In chapter 7 of the Song of Solomon, the man yet again “takes delight” in the appearance of his beloved. According to biblical scholars, this chapter “echos chapter 4“, wherein the woman takes delight in the appearance of her lover (ESV Study Notes). This chapter makes a few things very clear. First, the two are attracted to one another not only in appearance, but also in attributes. Second, they have no sexual experience with one another. And third, both are equally longing and waiting in eager anticipation for the consummation of their marriage.
Song of Solomon Chapter 7 Analysis
He begins by describing her thighs as “jewels” and her navel as a “rounded bowl that never lacks mixed wine”. This reveals that her appearance is intoxicating and delightful to him.
He describes her waist as “a heap of wheat encircled with lilies” which paints a picture of her feminine figure.
He again compares her breasts to twin fawns, echoing his earlier description and reaffirming her as young and beautiful.
When he describes her neck again, he compares it to an “ivory tower”. Towers, being symbols of strength and dignity, serve in this comparison to reveal that he is not only captivated by her beauty, but by her character, namely her dignity and strength.
The speaker then continues to describe her dignified beauty by claiming that her looks resemble royalty. Her head is likened to a crown and her “flowing locks” are described as “purple” simply to imply that her beauty compares to royalty and is enough to hold a king “captive in the tresses”. This section is yet another reason for the two different viewpoints on this lyrical piece. Either this beautiful woman truly has held the king Solomon “captive” with her beauty, or this verse simply implies that her beauty could captivate a king.
He continue to praise her beauty, calling her “beautiful” and “pleasant”.
He then compares her stature to a palm tree. This seems like a strange comparison to the modern-day reader, but biblical scholars agree that “it was not uncommon for a person with elegance to be compared to a palm tree” in this culture (ESV Study Notes).
With this verse, the man makes a declaration of his desire for the wedding night. He says, “I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its fruit”. Throughout the song, the man and woman have expressed a sexual desire for one another, but this verse is perhaps the most explicit. IN the latter part of this verse, the man reveals to the hearers yet again that the two have kept themselves pure until marriage. He expresses his desire to know what it would feel like to “lay hold” of her “fruit” in such a way that reveals that he has not yet experienced this pleasure. He says, “may your breasts be like clusters of the vine”. He also reveals that the two have not even shared a kiss yet. He says, “…and the scent of your breath like apples…and your mouth like the best wine”. While this may seem strange to the modern-day reader, it was somewhat expected during this time period that a man and woman would wait until their wedding to kiss. Respectable men and women were not to engage in any sort of sexual activity or even affectionate touching outside of marriage. In fact, women wore a veil when in the presence of men, and only removed it before her husband on their wedding night (ESV Study Notes).
Here, the woman begins speaking again and she responds to his expressions of eagerness for the consummation of their love for one another. The woman describes the place in which she wishes to give her virginity to him. She describes her desire to “go out into the fields” and to “go out early to the vineyards”. She promises herself to him, saying, “There, I will give you my love.” In her description of this place, she uses “budded vines” and “grape blossoms” as well as “pomegranates” and “mandrakes”. Scholars suggest that all of these are symbolic of a woman’s sexuality and were believed to have an erotic effect.
The whole of this chapter, not unlike the rest of the song, centers around the man and woman’s desire for one another. It makes clear to readers and hearers that the two have not indulged in so much as a kiss with one another, but are waiting in eager anticipation for the sexual encounter that would consummate their marriage.