A Wonderful Song about Love

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on the Song of Songs


Mark Kirkpatrick

This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.


About the Song of Songs

The Song of Songs (Song) is in a special group of books in the Old *Testament. This is called the ‘wisdom’ group. Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and some Psalms, are also in this group. There are different opinions about the date of the book. If Solomon wrote the book, the date would be the tenth century B.C. (That is, 1000 years before Jesus’ birth.) Some people think that the book is from the fourth or third century B.C. But this would be a very late date. The book is a poem. Some people think that only one person wrote it. There are similar ideas and pictures in the whole book. The main idea is always love. It is always the spring season in the book. People speak to each other in the whole book. There are certain words (‘my love’) that the writer often uses. So the same types of ideas happen again and again. However, it is possible that other people made a few changes to it during a period of time. It is a poem about love. It shows the best way in which we can show love. This is when a man and a woman marry. Then they can enjoy each other in a closer way. At the start of the book, the man and woman are careful about their behaviour. But they get closer together in the later part of the book. They do not have sex until they are married to each other.

The Author

We do not know who wrote the book. Perhaps Solomon wrote it. This would not be a surprise. He had 700 wives. He also had 300 other women who could comfort him (1 Kings 11:1-3). Perhaps the song was part of a royal wedding. Solomon really cared about the women whom he loved. In this way, he was like many men. Perhaps the book uses him as a *symbol of these men. The name ‘Solomon’ appears many times in the book. Often this refers to luxury. It is probably a *symbol of the best thing. Perhaps the author was a poet who lived at the palace of Solomon. Maybe he wrote the poem as a present for Solomon.

The poem as a *symbol

Many people have said that the poem is a *symbol. The book is about love and this has worried people. It surprises them that the book is in the Bible. Because of this, different people have suggested different meanings for the book. One is that the lover (the man) is God. And the woman is Israel. Another idea is that the man is Christ. And the woman is the church. People have complicated these ideas. It then becomes difficult to know which *symbol means which person. Therefore, it is much easier to take a simple approach to the poem. It is easier to say that the poem is about love. It is also about sex after marriage.

When people marry

The book shows that there is a right use of sex. This should only happen when people marry. The two lovers probably marry each other during the story. God says that this is the right way (Genesis 2:24; Mark 10:6-9). Other types of agreements may be like the time when people marry. But they are not part of God’s plan.

Chapter 1

v1 The most beautiful of songs, by Solomon.

Verse 1 These words tell us about the book. They are similar to the words at the beginning of many psalms. But there are no musical instructions. The book was in a collection of songs. The *Hebrew words might mean that the song belonged to Solomon. The *Hebrew words might also mean that someone else wrote the song for Solomon.

The First Song

The Woman

v2 Your lips give me many kisses.

          Your love is better than wine.

v3 Your *perfume smells wonderful.

          But your name is better than the best *perfume.

                      That is why the young women love you.

v4 Take me away with you, and we will run away.

          Let the king bring me into his room.

          We are very happy for you.

          We will say that your love is better than wine.

                      How right the women are to love you!

v5 I am dark but lovely too, young women of Jerusalem.

          I am dark like the tents of Kedar.

                      But I am beautiful as Solomon’s curtains.

v6 Do not stare at me because I am dark.

          The sunshine has made me dark.

          My brothers were angry with me.

                      They made me look after the *vineyards.

                      So I could not look after my own *vineyard.

v7     You are the only person that I love.

          Tell me where you feed your sheep.

                      Tell me where you rest your sheep at midday.

                      Or I will be like a woman who *veils herself.

                      And I will sit among the *flocks of your friends.

Verse 2 A woman begins to speak. In the *Hebrew, the word ‘kiss’ sounds similar to the words ‘to give a drink’. Proverbs 7:18 says ‘Let us drink until we are completely full of love.’ Song 4:10 has a similar idea.

Verse 3 This is the only place in the book where there is the word ‘name’. But the man means much more to her than his name. Perhaps he uses expensive *perfumes. Oils of *perfume have the idea of good health. So, many women love him.

Verse 4 This is a difficult verse. The *Hebrew can mean different things. Perhaps the room is in Solomon’s palace. But it does not really matter where the room is. The appeal to run away together happens often in the book. It is a strong desire of the woman. Then she can be free from her brothers. She and the man only want to be alone.

Verse 5 The sunshine has affected her skin. It has made her darker than her companions. She is still beautiful. It is only the woman who speaks to the young women of Jerusalem. This group helps in the Song. So the Song is also like a play. They can ask questions. Perhaps they are part of a wedding group. Kedar was south-east of Damascus. Kedar also refers to a group of people who travelled near the desert. The woman contrasts the tough tents with the beautiful curtains of Solomon.

Verse 6 Her brothers have forced her to work in the sunshine. So she is dark. She does not say why the brothers were angry with her. Perhaps they wanted to keep her away from young men. Her *vineyard was important to her. Then, after her marriage, she could give her ‘fruit’ to her husband (Song 4:16). *Vineyard is probably a *symbol in the Song. It probably means the woman’s body.

Verse 7 The word ‘sheep’ is not in the *Hebrew. But it probably means what our translation says. Solomon was a ruler. So he looked after people. A shepherd is a man who looks after sheep. So it was as if Solomon was the shepherd of the people. The woman pretends that she cannot find the man.

The Friends

v8 You are such a beautiful woman!

          Perhaps you do not know where to go.

          Follow the tracks of the sheep.

                      Let your young goats eat by the *shepherd’s tents.

The Man

v9 Let me describe you, my *dear.

          You are like a *mare of one of Pharaoh’s *chariots.

v10 Your hair is beautiful upon your cheeks.

                      So is your neck with its precious stones.

v11 We will make a chain of gold for you.

                      We will use silver to make you pretty.

Verse 8 The woman is looking for the man. The young women from Jerusalem tell the young girl to look carefully. She is not looking hard enough. Perhaps it is the man who speaks here. If so, he pretends that it is difficult to find him. But she will find him with his sheep. In other words, he will be working.

Verse 9 This is the first time that we have the words ‘my *dear’. These words appear nine times in the Song. Pharaoh was the king of Egypt. In fact, *mares never pulled *chariots in Egypt. Male horses pulled the *chariots. And Pharaoh’s soldiers trained these horses to behave well. But sometimes a mare would be among the male horses. And that would excite them. But perhaps the verse means that both *mare (the woman) and horse (the man) look good.

