Reading the Song of Solomon, the phase "do not awaken love" or variants thereof is used several times. What does it mean?

Song of Solomon 8:4 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.

Song of Solomon 3:5 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.

Song of Solomon 2:7 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.

  • 2
    @Caleb - Just curious was the other part of this question edited because it was too leading or because it was provocative?
    – mrhobbeys
    Feb 27, 2014 at 7:07

6 Answers 6


There is so much richness from the erotic language to the visual pictures that a simple explanation hardly does justice to the textured layers hidden within the Song of Solomon. At the heart of the Song of Solomon is intimacy,

"The song of songs, which is Solomon's. 2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine. 3 Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth , therefore do the virgins love thee."

yet one is convinced it is not merely about the Shulamite woman(6:13) and the "Beloved", who is a 'type' of Solomon, yet obviously Solomon is the narrator,

" Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant ? 7 Behold his bed, which is Solomon's; threescore valiant men are about it, of the valiant of Israel.

One must search deeper in order to find the treasures hidden in the Song of Solomon: on one level it is the soul's aspiration for intimacy with God, and the paths that it takes to arrive there, yet this explanation doesn't account for the "Daughters of Jerusalem" who are treated simularly as an 'antiphon chorus', re-emphasizing the activity of the Shulamite, who is obviously on a path of intimacy with her beloved, who "is like a roe or a young hart".(Songs 2:9)

In the Jewish Tradition, the Song of Solomon is to be interpreted as God's relationship with Israel, and indeed there are many clues to suggest this as Solomon's intent. A quote from the Midrash(rabbi's interpretations of Song of Solomon):

"'I am black but comely' (Songs 1. 5). So says the house of Israel: I am, to my knowledge, black, yet my God considers me comely. I am truly black with my deeds, but I am comely if the acts of my Patriarchs are accounted to me. And in Egypt I was at times black and at times comely. The same may be said about me concerning my position at the Red Sea; there too I was both black and comely. Black, as the Psalmist says: 'Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt, they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies, but provoked at the sea, even the Red Sea' (Ps. 106.). But I was comely at the Red Sea when I said, 'He is my God, and I will prepare Him an habitation' (Exod. 15.)."*

Origen was probably the best known as one of the Early Church Fathers who identified the Song of Solomon,(Commentaries on the Song of Songs-Rufinus Translation, Prologue, Part I)

It seems to me that this little book is an epithalanium, that is to say, a marriage-song which Solomon wrote in the form of a drama and sang under the figure of a Bride, about to wed and burning with heavenly love towards her Bridegroom, which is the Word of God.

The "Daughter's of Jerusalem" to whom the admonition

" 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."

are not only those who are sensitive to the Shulamite-indeed, like one of them, but also those who are awaiting the consolation of Israel. Interesting, in Luke 23:28, Jesus says,

"But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children."

Here, it is the "Daughters of Jerusalem" are stirred up, and weeping for their beloved; unlike those who previously yelled "Crucify Him, Crucify Him!"(vs 21)

This brings us to the "Antiphon"; they are not to be 'stirred up' until He appears. Again, it can mean that the soul is to patiently wait for God's invitation; and not search frantically like the Shulamite does in the following chapter. But here the special attention is on "Him" who arouses the desires of all the Daughters of Jerusalem, this picture is clearly seen when Jesus enters Jerusalem, "

And when he was come nigh , even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen ; 38 Saying , Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest."(Luke 19:37-38)

This is the "son of David" indicated by the white donkey which was David's donkey, the one Solomon rode into Jerusalem on,

"Solomon to ride upon king David's mule, and brought him to Gihon. 39 And Zadok the priest took an horn of oil out of the tabernacle, and anointed Solomon. And they blew the trumpet; and all the people said , God save king Solomon. 40 And all the people came up after him, and the people piped with pipes, and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth rent with the sound of them."(1 Kings 1:39-40)

So this is who the Shulamite and the Daughters of Jerusalem arouse their love for.

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    if you addressed the question I missed it. Can you please set forth what you believe to be the meaning of the sentence in the OP? Thanks.
    – Ruminator
    Aug 28, 2017 at 19:28

I just think someone should mention that earlier, more traditional, translations add the word "my" in front of love, interpreting this as referring to the beloved rather than to the abstract concept of love. The KJV, ASV, and NASB all do this.

KJV: "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."

NASB: "I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, By the gazelles or by the hinds of the field, That you do not arouse or awaken my love Until she pleases."

Since the pronoun (he/she) is not there in the Hebrew, it is the translator's interpretation of who is speaking. The KJV translators obviously interpreted it that the woman is speaking, charging the harem not to wake up Solomon before he desires, and the NASB that it is Solomon charging the harem not to wake up his most beloved concubine until she desires.

I don't have any grammatical argument to defend these interpretations, but it makes more sense to me than that the passage is speaking of "love" in the abstract.

  • I thought at first that "love" could refer to a person but I don't think the language supports that. If you think it does, please show a source that agrees. It is not "my love" (the Shulamite) but rather the love itself; yes, in the abstract.
    – Ruminator
    Aug 28, 2017 at 19:32

In all three places this verse is found, it is in the setting of a male lover that is absent and far away while the beloved (female) is left alone "sickened with love" (2:5). This is especially evident in 3:1-5 (NIV)

All night long on my bed    I looked for the one my heart loves;    I looked for him but did not find him... Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires

The beloved is left alone searching for her lover but cannot find him. It is my understanding that the beloved here is confused doubting the loyalty and faithfulness of her lover and is not sure if he will ever return. Thus she adjures the maidens of Jerusalem that if they will ever find her lover again that they shall not arouse his love for her again until he desires it again himself and comes back to look for her. The beloved here does not want a love instigated or engendered by others, she wants it to be pure and genuine: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires. So in this case I would say that the KJV captures best the original intent of this verse

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.

