Song of Solomon5:12

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His eyes are like doves

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by the fast-flowing streams of water,

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washed in milk,

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set like jewels in their setting.

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He uses his knowledge of me in gentle ways, ways that powerfully refresh and revive me,

ways that are pure and edifying, characterized by class and style.


1: "doves": Implications for marriage

Here the same phrase is used of him that was used of her earlier. We must both be gentle in our use of the knowledge we have of our spouse’s vulnerabilities, weaknesses and failures. Just like the wife can crush her husband with a word, so the husband can crush his wife’s spirit with one word or even with the wrong tone of his voice.


This word means “stream, river, ravine,” but it also means “something strong, a hero.” Although it can be translated river or stream, this word is not focused on the size of the stream. It means a strong stream, i.e. this is not a quiet, calm brook; this is a stream or river with a strong current. The word can also refer to a “wadi,” which was what they called a ravine that was usually dry but when strong rains came in the hills above, it became a rushing torrent—think flash-flood. It is the emphasis on strength that has caused me to translate it “fast-flowing stream.” Just like other words for brook, stream, or river, I have kept the symbolism of refreshing or reviving because that was a quality of water in general. Whether that water was flowing gently or rushing forcefully did not change the fact that coming across some water while traveling in a barren, arid land was a refreshing experience. Here a word that is usually translated stream is tied with the word for water, which is another symbol for refreshing and reviving, creating a double emphasis on the idea of refreshing. But that’s not all, the word for stream used here has its own multiplying factor due to its inherent emphasis on strength; we could say it is already doubled, so in effect these two words are a tripling of the idea of reviving or refreshing. The people of Solomon’s day would have caught all this immediately, but for us it requires lengthy explanations that cannot adequately convey the impact it had for them.

Implications for marriage: Not only does he use his knowledge of her in ways that do not cause her harm, his use of that knowledge actually refreshes and revives her, and that in powerful ways. Not only does he refrain from hurting her, he uses his knowledge of her weaknesses and fears to help her, to encourage her, to strengthen her, and to give her more confidence.


Milk, besides being a sign of prosperity, is often used in conjunction with edification, or nourishment.


The Hebrew only says “set in their setting.” It is assumed by context that the full meaning is “set like jewels in their settings.” However, the word “set” can also mean “sit, dwell or abide” and the word for “setting” can also mean “full, or in abundance.” Thus some translate it “dwelling in abundance.” In my mind this does not fit the context as well as “set like jewels in their settings.” In part my decision is based on how the symbolism would fit. She is saying that his handling of delicate information about her is gentle, refreshing, pure, edifying and classy. The picture of abundance would not fit as well as the word picture for classy.