Verse 10 The woman is wearing something round her neck. However, it is not clear what this is. It might be her hair that goes round and round. This then makes a pattern. Or the man may be describing different types of precious stones.

Verse 11 The man wants to use the best materials to make her pretty. Then she can look like a royal person. And she will be suitable to be his wife. Remember that the man might be King Solomon.

The Woman

v12 The king is at his table.

                      The smell of my *perfume is in the air.

v13 My lover is like a collection of *perfumes.

                      This lies all night between my breasts.

v14 My lover is like a bundle of henna flowers.

                      These flowers are from Engedi.

                      It is where people make wine.

Verse 12 The word ‘king’ means the woman’s lover. This verse seems to describe a special meal. But some people have other ideas. The *Hebrew uses the word ‘circle’ here. This could also mean a bed. So perhaps this verse refers to sex. The woman may be thinking about the special times that she and the man would enjoy after their marriage.

Verse 13 The ‘collection’ is a small bag of *perfume. It is something that is very close to her. She has a strong feeling for her man.

Verse 14 Henna is a type of bush. It has white flowers that have a *perfume. Engedi is near the Dead Sea. It was an important place where people made wine.

The Man

v15 How beautiful you are, my *dear!

          Oh! How beautiful!

                      You have eyes like *dove’s eyes.

The Woman

v16 You are so handsome, my *dear;

          You are such a delight to me.

Our bed will be green.

v17 We can have wood from tall trees.

          We can use it in our house.

                      We can use other types of wood for our ceiling.

Chapter 2

v1     I am only a wild flower from Sharon,

                      a wild flower of the valleys.

The Man

v2 You are like a wild flower,

          a wild flower among *thorns.

                      You are my very *dear woman among women.

Chapter 1 Verse 15 In this group of verses, the lovers praise each other.

Jeremiah 48:28 describes a *dove that likes high places. Perhaps the man means that he is looking at her eyes. But, for the moment, he cannot reach her. *Doves are birds with a pleasant character. So the man may be saying that she has a pleasant character.

Verse 16 In the Bible, the word ‘green’ is almost always with the word ‘tree’. The bed is probably very pretty, like a tree. It is not a simple one.

Verse 17 This is the only place in the Old *Testament where we have the word ‘ceiling’. So it is not certain what the *Hebrew means. Perhaps the house is not a real house. Perhaps the couple are outside. The branches of the trees seem to make their ‘ceiling’.

Chapter 2 Verse 1 People do not agree about this verse. Perhaps the woman says that she is not special. She is only one among many girls. But this is not likely. She probably means that she is the centre of his life. The flower is probably the lotus. Many people used this flower in art. Some psalms (Psalm 45; Psalm 69; Psalm 80) have music for the *lotus.

Verse 2 The man says that she is very special. She is better than the other women. If she is like a flower, the other women seem like *thorns to him. It is as if she is the only flower for him. He loves only her.

The Woman

v3 You are like an apple tree.

          This tree is among the trees of the forest.

          This is what you are like among young men.

          I sit in your shade with great pleasure.

                      Your apples taste good. They are sweet.

v4 He has taken me to his house.

          It is where he has special meals.

          Everyone can see how much he loves me.

v5 He has made me strong again with his fruit.

          I feel much better with his apples!

                                  I am weak with love.

v6     His left hand is under my head.

                      And he touches me softly with his right hand.

v7 Women of Jerusalem, make a promise to me.

          Think about the wild *gazelles and *deer as you make this promise.

                                  Do not think about love until the right time.

Verse 3 The woman says that the man is also very special. Fruit trees do not usually grow in a forest. At this period, some people associated apples with women and desire for sex. Also, people used apples in art. They painted them on pots. The man’s shade (or shadow) has the feeling of delight and comfort. Or perhaps she means that the man is protecting her.

Verse 4 In the *Hebrew, the ‘house’ is a house of wine. This might be a *vineyard. The *Hebrew also uses the word ‘flag’ in this verse. It was a type of *symbol. An army would carry flags so that everyone could see it. And everyone could see that this couple love each other. Perhaps the ‘special meals’ refer to a wedding meal.

Verse 5 She needs his love. She feels weak without him.

Verse 6 Both the man and woman now seem to be lying down. He is gentle. And his love seems wonderful to her.

Verse 7 At this period, *gazelles and *deer were *symbols of the joys of love. These animals mate only at the right time of year. The woman asks the young women of Jerusalem to make a promise. She does not want anyone to tempt her with love before the right time. In the future, there will be another part to their love – marriage.

She does not yet want to have sex with the man. It is not yet the right time to marry him.

The Second Song

The Woman

v8 Listen! My lover!

          Look! Here he comes!

                      He is jumping across the mountains.

          He is jumping over the hills.

v9 My lover is like a *gazelle.

          Or, like a young *deer.

          He is like an animal that can run fast.

          Look at him, as he stands next to the wall.

          He looks in through the window.

                      He looks through the wooden bars.

v10 My lover speaks to me.

The Man

Come then, woman whom I love.

                      My *dearest, come with me.

v11 Look, the winter is over,

                      the rains have come and gone.

v12 Flowers appear in the country;

          birds are singing.

          In the fields, people can hear the song of *doves.

v13 Young *figs are growing on the *fig trees.

          Smell the flowers on the*vines.

          Get up, my *dear, my beautiful lady.

                      Come with me.

v14 You are like a *dove that hides in holes in the cliffs.

          It is as if you are hiding in secret places in the cliffs.

          Let me see your face.

          Let me hear your voice.

          Your voice is so pleasant,

                      and your face is so lovely.

v15 Catch the foxes for us.

          These little foxes spoil the *vineyard.

                      There are flowers in our *vineyard now.

The Woman

v16 My lover is mine and I am his!

          My lover eats among the *lotuses.

v17 Turn, my lover,

          until the day begins.

          And until the shadows go away.

          You should be like a *gazelle,

          or a young *deer on the mountains of Bether.

Verses 8-10a The woman now uses a *symbol that has energy. She compares the man with a *gazelle. He has few limits. She takes the idea further. She imagines that he is a wild animal. And that animal is looking through her window. But he has courage. He cannot stay away from her. Perhaps the man suggests that they run away together. They could go to the mountains.

