The women of Jerusalem ask the young yearning lover-woman what’s so special about her lover, and she answers with a listing of his attributes:
Here’s what she likes — and these might not be what women today like most about their lovers or what men like to be loved for, but they are hers and it is her delights that concern us in this post. And what maybe will surprise is how her delights are shaped by his physical body. There is nothing here about how smart he is, or how much money he can bring home, or how much reputation he brings to the family and to her, or how he makes her feel — instead, she loves his body. The little rumor that ancient Jewish women kept to themselves, kept quiet, and kept their feelings to themselves is blown out of the water by this woman’s aesthetic but clearly erotic description of how she just is love-drunk over her lover’s body.
From head to legs, and then back to his speech, she scans her man’s body. And she does so publicly — for the women of Jerusalem.
His skin glows:
5:10 My beloved is all radiant and ruddy,
distinguished among ten thousand.
His head is elegant:
11 His head is the finest gold;
his locks are wavy,
black as a raven.
His eyes are firm:
12 His eyes are like doves
beside springs of water,
bathed in milk,
His cheeks are fragrant:
13 His cheeks are like beds of spices,
His lips are sensually moist:
His lips are lilies,
distilling liquid myrrh.
His arms are muscular:
14 His arms are rounded gold,
set with jewels.
His body is chiseled:
His body is ivory work,
encrusted with sapphires.
His legs are solid:
15 His legs are alabaster columns,
set upon bases of gold.
His entire appearance is regal:
His appearance is like Lebanon,
choice as the cedars.
His kiss is sweet:
16 His speech [mouth, in the sense of kissing probably] is most sweet,
Overall, he’s desirable:
and he is altogether desirable.
“You ask me why I love him? That’s the sum of it. And he’s mine.”
This is my beloved and this is my friend,
O daughters of Jerusalem.