Dec 122012
 

I’m writing this paper on Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah, a midrashic exegesis of the Song of Songs, which is not going terribly well because, due to circumstances beyond my control, I was awake for a few days in a row this week. But could I yet abandon daily posting? No, I say. So here is my translation of the part of Song of Songs the part of Rabbah I am focusing on endeavors to “interpret” (which fortunately I had already translated). I think it’s pretty straightforward myself, but I suppose that’s why I’m not a rabbinic exegete. Or a rabbi at all.

I have adopted Chana and Ariel Bloch’s system of setting the female speaker’s lines in italics and the “chorus” of the “daughters of Jerusalem” in bold italics – mostly because their translation savagely curb-stomps the 400-odd years’ worth of English translations that came before it. This is the female speaker’s lead-up to the famous “set me as a seal on your heart” lines. The Song of Songs is my favorite poem, to the point where I know it by heart, so, like, be nice and stuff:

Song of Songs 7:12 – 8:5

Come, my love, let’s go out to the fields
and spend the night amongst the henna
and set out early for the vineyards
to see if the vines have flowered
if the buds have opened
if the pomegranates blossomed

There I will give you my love

The mandrakes scatter their scent
and in our doorways, love,
I’ve treasured away for you
every sweet delight
old and new

Would that you were as a brother to me
who nursed my mother’s breasts
if I found you outside I might kiss you
and no one would scorn me

I would lead you and bring you to my mother’s house —
you would teach me;
I’d let you drink your fill of spiced wine
the nectar of my pomegranate

His left hand lies beneath my head
his right arm holds me close

I’ve made you swear, daughters of Jerusalem —
How could you wake or arouse love
before it desires?

Who is that rising from the desert
leaning on her beloved?

Beneath the apricot tree I aroused you —
in the place your mother conceived you
where she who bore you conceived

שיר השירים ז י”ב עד ח א
 
לְכָה דוֹדִי נֵצֵא הַשָּׂדֶה
נָלִינָה בַּכְּפָרִים
נַשְׁכִּימָה לַכְּרָמִים
נִרְאֶה אִם-פָּרְחָה הַגֶּפֶן
פִּתַּח הַסְּמָדַר
הֵנֵצוּ הָרִמּוֹנִים
 
שָׁם אֶתֵּן אֶת-דֹּדַי לָךְ
 
הַדּוּדָאִים נָתְנוּ-רֵיחַ
וְעַל-פְּתָחֵינוּ כָּל-מְגָדִים
חֲדָשִׁים גַּם-יְשָׁנִים
דּוֹדִי צָפַנְתִּי לָךְ
 
מִי יִתֶּנְךָ כְּאָח לִי
יוֹנֵק שְׁדֵי אִמִּי
אֶמְצָאֲךָ בַחוּץ אֶשָּׁקְךָ
גַּם לֹא-יָבֻזוּ לִי
 
אֶנְהָגְךָ אֲבִיאֲךָ אֶל-בֵּית אִמִּי
תְּלַמְּדֵנִי
אַשְׁקְךָ מִיַּיִן הָרֶקַח
מֵעֲסִיס רִמֹּנִי
 
שְׂמֹאלוֹ תַּחַת רֹאשִׁי
וִימִינוֹ תְּחַבְּקֵנִי
 
הִשְׁבַּעְתִּי אֶתְכֶם, בְּנוֹת יְרוּשָׁלִָם
מַה-תָּעִירוּ וּמַה-תְּעֹרְרוּ אֶת-הָאַהֲבָה עַד שֶׁתֶּחְפָּץ
 
מִי זֹאת עֹלָה מִן-הַמִּדְבָּר
מִתְרַפֶּקֶת עַל-דּוֹדָהּ
 
תַּחַת הַתַּפּוּחַ עוֹרַרְתִּיךָ
שָׁמָּה חִבְּלַתְךָ אִמֶּךָ
שָׁמָּה חִבְּלָה יְלָדַתְךָ
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Lekháh dodí neitzéi ha-sadéh
Nalínah ba-kefarím
Nashkímah la-keramím
Nir’éh ‘im parḥáh ha-géfen
Pitáḥ ha-semadár
Heinéitzu ha-rimoním

Sham ‘etéin ‘et dodái lakh

Ha-duda’ím natnú réiaḥ
Ve-ʕal petaḥéinu kol megadím
Ḥadashím gam yeshaním
Dodí tzafánti lakh

Mi yitenekhá ke-‘áḥ li
Yonéik shedéi ‘imí
‘Emtza’akhá ba-ḥútz ‘eshakekhá
Gam lo yavúzu li

‘Enhagekhá ‘avi’akhá ‘el beit ‘imí
Telamdéini
‘Ashkekhá mi-yáyin ha-rékaḥ
Me-ʕasís rimoní

Semoló táḥat roshí
Viminó teḥabkéini

Hishbáʕti ‘etkhém benót yerushaláyim
Mah taʕíru u-máh teʕorerú ‘et ha-‘ahaváh
ʕad she-teḥpátz

Mi zot ʕoláh min ha-midbár
Mitrapéket ʕal dodáh

Táḥat ha-tapúaḥ ʕorartíkha
Shámah ḥiblátekha ‘imékha
Shámah ḥibláh yeladátkha

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