This commentary is based on my notes after reading The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: Song of Songs, by Tremper Longman III, 2001
Poem 20 (Ch 8)
(The Character of Love)
The Women of Jerusalem
v 5 Who is this that comes up from the wilderness,
leaning on her lover?
The couple is publically affectionate. They are defying the norms.
The fact that they are leaning on each other indicates mutual dependency. It also implies that they were more affectionate in the wilderness. This couple spends frequent amounts of time away together.
Under the apple tree, I aroused you.
There your mother conceived you,
There the one who gave you birth conceived you.
Apparently this is a popular trysting place, likely on family property, showing that they are not unusual in their love, but the norm. There is also a hint that she is hoping to have conceived herself.
v 6 Set me like a seal on your heart,
like a seal on your arm.
For stronger than death is love,
tenacious like the grave is jealousy.
Its flame is an intense fire,
a god-like flame.
Love is a powerful force. A seal on the arm is a sign to all that he belongs to her. A seal on the heart is a sign that he loves her. The jealousy she desires is a right jealousy, not wanting to share the intimacy they have with any other. True love is also intense, like a flame.
v 7 Many waters are not able to extinguish love,
nor rivers flood it.
Even if a person gave all the wealth of his house for love,
he would be completely despised.
Love should withstand all trials, but you cannot buy it. If you try to buy true love the right person will despise you for it. True love cannot be bought.
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