Verses 10b-11 The woman is more than a companion for the man. She is his ‘*dear’. Later, in Song 4:8-15, he will call her his ‘sister’ and ‘bride’. We now have a beautiful picture of spring. People often link spring with love. Many other writers have done this. This is the only place in the Old *Testament where we have the word ‘winter’. In Israel, most of the rain comes in winter.

Verse 12 In *Hebrew, the word ‘sing’ can also mean ‘to cut back’. Isaiah sometimes uses this word in this way (18:4-6). People cut their *vines in the spring. *Doves usually arrived in spring. So, in both cases, this is a description of spring.

Verse 13 The *fig tree was an important tree in ancient Israel. It was also a *symbol of peace. In this way, it was like the *vine. The *fig was also a *symbol of Israel itself. But probably this verse is still about spring.

Verse 14 The woman is like a bird. In the cliffs, she is difficult for the man to reach. This is a common idea in the man’s songs. He cannot get to her. He wants them to come together. However, he does not use force. Instead, he encourages her gently. But she does not seem ready (verse 17).

Verse 15 This is a difficult verse. Different people give it different meanings. It could be either the man or the woman who speaks this verse. In the ancient world, foxes stole fruit from *vineyards. They are clever animals. Perhaps, in spring, young people tried to catch foxes. Maybe it was a kind of game when the young people chased the foxes. So this game becomes a *symbol. The woman is like a flower but there is no ‘fruit’ yet. They had to protect the fruit.

Verses 16-17 The first line of this verse is perhaps the most beautiful line in the Song. The verse reminds us of Genesis 2:24 – ‘for this reason a man will leave his father’. They should stay with each other if their love is true love.

The *Hebrew for ‘begins’ actually means ‘breathes’. So it means ‘come to life’. The word ‘turn’ might also mean ‘to sit or lie down at a meal’ (see 1 Samuel 16:11). Then she compares him to a *gazelle again. *Gazelles do not lie down to eat. So the writer mixes his *symbols. In verse 2, he said that she was like a flower. So, in verse 16, she says that he is like a *gazelle by the flowers. But she did not want him to be there. Instead, she told him to go back to the mountains. She was not yet ready for their love.

Chapter 3

The Woman

v1 At night, when I was on my bed, I looked for my man.

He is the man that my heart loves.

          I looked for him, but I did not find him!

v2     I will get up now.

          I will go round the city.

          In the streets and squares,

          I will search for the man that I love.

          So I looked for him but I could not find him.

v3     The guards who go about the city found me.

          I asked them, ‘Have you seen the man that I love?’

v4     As soon as I left the guards, I found my man.

          I found the man that I love.

          I held him, and I would not let him go.

          Then I took him to my mother’s house.

          It was the room where I was born.

v5     Women of Jerusalem, make a promise to me.

          Think about the wild *gazelles and *deer as you make this promise.

                                  Do not think about love until the right time.

Verse 1 The woman is lonely at night. She wants the man whom she loves. In Ezekiel 23:17, a ‘bed’ means a ‘love bed’. There is nowhere else in the Song where we have this word. These few verses might be part of a dream, or a type of dream. However, the Song does not say this.

Verse 2 The woman wishes to see her man. So now she takes more action. She probably did not actually wander about the streets. She was going on a journey. But it was a journey in her mind.

Verse 3 This is the first time that we read about the guards. They appear suddenly. The guards also appear in Song 5:7. In this verse, they are silent. Perhaps the guards are a type of *symbol. The woman has not had sex. So the guards are ‘protecting’ her. Someone might try to have sex with her.

Verse 4 The woman has great determination. She has tried hard to find her man. But now she finds him. She is glad. She takes him to her mother. Her mother can arrange her marriage. But perhaps, the ‘mother’ and the ‘house’ are *symbols. If so, she probably did not really take her man to her mother. She is just saying that she wants to marry him.

Verse 5 The woman makes another appeal to the young women of Jerusalem. The woman is still a *virgin. She has thought much about this. But now she has come to a big decision. Their present situation is not satisfactory. She has decided to marry the man. So the right time for their love will be very soon.

The Third Song

The Woman

v6     Somebody is coming from the desert.

          And men are coming with clouds of smoke.

          They come with *myrrh and *incense.

          They have a wonderful smell.

v7     Look! It is Solomon’s carriage!

          Sixty (60) soldiers guard it.

          They are the best soldiers in Israel.

v8     All of them are skilful with the sword.

          People have trained them to fight.

          Their swords are at their sides.

          They are ready for any danger during the night.

v9     King Solomon made the carriage for himself.

          The wood came from Lebanon.

v10   He made the poles from silver.

          And it has a gold base.

          A purple cloth covers the seat.

          The women of Jerusalem made the beautiful inside of the carriage.

          They made it with grace.

v11   Women of Zion, come out and see King Solomon.

          Look at the crown that his mother put on him.

          This is the crown for his wedding.

          And he is so happy because of his wedding.

Verse 6 Someone is coming. There is a great procession. There are lovely smells.

Verse 7 The *Hebrew has ‘bed’ instead of ‘carriage’. But it is probably not a bed. It perhaps means a large chair where people could rest. Men carried such chairs. Only important people would use them. Perhaps Solomon is a *symbol of an important man. The soldiers are guards. In ancient times, the man would lead a procession to home of the bride's family. Usually the man’s friends would go with him. But Solomon was the king. So, if the man was Solomon, this was a royal wedding. And his best soldiers would guard him.

Verse 8 The soldiers are part of the splendid scene. They need to keep the bride and her husband safe. We do not know what the ‘dangers’ might be. Wild animals might attack them. Or enemies might attack them. They do not want any attacks on the king on his wedding day.

Verses 9-10 There is another chair for a king in 1 Kings 10:18-20. It is splendid in an equal way. The wood from Lebanon was often *cedar. Many people wanted it. Everything in this carriage or chair is expensive. Good cloth usually came from Tyre and Sidon. Many people wanted the colour purple. Purple cloth was the most expensive cloth. The *Hebrew for the word ‘grace’ is not clear. It might mean ‘stones’. People have different opinions about it. Perhaps the woman is calling everything (chair and people) beautiful. This is because everything is wonderful.

Verse 11 The girls of Jerusalem should see ‘King Solomon’. But we do not learn anything about Solomon himself. The ‘crown’ may mean clothes for a wedding. Or it could be flowers on the husband’s head. Weddings were not private in ancient times. Everyone in the wider family came to them.

