The second chapter of the Song of Solomon quickly reveals that the woman is still the main speaker. She left off speaking in chapter 1, and her voice begins chapter 2. It is important to remember that the chapters were put in place after the fact, so they are broken up in the most logical way possible, but the chapter breaks were not put their by the original writer. The Song of Solomon, rather, should be read as one long lyrical work.
Song of Solomon Chapter 2 Analysis
In verse 1, the woman compares herself to a “rose of Sharon” and a “lily of the valley” indicating that she is aware that she stands out to her lover as someone singularly beautiful in the midst of the ordinary (ESV).
In verse 2, the man responds. He elevates her beauty further still. While she described herself as a “lilly in the valley” he counters by claiming that she is a lilly “among brambles” suggesting that he does not see all other women as ordinary in comparison to her, but that he actually finds all other women ugly in comparison to her (ESV).
In verse 3, the woman responds in the same manner, by comparing him to an “apple tree among the trees of the forest” suggesting that he alone can satisfy her, that he alone can offer refreshment. While other trees may be able to offer shade, he can offer her shade and nourishment.
She compares the fruit of an apple tree to her lover when she claims that she “sat in his shadow” with “great delight” and that “his fruit was sweet” (ESV).
In verse 4, the mention of a “banqueting house” suggests that the two either have been married already and are looking back on that memory, or are anticipating their wedding day with great excitement. Later verses give much evidence to support the latter interpretation. She says that “his banner over [her] was love”. Biblical scholars reveal that the Hebrew term for “banner” was used elsewhere to describe what was flown in battle and at camps. The scholars believe this suggests that the two are looking forward to holding a “public display of…identity, namely that they belong together and are committed to each other” in other words, a marriage ceremony” (ESV). Again, some interpretations suggest that at this point, the marriage ceremony has already taken place, while others believe the lovers are simply looking forward to the day in eager anticipation.
At this point, the woman speaker shifts back to describing her need for refreshment because she is sick with love.
In verse seven, she turns her attention from her lover to the other virgins among her, referring to them as the “daughters of Jerusalem” and she pleads with them that they would “not stir up or awaken love until it pleases”. In other words, she asks them not to rush into love, but to wait patiently for the right person and to enjoy love in its proper context. Biblical scholars believe this refers to “waiting until the right time to consummate it [love]…in marriage” (ESV).
In verse eight, the woman speaker turns her attention back to her beloved, and reveals her excitement at seeing him come toward her “leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills” She compares him to “a gazelle” and “young stag” (ESV). Scholars suggest that mountains and hills are literary images for obstacles to their love that the man has easily overcome.
The female speaker recounts what her lover has said to her, so these verses seem to be from his point of view when they are actually spoken by the woman. She retells a conversation she had with him in which he asked her to “come away”. He had described to her that the winter was over, and spring had arrived. In Jewish culture, as in many others, spring time was celebrated as a time for lovers. His description of “the fig tree ripen[ing]” and the “vines…in blossom” suggest that their time for love has come. He refers to her as a “dove” continuously reaffirming his affection for her (ESV).
The woman continues to recount all that her lover has said to her, remembering when he told her, “your voice is sweet and your face is lovely” (ESV). It is clear that she valued every word he spoke and believed whole-heartedly in his love for her.
She continues to remember his words of praise to her, and repeats to herself the one request that he has made of her, that she would “Catch the foxes…that spoil the vineyards”. Biblical scholars suggest that since foxes were destructive if they got into a vineyard, these foxes must be symbolic of things present that threatened to destroy their relationship. He had asked her to catch the foes, and in this verse, she remembers that request.
The earlier description of the man leaping over mountains and hills suggest that he has already done his part in overcoming obstacles for the sake of their love. Now, in verse 15, she remembers that he has asked her to do something to protect their relationship as well. Whatever it was that threatened their love, he had likened them to foes and their relationship to a vineyard, asking her to remove the threat to their relationship as one would remove a fox to protect a vineyard.
These two examples suggest that their relationship was not without trial or hardship, and it certainly had been threatened a time or two, but it is clear that both she and he feel very capable of overcoming these obstacles, removing the threats, and preserving their love for one another.
The female speaker ends her reflection on the words of her lover and resumes her own voice in verses 16-17 to end chapter 2. Here, she reaffirms their love for one another by proclaiming, “my beloved is mine and I am his” (ESV).
You can view Chapter 1’s analysis here.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version: The ESV Study Bible. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008. Print.