It is not likely that it his her love that she adjures them not to arouse, as it is evident from the verses before that she is sickened by his love and cannot await his return and for him to hold her in his hands as he used to; so in this context her words: "Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires" wouldn't make any sense, for there would be no dormant love to be aroused or awakened in her.


Gen 1:27 has direct bearing to Bach's point .That the protestants are the only ones evading the historic context of 'he created him male and female' as masoretic renders it.Second sleep ,loss of rib,gaining Eve, rather necessary to prevent further decontexturalisation.

That second sleep has direct bearing on the covenanted restfulness necessary to gaining 'anything' ,let alone love.

"we love because He first loved us" surely?

The insertions of semicolons is not remotely in the text(s).

The rest of Yaweh Shabboeth is not contingent on the gaining of love,anywhere; the object of love is not contingent on the experience of love;but set free to experience fearlessness as the nature of love ,because punishment is not just absent in its reification - it is the reification of a ‘lesser love’ that is most surely being adressed – the ‘being sick with’ .

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    Welcome to BHSX. Thanks for your answer. Please do not forget to take the tour (link below) to better understand how this site works. This answer reads more like a comment on another answer than a real answer and is not germane.
    – Dottard
    Sep 6, 2020 at 22:23

do not rouse love... because this would be the greatest battle ever, battle in heaven, battle in the earth, the new creation vs the old creation and the price paid would be great. It would cost God everything and those who took his name as a bride takes her husband's name would pay the same price everything (Hosea 2:23, Rev. 12:1,17).

Christ would become one with his disciples (Acts 2), they would be his body, they would take his name like a wife takes her husband's name, and the giving of the Holy Spirit would be the witness.

God would sow His bride in earth that he would be glorified (Hosea 2:23). They would be called the planting of the Lord trees of righteousness that he might be glorified (Isaiah 61:3), and it would cost them everything (Matthew 24:9). They are the first fruits of the new creation (Rev. 12:17), and God would write their names on the foundation of the wall of New Jerusalem (Rev.21:14).

They would arouse God's love for them and He would deliver them. For love is a strong as death its jealousy unyielding as the grave (Song of Solomon 8:6).

  • Are you saying that love is violent so don't "get her started"?
    – Ruminator
    Aug 27, 2017 at 23:03
  • Welcome to BH.SE! I edited your answer to go with the formatting engine used on the exchange. Please take the site tour to see how the family works.
    – Frank Luke
    Aug 28, 2017 at 13:41
  • @MichaelRayRains, love being as strong as death does not suggest that it is aggressive and violent. Sorry, but -1.
    – Ruminator
    Aug 28, 2017 at 19:33

My understanding of the Song is that it is not allegory but rather mild erotica with a great deal of metaphor and euphemism. It could also be considered feminist material in that it shockingly discusses the pleasures of not only romance but also adventurous sex from a woman's point of view.

The title is taken by most to suggest that it was written by Solomon but the words are clearly spoken by the female.

The song (which is arranged in multiple parts with "the girls of Jerusalem" acting as a choir) is essentially a paean to the manliness and sexual prowess of Solomon. He is the subject, not the one adoring the female.

In the refrain currently under consideration it is also the woman who is speaking from her mother's bed:

NASB Song 3: …4"Scarcely had I left them When I found him whom my soul loves; I held on to him and would not let him go Until I had brought him to my mother's house, And into the room of her who conceived me." 5"I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, By the gazelles or by the hinds of the field, That you will not arouse or awaken my love Until she pleases."

I would paraphrase the last verse as something like:

"Promise me you girls of Jerusalem that you won't disturb our love during pleasuring, as you wouldn't disturb mating gazelles or mating deer".

These wild animals, like romance and orgasm are skittish. The language is not "word for wordable" but is romantic using the picture of the animals as an idyllic scene from nature of beauty, tenderness and romance.

Hebrew parallelism is a common poetic device in the scriptures and it translates well from one language to the other. However, the imagery and poetic features of this song seem to become more muddled in translation. Still, the juxtaposition of the Eden with their touching evokes that they are in their paradise and not to be disturbed.

  • To simply use the 'sexual imagery' of the Song of Songs does a great disservice to it. Yes, the imagery is there, but also the comparison is there also ".....like a hind or a young roe". Since this Book is frequently read at Seder's, we can expect that those reading it regard it more than 'mild erotica', but an insight into the nature of God, who pursues them as a passionate lover. The phrase "love is stronger than death" reaches beyond the boundaries of physical union and draws one closer to the Almighty God; "who's banner over us is love".
    – Tau
    Aug 29, 2017 at 3:56
  • "won't disturb our love during pleasuring." Where did you get "disturb" from the original Hebrew here? The original words mean "arouse" or "awaken". Furthermore, you seem to ignore the last words "until she pleases". Your interpretation as it is now is hard to defend on hermeneutical grounds.
    – bach
    Apr 5, 2018 at 15:33
  • @Bach The "he vs she vs it" issue doesn't appear to be resolved by grammar and must be inferred from context, which is decidedly about "doing the hokey pokey", not prayer: biblehub.com/songs/3-5.htm
    – Ruminator
    Apr 5, 2018 at 19:15

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