Chapter 4

The Man

v1     My *dear, you are so beautiful!

                      Oh, you are beautiful!

          Your eyes are behind your *veil.

          They are like *doves.

          Your hair is like a group of goats.

          They are coming down from the mountain called Gilead.

v2     Your teeth are white like sheep whose wool is clean and neat.

          Each sheep has its *twin.

          None of the young sheep is alone.

v3     Your lips are like a red ribbon.

          They are so lovely when you speak.

          Your cheeks are red behind your *veil.

          They are like a *pomegranate.

v4     Your neck is like a strong building.

          This building stands above the castle that David built.

          Your neck is round and smooth.

          A thousand *shields hang on it.

          All these *shields belong to soldiers.

v5     Your breasts are like two young *gazelles.

          A *gazelle can have *twins.

          These *twins eat among the flowers.

          Your breasts are like these *twins.

v6     I will go to the mountain of *myrrh.

          I will go to the hill of *incense.

          I will go there until the day begins.

          I will go there until the shadows disappear.

v7     You are beautiful, my *dear!

          How perfect you are!

Verse 1 This is probably the beginning of the wedding ceremony. Perhaps this is the reason that she is wearing a *veil. The word ‘goats’ has the idea that the woman is strong. The hair of goats can wave in the wind. So the man is being kind to her. The *Hebrew for ‘coming down’ has a special meaning. The goats are like a stream. We are not sure where the mountain called Gilead is.

Verse 2 The woman has wonderful teeth. The ‘*twins’ mean that she has all her teeth. There are none missing. The sheep have very good health. They are clean. This woman is perfect in all her details.

Verse 3 Women used to colour their lips. They made their lips look more red. The man also likes the sound of the woman’s voice (Song 2:14). So her lips are lovely too. Red cheeks show that she is healthy. The taste of *pomegranates is sweet. They are also round. People associate them with love in some countries.

Verse 4 The woman’s neck is round and smooth. The *Hebrew for ‘*shields’ is not clear. It could mean anything that an army might use (Ezekiel 27:11). However, the ‘*shields’ might be a *symbol for *jewels. These would be on her neck. Soldiers dress well for a procession. So the woman also is attractive.

Verse 5 The *gazelles are probably a *symbol. They are graceful animals that have much energy. There may also be connections with sex (also in Song 2:7, 9). There is a mixture of *symbols. In Song 5:13, the woman refers to the man’s lips as *lotuses. And lotuses are flowers. Perhaps the woman is suggesting that the man should kiss her.

Verse 6 *Myrrh and *incense have beautiful smells. People associated these smells with love. The ‘mountain’ and ‘hill’ are probably *symbols of the woman’s breasts. Perhaps the bride put *incense between her breasts. This could help their love (see Song 1:13; 3:6).

Verse 7 This verse completes this section. It says everything that the man thinks. The woman is perfect.

The Man

v8     Come with me from Lebanon, my bride.

          Come with me from Lebanon.

          Come down from the top of Amana mountain,

                      from the top of Senir, the top of Hermon.

                      Come from the lions’ cave.

          And from where *leopards live in the mountains.

v9     I want to love you with all of my heart, my sister.

          I want to love you, my bride.

                      You gave me one look with your eyes,

                      You showed me one stone of your *jewels.

v10   Your love is a delight, my sister, my bride!

          Your love is so much better than wine!

          Your *perfume smells better than any *spice.

v11   Your lips are sweet.

          They are like honey, my bride.

          Honey and milk are under your tongue.

          Your clothes have the smell of Lebanon.

v12   My sister, my bride, you are like a garden.

          This is a garden that someone has locked.

          You are like a place where there is fresh water.

          It is a private place.

          You are like a fountain that someone has closed.

v13   These plants grow in your garden:

          *pomegranates with the best fruit

          bushes and flowers that have a beautiful smell

          v14 *perfume bushes and other flowers

          many *spices

          trees with *incense

          *myrrh and the best *spices.

v15   You are like a fountain in a garden.

          You are like a well of fresh water.

          This water comes down quickly from the Lebanon mountains.

The Woman

v16   Wake up, north wind!

          Come, south wind!

          Blow on my garden.

          Then its smell can spread everywhere.

          Let my lover come into his garden.

          Then he can taste its pleasant fruit.

Chapter 5

The Man

v1     I have come into my garden, my special young woman, my bride.

          I have gathered my *myrrh and *spice.

          I have eaten my honey.

          I have eaten where the *bees store honey.

          I have drunk my wine and milk.


          Friends, eat and drink!

          Drink until you are full of love!

Verse 8 We have another picture. The woman is high on the mountains. She is difficult to reach. She is more than just a person. She is a *virgin. This makes her very special. This is the first time that the writer uses the word ‘bride’. The *Hebrew word for ‘bride’ means ‘a woman who is complete’. In other words, at her wedding, the bride becomes perfect for her husband. The woman will soon be ‘complete’ because of her marriage (Isaiah 62:4-5). The word ‘bride’ appears six times in the Song (4:8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 5:1). Perhaps this passage describes the first night of a wedding. The wild animals are dangerous animals like the foxes in Song 2:15. Perhaps the woman is still in danger. But when she is married, her husband will protect her.

Verse 9 The man calls the woman his ‘sister’. She is not his real sister. However, she is part of his family (or she soon will be). He called her his sister because they would soon live in the same home. ‘I want to love you with all of my heart’ might also mean ‘I am excited’. The man now feels weak because of his great love for her. It only needs ‘one look’ to do this.

Verses 10-11 The man has compared their love with different things. But now these things feel stronger and stronger. Her ‘*perfume’ makes him weak. The man uses more *symbols – milk and honey. These are liquids. They are also pleasant things to drink and eat. So they describe their love in a better way. The ‘smell of Lebanon’ probably refers to *cedars.

Verse 12 Gardens were important possessions in Israel. Ecclesiastes 2:4-6 describes a royal garden. There were *vineyards, fruit trees and pools of water. But someone has locked the woman’s garden. The woman only cares about the man. There is nobody else. She is like a fountain. But this fountain is only for her man. The good things in this garden are like the love that she offers. Once nobody could enjoy her love. But, at the wedding, she invites her husband to enjoy her love. And everyone will be happy because of their marriage.

