Song of Solomon5:13

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His cheeks

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are like garden terraces of balsam,

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like a huge mound of aromatic spices.

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His lips are like floral serendipities dripping with flowing myrrh.

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The way he protects me is most refreshing,

reviving my spirit.

His words to me are like beautiful and regal surprises;

they are abundantly healing and soothing.



Cheeks are associated with protection because they cover the teeth, which are an animal’s primary protective weapons.

2: “garden terraces of balsam”

Although “bed” is a viable option for translating this word, it brings to the mind of the English reader either the bed we sleep on, or a flower bed. Neither one is the correct mental image. A Garden terrace does bring to mind the correct mental image and is therefore the better translation, not for any fault of the Hebrew, but because of our modern uses of the word “bed.” The image used here is not just one small sample of balsam, or even one tree of balsam but of an entire terrace set aside for the purpose of growing balsam.

Although the word for balsam is sometimes translated “spices,” it has a specific meaning, that being “balsam.” Balsam is not one specific plant but refers to the resin extracted from a plant of choice. However, in the Bible, balsam is often associated with the “balm of Gilead,” although it may have been the resin from any number of trees. It appears that Balsam and the Balm of Gilead were used for skin conditions, for wounds and for pain relief.  The resin called balsam was very valuable, prized by Queen Esther, the queen of Sheba, and King Hezekiah. The Balm of Gilead had a fame all its own.

The image used here is not just one small sample of balsam, or even one tree for extracting balsam, but of an entire terrace set aside for the purpose of producing balsam.

The name Basemath, which I believe refers to the youngest daughter or Solomon and the Shulammite, occurs again in this word, but it is disguised because it lacks the feminine ending.

3: “mound”

The word used here can be, and often is translated “tower.” It can mean “tower, elevated stage, or raised bed.”


The Hebrew word I (and others) have translated “flowing” usually means “to pass over, pass through or pass beyond.” It conveys movement.

The importance of “flowing” for this imagery is that it must have a sufficient and constant supply in order for something to flow.

The name Taphath comes from this verb; it is the name of the girl that I suppose to be the oldest daughter of Solomon and the Shulammite. This is the only instance in the Song in which both girl’s names are found in close proximity.