SS 6:11, 12 is a troublesome part of the text as it almost certainly corrupt. There is nothing in the text itself of these two verse that confirms much about the identity of the speaker, male or female.
EXCURSUS III.—ON THE PASSAGE, Song of Solomon 6:11-13.
Translated word for word this passage runs as follows:—“Into the
garden of nuts I descended to see the verdure of the valley, to see if
the vine was shooting, if the pomegranates flourished. I did not
know,—my soul,—put me,—chariots of my people—noble. Come back, come
back the Shulamite. Come back, come back, in order that we may see
thee. What do you see in Shulamite? Like the dance of two camps.”
This the LXX. translate:—“Into the garden of nuts I descended to see
among the vegetation of the torrent bed, to see if the vine
flourished, if the pomegranate sprouted, there I will give thee my
breasts. My soul did not know, the chariots of Amminadab put
me—return, return, Shunamite, return, return, and we will contemplate
thee. What will you see in the Shunamite? She that cometh like
choruses of the camps.”
The Vulgate does not insert the promise of love, and reads: “and I did
not know, my soul troubled me on account of the four-horsed chariots
of Amminadab. Return, return, Shulamite, that we may look at thee.
What wilt thou see in the Shulamite; if not the chorus of camps.”
A comparison of the above seems to show—
(1) That the Hebrew text has not come down to us in its integrity.
(2) That the Greek translators had before their eyes another text.
(3) That neither they nor St. Jerome understood the text which came to
them already incomplete.
Yet this impossible passage, “the rags of a text irremediably
corrupt,” has become for many scholars the key to the entire book. The
heroine in a moment of bewilderment strays into the midst of a cortége
of King Solomon, who instantly falls in love with her; or perhaps into
the midst of a detachment of his troops, who capture her for the royal
harem, after a comparison of her simple country style of dancing with
that of the trained court ladies. This, or some similar device, is
resorted to by most of those who construct an elaborate drama out of
this series of love-lyrics, the whole structure falling to pieces when
we see that on this, the centre, the only passage giving a possible
incident on which to hang the rest, no reliance whatever can be
placed, since it is so obviously corrupt.
The following are a few of various suggested translations of this
“My heart led me—I know not how—far from the troop of my noble people.
Come back, come back, they cry, that we may see thee, Shulamite. What
do you see in me, a poor Shulamite?”
“My desire made of me, so to speak, a chariot of my noble people,” &c.
“My desire brought me to a chariot, a noble one,” &c.
“Suddenly I was seized with fright,—chariots of my people the Prince!”
As to “the dance of Mahanaim,” even if by itself intelligible, as a,
reference to an old national dance, as we say “Polonaise,” “Scotch
dance,” or as a dance performed by two choirs or bands (see Note ad
loc.) the connection with the context is almost inexplicable. The only
suggestion which seems worthy of consideration, connects the words not
with what precedes but with what immediately follows. If a word or
words leading to the comparison, “like,” &c, have dropped out, or if
“like a dance of Mahanaim” may be taken as a kind of stage direction,
to introduce the choric scene, the passage will become clear in the
light thrown on it by the analogy of the modern Syrian marriage
The question, “What do you see in Shulamite?” may be understood as a
challenge to the poet to sing the customary “wasf” or eulogy on the
bride’s beauty, which accordingly follows in the next chapter. But
before it began, a dance after the manner of the sword dance that
forms at present a customary part of a Syrian wedding, would in due
course have to be performed, and the words “(dance) like the dance of
Mahanaim” would be a direction for its performance. See end of
Excursus II. on the form of the Poem.