Song of Solomon1:5

Previous Verse Next Verse



I am black

Go to footnote number

but lovely, O daughters of JERUSALEM, blackened like the tents of Kedar,

Go to footnote number

like Solomon’s

Go to footnote number

tent curtains.

Go to footnote number



People as dark as I am are looked down upon as the working class, yet I am beautiful [if you can get past my working class status], O products of a PEACEFUL marriage,

I am the very definition of the working class,

like something that PEACEFULLY absorbs the sun all day long.



“Black” does not refer to a race, but to someone who has been burned by the sun. Being dark and extremely tanned was a sign of the working class, having no choice but to labor in the sun.


Kedar was the place where some descendants of Ishmael lived. It means “dark,” so this line literally means “dark as dark.” It seems like every culture has the problem of those who are well off looking down on those who are not. It can easily influence the ideas the general population has about beauty and acceptability. In our culture, the problem is exacerbated by how many people drool over celebrity actors and athletes. In The Song we see a different perspective on beauty.


Solomon means “peace” or “peaceful.”


Tents usually were a sign of mobility in contrast to permanence, but here it seems to be simply a reference to something that sits out in the sun all day—and many of the tents were dark in color, great for absorbing heat. Why were they dark? They were made from goat’s hair, and most of their goats were dark in color. The best goat’s hair for making fabric was from goats that are usually black.


Most scholars assume the phrase “Daughters of Jerusalem” refers to the friends of the Shulammite. However, there is another meaning which I believe fits even better. Both Solomon and Shulammite mean “peaceful one” and Jerusalem means “place with peaceful foundations,” so the products of peaceful foundations could mean their own offspring.

In the Bible’s historical books, only two children of Solomon are mentioned by name while he was alive, and both were daughters. A son’s name was mentioned after Solomon died because that son, Rehoboam, followed him on the throne. I am convinced that, if Solomon and the Shulammite had produced a son who had lived to adulthood, that son would have been placed on the throne in Solomon’s place. These bits of information hint at a situation in which Solomon and the Shulammite only had two children, both of them daughters. We are even given their names, Taphath and Basemath, both of whom married officials in Solomon’s government (see I Kings 4: 11 & 15). The words from which their names are derived appear several times in the Song of Solomon.

When seen in this light it makes more sense that their conversation include their own daughters rather than the friends of the Shulammite.

There is a spiritual lesson for us in the name Jerusalem, which in Hebrew is not a singular noun, nor a plural noun, but a dual noun indicating specifically two in contrast to one or more than two. The lesson is that it  takes both working together to have a wholesome relationship, i.e peaceful foundations.

Remember that for the ancient Israelites the word peace meant wholeness and well-being; it was much more than an absence of violence. It was intended to communicate that their marriage was healthy and wholesome, one in which both partners were happy. If the daughters wanted to be happy in their marriages, they should paint a similar picture as was painted in this song, the Song of Songs.

When was it written?

My theory is that it was written by Solomon and the Shulamite together shortly before the oldest one reached marriageable age. A copy was given to each of them, and after Solomon’s death it was made public possibly one of, or both of their daughters.