I am his” verse suggests surrendering completely to God who will unite with the soul. Pasturing among the lilies in v. 2:16 is God delighting in the souls he is close to.[118] The soul’s Divine Spouse comes and goes as he pleases in v. 2:17 which can be for the good of the soul as we must constantly cry out “Return!” Bether in Hebrew is house of separation[119] and spiritual commentary likens this to the separation of bridegroom and bride.

Anagogical anticipation has been consistently interpreted in the Song. Jewish commentary has the “voice of my beloved” in v. 2:8 hinting of news spread in the world about God’s kingdom. Standing behind the v. 2:9 walls implies bringing Israel out of the Diaspora yet the “standing” is a lingering in the Diaspora with “walls” indicating a type of prison tied to Isa 42:22 and Lam 3:5-7. “Observing through the holes” shows God taking care of the people and this will be the moment when the end of time will occur.[120]

Catholic commentary on v. 2:8 notes every day the Lord comes leaping from Heaven into the Blessed Sacrament and from churches everywhere He leaps into souls.[121] “Behind the lattice [v.2:9] of the tabernacle and the veil of the sacramental graces, the eyes of faith see Him hidden in the Sacrament of the altar and in one’s own heart.”[122] The spring of v. 2:10 is the symbol of salvation (Hos 14:6-8) anticipating an invitation to return[123] and we will hear this call from the tabernacle. These invitations from God and to God hasten spiritual progress in the soul, if we obey.[124] This obedience was also understood by ancient Jewish commentators. God orders them to leave the Diaspora with “stand up” and the expression “go by yourself” is where they will reach the land of Israel. They are called beautiful because of their obedience.[125] The end of the deportation and the way out of the Diaspora are within reach but stress is made that this occurs by acts of obedience in returning to the Lord.[126]

It is fitting to end with ancient Jewish commentary. Foxes “hurt vines” denoting false prophets.[127] The masters of Israel implore God to destroy the foxes who are “heretics, those who corrupt the crowds, preventing them from accomplishing the precepts” and cause misconduct in Israel. Foxes are enemy neighbors hostile to the restoration of Judah.[128] The longed for return in v. 2:17 begins deliverance bringing back the Israelites to the mountains of Zion.[129] This expresses final restoration of the covenant after a true change of heart as tied to Hos 2:25, Jer 31:33 and Ezk 36:28.[130]

In final
summary, interpreting the Song literally and reducing it to a collection of erotic poems, as modern scholars so strongly advocate are foxes to be kept from our spiritual vineyard. When the Song is read in the light of the covenantal themes inundating the Canon, one cannot help but feel the call to enter into that joy of union with our beloved Jesus Christ. Teresa of Avila ends her commentary of the Song as follows: “You can find comfort when you hear some words from the Song of Songs, and how, even though they are obscure to your understanding, you can reflect upon the profound mysteries contained in them.”[131] Amen.

IX. Bibliography
Alobaidi, Joseph. Old Jewish Commentaries on the Song of Songs I: The Commentary of Yefetbe Eli (Peter Lang AG, International Academic Publishers, 2010)

Arintero, Juan G. The Songs of Songs: A Mystical Exposition (Tan Books, 1992)

Bergant, Dianne, Berit Olam Studies in Heberw Narrative & Poetry The Song of Songs (Liturgical Press, 2001)

Bernard of Clairvaux, Bernard of Clairvaux on the Song of Songs I (Cistercian Publications1976)

Bernard of Clairvaux, Bernard of Clairvaux on the Song of Songs II (Cistercian Publications,1976)

Brown, Raymond E. Ed. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary (Prentice Hall International, 1990)

Brown, Raymond E. Ed. The Jerome Biblical Commentary (Prentice Hall International, 1968)

Casciaro, Jose Maria Ed. The Navarre Bible: The Psalms and the Song of Solomon (Doubleday, 1966)

de Lubac, Henri. The Sources of Revelation (Herder and Herder, 1968)

Doheny, William J. Papal Documents on Mary (Bruce Publishing, 1954)

Escriva, Josemaria Friends of God (Scepter Publishers, 2002)

Escriva, Josemaria The Way (Scepter Publishers, 2002)

Farmer, William R. Ed. The International Bible Commentary: A Catholic and Ecumenical Commentary for the Twenty-First Century (Liturgical Press, 1998)

Fox, Michael V.. The Song of Songs and the Ancient Egyptian Love Songs (University of Wisconsin Press, 1985)

Haydock, Geo. Leo. The Douay-Rheims Old Testament of the Holy Catholic Bible With A Comprehensive Catholic Commentary (Catholic Treasures, 1992)

Pietersma, Albert Ed. A New English Translation of the Septuagint (Oxford University Press, 2007)

Pope, Marvin H. The Anchor Yale Bible Song of Songs (Yale University Press, 1977)

