Troublesome Topic: Who Is Speaking to Whom?

Song of Solomon 1:2



Let him kiss me

with the kisses

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of his mouth,

for your love is more delightful than wine.

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I crave his acceptance and I receive his acceptance demonstrated in the words he speaks to me, for your love is more pleasing than any other assurance of happiness.

The original language has no titles to help us know who is speaking to whom; it is conjecture on our part. In some places scholars agree, and in others they do not. What you see in this translation and paraphrase is obviously my opinion on these matters, which is based on a careful consideration of what we know about Solomon’s life, and a bit of cautious speculation.

In various ancient cultures, it was sometimes practiced for the wife to be called a feminine form of her husband’s name, resulting in names with a similar meaning. That is the case here; thus Shulammite is not her real name but one given to her by Solomon so that their names would mean the same thing. True Hebrew is written only using consonants, the reader must learn how to insert the vowels that are required to read the text out loud. The names Solomon and Shulammite are written in Hebrew with the consonants Sh L & M. The Hebrew word for “peace” is “Shalom,” spelled SH L and M. Thus Solomon means “peaceful one (masculine),” and Shulammite means “peaceful one.” 

One more thing; the Hebrew concept of “peace” is much larger than our concept of peace. Americans tend to think of peace as the absence of violence. I hope that many Americans realize that peace is much more than that. But the Jews understood peace as “wholeness and well-being,” meaning spiritual, physical, emotional and relational well-being all wrapped up together. So if Solomon means “peaceful man,” it also means “the wholesome man,” or “the complete man,” and by extension, “the real man.” Similar things can be said of the “peaceful woman.”

So the two key protagonists of this “conversation put to music” are the peaceful man (or the complete man), and the peaceful woman, (or the complete woman).

The next lesson is: Who Were “the Daughters of Jerusalem”?



A kiss in our day is an expression of affection, but in that day the meaning of a kiss depended on whether or not the one doing the kissing was the lesser or the greater in the relationship. If a lesser kissed a greater (for instance on the hand), it was an expression of submission and obedience. If a greater kissed a lesser (for instance on the forehead) it was a sign of acceptance and also of affection—but in a paternalistic way. In this case it was a sign of acceptance.


Wine was the product of the vineyard, and the symbolism of the vineyard is peaceful prosperity. As the final product of the vineyard, wine is the evidence and proof of peaceful prosperity that also brings happiness, not because of drunkenness, but because of plenty. The attitude with which the people of that day viewed the coming year was determined, in part, by how well the grape harvest had gone and how much wine they had been able to store up for that next year. Thus the “assurance of happiness” is a fitting way to describe the symbolism of wine.