The Strange Use of דגל in Song of Songs 5:10

In: Vetus Testamentum
J.L. Andruska Faculty of Divinity University of Cambridge

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The use of the word דגל in the Song of Songs 5:10 has caused considerable confusion among commentators. Most occurrences of the word in the Song are thought to be related to an army or host carrying banners, except in 5:10, where this usage is said to make little sense. Scholars therefore interpret the woman’s use of דגל in 5:10 differently from when the man uses it to describe her awe-striking an unnerving appearance in 6:4 and 6:10. This has given some the impression that the lovers view each other differently. This article attempts to show that the description of דגל in 6:4 and 6:10 actually illuminates its meaning in 5:10, so that when the woman uses it to describe the physical appearance of the man, it communicates similar feelings of awe and fear, that is, an awe-striking and unnerving appearance.

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