Verse 13 The *Hebrew is difficult to understand. The word ‘plants’ might mean ‘roots’. It may refer to plants that grow in her garden.

There are many different plants. All these plants taste good. They all have a wonderful smell. Isaiah 16:8 is a similar verse. It is as if the woman’s roots will ‘spread’ into many places. In other words, many people will benefit because of her love for her husband. The garden is more than a simple garden. The *Hebrew means that it is a very beautiful garden

Verse 14 The *Hebrew has a list of plants. Many of them were expensive. Most people probably did not possess any of them. These plants were *symbols because they were rare and beautiful.

Verse 15 This verse is similar to Song 4:12. Fountains are beautiful. Wells and fountains have water that comes from a spring. They do not become dry. The woman will always love her husband. Her love will not be like a spring that becomes dry.

Verse 16 In Song 3:5, the woman asks that her friends do not ‘wake’ her love. But now the time is right. She must not stop herself any more. She is eager for love. The man should enter her garden. Then he can eat all the ‘fruit’ that he wants. In other words, he can enjoy everything that she offers him. They are now married. So now is the right time for them to have sex together.

Chapter 5 Verse 1 The woman is now no longer distant. She belongs to the man. He has a share of her honey, *myrrh and *spices. This means that their love is now perfect. They have waited until after their wedding. Their experience together felt wonderful. It was like a meal of the finest foods. Their friends were so happy because of their love for each other.

The Fourth Song

The Woman

v2     I slept but, in a dream, I awoke.

          Listen! My lover is knocking.

          ‘Open to me, my special young woman, my *dear,

          my *dove, my perfect young woman.

          My head is wet with *dew.

          My hair is damp because of the night.’

v3     I have taken off my dress,

          I do not want to put it on again.

          I have washed my feet.

          I do not want to make them dirty.

v4     My lover put his hand through the opening.

          I was excited because he was near.

v5     I got up to open (the door) for my lover.

          *Myrrh was falling off my hands.

          Liquid *myrrh was falling from my fingers.

          It fell onto the handles of the lock.

v6     I opened for my lover.

          But my lover had left. He had gone.

          I was so sad because he had gone.

          I looked for him but I could not find him.

          I called for him but he did not answer.

v7     The guards found me as they walked round the city.

          They hit me and they bruised me.

          There were guards on the wall.

                      They took away my coat.

v8     Make a promise to me, women of Jerusalem.

          If you find my lover,

          Tell him that I am weak.

          I am weak because of love.

Verse 2 The woman is probably not actually asleep. But these events are like a dream. The man in this Song tries to push a door. He does not want any delay. He wants to come into the woman’s room.

Verse 3 The woman in the Song hesitates.

Verse 4 The verse may have a *sexual meaning.

Verse 5 *Myrrh is expensive. The woman has a lot of it. But she seems to waste it because of her love. The ‘door’ is probably a *symbol. The woman goes to the door to let her man in. The woman’s ‘fingers’, the ‘liquid *myrrh’ and the ‘lock’ may have *sexual meanings.

Verse 6 The woman has ‘opened’ something. She has let the man come close to her. The next few lines are a surprise. The man has gone away from the woman! ‘Gone’ might mean ‘continued with his journey’. The woman does not want him to go. The verse is like Song 3:2. The woman goes to search for the man again.

Verse 7 The woman looks for her man at night. The town’s guards find her. They take away her coat. The word might mean a *veil (see Isaiah 3:23). ‘Took away’ might mean that she has become naked.

Verse 8 The man has left his woman. The woman thinks that he has forgotten her. She needs the comfort of her friends. She has felt many emotions. She is weak now. But her friends will help her to become strong. Really, she wants more love.

The woman is no longer a *virgin. So she is a different woman. Her experience meant that she had some pain. But she could deal with this. She realises that he has not left her permanently. She still thinks that he is special. So she wants her friends to help her.

The Women of Jerusalem

v9     Beautiful woman, how is your lover different from other men?

          Is your lover better than other lovers?

          Is that why you ask us to make this promise?

The Woman

v10   My lover is fair and red.

          He is noticeable among ten thousand men.

v11   His head is like the purest gold.

          His hair has curves.

          It is black like a *raven.

v12   His eyes are like *doves.

          The *doves are by a stream.

          The white part of his eyes is like milk.

          It is as if someone has set his eyes like *jewels.

v13   His cheeks are like *spices in a garden.

          Their flowers give a *perfume.

          His lips are like *lotuses.

          Liquid *myrrh seems to fall from his lips.

v14   His arms have a good shape.

          They are like gold.

          *Jewels cover his arms.

          His stomach is like smooth *ivory.

          He has covered it with *jewels.

v15   His legs are like *marble columns.

          Someone has set them on a gold base.

          He stands tall.

          He is like the finest *cedar tree in Lebanon.

v16   Yes, women of Jerusalem, this is what my lover is like.

          He has the sweetest mouth.

          Everything about him is lovely.

Verse 9 The *Hebrew is difficult to understand. The woman has loved the man so much. It has been like a journey. Her friends want to be sure that he is the right man. So she will try to convince them.

Verse 10 David had red skin (1 Samuel 16:12). People thought that he was attractive. In ancient times, people preferred darker skin. ‘Ten thousand’ means ‘a great number’.

Verse 11 People notice this man in a crowd. The man’s face is beautiful. Daniel describes Nebuchadnezzar in a similar way (Daniel 2:32). The man must be young. He has no grey hair!

Verse 12 It seems that the man has beautiful eyes. He does not stare at her. Instead, when he looks at her, he appreciates her. The milk is a *symbol. Milk is full of good things. The *Hebrew for ‘set his eyes like *jewels’ is difficult. It might refer to the colour of the man’s eyes.

Verse 13 The *Hebrew is not clear in this verse. The flowers may be in large, high groups. So they are like round, high buildings. The woman is continuing to describe how special the man is. The man’s lips give much pleasure. The *lotus was a *symbol for life.

Verse 14 This verse could refer to many different *jewels. Perhaps he only had one *jewel in each hand. (The *Hebrew for ‘arms’ in this verse is the same as ‘hands’.)

Verse 15 The woman likes every part of the man. Even his legs are pretty. The higher part of his legs is pale. But his lower legs have a gold colour. There is a nice difference. The trees in Lebanon are both strong and beautiful.

