Song of Songs 2:14b
- KJV: Let me see thy countenance…
- NIV: show me your face…
- NASB: Let me see your form…
There are two key words here that reveal a profoundly erotic message, but you really have to consider both to get it.
The word for “see” or “show” indicates far more than a glimpse to be sure.
The Hebrew root, rā’āh, consistently means to see, but as context varies, it can mean anything from the fleeting moment of an instantaneous perception (Judges 6:22) to the continued observation, inspection, and follow-up consideration of a subject (Leviticus 13:13). Here it means something far more like the latter, as it did in Song of Songs 1:6 (in which she basically says to stop staring at her). This gazing (as translated by some) is studious and discerning, indicating the kind of scrutiny that requires a prolonged duration.
The poetic imagery is far more powerful than “show me your face” or even “let me see your form” indicates.
The second word to pay attention to often translated as “face” (even the KJV’s countenance is just a fancy way of saying face). However, mar’eh isn’t anywhere near that narrow in its definition. In fact, it’s rooted in the first word (rā’āh, meaning to see) itself. It basically means how something is seen, how it looks overall, its whole appearance. This is especially used when the shape or form of a thing is regarded as appealing.
So if it’s merely seeing, then this means something like, “Let me see what can be seen.” As in all of it. Not just a face, or even a head, but the sight itself. How she looks. How all of her looks.
But the verb isn’t used as merely seeing here, as we’ve seen. It means to examine, to stare, to ponder. This is more than a command to be visible, and it’s more than command to let him linger on her. As Carr writes, “he wants to feast his eyes on the loveliness of her whole person.”
The NASB gets close, but the clunky wording sounds like a primary school playground request for a peek: “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.” No, he wants far more…
He wants to see it all and have time to consider in the same way David considers —rā’āh— the night sky, wondering at the beauty and the artistry of its Creator (Psalm 8:3).
He wants to take his time to learn and gain experience with her body, in the same way Solomon experiences —rā’āh— wisdom and knowledge like no other man ever had (Ecclesiastes 1:16) and to enjoy her like he enjoyed —rā’āh— pleasure itself (Ecclesiastes 2:1).
He wants to yearningly behold every hill and valley, as God told the Israelites to behold —rā’āh— the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 1:8).
He wants to search and explore her shape like David was accused of exploring —rā’āh— the Ammonite territory in preparation to invade and conquer (1 Chronicles 19:3).
He wants to be provided her much-needed treasure as Abraham was provided —rā’āh— a lamb on that famous mountaintop (Genesis 22:14).
She is his lamb, his claimed territory, his promised land, his pleasure, his knowledge, his wondrous beauty. And he wants to “feast his eyes” on all she has. The poetic imagery is far more powerful than “show me your face” or even “let me see your form” indicates.
He wants to study her well enough to produce a magnum opus— be it a thesis on her thighs, a symphony on her smile, a ballad on her breasts, a carving of her curves, a poem on her… well, you get the idea.
Originally posted 2016-09-02 08:00:44.