Where has your beloved gone, O fairest among women? Which way has your beloved turned, that we may seek him with you?
My beloved has gone down to his garden, to the beds of spices, to pasture his flock in the gardens, and to gather lilies.
I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine; he pastures his flock among the lilies.
You are beautiful as Tirzah, my love, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners.
Turn away your eyes from me, for they overwhelm me! Your hair is like a flock of goats, moving down the slopes of Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of ewes, that have come up from the washing; all of them bear twins, and not one among them is bereaved.
Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate behind your veil.
There are sixty queens and eighty concubines, and maidens without number.
My dove, my perfect one, is the only one, the darling of her mother, flawless to her that bore her. The maidens saw her and called her happy; the queens and concubines also, and they praised her.
"Who is this that looks forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army with banners?"
I went down to the nut orchard, to look at the blossoms of the valley, to see whether the vines had budded, whether the pomegranates were in bloom.
Before I was aware, my fancy set me in a chariot beside my prince.
Return, return, O Shulammite! Return, return, that we may look upon you. Why should you look upon the Shulammite, as upon a dance before two armies?
How graceful are your feet in sandals, O queenly maiden! Your rounded thighs are like jewels, the work of a master hand.
Your navel is a rounded bowl that never lacks mixed wine. Your belly is a heap of wheat, encircled with lilies.
Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle.
Your neck is like an ivory tower. Your eyes are pools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bath-rabbim. Your nose is like a tower of Lebanon, overlooking Damascus.
Your head crowns you like Carmel, and your flowing locks are like purple; a king is held captive in the tresses.
How fair and pleasant you are, O loved one, delectable maiden!
You are stately as a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters.
I say I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its branches. O may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the scent of your breath like apples,
and your kisses like the best wine that goes down smoothly, gliding over lips and teeth.
I am my beloved's, and his desire is for me.
Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the fields, and lodge in the villages;
let us go out early to the vineyards, and see whether the vines have budded, whether the grape blossoms have opened and the pomegranates are in bloom. There I will give you my love.
The mandrakes give forth fragrance, and over our doors are all choice fruits, new as well as old, which I have laid up for you, O my beloved.
O that you were like a brother to me, who nursed at my mother's breast! If I met you outside, I would kiss you, and no one would despise me.
I would lead you and bring you into the house of my mother, and into the chamber of the one who bore me. I would give you spiced wine to drink, the juice of my pomegranates.
O that his left hand were under my head, and that his right hand embraced me!
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, do not stir up or awaken love until it is ready!
Who is that coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? Under the apple tree I awakened you. There your mother was in labor with you; there she who bore you was in labor.
Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame.
Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If one offered for love all the wealth of one's house, it would be utterly scorned.
We have a little sister, and she has no breasts. What shall we do for our sister, on the day when she is spoken for?
If she is a wall, we will build upon her a battlement of silver; but if she is a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar.
I was a wall, and my breasts were like towers; then I was in his eyes as one who brings peace.
Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon; he entrusted the vineyard to keepers; each one was to bring for its fruit a thousand pieces of silver.
My vineyard, my very own, is for myself; you, O Solomon, may have the thousand, and the keepers of the fruit two hundred!
O you who dwell in the gardens, my companions are listening for your voice; let me hear it.
Make haste, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag upon the mountains of spices!
My point is this: heirs, as long as they are minors, are no better than slaves, though they are the owners of all the property;
but they remain under guardians and trustees until the date set by the father.
So with us; while we were minors, we were enslaved to the elemental spirits of the world.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,
in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children.
And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"
So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to beings that by nature are not gods.
Now, however, that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits? How can you want to be enslaved to them again?
You are observing special days, and months, and seasons, and years.
I am afraid that my work for you may have been wasted.
Friends, I beg you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You have done me no wrong.
You know that it was because of a physical infirmity that I first announced the gospel to you;
though my condition put you to the test, you did not scorn or despise me, but welcomed me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus.
What has become of the goodwill you felt? For I testify that, had it been possible, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me.
Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?
They make much of you, but for no good purpose; they want to exclude you, so that you may make much of them.
It is good to be made much of for a good purpose at all times, and not only when I am present with you.
My little children, for whom I am again in the pain of childbirth until Christ is formed in you,
I wish I were present with you now and could change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.
Tell me, you who desire to be subject to the law, will you not listen to the law?
For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and the other by a free woman.
One, the child of the slave, was born according to the flesh; the other, the child of the free woman, was born through the promise.
Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One woman, in fact, is Hagar, from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery.
Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.
But the other woman corresponds to the Jerusalem above; she is free, and she is our mother.
For it is written, "Rejoice, you childless one, you who bear no children, burst into song and shout, you who endure no birth pangs; for the children of the desolate woman are more numerous than the children of the one who is married."
Now you, my friends, are children of the promise, like Isaac.
But just as at that time the child who was born according to the flesh persecuted the child who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also.
But what does the scripture say? "Drive out the slave and her child; for the child of the slave will not share the inheritance with the child of the free woman."
So then, friends, we are children, not of the slave but of the free woman.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. (New Revised Standard Bible Version Online)