Verse 16 The man’s kisses are a delight. This verse is similar to Song 1:2. The *Hebrew for ‘lover’ might also be ‘friend’ (see Psalm 45:14).

Chapter 6

The Women of Jerusalem

v1     Where has your lover gone,

          most beautiful among women?

          Tell us which way your lover went.

          Then we can help you to look for him.

The Woman

v2     My lover has gone down to his garden,

                      to the places where *spices grow.

          He will eat food from the garden.

          He will gather flowers there.

v3     I belong to my lover

                      and my lover belongs to me.

          It is he who eats near the flowers.

The Fifth Song

The Man

v4     You are beautiful, my special young woman.

          You are as beautiful as Tirzah,

                      as lovely as Jerusalem.

          You are as wonderful as those great cities.

v5     Turn your eyes away from me.

          They excite me too much!

          Your hair is long.

          It is like a *flock of goats that are coming down from Gilead.

v6     Your teeth are like a *flock of sheep.

          Their wool is clean.

          Each sheep has its *twin.

          None of the sheep is alone.

v7     Your cheeks are red behind your *veil.

          They are like the halves of a *pomegranate.

v8     There might be 60 queens.

          There might be 80 women who live in the palace.

          There might be too many *virgins to count.

v9     But my *dove, my perfect young woman, is special.

          She is the only daughter of her mother.

          Her mother prefers her to any other person.

          The young women see her and they praise her.

          There are queens and women in the palace.

          They praise her too.

Verse 1 The friends seem to ask a foolish question. If the woman knew the answer, she would not need help to find him. The woman has not really lost her husband. The woman’s friends realise that the man is very special.

Verses 2-3 Of course the woman can find the man! She knows exactly where he is. The ‘garden’ is probably a *symbol for the woman’s body, or for their love. The man is like a gardener. So he looks after his garden (the woman). And the man is also like an animal that eats among the flowers. The woman was a *virgin. But now she is his wife.

Verse 4 The man returns from his ‘absence’. He reminds her that she is beautiful. Joshua defeated the people of Tirzah (Joshua 12:24). Jeroboam made it his capital (1 Kings 14:12-17). So it was an important city. Perhaps it had pleasant gardens. There was a good supply of water. A psalm describes Jerusalem as having ‘perfect beauty’ (Psalm 50:2).

Verses 5-7 The man is bold. He is staring at her. It is difficult for the man to stay calm. David was bold in the same way (Psalm 138:3). Verses 5b–7 are almost the same as Song 4:1-3. Although he is now her husband, he still desires her. She expects much from him.

Verse 8 The woman is better than all other women. The actual large numbers do not mean very much. They are just a *symbol. In Proverbs, we often read that ‘there are three things...’. The actual number is not important. Some people say that these women belong to Solomon. But the reference to queens may be more general than this.

Verse 9 It is always good to be a favourite child. The man mentions the queens and ‘women’ again. People cannot praise his new wife enough. She is more special than any other woman.

The Women of Jerusalem

v10   Who is this woman?

          She seems to shine like the dawn.

          She seems as beautiful as the moon.

          She seems as bright as the sun.

          She is as wonderful as the stars.

The Woman

v11   I went down to the group of nut trees.

          I went to see the young plants in the valley.

          I went to see if the *vines were beginning to flower.

          Or the *pomegranates were beginning to flower.

v12   Then my hope came true.

          I was next to my prince.

          We were in a *chariot.

          The *chariots belonged to the king.

          I was with people that I knew.

          This happened before I realised it.

The Women of Jerusalem

v13   Come back, come back, *Shulamite.

          Come back, come back. Then we can stare at you.

The Man

          Do not stare at the *Shulamite!

          Do not stare as she dances the Mahanaim dance!

Verse 10 The woman is already like a city (Song 6:4). Now she is also like the stars. The woman is very beautiful. The moon and the sun have different types of light. But their light is lovely. The *Hebrew may mean that she is rising from a background.

Verses 11-12 The man may be speaking in this verse. There may be different speakers for verses 11 and 12. The meaning depends on the speaker(s). If the woman speaks both verses, it might mean this: ‘I meant to go to the group of nut trees. I am among the royal *chariots. But I do not know what I am doing there.’ If the man speaks both verses, it might mean: ‘I wanted to check the group of nut trees and *vineyards. I wanted to see if they had fruit. Instead, I find myself among these *chariots.’ The fruit might refer to the woman. Verse 12 is the most difficult verse to translate in the Song. It is not certain what it means.

Verse 13 *Shulamite – This is the only place in the Old *Testament where we have this word. Perhaps it is the name of a place. The women want the bride to remain with them. Then they can enjoy her beauty. But the bride’s new husband speaks for her. The time when they stare is now over. She was a beautiful bride. But the wedding is over. Mahanaim – the *Hebrew might mean ‘dance of the two groups’. However, we cannot be sure about this.

Chapter 7

The Man

v1     You have *sandals on your feet.

          Your feet are as beautiful as the feet of a prince’s daughter!

          The curves of your legs are like *jewels.

          They are like the work of a skilled worker.

v2     Your stomach is like a round cup.

          It shall never have a lack of wine.

          Your *waist is a heap of wheat.

          Flowers are in a circle round it.

v3     Your breasts are like two young *gazelles.

          A *gazelle can have *twins.

          Your breasts are like these young*twins.

v4     Your neck is like a high, round building.

          Someone has made the building with *ivory.

          Your eyes are like the pools at Heshbon.

          These pools are next to the gate of Bathrabbim.

          Your nose is like a high round building.

          This building is in Lebanon.

          It points towards Damascus.

v5     Your head is better than a crown.

          It is like the mountain called Carmel.

          Your hair is like silk.

          It is long and smooth.

          Although I am the king, I am excited to see it.

v6     You are so beautiful!

          And you are so pleasant!

          My special young woman, you are a delightful young woman!

v7     You are tall,

          as tall as a *palm tree.

          And your breasts are like its plentiful fruit.

v8     I said, ‘I will climb the *palm tree.

          I will hold its fruit.’

          I would like your breasts to be like groups of *grapes.

          I would like your breath to smell like apples.

Verse 1 The woman wears *sandals. People thought that these were attractive. The ‘legs’ mean the top part of her legs. They are round in a nice way.

