I find chapter 8 harder to understand than the rest of the book.
In chapter 7 the lovers seem settled in their romance. It is bizarre to follow that with
O that thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! when I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised. 2 I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother's house, who would instruct me: I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate. (8:1)
This raises questions, is there something illicit about their love? Or is there some reason they can't be together, and thus she would wish that he was her brother?
The book then after this confusing start the chapter seems to reach a nice conclusion when the woman sings her final song.
Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. 7 Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be condemned.
We have some interesting interlocution about a little sister, but then a narrative that seems to clash with the woman's final speech:
Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon; he let out the vineyard unto keepers; every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver. My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred.
That is, in this book wine and vineyards appear to be a symbol of love and we seem to be seeing Solomon seemingly buying and selling love for much less than the cost of his household.
What is the book doing with all these jarring images? Why do we have the shift from the romance of Chapter 7 to the "my brother" speech? and what is going on with the narrative about Solomon and the vineyard?