Chapter 3 from the Song of Solomon begins with the dream of the woman speaker, the shepherdess. This is inferred because she “sought him” when she was on her “bed by night”. This dream lasts through chapter five, and partway into chapter six. This dream can cause some confusion, so it is important that through chapter six, the readers acknowledge that this is the woman’s retelling of her dream. The confusion comes from the fact that the woman seems to wake up from her dream for a moment and then return to it. When she speaks out to her sisters, the other daughters of Jerusalem, it would seem that she has awoken momentarily from a dream in which she was longing for her lover, to tell her sisters not to seek love because it is painful to yearn and wait, and then immediately falls back asleep and continues to dream of her lover. It seems obvious at parts, that she is dreaming of some interactions and conversations between her and her beloved that have actually taken place, while at other times, she is yearning for the consummation of their marriage, and dreaming about the wedding, something that has yet to take place. When readers can understand these chapters in the context of the woman’s dream, the progression of events in the love song becomes much more clear.
Song of Solomon Chapter 3 Analysis
In this dream, the woman longs for her lover and is searching for him. When she finally found him, she “held him and would not let go” (verse four) until she brought him to her room in her “mother’s house”. This dream reveals her longing for her lover and her determination to be with him. It is quickly revealed that this is a dream in which she yearns for her lover because she frantically searches for him, and when she finds him, she brings him to her room.
In verse five, she has likely woken up momentarily and realizes that she has been yearning for her lover in her dreams, she turns her attention to the others, particularly to the daughters of Jerusalem, and repeats her original plea to them, asking them not to “stir up or awaken love until it pleases”. Biblical scholars believe that this repeated plea is made out of love and concern for her sisters, the daughters of Jerusalem because she does not want them to seek love or force it, but rather to let it come to them when the timing is right. This plea is made in the midst of her erotic dream, or perhaps at a small interval in which she woke, suggesting that she does not wish for other young virgins to be in her place, yearning for a lover but unable to satisfy their longings. She pleads with them not to awaken feelings of love or desire until it was at the right time and for the right man who would return their love. During her dream of longing for him, she is acutely aware of the emotional pain that comes with a yearning for her lover, but being unable to indulge herself under the marriage has occurred.
Verse six begins the description of the wedding. Since this is still in the woman’s dream, it is likely her longing for the wedding day. She sees him coming toward her “up from the wilderness” and she describes his entrance as “perfumed with myrrh and frankincense” suggesting that his aroma is pleasing to her.
In verse seven, she exclaims, “Behold, it is the litter of Solomon”. A litter was a bed on which the king would lie, carried by menservants. This verse is one of a few that some have interpreted to suggest that the male lover in this song is Solomon himself. Others suggest that “king” and “Solomon” are simply terms of endearment she uses to show her high regard for her lover.
In verses seven and eight, she describes the mighty men at the side of her lover, revealing that he is in a position of wealth. Again, this supports the idea that her lover was Solomon. Although it does not altogether disqualify the interpretation that a wealthy shepherd man could have been her lover.
Verses nine through eleven most vividly describe the woman’s lover. Here the woman describes his crown, suggesting either that he is the king, or that she views him as a king. This gives deeper insight into her love for him. She views him as kingly, even majestic, and she is completely enthralled with him.