Song of Solomon8:8

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Look at

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little sister;

She has no breasts yet.

What shall we do for our sister

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on the day she is spoken for?



Look at little sister, whose ability to nurture is not yet developed.

What shall we do for our sister [to help her be prepared] for the day she gets engaged?



Who is speaking? We cannot know who is speaking to whom, or even, who all is included in this “conversation.” I am functioning under the impression that it is only Solomon, his favorite wife whom he has nicknamed the Shulammite, and their two daughters that are included. In this verse it appears that someone other than Solomon or the Shulammite speaks, there is a response from someone who is probably not the Shulammite, and then a response that must be the Shulammite. Because the “little sister” is the direct object of this sentence, I have assumed it is the older sister speaking.

2: “at”

The Hebrew includes the preposition which means “to, toward, or at” along with the words “little Sister.” There is no verb included, so one needs to be added. If it were not for this preposition we could translate the phrase, “Little sister has no breasts.” Most follow their assumption that there is a chorus of friends of the Shulammite that appear at various places in the Song and so they add the verb “we have” and render it, “We have a little sister…” However this totally ignores the presence of the preposition “to/at.” The best option appears to be to insert the verb “look,” and to render the statement as, “Look at little sister.”

3: “our sister”

I have said that I think this part is being spoken by the older sister about her little sister, in which case we would expect all singular verbs. However, we have two plural verbs in the latter part of this sentence. What gives? Hebrew is known to use plurals instead of singulars in various other instances, so this would not be too surprising. In this case the older sister points to her little sister, but then talks about her as if she is the “sister” of all of them, “our sister,” even though I think there were only two of them.

Re: the imagery. One could say, “of course she has no breasts yet, she is too young. Just give her time, and she will develop into a woman.” But I see it come together like this: the daughters are being given the gift of marital advice from their parents in the form of a poem written just for them, one in which their voices are featured a few times. Part of the reason for the poem is that the girls are getting close to marriageable age. The parents anticipate the following question by the older one: “I am becoming a woman and will soon be able to marry and have children, but my little sister has a long ways to go. Why are you including her in this poem about marriage?” Or the older sister’s question could be, “I’m worried about little sister, what can we do to help her?” The answers by both Dad and Mom indicate that they are preparing her for that time. “She is not ready now, but we will prepare her so that when the time comes, she will be ready. We do not want her to develop on her own without any influence from us, so we will be engaged in the preparation process, just like we have been with you, Taphath, and are now putting it in written form.” This is also a wonderful set up question, giving them opportunity to share an answer they have been wanting to share.