Song 8:3-5 is a poem narrated by a woman to her lover and some sections address the daughters of Jerusalem. Longman’s version interprets being in embrace in verse 3 and the warning against arousal of love in verse 4 as an indication that the woman’s desire for intimacy with the man was satistied.1 Verse 5 begins with a question whose answer should come from the women of Jerusalem. In v.5b, it is clear that the woman is speaking to the man she had aroused under the apple tree.2 Keel identifies verses 3 and 4 as repetition of Song 2:6-7, “except that swearing by gazelles or the wild” (“gods” other than Yahweh) is not included.3  8:5a is similar to 3:6a in that both involve exortation to the daughters of Jerusalem. The difference occurs in 3:6b-8 since here, “coming up from the wilderness” shows that the woman can be tamed and is accommodating.4 The women of Jerusalem from one generation to another have adopted the role of arousal, which according to Genesis 3:16 was ascribed to man. The practice is comparable to that of Lot’s daughters or Tamar who aroused men to ensure continuity of the generation. The man being addressed in the poem had been conceived in a similar way.5


Fox interprets vs.3 to mean that the woman and her lover are possibly going to make love. This interpretation finds vs.4 both surprising and admirable. It is clarified that v.5a is directed to the girls of Jerusalem. The desire of love in 5b is however specific to the woman, who wakes her lover up from sleep. The line “Under the apricot tree I woke you” is pointed as an indication of passage of time between vs.5a and b, suggesting what must have happened during this time.6 Exum identifies the power given to love and explains that the question in 5a is directed to the women of Jerusalem. The mentioning of the time the woman awakened her lover is defined as an introduction to the request for a permanent sign of their love in v.6.7 Norris compares the Song to Septuagint and Vulgate versions. They all describe the bridegroom’s embrace as disallowed in the society, and address the daughters of Jerusalem. Septuagint uses “under the evil tree” instead of “under the apple tree”.8

Message of the Book

There are many different ways in which the book’s message is understood. Longman speaks of M. H. Pope who understands that the main theme and religious background of the Song is in the comparison of love and death. Longman explains that the text contains mythological aspects of the Near Eastern, especially in the way it expresses love.9 Keel agrees with this statement and explains that in Near Eastern goddesses had no problem courting administrators.


Keel further explains that “There the one who bore you conceived you” means that the man’s heart is closer to his mother than father. The line also stands for the unbroken growth of generation. The woman is pictured as the keeper of her family through her ability to arouse love, conceive and give birth.10 Fox recognizes Jerome’s interpretation which identifies the apricot tree with destruction.11 Ibn Ezra understands v.5b to mean that the man’s scent was like that of apples among trees in the woods, which made the woman think he had been conceived there.12 The explanation comes from the story of Jacob and the sheep in which the place of coitus is assumed to affect the offspring (Gen 30:31-43).

Exum understands that God is represented in the male lover who is both awakened by a woman and has a woman for a mother; though this was uncommon portrayal of deity.13 Norris discusses views from different individuals. Theodoret identifies the “mother” to symbolize Jerusalem, which stand for the church.14 Bede views this as a comparison of God’s Word with nature.15 Honorius understands it as the indication of joys in the age to come.16 Apponius links the text to the Son of God according to Isaiah 5:3-11. The coming out of wilderness with the lover therefore means, moving away from the desert of disbelief. In other words, it means conversion from idolatry into the knowledge of the true God.17 Augustine explains that the similarity between love and death is that both cannot be resisted by humanity.18 John Efford focusing on love, explains that God’s love has precedence because of its origin and dignity that is above the former love.


[1] Longman 8 vs. 3-5, page 203.

2 Ibid, pg. 206.

3 Keel, Do not Stir Up Love! II

4 Ibid, “Who Has Become So Compliant”

5 Keel, “From Generation to Generation”

6 Fox 8 vs. 3-5, page 166

7 Exum 8 vs. 3-5, page 248

8Norris 8 vs. 3-5, pg. 279

9 Keel, “From Generation to Generation”

10 Fox, pg. 168

11 Ibid, page 169

12 Exum, page 250

13 Norris, pg. 274

14 Ibid, page 275

15 Ibid, page 278

16 Ibid, page 282

17 Ibid, page 286

18 Ibid, page 287