Jones, Alexander Ed. The Jerusalem Bible (Doubleday, 1966)

Rorem, Paul Hugh of St Victor Great Medieval Thinkers (Oxford University Press, 2009)

Steinmueller, John E. A Companion to Scripture Studies Volume I: General Introduction (Joseph F. Wagner, 1941)

Steinmueller, John E. A Companion to Scripture Studies Volume II: Special Introduction to the Old Testament (Joseph F. Wagner, 1942)

Tanner, Norman. Ed. Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils Volume I (Nicaea I – Lateran V) (Sheed & Ward, 1990)

Tanner, Norman. Ed. Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils Volume I (Trent – Vatican II) (Sheed & Ward, 1990)

Teresa of Avila The Collected Works of Teresa of Avila Volume II: Meditations on the Song of Songs (ICS Publications, 1980)

Therese of Lisieux Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St Therese of Lisieux (ICS Publication, 1996)

White, John B. A Study of the language of Love in the Song of Songs and Ancient Egyptian Poetry (Scholars Press, 1978)

Wright, Robert J. Ed. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture Old Testament IX Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon (InterVarsity Press, 2005)

Winsor, Ann Roberts. A King is Bound in the Tresses: Allusions to the Song of Songs in the Fourth Gospel (Peter Lang Publishing, 1999)

[1] Casciaro 482


[3] White 22

[4] Farmer 894
Brown 506

[5] Brown 507

[6] Brown 507

[7] Steinmeuller 206-207

[8] Pope 32

[9] Arintero 276

[10] Alobaidi 190

[11] Alobaidi 193

[12] Pope 396

[13] Arintero 290

[14] Pope 408

[15] Pope 398

[16] Pope 298

[17] Pope 385

[18] Alobaidi 185

[19] Alobaidi 157,Pope 318

[20] Bergant 20

[21] Hay840

[22] Pope 386

[23] Pope 385, Pietersma 662

[24] Pope 290

[25] Bergant 26

[26] Alobaidi 191

[27] Arintero 261

[28] Pope 395

[29] Pope 399

[30] Arintero 287

[31] Arintero 296

[32] Pope 411

[33] Jones 997
Pope 410

[34] Casciaro 482

[35] Pope 17

[36] Pope 34

[37] Farmer 894

[38] Farmer 893

[39] Brown 507

[40] Pope 44

[41] Casciaro 482-483
Pope 49-50

[42] Farmer 894

[43] White 161

[44] White 162

[45] White 145-152

[46] Brown 507

[47] White 253

[48] White 162,163

[49] Farmer 895

[50] Fox219

[51] Steinmeuller 201

[52] Farmer 894

[53] Pope 46-47

[54] Casciaro 482
Pope 49-50

[55] Steinmeuller 207

[56] Brown 506

[57] Farmer 894

[58] Pope 19

[59] Farmer 96

[60] Brown 507

[61] Pope 18

[62] Casciaro 482

[63] Casciaro 483

[64] Steinmeuller 205

[65] Farmer 896

[66] Brown 507

[67] Brown 507

[68] Farmer 897
Brown 506

[69] Alobaidi 153, 154

[70] Pope 394

[71] Arintero 258

[72] Steinmeuller, Volume II 202

[73] Steinmeuller, 202

[74] White 20-21

[75] Tanner, Volume I 94

[76] Farmer 897

[77] Arintero nerVol1563

[78] Tanner, Volume II 1102

[79] Teresa of Avila 253

[80] de Lubac53-54

[81] Pope 17

[82] Bergant 3

[83] White 165

[84] Brown 507

[85] Casciaro 486

[86] Pope 392

[87] Bergant 26

[88] Steinmeuller, Volume I 226

[89] Farmer 897

[90] White 164

[91] White 26

[92] Farmer 897

[93] Alobaidi 193

[94] Pope 396

[95] Alobaidi 190

[96] Hay840

[97] Alobaidi 191

[98] Pope 394-395

[99] Hay840

[100] Haydock840

[101] Alobaidi 196

[102] Alobaidi 197

[103] Arintero 267

[104] Jones 995

[105] Wright 316

[106] Pope 385

[107] Arintero 273

[108] Alobaidi 191

[109] Arintero 261

[110] Arintero 264

[111] Alobaidi 192

[112] Theresa of Lisieux 93

[113] Escriva, Passing By290

[114] Escriva, The Way76

[115] Escriva, Passing By36

[116] Bernard, Volume II 118,
Arintero 276

[117] Arintero 277

[118] Arintero 281-289

[119] Arintero 293-296

[120] Alobaidi 187-188

[121] Arintero 248

[122] Arintero 251

[123] Jones 995

[124] Arintero 252-259

[125] Alobaidi 189

[126] Alobaidi 195

[127] Hay840

[128] Alobaidi 198

[129] Alobaidi 202

[130] Jones 995

[131] Teresa of Avila 260

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