Verse 2 The word ‘stomach’ could have another meaning. It may refer to a special part of a woman. The ‘heap of wheat’ seems strange. But perhaps the woman’s *waist has the flowers round it (not the ‘heap of wheat’). The *Hebrew for ‘circle’ is not certain. It might mean ‘surround’.

Verse 3 This verse is similar to Song 4:5 (see the note there).

Verse 4 This building reminds us about another building (Song 4:4). That one belonged to David. Her neck is strong. But it is also beautiful. Heshbon was near the Dead Sea. There were pools of water there. We do not know anything about Bathrabbim. The woman’s nose is also like a building! Perhaps it was straight. The *Hebrew may mean that it was white too. Damascus was the capital of Syria.

Verse 5 Carmel is an area of high land by the Mediterranean. There is a wood at the top. It is a beautiful place. The woman’s hair hangs in a loose way. The *Hebrew may mean that it is purple or black. The king will notice it. Her hair is like water – it is smooth.

Verse 6 The *Hebrew may mean that the woman is soft and beautiful. Ibn Ezra, a wise *Hebrew writer, said this about this verse: ‘Love is very pleasant. There is nothing like it in the world. It is a delight for the spirit.’

Verse 7 The *palm tree was a very useful tree. People made many things from it. It had lovely white flowers. It had sweet fruit too. So it was a good thing to compare the woman to.

Verse 8 The man had determination. It was difficult to climb a *palm tree. But the woman was worth it. ‘Let your wife’s breasts satisfy you at all times’ (Proverbs 5:19). However, the picture changes to a *vine. Instead, he now describes the *grapes of a *vine. In verse 9, the woman will describe their love as wine.

The Woman

v9     I would like your mouth to smell like the best wine.

          I hope that the wine goes straight to my lover.

          I hope that it flows gently over his lips and teeth.

v10   I belong to my lover,

          and he desires me.

v11   Come, my lover, let us go to the country.

          Let us spend the night in the villages.

v12   Let us go early to the *vineyards.

          We will see if the *vine has begun to flower.

          Perhaps the *vines have flowers.

          We will see if the *pomegranate trees have begun to flower.

          There I will give you my love.

v13   You can smell the *mandrakes.

          And you can smell all the special fruits that are near us.

          Yes, I have saved many pleasant things for you, my lover.

          There are both old and new things.

Verse 9 Wine is a *symbol for love. Probably the woman was really thinking about a kiss, as in Song 1:2. The woman feels several different things. She enjoys the taste, touch and smell of her lover. His love is gentle. He is not rough. The *Hebrew for ‘teeth’ might mean ‘people who sleep’.

Verse 10 The *Hebrew word for ‘desire’ is unusual. The Old *Testament uses it three times. It is also in Genesis 3:16; 4:7. In Genesis, this ‘desire’ is not healthy. The man will ‘rule’ her. However, in this Song, the woman’s ‘desire’ is healthy.

Verse 11 Lovers want to be alone. So the country is a good place to go. ‘Country’ might mean ‘fields’. They can be private in the fields. ‘Villages’ might mean ‘henna’. This is a type of wild bush. It has white flowers that have a nice smell. This is the first proper invitation by the woman.

Verse 12 Song 6:11 has two similar lines. The woman is expecting something. In Song 6:11, the woman was probably alone. But now the woman invites the man to go with her. They can learn more about their love. The woman is willing to make a promise to the man. There is also the *symbol of the fruit. It may suggest sex. She has saved many pleasant things for him (verse 13).

Verse 13 *Mandrakes appear in Genesis 30:14-16. They are plants with roots that can look like people. *Mandrakes have a nice smell. Women used *mandrakes to tempt their husbands. And women thought that *mandrakes would help them to have babies.

Chapter 8

The Woman

v1     I wish that you were like my brother.

          My mother fed him at her breasts.

          Then, if I found you outside, I would kiss you.

          Nobody would say that it was wrong!

v2     I would lead you to my mother’s house.

          She is the person who taught me.

          I would give you wine with *spices.

          And you could drink wine from my *pomegranates.

v3     Your left arm is under my head.

          And your right arm holds me.

v4     Women of Jerusalem, make a promise to me.

          Do not think about love until the right time.

The Sixth Song

The Women of Jerusalem

v5     Somebody is coming from the desert.

          She is leaning on her lover.

The Woman

          I woke you under the apple tree.

          It was the place where you were born.

          It was the time when your mother struggled at your birth.

v6     Keep me near you like a *seal.

          Keep the *seal on your arm

          because love is as strong as death.

          Strong love is as strong as death.

          It quickly becomes like a flame.

          And that flame becomes a great fire!

v7     If love were like fire, then even plentiful water could not put it out.

          A river can be powerful.

          But nothing can stop our love.

          A man might offer all his wealth for love.

          But someone else would not want this offer.

Verse 1 Lovers were not able to kiss in public. People thought that it was wrong. However, the woman wants to be more public. She wants to show her love to everyone. So she wishes that her new husband was her brother. Members of a family could kiss each other (Genesis 29:10, 11).

Verse 2 The *Hebrew for ‘taught’ is not clear. It might refer to the lover. Then it would mean ‘you will teach’. The man would ‘teach’ his new wife how to love. Or it might refer to the mother. Then it would mean ‘she taught’. The teacher is the mother. Her mother has taught her about sex. So the woman can go back to her mother. The mother can see if the woman has learnt her lessons.

Verse 3-4 These verses repeat Song 2:6-7. Verse 4 repeats Song 3:5. However, here she does not mention the *gazelles or the *deer. The woman is confident about the love of the man. This is the right time for their love. She does not want anyone to interrupt them.

Verse 5 The first line repeats Song 3:6. But the next line is very different. In Song 3:6, the woman looked like a queen. Now she has security. She receives this from her new husband. The word ‘woke’ means more than this. It means the woman wants to bring more life to her husband. Apple trees can produce much fruit. Some of it is red. So perhaps the apple tree is a *symbol of youth. It may also be a *symbol for sex and birth of more children. It is the woman who wants to start this. She wants to be the mother of her husband’s children.

Verse 6 *Seals are important in the Bible. They provided security for people. Rulers made new laws. People needed to know that the laws were genuine. So they had *seals. The woman’s *seal was a *symbol. It probably did not actually exist. The woman, however, wanted to be sure about the man. She wanted really to know that he loved her. She did not want anyone else to love him. Their love should be ‘strong’. The woman compares their love with death. But their love is much stronger than death. Together, they will do God’s work. Together, they will defeat evil things.

