Stolen Heart – Song of Songs 4:9

The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s, is one of the most debated, profound, and poetic books of the Bible. Its meaning isn't always obvious, even to students like me who believe it to be a frank and straightforward look at healthy marital love. Gleaning from commentators like G. Lloyd Carr, Marvin H. Pope, Dennis F. Kinlaw, and others, I have learned that the Song contains more eroticism, suggestion, and romance than even my substantial assumptions. This is an example.
young man in love

Song of Songs 4:9a

  • KJV: Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse;
  • NIV: You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride;
  • NASB: You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, my bride;

Truthfully, we’re just not certain. As with much of the ancient poetic language of the Song, simple attempts at definition evades translators and commentators alike.


The NIV’s rendition of this colon seeps romance. What woman wouldn’t want to know she has stolen her man’s heart?

The KJV’s approach is similar in its romance, but with a bit less passivity. It’s more aggressive, almost tipping the scales into sensuality.

The NASB’s phrasing sounds more like a clinical diagnosis. What’s next? Will she dilate his pupils, too? Ooohhh…

The Hebrew word here, lābab, has had a number of interpretations over the centuries. The NEB suggests “put heart into me”. The CEV follows the stolen heart approach used by the NIV. The Amplified Bible says “ravished my heart and given me courage”. With its rarity in Scripture, there’s little to compare it with. Job 11:12, its only use outside the Song, doesn’t help much.

Truthfully, we’re just not certain. As with much of the ancient poetic language of the Song, simple attempts at definition evades translators and commentators alike. This problem pervades many words of the Song.

And, as I often do, I delve into the extensive research done by Carr and others into the cognates and roots that could shed some light. This time, Carr has found a fun one. Apparently, ancient Mesopotamian magical texts include the Akkadian phrase niš libbi, meaning “rising of the heart”. Sound familiar? But here’s the fun part, as stated by Carr:

These are not simply ‘love incantations’, for they are recited by women, and are directed only towards men. The contexts… prove that the incantation was intended to produce prolonged sexual excitement in the male, leading to extended intercourse.

Carr cites a couple sources (R.D. Biggs on these magical texts, and N.M. Waldman who arrives at a similar conclusion without delving into the magical texts) that support his theory that this phrase means something like “aroused my passion”.

By now, we shouldn’t be surprised that she arouses him. We’ve seen she’s got a look that can turn him on. This verse shows again that she can arouse him “with a single glance of [her] eyes” (NASB). So, while it’s not as harmlessly romantic as “stolen my heart”, it’s still clearly high praise.

 

Originally posted 2016-10-21 08:00:41.

Photo credit: unchose / Foter / CC BY
About Phil (251 Articles)
Philip Osgood is a Christian husband, father, and writer who considers himself a passable video game player, fiction reader, camping and hiking enthusiast, welder, computer guy, and fitness aficionado, though real experts in each field might just die of laughter to hear him claim it. He has been called snarky, cynical, intelligent, eccentric, creative, logical, and Steve for some reason. Phil and his beautiful wife Clara live in Texas with their children in a house with a dog but no white picket fence. He does own a titanium spork from ThinkGeek, though, so he must be alright.