“Awake my love, until he please” or “Awake love, until it pleases” in Song of Solomon 2:7, 3:5, 8:4?

"I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please." (Song of Solomon 2:7, KJV)

Many expositors like to use these verses to teach that romantic love should not be awakened until it pleases (is proper). However, the context seems to indicate that the “love” “אהבה (ahăbâh)” in these verses refers not to “love,” the emotion, but rather to “love” in the sense of “lover,” the person. In 7:6 the same word “אהבה” refers to the groom, the lover. In Hosea 8:9 the same word in masculine form refers to “lovers.” In all of the verses where the charge to the daughters of Jerusalem is made (2:7, 3:5, 8:4), the context indicates that the lover is asleep. In 2:7 the couple is lying down (2:6), in 3:5 the couple are in the bride’s mother’s chamber (3:4), and in 8:4 the couple is once again lying down (8:3). Seeing that in each of the preceding verses of 2:7, 3:5, 8:4 the lover is sleeping, it is clear that the bride charges the daughters of Jerusalem not to awake her lover “until he please.” Although it is tempting to extract a biblical principle of abstinence from these verses, one cannot ignore the context. In each context, the lover is asleep; hence the charge not to “awake” is in regards to the lover, not romantic love. It is certainly acceptable to apply a spiritualized interpretation and extract an admonition to abstain from romantic love until the acceptable time. However, such spiritualized interpretations are secondary to the literal portrayals of the sleeping groom.

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