Verse 7 Their love is like a strong fire. Water cannot put out such a fire. Their love is so strong that a river cannot take it away. Also, love has a greater value than wealth. Nobody can buy love. ‘It is better to get wisdom than gold’ (Proverbs 16:16). The woman expected her husband to be loyal to her.


v8     We have a young sister.

          And her breasts are still small.

          A man might ask her to marry him.

          But we will not know what to do.

v9     If she becomes like a wall,

                      we shall build her a silver *parapet.

          If she becomes like a door,

                      we shall put *cedar boards round her.

The Woman

v10   I am like a wall.

          And my breasts have grown strong.

          They are like the buildings that defend a wall.

          I have made my husband content.

v11   Solomon had a *vineyard in Baal Hamon.

          Men rented his *vineyard from him.

          And each man brought fruit to him.

          This fruit was worth 1000 pieces of silver.

v12   But my own *vineyard is mine to give.

          The 1000 pieces of silver are for you, Solomon.

          And 200 pieces of silver can pay the workers who look after the *vineyard.

The Man

v13   Let me hear your voice from the garden, my *dear.

          My friends are waiting to hear you speak.

The Woman

v14   Come with me, my lover.

          Be like a *gazelle

          or a young *deer on the mountains of *spice.

Verse 8 The speakers might be the brothers. Older children needed to look after their younger sisters. This young girl was not yet a woman. So they did not want her to have any trouble. Ezekiel 16:7-8 has a similar idea.

Verse 9 This verse is difficult to understand. The wall is a *symbol. She might have a good ‘defence’ (against men). Then she could have a reward. Her brothers could give her pretty things to wear. The door, too, is a *symbol. It might be too easy for men to ‘enter’ her. So the brothers would need to build a wall to protect her. Other people have a different opinion about these verses. Perhaps the brothers want to increase the value of the woman. They want to make her more pretty. So they give her silver and *cedar to wear. The brothers wanted the girl to have a good life. And they wanted her to marry a good husband. So they would work to improve her. They would teach her in order to improve her character. Then she would be more useful for her husband. And they would show her how to become more beautiful.

*Cedar boards make a door more beautiful. And the door would also be more useful, because it would last longer. A *parapet protects a wall, so the wall will also last longer. If the *parapet were silver, it would be very beautiful.

Verse 10 The woman herself takes the wall as a *symbol. She is now a mature woman. Her breasts are large. She will be a good mother. ‘Content’ can mean ‘complete in every way’.

Verse 11 This verse reminds us of The Song of the *Vineyard (Isaiah 5:1-7). That is also a love song. The *vineyard was also a place where people could find pleasant fruit. Perhaps the ‘*vineyard’ or ‘fruit’ refers to Solomon’s many women. Baal Hamon is an unknown place. Solomon might have had a large *vineyard there. If so, it was a successful business. Its workers worked hard. But they did not work because of love.

The couple in the Song would also work hard to bring up their children. But the couple were working because of their great love.

Verse 12 The woman contrasts her own *vineyard with Solomon’s *vineyard. In Song 1:6, the woman complains about her former situation. She could not look after her *vineyard. Her brothers had authority over her. But now the situation has changed. She can give her *vineyard to anyone that she wants. So she gives her profits to her husband whom she loves. But she is also kind to her employees.

Verse 13 Everyone wants to listen to the woman. Everyone wants to admire her. She is now the wife of the man. He is present. So he wants her to reply.

Verse 14 The woman only replies to the man. She says that they should leave the crowds. Instead, they should be alone on the mountains. Love is powerful. The two lovers have had to wait. But now the wait is over.

Word List

bee ~ a type of insect.

cedar ~ a type of tall tree, or wood from the cedar tree.

chariot ~ a vehicle with two wheels. A horse pulls it.

dear ~ someone that you love in a special way.

deer ~ an animal.

dew ~ small amounts of water that appear on the ground; this usually happens during the night.

dove ~ a bird.

fig ~ a fruit.

flock ~ a group of sheep, goats or other animals.

fragrance ~ a smell, usually good.

gazelle ~ an animal.

grape ~ a small soft fruit.

Hebrew ~ the language that Song of Songs is written in.

incense ~ a *spice that produces a sweet smell.

ivory ~ part of an elephant (called the ‘tusk’). It is hard and white. People use ivory to make beautiful things.

jewel ~ a precious stone.

leopard ~ a dangerous animal.

lotus ~ a flower.

mandrakes ~ a plant with white flowers; part of the plant can look like a person.

marble ~ a very hard material; it is similar to stone; it can have colours.

mare ~ a female horse.

myrrh ~ something that comes from trees; people use it in *incense.

necklace ~ precious stones that people wear round their neck.

palm ~ a tree.

parapet ~ a low wall at the edge of a roof.

perfume ~ a sweet smell.

pomegranate ~ a fruit which is the size of an orange.

raven ~ a black bird.

sandal ~ a shoe that is open at the top.

seal ~ a material, usually with a design. People use it to make an envelope, or something similar, safe.

sexual ~ about sex.

shepherd ~ someone who looks after sheep.

shield ~ a piece of metal that a soldier uses to protect himself.

Shulamite ~ the woman may be called the Shulamite because she comes from a town called Shulem.

spice ~ a special plant that has a strong smell and taste. People use spices to make *incense and *perfume.

symbol ~ something that represents something else; a sign of an object; something that actually means something else.

testament ~ collection of books in the Bible. The Old Testament is the first part of the Bible, which the writers wrote before Jesus came.

thorns ~ plants with sharp points that can hurt.

twin ~ one of a pair - both come from one mother in one birth.

veil ~ a piece of cloth; a woman wears it over her face; it is possible to see through it.

vine ~ a plant with fruit; grapes (a small, soft fruit) grow on them.

vineyard ~ a place where *vines grow.

virgin ~ a woman who has never had sex.

waist ~ the middle part of the body.

Book List

Duane Garrett & Paul R. House ~ Song of Songs / Lamentations ~ Word Biblical Commentary

G. Lloyd Carr ~ The Song of Solomon~ Tyndale / IVP

R. Murphy & E. Huwiler ~ Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs ~ New International Biblical Commentary

Tom Gledhill ~ The Message of the Song of Songs ~ BST / IVP


© 1997-2006, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

February 2006

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